Sinn Fein's centenary membership drive

Sinn Fein is to make a major recruitment drive the focus of its activities in 2005, one hundred years on from its foundation. Although it’s likely to take place on an international basis, the higher profile events seem likely to be in the Republic, ahead of the next Dail election scheduled for 2006. The Irish Independent calls on other ‘successor’ parties to lay their own claims to the Griffith inheritance.

  • Keith M

    Not wishing to rain on anyone’s parade but the party that currently calls itself “Sinn Fein” was founded in 1970 following just one of countless splits from the original party. The only party that can claim a direct and unbroken link from the original Sinn Fein is the current Workers Party.

    Fine Fail and Fine Gael have just as much of a claim to the original Sinn Fein as they (unlike the current group) represented a majority of the residual party at the time of their foundation.

    And not wishing to be pedantic, but the next General Election in he republic is scheduled for 2007, and given the duration of the last Dail and current the current political climate in this country I would think that 2007 is actually a better bet than 2006.

  • Davros

    What is the purpose of events abroad ? It’s a fascinating development, an inward-looking party that has been consistently anti-Europe (EU)has decided to develope it’s international operations.
    The party that Wants “Brits out” sees no contradiction in events in “enemy” territory.
    Are they going to lift the membership ban for the diaspora? It’s good to see them raise the profile of Women within the party, although doubtless they will be accused of hypocrisy. It will also be interesting to see which “well-known artists” participate in their musical events… Derek Warfield and ??? Will the music move beyong Kevin Barry and The men behind the wire ?

  • Davros

    Keith I would suggest that only FF and FG have any legitimacy to the claim of being the mantle of Original SF. Griffith would have been horrified at the left leaning of the Workers party and SF today.

    I read a while back that SF was worried that it had peaked. Certainly there’s a whiff of desperation in this recruitment drive. Is it to strengthen Adams and the leadership’s hand ? If he can show another leap forward in membership and electoral terms it will make his dealings, with those sceptical about consigning Physical Force republicanism to history, considerably easier.

  • Mick Fealty

    Dav, how does a party being anti EU, necessarily make it inward looking?

  • mickhall

    It is a great pity that those SF supporters who post to this list, do not explain their parties reasoning for these celebrations for as Keith M said, other Party’s within Ireland have an equal claim to SF. There are the two major Parties in the south plus as Keith said the Workers Party, although Republican Sinn Fein if they wished to make it, must have a strong claim to be the heir of the 1970’s spit. Having said this Mr Adams Party is clearly associated
    in the public mind with the name SF more than any other.

    Liam made a fair point on another thread when he said that Political Party’s go through many variations over the course of 100 years. One only has to look at the European Social Democratic Party’s to see this. Most started life as left democratic socialist Parties, whose main interest was championing the cause of the working classes, only these days to have become supporters of a rigorous free market which favours the rich and powerful and encompasses globalization with all its exploitative tentacles; and favouritism to the western multi nationals. Some like the leader of the British Labour Party have even moved across into the camp of the reactionary US neo-conservatives.

    As to SF organising abroad, if it is as it claims to become a normal democratic party that campaigns for office in both part’s of Ireland, then why would it not. The Irish Diaspora is far more fluid these days with people spending time living abroad, then returning home to live and vice versa. Besides, these day’s a political party is wise to recruit members where-ever it can, this is especially true of those that operate in Ireland, a country where membership of political parties is far from high, currently I doubt if SF has more than three or four thousand members.

  • Davros

    Dav, how does a party being anti EU, necessarily make it inward looking?

    I wasn’t using the latter to substantiate the former Mick. Nationalism is inherently inward looking. It defines the nation as opposed to the rest of the world, The “Other(s)”. There is a conflict between Internationalism and Nationalism.

  • Davros

    MH: as you say the diaspora is more fluid. I have asked SF members before about this. As members have to be resident in Ireland, does this mean that those members who go to live abroad have to resign the party? If one cannot join or be in the party while living abroad, then why the international drive ?

    ( This also arose when I asked for the status of Niall Connolly in the party while he was their representative in Cuba. It LOOKED as if he was still a party member while living abroad. )

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Davros

    “Inward looking” Sinn Fein? How do you explain Libya, Colombia, Cuba, America, the Basque country…!?

    As for membership, I’m sure you know parties have different types of membership eg “Friends of Sinn Fein” in America. I don’t think living in another country should affect party membership in any real way, perhaps apart from voting rights or fundraising, which is obviously one main reason for a membership drive.

  • Davros

    Inward looking” Sinn Fein? How do you explain Libya, Colombia, Cuba, America, the Basque country…!?

    BG – I don’t – That’s why I’m raising the inherent contradictions.The ethos of nationalism, setting up a sovereign nation state, is inward looking as opposed to Internationalism which is outward looking. And as far as i know, FoSF members have no rights within SF.

  • Liam

    Davros you really are priceless, you bring great amusement with your posts.

    I read a while back that SF was worried that it had peaked.

    You ‘read somewhere’ did you? Wow, thats brilliant and it fits so nicely with your own wishful thinking too, so quote that quick, it must be true!!

    Certainly there’s a whiff of desperation in this recruitment drive.

    Did you ‘read that somewhere’ too? Sure if Sinn Féin are inviting new members, then they must be desperate altogether! Imagine that, a recruitment drive? Must be the end of Republicanism as we know it!!

    Is it to strengthen Adams and the leadership’s hand?

    Wow, I wonder? There’s surely some dastardly sinister motive about this 100 year thing!

    If he can show another leap forward in membership and electoral terms it will make his dealings, with those sceptical about consigning Physical Force republicanism to history, considerably easier.

    You’re a flippin genius!! You’ve outed him!! Adams has been planning all along to build Sinn Féin into a massive political movement and take ‘leaps forward’ in electoral strength and membership…..Well done Davros!!!….Now what can you do to help thwart this and stop this dastardly scheme of ending physical force republicanism!!???

    Emmm….?

  • Davros

    Your reactions shows I have hit a nerve Liam 🙂
    Ta V.M.

  • Liam

    Yeah!!

    The funny bone!!

  • Keith M

    Davros; “I read a while back that SF was worried that it had peaked.”. I can’t understand where they would get that idea. In the Republic, they have still a long way to go before they get to where previous “left of labour” parties like Clann Na Poblachta, the Workers Party and Democratic Left got to. They could double their number of TDs in the next election and still only equal the highwater mark of CnP. I think that doubling the number of Tds in 2007 is probably a good benchmark for SF in 2007.

    In Northern Ireland, there is no doubt that they still have room to grow. The SDLP is becoming older and increasingly irrelevant. At current trajectory they will be down to APNI numbers by the end of the decade. Catholic/Nationalists are not going to start voting unionists in large numbers so that must benefit SF.

    On a parallel subject already discussed, as I recall the “average” age of Protestants was about 7 years older than the Catholic average at the 1990 census, but as far as I recall the declining bithrate in both communities has now narrowed the gap to just over 5 years.

  • Davros

    You raise an interesting point Keith- is there the potential following for radical SF of the left in the ROI ? After all they do seem to be putting forward cute, well educated middle class kids with clean hands these days. Mary Lou ain’t no hard man from the ghettos. SF in the ROI seem to present a very different face to the one we see in the North.

  • Davros

    What’s the Irish for “all things to all men and increasingly all women” ? I’ll bet the Focus is VERY different in South America to the Focus at events in the USA.

  • Keith M

    Davros “is there the potential following for radical SF of the left in the ROI?”. Just as most people in the Republic have a rather distorted view of politics in NI, few Northerners fully appreciate the political landscape in this country. SF’s growth in this country has far more to do with their ability to harvest the votes on the left of Labour than it has to do with any other single issue (the “peace process” and local activism / working with vigilanties would come second and third).

    What happened in the mid 90’s was that a huge vacumn was created when Democratic Left became “establishment”, and joined the Rainbow coalition, and eventually joined up with Labour. For a while the Greens looked as likely to grab that constituency as did SF, however a far better SF organisation has helped them take the lion’s share. The Greens are now in trouble as the June elections proved. Few would bet on them holding all their Dail seats in 2007. Meanwhile SF ran 4 new, young candidates in the Euro elections, none of whom could be realistically claimed to have blood on their hands.

    SF’s gains in 2002 were in working class areas of Dublin and even in rural constituencies like Kerry North and Louth where the “old guard” of the IRA picked up seats, they did so by with left votes (and seats) by taking Labour seats. The party that is most under threat from SF is actually Labour and not the traditional Republican party, Fianna Fail.

    In 2007, SF will be expected to take 5-6 additional seats. The three most likely gains in Dublin (Central, North West and North East) are all constituencies with big working class areas. Outside of the city pickings may be slimmer, but expect a gain in Donegal, perhaps Sligo/North Leitrim, Wexford and at a stretch Kerry South.

    SF are doing a good job on news management on the idea of creating an “All Ireland” party, but the party on either side of the border would be almost unrecognizable on the other. A major schism (yet another split?) could happen as early as 2007, if SF are in a position to hold the balance of power in the Repiublic. Their members in N.I. would I believe want them to go into government, but their membership in this country know that this could have the effect of limiting their longer term growth.

  • Davros

    Thanks for the analysis Keith. Am I right in thinking them that SF can never be a major player in the ROI* as I get the impression that most people are firmly wedded to consumerism ?

    Obviously they will have influence via coalition politics.

  • Keith M

    Davros “Am I right in thinking them that SF can never be a major player in the ROI”. This completly depends on what you consider to be a “major player”. Take a look at two parties here in the past 20 years; Fine Gael and the Progressive Democrats. Fine Gael have constantly been in an unchallenged second place in the Dail, scoring 25%-35% at the polls and yet you could count the number of years that the have been in government on the fingers of one hand. In those years the made little clear impact.

    The Progressive Democrats have on the other hand have wobbled between single and double figures in terms of Dail seats and regularly scored around 5% in the pollls. Yet they have been in government for the mjority of the time since their formation. They have left a huge inprint on the economy with lower tax rates, deregulation and competition. It could be argued that they have been a much bigger player in Irish politics, especially in the last 10 years.

    In Irish politics, it isn’t size alone that matters, it is the ability to find a suitable coalition partner and defining the policies that you want to prioritize. Personally I think SF are a party that is much happier in opposition, where they don’t have to make the day to day decisions that change peoples lives and opportunities and that more than any ceiling on their support is likely to stop them being a “major player”.

  • mickhall

    This is a really good discussion, thanks the pair of you. Keith I think has hit the nail on the head as far as any future growth of SF is concerned. Perhaps I should not be, but I am still surprised when such an opportunity as this comes along and no SF members wish to put their parties prospective for growth forward. The more so when they are going to spend considerable manpower hours and financial resources to help achieve just this in the new year. I feel it is still to early for SF to break out beyond it most natural constituency in the south, i.e. the dispossessed and working classes. But if their parliamentary growth continues in 2005/6/7 along the lines of what Keith has suggested, it will be interesting to see how they eventually tackle this problem. Will they tack along the lines of New Labour in the UK (bar the north) and the Irish LP and attempt to appease the middle classes with a public relations enhanced version of Thatcherism? Or will they attempt to stick with a left reformist platform and lead by example and in the process hope to draw the best elements of the Irish middle classes to their banner, much as the Attlee Government did in Britain post WW2. Most Republican dissidents seem to feel Adams has already begun to favour the former with the Party’s implementation of PPF whilst in government in the north and his refusal to support a woman’s right to choose. I am not so sure as it seems to me, in the south all is still to play for.

  • Davros

    MH – “Womens issues” is one of the areas where SF have to tread carefully, as with the economics issue. They will do a lot of damage to themselves if they move away from the vagueness (comfort zone for a lot of their voters )over right to choose.
    But they do like to run with the fox and hunt with the hounds in several areas. Pearse, Connolly and Griffith. Is it possible to reconcile the politics of these 3 men ?

  • Davros

    In Irish politics, it isn’t size alone that matters, it is the ability to find a suitable coalition partner and defining the policies that you want to prioritize. Personally I think SF are a party that is much happier in opposition, where they don’t have to make the day to day decisions that change peoples lives and opportunities and that more than any ceiling on their support is likely to stop them being a “major player”.

    Certainly opposition will give them more room to manoeuvre. It would be interesting to see the policy differences and resulting tensions if SF were in some executive capacity at the same time on both sides of the border.

  • mickhall

    Davros,
    In opposition perhaps, by using the type of vagueness you yourself mentioned over a woman’s right to choose. But not in government, as to do so would be against the interest of SF core constituency in the south. But then why would a party which claims to be of the Republican Left, wish to reconcile the politics of Pearse, Connolly and Griffith. After all the British physically left that part of Ireland long ago, which was the only justification Connolly had for being in the company of the likes of Pearse and Griffith.…

  • Davros

    But then why would a party which claims to be of the Republican Left, wish to reconcile the politics of Pearse, Connolly and Griffith.

    How else can they justify their claim to this being “their” centenary year ? The whole point of political heritage, as with any other form of heritage, is to use the past to provide continuity and validation to the present. I do find it puzzling to see SF luminaries attending memorials to IRA men of the past when those IRA men would have had them up against the wall for their “red” politics. Venerating Connolly, Griffith and Pearse at the same time as Wolf Tone ?

  • Liam

    Mickhall
    “Will they tack along the lines of New Labour in the UK (bar the north) and the Irish LP and attempt to appease the middle classes with a public relations enhanced version of Thatcherism?

    God, but you and Davros are in fine form and giving us some comedy today, must be the season thats in it!

    Sinn Féin – “enhanced version of Thathersim”….LOL I bet you have no idea how funny that is, even equating SF for one second with what that evil, rotten woman stood for….unbelievable!! ROTFL!!

    Keep up the comedy and the guesswork!!

    BTW – watch out for some answers to some of your questions in February!!! Am saying no more for now!

  • mickhall

    Liam,
    You no longer belong to a tiny group who are forced to shout insults from the sidelines, you are now expected to join in and put forth your own Party’s policies, Why not start by telling us how it is possible to reconcile the politics of Connolly, Griffith and Pearse, or even more important why you feel SF Ministers implementing PPF had nothing in common with Thatcherism, who was after all one of the first to call for this rip off method of financing a nations infrastructure. If you feel PPF is not Thatcher’s economics in practice, or PPF is not a rip off, then I suggest you take a look at the Sky Bridge fiasco.

    Increasingly Gerry Adams appears to me like the emperor who had no clothes and you and a number of other SF members, act like the crowd who refused to tell him so. If your not careful some small boy will come along and break the news. The only way to stop this happening is to start arguing your politics openly and democratically and stop all this poor me, its all the fault of the others nonsense. You are no longer the underdogs you once were; and to continue to parade yourself as such whilst your leaders are welcomed by Prime Ministers, Presidents and the heads of green multi nationals in the USA is farcical. SF is now a major force in Irish politics, as such it has a duty to argue its politics out publicly, something it seems to me you have failed to understand, for if you were to do so, no one would have any need of guesswork, now would they..

  • Liam

    Now, now Mickhall, keep your hair on!

    Whether you like it or you don’t Sinn Féin is 100 years old in 2005!

    Nobody is even talking about ‘reconciling the politics of Griffith and Connolly’. The evolution of our party is well documented and outlined in this years Republican Calendar, Republican resistance Diary and all other publications – so stop grasping for straws in your usual manner to attack Sinn Féin. It doesn’t work for you!

    If you wish to know about Sinn Féin policy on PPF/PFI, then go to the website!!

    SF is now a major force in Irish politics, as such it has a duty to argue its politics out publicly, something it seems to me you have failed to understand, for if you were to do so, no one would have any need of guesswork, now would they..

    You don’t need to engage in guesswork Mickhall, go along to the website and there you will see party policy comprehensively outlined!!

    Thatcher, my arse!

  • mickhall

    Liam,

    There’s the conundrum, your web site will tell me that the party opposes PPF, which in the main I believe to be true, but sadly whilst in office your Ministers did the opposite and from comments about this made by Mr Adams, he seems to see nothing wrong with them doing so, or at least he said as much when in the company of certain unsavoury individuals (my opinion only, green US business people).… But never mind at least we are moving forward, in that you are at least quoting a SF source, instead of the usual paranoid stuff. Perhaps we are getting somewhere at last. As I have said before, it is possible for socialist’s, or anyone else come to that, to debate politics without one side or the other seeing treachery at every turn.

    Happy New Year

  • Davros

    MH: SF have been portrayed as authoritarian, centralised and run by control freaks – just like New Labour used to be – so I guess it’s difficult for it’s members to debate anything in case they stary from the party line.

  • James

    “SF have been portrayed as authoritarian, centralised and run by control freaks – just like New Labour used to be”

    All God’s chilluns’ got Stalinists, even the Vatican.

  • Davros
  • Liam

    “…or at least he said as much when in the company of certain unsavoury individuals…

    Mickhall – this is great stuff from you today!! He said as much did he? And in the company of certain individuals? Unsavoury ones?? Wow, I bet you got that from a “reliable source”!!

    It wasn’t the usual “senior Republican source ” or “brother in law of source close to the Army Council”, was it?

  • Christopher Stalford

    “South Down Assembly member Caitriona Ruane, a member of the party committee responsible for the celebrations, said: “This is a huge undertaking for us. The last six months have been spent preparing for the centenary celebrations.”

    Was this before or after she boarded a 747 bound for Bogota? HA HA

  • willowfield

    Liam

    Whether you like it or you don’t Sinn Féin is 100 years old in 2005!

    But Provisional Sinn Féin, the party which you support, is only 25 years old.

  • mickhall

    Liam,
    Whilst im only to pleased to keep you amused, I do feel you should offer something in return for my effort’s. Perhaps you could try and answer my conundrum, what good is it for SF to have policies passed by its Ard Fheis that condemns PPF, when once you have SF Ministers they implement the wretched policy. Something, which by passing the resolution a majority of your membership clearly reject. Whilst I expect such deceitful behaviour from the likes of New Labour and the Irish Labour Party, I had hoped SF would become a principled political Party. Still life is full of disappointments.

    Happy New Year.

  • mickhall

    MH wrote,
    “…or at least he said as much when in the company of certain unsavoury individuals…

    Liam wrote,
    Mickhall – this is great stuff from you today!! He said as much did he? And in the company of certain individuals? Unsavoury ones?? Wow, I bet you got that from a “reliable source”!!
    It wasn’t the usual “senior Republican source ” or “brother in law of source close to the Army Council”, was it?

    Liam,
    I am only to happy to provide the source for my quote,(see below)im not sure myself if one of them is a reliable source, although im sure you consider it so, as it was none other than Gerry Adams himself.

    Regards,

    Mick

    “Displaying the more complex colours emerging in Sinn Fein’s attitude to business, Adams’s background message was that his party understands the need for pragmatism. Asked about public-private partnerships, he acknowledged that Martin McGuiness had reluctantly accepted the need for private investment while in power in Northern Ireland. “Well, we are against them” he said. “Having said that, Martin McGuiness, as education minister, faced the reality that he would either have no schools or an involvement in a qualified way with private finance, went for it. So I suppose you could argue that that is the emergence of pragmatic politics.” Equally, Sinn Fein’s acceptance of service charges in Sligo was justified by Adams, despite all of the party’s railings nationally against such bills. … “Our position is against it. But in terms of the actual practicalities of working out those matters, as part of local government, the party made compromises on it”, he told the gathering. On taxation, Adams offered soothing words that meant little: “I am reluctant to say that we would do A or we would do B. We are not in principle against tax increases, but we have no plans to introduce them. We just think that there should be a far, far better way of doing business.” (Worlds Apart, The Irish Times, 24 April 2004)

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Mick,

    in the context of departments being inadequately funded what do you suggest should happen? Given that any administration here does not have fund raising capabilities what are local ministries to do? Even if the local administration is not up and running you are still left with English based ministers who arrange the funding anyway.

    Funding seems to mirror your attitude to the GFA you have plenty of criticisms but little or no alternatives.

  • Mark McGregor

    MH,

    Talk about spin. You give the reasoning then ask for it. PFI was already in place for funding of a few schools and a hospital once the Assembly eventually got up and running after Unionist stall tactics. Those holding the purse strings: Sean Farren DFP, and the FM and DFM (UUP and SDLP) wouldn’t give additional funds for decent funding of public services later agreeing to a version of public debt (RRI) that committed us to water charges in return for pennies. SF ministers took the difficult, too difficult for many, of implementing these decisions based in the ultra-conservative NI civil service and SDLP/UUP economics in the knowledge at that stage it was schools and hospitals by this poor financing method or nothing. At the Ard Fheis members and leadership agreed it was too much and a decision not to be repeated. A pragmatic decision not to be repeated, in the future the purse strings have been removed from the UUP and SDLP, future funding decisions in any Assembly will only be SF’s consent. Those that give us water rates via RRI are gone from any realistic influence, those that refused to give extra funds to prevent PFI have no influence. Hopefully the civil servants that ran this place as a fiefdom and started this sorry train will be gone soon too (sack the higer grade dictators should be an immediate objective IMHO). Of course SF recognise PFI is shit, they got landed with a dish nearly cooked as a result of British, civil servant, SDLP and UUP policy. In any future Assembly that will not be allowed to happen. SF’s membership have made a decision, that is a pragmatism we won’t accept again.

  • Mark McGregor

    BTW forgive the poor spelling etc. i can’t find a reason to contribute to the comments section of this site unless I’ve had a beer. Must be something to do with the tediuous nature of the regular type about everything up themselves fools that have a mindless opinion on everything but really nothing to say. A site becoming very dull…..Davros I await your 5000 responses….(sorry did i yawn?)

  • Davros

    Happy New Year to you as well Mr McGregor. I’m glad I can put your recent churlish behaviour down to sottish indulgence, as previously I had found you pleasant and reasonable. Drink makes some good company and some, such as yourself, merely become boorish.

  • Davros

    Final post of 2004 – will Sinn Féin be receiving the traditional 100th birthday greetings from Queen Elizabeth II ?

  • mickhall

    Pat,

    You yourself have at long last finally understood why I am against the GFA. It is not a proper government, in reality the only thing SF members are allowed to do that real governments also do, is call themselves Ministers. Sadly they administer very little in their own right as you yourself have highlighted in your last post. Unless a government is allowed to raise its own revenue and collectively decide how this is spent, it cannot be called a Government, as we in the West understand it. It simply becomes representation without taxation, which stands democracy on its head. As in life so in government, who pays the piper calls the tune. The British government decide that they wish to finance all new state infrastructure in the UK via PPF and SF Ministers have two options, do what they are told and accept this, or bring the whole house of cards down. Your Party to put it bluntly chose to do the British governments bidding. Despite all the crap you people throw at me, it gives me no joy to say this, I am simply stating a fact. Your Ministers implemented British policy in the north of Ireland. You yourself have admitted as much in your post. I quote,
    “in the context of departments being inadequately funded what do you suggest should happen? Given that any administration here does not have fund raising capabilities what are local ministries to do? Even if the local administration is not up and running you are still left with English based ministers who arrange the funding anyway.”

    Pat what I suggest your comrades do is act as the main opposition in this talking shop, expose this sham, demand real democracy and equality throughout the Island, expose the fact that it is simply not possible to attain it in a gerrymandered Statelet. Stop distorting and covering up for this wretched British invention. Cease calling potential friends your enemies and blaming every thing on the dissidents or securocrats, the latter do not sneeze these days without a nod from Downing Street or the NI office. Finally take a deep breath and at long last at least consider whether it is possible to be for peace and be against the GFA. The reason no one in SF wishes to even consider this, is because it would expose those within your party who have attempted to hunt with the hounds and run with the hare.

    All the Best

  • Henry94

    mickhall

    Unless a government is allowed to raise its own revenue and collectively decide how this is spent, it cannot be called a Government,

    Are you advocating an independent Northern Ireland? Because that is the logic of your position on revenue raising powers for the Assembly. Of course it’s not a proper government. It’s not a proper country.

    But if you are for peace then you have to accept that we need to demonstrate the reasonableness and logic of all-Ireland solutions an approaches. This is best done through ministers in the north working with ministers in the south. From my perspective that is the only point in having ministers in the north or an assembly in the north.

    If Sinn Fein removed themselves from office that would lock them out of that process wheras their objective should be to be involved as ministers on both sides.

    You should be looking always at the all-Ireland context. More and more power can be devolved from London to the all-Ireland institutions as we go along.

    The existence of a seperate NI state makes no sense at all but we already know that. We have to prove it to those who don’t see it that way.

  • willowfield

    Henry94

    But if you are for peace then you have to accept that we need to demonstrate the reasonableness and logic of all-Ireland solutions an approaches.

    What kind of Provisional nationalist sophistry is this?? To be for peace one doesn’t “have to accept” anything, other than peace.

    Is this some kind of threat? If you don’t accept the “need” to “demonstrate the reasonableness and logic of all-Ireland solutions and approaches”, then you are “against peace”? Are those who don’t accept such a “need” going to become the new “legitimate targets” for the Provisional IRA death squads in some future return to terrorism?

    You should be looking always at the all-Ireland context. More and more power can be devolved from London to the all-Ireland institutions as we go along.

    How can it be devolved?

    The existence of a seperate NI state makes no sense at all but we already know that.

    It does make sense. At least as much sense as a separate all-Ireland state.

  • mickhall

    Henry,
    Yes, what you say seems a very fair point, However this is what makes the GFA such a dangerous masterpiece of deceit, for why would the Unionist Parties work the all Ireland bodies with any seriousness. They know only to well, being the in built majority in the north, they have no need to. As the will of the majority has been conceded by all parties who signed up to the agreement, how they became so has been totally ignored. Thus by so doing SF has legitimised the northern Statelet.

    Not the British, not the Unionist, nor even the southern political mainstream, but SF, who were and still claim to be Irish Republicans. For no other group of politicians could legitimise what history generally concedes was an illegitimate Statelet. For it has in reality only been Irish Republicans, who have consistently kept the opposition to the partition of Ireland actively alive. For it was they alone who through much of the last century ploughed, what was often a lonely furrow; and said no this partition was wrong, it was done through force of British power and arms and not the democratic will of the majority of the Irish People. By signing up to the GFA, Mr Adams has accepted the legitimacy of the Statelet, no matter what he and his supporters may claim or indeed even believe; and it is difficult to see how this can be dressed up in any other manner.…

    Happy New Year Henry

  • Henry94

    mickhall

    And a happy new year to you too.

    For it has in reality only been Irish Republicans, who have consistently kept the opposition to the partition of Ireland actively alive.

    Who else would you expect to do it? But we agree that opposition to partition must now be by peaceful means. There is a very good practical reason for that and it is that the nationalist and republican people of Ireland clearly want both an end to partition and for that objective to be achieved by democratic and peaceful means.

    You are right to point out that the British imposed partition by force but we don’t have to take our lead from the British.

    By signing up to the GFA, Mr Adams has accepted the legitimacy of the Statelet

    Over 90% of nationalists on the island voted for the Agreement. We did concede the need for a referendum in the six counties on Irish unity and we were right to do so because that is the only way unity can work.

    You accept peace so can you suggest a peaceful method of removing the border against the will of a majority in the six counties?

    We can see from the British papers released today that they would re-partition first. Under the Agreement that option is gone.

    Partition was imposed to create an unequal society. By ending the inequality partition becomes redundant and unionism becomes pointless. It is in crisis today because the implications of its pointlessness are starting to play themselves out.(See willowfields desperate attempt to conjour up a provo bogeyman out of our agreement that peace is the way forward.)

    why would the Unionist Parties work the all Ireland bodies with any seriousness

    They can and have tried not to but when Trimble illegally tried to interfere in their operation the courts slapped him down.

    The all-Ireland agenda will proceed because it makes sense. Opposing practical measures that bring economic benefits to everyone will not be a vote winner.

    Get behind the all-Ireland agenda as the best hope for all the people of Ireland.

  • willowfield

    Henry94

    Your failure to respond to comments posted at 7.57pm yesterday is noted. But I’ll try again.

    Please explain what is meant by the statement “if you are for peace then you have to accept that we need to demonstrate the reasonableness and logic of all-Ireland solutions an approaches”.

    Why do you say that failure to accept the “need” to “demonstrate the reasonableness and logic of all-Ireland solutions and approaches” means one is not “for peace”?

    Please also explain how “more and more power can be devolved from London to the all-Ireland institutions”?

    But we agree that opposition to partition must now be by peaceful means. There is a very good practical reason for that and it is that the nationalist and republican people of Ireland clearly want both an end to partition and for that objective to be achieved by democratic and peaceful means.

    The “nationalist and republican people of Ireland” have always clearly wanted both an end to partition and for that objective to be achieved by democratic and peaceful means. Why, then, did the Provisional IRA not oppose partition peacefully, given your reasoning above?

    Over 90% of nationalists on the island voted for the Agreement.

    … which included recognition of the “six county statelet”!

    We did concede the need for a referendum in the six counties on Irish unity and we were right to do so because that is the only way unity can work.

    i.e. the principle of consent. If you accept that this is “the only way unity can work”, why did “you” oppose it in the years prior to 1998?

    Partition was imposed to create an unequal society.

    It wasn’t. It was not “imposed” (there was a very large majority in favour), and its purpose was not “to create an unequal society”, but to facilitate the wishes of the majority of Irish people, both nationalist and unionist, in respect of national self-determination.

    By ending the inequality partition becomes redundant and unionism becomes pointless.

    It doesn’t. Your comments are insulting as they imply that unionists are not genuinely British. That is Irish nationalist chauvinism at its worst.

    The only way a united Ireland will happen is by demographic change – crudely, by nationalists outbreeding unionists. It will not result from unionists suddenly realising that unionism is pointless.

  • willowfield

    Some explanation of your claim that “We can see from the British papers released today that they would re-partition first” would also be welcome.

  • Davros

    WF:Your failure to respond to comments posted at 7.57pm yesterday is noted. But I’ll try again.

    Please explain what is meant by the statement
    “if you are for peace then you have to accept that we need to demonstrate the reasonableness and logic of all-Ireland solutions an approaches”.

    WF,I think the “you” refers to MickHall, rather than a more general declaration.

  • Henry94

    Davros

    Exactly. And a happy new year to you.

    willowfield

    If you don’t think our agenda is going to work then you have nothing to worry about. But one of my new years resolutions is that I am not going to spend 2005 going over old ground here. It’s the future that matters.

  • mickhall

    Willowfield,

    In reply to Henry you wrote the following,

    “The only way a united Ireland will happen is by demographic change – crudely, by nationalists outbreeding unionists. It will not result from unionists suddenly realising that unionism is pointless.”

    Could I ask you, if the above were to come about, would you and as far as you can judge, the community you come from accept this?

    Best regards

  • Davros

    Happy New Year to you too Henry.
    I cannot see how or why Unionists should feel threatened by all-Ireland co-operation. The only problem should be with any proposal for all-Ireland bodies to be given executive powers.

  • mickhall

    Henry,
    An interesting and fair minded reply, however I do strongly feel that it is possible to oppose (not ignore) the basis of the GFA and support the peaceful road which, as you say the Irish people have clearly chosen. In many ways this is what gets to me about SF. If Republicans or others do not agree with their take on things, then they become disruptive elements, etc. Democratic politics should not work like that, especially in the North which has had more than its share of flim-flam men. The practice of democracy surly means that whilst one can oppose other peoples politics, you have to respect the fact they are sincere in the views they hold and thus deal with them politically. Not reduce all political differences to the lowest human denominator. This is why many people who have to deal with SF find it such a dispiriting act, for if they(SF) fail to persuade and cajole, they far to often move on to a lower plain. Of course this is how politics has been practised since time began, but need it be so?

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    MH,

    your posts are degenerating into the self serving piffle that was always going to be the case.
    On the point of the underfunding of health and education you offer no alternatives at all. The patients on the waiting lists etc can wait around till pure bloods (those untainted by compromise) come up with solutions and alternatives in the (distant) future. Again I ask what is to be done to aid crumbling hospitals and schools. This is an immediate problem, that must be addressed now, and as the topic of a (i’m a better socialist that you) debate.

    Like the GFA, well it doesn’t work, but lets build an alternative, 6 years down the line what have we got, a succession of sniping and name calling. But then again the bile and name calling is a one way street.
    What I suggest you and the rest of the pure bloods do is give us a working alternative, you’ve already had 6 years. Something that appeals to the real working people. Something that you are prepared to stand over and take to the people at the ballot box.

    Politics is much more that you telling Tommie, then Tommie telling Mackers and then Mackers telling you how great you all are and how it was that nasty Adams and all ‘wot made me do it your honour.’ There is a real world out there, something that you and your clique seem unable to address.

  • mickhall

    Pat,

    If my posts are the rubbish you claim them to be, then how can they be self serving, unless you feel I deliberately set out to make a fool of myself. As to your silly out burst later in your post when you went on a rant naming others, I will leave that for readers to judge. Although it does strike me that as you seem to take the party line almost unquestioningly, you appear to believe we all do the same, Well we do not and even you are allowed to think for yourself. Dont get angry with me, get even with a rational post.

    I found the following quote from your post very revealing,

    “On the point of the underfunding of health and education you offer no alternatives at all. The patients on the waiting lists etc can wait around till pure bloods (those untainted by compromise) come up with solutions and alternatives in the (distant) future. Again I ask what is to be done to aid crumbling hospitals and schools. This is an immediate problem, that must be addressed now, and as the topic of a (i’m a better socialist that you) debate.”

    Down the ages those who have accepted the status quo have always said as much, These days I suppose it could be called New Labourism. Coming from SF which claims to be a Republican Socialist Party it is a bit rich, By rejecting PPF at its Ard Fheis your party clearly pointed out that it (PPF) is against the interest of the Irish people and will in the future lead to the public purse paying out far more to private enterprise than is reasonable acceptable. Then when in government you administered it, so I do not feel it is outrageous to point this out.
    Your claim that their was no alternative is just daft, SF can rightly find an argument for not standing the Ra down in the manner demanded by Mr Paisley, but it did not have the wit to find a political reason for refusing to operate a system of health care and education that is against the interest of the Irish people, Please? If SF ministers had refused to operate PPF one of two things would have happened, The Brits would have crashed the assembly administration, etc. Or they would have found a way around this problem that was more acceptable to your party. Instead you administered PPF and the brits found another reason to crash the Assembly, well done. In either cases the Health care for the people of the north would have continued being delivered in its current manner, albeit inadequately provided.

    Pat, I understand your ministers were new to government and there is bound to be a learning curve, but what I do expect from them or any government politician is for them to admit when they make a mistake and try and not repeat it. What is reprehensible is to cover up any mistake as either some kind of a victory, or claim that there was no alternative to making it. As it happens I have been told, maybe by you, I cannot remember, that SF if they return to government in the north have decided not to repeat the PPF fiasco, if so, as far as im concerned that would be the end of the matter. The art of politics is to make sure there is always an alternative.
    Finally I would agree with you that being a Republican politician is far from easy, one of the reasons im not a politician of any kind is that I do not possess the skills needed to do the job properly. However I do not feel it helps those who honestly practice that profession to cover up mistakes or limit discussion and debate. The reverse is true and for the first time we have an opportunity via the web to hold ‘our’ politicians to account, Indeed I have no doubt that the general public is prepared to overlook certain behaviour and honest mistakes that politicians make, it is the bluster, bullshit and cover up which we find intolerable.

    Happy New Year.

  • Liam

    Willowfield in reply to Henry94 wrote:

    “Your comments are insulting as they imply that unionists are not genuinely British. That is Irish nationalist chauvinism at its worst.”

    This statement really is a very common example of Unionists just ‘not getting it’.

    You see, as an Irish Republican I could not give 2 hoots if you desire to be British or Irish, it does not matter to me. You can be just as British as you want to be and I would defend to the last your right and entitlement to be so, to your identity and your culture. The only thing I demand in return is that you recognise that I am not British, I am Irish and do not expect me to have any allegiance to a British state, I have none. My culture and identity is equally as valid and legitimate as yours. It is not superior, but it is in no way inferior either. It is equal in every respect.

    That is what Republicanism is about. Sadly, the very basis of Unionism has been about inequality, about denying others the right to theior identity and culture. This is the opposite to Republicanism.

    But you really struggle with that concept I fear.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    MickH,

    ‘However I do not feel it helps those who honestly practice that profession to cover up mistakes or limit discussion and debate.’

    Lets not limit any discussion or debate Mick. From your response I can deduct that you have no short , medium or long term solution to the underfunding of health and education. The buildings can continue to crumble. Very far reaching and highly principled.

    In the short, medium or long term you have no alternative to the GFA despite the fact that you and the other pure bloods have had all of 6 years to formulate a riposte.

    The Blanket and its’ contributors reserve the right to name all and sundry, to snipe and smear, but when a gentle riposte is directed your way you respond in a manner that suggests a bit of ‘brittleness.’ Bluster and bullshit indeed.

    HNY.

  • mickhall

    Pat wrote,
    “Lets not limit any discussion or debate Mick. From your response I can deduct that you have no short , medium or long term solution to the underfunding of health and education. The buildings can continue to crumble. Very far reaching and highly principled”.

    Pat,

    I feel the quote from you I have posted above, encapsulates one of the main difficulties with the GFA and the cleft stick those who administered it often found themselves in. It is so tightly drafted that they have very little room for manoeuvre to instigate fresh policies to tackle the type of problems within the NHS and education you have mentioned. They are forced to follow a pattern laid down by the British Government or as you said, do nothing. Which becomes a win/win situation for the British government, because you (SF) are dammed if you do and dammed if you do nothing, for me unfortunately, that is what the GFA was intended to be like.

    As to an alternative policy, in all honesty I would be more than happy if your own party put into practice what you passed at your Ard Fheis, which unless I am mistaken could develop into a pretty good alternative to PPF, if given half a chance. As to your charge of sniping and smears, im sure we are all guilty of this, but as you are aware Republicanism is a very emotive subject, and when Republicans who have differing viewpoints debate, it makes even the Trotskists appear Saintly. 🙂

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    MH,

    Your non response to any of the substantive issues is telling. Maybe another 6 years down the line you and the rest of the clique will have formulated enough of an alternative to put it down on an A4 piece of paper.

  • mickhall

    Pat wrote,
    “MH
    Your non response to any of the substantive issues is telling. Maybe another 6 years down the line you and the rest of the clique will have formulated enough of an alternative to put it down on an A4 piece of paper.”

    Pat,

    I think your being a bit over ambitious there mate. 🙂 By the way, I like the idea of belonging to a clique, it makes me feel all snug, Billy no mates no more.

  • Davros

    Billy no mates no more

    Billy ? 😉

  • AndrewD

    Liam,

    “The only thing I demand in return is that you recognise that I am not British, I am Irish and do not expect me to have any allegiance to a British state, I have none.”

    If you don’t accept that you have a British Identity thats fine – I would accept that. But Republicans don’t accept that someone in Northern Ireland or even the Republic seeing themselves as British. They don’t even accept the Northern Ireland state.

    As far as I am concerned being Irish is the same as being English, Scottish or Welsh under a British National Identity. These regions make up the U.K.

    “My culture and identity is equally as valid and legitimate as yours. It is not superior, but it is in no way inferior either. It is equal in every respect.”

    Yes, it is equal – why wouldn’t it not be? Just the same as the Scottish or Welsh cultures.

    “That is what Republicanism is about. Sadly, the very basis of Unionism has been about inequality, about denying others the right to theior identity and culture. This is the opposite to Republicanism.”

    I don’t accept this statement at all. I believe Unionism can reach out to all cultures more than Republican’s.

    Unionism is about one thing – preserving the Union that exists between GB and Northern Ireland (and previously was Ireland as a whole) not about denying cultures. Unionism supports the British Identity – if you don’t accept that, that’s fine. It’s like an Ideological / Political theory as such.

    If Republicanism is about ‘equality’ (which is a big concept) why did the Republican movement murder thousands of Protestants and Unionists?

    Please note I accept that loyalist paramilitaries unlawfully murdered innocent Roman Catholics also, that may be your concern. But there are two sides to every conflict and I condemn all acts of terrorism, as I hope you would also.

  • mickhall

    Andrew,
    You write, “Unionism supports the British Identity” What do you actually mean by this British identity?

    Best regards.

  • AndrewD

    The British Identity is a National identity of people from the UK.

    The term ‘United Kingdom’ was formed after the 1800 Act of the Union, uniting all parts of the British Isles in London to which they would be governed from.

    People from the regions of the UK – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland make up this British identity.

    You may view it then as people from the UK have a regional identity but an overall National idenity.

    Hope this clears it up for you Mick 😉

  • AndrewD

    You may view it then as people from the UK have a regional identity but an overall National idenity.

    Should read:

    You may view it then as people from the UK have a regional identity but also an overall National idenity.

  • lib2016

    The ‘British’ identify has changed remarkably over time. During the Second World War and even for a short time afterwards certain colonies such as Canada and Australia were regarded as British to the extent that they didn’t even have their own passports. Then we had the ‘overseas British’ identity as it existed for the Ugandan Asians or suitably wellconnected Hongkong Chinese.

    Given that we are unfortunate enough to live in close proximity to the English who invented and used the British concept for their own purposes we are nearly the last region in the world to have to deal with the whole British thing in it’s death struggles. That’s what the GFA is all about – a way of dealing with the end of the British identity – the English have dealt with it by simply confusing being English with being British. Being Irish we don’t have that option.

  • willowfield

    Henry94

    Please explain what is meant by the statement “if you are for peace then you have to accept that we need to demonstrate the reasonableness and logic of all-Ireland solutions an approaches”.

    Why do you say that failure to accept the “need” to “demonstrate the reasonableness and logic of all-Ireland solutions and approaches” means one is not “for peace”?

    Please also explain how “more and more power can be devolved from London to the all-Ireland institutions”?

    But we agree that opposition to partition must now be by peaceful means. There is a very good practical reason for that and it is that the nationalist and republican people of Ireland clearly want both an end to partition and for that objective to be achieved by democratic and peaceful means.

    The “nationalist and republican people of Ireland” have always clearly wanted both an end to partition and for that objective to be achieved by democratic and peaceful means. Why, then, did the Provisional IRA not oppose partition peacefully, given your reasoning above?

    We did concede the need for a referendum in the six counties on Irish unity and we were right to do so because that is the only way unity can work.

    i.e. the principle of consent. If you accept that this is “the only way unity can work”, why did “you” oppose it in the years prior to 1998?

    Some explanation of your claim that “We can see from the British papers released today that they would re-partition first” would also be welcome.

  • willowfield

    mickhall

    In reply to Henry you wrote the following, “The only way a united Ireland will happen is by demographic change – crudely, by nationalists outbreeding unionists. It will not result from unionists suddenly realising that unionism is pointless.” Could I ask you, if the above were to come about, would you and as far as you can judge, the community you come from accept this?

    I’m on record as a supporter of the Belfast Agreement, which provides for this so, yes, of course I would accept it.

    Assuming you refer to the “unionist community”, I would expect that some would accept it and others wouldn’t. I imagine that, as usual, there would be a split between pragmatists and ideologues (for want of a better term).

  • willowfield

    Liam

    … Sadly, the very basis of Unionism has been about inequality, about denying others the right to theior identity and culture …

    This comment is effectively a repetition of what Henry94 said, and merely reinforces my own response that it is insulting, as it implies that unionists are not genuinely British. That is Irish nationalist chauvinism at its worst.

    The “very basis” of unionism is not inequality, it is the desire to remain British and remain part of the UK.

  • willowfield

    I note that, at 4.49pm yesterday, mickhall, in communicating with Pat McLarnon, referred to PSF ministers as “your ministers”, and that Pat McLarnon did not raise any objection. Funny that, when I previously described Pat McLarnon as a PSF supporter, he claimed that he was not.

  • AndrewD

    lib2016,

    “That’s what the GFA is all about – a way of dealing with the end of the British identity – the English have dealt with it by simply confusing being English with being British. Being Irish we don’t have that option.”

    Rubbish.

    The GFA supports the British Identity for as long as the people of N.I. say so.

    Your comrades in SF/IRA signed up to recognise that N.I. is British and remains part of the U.K. until the people say otherwise.

  • mickhall

    Andrew,

    I hope you do not take this as me being offensive, but I was a little surprised there was not more width to your reply to my question about British identity. For apart from your own community, myself I do not feel this thing which you describe as a British Identity is all that deep elsewhere within the UK. In my experience few people on first being asked what their identity was, would reply British, preferring one of the nationalities that make up the UK geographically or Anglo Indian, Anglo Jewish, Scots/african, Irish/chinese, that type of thing. Admittedly of late central government and its media has pushed this thing, but they have mainly done so to encompass those who have come to our shores comparatively recently and certainly not from the Island of Ireland. It seems to me the only other groups who regard themselves as Brits, besides your own community are middle class ex pat workers in hell holes like Saudi, certain elements within the officer corp of the UK armed forces, mainly due to their schooling, Eton/Harrow/born to rule/etc and silly English actors in Hollywood, who fear if they call themselves English, the only parts they would ever get would be playing villains; and there are only so many of these to go around and for the younger generation of English actors, the guy who plays Sharp on TV seems to have cornered the market in these.

    I am in no way trying to belittle your beliefs as in my opinion people are what they were born or believe themselves to be, I only object to this if the try and force their beliefs on others.

    Regards

  • Liam

    willowfield

    “The “very basis” of unionism is not inequality, it is the desire to remain British and remain part of the UK.”

    Oh come on, your failure to stand back, to recognise this and to honestly look at the experience of ‘Unionism’ in the 6 counties since partition is not unique but if you can’t honestly identify the problems, then how can you be expected to contribute to finding solutions?

  • willowfield

    Your comment doesn’t seem to make sense. How can I not recognise that which I stated, and which you quoted me stating?!

    In response to your comment, I can advise you that I have not failed honestly to look at the experience of unionism in “the 6 counties” since partition. On the contrary, I have done so.

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