Republican News · Thursday 12 October 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Opting Out

The decision by the Six-County Minister for Social Development, Maurice Morrow, to boycott an important meeting this week aimed at stemming the drugs problem, was a reckless and thoughtless insult to his own electorate.

Morrow proclaimed that for him to attend a meeting where ``Bairbre de Brún of Sinn Féin/IRA would be chairing the proceedings'' would contradict DUP policy. While the party's policy allows its representatives to take ministerial positions, it simultaneously forbids them to partake in any ministerial meetings with Sinn Féin. So the DUP chose instead to ignore an important meeting on the drugs issue, putting sectarianism first, as usual.

The irony is that while Maurice Morrow has the audacity to shirk his obligation to work against drug addiction on a supposed point of principle, his DUP colleague Willie McCrea has met on many occasions with leading loyalists, including sharing a platform with the late Billy `King Rat' Wright, a notorious drug dealer.

While Sinn Féin is prepared to work with Morrow for the benefit of his constituents, it seems that consorting with those who do them damage is more in line with DUP party policy.

It is an incredible feat of hypocrisy that Morrow's party are prepared to sit in the Assembly and on local authority bodies with Sinn Féin but they are repulsed at the prospect of sitting in the Six-County executive with republicans. This charade cannot be maintained - nor can the political philosophy of those who enact it.

Issues like drug addiction need to be tackled in an inclusive and holistic manner. They cannot be manipulated for sectarian or electoral agendas and indeed, they require the recognition of an all-Ireland - and international - dimension to be tackled properly.

It is not only the drugs problem that is best tackled in an all-Ireland dimension. The DUP know this, but they remain trapped in the mindset of domination and repression. Accommodation with nationalism and Irish society as a whole is anathema, because it threatens the DUP's entire belief system.

That is why Morrow, Paisley and Co will continue to put their selective principles before the need to tackle the drugs crisis and other equally pressing issues.

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