ALLIANCE Spokesperson on Victims, Eileen Bell MLA, has called on Sinn Féin and the IRA to clarify their position on exiling, after Sinn Féin’s Fermanagh & South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew told a major debate at University College, Dublin that Sinn Féin supported the right of asylum seekers to seek sanctuary in Ireland.
During the UCD debate on Wednesday night on whether moderate parties in Northern Ireland still had a role to play, Ms Gildernew stated that “we [in Sinn Féin] support the right of people who have fled persecution abroad to find sanctuary here”. (Source: Sinn Féin website, Newsroom, Nov 17: http://www.sinnfein.ie/news/detail/7395)
The Alliance Deputy Leader, who was forced from two homes by paramilitaries in the past, said: “I welcome Sinn Féin’s support for asylum seekers, but find it hard to believe. It is hypocritical for a Sinn Féin MP to say that Ireland should be a place of sanctuary for people fleeing persecution, while her paramilitary colleagues are still engaged in the persecution of others.
“This is a major human rights issue, and Alliance has consistently called for Republicans and Loyalists to end the practice of forcible exiling – clearly moderate parties do still have a role to play, otherwise there would be no-one to highlight Sinn Féin’s double standard on human rights.
“Each year, innocent people accused of anti-social activity or who have stood up to the IRA, are told to leave Northern Ireland by the IRA under threat of death, sometimes after a warning from a Sinn Féin representative.
“It is repugnant that while Sinn Féin is right now working closely with the British Government to secure the return to Northern Ireland of IRA fugitives ‘on the run’ from the authorities around the world, they still can’t convince the IRA to call an end to exiling.
“There are literally hundreds of innocent people living abroad because of republican death threats, but only a handful of ‘on the runs’. Sinn Féin has ignored the plight of the former to secure the return of the latter.
“There is something fundamentally wrong with this, and I call on Sinn Féin and P O’Neill to state clearly that the policy of republicans exiling people has come to an end, and to abide by that statement.”