in pursuit of critical mass

IN the Irish Examiner, Fergus Finlay calls yesterday’s announcement, of decommissioning, a welcome step.. but not one we should be grateful for. He also has an interesting view of the process so far, and of the still distant prospect of SF in government.From the Irish Examiner

Those who believe, for instance, that Sinn Féin might be a part of our next government, assuming (which looks almost inevitable now) that Fianna Fáil and the PDs can’t make up the numbers, are wrong. And they’re wrong for this reason: Sinn Féin is not interested not yet. It is pursuing a political strategy which is aimed at making it the dominant political player in both jurisdictions on the island of Ireland. Until it reaches the critical mass it’s aiming for, it won’t take the risk of participating in government down here. In Northern Ireland it already has that critical mass – not only in terms of its size, but also in terms of the way government is structured. To coin a phrase, no Sinn Féin, no government.

In other words, it already holds the effective balance of power in Northern Ireland. It will not be content and it will not risk entering Government here, until it really holds the balance of power. And it knows that that’s going to take more than one more election. After the next election, even if it was to double its existing number of seats and Fianna Fáil was able to do a deal with them, it would only mean a couple of cabinet seats for Sinn Féin.

That’s not real power and Sinn Féin knows it.

Sinn Fein has demonstrated, if nothing else, that it is committed to effective control. It has controlled its own communities for years. It operates within a culture of secrecy and hidden chains of command. As the Northern Bank raid, the return of the Colombia Three, and the recent visit by the “leadership” to Castlerea prison all demonstrate, it operates to its own agenda and no one else’s. That agenda is about the ascendancy of Sinn Féin in both jurisdictions, and the selling of that ascendancy as the first tangible mark of a united Ireland.

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