Adams “trapped by circumstances that are arguably of his own making”

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The Irish Times catches up with the news of Dublin Cllr Louise Minihan’s resignation from Sinn Féin – and Monaghan Sinn Féin Cllr Matt Carthy says that she should honour a pre-election pledge which “states that if we leave Sinn Féin for whatever reason we will give our seats back to the party.” Meanwhile, via Newshound, in Village magazine, taking Gerry Adams’ World Tour for Irish Unity as a starting point, Ed Moloney argues that the signs are of a party in decline.

There are some persuasive reasons given for Sinn Féin’s decline. One says that once the St Andrews deal was done and the IRA’s guns embedded in cement, a major inducement to vote for Sinn Féin south of the Border – to keep peace alive – had evaporated. Another that it has to do with Sinn Féin’s ideological flip-flopping and lack of fixed beliefs. The move to the right after the disaster of 2007 in the search for a more moderate, less radical image was such a transparent ploy that it made it impossible for Sinn Féin to tack back in the wake of the economic collapse. Such antics invariably fail to impress the voter while disillusioning the grass roots activists. There is no doubt these were both important factors in Sinn Féin’s southern demise but history may judge that the real cause of the party’s woes was the leadership’s addiction to playing the IRA card for so long in the Northern peace process.

Go read the whole thing.

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  • exile

    [i]Go read the whole thing.[/i]

    So now you’re commanding us to join your one-man infatuation with Gerry Adams?

  • kensei

    Sinn Féin was like a shark that forever needs to move forward; if it stops or worse, moves into reverse then it is doomed.

    This is assertion without any real evidence, and smacks of a judgement made before all the facts are known. It sounds clever but is dumb. We’ve not reallly seen how SF handle persistent electoral setbacks, and we certainly don’t know the long effects. They might die, they might continue on more or less where they are, they might evetually find their discussions on direction decisively decided in a way that helps them. I don’t know.

    There is certainly truth to the fact that SF overplayed the IRA card – and its probably even more damaging to Northern Nationalism than SF, because if everything was 5 years advanced we’d have a pretty good chance of FF being up here and active in politics. But this:

    Furthermore her victory reinforces the impression created by the Southern results, that Sinn Féin is becoming what it really always was, a Northern party, not an all-Ireland party. The truth is, as one former member commented, very simple: ‘They’d gladly have Bairbre finish third if it meant Mary Lou would hold on to her seat.

    This is the type of nonsense only able to be spoken when SF are so comfortably ahead of the SDLP as to make them irrelevance. If SF were in third place or in a desparate battle with the SDLP, I’d hazard a guess that there would be substantially more unrest abnd substantially more interest in where de Brun finished. That’s a bit of speculation, but since the linked article is full of it, I assume I’m allowed.

    Despite the defectiosn (and by they by, they are far from limted to the South), SF retain a decent platform in local government and some Dail seats. They have a fairly substantial presence in most of the border counties, so Northern, yes, but not necessarily Nordie. Best guess is that they stay within the same sort of order of magnitude the next few cycles. Which is still more All Ireland than anyone else. Why exactly do people think it was going to be easy to supplant Labour, FF or FG in any significant sense? They were starting from an extremely low base.

    SF have completed the transition to being just another party. Can people please start treating them, and thinking about them as one, please.

  • fin

    I can think of at least 5 parties in Ireland and the UK who would happily swap Sinn Feins “disaster of 2007″ for their own predictament.

    How about another golfing story instead to take our minds off the TUV disaster of losing a large percentage of their councillors recently

  • John O’Connell

    Sinn Féin’s difficulties help to explain why dissident republicans have recently made something of a comeback. The killings in Massarene happened because disillusioned former Provisional IRA activists had moved over to their ranks, adding military skill and ruthlessness to groups that since Omagh had been justifiably regarded as incompetent and infiltrated.

    I would have thought that Massereene happened in a way that was very rewarding for Sinn Fein and at a time when they needed the extra weight to be applied.

    But so too does the drip-drip damage caused by Richard O’Rawe’s allegations of dirty dealing during the 1981 hunger strikes. His story is not just about whether the republican leadership rejected a British deal to end the protest that the prisoners’ leaders had endorsed, but whether the peace process strategy has its origins in the willful deaths of six hunger strikers, supposedly comrades and friends. It matters probably not at all to Nationalist voters but to the Provos’ IRA base, it is everything.

    If publicised sufficiently this matter will be of great concern to every Nationalist voter. They will ask just what kind of man Gerry Adams is? What kind of man does that to his own friends? And not just to six of them, but to all of them in reality as he seems to have had his agenda from the beginning.

  • Kathy C

    posted by Kathy C

    it amazes me that people in sinn fein seem to be allowing gerry adams to destroy the party. Politics is something that is very current..’what have you done today” . The past is the past and today is today….gerry adams recently has had many many bad recent today’s….and he should be walking away from politics while he has at least some bit of respecctability left…if he stays much longer…he’ll be a has been that people want even want to give a speach at some discussion on Ireland….get off the stage gerry…it’s time

  • oldruss

    I’m an American, and hardly an expert on Irish politics. But permit me, nonetheless, to make a couple of observations from this side of the pond.

    Stating the obvious, there are two separate constituencies in Ireland, courtesy of the British Partition. That has been the unavoidable consequences of having created two distinct societies.

    Sinn Fein has done remarkable well in representing the nationalist electorate in the north. The unionist majority are now compelled to work with the nationalists, and can no longer dictate policy or status to the nationalist electorate, as was the case before the Good Friday Agreement. There are formalized structures for cross-border cooperation, once unthinkable. And, contrary to the opinion express by Ed Maloney, even the photos of Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness sitting side by side said so much for Sinn Fein’s accomplishments on so many levels, that they could only be thought of as a positive for Sinn Fein. There is no reason to believe that Sinn Fein will not continue to be the largest nationalist party in the north, and with the splintering of the unionist parties, as the player with the biggest bat, Sinn Fein will enjoy even greater responsibility for the conduct of politics in the future.

    To the extent that Sinn Fein has been successful in the north, any urgency felt by southern voters over the conditions in the north has been greatly diminished. The better the nationalist electorate fares in the north, the less the southern electorate feels a need for a united Ireland, or at least, for some dissolution of the bonds with Great Britain. The southern electorate’s conscience is assuaged, and voters in the south are free to return to the insular politics that have prevailed in the south for much of the last century.

    It is true that Sinn Fein’s opportunities in the south have become more difficult; however, even the latest EU election, and the 2007 election, do not spell the end of Sinn Fein in the south. All mature political parties endure an ebb and flow in their support. When Tony Blair took Labour back to Downing Street, and particularly when he increased Labour’s majority in the Commons, many were writing the Conservative Party’s obituary. It would be equally foolish to write an obituary for Sinn Fein.

  • Kathy C

    posted by Kathy C

    Hi fellow American,

    sinn fein is hemorraging elected officials…that is more than an ebb and flow. Even the realization that sinn fein is not addressing that issue shows that they are not interested in listening to their unhappy members to solve the problems. There comes a time when change is needed…and the change is in leadership of the party.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    oldruss: “Stating the obvious, there are two separate constituencies in Ireland, courtesy of the British Partition. That has been the unavoidable consequences of having created two distinct societies.”

    The partition arose because neither side, Irish or British, had the spine or stones to deal with the thorny issue of the Protestant dominated portions of Ulster at the time of the treaty that created the Irish Free State — IOW, both sides punted and, almost by omission, created the so-called “British” partition.

  • Paul

    My Dear downstairs neighbour Kathy C

    sinn fein is hemorraging elected officials…

    That is way over stating the leaking that is occuring and as Old Russ Points out it is quite natural. As the peace Process embeds itself the urgency ebbs and the idealists are the first ones to slough off

  • sinless

    Maybe Sinn Fein should change its name to Sinn Fein The Workers Party. Then, in time, Legs [s]Diamond [/s] Ferris might be the FF boss of bosses. Lucky for the defectors, the Nuting Squad is on R&R.

  • oldruss

    Dread Cthulhu:

    It would appear that we haven’t read the same history texts.

    At the time of the Third Home Rule Act, the UVF was formed in the north by Carson and Craig, to use whatever means necessary to keep Ulster (9 counties) under British rule.

    When WWI gave cover to the British government to delay implementation of the Third Home Rule Act, the UVF went to France and the crisis was avoided for the time being.

    After WWI, rather than implement the Third Home Rule Act, the British Parliament instead adopted the Government of Ireland Act 1920, establishing a separate parliament in the north and a separate parliament in the south.

    The First Dail Eireann having already been formed in Dublin, the British established parliament in the south was rightfully ignored. Craig and Carson and the boys in the north, however, leaped at the chance to sit in a British mini-parliament dominated by Protestants.

    The Irish War of Independence followed, and the partition, which the British parliament had first created in 1920, was recognized, on a temporary basis, by the Treaty which Michael Collins signed on behalf of the Irish government. The Treaty was eventually ratified by the Dail. The border commission which was to have adjusted the border, and which would have brought Tyrone and Fermanagh into the south, together with a portion of Derry City, most certainly, never happened largely due to the untimely death of Michael Collins.

    And the rest, as they say, is history.

  • fin

    Tad harsh Dread, the Irish (with bugger all ammo and no military knowledge) were offered all out war by a world superpower if they didn’t accept partition, I can’t answer for the military superpower as to why they surrendered.

    “Protestant dominated portions of Ulster” think the people of Derry, Tyrone, Fermanagh and Armagh might have an issue with that unless you mean dominated by means other than democratic means, gerrymandering anyone

  • John O’Connell

    When Tony Blair took Labour back to Downing Street, and particularly when he increased Labour’s majority in the Commons, many were writing the Conservative Party’s obituary. It would be equally foolish to write an obituary for Sinn Fein.

    The only problem with that analysis is that Gerry Adams is the Kingpin of Sinn Fein and without him Sinn Fein will flounder in the North. His going might improve things for a time in the South.

    But the prophecies of Revelation are running heavily against him at the moment and my money is on Gerry being slipped out the side door before he does untold damage to Sinn Fein, especially as it is becoming increasingly clear that he does have a serious case to answer over the hunger strikers’ deaths.

    But without him they are nothing and the SDLP will be back on a level playing field with the old enemy. In fact the SDLP resurgence has already begun with the imminent demise of Adams over the ten dead hunger strikers, so serious is the issue and so guilty is Adams to most who have delved into it.

  • Kathy C

    posted by Kathy C

    Hi Paul,

    It is anything BUT natural that within the months of june and july of this year alone 3 elected officals have left sinn fein. There is Gerard Foley, Louise Minihaven from Dublin and Christy Burke. Mr. Burke was in sinn fein for decades and to imply that those that have left are the ones who “slough off” does a diservice to his long years of service. There is a deep problem within sinn fein…and as I have stated for some time now….it starts with gerry adams.

  • Mirko

    Sinn Fein could and would gain some traction in the South if they were able to successfully paint the British Government as guilty of similar actions. The arrest of Mark Haddock, a Special Branch sponsored serial killer, today is a prime example. A reminder to supercilious unionists of what their own government was involved in. Start by civilising yourselves…

  • Granter

    I find it amusing when ‘Americans’ attempt to offer comment on the British influence in Ireland. Britain may have a responsibility for the partition of Ireland but I dare say that Native Americans may have opted for a similar arrangement rather than the genocide inflicted on them by those incomers whose children now call themselves ‘American’.

  • Reader

    Mirko: Sinn Fein could and would gain some traction in the South if they were able to successfully paint the British Government as guilty of similar actions.
    Hardly. If it’s important to people that they were better than the Brits, they are hardly going to be attracted to a movement that was worse.

  • Kathy C

    posted by Kathy C

    Hi Granter,,

    I’m glad Americans can amuse you…;) when we discuss the political issue of british influence. We’ve had the influence of the british in our country as well….and we got rid of them….;) in our revolution. However, that’s a bit off topic… and one I would love to discuss with ya…but this one is about how gerry adams is trapped and elected sinn fein members are leaving the party.

  • fin

    Granter, wasn’t America also a English colony, did the natives enjoy special privilges prior to independence, do tell,
    how did all those black people turn up there by the way?
    Actually why did all those Iriih decide to move there?

  • slug

    This thread is dominated by loons from other countries. Moving on.

  • Pat the Baker

    [i]But without him they are nothing and the SDLP will be back on a level playing field with the old enemy. In fact [b]the SDLP resurgence has already begun[/b] with the imminent demise of Adams over the ten dead hunger strikers, so serious is the issue and so guilty is Adams to most who have delved into it. [/i]

    Mental. Absolutely mental and without a hint of evidence.

    As for oldruss and ‘Kathy C’ – with all due respect, your analysis and contributions to the debate feel somewhat shallow and contrived. Generally speaking, people resent what they perceive as omniscient, interfering Americans giving their tuppence worth on our affairs (statesmen/women excluded) without having to endure the absolute carnage and pain witnessed and endured by all of us here over the past too many centuries. Your contributions are, in my opinion, pretty vacuous and (unintentionally) condescending.

  • Pete Baker

    slug

    Don’t abandon hope so readily! ;o)

    The topic is other than the conversation, to date, might indicate.

  • oldruss

    Pat the Baker:

    Perhaps this entire web site should be restricted to those born and living in Ireland, north and south?

    We omniscient, interfering, Americans do freely offer our observations; and also our money, and also the lives of our service men and women.

    Ironic too, that Eamon de Valera was born in New York City, N.Y., USA.

    I guess I find it a bit narrow-minded that you would limit political discussion to only those who were born and raised in a particular country.

  • Comrade Stalin

    oldruss,

    The reason why SF have lost traction in the South is because they are pro-Venezuela, pro-FARC Marxists who demonstrated themselves to be untrustworthy on the issue of the economy which, in Ireland, has until recently settled down into a right-of-centre consensus with the public sector and the unions bought off to keep them quiet. The European election appears to have shown that it’s not possible to turn a protest vote against Europe, as seen in the Nice referendum, into a political platform, and perhaps they made a mistake by identifying themselves with that.

    SF would be a weird fringe party in most parts of western Europe, with the possible exception of the former East Germany. Their vote in the six is the anomaly here, then again pretty much everything up here is an anomaly.

    As for the Stoops, I was at an election count in 1998 when they were talking about a resurgence, right as their boxes were coming up showing their worst ever result. They’re almost as bad as the UUP for bluffing themselves, and they’re doing it right now. SF’s position as the leader of nationalism in NI is, unfortunately, secure for the time being.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Pat,

    I don’t think that barb of yours was fair. Do you mean to say that Irish people never venture forth with opinions on how America should be run ? I’ve never met an American who has told me that I’m not allowed to have an opinion on politics in the US because I don’t live there, and I’ve attended a few political rallies in the US.

    It does annoy me when people advocate war here, especially when they advocate it over the heads of the repeatedly expressed desire of the Irish people for peace. But oldruss isn’t doing that, as far as I can see.

  • Pat the Baker

    [i]Perhaps this entire web site should be restricted to those born and living in Ireland, north and south?[/i]

    No, but perhaps you could offer us argument and insights that are a bit more substantiated and that don’t revolve around repeated, monotonous regurgitations of your own “unique” interpretations, as “outsiders”.

    [i]We omniscient, interfering, Americans do freely offer our observations; and also our money, and also the lives of our service men and women.[/i]

    Good for you all. However, an altogether irrelevant contribution. So the wars that you have created in Iraq and Afgh/Pak give you some sort of moral superiority. Catch yourself on or else try harder.

    [i]Ironic too, that Eamon de Valera was born in New York City, N.Y., USA.[/i]

    Pointless fact of the day. What the hell has that got to do with anything? Are you just peppering your contributions with little insights to show us that you have indeed done some research?

    [i]I guess I find it a bit narrow-minded that you would limit political discussion to only those who were born and raised in a particular country.[/i]

    Why do you insist on putting words in my mouth? I implied or stated nothing of the sort. Just try to be a bit more orginal other than “hey, I’m an American and this is the way I see it, there are two separate constituencies in Ireland, courtesy of the British Partition bla bla bla”

  • slug

    CS –

    “As for the Stoops, I was at an election count in 1998 when they were talking about a resurgence, right as their boxes were coming up showing their worst ever result.”

    didn’t the SDLP get their best ever result in 1998?

  • Pete Baker

    Comrade

    As you suggest, it’s true that Moloney’s argument applies more readily to Ireland [The Republic of].

    The North is a different country.

    Which chimes with, in Ken’s terms, the “nonsense” from Toiréasa Ferris.

  • John O’Connell

    Pat the Baker

    without a hint of evidence.

    Evidence is what courts decide upon. Opinions are what people express.

    But the point is made to those who will listen, Gerry Adams is in deep trouble over the hunger strike issue, and that means that the resurgence of the SDLP has already begun. Without Gerry Adams, Sinn Fein will be like the SDLP without John Hume. I rest my case, your honour.

  • Pat the Baker

    Gross supposition, John. The SDLP didn’t exactly show signs of resurgence at the last election, did they? I think that you’re intentionally (due to your own cognitive dispositions) overstating the impact that Adams’ role during the Hunger Strike will play if and when the truth, as you and others believe it to be, eventually emergees among the nationalist community. Adams and McGuinness are nothing but clever men, with powerful backing, and won’t be brought down – however much you wish it – by this episode.

  • John O’Connell

    Gross supposition is all yours, your honour.

    While I agree that these are “nothing but clever men”, Adams is in a league of his own compared to McGuinness, and if we’re right about the hunger strikers issue, he will at the least have to resign the leadership. I’m suggesting that these clever men will open a side door to Adams before the shit really hits the fan.

    But Adams will go in digrace to the vast majority and the prophecy will be fulfilled.

    And don’t worry about my cognitive dispositions as that stuff is well out of your reach.

  • Pete Baker

    John

    “I’m suggesting that these clever men will open a side door to Adams before the shit really hits the fan.”

    Pure futuring on your part.

    And contradictory to Moloney’s actual analysis.

  • Paul

    Pat you are arguing with an unbalanced man who believes that he invented an algorythym that spells out that Gerry is the living anti-crist, literally a religous nut

  • kensei

    Pete

    Don’t be sticking words into my mouth, I don’t appreciate it. I would readily agree with the idea that SF can be seen as too Nordie dominated in the South and that’s a weakness and it is certainly a danger too them. Certainly in Dublin and beyond the border counties where they are strongest.

    What I would take issue with is that

    1. The success in the North is something totally subservient to Southern success and can be taken for granted. The strategy, remember, calls for power in both places. Northern success is only passe and taken for granted because SF’s dominance of Northern Nationalism is more or less complete.

    2. That SF are likely to collapse any time soon North or South without some bigger evidence.

    What Toiréasa Ferris is saying and what is said here is not the same thing, and suggesting they are is, shall we put it charitably, mischievous.

  • John East Belfast

    oldruss

    I must say I did wince when you posted on the Ardoyne riot thread that you were pouring over a map of North Belfast to see how close to Holy Cross Primary School the Ardoyne shops were. It seemed to me you had your opinion alreday formed on a subject you knew little about and just wanted to join in some Brit bashing.

    However your comment

    “We omniscient, interfering, Americans do freely offer our observations; and also our money, and also the lives of our service men and women.”

    I hope you are directing that comment at your eternally neutral Republic of Ireland friends. As I am sure you are aware the British Army – including those drawn from Northern Ireland – is standing shoulder to shoulder in Afghanisan at present with the US.
    Perhaps you need some new friends this side of the pond ?

  • Pete Baker

    Sorry Ken.

    Here’s the quote from the “nonsense” you [didn't] reference.

    “If we are honest with ourselves we will admit that the majority of those who we need to put a 1 or a 2 after our logo on a ballot paper unfortunately see us as a Northern-based party, irrelevant to the everyday concerns of people in the 26 Counties. Voters are unclear about what we stand for, which is not surprising as I’m sure many of us are starting to wonder about this also.”

  • Pat the Baker

    [i]As I am sure you are aware the British Army – including those drawn from Northern Ireland – is standing shoulder to shoulder in Afghanisan at present with the US.[/i]

    John, the seriously misinformed and generally vacuous nature of the comment made by oldruss is further highlighted when one considers another issue which you have also failed to highlight: the sizeable contingent of southern Irishmen now fighting in the British Army. I read months ago that over 10% if all new recruits in the British Army are from men livin in the Republic of Ireland.

    It was a needless, irrelevant and desperately cheap shot directed by oldruss. Otherwise it would seem that by virtue of one’s citizenship of a great military power with the propensity to spend great treasure in illegally interfering in the affairs of other sovereign nations (Afghanistan excluded) gives one the automatic right to expound whatever ill-informed views they may have without challenge.

  • John East Belfast

    Sinn Fein are a Brits Out Party and there havent been Brits in the 26 counties for getting on a 100 years.

    There was an opportunity for them to make ground in the ROI post the collapse of the Celtic Tiger but the voters didnt like their alternative – if they knew what it was themselves.

    In the north they have given up the means of getting rid of the Brits and now they are talking about Irish Unity – as it should be – as persuading a sizeable number of northern unionists to support the cause.

    However SF has too much baggage to achieve that.

    Basically there is no future for SF.

    Infact SF are actually a liability and obstacle to Irish Unity now.

  • Ray

    Gerry Adams has lost most of the Irish language community because of his treachery against the native language.
    Good ridance to Adams and the sooner the better for everyone concerned.

  • fag an bealach

    A house divided itself will inevitably fall. SF needs clear consistent policies North and South. It cant be nationalist in the North and Socialist in the South. Make up your minds – you can move to left or move to the right or you can plant yourselves firmly in the middle embracing both captitalism and socialism, according to demands of the times, with a small c and small s. But above all leave the useless left wing rant & rhetoric to the Socialst party. Remember SF started out as a nationalist party 100 years ago. The two biggest parties in Ireland are also nationalist parties. Is is where the votes are because that is what people want. Everything comes and goes in cycles and people want honesty and integrity and a party that stands for something not duplicity and double meaning who abandon their principles to the whim and fashions of the day. The more left wing councilors who depart the fold the better. Time for Gerry to go also. Speaking from both sides of your mouth is not an endearing trait. IMO if they standstill trying to ride two horses, they will collapse and be overtaken and if they move Left they end up with their ex-stickey comrades in the Labour party with its limited role. It is a time to face the truth. It is a time for honesty.

  • Erasmus

    I am all for Americans to voicing their opinions here. Often distance brings a certain clarity of perspective.

  • Billy

    JEB

    “Basically there is no future for SF”

    While I am not and have never been a Sinn Fein supporter or voter, I find the self delusion of Pete and people such as yourself incredible.

    Certainly Sinn Fein have issues – after decades of constant growth, they were out-negotiated at St Andrews and have made a total balls up of the education portfolio.

    In the South, they are struggling but, frankly, given the state of the economy down there – they were be best to try and maintain their position as a United Ireland discussion is just not an option until we are out of the current financial crisis – some years for Ireland in particular and the UK.

    I certainly agree with those who criticise Sinn Fein’s top down style of management. I’m afraid that Adams has had his day and should certainly step down. What is required is younger leadership and preferably people who have no violent baggage with them as this is definitely a problem.

    While Sinn Fein certainly have major issues to deal with, the DUP and SDLP are hardly faring any better.

    The DUP are scared shitless of the TUV. They scraped through in Europe with an abysmal candidate. They are split in a Robinson v Dodds dispute and their contribution to the running of the assembly by appointing people like Campbell, McCausland, Wilson and Poots is laughable.

    As for the SDLP, despite the idiotic claims of Mr O’Connell – they continue to wither and die under the inspid leadership of Mark “Mr Ego” Durkan. Their membership is old and declining and they will undoubtedly put Eddie McGrady again! in South Down – his attendance record is woeful and when he does turn up, he’s a joke.

    I could see Sinn Fein having problems in the North if there was a credible opposition to them for the Nationalist vote but there clearly isn’t.
    Let’s face it, in Sinn Fein’s current predicament – if the SDLP offered anything, they would be eating into the Sinn Fein vote. Instead, they are barely manintaining theirs and, as their membership ages and declines, that is hardly likely to change.

    From an outsider’s point of view Sinn Fein need a change of leadership and to adopt a more “bottom up” style of partipation in their party. Chris Gaskin has made some suggestions (much better informed than mine) over on Balrog.

    In the South, they need to work on changing their perception as a Northern Party. They also need to realise that, in the current economic climate, they should focus on maintaining their current position as the RoI has a lot more urgent issues than a United Ireland aspiration to deal with at present.

    In the North, I still think that they need to make the changes I suggest as the situation has changed and the old model/tactics are no longer best suited to obtaining their onjectives.

    However, despite the wishful thinking of Pete et al, Sinn Fein will continue to dominate Nationalism at the elections whether or not they make these changes. The SDLP represent no threat at all – the only threat to Sinn Fein is Nationalist voter apathy.

    For a party that is “declining” or “dying”, they have just topped the Euro election poll by a country mile and have a real chance to be the largest party in the next assembly.

    To focus on Sinn Feins problems while ignoring the recent peformances from the DUP and SDLP is blatent cherry picking.

    To suggest that Sinn Fein is “declining” or “dying” while conveniently ignoring facts such as those 2 paragraphs above is blatent wishful thinking and no more.

  • NCM

    I don’t think it takes an Ed Moloney to figure out that Sinn Fein is in decline.

  • John East Belfast

    Billy

    I posted a few weeks back that SF success at the Euro Election (ie especially topping the poll) in NI was an indication of Northern Irish nationalist weakness than unionist weakness. I got a lot of scorn for such a comment based of course around people telling me that because of SF electoral success then I was talking through my backside.

    However what I was really talking about was how close are they to achieving their objectives. ie unless they simply exist to win elections then their failure has to be judged on how successful they are in achieving their ultimate goal of a total British withdrawel from Ireland and a unification of the two parts of the island including the unionists.

    SF and its current leadership havent a snow ball’s chance in hell of making any inroads in to unionism. Let’s be totally frank and realistic about this – they are part of the problem.

    I also agree the SDLP are a basket case – like what does it really stand for ?

    Northern Nationalism is in a bit of a dilemma – it isnt attractive to anyone other than northern nationalists. Therefore any hope of an All Ireland Party is a pipe dream along with the prospect of wooing any northern unionists.

    Electoral strenght of northern nationalism will just lead to stale mate in the north.

    Meanwhile Ulster Unionism has really charted the correct course and engaged national politics into Northern Ireland. The challenge for unionism is to make that attractive to catholic unionists.

  • Billy

    JEB

    I agree with you to a point. The relative strength of the DUP + Sinn Fein has already led to a total stalemate in the North in my opinion.

    I think your damning assessment of Sinn Fein’s chances of wooing many Unionists at present is pretty accurate. Likewise, the DUP with their Ulster Nationalist attitudes has no chance of winning Catholic hearts and minds either.

    While I would disagree with a lot of Sinn Fein policy, I am glad they are in the assembly to counter the likes of Campbell and Wilson who would love nothing better than to return to a pre 1968 NI.

    In the present economic climate, there is no prospect of a United Ireland. I also agree with you that Sinn Fein’s current leadership and tactics will be ineffective in promoting such a policy anyway.

    However, the fact remains that Sinn Fein are and will continue to be by far the largest Nationalist party. Pete can drone on as much as he likes about it and point out their obvious problems but it won’t alter their status. His obvious anti Sinn Fein bias and ignoring of the issues facing other parties merely undermines his argument.

    As I said, I certainly think Sinn Fein need a change of leadership and thinking. Getting some younger leadership figures (with no violent background) would be a good start. Although I must point out that Unionism and the Orange Order have considerable improvement to make on their attitude to “loyalist” terrorism if they want to engage many Catholic voters.

    I am a Sinn Fein outsider. However, there are clearly issues with democracy within the party and I suspect that changes need to be made. As I mentioned, Chris Gaskin has made some well-informed suggestions on Balrog.

    I also think that Kensei has made some excellent suggestions earlier on this topic. I’m sure that Sinn Fein will continue to pursue a United Ireland and good luck to them. I just think (as you do) that the current tactics and leadership are getting nowhere in that regard.

    In that respect, I would agree with you that Sinn Fein are failing.

    However, Pete seems to delude himself that they are dying and going away. As I pointed out, the Euro election destroyed that idiotic theory and there is a fair chance that they’ll be the largest party in the next assembly – hardly “dying” or a failure.

    The challenge for Sinn Fein (as Adams has admitted) is to start engaging with the govts and Unionists in favour of a United Ireland. As I have said, I feel that this will require changes in Sinn Fein’s internal organisation and approach but it’s a pefectly legitimate aspiration.

    Likewise, as you have said, the challenge for Unionism is to persuade Catholics that NI is no longer a cold house for them. To be fair, I think that the UUP/Con link up is a good start but we’ll have to see how that goes.

    As you say, Sinn Fein currently have little prospect of persuading Unionists. However, the DUP have less chance of persuading Catholics that the Union is a good thing – in fact they seem to have little interest in doing so.

    The clear difference is that I realise, as much as I might wish it, the DUP is not going to implode or go away despite their current difficulties.

    Pete et al seem to think that, if they write enough about the problems of Sinn Fein (while ignoring Unionist problems) that Sinn Fein will simply disappear. Sinn Fein will continue to be by far the largest Nationalist party.

  • frustrated democrat

    Comrade

    A party which is very short on funds to fight the Westminister election and which will start to implode in the near future shouldn’t really make comments about other parties which are moving forwards.

  • Gertntfe

    Arrogant crap from USA. Although it may come as a surprise to yanks they are not saving the world.

  • Comrade Stalin

    fd:

    A party which is very short on funds to fight the Westminister election and which will start to implode in the near future shouldn’t really make comments about other parties which are moving forwards.

    Heh, the Alliance Party’s implosion has been predicted almost continuously for about 30 years. I’ll wait until it happens.

    I guess, of course, you know all about implosions given that your party went through one and had to be bailed out by your sugar daddies in London. Let me know how well that works out.

    USA:

    SF just topped the poll in the last northern election. Unionism is split 3 ways, SF looking like becoming the largest party with MMcG as First Minister. Yes Mr Maloney, that looks like a political party with no gameplan.

    SF have a game plan ? I can’t think of a single SF achievement over the past couple of years other than actually staying in government, and I can’t see this changing. It would be foolish to say that SF are in real short-term trouble (although I think the signs are there), but they’re going to have to come up with something for the longer term.

  • kensei

    Pete

    Here’s the quote from the “nonsense” you [didn’t] reference.

    “If we are honest with ourselves we will admit that the majority of those who we need to put a 1 or a 2 after our logo on a ballot paper unfortunately see us as a Northern-based party, irrelevant to the everyday concerns of people in the 26 Counties. Voters are unclear about what we stand for, which is not surprising as I’m sure many of us are starting to wonder about this also.”

    Which is neither what is being said in the article you liked, nor what I took issue with from that article. There is a fundamental difference between having a problem in being a Northern based party, and 1. assuming SF will die if it doesn’t move forward, like a shark and 2. that Northern success means nothing and would be given up for a tiny amount of success in the South.

    Which I did clearly reference. But apparently you didn’t read.

    I’d repeat myself in, well, Baker-stylee, but I’m sure you are capable of going back and reading what I said for yourself. Sometimes I don’t always get my point across as well as I’d like. If you need anything clarified sure let me know.

  • Padraig

    If anyone wants to know how Sinn Fein and Gerry A are getting on they should ask ordinary Catholics on the streets of Belfast. They are turning against them in droves. Many would like to string Gerry Kelly up.

  • Pete Baker

    Here’s what you said, Ken. The first quote is from Moloney’s article.

    Furthermore her victory reinforces the impression created by the Southern results, that Sinn Féin is becoming what it really always was, a Northern party, not an all-Ireland party. The truth is, as one former member commented, very simple: ‘They’d gladly have Bairbre finish third if it meant Mary Lou would hold on to her seat.

    This is the type of nonsense only able to be spoken when SF are so comfortably ahead of the SDLP as to make them irrelevance. If SF were in third place or in a desparate battle with the SDLP, I’d hazard a guess that there would be substantially more unrest abnd substantially more interest in where de Brun finished. That’s a bit of speculation, but since the linked article is full of it, I assume I’m allowed.

    “2. that Northern success means nothing and would be given up for a tiny amount of success in the South.”

    Ah, so that’s what you meant to say.

    Of course, it’s not what Moloney said, but there you go.

  • frustrated democrat

    Comrade

    I am not in the UUP…but their chances are vastly superior to yours and I also suspect you won’t have to wait much longer.

    ‘We’re the not sectarian party’ is no longer a vote winner, people really expect more in the 21st century.

  • kensei

    Pete

    The important bit is the last bit. I am pretty sure that de Brun finishing third would be a disaster much worse than Mary Lou narrowly missing out for SF. That would be a full scale crisis, rather than a carefully expectations managed result.

    Given the choice, I’d guess they’d prefer Mary Lou, given her position in the opranisation, but that isn’t at all the same thing. And furthermore, you are quoting narrowly and out of context. The full paragraph is:

    To all of this, Sinn Féin loyalists will undoubtedly cry: ‘Well, what about the vote in the North?’ Bairbre de Brun’s performance looks impressive on the surface but her topping the poll was the result of DUP in-fighting – and this in an election where a protest vote usually costs nothing – and not because of anything Sinn Féin did. Furthermore her victory reinforces the impression created by the Southern results, that Sinn Féin is becoming what it really always was, a Northern party, not an all-Ireland party. The truth is, as one former member commented, very simple: ‘They’d gladly have Bairbre finish third if it meant Mary Lou would hold on to her seat

    The example is not used in isolation. It is used as a rhetorical device to effectively dismiss the entire Northern position out of hand. And he’s wrong to do that, whether or not SF were helped by Unionists splits or not. That’s a very solid results, given the things that have happened sice the last Assembly election.

    Tthe fact that he can is testament to SF’;s dominance. So, you know, keep trying. Or preferably, not.

  • skullion

    Can’t remember who it was that once said that ALL political careers end in failure.

  • seceder

    sorry to be coming to this so late but;

    SF made a choice in 2007 that was built on a lie, a lie sold them by the British and Irish Gov and to some extent the press. the lie was -”do a deal with Paisley and the whole world will be at your feet!”

    THe reality was somewhat different – particularly in the South the reality was – “do a deal with Paisley and we the Southern Electorate will no longer feel the need to vote for you out of guilt”

    For the last 10 – 15 years the Southern electorate have been persuaded to vote for SF to boolster the peace process because they felt guilty about abandoning the northern nationalists in 1921 and more recently in 1969. So now that the northern nationalists are on their feet again able to fight their own battles etc there is no need for the Southern electorate to bother.

    Adams was sold a pup and without a credible strategy to really become involved in Southern politics wrapping the tricolour around his shoulders and talking about how bad the unionists are is irrelevant now. THus the demise.

    SF are a northern party only a northern party and are only relevant in the north – amazingly more of thier elected representatives in the South are beginningto realise that!

  • John O’Connell

    Paul

    8.Pat you are arguing with an unbalanced man who believes that he invented an algorythym that spells out that Gerry is the living anti-crist, literally a religous nut

    I am greatly offended as I am not religious at all. In any case my numeric alphabet caculates Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley at 666 and cannot be disputed.

    Why Gerry Adams is the Antichrist!

    First of all, I believe that Gerry Adams is the Antichrist because of the coincidence that his name comes out at 666 on my numeric alphabet, a numeric alphabet that I discovered during my years at St Columb’s College in Derry and further investigated during my years at University College Galway. If his name didn’t come at 666, using some reasonable means, then I would not believe that he is the Antichrist. He would simply be to me just another delinquent who leads a very large conspiracy to undermine Ireland.

    Second of all, due to another pertinent coincidence his name contains “Adam”, the name of the first man, and from a theological point of view, this adds much to the basis of him being the Antichrist. Adam coincidentally means ‘man’ in Hebrew, and the number of the beast is specifically described as “man’s number” (Rev 13:18).

    These are extraordinary coincidences and not to dismissed by any means by any intelligent observer of matters theological.

    The apostle Paul wrote: “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Cor 15:22). Adam therefore symbolises death, and thus the question must be asked, is there significance to the ‘Adam’ in Gerry Adams’ name? Does Gerry Adams, the effective leader of the IRA’s republican movement, symbolise death?

    The descriptions of the beasts in the Book of Revelation are interesting.

    ‘The inhabitants worshipped the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed,’ (Rev 13:12). Coincidentally, Gerry Adams was shot and wounded in 1984, but recovered. Afterwards, he became Sinn Fein president and one of the foremost politicians in Northern Ireland. The use of violence for him is a matter of tactics. That is a matter of fact and record. Gerry Adams has not stepped away from violence. He believes in his own words that “there is a time for peace and a time for war”, mocking the Prince of Peace and equating Christ with the Antichrist, good with evil.

    The first beast, who is said to be the Antichrist, is prophesied to have “seven heads” (Rev 13:1), which is coincidentally the number of heads on the IRA army council, including Gerry Adams’ allegedly.

    “Who can make war against him?” (Rev 13:7). The IRA has been described as ‘the most sophisticated terrorist organisation in the history of mankind’. Their structure makes it impossible for a conventional army to defeat them

    Gerry Adams fulfilled another prophecy during the run-up to the 2007 Assembly election campaign in the North of Ireland. This involved him requesting the use of Clonard Monastery (Roman Catholic) church in West Belfast for a political meeting discussing his party’s policy. He still believed that armed struggle was a legitimate means of resolving differences.

    When Gerry Adams took to the altar of Clonard monastery while his beliefs were in conflict with Christ’s teaching, he was proclaiming himself to be wiser than God and better than Jesus Christ. He was in logic proclaiming himself to be God.

    “[The man of lawlessness or the Antichrist] will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” (2 Thes 2:3-4)

  • oldruss

    I’m only now getting back to this blog after yesterday’s posts and counter-posts. John East Belfast and Pat the Baker were critical of my posts on this and another thread, and so I will briefly respond, hopefully without taking up too much space and detracting from the issue of the purported imminent demise of Sinn Fein. Other posters, to be fair, such as Comrade Stalin, expressed support for allowing Americans to post here on Irish affairs.

    Comments by Americans are not welcome it had been stated by Pat the Baker, and I responded that our money and blood have been. That was a reference to the contributions of Americans in WWI and WWII, and while a cliche, nonetheless, an historical fact, which I think Europeans and Brits sometimes fail to remember.

    Along those same lines, Americans did make serious financial contributions to Eamon de Valera during his USA fund-raising tour at the time of the Irish War of Independence. We have always had a stake in Ireland, and the diaspora of Irish who settled here, and their progeny, deserve better than to be summarily dismissed.

    On one particular point, off topic, but posted here as rebuttal to one of John East Belfast’s earlier jabs, the geographic relationship between the Arydone Road shops and the Glenbryn Estate was not a throw-away comment. When unionists castigate the “recreational rioters” on the Ardoyne Road, they should keep in mind the rioting that went on for months only a few blocks away. Keeps things in perspective.
    *****
    As for Sinn Fein’s purported demise, Mark Twain, an American author, probably put it best when discussing a news account of his reported death. Twain said to the effect that the news account of his death had been greatly exaggerated.

    Sinn Fein can and will continue to dominate the north, as the unionist electorate remains splintered. After the next assembly election, Sinn Fein will most probably be the largest, single party, and under the GFA and St. Andrew’s, be entitled to appoint the First Minister. With Martin McGuinness likely to assume that post, it is worth noting how far nationalism and republicanism have come from that dark day in Derry, 30 January 1972, when Mr. McGuinness was IRA second in command.

    The south is a different animal, and hopefully it was not too simplistic, even for an American observation, to have said so in my earlier posts. The south does not share the urgency that the north has to change the northern society, and why should they. Life has been good in the 26 counties, the current economic downturn notwithstanding. But that very downturn should have meant a better showing for Sinn Fein in both the EU and 2007 general election.

    The loss of Mary Lou McDonald’s seat can at least be attributed in part to the downsizing of her EU constituency. And, perhaps the economic downturn had not yet hit with its full force in May 2007.

    Sinn Fein, nonetheless, did place 4th in percentage of first preference votes in 2007, although still far behind FF and FG. I would not want to be the reporter reporting on SF’s demise. Sinn Fein, like Mark Twain, may well have the last laugh.

  • John O’Connell

    Oldruss

    You’re just reflecting a general theme among the British and American circles that Sinn Fein can’t be allowed to collapse like the DUP as they might perceive it better to return to the killing.

    I think you may be CIA and that that may reflect current CIA thinking but we are the people who have to live here and when we smell a rat on board we will throw him over board before our entire society is wrecked by an cancerous indifference to violence because they subtly threaten to go back to their old ways if they don’t get what they want.

  • oldruss

    Let’s wait and see what the next assembly election in the six counties brings. I am of the opinion, as I said, that SF will be the largest, single party, and will nominate Martin McGuinness as First Minister.

    That doesn’t sound as if they’re collapsing.

    As for your speculation that I’m a CIA plant, I’m not sure what you’ve been ingesting, John, but whatever it is, you might want to consider going a bit easier on the stuff.

  • Kathy C

    posted by Kathy C

    Hi all,

    Sinn Fein during the early 9o’s began implementing a plan in the US to schuttle any discusion that were questioning adams and mcguiness and then kelly’s approach. It was to mock and ridicule and most importantly question the rights of the Americans to comment on what was happening in the north. And of course…then turn it around and attack what the US has done in the past re…American Indians, wars and the like. This was an orcharstrated plan to devert any questioning of what adams/mcguiness/kelly was doing
    HERE’S the interesting part. They put in denis donaldson to the US to implement this plan…and today some of it’s tones are even seen in this thread. Now for those who don’t remember who denis donaldson was….he outed himself as a british agent and was later killed. Adams had a press conference to say that he was kicked out of the party….BUT and this is a big BUT….today when Americans question the path sinn fein is on….the Denis Donaldson approach is used…attack—mockk and question the inteltigence of the Americans and then the final piece….attack the America motives in everyting under the sun rather than what is going on in sinn fein.

  • John O’Connell

    Oldruss

    As for your speculation that I’m a CIA plant, I’m not sure what you’ve been ingesting, John, but whatever it is, you might want to consider going a bit easier on the stuff.

    I didn’t call you a CIA “plant”, and you seem to be using classical CIA tactics in order to discredit my opinion, i.e, ingesting.

    Your general theme would be fine too if it came from an Irish American with Sinn Fein sympathies but you seem to be portraying yourself as a neutral who believes rationally that Sinn Fein are doing fine and no problem lies ahead. If you were, how would you know?

    I put it to you again that you are CIA and you have an agenda to protect Sinn Fein from imminent collapse and the ending of the peace process. As Hilary Clinton said on the news tonight, the success of this peace process sends out a signal that other peace processes can succeed with dialogue. Only you know very well that the success of this peace process is dependent on Sinn Fein being perceived as getting its way – it is based on an evil and in the longer run it is better that Sinn Fein are dislodged from their position of leading party and replaced by a party that actually believes in all the things say they believe but don’t really.

  • John 45

    Re: Irish citizens joining the British Army as being of any significance one way or the other.
    Here are some “silly bugger” points.
    This week 600 new recruits from the Caribbean are arriving to join the British Army.
    The Commonwealth is being scoured for more recruits.
    On the British Army web site, Citizens of Ireland are given as a separate category of sourcing. This would imply that All Ireland has one Irish citizenship.
    Increasingly it appears that British casualities in Afghanistan often come from Third world countries.
    The Irish Army has, and always has had, a substantial % of members from Northern Ireland. Of course for any person with a liking for a military career the numbers here would be quite limited compared to foreign armies.
    Armies always have always used mercenaries, whether official or unofficial.

  • John 45

    And while I’m at it, I often come across these anti-American comments around these parts. They display such a puerile attitude. For one thing, if anybody in the USA has direct ancestors from Ireland they are entitled to Irish citizenship. This is only right, and I consider such people as fully Irish, just as you have people in North America who will say “I am American first and Scottish, Italian, Jewish, African second.”
    They are probably more “pure” Irish than some here. More importantly, they love Ireland.

  • Pat the Baker

    [i]Comments by Americans are not welcome it had been stated by Pat the Baker..[/i]

    Please point out exactly where I directly/ indirectly state, or even imply, that. For all the remarkable traits which Americans have repeatedly demonstrated they possess – most of them good, some not so good – I never thought the ability to wallow in self-pity was one of them.

    [i]..that was a reference to the contributions of Americans in WWI and WWII, and while a cliche, nonetheless, an historical fact, which I think.. Brits sometimes fail to remember.[/i]

    Utter nonsense. And offensive nonsense at that.

  • Reader

    oldruss: That was a reference to the contributions of Americans in WWI and WWII, and while a cliche, nonetheless, an historical fact,
    Fact; but irrelevant to most of the nationalists here, who follow a tradition that was neutral towards the allied side in both wars. In WW2 they put their faith in the magnanimity of the victors, and got away with that gamble.

  • Billy

    Comrade Stalin

    I agree with you that Sinn Fein’s strategy of gaining power/influence North and South to pursue their United Ireland aspirations is failing badly.

    This is due in no small part to the Economic recession when people have a lot more to think about.

    However, as I said earlier, as a Sinn Fein outsider – I feel they need to look at their leadership, party structure and tactics.

    However, with regard to the North, you say that their only achievement has been staying in power -surely the first and most important objective of any political party.

    I would accept that they have certainly messed things up particularly education and wasted time in issues such as the ILA which frankly, speaking as a Nationalist myself, are not even on my radar.

    However, one main achievement has been simply keeping the DUP in check! I have no doubt that the likes of Dodds, Campbell + Wilson would just love to bring in a raft of measures that favour the “loyalist” community over Nationalists.

    I certainly think that Sinn Fein could have played things better. However, they’ve done a whole lot better than the SDLP who, over the years, have been foolish enough to believe the words of the DUP as opposed to their actions.

    Also, I think you’ll find that (as David Vance has commented) the upcoming visit of Hilary Clinton is designed to push the devolution of P+J.
    I’m not denying that Sinn Fein have played this badly in the past. However, it’s now the DUP who are in a bad position with the UK, US + Irish govts on one side and the TUV on the other.

    In the current economic climate, the UK govt holds ALL the financial cards over NI with it’s ridiculous dependency on state handouts.

    While Sinn Fein certainly have their problems at the moment – they, as you have conceded, are not in short-term trouble. In fact, in my opinion, they are not even in long-term trouble. There simply is no credible opposition for the Nationalist vote – the SDLP are an aging, decling joke and Eirigi are no real threat. The only threat to Sinn Fein is Nationalist voter apathy.

    I certainly agree with you that they need to re-evaluate thir current ‘game plan’ as it is not (in my opinion) moving them any further toward their objectives. I think that they need an internal re-organisation (along the lines that Chris Gaskin suggests), new leadership and to re-evaluate their tactics in order to pursue their objectives.
    They also need to recognise that the current economic climate has altered the situation in a dramatic way and reconsider their proposed timescales accordingly.

    However, in terms of being in power in the North, they have just topped the Euro poll by a country mile and have an excellent chance of being the largest party in the next NI assembly.

    Despite Pete’s frequent attempts to manufacture a Sinn Fein meltdown, it’s just fantasising on his part. They have their difficulties but no more than any other NI party and less than most.

    Sinn Fein are the largest Nationalist party by far and will continue to be so well into the future.

  • joeCanuck

    John O’Connell’s law:

    I am right and that fact cannot be disputed.

    Wise up John.
    If anyone wants my source, read comment #8 and weep.