A Unionist MP has challenged Sinn Fein over its stance on NATO, saying Europe would be in ‘serious trouble’ today if the military alliance didn’t exist – something the Republican Party has already demanded.
DUP man Jim Shannon, a frequent commentator on humanitarian issues in parliament, made the remarks to the News Letter amid ongoing carnage in Ukraine and speculation over how NATO will respond.
NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) is widely seen by right-wing or centrist parties as a bulwark against Russian efforts to dominate Europe.
It is essentially a pact founded in 1949 to stave off the expansion of the USSR.
Ukraine is not a member but has “partner” status.
NATO says this means “it cooperates closely with NATO but is not covered by the security guarantee of the Alliance’s founding treaty”.
However, other neighboring countries like Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Poland are members, and if they were attacked by Russia, it would mean that all NATO members would be forced to retaliate.
Many leftist politicians wonder why NATO continues to exist 30 years after the collapse of the USSR and see the alliance as a provocation towards Russia.
Sinn Fein’s rhetoric has always been hostile to NATO.
Foreign spokesman Seán Crowe TD said in 2014 that “NATO is nothing more than a Cold War relic that needs to be disbanded”.
The page containing this statement has now been removed from the Sinn Fein website, and instead a message reads: “We are sorry, but the page you requested could not be found…we may have recently moved, renamed or deleted some pages.”
Gerry Adams has also spoken out against NATO, accusing the Irish state in 1999 of providing “passive support for NATO aggression” and acting as a “world policeman”.
Going back to the 1970s, the IRA Green Book said that the “republican movement” opposes “military alliances such as NATO” (and the INLA went so far as to bomb a radar station in Co Cork in the 1980s, saying it was used by NATO).
The News Letter has asked Sinn Fein several times this week for their current position on NATO, but got no response.
Party leader Mary Lou McDonald recently adopted a less damning tone toward NATO, telling the Dail: “Any attempt by Putin or his regime to justify his actions in response to NATO is baseless and is only a means of distracting oneself from one’s own guilt. ”
Mr. Shannon said: “The value of NATO must be the strength of the number of NATO countries together.
“Big countries like Germany, France and the UK will take care of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Bulgaria and Hungary.
“Strength lies in mutual aid.
“Sinn Fein – we’ll use an Ulsterism on this one – is peeing in the wind.
“And you know what happens when you pee in the wind – it comes back and hits you in the face.
“For Sinn Fein to have any animosity against NATO, I think, puts them out of touch with public opinion.
“If we had followed Sinn Fein’s logic to the end, and if NATO hadn’t been the powerful force it is today, Russia’s tanks would be flying towards the Baltic states.
“Poland would be threatened, along with all the other former Soviet states.
“And if they push that far, they [the Russians] will say: ‘Are we also going to push in Germany?’ »
Many other parties have spoken out against NATO, particularly People Before Profit, which draws much of its support from traditionally republican areas, particularly west Belfast.
Gerry Carroll, his MP for that constituency, told the Assembly at the end of February: “Far from being an innocent party that defends democracy, NATO is the armed wing of Western imperialism.
“Its expansion was a key factor in escalating tensions, now leading to all-out war.”