Thursday, 5 July 2012
SINN FEIN VETERAN ANGELA NELSON QUITS OVER QUEEN HANDSHAKE
RESIGNATION STATEMENT BELOW IN FULL
A STEP TOO FAR
Last week, Martin Mc Guinness met with the British Queen in Belfast. That “gesture” was not the result of full consultation or open debate in the party as claimed by leadership.
Pearce Doherty, TD , previously articulated Sinn Féin’s position regarding such visits by British royalty to Ireland, particularly one by the Commander in Chief of Britain’s armed forces - until such times when there would be a complete withdrawal of the British political and military presence from Ireland, and truth and justice given to victims of collusion, no welcome should be accorded to British royalty or any officer of Britain’s forces.
Last year, republicans correctly decided not to greet Britain’s head of state or acknowledge her claim of sovereignty over part of our country.
On 10th June this year, Caral Ní Chuilin denied that Sinn Fein would attend the jubilee celebrations. On 11th June, Martin Mc Guinness said a meeting would be a huge ask but there was “no doable” proposition for this. All this information came to party members via the media.
I was confident that no meeting with the Queen would occur as no open debate was taking place within the party.
On 21st June, a text message informed me of a meeting for Belfast and Lisburn councillors in the City Hall for a ‘briefing’. I instinctively knew it related to the visit. Past experience with these types of briefings indicated a deal was already done.
That morning, one of my colleagues arrived and I asked what information he had. I expressed my opposition to meeting with British royalty. I decided not to attend the briefing but, over the next two days, consistently voiced my opposition to any such meeting to party colleagues. On the second day, while in a party office, the media confirmed Martin Mc Guinness would meet the Queen.
On June 23rd, I attended a non-party political protest in Belfast addressed by families of victims of British State violence. Standing in solidarity with them, their pain and suffering was very tangible.
Eamon Cairns, speaking of the murder of his two sons, Gerard and Rory, in their family home, finished with this very poignant sentence: “It makes it very difficult for me to see how Martin Mc Guinness can go behind doors and shake the hand dripping with the blood of my children”.
His words reflected the views of many both inside and outside Sinn Féin.
I have always been able to hold my head up as a Republican. I have met and maintained contact with many relatives of dead volunteers and those murdered through collusion and British state violence.
I could not set all those to one side through acceptance of the party leadership’s most recent ‘symbolic’ ‘significant gesture’.
I joined the Republican Movement in 1970. The objective of a 32 County Socialist Republic was the basis on which our struggle was built. Many people dedicated their lives to securing that objective. Many others died for it.
Many people influenced my thinking over the years, a lot of them strong principled republicans, many of whom paid the ultimate sacrifice for their beliefs.
I acknowledge that many people, including many innocents, lost their lives. War is a terrible thing and many families are today without their loved ones. Irrespective of whether they are from Derry, Ballymurphy or Kingsmill; their grief is the same.
I am not opposed to peace or Unionist outreach. I’m involved in a project to enhance “cross community engagement” to reduce sectarianism. That project’s work was recognised at The Aisling Awards in 2011 when it received the award for “Outstanding Community Endeavour”.
I make no apologies for being a Republican.
As Republicans, we oppose monarchy in all its forms.
As Republicans, we have no need to meet a British monarch, the Commander-in-Chief of Britain’s armed forces, while our country remains partitioned and many people are denied truth or justice about the deaths of their relatives by that same monarch’s government responsible for those murders.
Reluctantly, I have no option but to resign from Sinn Fein, a party I first joined 42 years ago.
I will remain as an Independent Councillor and continue to represent my community as I have done for the past seven years. I wish to reassure those people who elected me that I will represent their interests and will endeavour to carry out my duties to all my constituents to the best of my ability.
My contact details can be accessed through Lisburn City Council.
Cllr Angela Nelson