Tough questions for Sinn Fein’s Ard Fheis?

Following on from Pete’s blog on the difficulties facing Sinn Fein in getting acceptance for the PSNI, Republican blogger Chris Gaskin, for a long time an opponent of his party accepting the PSNI still seems opposed. One of his commenters helpfully lays out the policing motion Sinn Fein’s Ard Fheis in full from earlier this year:

Six County Policing

395. This Ard Fheis calls for the creation of the new beginning to policing, in accordance with the principles of the Good Friday Agreement. A key requirement in this is democratic accountability. In the Six Counties, this requires the transfer of powers on policing and justice away from London and out of the hands of British securocrats to restored, democratically elected institutions in Ireland. The Sinn Fein President will propose to the Sinn Fein Ard Chomhairle that it calls a special Ard Fheis to decide Sinn Fein?s position on new policing arrangements in the context
of:

? Agreement between the parties on the departmental model and powers to be transferred;
? The enactment by the British government of the legislation to give full expression to this transfer of powers on policing and justice away from London;
? A DUP commitment to an acceptable timeframe for the transfer of powers on policing and justice.
? A position paper would go to all levels of the party for discussion to inform a comprehensive debate leading up to the special Ard Fheis.

None of this is disablingly specific. But if a similar motion were adopted for the party’s special Ard Fheis we might expect some vigorous debate around the precise meaning of the term ‘acceptable timeframe’. In the past, the DUP has argued that it is not a matter of time, but of judging the quality of Sinn Fein’s committment to the rule of law.

Intriguingly, the St Andrews Agreement does contain a timeline, albeit one that allows for considerable and unspecified slippage. But, it seems, devolution of policing powers to a local minister has been relegated to last place on the list. And oversight of MI5 would seem to remain with Westminster.

As Pete has noted the complexity of Sinn Fein’s consultation process may mean that considering proximity of the first deadline for response (10th November – when parties have to signal their intent to the two governments) and the second (the more public deadline of the 24th November), this is either going to be put through at breakneck speed. Or as Jeffrey Donaldson hinted in last week’s Saturday view, there is likely to be a very forgiving schedule, if they ask the two governments for more time.

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  • Pete Baker

    Well, Mick, the deliberate complexity of the consultation is what has led to the DUP suggestion that SF ask for more time – in short they can’t/won’t deliver in the current timeframe.

    But there’s an important point to highlight in the current SF policy statement

    • The enactment by the British government of the legislation to give full expression to this transfer of powers on policing and justice away from London;

    • A DUP commitment to an acceptable timeframe for the transfer of powers on policing and justice.

    Arguably the timeframe for transfer is agreed to in the full St Andrews Agreement – May 2008 – should all parties endorse that document.

    But the question remains – will SF endorse this document?

    Notably, the enactment of the legislation was already in place by May when Peter Hain imagined the Ard Fheis would be called at the end of July – he imagined wrongly.

    Then SF argued that the “full expression” meant the actual transfer of powers.. that isn’t going to happen ahead of their endorsement of the St Andrews Agreement.. nor their endorsement of the PSNI.

    Tick Tock

  • parcifal

    Imagine what would happen if SF didn’t endorse the PSNI.
    Politics would almost cease in NI.

    SF would get the blame from all the players.
    Irish and Brit Gov’ts, SDLP, UUP, DUP .

    SF wouldn’t get more than 5% in the Republic’s general election.
    Blair leaves office, no-one thinks Brown? is interested in NI, so it slips down the political agenda.
    Assembly shuts. No meetings, no MLA jobs.
    No peace dividends.
    Dissidents could possibly restart.

    Blair and Aherne have dedicated themselves tremendously to the Peace Process.
    Who could follow?

    It would be a nightmare for SF.
    They might even be wiped out by the SDLP in any future election.

  • páid

    SF have to stay with their people: not too far ahead, not too far behind.

    They cannot make enemies, worse still targets, of bright young Catholics, or those of mixed background, who are joining the PSNI.

    But they cannot quickly jump into bed with old enemies of their traditional constituencies.

    As SF in the North has the best political brains in Ireland in their ranks, I expect them to convert this tight-rope walk into a Carrickawhatsit rope-bridge jog and deliver, for the price of a concession or two.

  • Is it worth anyone’s while paying serious attention to Sinn Fein’s policy on anything? In the South, they had a big march for “the right to life” for poor people. This is after 30 odd years of killing people, poor and rich and jacking up insurance rates with their heavy handed tactics. In the north, they tried to wreck the 11 plus system because one of their leaders failed it. Currently, with their partners, they are looking for $1 bn as a further peace dividend, just like the UFF guys look for a few quid to hang up their weaponry.
    My point is Sinn Fein is a partitionist party, cemented in the big government policies of the past. Aa all they underststand is take, take, take, no one needs them. They are like SFWP in it is early days and the quicker the cordite babes like Mary Lou take over, the quicker will they be some way articulate. Next thread please.

  • Glen Taisie

    SF meeting in Gulladuff last Wednesday didn’t go too well

  • mickhall

    It is hard not to to feel for Chris and solid people within SF like him. The fix they find themselves in is that their party has asked its membership to compromise on so many of its core beliefs, if they reject policing what would have been the purpose of it all. They find themselves in the position of participants in musical chairs, if they cannot find a chair when the music stops, they are all but out of the game.

    Mr Adams does not appear to ever have considered the need for a plan B. In this he reminds me of his political mentors Clinton and Blair [on Iraq] in that power is all, never mind that when you attain it you have neutered your party to such an extent that it becomes worthless, as it brings your support base sod all but the exhaust fumes from the leaders limo as he drives by.

    I wish Chris well what ever he decides.

  • Mick

    There is not a chance in hell that the Ard Chomhairle will call a special Ard Fheis on the strength of these current proposals. We have not even reached the standard whereby it would be constitutional to call an Ard Fheis.

    The opposition on the ground is palpable

  • exuup

    yeah remember brits out, not an bullet, decommissioning means surrender…. all favourite SF slogans now, probaly thanks to the brits on the inside, just milestones on the road of humiliation for SF/IRA.
    Policing will also come that way.

  • exuup

    oh yeah and thre was always that bit about ending partition, what ever happened to that?

  • willowfield

    The enactment by the British government of the legislation to give full expression to this transfer of powers on policing and justice away from London;

    Gerry Adams apparently has a poor understanding of democratic constitutional politics. It is not the government that enacts legislation: it is parliament.

  • I doubt it was Adams who wrote that Ard Fheis motion, Willowfield.

    Chris is correct. These proposals are a non-starter as far as SF are concerned.

  • Mark

    While understanding Chris’ and Wednesday’s concerns over the two government’s agreement at St Andrew’s and if meets the requirements under motion 395 for convening a special Ard Fheis, I feel the DUP are deliberately positioning themselves to try and ensure they do not create the conditions relating to them in the motion.

    I feel there may be a deeply cynically exercise from the DUP to ensure they create a problem for SF in moving forward on policing in the hope that power sharing will not be established and SF are seen as the obstacle.

    I would ask Chris and Wednesday to consider if they are walking into a carefully constructed trap laid by the DUP.

    I’m not satisfied with the position on policing as it stands under the two government’s proposals but hopefully further effort will lead to the removal of the remaining issues of concern on this topic for Republicans. I certainly don’t want to see Republicans gift the DUP the collapse of potential power sharing without ever testeding their commitment on the issue.

  • willowfield

    Mark

    Why have you twice used the singular possessive when talking EXPLICITLY about TWO governments?

    I’m guessing you are relatively young? Were you not taught the basics of grammar at school?

  • lib2016

    While Chris and Wednesday put up good arguments I put my faith in the current Sinn Fein leadership, whatever they decide to do.

    To pretend that there is an easy answer would be wrong and simplistic. This is part of the negotiations and as such a decision for the negotiators.

    At the same time the only answer to the accusations of a sellout is to involve the whole party in making the decision, a process which is also necessary in order to minimise splits.

  • willowfield

    Why have you become liberal and reasonable, lib2016?

    Was the extreme, bigoted stuff a provocative act?

  • lib2016

    Willowfield,

    Your rules of grammar are, like unionism, becoming outmoded. The use of the apostrophe to assist in marking plurals is now frowned upon by most authorities.

  • lib2016

    AAAHH! That feels better! 😉

  • willowfield

    1. They’re not my rules of grammar.

    2. Even if “the use of apostrophes to assist in marking plurals” is “becoming outmoded” (if so, it is a result of increasing sloppiness), Mark still used apostrophes to assist in marking plurals – but he used them wrongly.

  • Mark, I would not be at all surprised if the DUP are counting on us to reject the proposals – but equally I have no doubt that if we did sign up to them, Paisley would just move the goalposts again.

    I think that some people in this party are too fixated on the image of us being the ones trying to move the process forward, and unionism being the stumbling block. You can see how defensive our language is getting on that subject. I’m not really sure what they think will happen if we’re the ones seen to be saying “no” for once. The DUP, the Stoops, the Governments will blame us for obstructing the process? Sure don’t they do that anyway?

  • dublin_sf_supporter

    While also understanding Chris and Wednesdays points I think there is not too much opposition to these proposals. I think it can be taken through if handled carefully by the leadership.

  • Mark

    willowfield,

    I am extremely youthful and was an awful pupil. Thanks for your tips on grammar. I assure you they wasted on me but the effort is appreciated.

  • ciaran damery

    The fact of the matter is really based on a fundamental question with two answers.

    Firstly, does one presume that SS/RUC has been sufficiently decimated and reconstructed as mandated with Patten et al’s proposals? Incidentally this includes the disbandment and decomissioning of the SS/RUC Special Branch.

    Secondly, are Irish Republicans, i.e. the third larges political force on the island of Ireland, going to be accorded its status orementioned status in the governance of occupied Ireand as determined by its franchise? If not, screw the political charade, designed by southern politicians and british colonizers, at the behast of their orange cheerleaders.

    We are more than capable of making the Brits run faster than they are currently scurrying out of Southern Iraq. In fact Al Sadr and other non Bin Laden/Paisley type religious supremacist owe Oglaigh na hEireann gratitude for the creation and development of an efficient and just army of Liberation. In fact only Nelson Mandela, Nazrallah in Lebanon, Che Guevarra and Bobby Sands
    can be used in the same breath, if one understands reverence and respect.

    But despite our ANC and Venezualan/Cuban friends, as a Republican I must say….time to take a second look. Cuz if perfidious albion and the orangies are just trying to buy some time, and if Bertie is just trying to cover his ass, then the ‘Ra may become part of the solution rather than a “symptom of the problem”, as the noveau Shinners (swore i’d never use that term).

    Looks like a second Civil War is not merely some joke. Blueshirtism is as strong now as it was in the 1930s. In fact even neo-nazi groups like Paisleyite Dupers and Pee Dees are finding common ground with Combat 18 etc. So the choice seems pretty clear. Either accept the Orange status qou, hope for a FG/UUP led 32 county Republic or take Ireland back as envisaged by Pearse, O’Braidaigh, McGlinchey

  • maura

    ‘I think there is not too much opposition to these proposals. I think it can be taken through if handled carefully by the leadership. ‘

    I am finding that among those I know and talk with, it is split very slightly pro- acceptance for joining the PSNI. I take this position myself. As learned from SF’s political development and participation since 1981, change can only come about from the inside out, not vice versa.
    Naturally, I have some misgivings about taking this position, I do not take it lightly, but I also realise that 1- our society must have a viable and functioning police service, and 2 ( maybe more importantly) I can not be asking my opponents to make a leap of faith that I am unwilling to take myself.
    The peace process is about faith in our own ability to take risks and make the difficult decisions; so is NOT accepting the police worth losing the promise of peace and progress? Is it worth losing all that has been gained? Is it worth gambling with the peace and security of this and the following generations?

  • gary

    A very strong debate going on within the grass roots at present.

    I think it will be supported

  • I feel the DUP are deliberately positioning themselves to try and ensure they do not create the conditions relating to them in the motion.

    I agree

    I would ask Chris and Wednesday to consider if they are walking into a carefully constructed trap laid by the DUP.

    I know that Mark however as Irish Republicans we should decide policy on what is right for the Struggle and Irish Republicans, we should not concern ourselves with the whims of the DUP.

    I’m not satisfied with the position on policing as it stands under the two government’s proposals but hopefully further effort will lead to the removal of the remaining issues of concern on this topic for Republicans.

    I have no doubt that such a senario may indeed occur, my opposition is based on the here and now.

    whatever they decide to do

    It is the membership, not the leadership who will decide our position.

    I think there is not too much opposition to these proposals.

    I suggest that you get out of Dublin and head futher Northward, you should have no problem seeing opposition then.

    I think it can be taken through if handled carefully by the leadership.

    From what I have been told I don’t think even the leadership believe that.

    There is no chance of the leadership presenting these proposals, as currently constituted, to the party membership.

  • maura

    ‘I suggest that you get out of Dublin and head futher Northward, you should have no problem seeing opposition then. ‘

    Chris, I don’t think anyone is seriously claiming there is not opposition- of various strenghths. I doubt even among those of us who can accept it, there are not serious misgivings and deep concerns and worries.
    However, as I have said before, among those I know there is slight leaning toward acceptance- and that is in a republican stronghold more than ’90 Miles from Dublin Town.’

  • I suggest that you get out of Dublin and head futher Northward

    There is plenty of opposition in Dublin too.

    On Maura’s post, there is obviously a majority within the party in favour of signing up to policing at some point – otherwise Motion 395 would not have been passed. The question is whether the conditions on offer now are acceptable. The vast majority of opinion I am encountering is that they aren’t.

  • Maura

    No Irish Republican should accept what they have offered on Policing, it is just not good enough!

    There has been no change from what the SDLP signed up to.

    We don’t have a timetable for develoution of policing and justice powers, indeed we have an inbuilt Unionist veto.

    We will still have political policing with MI5 continuing its war with no mechanism for scrutiny.

    I am quite a progressive Republican, I try not to let dogma deter me from moving on or accepting difficult decisions.

    This is one leap that I will not be making though on the strength of these proposals.

  • Wednesday

    There is plenty of opposition in Dublin too

    I was not suggesting that there wasn’t, I am well aware that opposition is not just in the North but all over the country.

    The question is whether the conditions on offer now are acceptable. The vast majority of opinion I am encountering is that they aren’t.

    Agreed

  • maura

    Wednesday: ‘there is obviously a majority within the party in favour of signing up to policing at some point – otherwise Motion 395 would not have been passed. The question is whether the conditions on offer now are acceptable. The vast majority of opinion I am encountering is that they aren’t. ‘

    To be quite frank with you Wednesday, outside of the actual party, few of the SF voters ( non party members) are really that well informed on Motions, and the particulars of the objections and what parts of Patten have been implemented or not! I am finding that these voters, (not party members) are in favour of joining the PSNI and this is something Sinn Fein leadership and political/electoral strategists will be keeping in mind.
    Within the membership of course, a more informed discussion is going on ( we hope) but those I am encountering so far are in favour. Not to say there is not heated exchange and strongly held views. I do agree with you that much more will have to be done especially to address the issues that Chris rightly raises in the follow on blog to yours, but as I stated earlier, a good argument being put forward is that these changes can be made ( maybe even more effectively) through participation.
    Maybe I need to get out an about a bit more, who knows, but my experience is for!

    Chris: ‘No Irish Republican should accept what they have offered on Policing, it is just not good enough! ‘

    Chris, I am a bit older than you I think and I have listened to this argument since the debates about dropping absentionist policy ( and indeed before but I am reluctant to give away me age:-) ).
    This ‘it is just not good enough’ argument has been bandied about for years by all political parties: the DUP line is always ‘it is just not (EVER) good enough.’ It is a hardline position, but I do admit that sometimes a hardline position is necessary.
    For me, however, hard line positions get nobody nowhere, and as I said to Wed. I think the changes we as Republicans demand of the policing structures can be made from within.
    The question I ask myself is this: Is it worth losing every advance we have made over this? The answer for me is no, especially when the changes can be brought about even if we do say yes.

  • Reader

    pid: SF have to stay with their people:
    But these days, who are ‘their people’? Party members? Current Voters? Potential voters? ex-prisoners?

  • tiny

    Chris, in the 70s to early 80s S/F could claim relatively little electoral support in the North, even less in the South, but they were relevant / important due to their campaign of violence, surely there is a danger that if they fail to take the final steps into ‘real politics’ regarding policing they will get caught between ‘two stools’ with the very real possibility that they will be deserted by the bulk their electorate, i.e. those not classified as ‘hard-line republicans’ they would then become irrelevant / unimportant.

    Of course they could always go back to violence post 9/11, but for what, another 30 odd years, another 3500 odd dead, and 100s of years rotting in prison.

    Wake up, Sinn Fein will back policing, they’re to smart not to.

  • I am finding that these voters, (not party members) are in favour of joining the PSNI and this is something Sinn Fein leadership and political/electoral strategists will be keeping in mind

    It is a shepards job to lead his flock. Sinn Féin have been entrusted with a mandate to achieve the best that they can for their voters. This is not it! We have a duty to inform our voters and supports of our position. They are not stupid, they will understand and be glad that we are working in their best interests

    changes can be made ( maybe even more effectively) through participation.

    You can not make the proper changes if the relevant structure is not there to begin with.

    I think the changes we as Republicans demand of the policing structures can be made from within

    I don’t

    Is it worth losing every advance we have made over this?

    This is a usual scare tactic, we will not be losing anything.

    We will simply be telling the Brits that they have not come far enough and that they need to change their position.

    I would never ask anyone to support something that I could not.

    Sinn Fein will back policing, they’re to smart not to

    Who do you think Sinn Féin are? It is the membership that make up Sinn Féin. I am more than happy to let the final say rest with them.

  • exuup

    progressive Republican – oxymoron time

  • kensei

    The underlying principle of this deal are sound – get devolution of policing powers to the Assembly, and into the hands of Irishmen and women. It’s the key point. Some oversight of MI5 would also be necessary, but I think it’s unrealistic to expect the full ask on that because of the natur eof government.

    The problem as I see it is that the leadership are allowing the DUP a veto on the matter; even if they have indicated their intent to support the proposed timetable, if the SF leadership haven’t learned that you don’t put your future in the hands of your opponents then they are complete morons. I wouldn’t put it past the DUP to pull a stunt on the matter. Everything – else oaths, words whatever have proven to be meaningless in the past and a complete red herring.

    On the other hand, there is a need to break deadlock. Some kind of yes in principle with the proviso that SF will upend the whole lot if the DUP doesn’t keep it’s end of the bargain would be my prefered option.

    In either case formal support of the Garda would also be nice.

  • Kensei

    Sinn Féin do support the Gardaí, this has been made clear again and again.

  • maura

    Chris:’ It is a shepards job to lead his flock. Sinn Féin have been entrusted with a mandate to achieve the best that they can for their voters. This is not it! We have a duty to inform our voters and supports of our position. They are not stupid, they will understand and be glad that we are working in their best interests ”

    Chris, the shepard only leads his flock( party). SF voters who are not party members are in the thousands as you know and if SF finds that a majority of its voters are in favour of joining the PSNI, I would guess that will be a huge consideration in their strategy. You are right, SF members have a right and indeed a duty to state their position ( BOTH pro or anti) to the voters, and like the party members, they
    (voters) will not be dictated to.

    Chris: ‘You can not make the proper changes if the relevant structure is not there to begin with. ‘

    You could be right there Chris.

    I think the changes we as Republicans demand of the policing structures can be made from within

    Chris: I don’t

    You are entitled to hold and promote your opinion- isn’t it great being a Republican.

    Is it worth losing every advance we have made over this?

    Chris: This is a usual scare tactic, we will not be losing anything.

    I can agree with you there Chris.

    Chris: ‘I would never ask anyone to support something that I could not. ‘

    Nor should you, but I and many like me will be taking the oppositie position.

    Chris: ‘Who do you think Sinn Féin are? It is the membership that make up Sinn Féin. I am more than happy to let the final say rest with them.’

    Chris, I suspect that what appeals to the voters, to what will promote Sinn Fein electorally, is what will mnake the final determination on this.

    I do share your misgivings about this Chris, and I welcome the opportunity to thrash them out.

  • maura

    ‘progressive Republican – oxymoron time

    Posted by exuup on Oct 22, 2006 @ 10:42 PM’

    I expect that there could be a clause added to the St Andrew’s agreement that encourages some Unionists to educate themselves and move beyond the name calling and one liners?

  • Chris, the shepard only leads his flock( party).

    Our voters look to the party for leadership, that is the nature of politics.

    Is it worth losing every advance we have made over this?

    I don’t believe that we will lose anything, if we accept a police force that has not changed and can’t be changed enough then we risk losing a lot more.

    I welcome the opportunity to thrash them out.

    As do I maura

  • I wouldn’y worry about him/her (exuup) Maura.

    A bitter person who has seen his/her party crumble by the wayside just as the Empire did and just as his beloved “Norn Iron” will as well.

  • dublin_sf_supporter

    Well I think that we should not spend too long chasing things that are impossible, lets get this powersharing assembly up and lets press ahead with progress in the south too. Stalling has its dangers too

  • maura

    Chris ‘Our voters look to the party for leadership, that is the nature of politics. ‘

    Chris, true enough, but it is a two way street and SF looks to its voters, testing their mood and decisions are made accordingly- that is the very essence of politics.

  • Pete Baker

    Interesting back and forth here.. but there are a few naive, if not delusional, assumptions in evidence.

    The 10th November deadline is for all parties, not those who might have lent their votes to individual parties, but for the parties and their memberships themselves to endorse or not the St Andrews Agreement.

    Whether an Ard Fheis has been held by that stage or not, the SF party leadership will give an answer to that question to the governments.

    If it’s not a definitive answer then there are likely to be problems for the changes in legislation to adapt the current 24th November deadline for the Assembly.

    That’s the current dilemma for ‘the leadership’.. and why Ian Paisley has suggested that they might need more time..

    A ‘maybe’ probably isn’t going to be enough.

  • kensei

    “Sinn Féin do support the Gardaí, this has been made clear again and again”

    But lots of people don’t know or are unsure. Stick something through the Ard Dheis anyway. Done right it’s free PR in an election year.

  • páid

    Reader:

    all of those you mention.

    The PSNI poses difficulty for Nationalists.

    If it is accepted, inherent in it is a partitionist police force. Nationalists don’t fundamentally accept that there should be 2 states, and state police forces in Ireland.

    If it is rejected, an elephant enters the sitting room in the form of the PSNI. An elephant that offers jobs, has increasingly shown fair play, and looks like being accepted by the next generation.

    Ignoring elephants in sitting rooms is never a sound medium term option.

    Unionists located in a corner of Ireland, with the Union melting away, could secretly attest to that.

  • maura

    ‘Interesting back and forth here.. but there are a few naive, if not delusional, assumptions in evidence. ‘

    Interesting…… yet naive and delusional.
    I like that!

  • Stick something through the Ard Dheis anyway

    That would be a waste of Ard Fheis time, it is there to debate/amend/change party policy. It is not there to support existing party policy.

    I can see where you are coming from kensei but you risk such a motion being ruled out of order for the very reasons that I have outlined above.

    Gerry Adams made it very clear at last years Ard Fheis what our policy is towards the Gardaí.

  • Pete Baker

    Interesting…… yet naive and delusional.
    I like that!

    Now maura, that’s not what I said :o)

  • kensei

    “Gerry Adams made it very clear at last years Ard Fheis what our policy is towards the Gardaí.”

    Apparently not clear enough, and the PSNI situation provides enough ammo for further confusion. And SF gets hammered on law and order in the SDouth at the moment.

    Something prominent in the elction platform would be a must at least.

  • George

    Chris,
    “Gerry Adams made it very clear at last years Ard Fheis what our policy is towards the Gardaí.”

    But we also have had Sinn Fein TDs saying that while they accept An Garda Siochana and Oglaigh na hEireann (the one President McAleese is head of) as the legitimate forces of the Irish state they would not urge the public to help investigators tracking down murderers of Gardai.

    Sinn Fein may think this book is closed but they still have a long way to go on this matter.

    Simply saying something at an Ard Fheis doesn’t mean this is the reality on the ground.

    Support means being horrified when you see elected officials being photographed with Garda killers, who also fired on unarmed Gardai. Support doesn’t mean being the elected official in the photograph.

    Is Sinn Fein’s primary loyalty to former comrades or to the Irish state?

    This still isn’t clear I’m afraid regardless of what Gerry Adams says.

    Unless it commits total and unswerving loyalty to the Irish state and its institutions, it can still be construed as an enemy of the Irish state.

    Gerry Adams coming out and saying such killings have no place in the Republican struggle aren’t good enough.

    If Sinn Fein doesn’t bite the bullet on policing soon, it’s facing a huge crisis south of the border in my view.

    If Sinn Fein really is an all-Ireland party then it will have to address this.

    How is up to you.

  • ingrammartin

    It seems some people are very slow to appreciate what is happening. Quote Chris Gaskin

    Mick

    There is not a chance in hell that the Ard Chomhairle will call a special Ard Fheis on the strength of these current proposals. We have not even reached the standard whereby it would be constitutional to call an Ard Fheis. Unquote

    The above comment really made me smile and yet whince at the smame moment.He really does live in an isolated world, a world that he does not understand or indeed comprehend. This issue is dealt with and the Ard Fheis will happen of that be in NO DOUBT, only those who truly do not understand Sinn Fein would believe otherwise.

    Chris, it is time you grew up mate and smell the coffee, Breakfast is nearly over!.

    Martin

  • exuup

    not a bullet , not an ounch – what do you mean weve surrendered evertything??!?!?!

  • Listen Ingram, the day I take advice from the likes of you is the day that I admit myself into St Lukes!

    You are nothing more than a stirrer, you are a spook. What’s more you crave media attention so much that your claims become even more desperate by the day.

    Get a life!

  • mickhall

    Does it not strike anyone as being a bit fascistic of a State to demand that elected representatives sign up to support the police. Surly one of the main tasks of our elected representatives is to hold the state and especially its armed wings to account.

    As far as I can tell the RoI does not demand of its politicians that they sign up in support of the police, nor does the rest of the UK. Political Parties can choose for themselves whether they sit on committees that oversee the police. [such committees are hollow beings anyway, ra ra committees, “ain’t the cops great” type of things]

    Chris,

    What you seem to be saying is the leadership of your Party is out of step with the membership and not for the first time I might add. What we have seen from the rank and file membership since 1997 is when this happens, instead of pulling your leaders into line, you acquiesce to there demands by putting a peg on the nose and swallowing hard. Then you tell the rest of us that leadership is all about making tough decisions.

    You remind me in this of the British Labour Party membership, who allowed Blair to do something very similar when he filleted that party of its core beliefs in there mad desire for political power. The end result has been the wasted and shameful years of the NL Blair governments; and their disgusting military adventures abroad.

    As to the LP, it is a shadow of its former self having lost over half of its membership. I would remind you a majority of these activists have gone home and shut there door, lost to political activity. Which should be a warning for SF as this is what many of its members who leave the party are also doing.

    If SF does not wish to go the same way, perhaps it is time you considered drawing that line in the sand and stating to Mr Adams enough, no more!

    Maura,

    I feel you are getting things confused, it would be perfectly acceptable for SF to accept the writ of the PSNI, but support them? work to make them more efficient?
    Others can do this if they wish, the job of Republicans or any political radicals come to that, is to keep the PSNI in check, to expose them when they cross the line and fight to bring them to account.

    Best regards to you both.

  • What you seem to be saying is the leadership of your Party is out of step with the membership

    I am not saying that at all Mickhall.

    I am indeed encouraged by the leadership people that I have spoken to. I am simply stating that these proposals have not gone far enough for Republicans to be able to sign up to policing.

    I am also saying that were the Ard Chomhairle to call a special Ard Fheis on the strength of these proposals, which I don’t believe that they will, then they will find a very considerable section of the party oppossed.

    This is not like other issues that Republicans have had to face, this is perhaps the biggest.

  • Fuiseog

    Dia daoibh,

    After the 1981 hungerstrikes ended in a stalemate the more pragmatic and realist (!) Republican prisoners embarked on a strategy of agitation from within and proceeded to move off the protest blocks into the conforming wings.

    A lesser known fact is that in prison, as with any society or social enterprise, the system only works with the tacit consent of all the players involved. So for all our rhetoric and even the most staunch, yes even we prisoners, at some level, consented (albeit against or wishes and desires) to accept the reality (escapes aside) of the situation to being imprisoned.

    One major goal was, by agitation, gile, intelligent leadership and resolve to improve the quality of lives of the Republican jail community to the extent that we had the freedom from brutality from the screws and loyalists and the security to best function as Republicans, to persue our own education programme in a peaceful non-confrontational lifestyle that enabled us to grow and evolve as men, as republicans and as political activists preparing for our eventual release and return to the struggle.

    Over a decade later by August 1999 we had 100% defacto Poltical status, we ran our own communities, we had our own internal education programmes including a gaeltacht in H-block 5, coupled with access to formal educational opportunities that I personally availed of to Masters level. In all life was bearable, we made the very best of what we had improving ourselves and our conditions as was our duty.

    I am aware, from personal experience and activism, that many of the present SF strategists and activists like Adams, Gibney, Duckser (?) Storey, Sid, Lorney, Jackie, Raymond et al went through that jail exprience and now favour the SF strategy derived from this model that change from within is the optimum way to implode the system and make ‘A better Quality of life’ for our communites.

    I mean it stands now like then, why should Republicans and future generations suffer more than is necessary to make gains, to reclaim our rights, ? And hey, make gains we likely will, gan doubt, a lot of us have got the nice cars and nice houses (some even more than one) and a reasonable quality of life. Logical, common sense, straightforward yes?

    Yet crucially, while never giving up on our identity, our Republican ideals, a desire to escape and the tools to make that happen, we were still in JAIL !!!

    And now to transplant that model on the outside in terms of the national question? Partition? Soveregnity is folly at best, criminal at worse.
    We are not in a physical jail any more men, we can choose not to be forced to conform and convince ourselves its for some higher ideals like we had to in the kesh. We can revolt, we can unite and decide to resist the ‘riot teams’ on our own terms now, its no longer 24 against one. We can stand together, resolute and firm, where did the young, defiant, brave Storeys and Walshes go? !!

    Comrades despite the gloss and glam are we not still in a Jail of sorts? Our escape kits and escape commitees have been meekly decommisioned and disbanded with Sid & Storey leading the charge, Republican ideals thwarted and sidelined for the foreseeable future by former comrades as we are effectively being told to ‘do our wack’ while we are led ‘boots squeeking’ into the ‘prison’ system endorsing British rule in Ireland.

    This Adams/Maguinness driven internal implosion strategy has made Irish Republicanism unrecognisable to itself.

    In conceeding its core beliefs to get into the ‘general population’ and presenting the delusion that the 6 county ‘jail’ can be smashed from within by the outside equilalent of board forms and NIO petitions they now have the audacity to ask us to support the PSNI?

    I remind you with gritted teeth and steely resolve tempered by years of prison struggle and activism since my release to any comrades reading this that never, not once, not one of us, in all that time would have considered encouraging our people, our families and ourselves joining the Northern Ireland Prison Service !!!

    Shame, shame, shame on those former comrades like Bobby Storey, Séanna Walsh and Phil Mc Cullagh who now call on us to accept the authority of the public face of our Goalers, of the occupation the PSNI and MI5.

    This is not over by any means, infiltrate yes !!! Join, support and collude with them against your own? Impossible for any genuine Republican !!

    … the British still occupy our nation in collusion with the present Sinn Féin project which quisling like bequeaths the struggle to future generations and their revenge will be the slaughter of our children !!!

    is mise
    Fuiseog

  • So pragmatism worked then but would be shameful now?

  • ingram

    Mark.

    Here we go.

    No laughing please.

    Six County Policing

    395. This Ard Fheis calls for the creation of the new beginning to policing, in accordance with the principles of the Good Friday Agreement. A key requirement in this is democratic accountability. In the Six Counties, this requires the transfer of powers on policing and justice away from London and out of the hands of British securocrats to restored, democratically elected institutions in Ireland. The Sinn Fein President will propose to the Sinn Fein Ard Chomhairle that it calls a special Ard Fheis to decide Sinn Fein�s position on new policing arrangements in the context
    of:

    � Agreement between the parties on the departmental model and powers to be transferred;
    � The enactment by the British government of the legislation to give full expression to this transfer of powers on policing and justice away from London;
    � A DUP commitment to an acceptable timeframe for the transfer of powers on policing and justice.
    � A position paper would go to all levels of the party for discussion to inform a comprehensive debate leading up to the special Ard Fheis.Unquote

    Now when you add the public comments over MI5`s role you have some shopping list. lets see what Gerry has in his bag?

    Nite

    Martin