Sinn Fein: the Alliance party of the Republic?

Big Provo Is Watching YouGerry Adams concedes that his party faces a lot of work in the next two years before the council elections in 2009. The sheer size of the gap between current political reality and the party’s own ambition is see when you consider that its performance compares unfavourably with the Alliance party in Northern Ireland. In the recent Assembly elections the Alliance Party garnered 5.2% of the vote and took seven seats in an Assembly of 109 members. Sinn Fein took 6.9% of Thursday’s vote, which brought them just four seats out of a total of 166 in Dáil Éireann. Although on a better day they might have expected to made a gain or two on their previous total, the poor correlation between percentage of the vote and their seat tallies suggests that they have some considerable way to go before becoming accepted as part of the political landscape south of the border. That their sole surviving Dublin TD only made it with the help of transfers from several other leftist candidates also suggests they are fishing in the margins of an over crowded market.

The sheer foreign-ness of the party to most southerners is a major problem. Adams almost completely ignored Roisin Duffy’s question on This Week today that the widely held perception of the party was as ‘political tourists’ whose political legitimacy is part underwritten by their status as MPs, ie the Westminster parliament, and not the Dáil. There is little doubt that the heavily accented northern leadership is becoming increasingly incongruent to southern voters.

The failure to take even one of the two Donegal seats, and the large slippage in the support of Mary Lou McDonald’s vote in Dublin Central, presents a major problem for them going forward in this area.

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  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Anyone know what the percentage national increase/decrease in SFs vote is or indeed in absolute numbers? That is the type of figure which wolud be standard on the BBC. Although it has improved RTE website is still very poor – why dont they just copy the BBC?

    How entertaining that Enda cannot form a governement without Gerry’s help – though I did hear him ( Enda ) wriggling on the issue on RTE radio – most amusing.

    Perhaps Gerry should offer Enda a place on the army council in return for a cabinet position.

  • slug

    I have been very impressed by Enda during the campaign.

  • Gerry Kelly

    Have a look at the photo. The mastermind of Bloody Friday and Jean McKinney’s demise saying “Your Dublin. Your Future”. If so, f**k off back to your Donegal holiday home.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Slug, he was very poor on RTE radio at 1.40.

    He cant admit to himself the Grizzly holds the keys to power.

    The tired old chestnut of the ‘people have spoken’ can be construed to state that the people have said that they want all the opposition parties including SF to form a government.

    Go Enda & Grizzly & others

  • George

    It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it on,

    RTE is miles ahead of the BBC as seen by their coverage of Northern Ireland’s Assembly elections.

    BBC was totally primitive and didn’t have any method of following transfers and the like, which is essential under the STV system.

  • Mick Fealty

    George, I think s/he meant Adams’ was the poor performance, not RTE’s.

  • PaddyReilly

    they have some considerable way to go before becoming accepted as part of the political landscape south of the border.

    I think it would be truer to say “south of Ulster and Louth”

  • AliB

    “In the recent Assembly elections the Alliance Party garnered 5.2% of the vote and took seven seats in an Assembly of 109 members. Sinn Fein took 6.9% of Thursday’s vote, which brought them just four seats out of a total of 166 in Dáil Éireann.”
    Ouch! Unflinching stuff Mick.

  • slug

    Sammy, remember not to say anything negative about the Irish Republic while George is around :).

  • Aaron McDaid

    Going into the next few elections, Sinn F̩in can argue that they do have experience of government gained in Stormont. Working in Stormont should help the party understand about real policy implementation and budgeting et cetera. This means they might be able to put together a much better manifesto and then have say two years to push it with their enthusiastic members Рby the time of the next election the public will have a real choice and the establishment will have one less excuse to attack Sinn F̩in.

  • slug

    Aaron – running Stormont in d’hondt coalition with the DUP SDLP and UUP is a bit like running a council. The responsibilities are similar. I don’t think it really translates into evidence of policy detail in Dail elections.

  • slug

    …that said, Aaron, I hope that they take the view that they need to run their ministerial positions in NI very well in order to reap electoral benefit, because then that brings a lot of stability to the arrangements.

  • lib2016

    Has anyone seen a comparison on transfers yet? Are Sinn Fein beginning to make inroads there or will that too have to wait til next time?

  • carnmoney

    Sinn Fein: the Alliance party of the Republic?

    Clever headline Mick, and vote share is similar, but I think there are a few differences between SF and Alliance.

    It appears that SF has a few unique factors in 4 county Ulster/Louth, but in Dublin it’s just another left-wimg fringe group. Even in Dublin SC, an outgoing TD was outpolled by three health services/left Independents (added together) by 1,000 votes.

    Alliance largely has the centre franchise to itself in NI, is now working with the two other centre MLAs, Deeny and Wilson, and is (slightly) growing.

  • Intelligence Insider

    The shinners increased their vote share by 0.4% from 6.5% in 2002, and voting figures up by approx 21500, but I think they may have stood in more constituencies than 2002 so hard to compare. Overall a pretty woeful result from “the only 32 county party”. Personally of course, I’m over the moon at that! 😉

  • The full number-crunching has yet to come, but for me SF’s problem seems encapsulated by Donegal NE.

    The first count, up against a quota of 9637:
    Joe McHugh 8711
    Padraig MacLochlainn 6733
    Jim McDaid 6724
    Cecelia Keaveney 6362
    Niall Blaney 6288
    Half a dozen also rans holding and folding over 3500 votes between them.

    And, inevitably, MacLochlainn is squeezed out by Blaney on the eighth count.

    My quick look suggests something similar elsewhere. SF is just not getting the transfers from minor parties and floaters.

    Would it be wrong to assume that SF are not (yet) regarded as housetrained?

    Then there’s the treble-edged pen of John Drennan in the Sindy:
    Gerry also discovered the hard way that it is very hard to campaign in a foreign land where you don’t know the issues. Stick to your home parliament of Westminster, Gerry.


  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    my comments about RTE were in relation to their website. I think I saw they recently won an award – well the competition must have been dreadful. Obviously there is difference in funding with the BBC but the easy stuff RTE does not even do properly. An example is their breaking news which quite often does not updated over the weekend. Their election coverage just dried up on Saturday with nothing on the ongoing counts. Their were no percentage/actual increase or decrease figures that I could see.

    Intelligence Indider – thanks for those figures. I presume that FG, FF and SF increased their number of votes and Labour, Green and PDs saw a decline?

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Malcolm Redfellow

    The good people of non iron ( Gerry included ) have probably more in common with the ordinary people of ROI than many of those sporting their ‘Dublin 4’ mindset.

  • Intelligence Insider

    FF were up 0.1%, + 68500 votes, lost 4 seats
    FG were up 4.8%, + 146200 votes, gained 20 seats
    Lab were down 0.7%, + 8500 votes, no seat change
    Greens were up 0.9%, + 25400 votes, no seat change
    PD’s were down 1.3%, – 17800 votes, lost 6 seats.

  • Sammy Mc Nally what done it @ 05:21 PM.

    The figures are out there. For the record:
    FF 41.6% (-0.8%)
    FG 27.3% (+4.9%)
    Labour 10.1% (-0.7%)
    PD 2.7% (-1.2%)
    Green 4.7% (+0.9%)
    SF 6.9% (+0.6%)
    Rest: 6.6% (-4.3%)

    The difference in the number of candidates put up distorts those figures, notably so in SF’s case.

  • Intelligence Insider

    Malcolm, I have FF at getting 41.5% for 2002 election, hence my + 0.1%.
    Our other figures seem to match.

  • Sorry about that duplication. And, yes, I got the FF figure wrong. It’s 41.6% for both elections.

    Since Enda’s mob managed a swing of about 2½%, and went some long way to recovering pre-2002 positions, that should be recognised. I notice, though, that the ferrets are already after the Rabbitte.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Malcom, Intelligence,

    thanks for those figures.

  • ALEX S

    No doubt a thesis could be written on why S/F ‘bombed’ (excuse the pun)in the election, however it’s simple,
    1. Adams was not only badly out of touch with the real issues but on the one RTE phonein programme I listened to was repeatedly having to either justify or apologise for past IRA actions, even at the start of the programme it was obvious from his wee bit of ‘Irish’ that he was’nt a true Irish speaker and that it was just a tacky gimmick.
    2. All the talk of Irish unity is a turn off, Souths attitude to the North is a bit like the oul peeler/guard outside the noisy pub, “keep it quiet lads”

  • seanzmct

    I fully expect Sinn Fein to begin moderating their socio-economic policies in a rightwards direction after this disastrous election result, thus moving towards Alliance territory. After all Sinn Fein were a party of the right prior to the sixties lurch into “socialism”.

    I have been struck by how many southerners perceived Gerry Adams as a lightweight “interfering” in their affairs. Better for him to concentrate on Belfast and Westminster where he is an MP.

  • Harry Flashman

    I have to say reading the posts on Sinn Fein’s poor performance makes it clear that most people haven’t realised what a calamitous defeat the Republican Movement suffered on Thursday. It is unquestionably the biggest defeat suffered by the Republican Movement in forty years. Forget Operation Motorman, Roy Mason, or Loughgall, the Republican Movement have just received the most crushing, perhaps fatal, blow they have ever received since the Civil War and it was from the 26 County electorate (again).

    Many write as if Sinn Fein is just another political party. They suggest leadership changes, a new front bench, a better manifesto, new look policies, they’ll be coming up with focus groups next. To do so is to fundamentally misunderstand what Sinn Fein is; it is not just one more political party but is in fact merely a front in an ongoing (up to last Thursday) and, to a certain extent armed, revolutionary movement.

    Now we old timers in the North are fully aware of this fact, we’ve lived among members of this movement and we’ve seen the often horrific consequences of the movement’s actions. However the younger, more southern inclined posters seem to have been taken in by the propaganda of the past decade and a half and genuinely believe that Sinn Fein is merely a radical new left of centre political party who suffered a bit of a lapse last week but don’t worry sure we’ll just try harder for the next election eh?

    Such a hope is forlorn, don’t kid yourself that all Sinn Fein wanted was to get a few junior ministries to alleviate the hardships of their constituents. Danny Morrison stated the object from the outset and despite all the guff and spin, real Republicans will tell you the object never changed merely the tactics, as Danny put it at the ’81 Ard Fheis; “Will anyone here object, if with a ballot paper in this hand and an Armalite in the other we take [note the “take”] power in Ireland?”, there were no objections.

    Ah yes Harry you old dinosaur, get into the modern age, that is ancient history, it’s all in the past, we’re a new young dynamic people now. Indeed we are, and Sinn Fein has just discovered this fact but never be fooled about what Sinn Fein’s real intentions were, right up to last week.

    They’ve been soundly defeated, that election was supposed to have been the “Our Day” that they’ve been Tiocfaidhing about all this past quarter century, they were to see their crowning victory after successfully getting into power in the North, now it has all crumbled to ash before their eyes.

    So what’s their future? Well obvious, the boys of the old Northern brigade hang up their broad black brimmers, the Gerrys and the Martins of the North quietly slink into retirement to fish trout in Donegal. The new bright young things in the South will take over and rebrand “New” Sinn Fein, the shiny happy Social Democratic party which after a few years will merge into Fianna Fail or Labour.

    And the rest of us old fossils? We’ll think of our youth, when we had a lot more hair and a lot less waistline, when we should have been having fun and instead grew up in a psychopathic blood drenched madhouse. We’ll smile at our kids with their iPods and nice new Peugeot cars and pause for a while. We will take down our well thumbed volume of “Lost Lives” open a page at random from the 1970’s or ’80s and as a quiet tear drops on to the silent list of names we’ll ask ourselves;

    “What in Christ’s loving name was it all about?”

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    “What in Christ’s loving name was it all about?”


  • Paul

    Sammy it was about “Partition”? We’ve still got “partition” (aka self determination) and there is no violence now. So logically it can’t have been about partition.

  • pig champion RIP

    ALEX S

    “…even at the start of the programme it was obvious from his wee bit of ‘Irish’ that he was’nt a true Irish speaker and that it was just a tacky gimmick.”

    What was tackier was Pat Kenny audibly tutting and sighing when Adams spoke in Irish. (It’s not like Pat’s cupla focail is much better than Adams’.)

    Anyhoo, back to SF being rattled. And badly rattled at that.

  • Gréagóir O’ Fráinclín

    Sinn Féin’s performance was really disasterous. They were sure that they would get 10 seats and maybe more, but it backfired and it all went wrong. A factor of this would have to be Gerry Adams rather desperate performance on the debate programme prior to the election. The panel were debating the details of Celtic Tiger economics and Gerry insisted on mentioning equal rights each time, totally way off the mark and the points being made by other contributers at the time. I think the Irish public saw the limited knowledge Gerry & Co. has on such matters and decided from then on that the Shinners were not for them. Seán Crowe lost his seat in working class Dublin, Mary Lou McDonald didn’t make much of an impact and Aengus O’Snodaigh just barely scraped in. Back to the drawing board for the Shinners then and time for the Shinners to read up on Adam Smith, Richard Cantillon and the like. (Perhaps the paramilitary black garb of the colour party could be dropped too in favour of civies now that the ‘war’ is over. Perhaps it can look sinister and intimidating to Dubliners when parading through the city.)

  • Comrade Stalin


    After all Sinn Fein were a party of the right prior to the sixties lurch into “socialism”.

    Are you sure ?

    Republicanism has historically always been associated with the left, look at the text of the 1916 proclamation.

  • George

    by It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it on,

    you obviously didn’t try and follow the NI Assembly elections on the BBC website.

    Just as a clarification, I was not talking about news coverage as a whole, I was talking about election coverage and in the recent NI and Dáil elections, which were both under the STV system, RTE was streets ahead.

  • lib2016

    Sinn Fein ; the Alliance party of the Republic?

    Boy – You really know how to hurt a guy!

    It’s good to see from some of the other posts that Sinn Fein still inspires such and (and sheer lunacy) from it’s opponents. Considering the nature of those same opponents and the sort of politics they practise I deduce that Sinn Fein must be still on the right track.

  • Maggot

    Republicanism has historically always been associated with the left

    So why did people like Peadar O’Donnell, Frank Ryan and George Gilmore leave the IRA and form the Republican Congress Comrade Stalin? What was the infamous attack at Bodenstown all about ?

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it


    we now have partition with partial Nationalist ‘consent’ – partial because all the options were not availble at the time of the vote e.g. U.I.

    But Nationalists having tried the violence route have now given up on that and in my opinion. Grizzly deserves great praise for achieiving that having given the other alternative his best ‘shot’.

    But with the Tories in power in Englezeland who is to say it wont kick off again in 20 years or when demographics bring a UI closer and people forget the unpleasantries.

    Partition, Partition Partition.

  • Comrade Stalin @ 11:06 AM:

    There may be a valid point in there somewhere. Is there, anywhere, a convincing critique of the ideology of the blood-sacrifice men? Was Connolly’s the only socialism on parade at the Post Office?

    The link from there to the 1934 Athlone Manifesto (Maggot @ 11:20 AM) involves crossing a generational divide while ignoring a world slump and the rise of fascism. It certainly is not merely evolution in the movement.

    A further link to the Provos of the post-1969 split needs an even greater intellectual leap.

    All of this deserves serious debate. These columns are not the suitable arena. Where else?

  • lib2016

    Both governments now accept that partition is a source of ongoing instability. It won’t last much longer but we’ll have to put up with the usual inanities while the Brits declare victory and leave, as they have done in other countries around the world.

    Even if the Brits don’t want to accept it the next Democrat administration will make sure they do. Only a few more years of Ingram etc. – makes it easier to accept when I remind myself of that.

  • Gréagóir O’ Fráinclín

    The Spotlight programme last week on BBC NI had economic experts giving their opinion on the future of NI and they generally agreed that NI would be financially better off within a UI situation.

  • lib2016 @ 11:45 AM

    Where have you been for the last few years? Yours is the rhetoric of a quarter of a century gone.

    The “Brits” (please define) long since have lost all interest in partition, except as an element in the “expenditure” side of the balance sheet.

    On the other hand, there may well be a nascent administration at Stormont capable of managing things (well, OK, so far, so good). Besides, there is now supra-national machinery and co-operation which transcends the narrow statelet policies of Craig and Andrews, on which the like of lib2016 could feed. The notion that any US administration (or any other deus ex machina imposes régime change on NI is cloud-cuckoo land. At some stage, probably not in my lifetime, a further referendum may happen (without much support, one might think, from Dublin): place your bets if you like.

    By the way, could one equally argue that separatism for Scotland would be “a source of ongoing instability”?

    And, yes, this is definitely “off topic”.

  • Maggot

    Is money the deciding factor ? After all for most of it’s existance the FS/ROI would have been better off financially within the UK . From what I can see ‘tribalism’ still rules the roost on both sides of the border – in NI it’s still Orange vs Green, in the ROI is still locked into the civil war, FF vs FG ?

  • Niall

    Prior to this election, everybody in the south who was going to vote Sinn Fein had already done so. They were never going to make any serious gains on 2002. Protest votes only last so long.

    Reasons why SF did poorly in this election? One word: “socialist”

  • Paul

    Sammy, but that still means it wasn’t partition that caused the violence. A minority of nationalists once thought they had the right to kill people to end partititon and force unification but most nationalists didn’t. After 25 years and 3000+ deaths later that minority decided that the rest of nationalists had been right all along. There was partition before and most nationalists didn’t murder anyone. There is still partition now but the violence has stopped.

    SF/IRA want to absolve themselves of responsiblity by saying “partition made me do it”. No, it was their choice to shoot the man in front of his family or or set off the bomb at the Remembrance ceremony. And now they’ve recognised that the majority of nationalists were right when they said that wasn’t the right thing to do.

    I’m always interested by this perjoritive word “partition”. We’ve seen partition in north America, the Iberian peninsula, the Low Countries, Scandinavia just to name a few – these didn’t lead to terrorist campaigns. Its a standard way of drawing borders.

  • Gréagóir O’ Fráinclín

    ‘I’m always interested by this perjoritive word “partition”. We’ve seen partition in north America, the Iberian peninsula, the Low Countries, Scandinavia just to name a few – these didn’t lead to terrorist campaigns. Its a standard way of drawing borders.’

    However were there communities within these partioned areas getting a raw deal or the shitty end of the stick? The very cause of ‘the Troubles’ is becomming more and more overlooked.

  • IJP


    It’s good to see from some of the other posts that Sinn Fein still inspires such and (and sheer lunacy) from it’s opponents.

    So does Alliance. So there’s another link!

    And here’s another one: did SF’s “journey” end on 8 May? Was it rejected simply because it was all about the “process”, and the “process” is over?

  • Intelligence Insider

    Let’s not forget that re-unification would need a dual mandate, majorities in support being required in both countries. Both would be voting for collossal tax rises, required to make up for the loss of GB subsidies. They would also be voting for an undoubted return to war by loyalist paramilitaries, whose membership in a “doomsday scenario” is likely to increase innumerably, and major southern cities would surely be the main target of attack.

    I dont foresee the turkeys voting for Christmas for a long time!

  • jaffa

    “And here’s another one: did SF’s “journey” end on 8 May? Was it rejected simply because it was all about the “process”, and the “process” is over?”


    Alliance’s future is dependent on its role in the next phase of “the process”.

    Small as you are you can’t sit on that constitutional fence forever. You now need a position that isn’t just “let’s not make things worse”. Stand for something before you get splinters in your liberal backside, (not calling you big-arse or anything by the way).

  • Niall

    “Both would be voting for collossal tax rises, required to make up for the loss of GB subsidies.”

    This is highly speculative. Nobody can predict how the two economies in Ireland will be performing in 20/30 years’ time, which is when I imagine a referendum would be held.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it


    given that most nationalists voted in the anti-partitionist insurrectionists into power (PSF)they can claim to have got a mandate after the event – 1916 and all that.I put that down to the good sense of Grizzly and the fact that the boy Blair went to Donegal on holidays and found out what was going on.

    Dividing the country on the basis of a sectarian head count (partition) is a recipe for disaster especially when you put a hostile intolerant ethnic minority in charge of the bit you slice off. It is true the Englezes took there eye off the ball but that can be attributed to the fact that they agreed to Stormont as part of the partition deal.

  • lib2016

    “Both would be voting for colossal tax rises…”

    These days even unionists are giving lip service to the idea of integrating the economies North and South. Argue all you want, guys. It’s already happening. Economic union first to be followed by whatever political developments are decided upon by a generation most of whom will never have seen republicans at war.

    The PD’s did even worse than Sinn Fein and the Greens aren’t too happy either yet to read these posts one would think that SF were the only party which had a bad day. If the local elections in two years show the Sinn Fein vote still growing it won’t mean certainty about anything but most observers won’t be too surprised.

  • Intelligence Insider

    lib, surely even you aren’t suggesting that integrating the economies of N.I. and the RoI would reduce the subsidy required from the rest of the U.K.?
    Did you by any chance study at the Gerry Adams School of Economics? lol
    If anything, it would increase the subsidy required therefore leading to even more collossal tax increases in the unimaginable case of re-unification.
    That is why it is such a great progressive game plan for unionism to argue for harmonisation of certain taxation areas. We are in effect tying ourselves closer to the U.K. by making the tax rises required to bring about a united ireland so absolutely horrifying that no-one in their right mind, in either the RoI or N.I., could vote for bringing it about. It’s the economy, stupid!

  • Niall

    The problem is Sinn Fein voters have always been pretty radical. I can’t see the party gaining votes from transfers unless they become more middle ground. They are, quite frankly, in a pickle and need to come up with a new political identity in the south.

  • IJP


    Anything other than membership of the UK is not currently an option – not economically, not politically, not socially.

    The next phase of the process, surely, is to make it so.

    I’d rather live in an NI that both London and Dublin wanted, not one they both want rid of!

  • kensei

    “lib, surely even you aren’t suggesting that integrating the economies of N.I. and the RoI would reduce the subsidy required from the rest of the U.K.?”

    Er, what exactly is the economic basis for ridiculing that? The whole point of all Ireland structures is to reduce costs and make markets more competitive. Tax harmonisation is an attempt to bring more investment Northwards. An expanding economy naturally reduces the transfer of wealth from the UK. The only way we get more dependent on England is if our economy screws up even more.

    On what planet does your economics work?

  • Paul

    Sammy, they only voted them in once they gave up violence. They had no mandate for what they did before that. SF were the minority nationalist party until well after the ceasefire. Show me any poll which showed that a majority of nationalists did or do support the SF/IRA murder campaign. “Dividing the country on the basis of a sectarian head count (partition) is a recipe for disaster”. It worked fine for Belgium and the Netherlands?

    Gréagóir O’ Fráinclín, I absolutely agree. It wasn’t partition as such – after all partiton is the basis of almost every European country as very few have natural borders. What caused the Troubles was Unionists treating their nationalist neighbours disgracefully.

  • Rory (South Derry)

    It time for the big wigs in the PROVO PLC band to realise that no one in the mainstream Southern Electorate really give a F**k for Northern Ireland and the unification of the country!

    The SF leadership were really niave in putting up complete political amatuers to stand on convention election issues.

    The facts are simple:-

    (1). You sold out on the PSNI
    (2). You betrayed the Hungerstrikers

    Now Catholic Ireland sees you for what you are:-

    A bunch of bank robbing, scumbags with no political ability in a peacetime senario.


  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it


    funny enough I was referring to the partition of Ireland not Belgium or elsewhere. Ireland was partitioned in circumstances that sowed the seeds of disaster with 2 ethnic camps with a distaste for each other and access to weapons and support from neighboring counties. The fact that the Englezes both set up and ignored the behaviour of the dominant tribe has re-ignited the republicanism that many in ROI seem now to have rejected. Those who fought against it – the Provos – have been rewarded for that in the North – but not rewarded in the South – at least not for the time being. Trying to pretend that Nationalists in the North dont remember that it was Provos that blew the place to bits is silly.
    Most people think that Grizzly got a reasonable deal (GFA/STA) fighting a tight corner and that is where he gets his support from both north and south.

    If the South does not at some time decide to reward Grizzly & Co for their work then SF will wither way in the ROI.

    But it was partition in Ireland what done it with due repsect to the Walloons.

  • Sammy Mc Nally what done it @ 09:38 PM

    I know that it is traditional to have speaking in tongues at Slugger, but could someone kindly translate this one back into common argot?

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Editor do help.

    some curious pompous chappie with the agnomen of ‘Malcolm Redfellow’ is trying to draw me into exchanging personal insults.

  • Sammy Mc Nally what done it @ 10:29 PM

    Benefits of a good Dublin eddication, actually. It taught the difference between agnomen, cognomen and pseudonym. But, seriously, I was trying to ascertain your point between the coded references.

    Look, this thread is dead, passed on, ceased to be, expired and gone to meet its other clichés. So let it lie, and move on.

    But, why does every thread here have to degenerate into the equivalent of daubing walls with partisan slogans?

    Roy Foster said, as long ago as 1976, that the “myths” of Irish history were not used in any creative way, “their function is as a refuge in which to evade analysis”. Repeatedly, debate and discussion on Slugger initiate analysis, but deteriorate into sloganeering. The result is that anyone with a serious point to make gets pissed off, and goes elsewhere, leaving the arena to those who can do no more than shout the slogans.

    If that’s being pompous, as “Dewey Flynn” put it []: “Read between the lines.”

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Dear Mal,

    I may have misconstrued your remarks as they were not adressed to me directly but to the wider audience.

    I always refer to leader of SF as Grizzly – after the TV character with a penchant for bears and sharing the same surname. Other than that I’m not sure where your difficulty with my turn of phrase may lie.

    On your more serious point I dont know if you are directing the ‘myth’ and ‘slogan’ comments at something I said earlier but I personally favour a mixture of humour and fact and dont have a problem with an element of sloganeering as long as it has been thought through.

    I personally think Slugger is quite a good balance – but I do think if someone posts as a supporter of SF as Chris Donnelly did in a later post he should then have to answer questions form those who reply to his remarks.

    Regards, Sammy

  • seanzmct

    Comrade Stalin et al—-A few comments on Sinn Fein’s alleged historical “socialism”.

    SF founder was Arthur Griffith and his party was more nakedly bourgeois than the Home Rule party. Griffith was also a notorious racist in the tradition of John Mitchell.

    De Valera commanded Labour to “wait” in 1918 and the period of revolutionary SF government 1919-21 was one of strict governance in the interest of private property.

    Both sides in the civil war were anti-socialist and even opposed the embryonic British welfare state. The De Valera constitution of 1937 and subsequent legislation was wedded to Catholic theology.

    Leftists like Frank Ryan and Peader O’Donnell were seen off by Sean Russell who went on to form a military alliance with the Nazis.( A group of socialists recently beheaded Russell’s statue in Dublin).Frank Ryan himself morphed into a Hitlerite.

    The fourth split in SF in 1940 produced Clann na Poblachta which stabbed the progressive Noel Browne in the back when the Bishops decreed against his Mother and Child bill. Sean McBride ex-IRA Chief of Staff was a leading Bishops’ man.

    The leading post-war SF propagandist was Brian O’Higgins who was a reactionary puritanical Catholic. Sean South, the leading Republican leader of the 50’s was also in the advance guard of the process of Catholicising the public life in the Republic and of the movement to incorporate the North into it.

    The 60’s saw SF take its leftwards Marxist turn. The fifth split took place when the Provos emerged . Provisional SF in reaction to the communistic Officials, adopted a strong Catholic ethos.

    Granted, in 1981 SF policy was the “abolition of capitalism in Eire Nua” -but of course policy like this was kept quiet when fund-raising amongst the Yanks!

    Much of Adams’s SF’s socialism has been at the empty rhetorical level. Now that they are in government in the North we will se if they abolish academic selection or end PFI schemes in the public sector. I confidently predict they will not. And, I repeat my prediction that SF will move to the right to increase their electoral support in the South. The weight of historical precedent suggests the same.

  • seanzmct @ 11:41 PM

    Yup: that’s it in a nut-shell. Perhaps a bit hard on Frank Ryan, though: let’s not take Francis Stuart and Vessenmayer entirely on trust (Róisín Ní Mheara – Stuart’s mistress du jour – implies a different story). And Ryan seems throughout to have insisted that de Valera had power of veto.

    Pity none of us know where to go from here.

  • seanzmct

    “Perhaps a bit hard on Frank Ryan”.

    Ryan was rescued from Spain by Nazi agents and until his death in Dresden in 1944 he was an honoured guest of the Reich and participated in a failed attempt to raise a Hitlerite Irish Brigade in the POW camps. SF’s greatest socialist????

  • Billy Pilgrim


    “What in Christ’s loving name was it all about?”

    I remember once hearing an Ulster Unionist councillor in east Tyrone give the best, sanest explanation I’ve ever heard for the troubles.

    “We all just sorta lost the heads for a while there.”

  • seanzmct @ 12:13 AM

    Who’d a thunk it? This thread has wandered a heck of a long way from its origin.

    However, back to Ryan. I thought the story was like this:

    Kerney, the Irish Minister in Spain (not “Ambassador”, as wikipedia suggests, for constitutional reasons before 1948), used an intermediary to effect Ryan’s transfer to the Abwehr. This implies some fishing in murky waters: Kerney was probably not the “monumental fool” others claimed him to be (that derives from Desmond Williams’ opinion, who is now recognised as working for British intelligence); and Canaris, running the Abwehr, is still a long way from being fully plumbed.

    My point here is that, at no time after he was incarcerated at Burgos, was Ryan “free” to make decisions for himself. So, whose creature was he: de Valera’s? Canaris’s (and therefore of whoever Canaris was serving)? Veesenmayer’s (as Ireland-desk officer for Canaris)?

    There is some reason to believe, though, that Ryan in Berlin (after the failure of Operation Dove) was actively watching and subverting the pro-Nazism of Charles Bewley: in effect being de Valera’s agent (de Valera’s comments to Michael McInerney suggest something like admiration and gratitude).

    Two final complications:

    Feargal McGarry’s biography of Ryan is weak on the wartime period. It ignores evidence from British intelligence (which was surprisingly forgiving of Ryan) and seems to follow David O’Donoghue, who in turn accepts Francis Stuart as a reliable source.

    Veesenmayer, condemned to death as a war-criminal, was whisked off by the Americans. Why?

    No: I’m not claiming beatification for Ryan. I’m trying to be as objective as possible, in a cramped framework. Your mileage may differ.

  • Jim Kemmy

    “Now Catholic Ireland sees you for what you are:- A bunch of bank robbing, scumbags with no political ability in a peacetime senario”

    Rory has nailed these narco fascists. Sinn Fein are not wanted. Brit agents out!

  • Paul

    Sammy “Those who fought against it – the Provos – have been rewarded for that in the North – but not rewarded in the South – at least not for the time being. Trying to pretend that Nationalists in the North dont remember that it was Provos that blew the place to bits is silly.”

    My point is that most Nationalists didn’t vote for SF/IRA when they were blowing the place to bits, only when they stopped the violence. So I don’t think it can be argued that they retrospectively supported SF/IRA’s violence.

    That’s like saying New Labour winning in 1997 means that people were retrospectively supporting the 1983 Labour policies of unilateral disarmament, nationalisation etc. They only got the support becuase they chanegd and repudiated all that. The same with SF.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it


    the labour party is a reasonable comparison but you could equally say the old provos in 1916 did not have mandate but in 1918 those involved were rewarded with one for blowing dublin to bits -albeit with some assiatance from the Engleze.

    The point is nationalists may not like the fighting but they may like the results – partition with consent and ROI influence and have decided to reward those that gained it.

    But on balance there is probably some truth in both interpetations and its probably a matter of ideology which one either of us might like to highlight.