Ulster Unionist education spokesman Basil McCrea summed up the incident rather neatly.
“It is a matter of profound shame that an Education Minister of the Northern Ireland Executive stood in front of schoolchildren and lauded a terrorist hunger striker. It is also incredibly disturbing that the Education Minister revealed frightening authoritarian tendencies by attacking those who dared to criticise a film that gave a historically inaccurate account of the Civil War.”
Ruane turned film critic at this gathering as well, heaping opprobrium upon those advancing the notion that ‘The Wind That Shakes the Barley’ was not a feat of wonderful impartial film making.
A SF spokesman defended Ruane, describing Sands as ‘an iconic figure, respected around the world’. Unfortunately the IRA’s terror campaign is often portrayed as a romantic struggle. That is a despicable fact with which the group’s victims have had to learn to live. Sinn Féin has always been in the vanguard of rewritten history as regards republican atrocities.
It is clear, however, that a line must be drawn somewhere, and praising perpetrators of terror in the execution of ministerial duties is some way beyond what Northern Ireland’s public should be expected to put up with. As First Minister Peter Robinson should instigate measures to discipline her.