Sinn Féin is telling its supporters that ‘the gun works’ in politics by attempting to justify the violence of the Provisional IRA during the Troubles, Micheál Martin has said.
The Tánaiste was speaking to Newstalk Breakfast at the Fianna Fáil think-in as the party meets to discuss budget priorities and election plans in County Tipperary.
Minister Martin has repeatedly indicated he is not in favour of entering into government with Sinn Féin in recent weeks, arguing that their policies do not align with Fianna Fáil’s.
Yesterday he went further, accusing the media of cheering on Mary Lou McDonald’s party.
On this morning's show, Minister Martin said Sinn Féin is attempting to "rewrite history" surrounding the Troubles.
"Sinn Fein's view is that the Provisional IRA campaign and the atrocities and so on are justified," he said.
"They do everything they possibly can through commemorations and so on to do that."
Minister Martin said that the party is effectively telling its voters that ‘the gun works’ when it seeks to ‘justify and triumphalise’ the violence of the Troubles.
“Sinn Féin should not try and twist what happened over the last 30 years in Ireland because we all agree, it was terrible,” he said.
“It was not good. Enniskillen, I could go through all of it, it was not good.
“The younger generation today, there is a brighter future than what we had to experience when we grew up listening to the bombs and bullets every single day.
“It was terrible and it was never justified.”
At Electric Picnic earlier this month, the Wolfe Tones pulled in one of the biggest crowds in the history of the Electric Arena off the back of controversy over the ‘up the Ra’ chant in their song Celtic Symphony.
Minister Martin said there is nothing new in hearing the chant – but noted that it is ‘hurtful to the victims of violence’.
"As a young person growing up in the 1970s, all of those songs were the rage," he said.
"I'm not sure that they serve any purpose, at the end of the day, I would have thought we'd move beyond that.
"The songs have a simplistic narrative that, in many ways, is hurtful to victims of violence - we’ve got to call it straight - and some terrible atrocities were committed by the Provisional IRA.”
A Sight To Be Seen. The crowds turned out in their thousands to see @wolfetones perform at @EPfestival. The biggest crowd we have ever seen at a covered stage at #electricpicnic #ep23 #WolfeTones 🇮🇪🎪 pic.twitter.com/N7As9j9J2q
— Aerial.ie (@aerial_ie) September 4, 2023
Tánaiste Martin confirmed he will lead Fianna Fáil into the next election.
However, the Tánaiste was firm in his belief that his party would not work well with Sinn Féin, citing their "very opportunistic" performance over the last three years.
"[It is] probably one of the most opportunistic oppositions we've ever seen," he said.
"In my view, [Sinn Féin] would get rid of schemes like the Help to Buy scheme, the First Home scheme – which are designed to help young people get access to housing – and they're resolutely opposed to that.
"We will go into government with like-minded parties with like-minded policies that will maintain the economic model that we have. The Sinn Féin economic model, in our view, is not compatible."
Yesterday, Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton Harris criticised Taoiseach Leo Varadkar for saying he expected to see Ireland united in his lifetime.
Mr Heaton Harris described the comments as unhelpful with the Stormont Executive still collapsed.
Tánaiste Martin said he was "surprised" by Heaton Harris' response.
"I think it's accepted that all political leaders and political parties are entitled to have aspirations in respect of the Constitution and future of the island of Ireland," he said.
"Unionist wants to retain the union they're entitled to have that position. Many of us in the end Republic want to unite the people of Ireland.
"I'm a Wolfe Tone Republican in the sense that I believe passionately in the idea of uniting and reconciling people on the island, irrespective of the traditions."