When is mainstream Unionism going to catch up with grassroots Loyalism on reconciliation?

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It struck me as very odd – that Mike Nesbitt performance on the latest BBC Hearts and Minds programme.

As I watched and listened, I asked myself, is that really the best he can do, challenge Sinn Fein’s Declan Kearney to name an IRA “war crime” and to persuade him on television of the worth of a United Ireland?

It was more smug than smart, and it was a missed opportunity to engage seriously on the past and on the issue of reconciliation.

Nesbitt, with all his news experience, will have known that he was not going to get answers, not in a studio and not on matters of such importance.

His “war crimes” question is perfectly fair, but in the right process when all the other “war crimes” questions are being asked – not of one side but every side, including the involvement of paid intelligence agents in murder.

This will open the Special Branch, the Military and Security Service MI5 to the same questions.

Because as part of that debate, if that is what people really want, then you have to  look at all the policies, practices and players in these wars  – loyalist/republican, security/intelligence and political/governments.

And, of course, there will be an examination of the context in which the conflict occurred – putting all of that under the spotlight as well, and asking questions not just of those who went to prison, but those who did not.

This reconciliation debate should not and cannot be reduced to the need for an IRA apology.

Some unionists who have been demanding that, should think about how they were able to step out in a recent march, in which to quote Jackie McDonald, the UDA “suited and booted” and the UVF “in Somme gear” were also present.

There are those who quite clearly do not like the current reconciliation conversation because of where it originated – in an article penned by Declan Kearney and published in An Phoblacht.

But have a read at John Howcroft, a loyalist and former life sentence prisoner, writing elsewhere on this website.

“Let us acknowledge that it is not just those ‘other’ people [republicans]that come to the table with an agenda,” he writes, adding:

“To focus on the agenda of the other person somehow implies that we…come with no baggage.”

Howcroft, from north Belfast, has attended some of the talks that have been developing in the background involving Sinn Fein and a range of people from the Protestant/unionist/loyalist community; confident enough to take a seat at the table and argue his position as well as listen to the ‘other’.

His words reminded me of something that Jackie McDonald said some time back when criticised within his own community for shaking hands with Martin McGuinness.

He challenged the person asking the question to think what it was like for McGuinness to shake hands with him?

“We weren’t boy scouts,” McDonald said.

The loyalists get this stuff and this conversation better than many political unionists, but that is not to say that they do not have doubts or suspicions.

Of course they have.

Another former prisoner Alistair Little has serious questions about the meaning of “authentic” reconciliation and the worth of saying sorry if it is only to acknowledge hurt while at the same time maintaining the legitimacy of the action that caused that hurt.

His voice and questions should be heard within this debate, in which, he writes, that he still hopes he and others can be persuaded that the initiative is “genuine”.

Republicans also need to be persuaded that the many other sides are equally serious and genuine.

So, Mike Nesbitt and some others need to remember some of the past demands that have been made in this process – the things that were never going to happen:

– That there should be some public disclosure or counting out of the guns that were decommissioned;

– That the process should have been photographed;

– That the Army Council should publicly disband.

Thankfully there are others who knew and know the skills of peace making and peace building; people such as Rev Harold Good and Sir George Quigley independent eyewitnesses at different moments to arms being put beyond use.

One was present when IRA weapons were decommissioned, the other when the UDA presented guns and bullets to be destroyed.

Rev Good and Sir George are part of the developing reconciliation conversations, as is the Presbyterian Minister Rev Lesley Carroll.

It is worth recording and remembering that the Revs Good and Carroll spoke face-to-face to republicans, challenged republicans, long before political unionists did – long before ceasefires.

And in that talking and challenging they helped get things done; helped change minds and approaches – helped save lives.

Whatever happens in this latest conversation on reconciliation, and whoever joins in, they should stay part of it.

In many other phases of this process developments were choreographed – one step and statement were met with another step and statement.

This time, and on this issue, that won’t work. We need everyone in the same process and at the same table and at the same time.

But how is that achieved?

I still believe we need an international facilitator and team to speak to all sides off stage, and to determine what is possible and what is not, before that table of explanation is prepared and the seats arranged.

 

 


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About Author

Brian Rowan

Brian Rowan is a journalist/author. A former BBC correspondent in Belfast, four times he has been a category winner in the Northern Ireland Press and Broadcast Awards. He is the author of several books on the peace process and contributed chapters to 'Reporting the Troubles' and 'Brexit and Northern Ireland: Bordering on Confusion'.

14 Comments

  1.  

    Yet another important contribution by Brian Rowan to this ongoing
    debate about truth and reconciliation. As you know, I chair Féile an Phobail,
    and certainly since the ceasefires we consider a central plank of our community
    festival work to be the provision of platforms for discussion and debate for
    all political views and for organisations that were involved in the conflict. There
    are the former combatants who ironically tend to be among those most honest
    about the past, who want to explain themselves and are prepared to hear
    contrary opinions. Then there are those, fairly self-righteous beings, who
    believe that they (whose quality of life was proportionate to advantage or
    aloofness or great hypocrisy) bear no responsibility whatsoever to what was
    unleashed.

     The photograph accompanying Brian Rowan’s
    article was taken after one of the most important debates at our festival held
    in the Falls Library a few years ago when loyalists and republicans debated the
    past and the mistakes of the past.

    This August we are putting on
    another event – where former loyalist prisoners present their experience of
    Long Kesh and the politicisation within their ranks. I shall post the details
    below.

    In the meantime, I just want to
    refer to an excellent book reading in the Lyric Theatre on Friday night by the
    Israeli writer, David Grossman, whose son Uri, a soldier, was killed during the
    invasion of Lebanon in 2006. In one of his books Grossman wrote about the
    enmity between Palestinians and Israelis and the fact that there will be no justice
    without truth and reconciliation. Appositely, given that Brian Rowan refers to
    Mike Nesbitt, a former Victims Commissioner, Grossman also refers to whether
    victimhood accords one a privileged position. What Grossman has to say accords
    with what Robin Livingstone said in a Féile discussion about fifteen years ago:
    that because his 14-year-old sister Julie was murdered by a British soldier
    with a plastic bullet didn’t mean that any special weight should be attached to
    his, Robert’s opinion.

     In 2006 Grossman attacked Israeli Prime Minister
    Ehud Olmert over his disastrous invasion of Southern Lebanon in the war in
    which Uri lost his life. In words that have a special resonance Grossman said,
    “The tragedy that befell my family and me upon the death of our son Uri does
    not give me special privileges in the public discourse.”

    Uri was two weeks short of his
    twenty-first birthday when his tank was struck by a missile. Just two days
    earlier, Grossman and fellow writers Amos Ox and A. B. Yehoshua, had pleaded
    with the Israeli government to reach a ceasefire agreement.

    Grossman appeals to Israelis to
    view things for a moment from the Palestinian perspective, as unionists must do
    regarding republicans and as republicans must do regarding unionists: “For
    once, look at them not only through the crosshairs of a rifle or a roadblock.
    You will see a nation no less tortured than we are. A nation occupied and
    oppressed and hopeless. Of course the Palestinians are also to blame for the
    dead end. Of course they had a part in the failure of the peace process. But
    look at them for a moment in a different light. Not only at the extremists
    among them, those who have an alliance of interests with our own extremists.
    Look at the overwhelming majority of this miserable people, whose fate is bound
    up with ours whether we like it or not.”

     Well, I don’t think
    unionists and republicans are ‘miserable’ people though all of us through what
    we did – and what we failed to do! – made
    lives miserable.

    Here is the event, I mentioned above:

    ‘Voices From Behind The Wire’ – The Loyalists’ Experience

    St Mary’s University College, Tuesday 7th
    August, 2.30pm

    In the 1970s, the earliest and bloodiest years of the
    conflict, loyalists and republicans had political (special category) status in
    the Cages/Compounds of Long Kesh. Former loyalist prisoners reject apolitical
    stereotyping of their organisations and highlight the political processes they
    were engaged in, which were rooted in reflecting on their actions and their
    subsequent incarceration. In the 1990s, their role in and subsequent support
    for the ceasefires and the ‘Good Friday Agreement’ records a narrative which offers
    a legacy that is transformative in its telling. The first phase of an ongoing
    archive, this event aims to dispel the loyalist stereotype with a positive
    counter perspective and also demolishes the romanticism often associated with
    being a former prisoner. In association with Coiste na n-Iarchimí.

    • Danny – The picture above was taken in 2010 after an event I chaired with Martin McGuinness and William ‘Plum’ Smith sharing the same platform – the Deputy First Minister from Derry and the man from the Shankill who chaired the 1994 Combined Loyalist Military Command ceasefire news conference. You’ll remember something said in the room that day by Jackie McDonald – that in 1994 after of a number of loyalists including Ray Smallwoods had been shot dead, he wanted more Catholics killed before the UDA responded to the IRA ceasefire. It was both shocking and controversial, but it was his ‘truth’. He said in 2010 that he was glad he hadn’t got his way, but in 1994 that is what  he wanted – more killing. The loyalists have travelled a great distance since then, and the debate and discussions hosted in festivals such as yours, give space for story-telling in which many can share their experiences. You’ll not be surprised therefore that loyalists including McDonald and John Bunting, also pictured above, have become involved in the latest conversations on reconciliation.On Friday, Bunting made clear his willingness to engage with republicans including Declan Kearney. We’re in a different place now, and these conversations that are developing might take us to an even better place. This talking is never cosy and it’s not comfortable, but, to borrow John Howcroft’s word, it helps all of us better understand the “other”. Good luck with your Festival.

      Barney 

  2. Morning Barney,
     
    I’m not entirely sure what is meant by ‘grassroots loyalism,’ let alone who speaks for them. To all intents and purposes there is no authentic electoral voice for working class unionism or loyalism anywhere in NI. The UDP (Gary McMichael, Davy Adams et al) has disappeared and the PUP has, I think, just a couple of councillors. Most evience suggests that working class unionism/loyalism has just stopped voting and doesn’t even regard either the UUP/DUP as potential champions.
     
    So, while it may be true that Jackie McDonald and others may well be a ‘legitimate’ voice for those who were (and may still be) involved in loyalist paramilitarism, it is a mistake to assume that they represent the views or concerns of the much broader working class unionist/loyalist family. The fact that they have been rejected at the ballot box has to tell you something!
     
    Hence my concern that a reconciliation process will be used by paramilitaries from all sides for their own very specific purposes.
     
    Who is going to speak for working class loyalism/unionism?
     
    Also, my personal view (and it is only my view) is that most people within the pro-Union community don’t actually give a damn about a reconciliation process: because they have no particular interest in a shared society. Ok, they want an end to violence and they ceratinly don’t want a return to political instability, but they are reasonably content to keep the political and psychological barriers in situ. They have accepted Sinn Fein in government but they don’t want to be best buddies with them. And the same applies to most republicans in terms of how they view their unionist neighbours.

    I do agree with you about Mike Nesbitt’s performance, though. I’m not quite sure at whom it was aimed and it was absurd to accuse Kearney of avoiding questions when he wasn’t willing to give a flavour of his own thinking.

    Regards,

    Alex. 
     

    • Morning Alex – I agree the loyalist community is a fractured place in which there are many competing opinions, indeed egos. We saw the beginnings of a credible political project in and around the ceasefire/Good Friday Agreement period with those people you mention Gary McMichael and Davy Adams as well as David Ervine, Billy Hutchinson, Dawn Purvis and ‘Plum’ Smith – all being guided by Gusty Spence. The loyalist infighting and feuding that was sparked by Johnny Adair and John White, destroyed the political project. I don’t for one minute suggest that those who have emerged more recently represent broad unionist/loyalist working class opinion, but they do represent a part of that community, and, I think, are an important part of  this debate. I think the questions you and others raise need to be asked and answered, and that is work for others. I’ve no idea of the detail of the conversation that has been taking place in private, but I say again, what I said last week, the place for you is at that table. Keep posting and keep questioning.

      Barney 

  3. I often get asked the question why did you join a paramilitary organisation and become involved in the conflict? To this question I have a standard answer I didn’t wake up any particular morning and say to myself ” oh I’m going to join a paramilitary organisation”, I was borne into the conflict. I was borne into a society that had church leaders who wouldn’t even talk to each other and some ministers who breathed fire, brimstone and hatred from their pulpits. I was borne into a society that had political leaders who constantly perpetuated sectarianism, division and from time to time fuelled the fires of conflict. An education system that was divided along religious and class lines supported and consolidated by those same church leaders and still evident as we have recently witnessed in the resistance to the ending of the 11+ and the attitude of grammar schools. A society that had 2 local newspapers that maintained those sectarian frontiers even til the present day in order to sell their product. Protestant libraries that stored safe books and Catholic libraries whose safe books where different than those in protestant areas. Teaching Colleges that pumped out our future teachers divided along religious lines.
    Now that the physical conflict is over of course those who should have known better are looking for someone to blame, someone to scapegoat and absolve themselves of any responsibility of any kind for the society I and other people of my generation were born into. When we talk of justice, whose justice? Truth, whose truth? Justice and truth mean different things to different people. However I don’t prescribe the theory that Parmaliltaries would use a truth recovery process to their own ends as they would be quite happy to walk away from any “nuremburg witchunt”. First we were called protestants, then we were called unionists now we are called loyalists so that anything bad can be thrown at that label so that protestantism and unionism can keep the hands out of the dirt. First we were called the working class, then the underclass and now the buzz word invented by the Government and Academics is, wait for it, the “worklessness”.
    The recent earth shattering row over “Girdwood” is festooned with political posturing and the great and the good telling the worklessness about a shared future. Lets have a shared future! Lets start with a pilot scheme. Take 15 families each from the Shankill and Falls and swop houses with 15 families each from Stranmillis and Malone Roads. Take 10 teachers each from all the grammar schools and swop them with teachers who teach in the schools of the “worklessness”. And of course lets have an inquiry into how those rich bankers are still employed and still drawing down huge bonuses while the poor the needy and future generations will continue paying for it.
    We the “worklessness” sat down with our enemies and negotiated a peace when the Unionism and Protestantism wouldn’t even sit in the same interviewing studios. 
    We are not afraid to get involved in progressing the peace through a meaningful and achievable “truth recovery mechanism” but I don’t see anything of that nature emerging either in the near or distant future. The whole negativity of dwelling in the past and not dealing with the past holds the future prosperity of generations hostage to conflict.I prefer to see our children dancing to Snow Patrol the MTV awards than being shackled by a conflict and past which happened before they were born.
    Now I will walk my dog “blu” in the local park amongst the worklessness.
    Wiliam “Plum” Smith

    • VictorCarmichael on

      I’m not sure anyone from Stranmillis would be signing up to that, but an interesting suggestion. Almost 20 years into a ceasefire and can’t even build some decent housing without it looking like a circus, never mind organise a few families to do a house swop

      Your final comments, say it all for me really:

      ‘The whole negativity of dwelling in the past and not dealing with the past holds the future prosperity of generations hostage to conflict.I prefer to see our children dancing to Snow Patrol the MTV awards than being shackled by a conflict and past which happened before they were born.’

  4. Jackiemcdonald on

    I have listened to Alex on occasions and read his blogs,agreeing with some of his comments though not all of what he says makes sense to me. I met David Trimble quite a few times and I thought he deserved more recognition for his role in preparing the way for Peace Process,I thought he showed leadership and courage at a difficult time. I’ll answer his question about who I represent..no-one! What I believe and what I say is based on my experiences and what I hear from working class people and others from all over Northern Ireland. Ex-Prisoners and Ex-Combatants,many of whom I had served time with in the Crumlin Road Prison and the Maze,have opened their hearts and minds to me about their involvement in the conflict and their views on how they see the way forward.conversations I believe are invaluable at this stage of Peace building. I have also spoken to and listened to some of their families who feel totally disempowered and frustrated by some Politicians who have promised them the moon during election campaigns and then they aren’t seen again until the next election. They have asked me why I don’t stand for election,why the UPRG don’t become a Political Party and speak on behalf of Loyalist working class people. I asked them in return why they hadn’t voted for PUP or UDP candidates in previous elections and they explained they just couldn’t bring themselves to vote against Paisley or the established Unionists. They saw the Loyalist Paramilitaries as the fighters and the Unionists as the talkers,whereas Nationalists logic seemed to be if Republican Paramilitaries were brave enough to give their lives and/or freedom for them they could be trusted to represented them. I am not an elected representative of any community or organisation but I am very much aware of the frustrations and disappointment

  5. Jackiemcdonald on

    I have listened to Alex on occasions and read his blogs,agreeing with some of his comments though not all of what he says makes sense to me. I met David Trimble quite a few times and I thought he deserved more recognition for his role in preparing the way for Peace Process,I thought he showed leadership and courage at a difficult time. I’ll answer his question about who I represent..no-one! What I believe and what I say is based on my experiences and what I hear from working class people and others from all over Northern Ireland. Ex-Prisoners and Ex-Combatants,many of whom I had served time with in the Crumlin Road Prison and the Maze,have opened their hearts and minds to me about their involvement in the conflict and their views on how they see the way forward.conversations I believe are invaluable at this stage of Peace building. I have also spoken to and listened to some of their families who feel totally disempowered and frustrated by some Politicians who have promised them the moon during election campaigns and then they aren’t seen again until the next election. They have asked me why I don’t stand for election,why the UPRG don’t become a Political Party and speak on behalf of Loyalist working class people. I asked them in return why they hadn’t voted for PUP or UDP candidates in previous elections and they explained they just couldn’t bring themselves to vote against Paisley or the established Unionists. They saw the Loyalist Paramilitaries as the fighters and the Unionists as the talkers,whereas Nationalists logic seemed to be if Republican Paramilitaries were brave enough to give their lives and/or freedom for them they could be trusted to represented them. I am not an elected representative of any community or organisation but I am very much aware of the frustrations and disappointment

  6. Jackiemcdonald on

    I have listened to Alex on occasions and read his blogs,agreeing with some of his comments though not all of what he says makes sense to me. I met David Trimble quite a few times and I thought he deserved more recognition for his role in preparing the way for Peace Process,I thought he showed leadership and courage at a difficult time. I’ll answer his question about who I represent..no-one! What I believe and what I say is based on my experiences and what I hear from working class people and others from all over Northern Ireland. Ex-Prisoners and Ex-Combatants,many of whom I had served time with in the Crumlin Road Prison and the Maze,have opened their hearts and minds to me about their involvement in the conflict and their views on how they see the way forward.conversations I believe are invaluable at this stage of Peace building. I have also spoken to and listened to some of their families who feel totally disempowered and frustrated by some Politicians who have promised them the moon during election campaigns and then they aren’t seen again until the next election. They have asked me why I don’t stand for election,why the UPRG don’t become a Political Party and speak on behalf of Loyalist working class people. I asked them in return why they hadn’t voted for PUP or UDP candidates in previous elections and they explained they just couldn’t bring themselves to vote against Paisley or the established Unionists. They saw the Loyalist Paramilitaries as the fighters and the Unionists as the talkers,whereas Nationalists logic seemed to be if Republican Paramilitaries were brave enough to give their lives and/or freedom for them they could be trusted to represented them. I am not an elected representative of any community or organisation but I am very much aware of the frustrations and disappointment felt at grass roots level,the GFA and any benefits of it don’t seem to have reached our working class areas yet. Time and time again I get reminded that Loyalism has no Mandate,which is of course true,my only excuse for that is during elections only approx 36-37 per cent of those registered to vote bother to do so in Loyalist areas,the remainder come to community leaders or people they know for assistance,housing/housing benefits etc. Peter Robinson and the DUP seem to be relating to and working closer with working class communities which has to be welcomed,they are not afraid to change the record and to break the mould in their attempt to move on,to help secure the Peace Process and a shared future. Some OLD SCHOOL politicians and others in the media are becoming like original characters from Eastenders or Coronation Street,type cast and afraid to move on,in case they won’t be accepted in some new role,a feeling of insecurity maybe. What chance have our youngsters,what example is being set for them other than bigotry,sectarianism and hatred,by a generation who,having experienced the very worst of the conflict should surely be united in working for peace and a better future. Dissident Republican groups will thrive and flourish from this negativity,this No place for Republicans attitude and if it all goes pear shaped and we have more victims (God forbid) will anyone hold their hand up and say they could helped prevent it ?

    • Barneyrowan on

      Jackie – I said on Radio Ulster Sunday Sequence yesterday that much of the heavy lifting in the peace process when it comes to the Protestant/unionist/loyalist community has been done by people outside the political parties. One example is the type of engagement I described at the west Belfast Festival. This reconciliation debate needs all voices – elected and non-elected; and people should not be using the bogeyman of a United Ireland as an excuse not to engage. People such as yourself, John Howcroft, John Bunting and Alistair Little can bring a street reality and war experience to these talks and debate. You ask why people didn’t vote for the UDP and PUP. They were starting to when loyalism pushed a self-destruct button in the feuds that began in 2000 and continued for several years afterwards. The blame on this issue is found in the violent actions of the UDA and the UVF, and how they set about destroying and demoralising their own communities.Some of those who argue they have been left behind in the peace process should take a look in the mirror and ask themselves, Why?  

  7. EamonnMallie on

    What we are now getting from some of the former activists in the many militant organisations across Northern Ireland is an expression of that latent intelligence that we all knew lay untapped in so many of those fractured districts.Intelligence is not a gift bestowed geographically or discriminately but is a gift capable of being nurtured for the greater good. I repeat, for the greater good. I am encouraged to note that Plum Smith is broadening out the reconciliation debate to embrace Education. One South Belfast primary school is turning out a 90% transfer success rate. How does that figure compare with performances  in housing estates in Kilcooley Bangor, Sandy Row, Ballybeen or Rathcoole? Why have we not a revolution of another kind in this country?Education should not be encouraged for purposes of self-aggrandisement but for the amelioration of our less well off fellow human beings. That is why the current Grammar School lobby has to be seriously challenged. When have you heard at a prize giving day in a Grammar School that your child’s talent has to be used to help improve the lot of others less well off? Far too often academic achievement is accompanied by notions of bigger cars, bigger houses, bigger holidays and self indulgence.Just today a Bombardier employee told me that company is crippled at times with  an acute shortage of engineers. In fact management is forced to trawl around the globe to locate appropriate expertise. This is happening at a time when there is serious unemployment with thousands of young people jobless, being force to travel abroad in search of employment. Where are our regional techs? How many children in the Lower Shankill have an iPad? Are we hearing of CoderDojos in such districts? I doubt it. Why are we not tapping into that pool of intelligence in these areas using contemporary technology to stimulate and inspire young children?Plum Smith in his latest posting has admirably addressed the sectarian nature of our traditional newspapers.We must encourage this refreshing provocative thinking from people like the Plum Smiths, Jackie McDonalds, John Howcrofts, Alistair Littles and Declan Kearneys etc. 

  8. I too agree that Nesbitt was poor, but in his cack-handed, ingenue way, he also pointed up a design flaw in this initiative… 

    For instance, it confuses a number of objects:

    – Is this is a party initiative aimed at a better understanding of Protestant voters so that Sinn Fein can better represent them?

    – Or is it a genuine initiative aimed at helping all of us confront our bloody past?

    If it is the former, why would anyone in any other party feel obliged to further SF’s perfectly respectable object of increasing  power and breadth of its mandate?

    It also makes a fatal category error by treating the security forces in the same terms as organisations which (according to Lost Lives) between them were responsible for 87% of all deaths.  

    According to this narrative, the cops were just as bad as the guys who racked up all but thirteen percent of the total number of deaths. 

    To buy this you need to forget the numbers, and the fact that most cops where involved in trying to lock up killers and their accomplices on both sides. 

    The public record is remarkably devoid of specific information on this aspect of the Troubles. For instance, how many lives did the old RUC save by securing the conviction of mass murderers like Lenny Murphy? 

    There’s not a mention even in Lost Lives of John Fitzsimmons, the Detective Inspector who led the Murder Squad in a case which eventually brought that particular mad killing spree to an end.

    It’s not difficult to see why mainstream unionists (and a fair few middle class Catholics) will never go for this project at least by the terms in which it is currently being offered.

    • Hi Mick,

      ‘Is this is a party initiative aimed at a better understanding of Protestant voters so that Sinn Fein can better represent them?” Or is it a genuine initiative aimed at helping all of us confront our bloody past?’Given Declan Kearney’s public offerings to date this appears much too benign even atruistic. Unionists harbour perfectly rational suspicions of a strategic design in Sinn Fein intentions. The critique of Mike Nesbitt’s performance misses the outcome of the exchange. Declan’s demeanour betrayed a scripted and over engineered response to the most elementary questioning. The party chairman arouses rather than allays.’If it is the former, why would anyone in any other party feel obliged to further SF’s perfectly respectable object of increasing  power and breadth of its mandate?’The respectability wanes when the dead are dug up and employed for the purposes of electoral expansionism. It is somewhat instructive as to the authenticity of the reconciliation that Sinn Fein claim to seek, that having reignited the reconciliation debate and encouraged Republicans to say sorry, it’s originator proves so reticent in uttering the word himself . Many Unionists will conclude that while Sinn Fein has put it’s murderous past behind it is with mendacity here in N.Ireland that it now strives to make a greater impact in the political life of the Republic.  That appears to be the real target audience here but it requires Unionist manequins to act as window dressing in it’s southern election offices. Nesbitt can hardly be criticised for not making like a moth to a Sinn Fein light.