By Jamie Bryson
On Thursday evening a lengthy piece was carried on the Mallie.com website, published under the name of KRW Law Solicitor, Niall Murphy. It is not clear whether Mr Murphy was putting his name to this piece in his capacity as a KRW Law solicitor, or whether it was part of his personal political activism, which of course involves canvassing for Sinn Fein.
Within moments of the piece going live, a vast number of Sinn Fein representatives and members of their front groups began sharing it on social media. This was followed up by an ‘opinion piece’ from former Sinn Fein election candidate, Chris Donnelly. It all points to a clearly orchestrated move.
The content of the piece could easily be mistaken for a Sinn Fein pamphlet written by Declan Kearney. Of course it is known that the ‘civic nationalism’ letter, referred to within the article, was organised by Sinn Fein and Mr Kearney himself was responsible for telephoning a number of the signatories asking them to put their name to it. It was also notable that the majority of signatories were Sinn Fein linked, with prominent members of the SDLP- who were long term Remain campaigners- excluded.
The letter was an exercise in creating a sectarian division within civic society and many professions. It unfairly forced lawyers, journalists and others to designate themselves as nationalists within the workplace. I say within the workplace because the signatories were grouped by their professions.
Within the 2nd paragraph of the piece published on Mallie.com, the author seeks to set the nationalist narrative by including the fundamentally dishonest phrase ‘the denial of rights by political unionism’. This is quite simply a linguistic ploy designed to allow nationalism to cloak political and social demands in the language of civil rights. There are no rights being denied to any citizens of Northern Ireland. Sinn Fein’s ‘red lines’ are not rights based issues, but rather political demands cloaked in rights based language.
The author then goes on in paragraph 5 of the article to repeat what can only be described as a blatant lie. It states, as fact, that the confidence and supply arrangement between the DUP and Conservative party is in breach of the Belfast Agreement (nationalism refer to it as a Good Friday Agreement in an attempt to conjure up the image of a mere political agreement holding the status of a holy writ). The DUP/Conservative deal is not in breach of the Belfast Agreement, and it is this that is a fact. The argument put forward by the author has already been tested before the court, and- to put it mildly- it was laughed out. The most interesting part of it was that anyone actually received legal aid for such a nonsensical political stunt.
The author then goes on to state that that they have turned ‘our backs on the partisan politics of Westminster’. This is intriguing. Who is ‘our’? This would indicate the author is writing on behalf of a corporate group of people, or even more bizarre that he is claiming to speak for all of nationalism. It is unclear whether this Freudian slip means the author is referring to nationalism corporately, to Sinn Fein or to Mr Murphy’s legal practice, KRW Law.
Further on within the piece we again have a statement borrowed directly from Sinn Fein’s linguistic warfare manual. This time it is the assertion that it was ‘rights based issues which has caused Stormont to collapse’. This will come as a surprise to all those that may have believed that Sinn Fein collapsed Stormont over RHI; clearly this party line has now been abandoned in favour of the more politically advantageous strategy of trying to advance political demands under the guise of ‘rights’.
This isn’t a new strategy; as far back as 1988 Tom Hartley and Mairtin O’Muilleoir advocated wedding themselves to strategically advantageous ‘mainstream issues’ as a means of gaining political advantage for the republican movement.
As was pointed out in a recent piece by Dr Cillian McGratten, which is included within Jeffrey Dudgeon’s excellent Legacy book, Tom Hartley argued that the SDLP’s ‘green wing’ was vulnerable and that ‘every effort should be made to get the SDLP to take onboard correct demands’. He expanded upon this by saying that ‘correct demands do not necessarily have to be republican political demands, though it would be left to Sinn Fein to formulate such demands.’
The strategy was designed to create a perpetual cycle of cloaking Sinn Fein’s political demands under ‘mainstream’ issues in order that the SDLP would adopt such policies, and once they had done so Sinn Fein would then up the ante with new political demands.
Mairtin O’Muilleoir supported this strategy, remarking that ‘the possibilities are endless, but [taking the initiative] will undoubtedly help boost our credibility, strengthen our base and entrench us in the political mainstream’.
The cynical and opportunistic brand of politics which underpin O’Muilleoirs activism is laid bare by his own commentary in 1988. He, and Sinn Fein, will jump onto any issue that they can use for their own ends to entrench themselves in the political mainstream.
This is the genesis of the pan-nationalist front of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, and the more recent ‘progressive’ pan-nationalist coalition, which has used mainstream issues to embed Sinn Fein with the SDLP and Alliance party, using the exact strategy advocated by Tom Hartley in 1988.
The Brexit portion of the Mallie.com piece is wedded to the so-called ‘spirit’ of the Belfast Agreement, namely that Northern Ireland has some hybrid British-Irish status. This has no legal standing and is simply derived from the constructive ambiguity that underpins the political text, which is the Belfast Agreement. It is the Northern Ireland Act 1998 that has legal standing, and which is all that therefore matters, and the legislation is very clear that Northern Ireland is a full and integral part of the United Kingdom.
The Mallie.com piece claims that those who claim to be Irish Citizens are being denied their rights because Northern Ireland will no longer be within the EU. This claim has no legal basis, and has already been largely dismissed in all its various guises by the Courts. Instead it is based in the political demand that all-Ireland ‘harmonisation’ is necessary to ‘protect the peace process’.
Let me succinctly sum this up; nationalism viewed the Belfast Agreement as a Trojan horse towards a United Ireland within the context that the ever expanding European Union was removing borders and gradually stripping away the individual sovereignty of member states. This, of course, allowed nationalism to piggy back onto this broader EU harmonisation agenda as a means of advancing greater all-Ireland harmonisation and thus developing a political trajectory towards what they believed would be an inevitable United Ireland.
This was cloaked in a form of ‘progressive Europeanism’, which was presented as the means by which peace within Europe had been, and would continue to be, secured and as such had the added advantage of enabling nationalism to present any unionist opposition to this European harmonisation as opposition to peace itself; a clever linguistic flanking move.
Later within the Mallie.com piece, the author trots out the ‘parity of esteem’ argument. This, yet again, is simply another clever linguistic ploy designed to advance political demand under the guise of civil rights.
Parity of esteem is designed to force unionism to give equal legitimacy to the political demands of nationalism and undertake to facilitate, by whatever means is necessary, the achievement of these demands. Think of the illogical reasoning behind this, in order that nationalism can achieve their political goals (Irish unity), unionism must accede to facilitating the promotion and acceleration of these demands and a failure to do so is ‘denying parity of esteem’. What this cleverly does is blur the distinction between respecting nationalism’s right to hold a political viewpoint, and actively placing an obligation upon unionism to work to ensure this viewpoint is progressed.
All in all the piece published under Niall Murphy’s name on Mallie.com was little more than long winded Sinn Fein jargon, designed to perpetuate an extreme nationalist agenda.