Blunt swords fencing in Foyle ?

Angelique Chrisafis, Ireland correspondent for the Guardian has an article , Sinn Féin likely to tighten grip in SDLP heartlands, arguing that the battle for the soul of nationalism is in Foyle. Newry and Armagh could go to Sinn Féin, South Down should stay with the SDLP, but she writes
“it seems ironic that the fight to succeed Mr Hume, Northern Ireland’s great celebrity politician, who is standing down, is being billed as a battle between two of the dullest men in politics.”

A neat summary of the situation –

“Mark Durkan, the SDLP leader who has been mentored by Mr Hume all his political life, is seen as well-meaning and sincere, a “nice, honest guy”. But his critics have attacked him for leading a party that is too remote, too middle-class and middle-aged.
Mitchel McLaughlin, Sinn Féin’s general secretary, a refrigeration engineer, hardly sets pulses racing either. “The most adventurous thing Mitchel’s ever done is shave off his moustache,” one republican said.”

(my emphases)

  • Chris Gaskin

    “Newry and Armagh could go to Sinn Féin”

    WILL go to Sinn Féin by about 8 or 9,000 votes

  • Davros

    How do you see the Foyle analysis Chris ? I’ll admit I laughed out loud at the moustache business, but the SDLP summary seems spot on 🙂

  • sean west

    Mclaughlin is the worst shinner going.
    What a sad reflection on Derry to hear people
    talking about John Hume like he was some giant.
    A provincial politician who was easily patrionised
    in London.
    As for Eamonn Mccann talking about tribal politics
    does he not see that that is such an insult.
    It is sad to see that Irish people just do not get it.
    Tribal is an insult.It conjures up images of Africa ie Hutus and Tutsi’s killing eachother with machetes and practicing withcraft.
    We are EUROPEANS,Nationalist or Unionist.

  • peter

    Durkan will win by about 2000 votes. Not out of any love for him but out of respect for Hume.Newry and Armagh will go to SF. S.Down will easily stay with McGrady. S.Belfast I am rapidly changing my opinion on. The Unionists should be ashamed of themselves. Their campaigns in S.Belfast are a total shambles.The SDLP could shade it.

    Fermanagh and West Tyrone are also a disgrace. SF could well hold Fermanagh and Deeny, although he made an ass of himself should have been given a free run there.

  • sean west

    The Unionists should be ashamed of themselves.
    Imagine Mcdonnell in westminister.
    The unionists should have run a single candidate.
    They are just destroying themselves.
    Trimble is to blame for this,he is such a poor politician.He has been a disaster.

  • DerryTerry

    Mark Durkan will not win Foyle. In a low key contest SF on the doors will overcome the DLP in the Journal.

    Thinking Durkan will win because he has to is up there with the Brid Rodgers school of punditry and IMO commentators’ “Too close to call” really means “SF, and i don’t like it.”

  • Davros

    Tribal is an insult.It conjures up images of Africa ie Hutus and Tutsi’s killing eachother with machetes and practicing withcraft.

    Only in the minds of racists.

    We are EUROPEANS,Nationalist or Unionist.

    As are the Serbs, Croats and Muslims of the former Yugoslavia.

  • sean west

    I have never heard any one in England refer to the
    working class ruling class divide as Tribal politics.Tribal is an insult that is why it is used in the context of Ireland.
    Two uncivilised tribes killing each other.
    And poor old Britain caught in the middle trying to stop them destroying eachother,completely blameless.
    And yes the serbs and croats are europeans.Just like the Poles, Germans,French,Italians and Spanish.And i have never heard any conflict in any other part of europe referred to as tribal.Always ethnic.

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    Tribalism is a very apt description of politics in Northern Ireland. Distinct groups, both as inward looking as each other, playing a zero-sum game with the others.

    If you’re insulted by what is a rather apt description of our country, perhaps a closer analysis of Ulster’s politics, and perhaps your own attitudes, is in order.

  • Jim Bob

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry when I hear Unionists pretending to a moral superiority.

    They were insufferable enough as it was, but current media support for them has definitely gone to their heads.

    Unionism is not in the British mainstream. It’s not even in the European or World mainstream. It’s no more than a tiresome petty nationalism, masquerading as a political party.

    Media used to tell the truth about these clowns but for its own reasons has stopped.

  • Davros

    Look in the mirror Jim Bob. Unionisism is merely nationalism that has been successful.

  • sean west

    Some sucess.

  • Davros

    And i have never heard any conflict in any other part of europe referred to as tribal.Always ethnic.

    I suggest you have a look in a dictionary under tribe and ethnicity. They are pretty well interchangeable in the NI context.

  • Jim Bob

    “Unionisism is merely nationalism that has been successful.

    Posted by: Davros at April 20, 2005 10:12 AM”


    No comment necessary. The stupidity of the statement is its own critique.

  • DP 47

    After the Assembly Elections it was remarked that the SDLP fought an Airwaves War and Sinn Fein fought a Ground War. This time the SDLP seem to be attempting to fight a ground war and they are floundering big time. Durkan has a team of two or three around him max. Compare this to the dozens if not hundreds of shinners on the ground every night. This election in Derry will depend on two things ability to get vote out and unionist voting. On the first Sinn Fein are lengendary at getting its vote out. The SDLP stand at the school gate an wait for it to come those days are gone. The second point is impossible to quantify or guess one surprising thing was the nomination of the very pro Trimble UU candidate Errol Storey. This will give those Alliance and very soft UU voters a home that may have considered SDLP rather than the DUP.

    Mitchel Mc Laughlin will win this seat by virtue that SF are putting the effort in and fighting for every last vote and the SDLP do not have the ability to match this effort or committment. Another factor is that Durkan does not lead a coherent party in Derry. Thet are split right down the middle. Durkan’s main rival Pat Ramsey MLA wasn’t at the photo call in the guildhall square and I seen the scrum around Pat Rabbitte up the town on Saturday and he was noticeably missing.

  • sean west

    Very intresting DP 47.I would be more confident if Mcguiness was standing.Mclaughlin is a pretty poor candidate though.He is very dull and stiff.
    Lucky for him Durkan is worse.The Derry Journal will obviously go for Durkan and with some tactical unionnist voting he could just swing it.

  • sean west

    Tribal battle in london.Respect and labour at it in bethnal green.

  • 47DP

    Sean IMO the Derry Journal will not go editorially for Durkan they will stick middle of the road. Pat McArtt the editor has tipped Durkan but without endorsing. Pat line was Durkan will win because he has to. McGuinness stood for years against Hume and didn’t an impact. For those outside Derry Sinn Fein is playing a very clever game by campaigning on both the Westminster and locals on one fron Team Derry. SF councillors have a very good reputation for transforming many of the failing aspects of Derry Coty Council. This Team Derry approach is having an impact.

  • sean west

    Great news another shinner in.Keep up the good work.Remember vote early ,vote vote often.

  • Davros

    I would be more confident if Mcguiness was standing.Mclaughlin is a pretty poor candidate though.He is very dull and stiff.

    It’s interesting you say that – I know several unionists who have a soft spot for Mitchel, although his standing dropped recently because of his “crime” comments.

  • sean west

    I just find old Mitchell a bit dull,sorry.
    There are some unioinists i like too but some are real dull.Robinson ok,Big Ian great,Trimble awful,
    Burnside awful,Donaldson dull,Empey dull,Mcgimpsey
    dreadful,Willie ross awful.
    However the most awful bore has got to be will Frazer of FAIR.
    I do not mind Greg Campbaell either.

  • The dog

    Conor Murphy will romp home in Newry Armagh Gerry Adams will easily keep West Belfast ditto with Martin McGuinness in Mid Ulster Pat Doherty will hold West Tyrone Michelle Gildernew will increase her lead in Fermanagh South Tyrone Mitchel McLaughlin will snatch Foyle Caitríona will push Eddie McGeady close Gerry Kelly could poll very strongley in North Belfast where many SDLP voters prefer MArtin Morgan to anyone else that they are puting up there and there is a rising well of resentment at how he has been treated by the party despite being very generous. East Derry is a DUP hold, as is East Belfast & Strangford, North Antrim. Beggs is toast in East Antrim but it is hard to tell in South Anrim where BUrnside could hold off McCrea. South Belfast just gets beter and better by the day – when Spratt was announced many though who and how – but the UUP is just destroying iself. I know many SDLP claim that their runner is out in front but Alex will probably outpoll him particularly as no Sinn Fein voters will vote for him and there are more than a few Durkanites who despise him. Trimble and the good lady will hold firm. But seperately on this tribal stuff – it is just plain horse sh**e. Like everywhere in the world politics is about power. For generation UNionist had – totally abused it then the SDLP where allowed to share crumbs from the table but they totally failed to provide any real momentum. Power is power – the BRits love the ribal stuff because it absolves them of responsibility for their divide and conquer imperialism – just look at every part of the world that has had the tragic misfortune to be raped by the British – there are so-called tribal conflicts as a result of how the Brits set up corrupt administrations, played loyalities. Lessons well learned by the local unionists and their uncle toms.

  • Chris Gaskin

    The dog

    I hope you are right about Alex outpolling McDonnell but I can’t see it myself, not this election.

    Time for my first round of predictions

    Safe seats

    Sinn Féin: West Belfast, Newry/Armagh, West Tyrone, FST, Mid Ulster.

    DUP: North Antrim, East Belfast, East Derry, East Antrim, Stangford, Lagan Valley and Dodd’s should be safe in North Belfast this time around.

    SDLP: McGrady should be safe in South Down

    Sinn Féin should get Foyle and the DUP should get Upper Bann.

    Seats that I just can’t call at this time are South Antrim, North Down and South Belfast.

    That should leave Sinn Féin at 6, slight possibility at 7

    The DUP at least 8 but as many as 10.

    The SDLP at 1 possibly 2 and the UUP at wipeout or possibly 3.

  • sean west

    Well said The Dog and Chris.

  • sean west

    By the way if any of you are intrested,the only election outside the north worth following is Bethnal green.A right old dust up last.The peelers saved gorgeuos george from a bunch of nutters last night.

  • Mehmet

    In Northern France I visited a D.Day Memorial site, in an underground Nazi gun emplacement at the end of a tunnel there are photos of David Trimble and John Hume as Nobel Winners.Seemed like as good a place as any!!

  • trig

    The stoops are doomed

  • Liam

    Can’t wait to see the hundreds of Shinners in the part of Foyle I live in. It’s always funny to read ‘republicans’ trying to bolster each other up with regards the vote here. Look, PSF couldn’t even get another candidate to run in some constituencies for petes sake!!! -try squaring that with your views on Mitchel winning Foyle. There are many areas in this constituency that have been neglected by the Republican movement – and many others, nationalist areas where they have been given a less than warm welcome.

    Looking forward to talking to the PSF reps about their party ‘ manifesto ‘ !!!

  • Jim Bob

    The reason tne tribal analogy is important is because it accurately reflects how our politics work. At the moment what’s being played out is the leadership of the respective tribes and that was always a necessary stage before any agreement between the two tribes could take place. And it was important too that the most extreme versions of the two tribes took control because then you get to the root of the problem. There’s no point in “decent” bluffers ignoring the root issues.

    Once you settle that leadership issue then you can get down to doing business, creating stability and letting real decency emerge.

    Identity is a complex issue, and of course there aren’t really two tribes in the North. It’s just that people act as if there are, and pretend there are and so on. But for all practical purposes that amounts to the same thing.

  • Davros

    for all practical purposes that amounts to the same thing.

    not to mention that the Belfast agreement is based around a two-tribe entity.

  • Jim Bob

    “not to mention that the Belfast agreement is based around a two-tribe entity”

    The structures were a sort of politics for beginners. I’d imagine that once people got used to and comfortable working together they could devise more appropriate arrangements.

  • Thora’s alive

    Hundreds of Shinners in Foyle???…I don’t think so. It is a ground war, it will be close, but Durkan is going to hold it….who is this person that thinks he has a small team of people with him? The SDLP have hundreds of members in Derry…ok, that doesn’t translate to hundreds of activists at an election, but he has a large team with him who will get out their vote. Foyle stays with the SDLP.

  • Davros

    The structures were a sort of politics for beginners. I’d imagine that once people got used to and comfortable working together they could devise more appropriate arrangements.

    same problems as with P.R. In England. As long as it suits the big Two to have FPTP there’s little chance of PR being introduced. The Two Tribe system suits the big parties here.

  • Jim Bob

    “The Two Tribe system suits the big parties here.”

    You would hope that in time as the constitutional issue ceased to be as much a focus of attention, that there might be some realignment along bread and butter lines. Although the evidence from the South isn’t great on that score, it has to be said.