Tom McGurk asks difficult questions in an article, Sinn Fein must find a way, in the Sunday Business Post which greatly increased my respect for him. He neatly manages to both tie and distance SF to and from the IRA and has enough nationalist and republican orthodoxy in the article to allow himself to pursue questions that come close to heresy. Similar questions, less well crafted, will doubtless be written elsewhere, but in this case it won’t be as easy to shrug them off as coming from a consistently hostile source.

In the North too, a new generation of nationalists emerged with educational, economic and cultural strengths unlike anything known before. As the old oligarchic structure of unionist economic power was wiped away by free market forces, the new nationalist economic power utterly changed the social landscape of the Six Counties. The last thing the post-ceasefire nationalist generation in the North needs is a paramilitary army.

Following the ceasefire, this newly aspirational generation voted in unprecedented numbers for Sinn Féin.

They did this because their demands and expectations were matched by Sinn Féin’s harder political nose and they voted too – let’s not forget it – to divert the republican movement’s energies away from paramilitarism to politics. Ironically they voted for the war party in order to end the war. Above all, they voted because they wanted the share of political power that was the inevitable consequence of their new economic and cultural position.

The very serious question that Sinn Féin needs to ponder this weekend is whether their some 320,000 voters across the country fully appreciated the role the IRA would have in the discharge of their democratic franchise.

Of course. the political forces ranged against Sinn Féin were determined to trammel their political ambitions by tying them to the IRA, but do their voters accept this arrangement?

How can you have, at one end, a political party with 320,000 votes demanding political power and at the other end a secret, armed society exercising a political veto by virtue of their continuing existence?

The question this weekend is actually not who robbed the bank, but who runs the show lads? Is it the universally franchised, democratically elected members of parliament or the IRA army council with its more limited franchise? I don’t know, but I would like to know. So too would the wider Irish political democratic constituency.

and :

“This is about the long march of the nationalists of the North out of the dark and into a new century to their full share of peaceful political and economic prosperity. Sinn Féin is the weapon they chose to carve out that share. Is Sinn Féin up to the hard choices now needed to deliver it?”

  • Davros

    nationalist and republican orthodoxy

    Andrew McCann responds on ATW.

  • ulsterman

    To say that the Unionist and Nationalist vote is almost equal is utter nonsense. At the next Westminster election the Unionists will easily win 12 seats to the Nationalist six. Fermanagh/S.Tyrone will be a hugh gain for the Union and a real kick up the ass for the Pope as he loses it.

    At the next election let us show the Pope who rules Ulster.

    Lets keep the Pope running.

    God Save the Queen.

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    What’s this 320,000 votes Tom has cottoned on to ? I guess it must be in both jurisdictions.

  • mickhall

    Dennis Bradley made a similar point in the Irish News (I think) i e SF has got to look at its link with the PIRA; and vis versa, if the latter organisation is not stood down. What is interesting is that as far as returning to war is concerned, there has been very few right ons, lets get at it, from within the republican movements core base. I find it interesting that almost all those on the Army Council, bar one are now well into middle age, (if the names we have are correct) and like most of us of that age are somewhat conservative with a small c. This means they may well be reluctant to even consider life without the army. The fact that much the same group of people have been members of the AC over the last ten years tells one how the PIRA has stagnated during this period. The same stagnation has not happened within the leadership of SF, as highlighted by the inclusion of many able youngsters. If an able youngster was to come into the Republican’s orbit, I doubt they would be directed towards PIRA these days, whereas they would have been 12 years ago, which in itself is another argument for standing the army down.

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    The same stagnation has not happened within the leadership of SF, as highlighted by the inclusion of many able youngsters.

    I might respectfully disagree. The party’s leadership has been the same for about 20 years and there isn’t any sign of it changing. Then again this is true of most parties in NI, I think it reflects on how much we (as voters) are focussed on personalities rather than policies.

  • Jimmy Sands

    Remarkable to see that even provisionalism’s customary defenders losing patience. It will be some small consolation to learn that Volkischer Beobachter is now online.

  • mickhall

    Fair point, perhaps I over egged the pudding a bit, but I still feel the point I was trying to make has some validity.

  • Liam

    What’s this 320,000 votes Tom has cottoned on to ?

    Actually Tom was incorrect – the correct figure is 342,000!!

  • Davros

    What % is that of the 32 county electorate Liam ?

  • cg

    342,000 people deserve to have their mandate respected

    It’s a lot more than the PD’s

  • Davros

    I wasn’r being awkward, I’m interested .
    Don’t be so defensive 😉

  • cg

    It’s hard not to be with all the shit of the last month 😉

  • Davros

    LOL, I was careful to be polite when I asked Liam … is that what set alarm bells ringing ? 😉
    So what would the total electorate be ? 3 million ?

  • Davros

    Whoops – in the ROI I meant. Would the combined electorate be 4 million ?

  • mickhall

    It’s hard not to be with all the shit of the last month 😉

    Posted by: cg


    I agree it has not been plain sailing over the last month, but at whose door do you lay the blame for this? For what it is worth, in my opinion as far as the internal party’s in the north are concerned, the blame is pretty evenly spread. The DUP should have picked up the offer that SF had placed upon the table, instead of demanding the impossible from PIRA. However the subsequent antic’s of the RM must have, when coupled with the aforementioned DUP behaviour made any rational person feel neither parties what to resolve this situation. All being content to play their walk on (and off) roles in the never ending peace process. I wish someone would tell these guys there is more to politics than making ‘what if’ statements on TV.

  • George

    The electorate in the Irish Republic in the 2002 Dail election was 3,002,173 but as the voting electorate is the only figure that matters Davros, the figure is 1,857,902.

  • Davros

    Thanks George.