Friday 5 December 2008

Sinn Féin on Lisbon - Waiting for the Revolution

Sinn Féin’s stance on Lisbon shows us that they remain irredeemable purists. Despite all the evidence that governments across Europe have no stomach for re-opening the decade long reform process, Sinn Féin doggedly persist in arguing for renegotiation (Mary Lou McDonald, IT 2 Dec).

After ten years of painstaking talks, compromises, and fudges, Europe found a formula that all governments could sign. Referenda in France and the Netherlands saw it rejected, yet no essential changes could be made to a formula that is perhaps the only accord that can allow twenty seven nations to move forward. Do Sinn Féin have any grasp of the bewildering multitude of views that political leaders across Europe hold on how the Union should be reformed? The differences are so vast and varied that arriving at Lisbon at all was something of a miracle.

But no matter. Sinn Féin cannot bear surrendering their ideological purity. Not for them a pragmatic compromise. But wait a minute. Isn’t this the party that began by trying to bomb its way to a thirty two county socialist republic, and ended sharing power with Ian Paisely in a devolved UK government? An astonishing compromise by any measure.

Why now the retreat from pragmatism and reality? In the North, Sinn Féin had to painfully relearn the lesson that Collins taught us: seize the best on offer, then build on it.

Lisbon is flawed but workable. It can make Europe more fit for purpose in the twenty first century. We should seize it, and build from there. No point hanging around for a revolution that will never come.

PS: McDonald made a number of points about the workings of the Oireachtas committee which its chair, Paschal Donohoe refutes here.

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