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Provo Censorship and Hypocrisy 

Sinn Féin and their fellow-travellers in the British Left are often to be heard sounding off about the British government regulations which deny direct access to radio and television for representatives of Sinn Féin, the UDA and all the proscribed paramilitary organisations. We agree that the regulations are totally ridiculous! We can see Gerry Adams' or Tommy Lyttle's lips move but we are not allowed to hear their own voices!

This does not seem to worry the UDA unduly, but Sinn Féin are very upset at such 'censorship of a legitimate political party'. This is interesting given Sinn Féin's attitude to the Irish Republican Socialist Party during the recent commemoration of the Tenth Anniversary of the H-Block Hunger Strike. Sinn Féin refused to allow IRSP speakers on the platform of the commemorative rally despite the fact that three of the ten hunger-strikers who died were INLA volunteers. It just goes to show that Sinn Féin can dish out censorship every bit as well as the British government. The poor old IRSP had to content itself with hanging around the fringes of the crowd handing out leaflets protesting at Sinn Féin's high-handedness.

Sinn Féin does not only censor rival republican groups. Sinn Féin spokespersons now censor themselves! Until late last year Sinn Féin was happy to speak for their associates in the Republican Movement - the IRA.  Sinn Féin explained that the IRA were fighting a war against 'British imperialism'. Unlike loyalist paramilitary bodies, they explained that the IRA only attacked 'legitimate targets' - soldiers, RUC constables, judges, loyalist paramilitary figures and so on.

Occasionally, an 'accident' would result in the death or injury of noncombatants. Sinn Féin was so embarrassed by some IRA operations that it sometimes found it necessary to issue mild admonishments to its IRA colleagues to get their act together. This is no longer a problem for Sinn Féin. How come? Easy, Sinn Féin no longer comment on IRA actions. Yes, they still defend the 'right of oppressed Irish people to defend themselves and confront imperialism by force of arms' but have nothing to say about individual IRA actions. We are now expected to believe that the IRA and Sinn Féin are totally separate entities. Gerry Adams and Alex Maskey want to be heard for their views on the future of Ulster, the economy and the Irish language but they don't want to talk anymore about the activities of the IRA: the same IRA that has given Sinn Féin its reason for existence. What is this but self-censorship? 

It is a great pity that Sinn Féin's leadership have taken such a vow of silence on the IRA's 'armed struggle'. Both wings of the Republican Movement insist that they are anti-imperialists - not sectarian anti-Protestant gangsters. They claim that the British 'forces of occupation' are the IRA's targets - not Protestants. This claim is for outside consumption among leftist Provo fan clubs - the Troops Out Movement, Irish Freedom Movement etc - in England and further afield. It cuts no ice with most Ulsterfolk for whom the IRA's actions speak louder than their words.

It would be fascinating to hear Sinn Féin's justification for the IRA's planting of an 150kg van bomb in the middle of the Protestant Montrush housing estate in Cookstown a few weeks ago. Eleven Protestant civilians were injured, 120 houses were damaged and 26 families were made homeless in the massive midnight explosion. A similar late night attack on a Protestant estate happened in Donacloney a fortnight later. It seems unlikely that Sinn Féin will win much of a vote in these places in the forthcoming General Election! The IRA has decided that it is 'legitimate' to wage war on ordinary Protestant civilians as well as politicians and members of the security forces. The obvious contradiction between the IRA's actions and Sinn Féin's rhetoric has embarrassed Adams into uncharacteristic silence. This self-censorship masks the stinking hypocrisy of the Provisional Republican Movement. Would you trust such people to govern you in a centralised 'All-Ireland' state?

David Kerr

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