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Sunday 11 April 2004

Catch the Sinn Fein Easter extravaganza at a monument near you

YOU'VE missed the 1981 Hunger Strike Perpetual Trophy five-a-side soccer tournament on Good Friday in Eamonn Ceannt Park in Crumlin, but it may not be too late for you to do your Easter duty. If you hurry, you might yet be in time to join a cluster of republicans gathering in a nearby park to march to a monument. You've probably cut it a bit fine to get to Achill to listen to Caitriona Ruane at 10am at Dookinella Church, but she'll be in the Square at Kilkelly at 3pm to lead you to the local memorial. 

For those of you who don't know Caitriona, she used to run the West Belfast Festival and made much (for grant and propaganda purposes) of not being in SF. Then she became (still not SF) cheerleader (sorry, spokesperson) for the three nature-lovers stranded in Colombia. (Where does the cash come from for all those lawyers and observers, not to speak of her 17 trips on behalf of the Bring Them Home campaign? Surely not SF.) 

Having achieved a high profile, our Caitriona at last saw the light and joined SF. A week before the assembly elections were announced, the hardworking sitting candidate, Martin Cunningham, was instructed by the party hierarchy to step down and Caitriona was selected and won the South Down assembly seat Cunningham had thought was his.Now SF human rights spokesperson, Caitriona is a bit of a comedian. Her 'Rights for All' document is a hoot: everyone, it tells us, has the right to life, to freedom of expression, not to be tortured, not to be deprived of freedom arbitrarily and so on and so on. While it's humorous enough for SF to be producing such a document when it allows no dissent within the party and the IRA (who deprived around 1,800 people of their right to life) are still busy mutilating and intimidating and even occasionally abducting and killing, to launch it with head IRA honcho Martin McGuinness as the guest of honour suggests a touch of comic genius. 

Aengus O Snodaigh TD and Bairbre de Bruin were also in that photo shoot and you might be able to catch one of them today. Aengus will be in Ashbourne at the Thomas Ashe Monument at 11.45am: like all his colleagues, he will of course be quoting from P O'Neill's Easter Whinge about how everything's the fault of the British Government, the Irish Government, the securocrats, the unionists and the loyalists. Oh, yes, and like Pee, he'll be sending "solidarity greetings to imprisoned comrades" (that's the killers of Garda Jerry McCabe, in case you're wondering), but he may add a few words of his own. He's been a bit exercised, has Aengus, about the disgrace of spending over €60,000 on guarding "Charles Windsor". 

How soon they forget. The Irish Government was a bit embarrassed when in 1979 Charles Windsor's great-uncle, Lord Mountbatten, was murdered by the IRA off the Sligo coast with his daughter's octogenarian mother-in-law, his 14-year-old grandson and a 15-year-old boatboy. The thing is, if people didn't want to kill him - and there are ex-Provos who do - Charles Windsor would be delighted to look after himself. 

Or you could parade behind Bairbre de Bruin this afternoon to the Roddy McCorley Monument. You're in for a treat. I heard the lady in action one Easter at the Crossmaglen commemoration (high point was when in berets and sunglasses the young bloods of the IRA led the march up the steps of the church 10 minutes after mass had begun and played Amhran na bhFiann loudly to remind the priest who was boss); used as my companion and I were to scurrilous anti-police propaganda from people whose friends had murdered 273 of them, the sheer viciousness of her rhetoric and delivery chilled our blood. Not a pleasant experience, but she is - how do I put it? - more arresting than Caoimhghin O Caolain TD is likely to be at the Liam Mellowes Statue in Galway. 

Ah, but you might want to see the big boys. McGuinness will be wowing the faithful in Carrickmore this afternoon - speaking of human rights, no doubt - but at 1.30pm Gerry Adams will be marching from the Garden of Remembrance to Glasnevin Cemetery, where he will, no doubt, dilate once more on the need to turn 16 Moore Street into a national monument. 

Surely some mistake, Gerry? I know your history is shaky, but do you really want a monument to the place where Patrick Pearse and his comrades surrendered - after only five days - because they were "desirous of preventing further slaughter of the civil population"? Do you really want us reminded that what took them five days took you and your pals 30 years, during which you killed civilians right, life and centre in pubs and shops and tearooms and bus stations? And blamed everyone else.

Ruth Dudley Edwards

© Ruth Dudley Edwards