Pan-nationalist overtures rebuffed

The Sunday Times reports that Sinn Fein have been trying to re-engage the SDLP in a pan-nationalist approach to political developments. The republican leadership hoped for a joint statement by Adams and Durkan to respond to the latest political initiative of the government and Irish government. However, this was rejected.

As Sinn Fein has spent the post-agreement period trying to destroy the SDLP, why the shift in policy? The SDLP gave Sinn Fein a bloody nose over the On-The-Run legislation and has been making strong running on the republican form of restorative justice, is it to avoid more of the same? A SDLP insider seems to think so:

“When we are a position of greater strength than we have been for two or three years, we are not going to give other people political cover.”

Is this part of its “national movement” strategy? Or post-Comprehensive Agreement/Northern Bank/McCartney et al is it another sign of strategic drift among the republican leadership that it has opted for communal solidarity?

  • urquhart

    Durkan has found his feet and is starting to turn things around. He is not going to make the mistakes of the past. Nor would he be allowed to.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    “When we are a position of greater strength than we have been for two or three years, we are not going to give other people political cover.”

    Lazy and ignorant headline.

  • willis

    Pat

    Am I missing something?

    It wasn’t a headline. It was a quote.

    You are doing your party no favours.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    ‘You are doing your party no favours.’

    I’ve had it from better placed people than you, after a while it simply bores.

    ‘Am I missing something?’

    Obvious the ability to spot propaganda when you see it, go and re-read the resignation letter of former senior SDLP apparatchik Eddie Espie to get an idea of curent SDLP strength.

  • urquhart

    “former senior SDLP apparatchik Eddie Espie” – For God’s sake man, can you drop that one please?

  • willis

    Pat

    What I mean is that you have written a lot better than that post. It was just red mist stuff.

  • PaddyReilly

    The quotation in the article begins < >

    No attribution.

    This is journalese for < >.

    Basically, the Sunday Times is telling the SDLP what it is going to do.

  • Crataegus

    Pan Nationalist approach would be folly for the SDLP just now. They would simply cease to have individual relevance.

  • David Michael

    Wait until Pat Rabbitte and crew start focusing their eyes on the north. It will be adieu SDLP, and tough times Sinn Féin.

  • Glen Taisie

    The Labour Movement and National Reconciliation

    Monday, 10th April : 7.15pm
    Conference Room Transport House,
    102 High Street, Belfast
    Speakers include

    Dr Eamon Phoenix, Stranmillis College – an historical perspective

    Sean Farren MLA, SDLP

    Joan Burton TD, Irish Labour Party

  • Glen Taisie

    “The SDLP believes that Sinn Fein conceded too much to the Democratic Unionist party in talks for a deal known as the Comprehensive Agreement at the end of 2004. It believes republicans agreed a form of shadow assembly, with senior civil servants acting as ministers, due to their desperation to get amnesties for on-the-run IRA suspects.”

    Surely this now a well established fact.

  • Occasional Commentator

    Fair Deal said: “As Sinn Fein has spent the post-agreement period trying to destroy the SDLP, why the shift in policy?”

    There’s been no change in policy. SF continue to want to destroy the SDLP. This is just a ploy to try to temporarily neutralise the SDLP because they are causing too much trouble for SF.

    SF want to be able to fudge nationalist interests in their drive to get their grubby hands on power and money, and would like the SDLP to give them political cover.

    SF and the DUP are quite happy to share power with each other, they just don’t want to allow any opposition.

  • David Michael

    VERY interesting post, Glen Taisie!

    Thanks for that.

  • Wait until Pat Rabbitte and crew start focusing their eyes on the north. It will be adieu SDLP, and tough times Sinn Féin.

    Oh yea, Republicans are just shitting themselves at the thought of Stickius Maximus heading northwards!

    This sort of delusional outlook is very worrying.

    If people honestly think that anyone in Sinn Féin is worried about the SDLP then it’s time to think again.

  • missfitz

    Glen
    Thanks for the post about the talk in Stranmillis.

    On a separate subject, I was doing some research earlier today and started to read Connolly’s “Re-conquest of Ireland”. It’s on the CELT site, a very valuable resource. Might make good reading for anyone going to hera the good Dr Phoenix.
    http://www.ucc.ie:8080/cocoon/celt/E900002-002

  • David Michael

    Chris Gaskin

    “Oh yea, Republicans are just shitting themselves at the thought of Stickius Maximus heading northwards!”

    If they’re not, they ought to be. What NI needs is some REAL politicians. Would make a change from the toytowners.

  • missfitz

    David
    Real politicians need a real political environment in which to work. I tend to agree with Chris Gaskin on this one, NI is a place apart where the normal rules of play are suspended. A little like Dodge City perhaps.

    There also seems to be a triumphalism about the fact that Blair and Bertie were unable to “solve” the problems here. I think that the failure is most definitely on the parts of the men who so stoically tried to facilitate an accomodation, but more the failure lies with the politicos here who do not want to move in any direction that would look like a positive one.

  • mark

    I don’t see how Irish Labour could seriously considering organising outside the enhanced stature of being a coalition partner in the Dail. I don’t think a newly formed party would be taken too seriously, especially as in this case as an element of Irish Labour, the DL, withdrew from northern politics after the merger with Labour despite having run in the north and having elected reps in all their incarnations previously. The current Labour strategist made the decision to leave the north many years ago when they were organised here albeit at a limited level.

    As there are only two plausible options for Labour in government next time either partnered with FG or FF in some form I think this adds extra difficulties.

    FG wouldn’t appreciate that kind of ‘radical’ nationalist activity from a junior partner.

    FF would organise right back if in power (or if Labour ever think about it) and split any newly developed vote.

    Where the SDLP would go in either unlikely scenario is academically interesting. Join FF – probably. Go too early and join Labour (they are both PES but given the recent SDLP cosying up to the UEN, FF of late who really knows), if the jump first, and miss out on the major FF partner at some point.

    Well, cutting to the chase. Labour could organise, I doubt they will. If they did FF would join the fray and the non SF nationalist vote, which has already diminished, would be drawn to several new untested partnerships, structures or parties.

    I think it’s all too risky for the southern players. They won’t take the risk of failing in the north affecting their establish 26 county projects.

  • missfitz

    Mark
    Given that parties generally organise in order to promote candidates to a national assembly of some sort, what on earth would be the point of Labour or FF organising in the North.

    To be honest, I can remember this kind of talk stretching back to the late 70’s, as some kind of way to create a unified position of strength, but it never took off. I think it didnt take off for the reason I outlined, it just makes no sense.

    FF and the SDLP have very close ties historically, and indeed hold an annual fund raising dinner for them. Well, to be more accurate, friends of SDLP in the South who are largely FF organise that dinner.

    Having said that, I dont think that the 2 parties would find ideological bliss if they were to tie the knot. I think that in many ways their constituents are drawn from very different pools and I cannot see a long term success there.

    It would be more likely to be Labour, but as you said, is it worth the risk of defeat and ignominity for no tangible results?

  • Occasional Commentator

    Why don’t the SDLP organise down South?

  • missfitz

    To what end OC? Where is the gap in the market for a new political party and what would they offer that is different to anyone else?

    Anyway, they wouldnt have a mission

  • David Michael

    I think the lack of leadership shown by all the parties in NI have left the place crying out for, well, leadership. That’s why there’s room for some new kids on the block.

    Face it, none of the northern parties has come up with sensible ideas on how to run the place, but know how to squabble over tribal squatting rights. Yes, that’s why Tony and Bertie had to ride in with sixguns blazing, to continue with missfitz’s Dodge City analogy.

    I have a feeling that the political landscape is going to change radically within the next 12 months.

  • Occasional Commentator

    missfitz,
    The same could be said of Southern parties organizing in the North. Many people would see SF as a party that has branched out from the North successfully. Provisional SF has always been seen as a primarily Northern party, until recently at least.

    And why is nobody speculating about unionists or Alliance joining up with Southern parties? It mightn’t seem very realistic now, but you never know what might happen in future. It might only take the form of cooperation in the EU Parliament or on pragmatic all-island issues like transport, but still it’d be interesting.

    If Love Ulster want to be heard in Dublin, why would they always limit themselves to the odd march?

  • missfitz

    OC

    I take the point about prov SF being Northern driven, indeed Belfast based since the split.

    However, SF was founded in Dublin in 1905 by Arthur Griffith, well thats the short and accepted version anyway. It had its roots in the Dublin/ROI psyche and never went away you know! I dont think you can make the argument that SF is solely and wholly a Northern institution, so the argument of them branching out (so to speak) in the ROI doesnt hold.

    David

    If I had a pound for every time I’ve heard that the political landscape is going to change in the next 12 months, I would be a wealthy wee woman. I wrote on another thread last night (ably assisted by alcohol) about a man and wife who couldnt live together but damned if they wer going to live apart.

    There is a vicious co-dependency about the relationships here. Fight the bit out, dont cooperate in public, and for goodness sake lets not make a viable governing entity. But dont let anyone else do it either.

    Sorry, I can see no solution to this, and I hope I am taking the long view. I have studied our situation in a historical perspective since its foundation in 1920 and I find nothing hopeful.

    Perhaps if we had brave new leaders with a fresh perspective and courage and dynamism…..

    Yeah, thats right, no hope

  • Brendan, Belfast

    OC asks “Why don’t the SDLP organise down South?”

    i think they would be better off getting organised up here first.

    If the provos come looking for a pan nationalist deal they should be told to take a jump. they screwwed up big time in December 2004 and are now afraid of finally being exposed for it. let them flail in their own sectarioan quagmire.

  • David Michael

    missfitz

    “There is a vicious co-dependency about the relationships here. Fight the bit out, dont cooperate in public, and for goodness sake lets not make a viable governing entity. But dont let anyone else do it either.”

    It’s not that I need to be right – I’m not an Ulsterman remember 😉

    But doesn’t this bear out what I posted about lack of leadership? This is time serving. Real politicians, with plenty ambition, would have sorted this long ago.

  • Yokel

    Reasons why Southern parties won’t organise in the North:

    1. It’s too bloody difficult

    2. The place is a mess

    3. Possibility of failure

    4. They like the North in an idealistic way but don’t want to get THAT close

    All very practical really.

  • Paul

    Yokel, for the same reasons the people of ROI are not really all that bothered about reunification then.

  • Yokel

    In reality most of them wouldnt get out of their armchairs to make it happen no. If it came around sure ok but a big effort to make it happen, most people wouldnt bother.