By Denise Johnstone
The Proclamation declared on the steps of the GPO April 1916 was a declaration of intent by the provisional government to set up a parliament, free from British control and based on core republican principles such as religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all. I have to ask; what part of that does Martin McGuinness not understand?
In the past I have raised concerns about SF policies that are at odds with the republicanism they espouse. Yet, here we are once again ignoring that very important principle of equality of opportunity. Martin McGuinness flippantly and arrogantly dismissed the controversy as being a nonsensical two-day wonder perpetuated by anoraks. I suppose in fairness to Martin anoraks is not as derogatory an analogy and it does make a change from being called enemies of the peace process or the more common one - anti-Sinn Fein.
My concerns about this anti-democratic and anti-republican act are the following.
Firstly, using the Royal Prerogative laws both he and Arlene bypassed the fair employment legislation that was introduced to ensure equality of opportunity, (remember Martin the proclamation that your party utilised so well in your election campaign), especially important to the north’s Catholics given the actions of the old Stormont government that facilitated blatant discrimination. I do, however, understand their desperation to get the most excellent of spin doctors, who like the millers daughter in Rumpelstiltskin will be expected to spin straw into gold.
Secondly, using anachronistic royal powers that were used in the past by kings to issue laws without consulting their privy council, Martin and Arlene have bypassed the scrutiny of the legislative assembly, whose job it is to legislate. Are the MLAs now defunct? Is this how Martin and Arlene intend to govern? Is this the Fresh Start?
I’m also tempted to think this was also a shrewd move by Arlene, knowing full well the consequences for Martin, the self-proclaimed republican.
Let’s face it the DUP aren’t really renowned for their democratic principles. Their use of the Petition of Concern demonstrates their willingness to ignore the wishes of the majority. Sinn Fein, however, have invested a lot of their energies this year in reinforcing their republican credentials, as they try to directly link themselves with people and ideas of 1916. Have Sinn Fein once again been outwitted by the DUP? I think so. Are they really the strong voice and bulwark against DUP hegemony? I think not.
The DUP and Sinn Fein are just managing the north for the British.
In setting out to free Ireland, in believing they could outwit the British they have in fact set us backwards to the days of unionist domination.