After the election… Sinn Fein (in the south)…

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So what can we say? Stunning, fantastic, brilliant. It’s Sinn Fein doing what they do best, which is winning elections and running a great campaign..

Some will draw negative inferences from 15% rate which significantly underruns their polling rate of around 20%. But the party had to run their southern campaign on a roster of skeleton teams, with northern sponsors to brand new cummain.

As Micheal Martin put it, they have pretty effectively cannibalised the Labour vote. In the process they’ve also got three MEPs to Labour’s none and FF’s one. If you take Chris’s view (and indeed the party’s) they are the most popular party on the island.

It only applies of course if you count the Euro vote in two countries. That said, their candidate selection for the Euros was excellent. Lynn Boylan successfully positioned herself as the political cypher for leftist discontent in Dublin.

In Liadh Ni Riada they have a modest and urbane scion of a highly respected family from the West Cork Gaeltacht. Matt Carthy is a smart, personable and young man with a long term future in prospect.

All are articulate, new and maybe, if they’re allowed, ready to tell a new story.

There are challenges. The party has the lead role in Dublin City council without having the majority to guarantee getting a controversial budget past their council colleagues.

Mary Lou McDonald would not be drawn on what her party would do in the council. The Ard Comhairle rather than the democrats have the last say on everything the party does.

That in itself is interesting. One thing the party has managed to do in getting this far is to not reveal what it would when it replaced the Labour party.

Given its positioning with the left, you might think it would eschew the austerity policy of cutting the rates (in real terms) by 2% year on year it has pursued in Belfast City Council.

But Mary Lou has promised to be ‘creative’ when it comes to the crunch.

It’s a handy trick to get into a position of executive power without telling anyone what you are going to do with it.

The pure fact of lifting 16 new city councillors almost certainly guarantees them rich pickings at the next election. But in gutting Labour, they have also inherited Labour’s hinterland.

In the north they have prosper subsisted on borrowing other people’s votes and policies. Dublin council will be their constitutional baptism of fire and a steep learning curve.

And from the off, the larger parties will look for every opportunity that having taken Labour’s place, that’s exactly where they stay.

It’s hard to see what the downside is here. The Republic has a new major party, full of new generation politicians to replace a tired and increasingly remote Labour party.

The competition ought to sharpen the party’s offering. They have finally broken through to big politics. The party hype about Dublin, Cork, Belfast and Derry is largely PR.

In the south there’s no traditional Prods to wind up, and no easy political capital to be earned. They will have to be creative and good at getting stuff done if they are ever to realise their ambition of getting into government as a lead party.

Their real hostage to fortune is not the new team, but the centrality of their leader to the new project, and not least because a large chunk of their own support are willing to state to pollsters that they think he is lying about his IRA past.

But for now it’s eyes down, and looking in for the very first ever Sinn Fein crafted city budget…

A second northern Irish profile to follow later in this short series…

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  • Jagdip

    Ah now Mick, with 157 local councillors in the South and 105 in the North, they’re not the largest party, but are just 4 behind FF, and truth be told, if they had the candidate numbers in the South they would have taken another 10 seats. They’ll have the candidates next time round.

    With respect to GA, “a large chunk of their own support are willing to state to pollsters that they think he is lying about his IRA past.” True, but you omit to mention, IT DOESN’T MATTER TO THEM

    “One thing the party has managed to do in getting this far is to not reveal what it would when it replaced the Labour party.” Ah now Mick, they have detailed alternative budgets, costed by the Department of Finance. For example, they cut tax reliefs on pensions, raise income tax on those earning over €100k and cap civil service salaries at €100k. Detailed enough for ya?

    With 16%-plus of local election seats, 21% 1st pref in Dublin West, 15% in Longford and 19.5% of Euro 1st preferences, they’re pretty much in the 17-23% polling range, the surprise is their voters came out on the day and they’re attracting transfers.

    But, and you can’t stress this enough, this government is mired in unattractive policy implementation, the economy is just stabilising and has been contracting and there’s been a smattering of scandals. This may be as good as it gets for SF in terms of general electoral environment. Labour will fight back, the economy will probably improve and there will be far more scope in 2015 to mix tax cuts and service boosts with austerity measures.

    Fight on!

  • Mick Fealty

    Yeah, that’s like adding the old Ba’ath party reps in Syria and Iraq and claiming they are the largest party in Iraq (or Syria)…

    Have you ever heard any northern SF trying to talk about southern politics? It’s a just a PR trick to try and throw a shape bigger than the substance.

    There’s also something slightly desperate about it, don’t you think?

  • westprog

    A left of centre active opposition party has a number of important roles. One of those is to question and investigate the serious issues of the past. By choosing Sinn Fein as the primary party of left opposition, Ireland has ensured that this role will be performed poorly. Sinn Fein activists are among the most controlled in Western Europe as to what they may say and do. No Sinn Fein counsellor or MEP is going to make a big noise about child abuse, say, for the fear that it will be interpreted as an attack on the leadership. Every such statement is going to be scrutinised and analysed with the good of the party and the leadership as the primary concern. They’ll make all the right noises about austerity and water charges, but the kind of investigation done by the likes of Mannix Flynn will be kept on a very tight leash.

  • Jagdip

    Ah now Mick, there’s a bit more integration in SF North and South than the Ba’ath party across the Middle East. Didn’t one of the North ones try to win the Irish presidency a couple of years back (and did okay in the election). Isn’t one of the Nordie ones now the TD for Louth and public face of SF in the South. I know for a fact that there is reasonable intermingling of North and South SF on All-Ireland bodies, the Ard Fheis and party meetings.

    I predict you will see far more intermingling in the months and years ahead.

    SF will leverage and arbitrage its strength in North and South. Eg Take the next Irish GE, which might be before this October budget given the meltdown in Labour (though I predict FF would shuffle over and take Labour’s place, if Labour do withdraw from the Coalition). You will see the full might, North and South, focussed on that election and vice versa when elections take place in the North. It should be trying to export the best of its policies between both jurisdictions.

    The fight is on. If Labour regroup and attack, if the economy does “take off like a rocket”, and if SF fail to develop policies and promote themselves, then they may wither like any other party. But they won’t give up without a seriously thought-out and executed fight.

  • Politico68

    The 15.2% rate was a massive increase on the last locals. Tripling their numbers, with other left leaning parties and individual transferring to them en masses. 19.5% result for the euro elections puts them up there with the big boys. Becoming the most popular party on the island was a long yearned dream, a great achievement and a well earned prize for hard work.

    They have also improved their ability to attract transfers, even managing 20% of many FF cast offs. The results show that the Irish people are concerned for the country’s future not SF’s past. This stings the haters but it is something they will have to live with. SF now needs to focus on how to deliver for the people and they have the structures to do it.

    The Ard Chomairle is the democratic body that oversees and agrees SF policy so that the elected democrats who represent the people can function within a coherent and agreed framework, the new faces and voices will have a huge influence on policy due to the open and inclusive nature of SF internal dialogue; the envy of every party on this Island.

    The Irish people are under no illusion as to what SF’s plans are for the country. Backed up by TD’s, councillors, MLA’s, MP’s, a rapidly growing membership and four MEP’s fighting in Europe; It now has the power to push its policies, clearly laid out in numerous pre- budget submissions and manifestos that are costed and regarded as sound by many economists.

    Those policies along with cooperation between the councils in Donegal, Fermanagh, Tyrone, Leitrim, Derry, Louth etc. All united with a massively increased Sinn Fein representation effectively creates an Irish Canton straddling the border. The effective take – over of major Irish City councils provide the perfect training ground from where to prepare the legions of young, intelligent, educated and articulate councillors for higher office, they are sharply focused on issues and hungry for the challenges ahead on the way to Dail Eireann. Shinners know that power in Dublin effectively means power over Stormont, this alone is enough to propel their engines.

    The traditional prods of the south are not afflicted with the nasty sectarian hatred so common in many of their northern brethren; they don’t get wound up when their Catholic neighbours are happy. They simply join the party.

    The future for the new generation Shinners is bright. Its many young political wannabes have the benefit of being centrally led by the greatest political leader in modern Irish History. For them its eyes open, eager for the next part of the journey.

  • Mick Fealty

    At party level, I totally agree. But political it’s not the same space. The politics are very different, as are the dynamics. That’s why SF generally don’t deploy NI representatives to speak on southern politics and vice versa.

    Partitionist is very useful to them in that regard.

    I understand it as a polemical device in order to highlight SF’s primary commitment to developing representation on both sides of the order, but it is polemic rather than analysis.

  • Politico68

    “That’s why SF generally don’t deploy NI representatives to speak on southern politics and vice versa.”

    Its a particularly Irish trait no matter where you are from in Ireland. Send a Dublin TD to speak in Cork and she will get a far cooler reception than she would in Armagh or Derry. Ask a North Dublin councillor his views on a South Dublin issue and he would think you were mad. Its nothing to do with partition, for Irish people, if you are not from the same street you are a blow-in.

  • Mick Fealty

    Bullcrap…

  • Mc Slaggart

    Mick

    “Partitionist is very useful to them ”

    They also do not normally ask a Tyrone MLA to answer questions on East Belfast.

  • megatron

    The policy thing is interesting. In my opinion SF should simplify their message a bit – I think it is as follows:

    In the whole world wealth is concentrated in too few and we want to spread it around a bit more.

    Now you also have to ensure the day to day stuff is managed but if SF can demonstrate that they are shifting things a little bit (it shouldnt be hard given the sameness of the other parties) they should be ok.

    Good point on the infrastructure Mick. Another reason why SF have a natural upward trajectory for some time yet in the South. 15%-20% journey for next locals (and the upcoming generals) looks fairly easy. 20%-30% will be extremely hard (and only possible with a FF/FG government).

  • megatron

    Sorry for the double post but 2 other points:

    (i) The transfer pattern in Longford-Westmeath was very interesting for SF – unprecedented for them

    (ii) The sheer youth of the SF candidates around the country (and number of women also) was unbelievable

  • Kensei

    Jaysus, both sides are overegging the “biggest party in Ireland” stuff. It’s a neat PR line / factoid with a little bit of substance behind it; perhaps we are not so different after all.

    The fact is there are two jurisdictions on the island, and as long as that is the case there will always be “partitionist” factions if you cross the border. Plus, it’s hard enough having politicians who master one brief, nevermind two. That SF are just accepting that reality is evidence they are a smart party, not a hypocritical one.

    The other thing is that they need to avoid the danger of being branded a bunch of mad know nothing Northerners. If they manage to get more embedded in the Southern polity, then I reckon you’ll be more likely to see some Nordies commenting, and perhaps a few nominated to the Senate. I couldn’t see FF having a similar problem if they moved North.

    It’s right to point to the mixing at party level too. Things need to grow from there – until recently, the North has been almost the entirety of SF’s world and much of their political speech, North and South has been directed to it. As the South becomes more significant to SF, people in the party will pay more attention to it, and you are more likely to see Northerns more savvy about the South. It all takes time.

    In terms of the election, great result but the Republic eats smaller parties at any alarming rate. SF basically got an interview with the Republic’s electorate. I think they’ve a hell of a lot of work to do in order to get a permanent role. The breaking of the glass ceiling and transfer repellence is probably significant either way though, assuming they have a permanent beach head in the North.

  • Politico68

    “Bullcrap”

    Now Mick that is very unlike you, sorry if I hit a nerve there fella, no doubt you will be handing yourself a yellow card?

  • Mick Fealty

    Not at all. You were just crabbing sideways away from the point… I have limited bandwidth for empty party PR lines…

  • Paramo

    The % of first preference votes in the Euros was 19.5% – much closer to the polling figures.

  • Politico68

    “empty party pr lines”

    First off I am not a member of the party, although I hope to be soon after I get home. And i was simply pointing out that the ‘outsider’ jab is a common enough slavo in Irish culture, which it is. I live five miles from the Enniskerry in Co Wiclow but live in South County Dublin. Despite my close proximity to Enniskerry I am most definately an outsider and a Dub to boot, it sets me apart somehow peculiarly and it is a common theme across the island. You should hear the way Kerry Shinners talk to their Dublin brothers !!

  • omordhag

    Percentage first preference votes for euro elections in the 26 counties
    FF 22.3% FG 22.3% SF 19.5%

  • USA

    Jesus Mick, what can I say to all that?

    Some will draw negative inferences from 15% rate which significantly underruns their polling rate of around 20%

    They got about 19% in the Euro’s, right in line with “opinion polls”. BTW, opinion polls don’t matter, votes do.

    It only applies of course if you count the Euro vote in two countries”

    Petty and insulting comment. They have an all Ireland strategy and it is working. Obviously you don’t like it, but that is your problem, not theirs.

    “The Ard Comhairle rather than the democrats have the last say”

    They stood in a democratic election. They got a large mandate. They are democrats. Policies are decided democratically ad the Ard Feis. Every party needs a decision making process for strategy and policy planning / implementation.

    It’s a handy trick to get into a position of executive power without telling anyone what you are going to do with it”

    Yeah, the Irish electorate are really that dumb. Sad that your blind dislike of SF clouds your judgement so much. SF has presented costed proposals and stood for election. Their candidates performed well. It’s just a fact.

    Partitionist is very useful to them (sic). 1. That statement is derisory. 2. It doesn’t even make sense.

    In the south there’s no traditional Prods to wind up There are people of the Protestant faith in the south. Was the Belfast Mayor winding up the Protestants when he went to the WW1 memorials ? Was Martin Mc winding up Protestants when he met the queen?

    I come to bury Ceasar not to praise him…

    C’mon Mick.

  • mac tire

    Politico – if Mick says you were “crabbing sideways away from the point” then you must have been. Mick, himself, is a master at it so he should know.

    Just on a few points, if I may, Mick.
    What is a ‘traditional Prod’? The ones in the 26 counties aren’t traditional? Do they know this? Or is it more lazy blogger speak?

    The north is a country? Really?

    I thought your article, on one level, was quite generous to Sinn Féin (considering your well known hostility to them).
    But you just can’t help those wee digs? And I don’t mean you should not be critical. It’s just that the digs always sound like gritted teeth.

  • Mick Fealty

    Now listen lads, I will take correction on the stats. The polling figures for SF do match on the Euros and that’s something I’d overlooked before…

    But honestly, the comparing two state totals with a one state is pure polemic (and a misleading analysis), and I’ve explained my objections clearly enough…

  • Mick Fealty

    In fact I’d go further *what I have already said earlier in the pre-election run in* – which is there are four roughly co-equal blocks in the country: FG, FG, SF and Inds…

  • Roncol

    SF have held the Chair of Dublin City Council for the past five years and despite this have never voted for the Budget. Their original nominee, Cillian Forde resigned and joined the Labour Party in frustration with the rejectionist madness directed from on high.

    Their councillors will need serious direction because it would be difficult to find a less experienced and less educated group of people in the City. They also have a serious problem with a string of Trotskyite councillors ready to scream “traitors” at them and highlight every twist and turn.

    Mannix Flynn, an Independent Councillor elected for the South Inner City summed up well when he pointed out at the Dublin City count that they had no policies.

    It was disappointing to see the re-election of Dáithí Doolan, this time in Ballyfermot after he was defeated and ran away from the South Inner City over the murder of Joseph Rafferty by a member of SF. http://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/murder-victims-sister-launches-election-campaign-309925.html

    Their is a clear majority however of serious councillors, who will ensure that the city council continues to run smoothly. Dublin or other cities are not like UKNI, where the money magically appears from London to balance the books. Books have to be balanced and taxes raised or services cut to balance the books.

  • Mick Fealty

    USA,

    You are really going out of your way there to take objection… Here’s the sentence after the one you quoted..

    “…but the party had to run their southern campaign on a roster of skeleton teams, with northern sponsors to brand new cummain.”

    If you want a big fat row, be my guest… but lets argue over something I’ve said rather than something I haven’t…

    This bias thing, there’s not a lot I can do about it… Very often we pick up on embarrassing detail the press leaves on the cutting room floor.. I don’t have a lot time personally for culture war politics but we have bloggers who do…

    Personally, I have not met many SF pols I didn’t like (which is testimony perhaps to their selection process) and, particularly in the south, I think their new energy is going to be very good for the country…

    When I do have problem I like to flag it up nice and clearly… The clear anti SF flag in this piece is not on any of the detail you guys are nit picking about, its the bit about the voter base not believing the party leader’s story on the IRA…

    That’s not just my problem, it is actually a problem going forward for the party and for the country (the lies I mean, not the IRA bit)…

  • USA

    Mick,
    SF stood for elections in Ireland. They were successful in all 4 provinces. Nothing “misleading” about that. It was the whole point of the exercise, it is the whole point of their strategy. It is actually an excellent plan and seems to be going very well for them so far.

    Can you be more precise about your “polemics” comment?

    You opened your piece with positive words about SF “So what can we say? Stunning, fantastic, brilliant. It’s Sinn Fein doing what they do best, which is winning elections and running a great campaign.. You then throw a series of wild swinging punches, all of which miss the target, and you end up trying to bring GA back into the mix. I am reminded of the Knights of Nee in the Monty Python movie, who after loosing badly, decided to call it a draw. Monty Python Election Analysis

    As Mac Tire says, “you just can’t help those wee digs. It is unbecoming of such a well dressed man :-)

  • Mick Fealty

    Where would these ‘wild swinging punches’ be, and is this the five minute argument or the full half hour?

    Oh yes, and do you think he’s lying? :-)

  • USA

    He is lying because he will get a 5 year prison sentence, of which he will have to serve 2 years. We all knew that long before the recent events at Antrim barracks.

    Such a “membership” conviction would certainly lead to him also being denied access to the US. Along with the “Green Book” I am sure we could easily list a number of other reasons for his denials. Everyone knows this going in. It is part of the legacy of the conflict. The media can bash on about it as they have done for years, the authorities can arrest him in the middle of an election campaign, but the electorate have obviously already factored it all in.

  • Mick Fealty

    The reasoning is not important, the fact of the lying is.

  • USA

    So you still want a draw? :-)

  • http://ansionnachfionn.com/ An Sionnach Fionn

    Mick, with all due respect the combination of the Euro-results registered across the island of Ireland was done from a certain political perspective but then so is your objection to it. In your view there are “two countries” on the island of Ireland (or two states or jurisdictions or however you wish to put it). In the view of others there is “one country” on the island of Ireland: the island itself is a nation. If you hark back to the anachronistic “two nations” theory of the Cruiser generation, even in a throwaway line, you can hardly fault others for picking up on it. Especially when you then go on to compound the issue by making false analogies with Syria and Iraq. Otherwise some interesting points.

  • latcheeco

    Mick,
    I would imagine keeping himself out of jail is fairly important to him. Anyway move on. You threw the kitchen sink and it didn’t work. Honestly, any more Gerry was in the RA threads and you’ll be bracketed with Wullie. But since you are being so fair and even handed to the Sinners today, you are no doubt ready to pull the trigger on a dozen of your own threads on the first minister of your country deigning to trust moslems to go shopping -or would it be different if it was Gerry?

  • Mick Fealty

    Right, let me try to explain Seamus. I’m taking a deliberately pragmatic view, based on the actual accumulation of political power.

    Aspiration or no, power does not accumulate or aggregate across the border. I’m not by instinct a partitionist, as you may have noticed.

    But if readers are to get an accurate view of what is going on in terms of the actual brokerage of power, certain irreducible distinctions have to be recognised.

    Latch,

    You must have missed Nolan tonight. It was utterly utterly embarrassing, as is the FM’s intervention. But that would be off topic and bit of distraction.

    I might YouTube a short segment for you just so you can see how bad it was… Thread on that topic coming up.. Now, back to the….

    Kitchen sink you say?

  • Politico68

    Mick,

    You are getting it in the neck tonight for sure and i won’t add to your woes but I think it is fair to say that many people in this country see Ireland as ‘One Nation’, that is not to ignore the reality of two political jurisdictions on the Island, au contraire, Cork is practically an Independent state itself. Readers on this site are probably fully aware of the artificial partition and equally aware of how the ‘Irish Nation’ straddles that invisible border.

  • gendjinn

    … no man has the right to fix the boundary of a nation.
    No man has the right to say to his country, “Thus far shalt thou go and no further”, and we have never attempted…

    SF are the biggest and most popular party in Ireland, so suck it up.

    Comparing Syria & Iraq to Ireland is pathetic even for a bought & paid for shill.

  • Jagdip

    @Mick

    ” power does not accumulate or aggregate across the border”

    Ah, Mick, do we have a magic border or something.

    Of course, power (financial resources, people, systems, economies of scales, leverage, arbitrage, policies, vision) aggregates.

    For example, the Shinners’ election machine which you so admire above, can be deployed to focus on offset elections on each side of the Border. Do you think that this election machine increased in power since last Friday? To the extent money is important to politics – and many will say it is all-important – the Shinners will see their coffers swelled by three new European salaries and 100 new local authority salaries (less the average wage). In the Republic, they’ll be taking down an extra €4m in salaries and expenses each year. Do you honestly think this won’t be reflected in activity across the Border?

    The primary political objective of the Shinners is to reunify Ireland, following the partition in 1921. Is that news to you?
    Do you think the ability (power) of SF to achieve its objective is improved by last week’s results in the South?

  • Reader

    Jagdip: The primary political objective of the Shinners is to reunify Ireland, following the partition in 1921. Is that news to you?
    Do you think the ability (power) of SF to achieve its objective is improved by last week’s results in the South?

    Well, remember that money isn’t an end in itself, it needs to relate to a plan. So, the issue is how does SF get from:
    1) Hey guys, we’re sitting on a pile of cash that would make the old FF wet their pants.
    TO
    2) Hey guys, we have just won a United Ireland referendum in the 6 counties.
    Are they planning to buy votes, or something?

  • Charles_Gould

    “Do you think the ability (power) of SF to achieve its objective is improved by last week’s results in the South?”

    Almost certainly not. Persuading those who don’t like SF (75% of the NI electorate) to join a high-debt state is harder if it looks likely to be run by SF in the near future.

  • Jagdip

    @Reader, of course money helps a party attract – you say “buy” but the relationship is a bit more subtle than this suggests – votes, as do policy, personalities, organisation, promotion and a host of other attributes. And the general rule would be, the more money a party can throw at an election, the better the results.

    Or, maybe, it is not just the Border that is magical, maybe the entire Province is magical as well, and doesn’t follow the laws of political nature?

  • Jagdip

    @Charles

    If you believe Simon Hamilton, NI has a 25% deficit (GBP 10bn in a GBP 40bn GDP economy). The Republic has balanced its budget this year (excluding interest on debt) and will have a totally balanced budget in 2016. Do you think the 25% deficit in NI will be reduced to zero anytime soon?

    Reunification will transform the basket case NI economy, and its crippled begging bowl economics (please sir Westminster, I’d like some more!). The Paypals that locate 1,000-staff facilities in Dundalk will just as likely locate themselves in Lisburn, NI will no longer be artificially hobbling along on a crutch, dependent on the public sector, and it will emerge as a strong participant in a reunified Ireland economy.

    Guess what, those magical Catholics which Peter Robinson claims vote for the DUP and the cellotaping of the six counties to Britain, are more than offset by those Protestants who will embrace the certainty and stability, not least the economic stability, of a reunified Ireland.

    And as for Ireland’s high debt, it’s a peak of 123%, compared to 93% in the UK. If NI were a standalone basket case, starting with no debt today, it would have reached debt:GDP of 150% by 2020.

  • Charles_Gould

    Jagdip – futuring again.

  • Jagdip

    @Charles – it’s what happens when we’re done with past-ing!

  • Kensei

    Mick

    You are possibly missing a trick, here. Power might not accumulate in that fashion, but it’s not as if they are completely disassociated. As already pointed out, money is liable to flow across the border as a consequence.

    The important one though, is what happens if SF (or FF or anyone else) get into government North and South simultaneously, which is indirectly related. Trimble’s bottom line in GFA negotiations was “No Irish Government influence in the internal affairs of Northern Ireland” and hence separating out the “Strands”. That collapses if the same party welds power North and South, and it’ll be very interesting to see the Unionist (and British Government) reaction. If the British Government follows the previous line about threatening de facto dual authority, Unionists are in a bind. Collapsing the institutions will lead to a large influence for the Irish Government in the affairs of NI, and remaining in will do the same.

    Still a long way off, but perhaps no longer unthinkable. The consequences are potentially both dangerous and fascinating.

  • Zeno

    Reunification will transform the basket case NI economy,
    ———-
    JAG
    You might need another plan. There is no appetite here for unification. Nationalists are still in a minority and look to continue that way for a very long time. The old demographic idea that it was just a matter of time went belly up when the Nationalist vote actually fell as the Catholic population grew.
    KENSEI
    I’d love to see SF in Government in the South. Then they would be able to experience what we have had to put up with since they ended up sharing power in NI.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    What is Sinn Fein’s solution to the ROI’s plight?

  • Jagdip

    @Zeno, today at 3pm, there are an average of 40 more Catholics in Northern Ireland compared with the same time yesterday, there are three less Protestants. That’s the evidence of Census 2001 and Census 2011, and is further supported by the 1911-2011 trend.

    As the see-saw tips towards reunification, it will be assisted by smart Protestants who recognise the reality of demographic trends, and who will embrace reunification rather than the instability of the when-and-iffery prolonged by Partitionists who should really be able to better see the writing on the wall.

    So, the 37 person per day decay of those hoping to preserve the cellotape that binds these six counties to Britain, will accelerate as the tipping point is reached. Then, you will all become part of a normal, functioning, sustainable economy that can stand on its own two feet, and cast off the mantle of state-level social welfare on which you presently depend.

    Will it be 2016? Unthinkable! you might say. More of less “unthinkable” than SF being largest party on the island in 2014? Who would have thought that, five years ago?

  • Jagdip

    @Joe,

    Not altogether certain about SF. But it is committed to eliminating the fiscal deficit, which will be around 5% this year which is about the same as the UK’s but, contrasts with the 25% which Simon Hamilton suggests prevails in NI. They are committed to cutting national debt levels, currently around 123%, compared to around 93% in the UK.

    In outlook, SF appears generally left-wing, so, higher taxes on those with higher incomes, standardisation of relief on personal tax deductions like pension contributions at the basic income tax level, a wealth tax and such like; It’s the usual left-wing stuff generally, there’s no magic bullet or policy that hasn’t been tried and tested elsewhere.

    In the Republic, those earning less than €35,000 a year pay very little income tax, and the SFers appear committed to keeping it that way. Social welfare rates are generally far greater in the Republic. The SFers appear to have homed in on €100,000 and above as the problem salary level, they will increase income taxes, to 55% above this level and also would cut civil service salaries to this cap.

    It’s not voodoo, it would just produce a different type of society, perhaps more towards the French model than say the British model. Would it produce a better or worse society? Who has that powerful a crystal ball?

  • Politico68

    “Almost certainly not. Persuading those who don’t like SF (75% of the NI electorate) to join a high-debt state is harder if it looks likely to be run by SF in the near future.”

    I would wager you Charles that the percentage of people who do not ‘like’ SF will drop considerably when the old gaurd has been replaced by the youngsters as has been argued on here infinitum. Polls in the south certainly show that more people would be willing to swing to the Shinners when GA et al. are gone, no reason to believe it will be any different in the south.

  • Roy Walsh

    Take a wee dander round Trim, Old Bawn, Croom, Easky or Ballymurphy, you will get the reports from disillusioned people, fed up with lies, taxes and lack of opportunity.
    They might not get very far by eventually electing a Sinn Féin government but the hopeless are easily convinced there might be some alternative.
    They’ll find out in about seven years how hopeless SF are.

  • Jagdip

    @Roy,

    Take a wee dander around Rathcoole, Sydenham, Sandy Row, you will get the reports from disillusioned people, fed up with lies, taxes and lack of opportunity (and the sell-out of their culcha)

    Take a wee dander around Lambeth, Tower Hamlets, Southwark and Liverpool and you’ll see the traditional British Labour party heartland. You’ll probably recognise similarities with the areas you’ve cited.

    But you’ll also find the equivalents of the Hampsteads in republican areas. Newry and Derry seem to be overrun with upmarket German cars, women who shop and men with colorful stripy long-sleeved shirts, you know the sort. Even parts of the Falls Road bear the signs of regeneration.

    Other than there being a wealth gap between Protestants and Catholics, which I believe is being rapidly eroded, there’s not much you can draw from SF’s traditional heartlands. And if the Falls Road is anything to go by, there is huge regeneration of SF areas. Sydenham still looks like a s***-hole.

  • Jagdip

    One last thing on the SF performance in the Euros.

    Would they have won five/six seats if they had fielded two candidates in the three constituencies?

    The candidates that WERE run were relative unknowns. In Dublin, they were the run-away winners. In South and MNW, they came second but very close to quota. In both constituencies, they faced competition from unique individuals (Ming Flanagan and Brian Crowley).

    I think they could almost definitely have taken two Dublin seats, probably could have taken two seats in South and they would have been in with a chance in MNW.

  • Roy Walsh

    Jagdip, I was not dealing with the lack of political alternative in loyalist areas, be they working or middle class,
    Yes SF vote in middle class areas has grown, and was always strong in rural areas but, my experience is in areas like mid-Ulster, west-Ulster, east-Ulster, south and north Dublin where people are disillusioned with the long term political offerings, and their lack of progress with regard to economic and social development so they have to look for some alternative. Where you come across people whose sons have just emigrated for England, or Australia because there is no opportunity here you get the idea, however, the Sinn Féin alternative will be worse, if you do not believe me ask the former staff in Linton & Robinson.
    Fact is, where Sinn Fein are in charge, taxes are higher and opportunity is less, how many jobs have been created in west-Belfast under the stewardship of Sinn Fein, I’m not getting at you, it’s a genuine question?

  • Jagdip

    @Roy,

    “Fact is, where Sinn Fein are in charge, taxes are higher”

    Take a look at the NI rates calculator, seems to me that SF areas like Belfast and FST have lower than average rates.
    http://www.dfpni.gov.uk/lps/index/rating/billing/rates-calculator.htm

    Derry has higher rates, but there are certainly non-nationalist areas with high rates also. What do you think?

    “how many jobs have been created in west-Belfast under the stewardship of Sinn Fein”

    I don’t know the answer to that. There seems to be a thriving tourist trade built on the murals and the history of the conflict, but that’s pretty superficial. Most of the bigger job announcements in the past 24 months have certainly been in Belfast city centre which is a shared space. The obvious regeneration of parts of west Belfast (housing especially) will have created jobs and made the area better to live in. But I don’t know the answer to your question. I do know that unemployment is running at just over 7% in NI, which is just 2% above what economists regard as full employment , so I’m guessing that unemployment is not a colossal problem, but I’ll stand to be corrected on that.

  • Roy Walsh

    Jagdip, as I said above I’m not getting at you, it was a genuine question, on rates, the reason this tax did not rise in Belfast was due to DUP/OUP wanting to lower rates because of the economic damage caused by their protests in respect of the removal of the union jack flag every day above Belfast City Hall.
    As I recall, SF and SDLP voted instead for a freezing of the tax.
    Economic development in west Belfast is wholly lacking, as it is in Armagh, Strabane and other places where Sinn Fein are in control, in local and regional government, Frankly, what manufacturing roles exist in these areas have existed since Unionist politicians were elected in these places. Screeners in Dungannon for instance.
    The wall mural tours in west Belfast were being viewed by tourists as far back as 1987 and are undertaken usually from outside the area. UB, as well as under-employment, in this area has risen per Assembly figures c. 3% higher than south Down, an area well away from resources and transport.
    The point I was making is well pointed out by results across Ireland where people have lost hope, Limerick where once Dell held thousands of jobs, has seen a huge swing in support to Sinn Fein after those jobs went to Poland before leaving there too.
    Irish people, having benefited from the Celtic tiger are now loosing hope and the political option is Sinn Féin rather than the established parties, in time though the Sinn Féin inability to create employment will be discovered.

  • IrelandNorth

    Could it be that Sinn Fein’s Lá has ár tiocfaidh’d?

  • Jagdip

    @Roy,
    As I understand it, the latest unemployment figures for NI show 7.1% unemployed
    There are 56,100 people claiming unemployment representing 6.2% of the eligible population.
    Overall, these are relatively low figures, and given the economic definition of full employment, you would have to conclude, in general, that unemployment is not a major economic issue for NI. To the extent that SF participates in the government of NI, is it due a little credit for this state of affairs?
    As a local level,
    http://www.detini.gov.uk/deti-stats-index/labour_market_statistics/stats-claimant-count.htm
    You can see the figures yourself, Derry and Strabane are the worst for claimant rates but at 8.3% and 7.4% respectively, it’s hardly soup-kitchen Depression-era stuff.
    Within Belfast, the claimant rate is 8.2% (west), 8.0% (north), 5.0% (east) and 4.3% (south). You do appear to have a point, but I think those figures would be grabbed with both hands in the South which has 11.8% unemployment. The Shinners have questions to answer though, based on the NI figures.
    Catholics in Belfast are also disproportionately suffering from housing issues. In a response to a parliamentary question recently, Nelson McCausland said there were 3,803 Catholics in housing stress (30 points or more) in Belfast compared with 2,393 Protestants (see 2nd May 2014 weekly booklet). Or 60% more Catholics were in housing stress, and although Belfast is a majority Catholic city, it doesn’t explain the gap. But, is this an issue for local councillors or MPs, or does it reflect something sinister in Nelson McCausland’s Department?

  • Roy Walsh

    Jagdip, you’re still missing entirely my point in respect of the Sinn Fein success, especially at local government elections throughout Ireland (note, not ‘the island of Ireland’).
    My point being, if you’re a 46 year old who has spent their life working in a company between Clondalkin and Tallagh and you loose your job because it’s cheaper for the company to do business in Gdansk or elsewhere, it is easy to look to some alternative without examining closely their economic development credentials in the north east of the same country.
    Housing is no more an issue in Belfast than in other major cities, it’s because Belfasties have a strange aversion to moving out of their own street mind moving out of their own parish or, God forbid, to some other place down the country, thereby placing considerable strain on housing in areas like Anderstown, Divis, New Lodge and Poleglass, same is true in Ballymun, John Paul Park or frankly Rathcoole Belfast.
    As to there being something sinister in Nelson McCausland’s Dept. I would never believe such.

  • Jagdip

    @Roy,

    Push or pull, that is indeed the question. Is the failure of the existing pillar parties the reason people have turned to SF in great numbers, or is it the policies being offered by SF and their performance in government, North and South that is pulling voters away from the.other parties to vote for SF.

    I’d say it’s both. The performance of independents suggests to me that push factors (pushing people away from other parties to SF) are dominant – the Independent appear to have secured 30-35% of the vote. But it is fair to say that several SFers are highly regarded by the public, particularly MLM, PD and PT, and the policy of universal medical care at point of need is attractive to many (not the €100,000-plus a year folks who will be looked to, to pay for it all).

    I think you raise a great point in comparing the reality of SF in the North with the promise of SF in the South. I think that party itself will be doing far more internal comparisons in the future.

  • gendjinn

    Eoghan “goal” Harris’s piece in the Indo is uproariously hilarious.

    Translation: I & my paper have completely failed to prevent SF’s success but wait that was really our plan all along & now we can finally defeat them.

    What a complete joke.

  • IrelandNorth

    From a ‘Free Stater’s’ (ahem!) perspective, Interesting shennanigans in da capitol, with all sorts of wheelin’ ‘n’ dealin’ being done by the non establishment parties to carve up local authorities. First time in this participant observers recollection where authentic democracy is prevailing over the tired old representivos of FF/FG. A rainbow coalition of smaller parties and independents rotating the city’s mayoralty. Could this be a foretaste of things to come in the states legislature. I certainly hope so. A SF/Lab/Green/ULA/Ind Alliance. Ummm. Yum! Yum!

  • Jagdip

    2nd post elections opinion poll published today
    Paddy Power/Red C
    1,000 polled this week, 3% margin of error (previous PP/RC poll in pre-election May in brackets)
    Independents/other 32%(up 9%)
    SF 22% (+4%)
    FG 22% (-3%)
    FF 18% (-3%)
    Labour 4% (-7%)
    Greens 2% (- 1%)
    All, after subtracting the 12% don’t knows

    The emerging question in the South is whether a traditional left wing political force can be built.
    Based on the above, and observing the2/3rds of existing independents who might be correctly classified as left wing, it looks as if the Shinners could be to the fore of a left wing coalition (22% plus 4% Labour plus 21% left wing independents plus Greens who are centrist 2%)

    It would be a coalition built on Independents though, and traditionally, this has led to mayhem in Irish politics with localised pork barrelling undermining the national good.