I have highlighted a number of cases in Ulster where Sinn Fein have used GAA premises for party political events. Now it seems that the practice also occurs in the Irish Republic. The current issue of An Phoblacht (11 February 2010) reports that:
A large crowd of dedicated republicans converged on Mallow GAA Complex early on Sunday morning last for the annual general meeting of the Munster Cuige.
Sinn Fein vice-president Mary Lou McDonald was one of the speakers and the following extract is taken from the report of her speech:
Outlining in more detail the outcome of the talks at Hillsborough, Mary Lou explained how at all times the negotiating team would not entertain the DUP’s attempt to appease the Orange Order element in their ranks to return to the past and dispose of the Parades Commission. Cross-community support remains a key aspect to any parade being allowed into an area, with the DUP agreeing to the fundamental right that people have the right to live free from sectarian harassment.
Poor Mary Lou seems not to have understood the Hillsborough Agreement. The fact is that the Parades Commission will be replaced by a new and improved framework - that is what the Agreement states.
Neither has she understood the nature of this new and improved framework. There is no mention in the Agreement of a requirement for the 'support' of residents as 'a key aspect to any parade being allowed into an area.' There is an emphasis on local dialogue and mediation but if dialogue and mediation fail then the adjudication will be based on human rights and the right of peaceful public assembly, which includes both parades and protests, is one of the most fundamental rights in a democratic society.
The comments by Mary Lou McDonald were followed by even stronger statements from Gerry Adams and others and it is clear that Sinn Fein leaders are looking over one shoulder at dissident republicans and over the other shoulder at some elements in their own ranks.