Sinn Fein’s leftist identity at odds with voters’ politics?

According to Dr Eoin O’Malley, Sinn Fein’s voter base in the Republic tends to be more right wing than the party’s leftist agenda would suggest. The conclusions are drawn from an examination of the National Election Study Data, by the ESRI. It’s already been subject to a lengthy discussion at Politics.ie.Fionnan Sheahan in the Independent:

It is a radical nationalist and populist party but is “at odds with its supporters except on the national question”, the lecturer from the School of Law and Government at DCU says. “The more likely you are to vote for Sinn Fein, the more intolerant you are,” he said.

The paper, ‘Ultra-nationalists: Sinn Fein and redefining the extreme right’, will be delivered at the Political Studies Association conference in UCC this weekend.

The party’s militaristic patriotism, its rigorous targeting of marginalised constituencies and a populist approach to electoral politics may be some of the contributory factors for this finding. there in Cork when

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  • Nevin

    Populist nationalists: Sinn Féin and redefining the ‘extreme right’ (pdf file)

    So the fundamentally fascist Sinner movement is TANS: traditional, authoritarian and nationalist/nazionalist ….

  • Pat Taffe

    O’Malley should just have looked at this website to establish that Sinn Fein are intolerant. Cart before the horse says I. The voters seem more open than the activists. But is that not the same with all parties?

  • Quaysider

    How true. Slugger proves this point every day.

  • dodrade

    Jim Allister referred to Sinn Fein in his Newsletter piece as Marxists. If Gerry Adams is a marxist then Tony Blair must be a socialist and George W Bush a pacifist.

  • circles

    Nevin – is the party to be blamed for the attitude of a small protion of the electorate. My initial reaction to this would be no. I am sure even the green party gets votes from resource consuming, bungalow building yahoos.

    However I do find this issue interesting, insofar as socialism per se is “out”, and the idea of a real socialist party has many a person fearing for the shareholder value, third car and fourth holiday home. The tiger is chewing the heart out of the thing, and as long as people can fill their accounts whilst seated on he tiger’s back, they’re happy.
    The fact that those who are most ready to vote for a socialist party are not those benefitting from the rabid economy is no surprise. The fact that those not benefitting from the economy ar also least likely to be tolerant of others (including “farners”) who might, is also no surprise.

    And the fact that people are ready to slap the intolerant label on SF without any basis other than “well thats what I think” is also no surprise I suppose. Now they may be poor at grass roots democracy and internal discussion, but to call the party intolerant would be wrong in my opinion.

  • Quaysider

    Nobody’s calling the party intolerant – they’re merely saying that aggressive nationalism attracts intolerant voters, regardless of left or right posturing by the party itself.
    No big surprise there, surely?

  • circles

    Nawww sorry Nevin – the report is about as scientificaly researched as an episode of Mr Ben.
    Of course quoting the Good Rev in the introduction does little to convince the reader of the open mindedness of the author – but thats just a side remark.
    And to conclude that well, they’re not BUT because they’re not they probably are really doesn’t convince either.
    It seems to me that the author has overlooked the reasons behind the rise of SF, and the context of the troubles themselves, and performed the simple calculation VIOLENCE + POLITICS = EXTREME RIGHT.
    The Le Pen comparison was robably the sillest bit though.

  • Garibaldy

    Circles,

    Richard Mc Auley, Gerry’s right-hand man, told an audience in America in 1994 that they had no problem with capitalism. Their record is clear from local and devolved government in NI. While being soft left, they are very far from being a “real socialist party”. After all, what socialist’s solution to NI’s economic problems is to drop corporation tax to the same rate as that of the Republic to make the place as atttractive as possible to the multi-nationals? Hardly seizing control of the commanding heights of the economy.

  • Quaysider

    Circles, the equation is merely: VIOLENCE + POLITICS = EXTREME.

    It is telling that it is only the addition of RIGHT that upsets you.

  • circles

    Actually Quaysider the paper is. It states clearly:
    “In fact it seems that Radical Right parties are a mix of populism and violent nationalism, and in this way Sinn Féin can fit more neatly into the same category as racists such as Le Pen.”

    The attitudes of SF voters is an interesting issue, but for me this paper is not the basis for a discussion of this.

  • Quaysider

    Why not? Because it adds ‘right’ to the equation?
    Everyone knows that the extreme left and the extreme right meet up around the back.

  • circles

    Why is that telling Quaysider?
    Its not that the addition of “right” upsets me, its that its a simplification of the relation between violence and politics that is just simply wrong. When violence and politics mix, it is simply false to assume that this is a result of the extreme right (or right wing views). O’Malley however does exactly this. Its a mistaken assumption ich has him riding his horse in the wrong direction.

    Garibaldy – I never said the SF were a real socialist party. I said “the idea of a real socialist party has many a person fearing for the shareholder value”. SF are at times stuck in the socialist corner by parties who want to frighten the electorate a bit – but the Shinners themseles don’t even want that. They know its the politcal equivalent of halitosis – and they’re after the votes as much as anybody else.

  • doc7

    There are two problems with this form of analysis.

    First, it proceeds from a liberal world-view in which party’s political positions reflect abstract ideas taken from the skies rather than social movements. Where the analysis did attempt to present a social origins analysis it failed to put it into context.

    As a revolutionary socialist, I believe that the fundamental factor in the politics of a country like Ireland is its relation to capital and, in the particular case of Ireland, its historic relation to the British state and empire.

    Without doubt, even liberal observers would acknowledge that the British-Irish dimension has played a central role in Irish political history, N & S, for years. Now, it is reasonable to point to further complications with US and EU finance and state interests but this does not disprove anything it just complicates it.

    Fundamentally, I think anyone needing to understand history should read Lenin’s Imperialism from 1917 which is, despite its years, more relevant to todays global politics than it was for the entire period from when it was published to 1989 (when the only inter-imperialist rivalry was over who was to take on the soviet union). Lenin could have written the book today about Iraq and the geo-political contest around the world.

    Ireland remains in an imperialist relationship to Britain but it remains capital-investment dependent in the 26 Counties. As such, Ireland exhibits both neo- and semi-colonial aspects.

    A party like SF is always likely to appear complex to liberal observers who fail to proceed from an analysis of the workings of capital. Any political party is complex – but any social movement is even more so.

    The situation with fascist movements is that they can only operate in countries which have surplus capital (i.e. imperialist or neo-imperialist states). If this person had examined China under Mao, it is quite likely that they would say that the CPC’s pro-small business, anti-immigrant and anti-crime policies were quasi-fascistic but the reality is that the CPC were anti-imperialist and certainly authoritarian but not fascist.

    Fascism is bound with imperialism. It is imperialism turned inwards as Joe Slovo said. Many Black activists considered the US south as an internal colony. Some even considered the Black people as a nation (as defined according to Stalin in 1924). The ANC had a similar understanding of the Apartheid state.

    To understand fascism, it is necessary to read either Trotsky, Demitrov or Stalin in my opinion. Preferably all as they all have something to say about it. Mussolini also gave a very honest understanding of it. There are great books about the big business linkages to Hitlers Nazi party.

    I would roughly define it as a political movement which arises to protect the interests of imperial big business against a putative revolutionary socialist movement. It unites the middle-classes under upper-class leadership and uses declasse lumpen elements as foot-soldiers. It overrides democratic rights traditionally associated with liberal democracy.

    There is some truth, I believe, to third-worldist contentions that traditional social democracy in imperialist countries has a fascist undertone. This relates to the fact that the working class in imperial centres has a material interest in the maintenance of imperialist economic relationships. This is, I believe, core to the widespread racism in western societies and the social-chauvinism of social democracy.

    To label the BNP bigots as fascist is to underestimate the potential fascism of the British state itself. If some more pro-British readers doubt this, consider the danger from fascism in the USA which you will feel less protective about.

    Which has potentially the greater risk of transmogrifying into fascism in the USA – a few hundred armed white-chauvinists along the mexican border who collaborate with the cops in arresting individual immigrants or a nuclear-armed Government with its roots in big business, fighting wars for oil and resources all over the planet, its social roots in the Christian, right-wing redneck/rust belts and just after suspending habeous corpus from the law giving the president ultimate power to identify enemies of the state?

  • Nevin

    Circles, traditional, authoritarian and nationalist would appear to be appropriate labels for the fascist Sinner movement (political, military, organised crime wings). Presumably its supporters still view the Army Council as the legitimate government.

  • circles

    Your presumptions reveal both your prejudice and your ignorance Nevin.
    You read a piece reflecting your own opinion and now you have a new mantra to chant. But O’Malley’s argumentation is seriously flawed, as I fear is yours.

  • Oilibhear Chromaill

    Isn’t the truth of the matter that no party wants to be classified as extreme or too radical. They want to be all things to all people. The overriding policy consideration for SF is the United Ireland issue – and every thing else feeds into that. The overriding concern for the DUP is retaining the Union and everything they do feeds into that – but on bread and butter issues, the two parties would be very similar.

    The Green Party would be, to my mind, the only party with consistent and radical policies in Ireland. It’s not a right wing party. It’s not centre. So it must be left, mustn’t it?

    All the rest of the parties are simply Sinn Féiners – they’re out for themselves alone – and have little or no redeeming qualities. And, of course, what do you expect from Ruairi Quinn expect silly analogies which he makes for the international press but wouldn’t dare make at home… Ruairi is still smarting from the debate defeat at the hands of Gerry Adams on the Late Late Show, the big mistake he made during his misadventurous leadership of Labour.

  • Fergus D

    “Jim Allister referred to Sinn Fein in his Newsletter piece as Marxists. If Gerry Adams is a marxist then Tony Blair must be a socialist and George W Bush a pacifist.”

    Indeed, Marxist my arse! After all wasn’t *one* of the reasons for the formation of the Provos a dislike of the growing “Marxism” of the (Official) IRA. The Provo movement is essentaially a traditional Irish nationalist movement in the tradition of the IRB, old Sein Fein/IRA etc. In Moloney’s book there’s a bit where he says that Adams was looking for an ideology (apart from nationalism) in late 70s, so they went shopping and they ended up talking to someone from the British Left (can’t remember who – shame on him though) who wrote a political programme for them. Odd given their split from the stikies, but any port in a storm! I don’t think there was any serious debate about it in the organisation. Window dressing.

    All the “Marxist” parties I ever came across (quite a few) in the 70s and 80s (in England) were desperately trying to have an influence in the Trade Unions, Labour Party, etc, i.e. the traditional organisations of the working class, as well as new groupings like the women’s movement. Did PSF? I don’t think so, but I don’t live in NI – maybe they did?

    Contrast that with Workers Party, Militant Tendency, SWP etc – all with some kind of *class* based approach.

    I don’t remember any debates between PSF and the British left (of the Labour Party)in the 70-80s about socialism, Ireland, Marxism etc.

    I read a book recently by two Irish academics (Brendan O’Leary & John McGarry (maybe it was The politics of antagonism : understanding Northern Ireland) which analysed the ideologies of different parties and groupings in NI. Quite incisive I thought – and they place SF definitely in the nationalist rather than socialist camp (not even “green” marxist).

    Nope, Jim Allister doesn’t have to worry about sharing power with a revolutionary Marxist party in the shape of SF. That’s laughable. They raise funds from rich Irish-American business types! Mind you Allister probably doesn’t believe it himself, he just doesn’t want to share power with SF full stop.

  • Nevin

    Circles, my ‘prejudices’ are informed by a whole range of sources, not least evidence supplied by various groups to the cross-party NIA committee at Westminster.

    Didn’t Mitchel McLaughlin, on RTE, agree with Michael McDowell’s portrayal of the ‘legitimate’ government?

    IIRC there have been regular accusations from local party members of authoritarian leadership by Connolly House. What’s your problem with ‘traditional’ and ‘nationalist’?

  • Nevin

    Paxton – “The Anatomy of Fascism”

    “Instead, he sees fascism as a mass-based form of militant nationalism, one working in uneasy alliance with the usual elites, which pursues policies of internal cleansing and external expansion so as to unify and regenerate what it regards as a victimised, humiliated nation. It springs from a major crisis of the liberal capitalist order, and elevates cultural particularism over democracy, individualism and universal rights.”

  • circles

    I have no problem with those words Nevin – I just think that splitting parties into TANs and GALs may be an interesting academic exercise, but is a simplification of complex political identities and in reality is useless.
    Given a range of different issues this analysis would result in almost all parties being a TANGAL.
    The Army Council was never a provisional Government though.

    As for informing your prejudices – don’t worry, we all do it. We read and retain things that reinforce our own world view, and read and forget anything that might cause us to question this. Still sometimes its worth the effort toquestion these things.

  • Nevin

    Circles, do you question my observation that the Sinner movement (political, military and organised crime wings) is fundamentally a fascist one?

  • “As a revolutionary socialist, I believe that the fundamental factor in the politics of a country like Ireland is its relation to capital and, in the particular case of Ireland, its historic relation to the British state and empire”. You sound like someone who has just discovered Marx. I pity you.

    Fergus D: The Sticks were Stalinists and Militant Tendence Trot w***ers. Sinn Fein did go trawling trade unionists, feminists (Rita O’Hare) and the like. They certainly now emnploy the Demnocratic Centralism tactics of the Sticks. I guess so many ex Volunteers must go along with the Moses like delusions of Adams to justify the waste of generations during the Troubles. If all the years spent in jail had have been spent getting professional and other experience, what a happier place Ireland would be.
    Lost Lives indeed.

  • Pat Taffe

    Sinn Fein is not a Marxist party. It is a social democratic party or fast becoming one. That is why it is getting votes. Much worse things could happen to it than that.

  • Greenflag

    “The more likely you are to vote for Sinn Fein, the more intolerant you are,” he said.

    which is the same as saying

    “The more likely you are to vote for the DUP the more intolerant you are,” he said.

    SF as the only political party looking for voters and to increasing it’s support base is faced with a political dilemma . It cannot increase it’s support in the Irish Republic by being seen as an ultra marxist party . It can still appeal to a those people North and South who care little about economics and are only ‘motivated’ by the objective of a United Ireland . SF’s attraction for Northern Ireland’s -Irish voters is it’s anti Unionist credentials . The SDLP is increasingly viewed by most young northern irish nationalists as an ‘Uncle Tom’s ‘ party more interested in bending over backwards to placate Paisleyism /Unionism than anything else.

    SF are ‘boxed in’ between the proverbial rock and hard place . There is virtually no ‘marxist’ vote in the Irish Republic and what would be called the ‘left’ in other countries attracts at most 20% of the vote . The remaining 80% are either centre right or centre left with a smaller percentage on the right .

    The people in the Irish Republic have no desire to be another failed People’s Republic of Albania or North Korea or for that matter another failed political entity like Northern Ireland .

    SF might want to understand that central fact of political life in ROI if they want to increase their poll numbers . Appealing to those voters who are motivated only by SF’s United Ireland ‘policy’ might help maintain thier present vote share or even increase it by a per cent or two but in every election in the Republic in the past 20 years -Northern Ireland has remained well down the list of priorities for the Republic’s electorate .

    And not without reason .

  • circles

    Well thats not what you said explicitly Nevin.
    You posted a snippet that could be perhaps more appropriately used to describe the DUP and militant unionism – particularly as it is here we find well established relationships with the “usual elites”.
    Do you agree though that O’Malley’s analysis is seriously flawed?

  • Brian Boru

    This is obviously true and is reflected in the Citizenship-Referendum 2004 exit-polls, showing around 78% of SF voters had voted Yes to removing the automatic right to Irish citizenship for the Irish-born children of non-EU nationals. SF campaigned vigorously against it. Some of my SF-voting friends here in the South have told me they won’t be voting SF until they cut out this “let them in” agenda. One of them has actually told a senior party-figure this to their face. A SF canvass in Dublin supposedly showed very little support for a more liberal immigration-policy. Hardly a surprise with 10% of the population (at least) non-national compared to around 2% 10 years ago. It took France, Germany and the UK 30, 40 and 50 years to get to this stage. SF will alienate their Southern base if they continue to pursue an open-door policy on this issue. Be warned!

    On the findings on homosexuality, I don’t think SF need to change on this. Society as a whole is now very tolerant of homosexuality with only around 16% of 18-24 yr olds describing homosexual-relationships as “always wrong”. Only 21% overall in society feel this way I understand. A poll some months ago found 51% for gay-marriage or some form of civil-partnership. This is not the kind of issue most people vote on anyway so SF don’t need to change policy here. Immigration, on the other hand, has implications for pressure on public-services e.g. hospital overcrowding, traffic-congestion, road-safety (as seen with the high proportion of Eastern EU citizens in the road-accident/drink-driving figures – in Eastern Europe people drive on the right-hand side hence confusion when they come here), job-displacement (Irish Ferries) and the spread of diseases including the new drug-resistant strain of TB.

    Advice to SF if it wants to hold onto its Southern niche: toughen up on immigration policy. Advice if they want to broaden it – move substantially to the center and abandon the hostility to multinationals and hints at higher taxes. Turkeys won’t vote for Christmas, Gerry.

  • Recent Derry Journal piece by Eamonn McCann throws some light on this topic…

    Commentators are always complaining about Northern parties not being able to agree with one another. But the documents they published last month show a rare degree of unanimity.

    The documents, on economic policy, were submitted to the Preparation for Government (PfG) Committee of the “Shadow” Assembly at Stormont. All four main parties focused on the need for any incoming Executive to serve the interests of business.

    The DUP and Sinn Fein differed as to whether economic policy should be seen in a UK or an all-Ireland context. But that apart, there was little to distinguish them.

    Sinn Fein, taking an all-Ireland approach, wants harmonisation of corporation tax across the island. The DUP, seeing the Republic as a rival, wants an end to the “unfairness” whereby the South has lower corporation tax. They take different approaches but arrive at the same point.

    On the general economic stance of an incoming Executive, the DUP says: “Northern Ireland needs a serious dose of introspection within its Government departments vis-à-vis their relationship with the business community and the promotion of a genuine partnership between Government and business with Government taking on the role of facilitating entrepreneurial opportunity.”

    Says Sinn Fein: “We should say yes to goal driven tax incentives which increase R&D activity, aid new product and process innovation, enhance worker training and development, help our entrepreneurs break into new markets and aid environmental improvements.”

    The statements could be interchanged. Both would fit comfortably into a policy statement from the Confederation of British Industry in the North or an election appeal for the Progressive Democrats

    The documents are not formal party policy statements. But they were drawn up by Assembly members and formally submitted to a sub-group of the PfG Committee. They can be taken as indicating the broad outline of each party’s thinking.

    Perhaps the most startling aspect of the documents is that only one of the four parties emerges from them as Left-of-centre—the SDLP.

    This is not to say that the SDLP comes across as a Left-wing party, but that, on this evidence, it’s to the Left of the Unionist parties and Sinn Fein.

    The SDLP suggests a Programme for Government based on “working with unions, business and the voluntary sector on a new basis of real social partnership. The Government, the Public Sector, Trade Unions, Voluntary Sector and Public Representatives should combine in a working relationship.”

    Neither Sinn Fein nor either of the Unionist parties appears to envisage any role for trade unions or the voluntary sector in the formation of economic policy. Neither Sinn Fein nor the DUP even mentions the existence of trade unions.

    The SDLP is the only party of the four to express opposition to privatisation and water charges, pledging to “oppose the proposal to turn the Water Service into a Government-owned Company (GoCo) as this would be a step towards privatisation.”

    It calls for “new, ‘not-for-profit’ models for investment…in public services,” and suggests that “income derived (might provide) a civic dividend for more hard-pressed communities.”

    This is centre-Left stuff, in line with the election pitch of Pat Rabbitte’s Labour Party. So, to say that the SDLP stands to the Left of Unionism/Sinn Fein is not to say much.

    But it’s worth noting all the same. And worth noting, too, that here has been no public dissent from the documents by members of the Ulster Unionist Party, the DUP or Sinn Fein.

  • Pat Taffe

    As an electoral party Sinn Fein are lucky they are not Marxist. How many Marxists are elected? Joe Higgins is one is he not? Apart from Eamonn McCann what Marxists in the North are taken seriously? Despite trying Eamonn was unsuccessful when he last ran.

  • mnob

    but the real dilema for the Shinners is that to be a Nationalist party means that you must believe that the nation state is paramount (after all if it isnt then what are you striving for ?) this is at odds with current right wing globalism thinking which believes that the nation state is dead ergo you must be left wing.

  • Pat Taffe

    Mnob, not so. Sinn Fein are concerned with the here and now. It is paramount, not the nation state. The SDLP are a nationalist party and did not get hung up on the nation state even if they did nod more to at Sunningdale than they do now through the GFA. The consent principle would never be acceptable if the nation state was paramount.

  • Greenflag

    PT,

    ‘Sinn Fein is not a Marxist party. It is a social democratic party or fast becoming one. That is why it is getting votes. Much worse things could happen to it than that. ‘

    The social democratic vote in the Republic is already catered for by elements within FF and FG not to mention the Labour Party and the Green Party .

    I suppose if SF amalgamated with the Labour party they could be renamed the SDLP ?

    Ooooops -perhaps not .

  • Greenflag

    BB,

    ‘Turkeys won’t vote for Christmas, Gerry. ‘

    This has not been the Northern Ireland political experience . The ‘turkey’s voted for Sunningdale -It did’nt arrive . The ‘turkey’s voted for the GFA and some of it’s still in the waiting room. And now the ‘turkeys’ are voting for this St Andrews charade .

  • Pat Taffe

    Greenflag, the social democratic vote is never owned in the sense that an extreme right or left vote tends to be. Sinn Fein will fight for it and have been shedding their old clothes to do so. It wants to become a normal political party. Not much wrong with that. The vote lies in the centre. Go to the far right and the vote narrows down, go to the far left and the vote collapses.

  • Nevin

    Circles, why are you running to unionism instead of commenting on my observation that the Sinner movement is fundamentally fascist? I’ve referred to its political, military and organised crime wings. I should also have noted its ‘civic police and justice’ wing.

  • Nevin

    Pat, don’t you think it’s a bit dodgy to label the Sinner parapoliticians as ‘social democrats’?

  • Pat Taffe

    Nevin, yes it is a bit dodgy. I was thinking more of the politics that they pursue. I know that they leave a lot to be desired as people. A lot of their opponents do also. But I have voted them. As they move away from republicanism and Irish unity they will become more social democratic. Real social democrats like Mitchel McLaughlin, Catriona Ruana and Declan Kearney will come through and the more dictator like people will move on. It will be just like Fianna Fail’s evolution. That is fine by me. I don’t pretend that they are revolutionary or going to bring about a united Ireland. But so what? They are not getting their current support for any of those things. They get votes because they are becoming more like the others not less like them. And the others are social democratic.

  • Brendan

    Eoin O’Malley is the son of Dessie O’Malley, who of course, establihed the Progressive Democrats.
    You would have to search far and wide in the 26 counties to find anyone (except the 4% of PD voters) who do not consider the PD’s and especially Michael McDowell to be far right.
    This “study” is designed to try and stick Sinn Fein into the “far right” label and so try to tar them with BNP comparisons. At the same time the PD’s who are factually and historically anti-immigrant try to throw mud at another target.
    Eoin O’Malley – shame on you using your Doctorate for cheap political purposes. I vote Sinn Fein and I and my friends do not fit into your intolerant rant.

  • *yawn*

    Of course pedigree trumps substance everytime.

  • Greenflag

    PT,

    ‘ It will be just like Fianna Fail’s evolution. That is fine by me. I don’t pretend that they are revolutionary or going to bring about a united Ireland.’

    I tend to agree. But they’ll need to ditch their ‘marxist ‘ baggage quickly if they want to make inroads into any disaffected voters in FF or Labour in the next election if it’s not already too late . They can forget FG and PD voters in their ‘marketing ‘ efforts .

    The point is that large numbers of Unionists see SF as not just revolutionary but as potential armed revolutionaries in future circumstances .

    Now that SF have come in from the cold or at least almost. attempts by the Indo or others to paint SF as ‘fascists’ will backfire electorally IMO. I think Bertie has the political nous to see that much at least . Voters in the Republic know that SF ‘politics’ have evolved in response to the ‘tyranny of the majority’ in Northern Ireland . I’m sure a lot of present SF voters would have been former SDLP voters who became disillusioned with that party’s ability to deliver .

    We could do with stronger opposition in the Republic . Having seen the Kenny /Rabitte/Sargant show shoot itself in the head in recent weeks has been an education for voters . Kamikaze politics I used to think was a UUP/SDLP specialty . Seems it’s crossed the border to infect FG and Labour .

  • Nevin

    Pat, IMO the Sinner movement may be dressed in democratic clothes and use socialist/peace language but it’s essentially anti-democratic.

    Mitchel McL has agreed that members of the movement accept the Sinner Army Council is the legitimate government and this fits with Moloney’s portrayal of the AC as the manager of the various wings of the movement.

    Catriona R has presented their CRJ schemes as part of an alternative policing/justice system. I think we should be really concerned that President McAleese has endorsed the Sinner/UDA Finaghy Crossroads Group ‘coalition’, an unlikely grouping which presents paramilitary godfathers as role-models.

    I vote across the UUP-SDLP spectrum and I suspect Reg Empey has lost his party thousands of votes by linking up with Ervine, the PUP parapolitician. The DUP and SF may be able to do side-deals advantageous to their supporters with the appeasing governments but they won’t be getting my vote anytime soon.

    Dublin IMO is very foolish to encourage the growth of paramilitary control of communities in NI because the same cancer can erupt in its own jurisdiction. The Department of Foreign Affairs is probably a little more blase than the Department of Justice; the latter will be left to pick up the pieces.

  • Chris Donnelly

    The party’s militaristic patriotism, its rigorous targeting of marginalised constituencies and a populist approach to electoral politics may be some of the contributory factors for this finding.

    Mick
    …or the rather pathetic agenda of an avowed supporter of the truly right-wing, fascist-leaning political party known as the Progressive Democrats might be a contributing factor for this finding.

    This is a pretty shameless effort by O’Malley to attach the right wing label to Sinn Fein and remove it from his own party.

    Let’s look at the facts: Sinn Fein, alone amongst the main parties in the 26 counties, adopted an immigration friendly line in the run up to the last referendum, IN SPITE of the populist option taken by every other political party.

    Sinn Fein are to be commended for not only resisting but speaking against the racist populist option- recently subscribed to by Labour’s Pat Rabbitte- and for providing their largely working-class support base with a political message of inclusivity on the race issue.

    As always, the facts provide a much sounder basis for discussion than the speculative pronouncements of a loaded piece of research- just look at the title of his speech!

    This report should be dismissed as little more than a cheap political stunt.

  • Nevin

    Chris, have you read the O’Malley article – or are you just firing from the lip?

    “Conclusion

    The brief analyses of Sinn Féin’s ideology, development, policy, supporters’ attitudes and organisation, though showing some similarities with radical right parties, but it is too explicitly and self-avowedly in favour of immigrants’ rights to be called RR.”

  • Pat Taffe

    Greenflag, I don’t see Sinn Fein as having any baggage which is Marxist. They have plenty of left wing rhetoric which they have no intention of implementing. It is just what parties do when in opposition. And Sinn Fein have a lot of people who still want to hear the revolution talk but who will come off it as quickly as they come off most things. Unionists always see Sinn Fein as something or other which Sinn Fein use for their own purposes in a crafty manner. Think about it. The people who have come into Sinn Fein since 1998 are just like those who joined Fianna Fail after the mid 1920s. None of them were revolutionary or if they were they quickly abandoned it. Seriously, if you read these boards, is there anyone on them from Sinn Fein who you really feel has the slightest intention of becoming an armed revolutionary? Sinn Fein has genuinely changed. It has given up the old stuff. It neither needs nor wants armed revolutionaries. I am not saying they are not still wedded to dodgy activity, but that too will go in time.

  • Pat Taffe

    Nevin, I think the party is led by some people who are anti-democratic. But they come from a military background where democracy is a bit of a hindrance. But they might not always get their way. I remember that Mitchel comment and I honestly feel he was bounced into it. You only have to talk to Sinn Fein members. Few if any actually believe the army council is the government of Ireland. If you described the army council as the government you would be laughed at. I think that the AC do run the show but even here it is with a view not to revolution but to take away the movement’s fangs. Some of the dissidents claim that is Sinn Fein who run the army council.
    Catriona did say that CRJ is an alternative but to her credit she has no interest in being an armed revolutionary. It was the thing to say when asked a difficult question. It is not the party’s position. The party is going to support the police and Catriona will do likewise. Somebody told me once that Catriona is a good person to go to if the bullies in the movement are giving people a hard time. She applies pressure to have it stopped.

  • Nathan

    Those who are anti-immigration (e.g. ICP) keenly seek Sinn Féin transfers in certain constituencies – and some Shinners have been forthcoming. Past elections have shown that some pass on their transfers to the right-wing fringes e.g. in Dublin South Central (2002) where 24% of Shinners voted for ICP, in contrast with 7% of PeeDee supporters.

    Also, Sinn Fein is perhaps the only party which is devoid of ethnic minority or religious minority representatives. Inadvertantly they target minority groups which live in working class areas of Dublin (limited to door-to-door as they certainly don’t canvess outside Protestant churches for new immigrant and successor Irish Protestant generation votes). But thats as far as it goes. They refrain from encouraging pro-active civic participation of Irish immigrants in local government or national government, as it wouldn’t suit the nominal right-wingish agenda of some of their voters.

  • páid

    Brilliant thread. Only on Slugger.

  • Kilburn Kate

    http://www.unison.ie/irish_independent/stories.php3?ca=9&si=1709895&issue_id=14793

    Gerry Adams says: Sinn Fein WILL take the oath 9as well as the Saxon shilling).
    Mary Lou then goes on to say: there will be a full and open debate in Sinn Fein to rubber stamp this further surrender.

    To be fair, Gerry says this exercise in sackcloth and ashes will not be an exercise in sackcloth and ashes.

    To the other psoters: does it really matter what Sinn Fein’s policy is on immigration or anything else? They have no principles. Remember Dev on Labour” Labour always wrestles with its conscience and Labour always wins”.

  • Crataegus

    KK

    Any organisation that is willing to kill and maim to achieve its political objectives starts with very shaky moral principles. They are of the type that do what they do to achieve their objectives, their will is their justification irrespective of actual causality. That those objectives may change should be no surprise as most ‘revolutions’ are sold out by their leaders. To place your trust in someone who would happily sanction extreme violence in my opinion is deepest folly. If I were to vote that way I think that it would reflect badly on my own moral standing and common sense would dictate that if the ‘revolution’ were successful who may then be the obstacle and require special treatment? Equally to vote for parties that seek to dominate and oppress I also feel is deeply wrong.

    Greenflag

    I agree with your analysis, SF are as you say, “between a rock and a hard place.” The question is will they morph into something else or splutter around for a few decades and slowly fade? Just now my money is on fade.

    That the extreme right vote for SF and the DUP should be no surprise.

  • circles

    Nevin:”why are you running to unionism instead of commenting on my observation that the Sinner movement is fundamentally fascist?”
    That was not what you observed Nevin (read your own post). As I said you posted a quote (with no comment) that could be perhaps more appropriately used to describe the DUP and militant unionism. As you did not say that the quote you posted was referring to SF itwas open to interpretation.
    Regarding your “running” comment – because I don’t agree with you does not mean I am running from anything.
    I think you are completely wrong when you say SF “may be dressed in democratic clothes and use socialist/peace language but it’s essentially anti-democratic” and would be interesting in hearing how you define anti-democratic.

    Regarding your response to Chris, and the quote from the conclusion, O’Malley also concludes “In fact it seems that RR parties are a mix of populism and violent nationalism, and in this way Sinn Féin can fit more neatly into the same category as racists such as Le Pen.”

    In other words, O’Malley even using his own methos, can’t stick them in the RR corner, but continues to do so anyway. Now you can hardly call that a responsiby written, well researched academic article can you?

    My point on this thread is that O’Malley’s article is piss poor. Its an inferior attempt at propaganda based on pseudo-science. If his methodology and argumentation was not so flavoured by his fervour to stick label on SF he may have reached some kind of conclusion worth discussing, but even his introduction gives his agenda away.
    Its not an analysis, its a rant.

  • Nevin

    Circles, as the article is about the Sinner movement your unionist reference was an ‘on the run’ one …

    The Sinner movement, as accepted by Mitchel McL, takes its political direction from its Army Council. This is paramilitary dictatorship, not democracy. Yet, I suspect Mitchel won’t identify the members of the Army Council or their ‘portfolios’.

    Perhaps O’Malley’s difficulty in finding an appropriate label is influenced by the mismatch between Sinner words and deeds. For example, Gerry Adams claims not to be or to have been a member of the IRA. Isn’t such a claim ridiculous?

  • circles

    I agree that Gerry Adams denying he was in the IRA is ridiculous – especially if you have read anything he wrote in the 70’s. Trying to get him to admit it is equally ridiculous. What difference would it make? The significant fact is that he has lead the republican movement to a place where it is committed to non-violent means to pursue its objectives.

    However whatever Adams says in this regard has absolutely nothing to do with O’Malley’s analysis – so lets not get distracted. O’Malley has started with his own preconception and seeks, through weak argumentation and pseudo-analysis, to prove this. The fact that he fails (and admits so in his conclusion) but nevertheless persists in forwarding his claim shows how poor the paper is.

    Your persistence in returning to the verbal blunders of Mitchel McL is commendable – the words “hungry dog” and “bone” come to mind. But what he said proves nothing – other than the fact that politicians brains are not always connected to their mouths. Similarly daft quotes could be found for every politician in the north. You’ve just found one you like to whip out regularly. But just because you think you have uncopvered some great consipracy doesn’t make it fact.
    And just as a point of info – Sinn Fein does not have an Army Council. I think your talking about the IRA. In response to this I would ask you not to give a knee jerk “IRA/Sinn Fein” diatribe, and to actually think a bit about why SF has become the biggest nationalist party in the north. Maybe then you’ll realise your “Army Council” assertions are a bit silly.

  • Mick Fealty

    I’m still working through the early draft of O’Malley’s first draft paper. But this passage struck me as both interesting and incisive:

    In one aspect seemingly common to radical right-wing parties, immigration, Sinn Féin is without doubt the most openly pro-immigrant parties in Ireland. Ireland has seen a rapid rise in the non-national population; from negligible levels to ten percent of the population in as many years.

    While the main left-wing party in Ireland has expressed concerns about immigrants driving down wages and job security in ‘a race to the bottom’, Sinn Féin has consistently called for greater supports to immigrants and in its 2002 manifesto called for ‘the right to work or study for asylum seekers while their claims are being processes’ (Sinn Féin 2002: 16). It explicitly states that immigrants should not be blamed for housing shortages or hospital waiting lists. Sinn Féin is vocal in its support for a pluralist society and its opposition to sectarianism. It is quite clear that Sinn Féin does not have a policy akin to the BNP’s –and it certainly is not saying Ireland is full.

    However, in its analysis of the ‘in-group’, the Irish, Sinn Féin is happy to accept and propagate myths. The analysis of Irish history is of a coherent Gaelic Ireland invaded and colonised by the English, followed by a continual struggle for freedom against an evil but wily oppressor. Traditional nationalism has for a long time proposed an Ireland that should be Gaelic and Catholic. For Pearse, a poster boy for nationalists, it was a battle between two civilisations, the Gaelic Irish and the Anglo-Saxon.3 Pearse’s writings are medieval and at times bizarre, but he was essentially a conservative Catholic. He advised the Irish to remain to true to Irish-Ireland, and steer clear of communism and other foreign ideas (Cronin 1980: 103). For Pearse ‘the Gael is not like other men, the spade, the loom and the sword are not for him’ (cited in O’Malley 1997: 293). According to Cronin this attachment and reverence to mythical Gaelic values meant that Irish history was (mis)interpreted in racial or ethnic terms (Cronin 1980: 99).

    I have no doubt that those who argue that SF’s ambition is to become mainstream and Social Democratic. It makes sense since there is a gap in that market that Labour is clearly struggling to keep to itself.

    In a modern democracy such as the Republic is, that also means pluralist. But, O’Malley argues, the party’s enduring line on the national question (undoubtedly a big vote puller in Northern Ireland), means it cannot entirely embrace that quality since it would naturally erode that hardline stance on national identity.

    This is something he goes on to amplify:

    Though the attitude to modern immigrants is welcoming, the attitude to those who settled in Ireland centuries ago is hostile. Gerry Adams has written some books in which he sets out his political beliefs. These tend not to show a desire for a pluralist society. His justification for his campaign is that Ireland has a right to self-determination which the British prevent the Irish exercising. By contrast unionists cannot claim this right:

    ‘they are a national minority; a significant minority but a minority nonetheless. To bestow the power of veto over national independence and sovereignty on a national minority is in direct contravention of the principle of self-determination’ (Adams 1988 cited in Whyte 1990: 134).

    As Whyte points out, Adams assumed what is to be proved. There seems no recognition that Ulster Protestants may themselves form a separate nation with its own identity and rights. Murray and Tonge (2005: 165) report that in 1987 early drafts of the unreconstructed nationalist document Scenario for Peace contained a suggestion that Unionists unable to accept a united Ireland could be repatriated (presumably to somewhere they are not from). Protestants must learn to live in Sinn Fein’s vision of Ireland or leave.

    Arguably much of this hardcore attitude has been eroded by the Belfast Agreement and the negotiation process that has followed. But, O’Malley argues that it remains a residual part of the party’s appeal to its particular voter base.

    It is not a charge as easy to dismiss as some of commenters would seem to believe.

  • Greenflag

    PT,

    ‘And Sinn Fein have a lot of people who still want to hear the revolution talk but who will come off it as quickly as they come off most things. ‘

    That may well be PT but what the people/voters hear is the ‘rhetoric’ and the centre right and centre left response to the SF rhetoric .

    PS -It’s 2006 not 1920 . Comparisons are all very well from an academic study point of view but in the ‘real cut throat world of politics’ in the Irish Republic it’s the here and now that counts not pie in the sky or a round the corner UI .

    SF have done well in NI due mainly to the incompetence of their unionist opposition and the very nature of the NI State itself . Local circumstances in NI from the period of the hunger strikes , Sunningdale failure etc etc all gave SF a boost into political prominence . Those factors have little or no relevance in the Republic apart from perhaps a few of the border constituencies . It’s real politics down south and that has to be tough for SF and indeed any small party trying to make a breakthrough . Think of the PD’s and Greens and Labour in the Republic or the Lib Dems in the UK .

  • Greenflag

    Crataegus,

    ‘The question is will they morph into something else or splutter around for a few decades and slowly fade? Just now my money is on fade. ‘

    Depends on whether an NI assembly ever gets off the ground IMO.

    Assuming the NI Assembly takes off and stays in the air for a couple of years at least, you can expect a small boost to SF votes in the Republic . But that will be it . If the NI Assembly does not take off or collapses once again within a few months I’d expect the present SF vote in the Republic to stay the same or even drop a per cent or two .

    In Northern Ireland I expect SF to continue to draw their present support and probably even increase it at the expense of the SDLP as long as SF stays on the ‘political ‘ path . As long as a separate NI State exists I would expect SF to remain the party of choice for the vast majority of NI nationalists . And the same rationale applies to the DUP on the unionist side.

    I suspect that in the event of a UI however improbable that seems at this time -SF would fade away breaking into it’s constituent parts with it’s more nationalist elements merging into FF and it’s leftist elements into Labour .

  • circles

    Thanks for that trawl through O’Malley Mick.

    The formulation of the first sentence you have chosen is peculiar to say the least! O’Malley is saying that with regards to immigration, SF does not resemble a far right party, but he manages to say this in such a way as to hint at a common approach. Maybe I’m not reading it right, but maybe he could have written what he meant a bit more clearly.
    He does finally get there though at the end of para 2 “It is quite clear that Sinn Féin does not have a policy akin to the BNP’s –and it certainly is not saying Ireland is full.” So here we are all agreed that SF does not resemble the radical right in this aspect at least.

    Hmmmm, this doesn’t stop him moving his goalposts a little though, to allow him to claim later:

    “One of the reasons for this puzzling relationship is that the radical right is not consistently right-wing. Many of the BNP policies are leftist. In fact it seems that RR parties are a mix of populism and violent nationalism, and in this way Sinn Féin can fit more neatly into the same category as racists such as Le Pen.”

    The old “because you don’t look like one you, proves even more that you are one” argument. “Heads I win, tails you lose”.

    The third paragraph though takes him away from his main theme, SF, and he turns to Padraig Pearse and selected quotes on his personal understanding of Irish nationalism. Is he attempting here this to put Pearse’s anachronistic musings at the centre of current SF policy? A bit of a stretch that.

    Regarding O’Malleys suggestion here that the “party’s enduring line on the national question means it cannot entirely embrace [pluralism] since it would naturally erode that hardline stance on national identity” I do not follow his argumentation.
    I fail to see that by stating: ‘they (unionists) are a national minority; a significant minority but a minority nonetheless. To bestow the power of veto over national independence and sovereignty on a national minority is in direct contravention of the principle of self-determination’ that he is proposing a denial of unionist’s rights in a pluralist Ireland. It is a simple statement of democratic principles I would think, particularly applicable to non-gerrymandered regions and nations.

    However, I do take the point that in the rhetoric SF do not recognise that Ulster Unionists (‘Malley says Protestants but there he gives his ignorance away by assuming Protestant + Ulster = british = unionist) may themselves form a separate nation.
    In this instance this does nothing to advance the thesis (“that Sinn Féin is a radical right party”) it is however an interesting point.
    However it could equally be argued that the fact that SF see unionists as much an integral part of a united Ireland as they see republicans (and not as a separate nation) illustrates that Adams really does mean it when he writes “The new Ireland must be a shared place for all the people who live in this island”. This is diametrically opposed to O’Malley’s claim that “Protestants (unionists?) must learn to live in Sinn Fein’s vision of Ireland or leave”.

    How the SF electorate interpret the rhetoric is another matter – although I do not believe that the people who vote SF can all be lumped together as a mass of right wing, nationalist yahoos, or tree hugging, multi-culti, Marxist hippies. Although I do imagine that the electorate would cover the whole spectrum from older conservative, nationalist lines to younger radical, socialist republicans. Either way, surely political parties cannot be held fully responsible for the interpretation and understanding of their message (or if people selectively pick and choose from it).

  • tiny

    Sinn Fein’s leftist identity at odds with voters’ politics?

    Could this partly explain why in NI were they have little or no power to implement their policies they get over half of their target constituency, yet in the R of I were they have access to real power they get 8-9%

  • Nevin

    “The new Ireland must be a shared place for all the people who live in this island”.

    LOL

    This from the bloke who lauded the apartheid Athboy strategy.

  • Nevin

    “Sinn Fein does not have an Army Council”

    Circles. some folks use the term Republican Movement; I use the term Sinner Movement. I work from the premise that the Army Council manages all aspects of the movement’s activities: political, military, organised crime, civic policing and justice ….

  • Pat Taffe

    Greenflag, I don’t know if the unionist electorate will stay worried for ever about the armed revolutionary potential of Sinn Fein. Revolutionary talk is for the type of people you find on the net. Very few elsewhere pay attention to it. I asked a Sinn Fein member once about the type of things their members say on the net. He pulled a face as if to suggest I was crazy for even reading them. Then went on to say someething like ‘you have to have somewhere for the yes men to say yes every day.’ I thought it was a bit dismissive but when you look closely at what is actually said here he has a point. I have never voted Sinn Fein for that type of person but because of the policies.

  • kensei

    “Arguably much of this hardcore attitude has been eroded by the Belfast Agreement and the negotiation process that has followed. But, O’Malley argues that it remains a residual part of the party’s appeal to its particular voter base.

    It is not a charge as easy to dismiss as some of commenters would seem to believe. ”

    Oh, it is. Who exactly, wrote the rule that Patriotism is only the preserve of the right, and the hard right at that? It doesn’t hold for lots of places all over the world.

    Second, the belief in a 32 County is hardly ‘hardcore’. Until comparatively recently it was written into the Constitution of Ireland. And as a large part of their memebership comes from a state where they feel their identity is under threat, it is going to be naturally more assertive regardless of politics. You also pay gtreat heed to the DUP’s rhetoric Mick, but if SF is talking about a New Ireland then obviously their just bullshitting.

    If Unionism is somehow a separate Nation, where exactly are the boundaries of this Nation? Ulster? The six counties? East of the Bann? When, exactly, did come in to being considering most would have considered themselves Irish at partition? And is it right that they have the power to divide the Nation in areas where their majority is increasingly narrow?

  • Mick Fealty

    I’m amazed how few individuals have taken O’Malley to task for the specifics of his argument.

    I may be wrong but I see a constantly repeating pattern of intellectual trickery going on here: ignore what someone says, build your own straw man, and then knock it down instead of the opinion you are supposedly opposing. Oh yeah: claim victory.

    I can’t stop people from doing it, but from the outside the artifice is only too transparent.

  • kensei

    Actually, I was answering the arguments raised in your post, Mick.

    “However, in its analysis of the ‘in-group’, the Irish, Sinn Féin is happy to accept and propagate myths. The analysis of Irish history is of a coherent Gaelic Ireland invaded and colonised by the English, followed by a continual struggle for freedom against an evil but wily oppressor.”

    Fair enough. Political narratives tend not to take in the nuance of history. There is a kernel of truth to that argument, though it isn’t the whole story.

    “Traditional nationalism has for a long time proposed an Ireland that should be Gaelic and Catholic. For Pearse, a poster boy for nationalists, it was a battle between two civilisations, the Gaelic Irish and the Anglo-Saxon.3 Pearse’s writings are medieval and at times bizarre, but he was essentially a conservative Catholic.”

    Nothing about SF yet.

    “He advised the Irish to remain to true to Irish-Ireland, and steer clear of communism and other foreign ideas (Cronin 1980: 103). For Pearse ‘the Gael is not like other men, the spade, the loom and the sword are not for him’ (cited in O’Malley 1997: 293). According to Cronin this attachment and reverence to mythical Gaelic values meant that Irish history was (mis)interpreted in racial or ethnic terms”

    Still nothing about SF. Also note taht he has picked out a single significant figure in Irish Nationalism, while ignoring others of importance – Griffith, Connolly, Dev, Collins…. because it suits his argument.

    “As Whyte points out, Adams assumed what is to be proved. There seems no recognition that Ulster Protestants may themselves form a separate nation with its own identity and rights. Murray and Tonge (2005: 165) report that in 1987 early drafts of the unreconstructed nationalist document Scenario for Peace contained a suggestion that Unionists unable to accept a united Ireland could be repatriated (presumably to somewhere they are not from). Protestants must learn to live in Sinn Fein’s vision of Ireland or leave.”

    Covered my problems with this above.

    Othe rpeople have covered different points raised.

    What amazes me is you continue to push this.

  • JimBob McCoy

    down wif da shinners