Sinn Fein’s British approach to Irish tax base?

I, like others, gave Sinn Fein a fair chance of taking a serious step forward in this election. But perhaps it is possible that we’ve been viewing them too much through the prisym of their Northern Irish success, and not as they are viewed by southerners. One Northern unionist, Steven King, clinically picks apart Sinn Fein economic policy, what there is of it. He argues it is long on promise of state help, but short on explaining where the money will come from that will pay for it.

Gerry Adams’ foreword to his manifesto lists a 10-point plan. Priority Number 1 is, surprise, surprise, a United Ireland. Priority number 2 is about Partition. A strong economy comes in not 3rd, not 4th but – you guessed it – 10th. According to Sinn Féin, the economic prosperity Ireland now enjoys is down to “the hard work of all our people”. It’s a charming idea – except it presupposes that everyone in Ireland was a work-shy layabout until 15 years ago. Policies had nothing to do with it, apparently.

Sinn Féin makes passing mention of unionists in its plans – a small step forward. But is a party that demands inquiries into abuses by anyone and everyone except the IRA, which goes beyond (and therefore undermines) the Good Friday Agreement, which talks about human rights but has a long history of excusing mass murder, and which (still) has nothing good to say about the Gardai in its manifesto really a party likely to inspire confidence among sections of this island’s population?

Sinn Féin has a glib response to this: if them being in government is good enough for Ian Paisley, it should be more than good enough for everyone else. After all, didn’t unionism take the brunt over the years, without for a moment overlooking the Jerry McCabes, the Billy Foxs and all the rest? But that is to pretend that Dublin and Belfast are just two sides of the same coin when there is, in fact, a world of difference.

The Northern Ireland Executive levies no taxes. It doesn’t determine its own spending. It has no role whatever in foreign affairs or defence. It still has no responsibility for policing and the administration of justice. And there are a whole range of issues it is expressly prohibited from legislating on.

There might be fancy titles and long limousines and a very grand setting but the Northern administration bears closer relation to a county council with attitude than a national parliament. As the Good Friday Agreement states, “Northern Ireland in its entirety remains part of the United Kingdom… [Westminster’s] power to make legislation for Northern Ireland would remain unaffected”. End of story.

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

  • Whatever Next

    Groan, I thought if we had gained nothing else in the last 5 years, we had seen an end to drear Bewgodsonkingery like this: “… which goes beyond (and therefore undermines) the Good Friday Agreement …” – what the $%£& did you expect the Provos to do? Sit pat? Expect politics to be utterly static? Grandly decline to try and advance their agenda? [Kindly keep the personal stuff to a minimum, please? Moderator]

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ”Southern electorate can see through threadbare Sinn Fein economic policy shock.”

    ”Sinn Fein one trick pony party.”

    ”Back to the drawing board for Gerry & the Peacemakers.”

    It’s early days in the counting process but it looks suspiciously like the big SF breakthrough isn’t happening.

  • Whatever Next

    Oh fuck this for a game of soldiers. Praise terrorist murder fine; point out that King was wrong, is wrong, and is liable to be wrong, bad, bad, ban.

  • Mick Fealty

    I’ve removed nothing of any substance WN. You’ve been around long enough to know the difference between man and ball. If you want to get personal, there are other places you can vent spleen. Or do it on your own blog!

  • Having saw a picture of Gerry jumping over a constituent’s gate when out electioneering I got the impression that here was a man out on his way to fulfill a seemingly self-fulfilling prophecy stoked up in the bad old of days of war in west Belfast; but he looked so pleased to be able to run around in the South to promote his all-Ireland project. Like as a little boy now about to fulfill his own dreams of west Belfast being Ireland and Ireland being west Belfast – and boy – he looked so happy when jumping over that gate, like it was the last hurdle for Irish Republicanism.

    A west Belfast man let loose out in Ireland, an Ireland that has turned its back to the past and embraced the European Union and shunned ethnic-nationalism; Gerry has stated everyone has rights but does that include the right not to work in life too -where would that get Ireland?

    It’s all half-baked visionary stuff cooked in the pot of neurotic-minded Northern-Irish republicanism subsequently laid on the table for the disillusioned voter whose grasp on Irish politics is stereotypical.

  • I think King has a point here. SF probably missed an opportunity by putting up Adams in the leaders debate when a party that was talking about being in Government should have been putting forward their candidate for Tanaiste.

    Having said that, King’s point is an implicit criticism of the patronage politics of all the Northern parties. SF at least are trying to break out of that cul-de-sac.

  • IJP

    Well, the election has gone pretty much as I expected with the exception that SF has done fairly poorly (compared to what I would’ve expected).

    I realized SF had overplayed the “United Ireland” thing, but I’d reckoned that SF would perform well as the “protest party”, appealing to people who feel left behind by the Celtic Tiger, of whom I’ve no doubt there are quite a few (self-defined, mind).

    Turn out will have made a difference, of course. But none of the above should have made any difference. SF was never a set of policies, it was an “idea”. I’m surprised (and delighted) that people appear to have seen through it this time.