Media playing party rather than political ball?

Damien Kiberd, former editor of the Sunday Business Post is alarmed by the torrent of criticism levelled at Sinn Fein and the IRA in the months since the Northern Bank raid. But, he argues it may backfire.

Also, he has an impressive compendium of reasons why he beleives the media is playing the Sinn Fein man, rather than the ball:

A whole army of commentators now appears dedicated to attacking the party president, Gerry Adams in particular. They include writers who assemble lengthy tomes which are ostensibly histories but whose underlying agenda is to dissect him and his record.

They include commentators who bizarrely attacked him through the 1994-2000 period from a sort of ultra-left perspective but who now apply conventional right-wing arguments to attack him and with venom. They include whole sets of newspapers where desk executives and commentators have made a living by attacking the Provos for decades.

Gerry Adams said on Saturday that the acerbity of the attack was because other people feared that Sinn Féin would take their votes. That’s true but there are other reasons too: old hatreds, festering personal resentments, people who are bugged by the access Sinn Féin got in Washington, London and elsewhere in recent years, maybe even a few old-fashioned spooks out there somewhere who are meddling around, hoping for Sinn Féin to disintegrate and would happily live with the potential consequences.

There are people who hate the Sinn Féin leadership… and there are also people who would like to see the party’s wings clipped in its 100th year.

BTW: for those curious enough, according to the Shorter Oxford English Dcitionary, the origin of the word Gendarmerie was as an historical term refering to a body of cavalry. It’s use in the modern French context began as a reference to a military force employed as police.

  • cg

    Spot on

    Let’s wait to May and see if it worked

  • J Kelly

    The last paragraph of this piece is spot 342000 republicans are not criminals.

    Sinn Fein elected representatives and activist the lenght of this country are making a difference and solvimg problems not promising the moon and the stars. SF activist in Derry do not seem to be too worried about any shift in support.

    This onslaught has to stop some time and i would bet that it will fade come the 6th of May when the results start coming in and SF have won seven seats.

  • Mick Fealty

    So you reckon Durkan’s as good as out of Foyle?

  • George

    I have to agree with Kiberd about a section of the southern electorate being virulently anti-Sinn Fein, you know, the ones who wouldn’t go to West Tallaght in a month of Sundays.

    However, there are hundreds of thousands of people in Ireland today who are equally virulently anti the new smug Irish establishment, the ones who have presided over the creation of the most unequal society in Europe.

    There are a lot of people who will be more likely now to vote for SF, simply because as Mao once said “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”.

    The establishment have given them nothing and they owe them nothing.

    The worst is already over for Sinn Fein, who incidentally have three times more voters than the Irish Times has circulation.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    342,000 sounds impressive.

    Now what percentage of the vote is that again?

  • samneilson


    the usual old Republican style response. I’d like to know to whom you are referring in Derry because from where I see it the Republican movement could be a wee bit embarrased by the current situation.People on the doorsteps do not seem to want to support a political movement whose candidate has publically called the IRA the legitimate government of Ireland.

    And please don’t get too confident because the electorate don’t like being taken for granted and I’m sure many rational people in the 6 counties are getting a little fed up with the double edged sword of Republicanism. Many of Sfs candidates are unknowns and it will not be helped by the loss of one of your biggest vote getters. Voting behaviour in Derry should be studied in depth, not commented on in an over confident method.

    The vote in Derry will be interesting to see, but don’t get carried away just yet, the smart money is on Durkan. The Shinners will have to break 15000 votes even to have a chance!!

  • New Yorker

    The fall-out is still in the early stages and shows only indications of intensifying. What is the 32 county vote of SF? 10% at the highest? That hardly constitutes a major party. In US terms it would be a fringe party. Of course, it has more clout because it is the only party that actively uses violence. In the counties I am most familiar with, Armagh and Down, SF canidates and their agents are referred to as “the enforcers” – you don’t go to them with a problem, when they come to you, you have a problem.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    ‘342,000 sounds impressive.

    Now what percentage of the vote is that again?’

    Significantly more than the Alliance Party managed to scrape together in previous elections in West Tyrone.

  • Ringo

    George –
    The worst is already over for Sinn Fein, who incidentally have three times more voters than the Irish Times has circulation.

    Incidently , the Irish Times sells three times more papers (or 18 times if you want to take a weekly total) than the SBP where this thread originated.