Sinn Fein and the ‘strategically right’ thing to do…

The Irish Times has a few interesting asides from Gerry Adams on the decision facing his party:

“He sidestepped directly answering Taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s recommendation on Tuesday night that even if Dr Paisley refused to move, that he should proceed with the ardfheis. “With respect to the Taoiseach, he is not a Sinn Féin adviser,” he said.”


“A senior Sinn Féin source said last night that Mr Adams has yet to take a final decision on the ardfheis but that he would be guided by whether it was “strategically” the right thing to do for republicanism.”

If the ard comhairle upholds its previous position at the weekend, and calls an Ard Fheis, the necessary two weeks notice will take us right down to the wire. That gives the party some time in which to compose and disseminate a decent strategy going into the election campaign.

But it also tips them directly into that campaign with a potentially divisive policy still relatively hot.

Given the the fact that the DUP has not intelligibly shifted its response, Sinn Fein may consider a passive aggressive response: so it may re-word what had reportedly been comprehensive backing of the policing and justice system.

Or they could call the whole thing off. Though that risks taking most of the blame for collapsing the Peace Process™ scrum.

On the other hand, strategically playing for a calmer space of a Stormont Assembly Sinn Fein may just swallow some pride and take the only policing deal that has been on offer for months. It would also accord with past promises to make it easy for the DUP.

Then the ball may, for once, convincingly shift in the direction of the leading unionist party. Or will it?

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • Kathy_C

    posted by Kathy C

    Hi all,
    Gerry Adams for some time now has been doing the deal that the queens gov’t wants. I can’t see any movement in adam’s direction unless he starts laughing at paisly…that would turn things around and give sinn fein once again the upper hand. If adams refuses to do that….then he will continue to have sinn fein kiss the back side of paisly

  • middle-class taig


    I would really like to see a sensible, strategic critique of the current Adams position. I am yet to see one. Unhinged, emotive rhetoric is getting duller by the second.

    SF has been on the ropes for two years now, under attack from every conceivable player in the peace process and beyond. The deal isn’t going to get any better. It should be taken. Then SF can play offence.

    While Bertie’s duplicity in these matters must be intensely irritating, and Gerry is obviously under significant political pressure, the Taoiseach’s advice in this context is not bad advice, unless Gerry thinks an Ard Fheis would not currently pass a policing motion. Moreover, SF should avoid dissing the Taoiseach, even when he’s being a cute hoor. He’s one of those politicians of whom the electorate is stupidly protective. They can see when he’s being a cute hoor, but when someone calls him on it, they feel sorry for him. SF need to stop bad-mouthing Bertie. The southern electorate doesn’t like it.

  • dublinsfsupporter

    “The southern electorate doesn’t like it.”


  • dublinsfsupporter

    Kathy C

    Sinn Féin has been very ably led by Gerry Adams and the party is now in a position where it can deliver real and substantive improvements in quality of life for its voters. Sinn Féin is not in the business of just ‘laughing at Paisley’ as you put it. People vote for Paisley and he and the British, like it or not, are the people Sinn Féin have to work with. The policing issue is not an easy one but it has to be faced up to. Sinn Féin is getting distracted from business in the south by the presence of the unfinished policing issue. There are lots of other issues that Sinn Féin can move on to in the south if it gets the powersharing arrangements past this barrier in the north. But in all of this Gerry Adams has been consistently very good indeed.

  • Kathy_C

    posted by Kathy C

    Hi all,

    Dear Taig–you want a critique on adams…how about he did what the british prime minister thatcher was unable to do…he criminalized the IRA. Now, I think they are patriots like the patriots of Lexington and Concord during the American Revolution…but Adams came out about 2 years ago and said in his negotiations that he was going to get an agreement from the IRA that they would stop their criminal activity…aka he labeled the IRA as criminals…and I spit on adams for doing that.
    Dear dubliner…as for the real change adams has gotten…lately it is to do whatever the brits want. Adams is such a weak negotiator (and we have to include mcguiness) that the sdlp can see they are politically vulnerable and are going after them on their negotiation skills or should I say…lack there of.
    If sinn fein wants to survive politically they have to laugh at paisly or get rid of adams and mcguiness otherwise…the party is going down…and isn’t that a reason the brits are going to have another election…hoping that the sdlp will once again be the number one Irish republicvan party….the brits don’t do anything that doesn’t promote what they want and they want sinn fein not to be the number one Irish party…and adams and mcguiness seem to be working for that as well.

  • Conor


    How on earth did Adams criminalise the IRA? The only people who can criminalise anything in a country are lawmakers. You are using hyper-emotional terminology that doesn’t make any sense.

    And the IRA were involved in criminal activity long before Adams took over as President. All forms in IRA have always used crime to fund their campaigns which was seen as legitimate as long as there was a campaign to be fought. As the current campaign came to an end Adams ‘called’ on all volunteers to cease criminal activity, as it was no longer justified.

    I’m guessing by your spelling of criminalisation you are American btw?

  • Rubicon

    Is this the same GA & MMcG that have led SF to their current position of leading nationalist party? Where was SF in the polls before GA took over?

    Follow Kathy_C’s advice and I guess they’ll be back where they were. With that kind of strategising I guess the SF leadership must be shaking in their boots.

    Or – is it Kathy_C that it’s not political success through democratic means that concerns you? Is really laughing at Paisley that you’re looking for? Seems a bit juvenile – or is ‘laughing’ a synonym for something more sinister?

  • middle-class taig


    Re: your exclamation “Nonsense.”, I’m afraid I must request elaboration.