Sinn Féin’s attempts to “not just justify, but to celebrate” the actions of the IRA during the Troubles are ‘reprehensible,’ the Tánaiste has told The Pat Kenny Show.
Speaking at a special broadcast of the show celebrating Pat Kenny’s ten years at Newstalk, Micheál Martin doubled down on his insistence that Sinn Féin cannot ‘ride two horses’ when it comes to Northern Ireland’s violent past.
He played down suggestions his party could work with Mary Lou McDonald’s in the next Government – insisting Sinn Féin’s policies are ‘incompatible’ with Fianna Fáil’s.
He said Sinn Féin cannot demand justice for British State-sanctioned killings in the North, while at the same time, refusing to condemn the ‘heinous crimes’ carried out by the Provisional IRA.
“I think we need to take the gun out of Irish politics once and for all and the degree to which Sinn Féin closes up in respect of appalling atrocities committed by the Provisional IRA is unacceptable,” he said.
“But worse, the narrative that is increasingly emerging of endeavouring to, not just justify, but to celebrate this as some great war to secure freedom for people is, I think, reprehensible and I think is doing damage to relationships on these islands.
“They need to have a real hard look at that, because I think there's an inconsistency in pursuing - correctly, in my view - legacy for very clear cases of wrongful killings and collusion and so on, but on the other hand, not owning up and not being responsible for the most heinous of crimes against civilians, and against many other people.”
He said he expects the upcoming report from the Kenova Inquiry to “reveal the sordid nature of how that entire Provisional IRA campaign ended up.”
“There needs to be a moment of truth there because I think younger generations need to know that violence is not something that should be readily considered or celebrated or that there should be any degree of triumphalism around or indeed justification of, when clearly, justification in and around what happened so many people in Northern Ireland, who were the victims of appalling bombings and murder and so on [is not acceptable],” he said.
Asked if he was ruling out entering government with Sinn Féin, he said: “I’ve been very clear that I don't believe our policies are compatible and I do believe that issue that we've just discussed is a fundamental issue that Sinn Féin needs to address”.
Minister Martin said there are “very fundamental differences” between the two parties when it comes to the economy, the European Union and foreign policy.
He went on to insist that the Government has “performed well” in the face of numerous crises, including COVID-19, the war in Ukraine and the inflation crisis.
You can listen back here: