The resignation of Anita Cavlan as broke by the Irish News today was more than a little unexpected, rarely do we see Sinn Fein elected representatives breaking rank (and party affiliation) over a topic so active in the public domain. The continued Detainment of Marian Price has seen some of the best and worst of local politics in Recent years with parties reverting to form and others being lost somewhere in the wilderness as Sinn Fein have been. It has already been widely commentated on that it is beyond unusual that a party who are synonymous with republican communities and who claim to be defenders of civil rights, are so completely apathetic towards the plight of Marian Price.
Whatever your view on Price and her previous acts, it is hard to argue with the grounds on which the SDLP have campaigned for her release, those being the entitlement to Due process and the right to choose your own council as well as compassionate grounds. The SDLP would be asking for the release of any person under the same circumstances who are so clearly are deprived of their civil rights.
The resignation of Cavlan reveals more than meets the eye; for one it demonstrates that the issue of Price is a divisive issue within the Party. This comes as no great surprise, what is more surprising however is that it is now apparent that Sinn Fein have actively tried to prevent it from becoming a talking point internally, all this while toeing a fairly wishy-washy line publically. Dark green republicans within the Sinn Fein ranks must be scratching their head wondering precisely why a topic such as prisoners’ rights is being so enthusiastically swept under the political carpet, and it must being left wondering exactly what is going on within the upper echelons of Sinn Fein.
All this comes at a time when Sinn Fein decision making has left a lot to be desired. Sinn Fein have run a less than credible “NO” campaign in the south, while admitting defeat in Foyle by shipping Martina Anderson off to Brussels. The truth of the matter remains that the big ticket political projects north of the border still require DUP approval, Girdwood demonstrates the bartering that takes place between the OFMDFM war lords, so was the cost of allowing them to support Price simply too great…even for a political millionaire like Sinn Fein?