for so many reasons, the decision by michelle o'neill is just so wrong, wrong, wrong
Dave Smyth writes about why SF should reject the invitation to atttend the coronation of a monarch
Sinn Fein's decision to accept an invitation to the crowning of a king is deplorable to Socialists like me
because all forms of monarchy are undemocratic and only serve to inflict massive inequality, impose
their own privilege, and proclaim their own right to rule over people.
Not alone this, but in the specific context of our very recent past in Ireland it's important to remember
that the British monarchy was still recognised as head of state here until 1949. On top of that, we still
have partition on our island whereby these elites claim every citizen of the 6 counties as their
Sinn Fein will and do argue that their attendance at this event will show Unionism that they are
prepared to recognise the traditions of an attachment to Britain that still exists among some in those
communities. However, as Socialists we would argue that Unionism is never going to be about
reunification and as such the path to a united Ireland lies in building cross-community and ending
sectarian division among the working class.
It's also interesting to note that the British monarchy has form when it comes to wielding its might if a
left-wing government ever presents a dilemma that doesn't suit the rich! In 1975 the British Queen
dismissed a democratically elected Labour government in Australia. Food for thought as Sinn Fein
position themselves to potentially form the next government here in Ireland. While we don't have a
monarchy, we do have a ruling class and a lot of billionaires who have enormous influence over
establishment Ireland and the very rotten system that Sinn Fein hopes to manage for them! A truly left
government frightens the rich, whether they are wearing crowns or not.
We also need to remember what horrors monarchy has brought to our shores here in Ireland. Charles
was commander-in-chief of the paratroopers who indiscriminately murdered civil rights protesters on
Bloody Sunday in 1972. On top of that, we can never forget the 1920 Bloody Sunday massacre when
British troops under the command of their King indiscriminately opened fire on fans attending a
football game in Croke Park, murdering innocent people.
The British crown is also responsible for internment in Ireland as well as collusion with loyalist
paramilitary groups which resulted in the murder of many Irish people over many decades and, of
course, the famine. During the famine, the monarchy insisted on letting as many as a million Irish
people die by exporting food from Ireland to Britain with a callous attitude towards those dying here of
After the 1916 rising failed, the British monarchy had all the leaders of the rebellion executed. While
Thatcher is always blamed for the Republican hunger strikers who were let die, the British Queen
stood by and remains equally culpable in the eyes of many, and rightly so.
Monarchy represents all that is so wrong in society, and we should be calling for its demise rather than
attending any of its junkets! We also see how the next generation of "Royals" play to their public with
the likes of Kate Middleton and her husband, Charles' son William "volunteering" at food banks in
Britain as if to pretend that the poor of today are not the direct result of failed Tory policies that the
monarchy they are in waiting to rule gives its full blessing to!
Even on a practical level, for Sinn Fein to participate in such a lavish and elaborate ceremony while
many among the working class suffer hugely during a cost-of-living crisis is to send a very wrong
message. It's also a fact that Sinn Fein have many elected British MP's among their ranks who refuse
to take up their seats at Westminster in London over an objection to the requirement that they swear
allegiance to the British monarch of the day. It's blatant hypocrisy to attend the crowning of King
Charles in this context, as to do so is akin to pledging allegiance essentially!
Any reconciliation must be honest about reality and face up to the past. Pretending that everything is
OK won't work. Attending an event like this is a slap in the face to every working-class person on this
island. We don't yet have a normal relationship with Britain, and we never will if we keep pandering to a
monarchy that belongs in the dustbin of history.
Michelle O'Neill says that she wants to respect different but equally legitimate aspirations as an
excuse for her intention to attend this event. As Socialists, we say she'd be better spending her time
working towards ending division rather than trying to use politics and gesturing to anchor that division
for another generation. The problems faced by working class Unionists are no different than those
faced by working class Republicans, this is the key thing. Religious or political sectarianism will never
put bread on the table or provide true equality for all.
Sinn Fein may well also see this as another in the many steps they've taken in recent years to cosy up
to establishment Ireland in the Republic and to the Tories in the North as they try to position
themselves as "acceptable" to the ruling class. They want to portray themselves as a pair of safe
hands essentially, and in so doing they are prepared to drop a lot of what their ideology once was.
When it comes to a future government here, we want to see Fine Gael and Fianna Fail out of power.
This is why it is so important that Sinn Fein rule out going into coalition with either of the two right wing
parties FF or FG prior to the next general election and be up front with the working-class.
Socialists would support a Sinn Fein led government from opposition on a case by case basis, but we
would do so with laser focus on what matters to our class. As such, we have no interest in the Mercs
and Perks and we would hold such a government to account. Also, if we have enough Socialist TD's
to hold the balance of power, we can and will be the ones who make sure that Sinn Fein deliver.
A Sinn Fein led government with support from opposition by Socialist TD's is the best outcome we
can expect under the current system. But, a Sinn Fein led government with, for example, Fianna Fáil
would be a disaster.
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