Opinion: Sinn Fein Accept Money from Monarchy.
by Frank Talk
Last week MPs voted to restore Sinn Fein's parliamentary allowances, estimated to be worth about £500,000.
The allowances were withdrawn last year after the Northern Bank robbery, for which they have accepted no responsibility. While £500,000 is a mere drop in the ocean compared to £26 million, eyebrows have been raised at the governments’ willingness to hand over such a quantity of money to a party that operates an abstentionist policy.
Yet Sinn Fein willingness to accept such money raises questions about their declared intention to deal with 'Irish' politics within the 'Island of Ireland'. By accepting the money they are not only accepting the British governments position in Ireland, they are granting it some sort of legitimacy. Despite their protestations, Sinn Fein have accepted British structures, they work effectively within them, and they claim the financial benefits that come with being part of one of the worlds most economically powerful countries.
David Liddington, Conservative Spokesman on Northern Ireland has suggested changing the oath in order to allow Sinn Fein to take their seats; what he fails to realise is that the reason they don't take them is more to do with cosmetics than convictions. Sinn Fein tell their supporters to ignore 'British rule', yet they are widely accepted to offer expert advice on British welfare support.
Ironically, Sinn Fein would probably be more welcome in the Commons than at the Dail. Bertie Ahern is making Fianna Fail greener than green, demonstrated recently by him blowing the trumpet for the 1916 commemorations. The Irish Republic has embraced 'pluralism', it is a philiosphy naturally suited to an 'easy going' people. An end to partition is not what 'paddy Irishman' mulls over at breakfast; if he did, he would quickly loose his appetite, because he would have fewer euros in his wallet. Northern Ireland would bring a huge financial burden, which the Irish Republic could not easily absorb.
Britain still offers one of the most generous welfare systems in the world. Separation from this system would mean acceptance of a more meagre benefit package. Is this something Sinn Fein can sell to its supporters? Is the hope of Irish unification an ideological dream rather than a realistic end goal?