So long as we live in a world where the Scottish parliament’s former Presiding Officer, Tricia Marwick, insists that male politicians “wear a shirt AND tie,” we also live in a world where women are expected to dress in a certain way. Let me be clear, these are not my rules. I make a point of never dressing the way I am expected to dress. Other than the fact that I just don’t look good in black (it does nothing for my skin tone), the cassock, stock, and Roman collar are self-defeating in the twenty-first century; they look is far too authoritarian.
Stuart Campbell came remarkably close to saying this in his recent interview with Alex Salmond when he said “we will all grow old and die before we have a second referendum” if we continue on with this policy of asking and asking ad nauseam permission from a British government which we have effectively handed the power to always say: “Now is not the time.” Ultimately, what this means is that the independence movement in Scotland and its political leadership are pinned down in their constant reference to England – to the will of Westminster and the English state.
Lyra McKee’s murder was, as a journalist, as President Higgins said, “an attack on truth itself.” It is also very much an attack on Ireland’s truth. For as long as Derry, Down, Tyrone, Armagh, Antrim, and Fermanagh remain under the control of the British state, separated from the rest of Ireland, so long as Britain keeps part of Ireland subject to the priorities of England in Westminster, and ignored, dominated, and neglected, there will always be the potential for a return to violent conflict. People’s lives will always remain under the shadow of violence and the horrors of war.
Sinn Féin will never take up its seats in England’s parliament. Nothing would disgrace Ireland more than that betrayal. The Irish Republican sees this as taking a piss on the graves of all those who have laid down their lives for Ireland, on all those who have resisted and stood firm, on the graves of all Ireland’s martyrs. Sinn Féin will never sit in England’s parliament. No matter how bad things get in Britain, Sinn Féin will stay in Ireland and watch as England’s crows come home and tear that nation of liars and murderers to pieces.
Scotland has not quite learned this yet. Of course, there are many of us in the Scottish independence movement who are well aware of the lies, the deceptions, and manipulations of England, but still the Scottish government, the SNP, and various other well-meaning independentistas are operating like innocents – believing, in spite of the now overwhelming evidence, that British politicians can be trusted, that the BBC will provide a fair and balanced platform, and that in the end Britain will honour the democratic decisions of the Scottish people.
Tiocfaidh ár lá may well have been the “battle cry of the blanketmen,” but it is also a proclamation of continuity. McDonald’s Sinn Féin is not a new Sinn Féin. It is the same party with the same vision and, while it continues to attract new members, it is largely supported by the same people who supported the party right through the Troubles to the present day. If Mary Lou McDonald wants to be accepted as the new face of Sinn Féin then she has to carry this old guard along with her, and that means reminding them too of the fights of the past.