An open letter to Sinn Fein’s euro MPs Martina Anderson and Matt Carthy
26 de julio de 2019

Sinn Fein is a peculiar party, no doubt. It had a prominent role in last century’s Irish struggles for freedom. It had an infamous role as the political wing of a paramilitary force that indulged in terrorism. It had a fundamental role in enabling the end of the Troubles and the injustices that led to them, and it needs to be key in leading Northern Ireland forward in the age of Brexit.

You also have a habit of meddling in Spanish politics and putting your foot in it. Recently, you did it again.

One can see why, as a party that supported a terrorist group, you felt some affinity for the radical Basque separatists and their own terrorist wing, ETA. It is harder to understand how you could swallow that the Basque situation and the Northern Irish one had any significant similarity.

Frankly, I never understood how a party that fought for equality and against state discrimination could back a bunch of segregationists that fought to expel from their country everyone that did not share their political beliefs and their culture. A bunch of Communists who killed civilians and children to destroy the most devolved regional rule in Europe. Just ask your fellow MP Maite Pagazaundurtúa.

Northern Ireland fought against a sectarian regime that discriminated people based on their cultural identity. If you belonged to the “wrong” group you were exposed to harassment, to discrimination in public services and in hiring in the public sector. You were barred from working in the police force. You were gerrymandered out of proper political representation. You did have a real grievance.

Basque radicals lived in region ruled by basque nationalists. They were never the underdog. They have long imposed their own language in schools, even where it was never spoken, like the province of Alava. They use it as a barrier of entry in public service and to get public contracts. They have enjoyed their overrepresentation to extort huge budgets out of the Spanish government. They have expelled rival politicians and make it physically impossible to stage a rival political rally in hundreds of places.

In short, they are doing to the rest of Basques what Protestants did to you for decades or generations. This is the people you have long supported.

As for the Catalan separatists that you found expedient to support this week, they are even worse. They use the skewed voting system to dominate a region that does not back their ideas. They impose the regional language, even policing and punishing children who use Spanish in school breaks and fining people who dare letter their businesses in Spanish. They use the regional language to exclude anyone else from public service. They have been convicted of harassing non-separatist regional policemen (and women, like Inma Alcolea). They harass opposition politicians, trying to block rallies and expel them from places they dominate (or where they feel strong enough to try). They hound judges who try to uphold the law. They coat public (and official) spaces and colonize public events with sectarian symbols that you, very familiar with the Orange Order, ought to recognize as attempts at political intimidation.

The Catalan separatists have not fallen to supporting terrorism, just to attempting a self-coup that they fully expected to turn bloody, as they have admitted. But they have enacted a regime of discrimination and adoctrination in the best tradition of Protestant rule.

Last but not least, they are transparent racists (regional premier Torra’s writings are worthy of P Botha) and his party is conservative to a fault. The party, as it happens, of Carles Puigdemont. The person whom you honored in the European Parliament.

It may be the perspective from here (it’s been a while since I last visited Ireland), but it seems that the principles of freedom and equality, not to mention social progress, would be much better served if you stopped giving a free pass to every movement that pretends to fight for an oppressed people, and started checking just who is the oppressed, and who is the oppressor. You might also avoid ridicule.

Respectfully yours,


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