Time for Sinn Fein to spend its own capital (rather than everyone else’s) on winning the peace…

Over at Brassneck, I’ve compiled a round up of the blog comment on recent events and the issue arising. I’ve ended with Conor Ryan, who, it seems to me covers the political (as opposed to the moral or legal) angle better than most “yesterday was the day when the process – and Sinn Fein – finally showed its maturity”. Now it can be said that this was a reluctant conversion. The sheer awkwardness of McGuinness’s body language not to mention the tortured prose for me betokened, not so much insincerity, as an unfamiliarity with the mantle of leadership he now has about his shoulders.

This is new territory for a party that has systematically avoided external damage almost at any cost. Time after time it burrowed in behind the SDLP, let it make the gambits (most notably policing reform) and then walked in to take the credit when the controversy and the political was substantially over. As one former member told Slugger a few years back, ‘they are generous to no one but themselves’.

Michael White in his usual jolly manner noted Sinn Fein’s difficulty in its own back yard, and after noting Adams’ ‘weasel-ish words’:

Adams may not be a natural on TV (the Brits kept him off it for years under Mrs T so he may lack practice), but he has a delicate balancing act to sustain in what we routinely call the republican community. Most of us want him to succeed, don’t we? A little hypocrisy about violence is a small price to pay.

Before putting that one to bed, try listening to two women, both wives of policemen. Angela’s call is here, who describes some of the fear Policemen’s families live with… But it is also worth listening to the woman who called in this morning, who described her family’s experience of living with the 24 hour threat to her husband herself and her children from an earlier campaign when they get round to loading up today’s programme here… It’s near the beginning… And there is the McCartney and Quinn families who most recently fell foul of the party’s most profoundly ungenerous protective instincts.

The new political dispensation, which has been unremittingly generous to the party, now requires Sinn Fein to put a large amount of its hoarded up political capital out onto a more open Northern Irish market. If it begins to play more straight and directly it may well find that the pall of its recent bloody past begins to fade. And it may help it, finally, to face the future, rather than constantly casting a nervous eye over its shoulder, and back towards past horizons.

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  • picador

    Christ Mick,

    Have you actually been reading this blog over the past few days? A substantial number of unionist posters have been praising McGuinness.

    You are way too obsessed with the English Tory press; and dare I say it – out of touch.

  • special branch

    I’m slightly worried Martin is living in a fantasy. In the real world he’s the deputy first minister of N.Ireland yet in his speeches he’s the leader of dream island, the island of Ireland and in Martin’s world dream island is one big harmonious country, which Martin also rules over.

    That must be some wardrobe in the McGuinness household!

  • Scaramoosh

    “The sheer awkwardness of McGuinness’s body language not to mention the tortured prose for me betokened, not so much insincerity, as an unfamiliarity with the mantle of leadership he now has about his shoulders.”

    It would be interesting to see how the rest of us might fare, if we knew we were in grave danger of taking a bullet. If anything, McGuinness performed superbly in the circumstances, and in one bold stroke grasped the mantle of leadership from Adams.

    It was Adams, not least in his C4 with John Snow, who looked fearful in the shadow of a gunman. Cagey, reticent, and almost cornered. It was he, not McGuinness who seemed incapable of making a break with his philosophical past; never mind with his former brothers in arms.

  • Paul

    he’s jumped the shark

  • joeCanuck

    A substantial number of unionist posters have been praising McGuinness.

    That certainly jumped out and surprised me.
    Now he did come across as sincere and I wonder does he also get credit for admitting his past (I believe he has apologised previously for any hurt he caused), rather than denying it like the other gentleman.

  • daisy

    Is there going to be much more analysis, counter-analysis and counter-counter analysis of SF here? I just want to know so I can come back when it’s all over because this is in danger of giving the murderers way too much credibility (and it’s been done to, well, death).

  • special branch

    The only way mainstream Republicans are likely to get a bullet from the dissidents is if they confess to being a spy like Donaldson.

    According to today’s Sun, the brains behind the recent murders is a senior member of the CIRA, working alongside the RIRA. He’s from Co Monaghan, a fuel smuggler and is also very close to the man who police suspect shot Denis Donaldson.

  • cynic

    “The sheer awkwardness of McGuinness’s body language not to mention the tortured prose for me betokened, not so much insincerity, as an unfamiliarity with the mantle of leadership he now has about his shoulders.”

    Mick

    I am not renown as a Shinner supporter on here and have often laid into them on many issues but I think that you have got this badly wrong. When Adams first came out after the murder of the two soldiers I thought that SF had lost the plot. The statement was cold calculating and delivered with all the charm of a Shop Steward in the British Car Industy circa 1972. Unionists looked at this and were appalled at the delay, language and aprpoach.

    Now OK, Adams has to address his own constituency – but they arent the only ones listening to him and his view that he was best placed to judge how to speak to them just showed his implicit analysis, that he is only there for and interested in his vote and bugger anyone else. This was potentially very destabilising for the entire process.

    However, on Hearts and Minds that night, for me, McGuinness totally redressed it. He was open and forthright. He referred to when he had been a commander in the IRA (in contrast to those who were never members). He appeared honest and sincere. The contrast to Adams couldn’t have been more evident.

    As I have blogged on here before, Adams performances over the last 2 years have been increasingly wooden and stumbling. As the process has developed we are moving into a new era that demands a different approach. It was for example interesting to see Robinson’s handling of the Antrim attack. In style and content he was miles ahead.

    Frankly in many ways Gerry just doesn’t seem up to pace now. It’s almost as though, with the disaster of the Irish Election and the collapse of his all-Ireland strategy, he has lost a sense of direction and become almost disconnected. He even seems to lack self confidence and I think this is a real problem for SF and for all of us.

    Adams has played a critical role in getting the entire process to where it is today. He could play a major role in the next stage but his semi detached position at Stormont doesn’t help and politics is a hard business.

  • Change the record

    Is there going to be much more analysis, counter-analysis and counter-counter analysis of SF by the English press here? I just want to know so I can come back when it’s all over because the continual posting of such obviously ill-informed and out-of-touch comment is ruining the credibility of this blog.

  • picador

    Special Branch

    According to today’s Sun….

    My day doesn’t start before a cup of coffee and a gawk at Page 3. Perky, eh?

    …the brains behind the recent murders is a senior member of the CIRA, working alongside the RIRA. He’s from Co Monaghan, a fuel smuggler and is also very close to the man who police suspect shot Denis Donaldson.

    Wait a minute, wasn’t it evil Provos who wasted our Denis.

    Hmm. The Sun? Is that where the Special Branch gets it leads from.

    It wuz José Mourinho wot done it.

  • special branch

    “Wait a minute, wasn’t it evil Provos who wasted our Denis.”

    They all sing from the same hymn sheet.

  • picador

    They all sing from the same hymn sheet.

    I must’ve missed the Sun that morning.

  • Dec

    As one former member told Slugger a few years back, ‘they are generous to no one but themselves’.

    And that would be unlike which other political parties, Mick?

    This is new territory for a party that has systematically avoided external damage almost at any cost.

    No, this is new territory for a party whose members and public represenatives have done time for the exact same thing that the ‘dissidents’ did over the weekend. I seem to recall in the 70s, a Republican pamphlet was produced called ‘The Good Old IRA’. The gist was that, barring the odd technological advance, the Provisional’s modus operandi was identical to their War of Independance predecessors and that the then prevailing Southern(in particular) view that the current campaign was as brutal and dishonourable as the earlier campaign was heroic and justified was baseless hypocrisy. What chance of a forthcoming sequel, I wonder?

  • http://www.tomgriffin.org Tom Griffin

    Surely this weeks events are, if anything, a sign of how much political capital Sinn Fein has expended over policing already.

    How is devising more hoops for them to jump through going to help?

  • Dave

    “A substantial number of unionist posters have been [i]praising[/i] McGuinness.” – picador

    They’re canny. The more he endorses the legitimacy of British rule, the more they regard him as serving their agenda. Therefore, they seek to encourage that behaviour. It’s like training a dog, really – pat it on the head when you approve of its behaviour and smack it on the nose when you don’t. Others who pose as impartial critics serve the same pro-union agenda but are careful to do it with neutral-sounding judgements such as “showing maturity” and “leadership” etc. Unionists are slowly beginning to cotton-on that McGuinness is on their side courtesy of the hidden hand of the state, and they’re starting to think of him as a useful tool.

    It allows the deluded nationalists to think or to be told again that such unity of the two tribes in opposition to those who oppose British rule is the same thing as unity in support for an unified Irish nation-state, or, if it isn’t at the moment, that it can only lead in that direction. It isn’t and it can’t. They support him because he supports British rule, not because he opposes it.

    As Bob Dylan said, the conquerors always preach peace to the conquered. ;)

  • http://www.organizedrage.com/ Mick Hall

    “SF finally showed its maturity”

    SF sing from the same hymnbook as the British government and that is maturity?

    Never mind that the growth of groups like the RIRA is totally down to SF taking this stance.

    People change their political beliefs all the time and for a host of reasons, but spare us sanctimonious crap that Adams and co did just this because they have become mature. For fucks sake how low can you people toady.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Mike,

    get a grip on your fecking knickers for jaysus-sake more Republican-navel-gazing?

    How many is it now about 20 threads – all about the same thing – they signed up to police a fecking year ago SF “finally showed its maturity” well I think we had that on thread 1.

    What about the UUs response to the latest developments – the middle ground supposedly of Unionism has gone anti-agreement and not a fecking word. Can we not all gather round the peculiarity that is Wee Reggie and inspect his navel for a while or posh boy David Cameron’s tummy as he alings hismelf with the new anti-agreement unionist party?

    Alternatively lets tell big Jimbo (TUV) to pull up his shirt and we can all debate that for a few weeks…. but please no more of the same tired old Republican analyis.

  • http://www.organizedrage.com/ Mick Hall

    Dave

    what song is that Dylan lyric from?

  • picador

    I was talking about ordinary people of unionist inclination Dave, not the politicians.

  • Dec

    what song is that Dylan lyric from?

    Lonesome Day Blues from the Love and Theft album. It from a famous (to us one time Latin ‘scholars’ anyway) epigram on the duty of a Roman as laid out in The Aeneid:

    impose peace on the Conquered,
    spare the Humbled
    and tame the Proud with war.

  • http://www.organizedrage.com/ Mick Hall

    Thanks Dec

  • Mkay Thanks

    You know, you whingers complaining about changing the fkn record, you can stop posting as it’s bascially been the same posters whinging that have been posting on overdrive in the comments the last lot of days as well. We’re just as tired of reading you know-it-all lot as you are tired of Slugger.

    This is the news of the day, get over it. If you don’t like it, move on.

  • http://www.organizedrage.com/ Mick Hall

    Dave and Dec, thanks for heads up on that lyric.

  • Rory Carr

    “Never mind that the growth of groups like the RIRA is totally down to SF taking this stance.”

    And what growth would that be, Mick Hall? Do you consider the ability to launch one murderous attack twelve years after their last one at Omagh to be a form of growth, of progress?

    Do you consider Sinn Féin’s continuous condemnation of the futlity and wrong-headedness of young nationalists being fooled by such groups as encouraging such growth?

    This is the argument that allows the rapist to blame his vile action upon the attractiveness of his victim and like him, you should be ashamed of yourself for offering it.

  • dear o dear

    rory carr get a grip of your y fronts will u.

  • nic

    Interestingly the foreign (language) press in Europe has referred to the perps as a group within the IRA, they haven’t bothered about the madey-uppey distinction RIRA, CIRA or whatever.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    they often dont bother with the madey-uppey distinction between north and south of Ireland either

  • nic

    Oh but they do. That one’s real and here to stay.

  • Rory Carr

    It must be wonderful, Nic, to be able to take such great comfort from a distorted foreign view of how things really are on the island of Ireland. Which reminds me – you don’t happen to have a copy of Darby O’Gill and the Little People in your video library do you? I really could be doing with a bit of comfort viewing myself at the moment and the grand daughter is getting fed up with The Little Mermaid.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    nic,

    face it – even the Englezes think you are a Paddy.

  • Rory (South Derry)

    ATTENTION

    Rory Carr is from Tottenham – [keep it civil - edited moderator] – havent we had over 850 of British analysis???

  • Rory Carr

    The one thing I have in common with so many of the residents of South Tottenham is that I am no more English than they are although I do speak the language reasonably well and in my cups have been known to do a fair Stanley Holloway impression.

    “Wiv a ladder an’ some glasses
    You could see the ‘ackney Marshes
    if it wasn’t for the ‘ouses in between”.

  • pól

    Seeing as Turgon gets to blog for t’others, can us Republicans have Rory (South Derry)?

    His well made, non-judgemental points could really convince the unionists that perhaps a UI would be for the best.

    Thanks Rory SD, for another great post.

    Back to the post in question. I know two police officers personally, and te changes they’ve had to make since Monday have been significant. Already they are being asked to check under their cars in the morning, alter their route to work, and are back to using nightvision scopes when on rural duty. It’s awful for them and their families. Both of them are committed nationalists who joined up to protect the community and both arenow being made to live in fear.

    On a side note, I heard rumblings that there was a least one other attempted murder on Monday night. Not sure if anyone else has heard the same? Apparently a policeman was shot at while trying to get into his house after his shift. Could have been another “great strike for Ireland” there.

  • Mac Thoirdealbhaigh

    Is this the time and the opportunity to start knocking down the ‘peace’ walls and ending this segregation of our communities?