Friday, October 28, 2005


OTR amnesty is wrong

"The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and all of its parts, cherishing all of the children of the nation equally and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past." - 1916 Proclamation

The piece above is an extract from the Proclamation of the Republic which was read out to the people of Dublin by Padraig Pearse on the steps of the GPO prior to the Easter insurrection. Irish Republicans view the Proclamation as sancrosant and therefore would not repudiate the above sentiments. With that being the case, why then are Sinn Féin pushing so hard for an amnesty on OTRs (On-The-Runs)?

This week, Secretary of State Peter Hain
announced that paramilitaries who had not committed any offence since 1998, and had withdrawn support for terrorist groups not observing a ceasefire, would be eligible to apply for an amnesty from prosecution. Unionists have greeted the news with anger with the DUP's Sammy Wilson accusing Mr Hain of "making a mockery of justice".

Eileen Bell, Deputy Leader and Victims' Spokesperson of the Alliance Party, gave her views on the announcement in
this article in the Belfast Telegraph. Bell stated:

"OTRs are Republicans who are either suspected of serious acts of terrorism but who have never faced the courts, or who have escaped from prison. They include people suspected of involvement in some of the worst atrocities during the conflict, such as the Enniskillen bomb.

"What could be more perverse? Paramilitaries, including those guilty of heinous crimes allowed to return to their homes in safety, while innocent people exiled by the relevant paramilitary organisation are denied that opportunity."

I agree with Mr Wilson and Ms Bell. I cannot see how one can morally justify giving amnesty to people who have murdered and maimed. Not only is it morally repugnant, but it also goes against the very teachings of Irish Republicanism.

What happened to "equal opportunities and equal rights" to "all citizens"? What happened to "cherishing all of the children of the nation equally"?

If Sinn Féin were true Republicans, they would oppose these measures vehemently. The fact that they do not oppose these measures and that they in actual fact support them tells you plenty about their Republican credentials.

Sammy Wilson stated the proposed amnesty for OTRs made a "mockery of justice". He's right. But it also makes a mockery of Irish Republicanism.

In recent days there has been much debate about who the true Irish Republicans are in the island of Ireland. At their recent Ard Fheis, Fianna Fáil put forward their case that they are the true flag-bearers of the Republican tradition. Determining who the true Republicans are in Ireland will always provoke debate but I think one thing is certain - whoever it is, it ain't Sinn Fein.


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