Updated: 02/11/16 : 04:30:02
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Sinn Féin all over the place in referendum wake

By Eugene McGloin
Political Editor

THE LATEST in a line of 'All Ireland' talk shops gets under way later today, Wednesday.

Thirty years ago Catholic Bishops, North and South, were welcomed to Dublin, too, to a similar set-up.

That was the New Ireland Forum and politicians greeted the prelates with a famous welcome line.

It was the first time since St Patrick that the bishops had to think on their feet, said the late John Kelly of Fine Gael.

He was a man not at all hostile to the then stagnant orthodoxy of the same hierarchy but above all else he loved his own one-liners.

No Qualms

Arlene Foster gave a 'three for the price of two' in one liners at her weekend party conference.

All of Foster's one liners firmly said the same thing: She would not be coming to Dublin today for a 'grandstanding' get-together.

Sinn Fein have no such qualms in joining the queue for entry to today's 'all-Ireland' talk shop.....to discuss a British ballot.

Colour Coded

The Shinners should look at a colour-coded map of voting patterns down through the 'spine' of the United Kingdom in its recent Europe referendum.

Seventeen million votes can hardly be politically marginalised as mere enclaves or as racists or as political ignoramuses, can they?

Meanwhile, core qualms about Sinn Fein and its Olympian-size somersaults on Europe still surface among its admirers and its (erstwhile) allies.

Forget the fact that in 1972 Sinn Fein campaigned strongly against the Republic's referendum to join Europe.

One Wave

Euro MEP Matt Carthy nullified that with one wave of his wand on TV3 with Matt Cooper last night, Tuesday.

Sinn Fein accepted the result of the (1972) referendum, the decision of the people, said Sinn Fein's Matt.

Did it? Patricia McKenna, his fellow panellist on TV3 last night, cited the party's much more recent referendum opposition to the Lisbon Treaty.

Opposition by Sinn Fein to 'Lisbon' would have been 100% consistent with its position(s) over the previous years.

But how do you square that Lisbon Treaty opposition with Sinn Fein 'acceptance' (now) of the 1972 vote in the Republic on entry to Europe.

'When' precisely did that Sinn Fein acceptance commence -- maybe even tell us 'how' and 'why,' too.

So far, all we have is not so much matt as gloss, glossing over, and it's not enough and it's not good enough.

The answer, of course, could be that the Jesuit school of jugglers didn't all join Fianna Fáil. They had other party options. Of course.

No Vote

The dogs in the street recognise the gaping democratic deficit in the debate on Europe.....but Sinn Fein adroitly sidesteps it.

Namely, as an 18 year old in 1972 I had NO vote in the Republic's referendum to join Europe.

Almost the entire first generation of ''free secondary education'' in the Republic, 1967 to 1972, NEVER got to vote on our European membership.

Sinn Fein now campaigns for a re-run on a 1983 referendum in the Republic but ignores any logic in having any new vote on a referendum ELEVEN years earlier.

New Baseline

If nothing else, a new referendum would allow citizens in the Republic (that word again!) to recalibrate where we 'stand' on Europe for the 21st century.

One guarantee: If we ever get that right in the Republic (Republic!) to vote on Europe I'll outright respect the outcome, regardless of the result.

Finally, here's a one liner of my own: It won't go away, you know. 

What won't go away is the denial of a vote on EU membership.

Such a vote would be a new baseline audit -- one which would, at least, have the merit of allowing us, all of us, to start thereafter from the same starting line.

There is a damn sight more merit in that than the guff 'grandstand' which gets under way in Dublin today.