Saturday, 21 August 2010

Sinn Fein and direct rule

In her 1993 book In Search of a State: Catholics in Northern Ireland, Fionnuala O'Connor also interviewed Mitchel McLaughlin (pp 42,43), who was then Northern chairman of Sinn Fein. 

Almost twenty years later it is interesting to look back at his views on direct rule, a policy now favoured by some unionists.  He spoke about the benefits of direct rule for Nationalists and said:
There's no belief in power-sharing.  One of the things that can't be sold to the Catholic population ... We've moved on.  For Catholics, direct rule has been the best form of government we've had, with a number of direct effects, for example fair employment.  We'd still be waiting for a local assembly to introduce fair employment legislation.  but we have it, it's up, it's operating, slow enough in some places but on the way ... And the relationship between Catholics, nationalist politicians and westminster - that they have direct access and a good profile in the world at lareg - these things have come about, in all honesty, as a result of direct rule ...
McLaughlin's analysis of how direct rule advantaged the Nationalist community in Northern Ireland is certainly interesting and something that Unionists would do well to remember.

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