Sinn Féin, the IRA and the betrayal of the Palestinians
Gearóid Ó Loingsigh
09 March 2024
Sinn Féin's Declan Kearney with PA ambassador Dr Jilan Wahba Abdalmajid.
Following a peace process in which the armed group, which is not the same as an insurgency, demobilises and surrenders its weapons, we see clearly that what was most important were not the weapons but rather the ideas. There is not a single example in the world where armed group did not surrender its political ideals along with its weapons. The current crisis and the genocide in Gaza give us clear examples of both.
Firstly, the Palestinian Authority (PA) is a government born of a peace process and a political accord with its former enemies, namely the US and Israel. In the midst of the genocide, the PA hasn’t done much. It has stuck to begging the US to put an end to the genocide by calling its rottweiler to heel. It hasn’t been up to demanding that the Arab countries do something and less still of asking the working class around the world to take action against Zionism, blocking ports, refusing to load shipments to or from Israel. The Houthis in Yemen have done more for the Palestinian cause than all the Arab governments and the PA together.
In Ireland we can see something similar. Sinn Féin does not want to support the Palestinians. Once upon a time, the Palestinian cause was seen as a common struggle. The famous murals of Belfast often included images of Palestinians. When Israel started its genocide, Sinn Féin, a party that had previously proposed the expulsion of the Russian Ambassador opposed the expulsion of the Zionist Ambassador. Pressure from its own base and the huge demonstrations in support of the Palestinians forced it to change its position, though nobody talks much about that anymore. No one is currently bothering the Israeli Ambassador. You can find some videos and articles where Sinn Féin expresses its solidarity with Palestine, but when it comes to down to it, they don’t want to annoy either the Irish government or imperialism.
Now Saint Patrick’s Day is almost upon us, a sort of national day in which we embarrass ourselves before the world with “typical” behaviour taken straight out of Hollywood. Irish politicians usually go, not to their own capital city, but to Washington to bend the knee to the US government and act according to the latest fashionable caricature. It is a shameful event; all they are missing is dressing up as Leprachauns to polish the image more. However, it is an occasion for a lot of business deals, agreements and informal contact between the powerful in Ireland and their masters in Washington. Many Palestinians have asked Sinn Féin not to attend the event in protest at the genocide in Gaza.(1)
Sinn Féin, however, has said that it will go and when they are there, they assure us that they will inform Biden about what is taking place in Gaza,(2) as if he did not know, as if were not jointly morally, intellectually and materially responsible for all that occurs there. Sinn Féin organized an event in Belfast, supposedly in solidarity with the Palestinians. They invited a representative from the PA, who does not oppose their visit and hooley with Biden. Three Palestinians tried to ask the public to boycott the Saint Patrick’s Day in Washington in protest at the genocide. The security team expelled them.(3) As usually happens the crowd stood up to applaud the representative of the PA and started shouting Free Palestine drowning out the Palestinians. Without any irony leading shinner Seanna Walsh, a former IRA volunteer, shouted at them to leave and that the Palestinians should organize their own event and were not welcome at that event in “solidarity” with Palestine.
Also, without any sense of irony, a young man who was part of Sinn Féin’s security team wearing a Palestinian t-shirt told them to be on their way. The group pleaded with the public to let them speak, that they were Palestinians, one of them from Gaza. But Sinn Féin only talks to the powerful and has no time for Palestinians whose story makes them uncomfortable. It is not only their story that does that, one of the Palestinians shouted that there would be no united Ireland without a free Palestine, saying nothing more than that it is the same struggle against the same enemy. But Sinn Féin abandoned its opposition to imperialism a long time ago.
It is not the first time Sinn Féin has bent the knee to the US when dealing with the Arab world. In 2008, Martin McGuinness headed an international delegation to Iraq and urged the Iraqis to put aside their religious differences. He presented the problem as a sectarian conflict and never mentioned Western powers, nor their invasion and destruction of the country.(4)
Sinn Féin will go to Washington to get drunk at the party organized by Biden. They won’t say much. Their position in Ireland has been to take everything without any fluster. In the midst of the videos that we see on a daily basis of children howling to the sky over the corpses of their family, Sinn Féin does not think about shouting at anyone, but rather like old lovers whisper in the ear of Biden. “Don’t worry love, I will protect you from the screams of the ragged, the hungry, the inconsolable wretches in Gaza”. The dead make you uncomfortable, the beer and whiskey help in looking the other way, where no child, tormented by the Dantesque spectacle that Biden and Netanyahu unleashed, cries out.
Following all the peace processes the armed groups, FMLN, PLO, ANC, IRA amongst others placed themselves on the side of capitalism and made their peace with imperialism. Nothing more clearly shows that than Sinn Féin prefers a hooley, even some furtive carnal or political romance in the halls of power rather than show their solidarity with the Palestinians.
They are in love with power, money and the screams from Gaza make them uncomfortable. Better to close the window and not listen to them, thus they expelled the Palestinians from their event in “solidarity” with Palestine.
Gerry Kelly from Sinn Féin said that no one criticises them for meeting with the British government. He is right, though it is not the salient point he thinks it is. It is precisely as part of the peace agreement in Ireland that Sinn Féin accepted that British imperialism played a progressive role in the country. It is there in black and white in the Good Friday Agreement. It is logical that if you surrender to one imperial power, you don’t fight with another one. Sinn Féin is the establishment, the Palestinians and the Irish working class are the plebians to be ignored. Such are peace processes, they signed them to become faithful lackeys of imperialism.
(3) One of the videos of the expulsion can be seen here https://x.com/AliAbunimah/status/1755563423746724136?s=20
(4) Reuters (05/07/2008)
McGuinness urges Iraq to learn from N.Ireland peace. Khalid al-Ansary https://jp.reuters.com/article/uk-iraq-mcguinness-idUKL0546549920080705/