C: Gript

Anti-establishment? Sinn Féin won’t support parents protest on masking primary kids

One of the reasons for the rise of Sinn Féin’s vote is that people are so fed-up and disillusioned with the Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. 

Sinn Féin have positioned themselves as the anti-establishment party, and, at a time when the health service is in chaos and houses are scarcer than hen’s teeth, being against the establishment is the smart place to be. 

It helps of course, when you’re promising no change to the pension age, houses for all, and spare cash for just about everything since Sinn Féin, apparently, have found a way to print free money forever, or something. 

Once the party gets the reins, of course, that might all change, Yesterday, they showed they are well able to toe the establishment line when it suits them. 

Yesterday, Sinn Féin moved fast to quell any support in the party for protests organised by parents who are opposed to primary school children being forced to wear masks. 

One of the party’s Wexford councillors, Fionntán Ó Súilleabháin had urged people to attend a protest in Gorey against the mask directive last week. 

Ó Súilleabháin, a primary school teacher and therefore someone with some insights into the controversy, said that the masks had been “bluntly imposed on schools” and  added that the decision had been made with “zero consultation or the standard HIQA Risk Assessment, and as a result of government failure to introduce other mitigation measures as proposed”.

That all seemed fair enough. 

It didn’t meet with the approval of the head honchos in Sinn Féin, however, who won’t have anyone deviating from the party line – or supporting any protests that haven’t been organised or at least sanctioned by the party. 

They told the Independent that Cllr Ó Súilleabháin’s views were “not party policy” and ‘directed the paper to a press releases from education spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire who said that “unclear” guidance on mask wearing put schools in an “impossible position” and that children should not be excluded if they did not wear a mask’.

It’s pretty obvious that what Ó Laoghaire said wasn’t a million miles removed from Ó Súilleabháin’s comments on the issue. The real issue here, obviously, is that Sinn Féin are anxious not to be seen supporting anyone who is “anti-lockdown”, which is often just ordinary people fed up with the never-ending hysteria which has now culminated in this nasty attempt to bully school children and parents. 

The anti-lockdown protests throughout the Covid crisis have mostly been attended by people who live in areas traditionally heavily canvassed by Sinn Féin voters. They are protesting because they know we are not really “in this together”, and they know the brunt of the hardship is, and will continue to be, disproportionately borne by working-class people. 

But they won’t get any help from Sinn Féin who are now firmly part of the establishment when it comes to lockdowns. They won’t support working-class people who protest the lockdown. And they want nothing to do with parents who protest against masking kids in primary schools

The Department has since backed down on its order to send home young children who arrived at primary school without a mask if they were in third class or higher. But that concession was won by the determination of parents and teachers who opposed discrimination and bullying, not by the so-called Opposition in Sinn Féin. 

As commentator David Mullins said, could they be any more ‘establishment’ if they tried?

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