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Representing Victims of Terrorism in South Armagh
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12/01/05
Sinn Fein Stands by Local Community?

Sinn Fein believes that Newry and Mourne District Council was right to oppose FAIR's usage of Newtownhamilton Community Centre. This revelation underscores the inherent sectarianism that oozes from Sinn Fein when their policies of hate are opposed. Rather than recognising the legal decision in favour of FAIR, Sinn Fein continues to stubbornly support a discriminatory action. And their words of "support for the community" do not lie well with Protestants in the area.

As a result of the terrorist campaign, the continuing criminal activities and an absence of law and order, Protestants feel that this throw-away statement belies their true intentions for the Protestant element of the community. It is clear in their actions towards FAIR in this matter that cold-house isolation should be the lot of the local Protestant community. Their support starts and ends with republicans. Rather than support, the undercurrent of tension in the area bears all the hallmarks of Sinn Fein's intimidatory traits.

An insidious form of this intimidation can be found in Sinn Fein's sourcing of community opinion over the matter- "it is clearly recorded that feedback from the community in general was that if FAIR were allowed to use the centre, other groups would refuse to take part" Crossmaglen Examiner 11/01/05.

This is a statement that contravenes Council rules concerning council-owned facilities and clearly jeopardizes community relations. No such feedback should be used to discriminate against a particular group, especially a victims' organisation, and should not influence a council decision. If Sinn Fein was indeed involved in a local opinion poll or audit, their actions constitute a campaign of hate-mongering by high-profiling the issue and garnering support for their position. This cannot be tolerated.

The excuse that other community organisations would not have used the facilities because FAIR would be present raises questions around the group's own approaches to community relations. If this is indeed a fact, then it is quite clear that the groups are intolerant, sectarian and should be removed from council facilities forthwith. Members of FAIR may be forgiven for believing that the wider Republican community sees them as the unwanted product of their terrorist campaign. As such, it is no wonder that Sinn Fein moves so freely to trample the rights of ordinary citizens underfoot.

The aftermath of the legal decision clearly shows Sinn Fein to be liars. Rather than pulling out of the Community Centre no groups have left and FAIR has even been invited by one of the groups to meetings in the facility. FAIR works with both 'sides' of the local community who have not been involved in terrorism- as both sides have suffered at the IRA's hands. This inescapable fact is hard for the hardline Sinn Fein / IRA to stomach. Perhaps the monetary cost of their position will cause them to review their Community Relations Strategy and infuse some notion of Equality into it, although it is unlikely. Meanwhile, FAIR will continue to support those victims affected by terrorism orchestrated by the bigots in South Armagh.

 



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