I happend to be reading the Wikipedia page about Gerry Adams and I came across this interesting paragraph:
"On 6 May 2010, Adams was re-elected as MP for West Belfast garnering 71.1% of the vote. In 2011 the Chancellor appointed Adams to the British title of Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead to allow him to resign from the House of Commons and to stand for election in the Dáil. Initially it was claimed by David Cameron that Adams had accepted the title but Downing Street has since apologised for this and Adams has publicly rejected the title stating, "I have had no truck whatsoever with these antiquated and quite bizarre aspects of the British parliamentary system". Officially however, Adams held the title between January and April 2011."
Now, I don't understand this attitude at all. I understand Mr. Adams refusing an honour or an office, even a nominal and automatic honour or office, from the British government because he refuses to recognise their jurisdiction over Northern Ireland.
But why does he have to drag in this talk of "antiquated and bizzare aspects of the British parliamentary system"? How could anybody have so little imagination or sense of poetry or feeling of tradition-- or, at the very least, sense of humour-- that they do not relish these romantic relics of the Mother of Parliaments? Who is so grumpy as not to take pleasure in the fact that, in the House of Commons, the government and Opposition benches are separated by the length of two swords, lest David Cameron and Ed Milliband should whip out their rapiers in the heat of a debate? Who could resent the custom of the oldest parliamentarian being called The Father of the House? Who is such a killjoy as to protest the convention whereby MP's personal names are not used within parliament, and they are instead referred to as the Honourable Member for Little Bugglesworth or the Right Honourable Member for Ponsoby-on-Tyne?
This isn't the only example of Sinn Fein scorning historical traditions. Despite Martin McGuinness's rather shameless change of attitude towards Queen Elizabeth, after the Irish people showed themselves to be utterly out of sympathy with Sinn Fen's hostility towards her visit here, the party's website still contains this article which includes the lines:
Elizabeth Windsor still claims to be monarch of part of our country, where it remains a criminal offence to call for the abolition of the monarchy, under the Treason Felony Act 1848. The values she represents have no place in Ireland. Values of privilege, deference and inequality. Ridiculously outdated values that put one citizen and their family above all others based on nothing other than birthright.
Thankfully, on the occasion of the Queen's visit, the Irish people showed it was the values of Sinn Féin-- with their literal-minded and sullen interpretation of human equality-- which had no place in Ireland.
I believe passionately in human equality. I believe that every human being is as important as every other human being, and that we are called to love and cherish all of our fellow brothers and sisters. But I absolutely refuse to believe that this leaves no room for hereditary honours, for special bonds of history and heritage, for hierarchy, for deference, for chivalry, and for all the other courtesies that lend grace and ceremony to social intercourse.
It hardly needs to be added that Sinn Féin miss no opportunity to attack the Church, which they tend to lambast as a backwards and outdated institution.
Their attitude in all of this baffles me. Aren't Sinn Féin a nationalist party? And isn't the nation itself-- not just the Irish nation, but the very concept of the nation as the basic unit of world politics, and of popular sovereignty-- increasingly coming under attack in our globalized world? Doesn't Sinn Féin (quite rightly in my view) criticise the European Union for undermining national sovereignty?
Aren't they outspoken in their support for the Irish language, which is an imperilled language and one which could easily be seen as antiquated and outmoded? It is certainly the case that the Irish language would have perished decades ago if Irish people had not made a conscious effort to preserve it-- precisely out of reverence for its antiquity, and its importance to Irish national tradition.
I simply don't understand how you can revere and protect your own national traditions, while showing contempt for the traditions of another nation-- and indeed for the very concept of tradition.
But then, I don't understand anything about Sinn Féin. Gerry Adams, in a radio interview about the history of sexual abuse in his family, criticised the decision to have his father buried with the tricolour wrapped around his coffin, since he considered him to have "besmirched" that flag.
But nobody has besmirched the Irish flag (not to mention the Irish language and other precious national traditions) as utterly and as odiously as Sinn Féin and the murderous IRA. As an Irish patriot, I utterly reject them, along with all their sulky egalitarianism and resentful republicanism.