Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

Sinn Fein’s Village Voice

Thu 7 April 2011, 2:09am

There have been a number of pronouncements by the leaders of the two main parties in recent times aimed at appealing to voters to cross the political-religious divide, with specific reasons provided in each case. For Gerry Adams, the gentle pitch to the Shankill intimated that the broadly left perspective of republicans was in tandem with the working-class outlook of the loyalist residents of that district. Similarly, Peter Robinson’s pitch to catholics was based in his belief that his party’s economic vision would find favour with more right wing catholics. Nuala McKeever is undoubtedly right to pour cold water, observing that we are a long way from crossing this particular bridge yet.

Whilst both of these appeals are interesting, a cynic would suggest they are low maintenance PR exercises. However, South Belfast Sinn Fein’s decision to target the predominantly loyalist Village community with a specific bulletin is more interesting if only because of the additional thought and effort involved and the more substantive message that sends out to locals. The fact that the party claims that some 20% of the party’s constituency office cases emanate from the Village community is also another interesting sign of the times. 

Whether there will be an electoral benefit is an entirely different matter, but it’s a sign of good politics in action nonetheless and, dare I say for those interested, further evidence of movement towards Longley’s vision?

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Comments (18)

  1. Id be very skeptical about 20% of SFs South Belfast caseload coming from the Village.
    Undoubtedly ther are some.
    But all Parties tend to exaggerate their cross community appeal. (Except of course the Alliance Party who just exaggerate their appeal).
    The Catholic support for Ian paisley is largely an urban myth. But of course actually doing casework is a different matter. I credit all politicians with a sense of decency that they will work for constituents.

    There are some hopeful signs. I see that (admittedly younger canvassers who can run fast) are actually canvassing normally hostile territory. And why not?
    And they are being treated politely (they claim) …and why not.
    As this week proves….most people are decent.
    We cant live in the past. If I can be polite to Jehovahs Witnesses at my front door then I think I can be polite to canvassers. They are actually the democratic system in which I believe

    The Republican Dissidents wont like that of course. The Agreement actually bedding in. And neither will liberal dissidents for whom the Agreement was not what they expected.
    The time has passed when Sinn Féin can be attacked for what it WAS….and even if their critics cant bring themselves to think that it is still not the right time (for some their actual hatred of Republicanism in itself is too much anyway) then for sheer pragmatic reasons they should realise that it is a futile exercise.
    Nobody is interested in more revelations from the 1970s.

    Sinn Féin is not vulnerable on the Past. Acting superior to SF no longer works.
    Sinn Féin is vulnerable on the Present .its governance, its record over four years.
    Thats the record it is defending in the Village.
    Thats the record on which its critics should be focussing.

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  2. Alias (profile) says:

    The dynamic of promoting the depoliticised nation – a nation that makes no claim to state – is designed to serve the nation that is sovereign at the expense of the nation that isn’t. It is designed to maintain unequal national rights, where the British nation is sovereign, living in a sovereign British state (NI), and the non-sovereign Irish nation within the sovereign British state no longer asserts the national rights that it has been led to constitutionally renounce.

    So the status quo will work for those who support the status quo. That can be sold to non-sovereign nation as something other than the maintenance of unequal national rights, such as some sentimental poetic vision or promotion of a shared society or focusing on practical domestic issues, etc, but it remains as a useful dynamic of promoting the depoliticised nation and the constitutional status quo.

    The Shinners will see it as gaining favour by continuing the ‘peace processing’ while the Unionists have some strange fantasy that a large chunk of latent electoral support is to be found here (see how the UUP fared with that). It’s essentially Alliance territory.

    The Shinners came in at the lower end of expectations in Ireland’s recent general election at a time when even dope-smokers and hippies were getting elected so they probably need some means of pretending that there is a pool of voters in NI that is bigger than the pool they already monopolise so that they can continue to present their successful ‘march of destiny’ theme to their gullible voters.

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  3. Alias (profile) says:

    Incidentally, Stormont, as it existed prior to its reinstatement, had the power to alter the constitutional status of NI. That meant that particular it was important for unionists to vote for unionist parties and, correspondingly, for ‘nationalists’ to vote for ‘nationalist’ parties, since a vote for a political party was a vote for a particular policy on the constitutional status. In effect, every election to Stormont was a constitutional poll.

    The reinstated Stormont does not have the power to alter the constitutional status, so it is no longer of any constitutional consequence if unionists vote for ‘nationalist’ parties or vice versa. In theory, that should allow for people to vote for particular policies on issues rather than on constitutional issues but in practice those constitutional issues are inextricably linked to national issues, with the consequence that both of the two nations vote for whichever party is most sympathetic to their nation and its culture.

    To alter that dynamic would require that the main parties become nation-neutral, and neither of them promote the culture of either nation, so there is probably some scope there to use that dynamic to further neutralise the promotion of Irish culture from the two main Catholic parties in NI.

    Although, in reality, Stormont never had the power to change constitutional status and the people of NI don’t have that power now, despite the switch from parliament to plebiscite and bogus claims to the contrary, since the UK parliament is sovereign and it alone can determine the constitutional status of NI. Central to the UK parliamentary system is the power of repeal, i.e. that every Act made by parliament can be repealed by parliament.

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  4. Cynic2 (profile) says:

    “To alter that dynamic would require that the main parties become nation-neutral”

    I would challenge that on several groudns.

    1. Doesnt that just accept that there is an almost absolute parallel between religious / community background and views on a United Ireland? And we know that there isn’t

    2 The whole issue of community background is undermined by the genetic studies that show we are all one race genetically. There is no fundamental difference in our histories between ‘Planter’ and ‘Gael’ – we have all been sleeping with each other for generations and are all one people. So those very labels are just political constructs based on religious affiliation. And religious affiliation in rapidly declining so what will we do in say another 30 years? Should we stick with same tired old model with its roots in the last Century?

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  5. HeinzGuderian (profile) says:

    I see no reason why Unionists should not vote for the sinners. After all,just look at that beacon of affluence,that is West Belfast !!

    If that isn’t enough to convince us,gaze South,dear friends,and wonder,ayeeee WONDER,how our Southern neighbours have it so good ??

    * I break at this point,to hoak out my dusty EP of ” A Notion Once Again” *

    Friends,Unionists,Countrymen,I beseech you,turn away from the Fifth largest economy on the planet !! Forsake the blue skies of freedom,and embrace dear old Garlic Oirland,and all she has to offer.

    * wipes tears away from eyes *

    Well,you got One convert,Gerry !!!! ;-)

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  6. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    Id be very skeptical about 20% of SFs South Belfast caseload coming from the Village.

    I’d say it’s not a million miles away from the truth. SF have been targeting loyalist areas in Belfast one way or another for a couple of years now. They are building a reputation for themselves at being very effective at sorting out Housing Exec issues and matters that involve dealing with the welfare system.

    The DUP recognize this as well and they’ve also been doing something similar, although I am not sure quite how effective it has been. Nonetheless, both of these parties recognize that they have hit the ceiling in terms of how far they can progress using tribal votes, and they are now looking to other places to expand. We are watching the normalization in politics folding in front of us.

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  7. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    Fascinating, someone seems to have written some kind of SF-customized content management tool.

    I’d have thought it would be a bit dumb mentioning the 100 year centenary of 1916 while in the process of trying to obtain loyalist votes.

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  8. JAH (profile) says:

    Didn’t Big Ian always get a small RC vote? Noone ever doubted his even-handedness on constituency matters. Did he eventually get a pay off for that? I suspect SF were rarely troubled by its Loyalist constituents in the past who would have perceived the door was stuck. Good to see its now ajar.

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  9. I signed up to this website on the advice of friends who told me I could speak out about Gerry McGeogh and get my side of the story across. Well I have looked at this site and I am very very disappointed at the level of discourse that is taking place.

    At the end of the day Sinn Fein are terrorists, the Republican community are by and large terrorists and any vote for them is a vote for terrorism and a vote against the British state, against our values, our Queen and are culture.

    No Protestant will ever vote for Sinn Fein, not now and not tomorrow.

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  10. unionistvoter (profile) says:

    “At the end of the day Sinn Fein are terrorists, the Republican community are by and large terrorists and any vote for them is a vote for terrorism and a vote against the British state, against our values, our Queen and are culture.”

    Either someone is impersonating Cllr. Sammy Brush or Cllr Brush does not understand the close working relationship his party has with Sinn Fein

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  11. Delta Omega (profile) says:

    Sammy Brush – If Sinn Feien are such terrorists why did your party bring them into the executive and keep them there. It is easy to see that there is an election coming up when the DUP start slagging off their partners in government. It’s time to wise up Sammy – the unionist electorate aren’t as easily DUPed as before.

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  12. Bigger Picture (profile) says:

    “Id be very skeptical about 20% of SFs South Belfast caseload coming from the Village.”

    Likewise Adams always harping on about loyalists on the Shankill voting SF. I have seen the tallies from those boxes in elections down through the years and it’s a pile of bollix.

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  13. Delta Omega (profile) says:

    I think that 20% of SF’s caseload coming from the Village is easily understandable. I have frequently found that the only way to get a unionist politician to do anything for a unionist voter is to threaten to go to SF and see if they can help instead! And I have always found them more than willing to help!

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  14. Tomas Gorman (profile) says:

    [edited moderator]
    On the matter at hand. If Sinn Fein get 10, 100 or 1000 votes in the Village and or the Shankill, it’ll only be an endorsement of local clientelism and not an endorsement of a Republican settlement to the sovereignty issue.

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  15. ayeYerMa (profile) says:

    Alias, you do talk a lot of shit regarding your continuous narrow-minded obsession with “nations”. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of your posts where you don’t go on a rant about this obsession.

    IMO the nation state is an outdated concept. No one should give a toss about a “nation” as identities and culture can transcend modern political boundaries. You also repeatedly ignore the fact that the British “nation” is really a “nation of nations” and you can be part of the Irish nation within the British nation. The Irish Separatist Nation (a more accurate name for what you inaccurately call the “Irish nation”) does not offer the same flexibility as the British nation of nations does.

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  16. Alf (profile) black spot says:

    It is perfectly feasible that unionists have gone to Sinn fein for assistance. Their ability to work the system is legendary when it comes to claims, allowances etc. That will not translate into any votes though.

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  17. Alias (profile) says:

    ayeTerMa, if it doesn’t matter then you should have no objection to dismantling the UK. That is an alliance of four non-sovereign nations that are sovereign as members of the British nation. Considering that there are over 5,000 nations in the world, a state shared by four of them as opposed to one of them is hardly a great advance on the concept of the nation-state. Indeed, the UK is a de facto nation-state.

    One of those nations, the English, would undoubtably get rid of the other three nations if they had the right to self-determination, which is a right that they do not have as a non-sovereign nation within the UK state. The major nation in that quaint constitutional arrangement regards the other three nations are mere parasites, and it is hard to argue otherwise. The second biggest of the three minor nations is enjoying a growth of its indigenous nationalism, and would also like to end the arrangement. The future isn’t bright if you’re orange, is it?

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  18. Alf (profile) black spot says:

    “The second biggest of the three minor nations is enjoying a growth of its indigenous nationalism, and would also like to end the arrangement.”

    Alias,

    A growth of nationalism does not equal Scotland wanting to part from the UK.. In fact the vast majority of Scots have repeatedly voted for pro union parties. The collapse of the ROI economy will most likely serve to reinforce that pro union majority.

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