New vistas opening for Sinn Fein?

Morning Ireland had an excellent snippet on this morning with a detail examination of the party’s election prospects in the wake of the IRA’s suspension of it’s military campaign from Fionnan Sheehan of the Irish Examiner, and Cian McCormick talks to three TDs on how their parties might consider the possibility of Sinn Fein as a prospective coalition partner in future. Most are cagey, but given the IRA acquits itself well over time ahead there were no objections in priniciple. It was also the subject of a leader in today’s Guardian.

  • Keith M

    Bertie was asked bu John Bowman whether he thought a coalition with SF/IRA was on the cards and Bertie aid that it was “impossible” and repeated the word for emphasis.

    The positions of the three TDs makes it clear that none of them would see a coalition with SF/IRA being possible after the next election. Indeed some of the words from Labour and FG, echo the words of the DUP in Northern Ireland.

    However it has to be said people can change. Let’s not forget those that made the transformation from SF to SF/WP to the Workers Party and on to Democratic Left and who are now within the Labour Party. One thing to note is that in the 100 years that the name “Sinn Fein” has exists, in its various incarnation, it has never been in the legitimate government in this country, except for a very brief period during the 3rd Dail, before “Pro Treaty Sinn Fein” became Cummann na nGeadheal. It appears you can be “Ourselves Alone” under whatever configuration, but you cannot run this country under that banner.

  • Henry94

    I was interested to hear bertie claiming that there had been a cahnge in position and that Sinn Fein could no be in Government if they could win support and agree a program for government with enough other TDs or parties to form a majority in the Dail.

    What was interesting is that that has always been the position. Bertie appears to be trying to cod the unionists into believing there was some other legal or consitutional impediment which has now been eliminated. And on his say so.

    I’m surprised he wasn’t picked up on it.

  • Robert Keogh

    The writing’s on the wall for the McDowell and the PDs. Bertie’s and the rest of FF have had enough of them and are looking for alternative coalition partners.

    McDowell is capable of saying anything,” said one
    government source. Describing his input into Northern
    negotiations, the source said: “He’s a player, but he’s not
    a serious player.”

    Other Fianna Fáil sources insisted that Northern policy was
    Fianna Fáil’s responsibility, and criticized McDowell for
    making statements with the potential to derail the
    painstaking work of the last few months.

    “He appears to be unable to control his mouth,” said one

    The PDs like the Unionists rely on the existence of the IRA for political survival. SF had reached a ceiling on the number of votes they got but that’s now been removed. How will unionism handle SF being the biggest party in the 6 counties?

  • the convincer

    They’d start to believe finally that a ui is on its way when the biggest party is a nationalist one!

  • lib2016

    The fear of SF becoming the largest party is what ensures the DUP can’t risk a split by modernising themselves. Got to stay inside the circled wagons, after all.

    The UUP has simply too old an age profile and there’s no chance of introducing anything new there either.

  • Robert Keogh


    the DUP and IRKd are just like Yugoslavia and Tito. The internal strife is bound to surface in the leadership succession. It’ll be interesting to see how Dodds and Robinson handle themselves. Hopefully they will eschew a Blair/Brown solution – that’d be far less entertaining.

  • Alan McDonald

    Robert Keogh,

    How will unionism handle SF being the biggest party in the 6 counties?

    When do you think the next Assembly elections will be? I’m assuming that they will be after the next general election in the RoI, but could they be called before then?

    I would assume that, if SF got the most votes in the next Assembly election, the Secretary of State would call for a border poll.

  • Gum

    Would SF actually have enough TDs to force FF (assuming they win again) into accepting them as coalition partners? How many TDs are they expected to pick up in the next general election?

  • Droch_Bhuachaill


    SF would probably win 6/7 seats in the next election. With FF support expected to drop significantly, with Labour and Fine Gael in bed together, and with MacDowell losing PD support everytime he opens his mouth, i’d expect SF would be the only viable option for coalition with Bertie.

  • Brian

    6 to 7 seats. are ya crazy? SF will win at least 15 seats in the forthcoming election in the south

  • Keith M

    Once again, it never ceases to amaze me about how little people in Northern Ireland appear to know about real politics in the Republic. Does nobody up there actually watch RTE, or do they depend on biased reporting from the local media? Let’s sort out some nonsense on this thread for a start.

    SF/IRA’s poll ratings have consistantly been 10% to 12% for the past few years. In last year’s Euro elections they got 11.3%, when interestingly all their candidates were younger and were not directly associated with the atrocities of the past. In the local elections on the same day, they got 8%.

    If a General Election was held today (personally I believe early 2007 is the most likely date), then the SF/IRA vote would be around 9-10% (they tend not to run candidates in places that they have no hope). Irish voters are still resistant when it comes to transfers (as you can see in the Euro elections), so that level of support would yield 10-12 seats. 6-7 would be a disaster for SF/IRA, and a figure of more than 15 would need to see a major increase in the current poll levels or an amazing amount of localisation of the vote. (The kind of thing which the PDs do very well). One thing to remember is that in a General Election people will have a choice of two potential governments (neither will include SF/IRA) and this could well squeeze the votes even further. However anything less than 10 seats would be a huge setback for SF/IRA in this country.

    As for them being coalition partners, all three major parties have ruled this out, and I don’t see this changing, based on the resistance to the idea by the public. (Polls show figures ranging from 21- to 4-1 against depending on what the Provos have been up to in the build-up to the poll).

    The biggest piece of nonsense I’ve seen on this thread is “The PDs like the Unionists rely on the existence of the IRA for political survival.” This shows such complete ignorance of politics in this country, it’s hard to know where to start. The success of the PDs (now going for 20 years and half of those in government) is mainly down to ethics and accountability and also their low tax policy, which has been at the core of the economic growth of this country.

    The threats to the PDs will come when people finally believe that FF can be trusted to run the country on its own again or when people want a change of government. It will have nothing to do with SF/IRA.

    On the sidebar issue of SF/IRA becoming the biggest party in Northern Ireland, personally this would not concern me. There are two tribes in NI, and the relative strength of each party has far more to do with how well they can deal with parties within their own tribe. At the moment the DUP are wiping the floor with the UUP, while the SDLP are putting up far more resistance to SF/IRA (as the result in Foyle shows). This could change, but even if it does, the unionist/nationalist make-up is not going to change substanially. The demographic timebomb threatened by nationalists in the past, would appear to have been diffused, as the combined SF/IRA + SDLP vote has remained largely static in recent years, after a surge in the 1990s. If the assembly is ever restored and working successfuly don’t forget that being the biggest party is not what gives the position of First Minister,is it earned by being the leader of the bigger voting block.