Fine Gael motion plays games with peace
BY MÍCHEÁL MacDONNCHA
In his first major Dáil outing as Fine Gael spokeperson on the North, Brian Hayes TD sponsored a motion this week which called on ``all members of Dáil Éireann'' to support the call for the public to assist the RUC and the gardai in relation to the 1998 Omagh bombing. The motion was a transparent attempt to target Sinn Féin, as was clear from the commentary of a number of Fine Gael speakers.
Speakers also called for ``tougher action'' under the repressive Offences Against the State Amendment Act 1998. Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin declined to support the motion. He said:
``The Omagh bombing of August 1998 was second only to the bombing of Dublin and Monaghan in May 1974 in terms of loss of life during the course of the conflict of the past 30 years. Omagh was a deplorable atrocity which took 31 lives and seriously injured many more. It was, let there be no mistake, an attempt to destroy the peace process. I said at the time, and I repeat, that the small unrepresentative splinter group that carried out the bombing clearly hold themselves accountable to no community or political constituency. Their ill-conceived campaign is setting back the cause they claim to serve. We must spare no effort to press on with the peace process, thereby ensuring that such tragedies can never recur.
``Let the record show once again that we have called repeatedly upon the group responsible for the Omagh bombing to disband. Our pursuit of a peaceful strategy has won the support of the vast majority of republican opinion. Against that reality and the centrality of Sinn Féin to this peace process, I view with alarm the efforts of the proponents of this motion who seek to present it as a further test we in Sinn Féin must pass. I totally reject that approach and recognise it as a pointed attempt to pillory myself and my party. On the one hand we have the micro-grouping responsible for the dreadful atrocity at Omagh, still working to destroy the peace process and to undermine the determined efforts of the Sinn Féin leadership. On the other hand we have the proposers of this motion who can barely conceal their narrow party political motives as they attempt to denigrate
I opposed the passage of the Offences Against the State Amendment Act 1998 and its renewal earlier this year. I maintain opposition to such repressive legislation and for that reason also I will not endorse this motion.
``In conclusion, my sincere desire is to see justice and truth for all the victims of the conflict, including those of Omagh. The success of the peace process will be their lasting memorial.''