Sinn Fein could do with losing some of its US friends

Eamon McCann sees a paradox in the fact that Sinn Fein is being lectured by a man many of them hold in contempt for his prosecution of the war in Iraq. But he believes it’s not so much paradox, so much that the party has been prepared to ignore fundamental differences in policy with its strongest supporters in the US.

The reason decent Sinn Feiners – and it’s useful to remind ourselves at this point that that’s the vast majority – must squirm in near-silence as their party is rubbished by an odious charlatan is that their leaders have been among Ireland’s most enthusiastic colluders in this hypocrisy over recent years. Some of us have had the disturbing experience of being told by people 30 years our junior to, “For Christ’s sake, grow up” when we’ve suggested that the jagged contradiction upon which they’d impaled themselves would do for Sinn Fein in the end.

He goes on:

On Tuesday, one dedicated supporter of the party remarked to me, “Jesus, that’s the end of it,” when word came that Congressman James Walsh of upstate New York had joined in demands that the IRA disband, and pronto. The reason Walsh’s defection hit hard was that he has arguably been Sinn Fein’s most doughty defender on Capitol Hill over the past decade. He is also one of Congress’s most forthright advocates of US aggression abroad, assuring New York station WRVO some months back that not only had the illegal, lie-based invasion of Iraq been a splendid idea in itself, but that, “In time it will be seen as a model.”

  • Davros

    Good for Eamon – IMO the best writer on the Belfast Telegraph’s books.

  • murphii4word

    McCann certainly put his finger on this issue. Particulary on Bush and this senseless war.
    Bob Murphy
    New Jersey

  • GavBelfast

    I’m sure there’s the odd decent Sinn Feiner – but a majority? That’s stretching it a bit.

    Good piece again from Eamon McCann, though – he’s a consistent pain in the arse and our society needs people like him.

    As for “Establishment” Irish America, the less said about that and its members, the better.

  • Circles

    A spot on piece – even down to the “vast majority” remark.

    Sometimes I wish Eamon McCann had have stayed more active on the poltical scene – then again, better he didn’t. It allows him to keep throwing the stones at the windows.

    SFs prolonged flirting with successive administartions has for quite a few people always been a bit of an embarassment, if not tantamount to “selling out” the revolutionary ideal.
    The irony now is that they can no longer even flirt with them – and thats whats causing the problem!!

  • Billy Pilgrim


    “IMO the best writer on the Belfast Telegraph’s books.”

    Wouldn’t be hard. How some of those guys get paid for their columns I’ll never know…

    No. Of all the columnists currently working in the north, McCann is the best writer. A great man, no doubt about it.

  • Rebecca Black

    “Good for Eamon – IMO the best writer on the Belfast Telegraph’s books”

    ah, I dunno, the guy who writes the motoring is pretty good!!

  • Jacko

    McCann would be polluted by party politics. Don’t agree with all he says, but by God it’s good to have him around rattling cages.

  • Alan McDonald

    I thought McCann stood for election on a small party and lost. Anyway, the bad news for me is that, because of the 2000 census in the US, James Walsh became my Congressman.

  • Circles

    I think your right there Alan. It wasn’t even tooooo long ago I think (not in the 70’s or 80’s anyway)

  • Alan McDonald

    Yes, Circles,

    Eamonn McCann ran in the 2003 Assembly election in Foyle on the Socialist Environmental Alliance (SEA) party. He got 2257 votes, 5.5%.

    See BBC Election Results: Foyle for the results and BBC: Socialist Environmental Alliance for the SEA Manifesto.

  • Circles

    Probably for the best.

  • toronto

    I know if reactionary Irish-Americans were offering my political party money (that is, if I had a political party, of course) I’d take it.

  • JD

    I truly admire McCann. A true intellectual. Puts Fintan O’Toole in the ha’penny place.

    He even managed to get in the point that most of SF are decent skins.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    ‘He even managed to get in the point that most of SF are decent skins.’

    I believe that he may run for a seat on Derry City Council so obviously he’s not closing any doors.

  • JD

    Ha! An intellectual politician. An oxymoron!

  • Davros

    SEA got both my votes. And will continue to get my votes.

  • lámh dearg

    McCann also ran for the European Paliament.

    Obviously intelligent but much more valuable as a commentator, stirring and provoking rather than getting his hands dirty with the inevitable compromises of real politics.

  • aquifer

    “Turn Left, brothers and sisters. Forget the baubles of bourgeois office. Stay out of alliance with neo-liberal war-mongers. Build the opposition, North and South.”

    Sloganeer certainly.

    Not ministerial material I would guess, but perhaps every parliament should have at least one like him to root out the worst examples of hypocricy or at least to keep people watching democracy and not soaps.

    I am not sure what species of Socialist Eamon is.

    I confess I’m nervous of people who pop up claiming to have seen the one true light, especially when they each want to prove theirs is the reddest by cramming the most ‘Socialism’s into one sentence. Maybe my nervousness comes of teenage contact with evangelical psycho-gangsters. Maybe I’ve been innoculated against cults.

    Trouble with self-selecting revolutionary elites seems to be getting them to go after they bugger the economy and repress the internal opposition.

    And it is the economy stupid.

    Ireland must be a civilised, orderly, law abiding, cultured place. Or else the humans who bring high value jobs and services will depart for other destinations, but probably not to the developing world where most of the workers that serve us still toil. The Irish just aren’t that in to subsistence agriculture or machine shops any more. Consumer value added overtook surplus labour value a while back.

    I think the economic change above is part of why people have turned on SFPIRA.

    If an intellectual cares to translate that into dialectical materialism I’d be much obliged. But please don’t ask me to sell any more newspapers, as the recycling bin is full of last week’s.

  • JD

    I confess I’m nervous of people who pop up claiming to have seen the one true light,

    Followed by:

    And it is the economy stupid.