Sinn Fein confounded by partition?

Over at Comment is Free, I’ve tried to gather up some thoughts on Sinn Fein’s poor performance in the Republic’s elections. There are many aspects to the inevitable debate arising, which I hope we’ll see unfold, not simply here on Slugger but on dedicated Republican watering holes like Chris Gaskin’s Balrog blog. After generations of confronting the foreign-ness in others (most pointedly their unionist neighbours), the party now must face down its own ‘foreign-ness’, at least in the eyes of southern electorate, and the very different politics of a sovereign state.

Adds: Apologies for the earlier rushed entry…

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

  • seanzmct

    Sinn Fein has been brought to earth by a southern electorate whose attitude to the “armed struggle” was “Not In Our Name” and whose attitude to an authoritarian statist personality cult is, “Away and feck yerself”.

    In addition most southern voters now regard contemporary British input into the North as largely benevolent-which it is. Indeed if Sinn Fein was actually serious about its “socialism”, then it would be more tolerant of partition as there is far more socialist-style social and economic policy on offer in Northern Ireland than in the profoundly bourgeois and entrepreneurial Republic.

    The bulk of Southerners also respect the desire of unionists to remain as UK citizens in a more genuine fashion than SF does-despite its nominal acceptance of the consent principle.Apart from the sentimentalist hankering after unity by consent there is no particular drive to unity in the Republic apart from in a few border regions where SF can appeal to entrenched elements.

    The way forward for Sinn Fein is clear.

    1. It should back off on the issue of Irish Unity
    by stopping winding unionists up and scaring southerners into the bargain.
    2. It should abandon the cult of the Great Leader.
    Adams would be far better occupied taking his seat at Westminster and working pragmatically for his constituents in the here and now than strutting the global stage chasing the pipe-dream of Irish Unity in his lifetime. He might learn something about practical socio-economic policies
    and the running of actual rather than imagined states.
    3. It should abandon its gobshite/in-your-face triumphalism. Modesty is surely the order of the day after this dismal electoral result.

  • Jeremy

    I dont think that SF were rejected by the electorate as a northern party. I think the simple reason was SF need to prove their credentials in govt. and to have clear, well articulated positions. SF were rejected (not critically so and not much worse than other small parties) because the electorate thought – what do you exactly mean and what will you do in power. There is a danger that analysers will see what they want in this. Are people going to say that liberal economics is now rejected in the south vis-a-vis the thrashing of the PDs. its an interesting problem for SF but for people to suggest that they abandon their all-ireland ambitions would surely be the greatest consultancy trick of all time.

  • Whatever Next

    To take Slugger’s favourite cliche, as far as Northern Republicans goes, it’s pretty much ‘everything for slow learners’ as far as this bunch is concerned. Truly, they’re going to be the last people in these islands to realise that ‘partition’ wasn’t something imposed from above (by London), but something that grew all too organically out of the ground in Ireland (and has been cast in concrete by the 30 years of sectarian murder waged by the provos).

  • nmc

    To take Slugger’s favourite cliche, as far as Northern Republicans goes [sic], it’s pretty much ‘everything for slow learners’ as far as this bunch is concerned.

    Very good post, I find lumping all people into one group, calling them thick is a pretty good argument strategy. Especially with moronic grammatical errors. Well done.

  • Whatever Next

    Oooooh, a typo, and on the Internet too: well that’s my credibility gone – smart work NMC, smart work. Oh (or if you’re feeling suitably metaphysical or KJV, O), by the by, lumping together a relatively small number of people whose commonality derives from their having self-associated in the first place (to wit, Sinn Fein in the occupied six, aka ‘Northern Republicans’) doesn’t strike me as being quite up there with the blackest crimes of collectivism, but each to their own.

  • seanzmct


    The point is that the PD’s were thrashed because FF and FG do liberal economics so much better than they do. SF was thrashed because FF and FG do the aspiration to Irish Unity so much better than SF ie in a restrained,realistic fashion that genuinely respects the rights of unionist Irish people.


    It is surely an accomplished fact of history that
    SF (and the DUP) are amongst the ranks of the most cognitively challenged politicos on the island. They took us through 30 years of bloody divisive mayhem only to arrive back at Sunningdale with knobs on. “Thick”-in the vernacular.

  • nmc

    It’s a simple thing WN. If I were to call all Unionist posters slow learners I would have the wit to either spell check or learn how to type. However I’m glad for you to continue to slur us all as slow learners, especially when you show yourself up to be a tit in the process.

  • wee slabber

    Partition grew “organically”, what tripe. It “grew” (if you can an armed rebellion as “growth”) out of the barrell of UVF guns, backed by the English Conservative party. What bullshit education did you receive (if any) “Whatever Next”? Even the Unionists didn’t want partition, except as a last resort! Go read your history!

  • Whatever Next

    Another slow learner I see – all the fault of the evil English, ‘they’ did it to ‘us’. The idea that there are competing national loyalties on this island, pshaw! That *and* WS, you’d better consult Prof NMC up there – you spelt ‘barrel’ wrong, which obviously invalidates your point about those gurns, er, guns.

    By the way NMC, keep at the misrepresentation – that fib about ‘all’ was a nifty touch. Keep it up! Think of all the other free thinking Republicans you’re convincing.

  • Sean Fear

    I think the problem for Sinn Fein is that they’re pretty well irrelevant South of the Border. Most people have done well out of Eire’s economic boom since 1990, and have no interest at all in seeing a “32 County Socialist Republic” come into being. Economically, the bulk of the Southern electorate is Thatcherite.

    That leaves Sinn Fein having to scrap with Labour, the Green Party, Socialist Party and assorted indpendents for the the 25% or so of the Southern electorate who genuinely want socialism.

    On top of that, they’re up against probably the most effective political party in Western Europe, Fianna Fail, when it comes to trying to win the Republican vote.

  • seanzmct

    Wee Slabber,

    Unionists may not have been for partition, but they were certainly not for Irish secession from the British state and had a six counties solution imposed upon them.

    Many republicans believe that unionism was clamouring for a six counties statelet and you have provided a valuable service in correcting their (how do you put it) “bullshit education”.

    The six counties outcome reflected the reality of the two national identities on the island. I feel that is the essential point that WN was making. And, the point that I am making is that strident republicanism has taken a hell of a long time to get its head round the national rights of unionists, just as fellow political knuckledraggers in the DUP have taken a lifetime in the opposite direction.

  • nmc

    WN Wee Slabber is not making generalisations about the intelligence of a large group of people, and I respect his opinion and his right to express it whatever way he can.

    You however have made a generalisation about other people’s intelligence and have demonstrated your own lack of intelligence by using piss poor grammar. You seem to expect me to accept your slur without argument. Tough shit.

    One more time for the slow learner:

    You want to criticise my intelligence, then have the sense not to make a grammatical error in the same sentence.

  • Dec

    SF was thrashed because FF and FG do the aspiration to Irish Unity so much better than SF ie in a restrained,realistic fashion that genuinely respects the rights of unionist Irish people.

    Well, Sean at least you’re original. SF fared poorly (and no more than that – this wasn’t a cataclysmic meltdown some appear to wish it was), not because of their misjudged and somewhat muddled economic policies or a lack of a strong Southern-based leadership. No, the Irish people voted for a FF government because they’re nicer to Unionists.

  • Whatever Next

    If the best you can do NMC is squeal about about a typo, you’re not doing very well. And as I’ve said before, I’m not talking about a large number of people, I’m talking about Sinn Fein. But keep on bluffing, keep on bluffing.

  • seanzmct


    A touch pedantic methinks.

    On the single issue of how Irish Unity is advanced then it is fair to say that, as things stand FF and FG will always thrash SF.

    Not original;but true.

  • The Devil

    Sinn Failure was thrashed for a number of reasons

    1) They stuffed the face of Adams on every available space, absolutely amazing considering he wasn’t even standing for election.

    2) The same man was completely and utter annihilated during a live T.V debate by Michael McDowell, where it was obvious that he knew sweet fuck all about Irish politics or current affairs. He certainly had not got the intelligence to avoid direct confrontation with McDowell who is his intellectual superior, or to relise that when you are to your neck in shite it’s best to keep your mouth shut.

    3) The parachuting in of Mary-Lou into a constituency to chase a middle-class vote when their core base in the same constituency had been the poorer working class areas was highly distasteful, at best it smacked of elitism.
    There is no question she is devoid of the personality to achieve such a feat, I personally believe she lacks the intellect to relise that she is colourless in the eyes of the public, nor is she blessed with good looks to help her bridge the huge holes in her campaign.

    4) Childish arrogance where the Sinn-Fail election teams believed that having Green White and Orange posters and a clatter of Tri-colours would be enough to get people elected, that crap may be good enough for Ballymurphy or Poleglass where vodka replaces education, punching the wife unconscious replaces conversation and having four children to three different fathers replaces a proper family, but it isn’t good enough for Blackrock and Portlaois

    5) Daily Ireland was already closed therefore the propaganda bullshit that is spread so thickly by the Rags they control in the North for Northern elections was heavily curtailed for the South one, if only wee Marty Millions could have begged a few more quid of the Brits it may have been a different story eh?
    If only wee Marty Millions had kept Daily Ireland going instead of spending Millions on further takeovers it all may have been different.

    6) Sinn Fail dithered and waffled about taxes and revenues, they had more changes of heart than a reformed junkie with a needle in front of him.
    When any of them were questioned in detail they looked as innocent as a catholic priest questioned about paedophilia.

    In short this is not what Southern voters want or expect from their political parties, it may be okay for Northern nationalist Rottweilers that have no education and even less of a future but feel great with the family allowance half drank and belting out “The Soldiers Song” in “slurish”, but it means fuck all to the children of the Celtic Tiger.

  • Sue

    What would people in the first world want with a third world party?

  • if folks didnt catch the McDowell/Adams debate (plus Rabbite and Sargent) , its located here:

    just click on the link on that page. realplayer.

  • Seamus Barton

    Sinn Fein do not understand us Southerners, which I have to say is a positive reflection on us. They are hated and feared by the vast majority of people. For example, a Green party member was at the Dublin count in the RDS and started eating from a big pack of sweets. He asked (with a full gob) who they belonged to, and when he was told they belonged to SF he instinctively said “Fu*k” and spat them out. SF are a tired party of violent people who offer nothing to anyone. If Northerners want them, they are very welcome to them. They are just what is needed in the dull, self-important, self-indulgent, whingeing Northern society.

  • Lorraine

    your description of ballymurphy/poleglass (all catholics?)is highly racist and a language directed towards humiliation/annihiliation. the stuff of pure nazism my friend.

  • Dec


    Ignorant, sectarian bs it may be but it’s not limited to that pathetic troll. In between his sectarian ravings about vodka and wife-beating, his one semi-lucid point about the triumphant Michael McDowell administering debatory thrashings would appear to ignore one particularly glaring outcome of the election.

  • Right: I’m having a great evening here, a decent bottle, with Dick Gaughan coming through the bins. So I think I may confide with you a version of what I posted on my blogspot this afternoon. Well, why should you lot avoid the agony? If you’ve seen it before, stick with it; I may have managed to improve.

    In hindsight, the electoral outcome should not greatly surprise. The electors were asked if they liked prosperity, a housing boom, full employment, and, after a nanosecond of thought, decided “It’s the economy, stupid”.

    Seán O’Faoláin, writing in 1969, noted:

    time was when common words on every lip in every Irish pub were partition, the civil war, the republic, the gun. The vocab of the mid fifties and sixties was very different — the common market, planning, growth, rates, strikes, jobs, education opportunities or why this factory failed and that one flourished.

    That’s why the RoI moved on, while too many in NI didn’t, and still haven’t. Forty years on from O’Faoláin, the “vocab” of SF and anyone else trying to occupy the radical left, north or south, needs to adapt again.

    I didn’t recognise it at the time, but, sitting in the public gallery of the Dáil of the early ‘60s, I might have observed O’Faoláin’s change: the old men were still challenging each other about which side they and their fathers had fought in 1922: the younger sparks (and newspaper columnists) were rolling their eyes, and backing the Whitaker Plan.

    That produced a step-change in the growth of the Irish economy, directly accountable to successfully attracting foreign investment and dismantling the protection racket that was the Irish economy. Exports, especially to the European market, rose; and the economy continued to grow throughout the 1970s (and began to free itself from dependency on Britain). Despite two oil crises in 1973 and 1979, high public spending kept the supply side of the economy buoyant, with the GDP growing at 4% a year. The cost was a structural deficit.

    By the 1980s, though, the RoI was back in the mire. GDP growth fell back to 1.5% a year. Unemployment soared: by 1987 it reached nearly 17%, and emigration was back. Worse still, this emigration was mainly of the educated and talented. A consensus emerged between government, employers and unions: the new policy was tax-breaks to suck in the investment, expenditure on education and training, and industrial harmony. By 1992, some 37% of US investment into the European market was coming to Ireland. By 2003 unemployment was down to 1.5%, and 65% of the population were working.

    So, in 2007, with Ireland one of the top-four burgeoning economies, the last thing on the popular agenda was “change”. But:

    … the present pleasure,
    By revolution lowering, does become
    The opposite of itself.

    And what then?

    There should be an opportunity for any party which can cobble a convincing programme to cope with after-the-boom, when the appetite for “prosperity” is sated, when the economy turns. At that point, the place to be is outside the tent pissing in. Which party is capable of that posture?

    On the other side of the fence, SF, the Greens and the Trots are the only parties who have been left off the roundabout of power all these years (though both SF and the Greens would love to be invited aboard). Therefore they have been the only parties credibly capable of arguing for “change”.

    And that is why my reading of Adams in the also-rans debate was somewhat different (and, didn’t young Master Fealty express similar impressions once?). Adams seemed not to have, or didn’t know, an economic policy. He vainly tried to shift the argument to social policy. (SF’s social policy looks somewhat threadbare too, but I leave that ungenerous thought aside.)

    There is a case to be made for a new social programme: social inequality is growing; there is a two-tier health service; Ireland (pace the UN Development Programme) has the highest level of poverty in the Western world, behind only the US; a fifth to a quarter of the population are functionally illiterate; and Ireland is observably becoming a less tolerant society. (Generous to a fault, I also omit corruption from that list.)

    The opportunity is going to be there. I despair that any party, least of all the factional, and provincial party that is SF, is presently capable of grasping it.

    As in 1957, with Lemass, and 1987, when Haughey effectively picked up the policies of Garrett Fitzgerald, reform will probably be left to opportunist politicians. It will come slowly as the mainstream parties apply balm and healing salve, just enough for their own survival, declaring that it is all in “the national interest.”

    When Truman Capote complained about a bad review, André Gide replied with a proverb (now a cliché) from the Arabic: The dogs bark but the caravan moves on. It presently looks that the SF caravan, at least south of the border, is going nowhere.

  • Marty the Stoop

    When I read this offensive claptrap from noveau riche Free Staters the more I think how money corrupts. You’re a paper tiger, an outsource economy for whom the chickens are shortly to come to roost. So stop bancing on about how modern (madren?) and consmopolitan you all are and adopting this air of superiority than fools nobody. You know and I know that you haven’t seen the back of that green Hiace held together with the bailer twine because you can’t afford parts.
    Oh did I just descend to your level?

  • Marty the Stoop

    A quick scan of the news main page of the main broadcaster in your glimmering State reveals the following :

    Mahon rejects ‘unprecedented’ criticism
    (usual corruption stuff)

    Neary patients urged to contact redress board
    (women having their ovaries removed by rogue doctor)

    Building industry now tax compliant
    (presumably it wasn’t then)

    EU report shows low ratio of MS specialists
    (Ireland 16 neurologists for 10,000 patients/Sweden 360)

    Cork coroner seeks Hartnett report
    (suspicious death of minor in Garda station)

    Give yourselves another slap on the back, or better still, get Ray Darcy to do it for you.

  • very interesting watching that debate. the same arguments are going on as those in the uk – health services, transport, delivery of public services.

    i must admit , i laughed when McDowell said that he was “surrounded by the left on here -the left (labour) , the hard left (SF) and the leftovers (greens)…”

    i know he was a bit of hate figure, but i found that to be very witty.

  • “Posted by Marty the Stoop on May 29, 2007 @ 10:20 PM”

    thats a bit below the belt.

    Cash for honours? John Prescott? 3,000 criminals being let go? 2,000 British based Jihadists under surveillance by MI5? Lowering educational standards? Tony Blair’s “sofa” government?

    I could drag up headlines about the UK as bad as the ones you picked out about the South. The thing is, the media in the South – as does the media everywhere – have a tendency to focus on the a bad news stories. Thats just the nature of news – bad news sells.

  • Ned’s Bitter Oul Ma

    That wasn’t a racist comment from the Devil, Lorraine. People from Poleglass are white if you clean them.

  • páid

    South of the border, we voted, by and large, for the good work done by FF in NI, and for sensible, practical co-op with NI.

    We thought SF were a bit weak on economics.

    We did not reject our Northern countrymen and in actual fact Gerry Adams was mobbed wherever he went.

    So to those of ye who claim that we spat in the face of the Shinners, celebrated partition set in stone for ever and the rest of it I say…….

    Lie down in a cool room and drink a glass of refreshing iced water.

  • actually there

    “We did not reject our Northern countrymen and in actual fact Gerry Adams was mobbed wherever he went.”

    Balls, pure and simple.
    The more polite were desperately trying not to grin and snigger at the SF rabble and it became almost impossible when The Lord sashayed in. But not completely impossible, because unlike the SF thugs most other people can retain a degree of decorum at such occasions.

  • Gerry Kelly

    Yassar Arafat liked to dominate all visits to the Palestine lands. If a visitor asked a question or made a comment about anything, from Arab poetry to Byzantine history, Yassar would jump in with his answer. Mr Know it all is now dead. (he wore the turban to hide his bald head). Gerry Adams is now dead politicially. He showed himself up on the litte 4 debate to be an ignnorant windbag. He is a lame duck president. He should quack off. Narco terrorist politicvs has hit its high water mark. It will fade along with its standard bearer.

  • I believe one of the reasons for the Sinn Fein result was their failure to rule out coalition with Fianna Fail. This question will always be a problem for all the smaller parties here. Voters were not impressed to hear SF leaders refuse to rule out propping up a FF led government.

  • seanzmct

    Marty the Stoop,

    It’s “nouveau riche” and there is no-one more so than President Adams, with his fine big holiday mansion in Donegal.

  • medja

    I can’t understand mostly SF Northern Nationalists that moan and groan about the Republic and what goes on within the 26 counties. 15 years ago they used to laugh at it and call it a banana republic, now they’re giving out that money corrupts and it’s worse than ever.

    Fine, you’re not happy with the place, so why do you want a united Ireland? If you did get your wish, the same people would live on the island, they won’t change overnight just because you want them to.

    Why not just form a breakaway Republic of Ireland, (An Northern, Northern Ireland Perhaps!)

  • George

    According the the 2006 CPI index, Ireland is the 18th least corrupt country in the world, up one place from 2005.

    The USA is deemed more corrupt at 20 with Germany at 16 and the UK remaining at an impressive 11.

  • Wilde Rover

    One thing not being factored in is the number of southerners who voted SF in the previous election as a way of pressurizing the IRA to decommission by giving them something to lose.

    After decommissioning, these voters were under no “peace obligation” to vote SF so they didn’t.

  • Ian

    What were the circulation figures for the Daily Ireland in the south?

    Could the failure of the Daily Ireland to attract a significant readership in Ireland’s capital, and the paper’s subsequent demise, be seen as a forerunner to last weeks election results, and the first indication that SF’s all-Ireland project wasn’t going as smoothly as they’d hoped/claimed?

    I know SF blamed the demise of the Daily Ireland on the refusal of the British Government to post ads in the paper, but that again demonstrates the ‘politics of patronage’ that has been discussed on other Slugger threads recently as signifying the difference between northern and southern politics.

    After all, the DI wouldn’t have needed to rely on revenue from ads posted by the NIO if it had been shifting significant units in the heart of the Celtic Tiger.

    Furthermore, why no similar outcry about the refusal of the Dublin government to place ads in the all-Ireland publication?

  • DK

    Malcolm R: excellent post, although I don’t think that SF can carve a niche for itself in trying to tackle the various social problems you listed (poverty, illiteracy, etc.) – those are the natural domain of the Labour party and the space for left-wing parties there is too tight.

    The one area where SF really stands out and could carve a niche for itself is in, insurprisingly, nationalism. They are the most Irish of all the parties: the only one that actively pursues Irish language, is supported above all others by the native sportsmen of the GAA, and is actively pursuing a national reunification. If they can ditch the far left stuff and get to promoting themselves as the party of Irish values – whereas FF and FG are simply in thrall to Anglo-American culture.

    So, my point 4 plan for the recovery of SF in RoI is as follows:

    1. Announce that SF is the party of Irish values: Irish language, sport, culture, landscape (green).
    2. Attack the others for their failure to listen to the real Ireland, and for turning their backs on Irish culture – Ireland looks like a suburb of London these days.
    3. Copy the economic plans of FF/FG
    4. Ditch the older revolutionary figures and get some nice Irish-speaking, fiddle playing, GAA charmers.

    OK, so it is basically an attempt to capture the nostalgia vote, and could be perceived as right wing, but Sinn Fein is very strong on traditional Irish culture – why not leverage this more? It’s better than trying to leverage SF’s weak points: left-wing theory and their role in NI.

    The re-brand shouldn’t affect their vote in NI, and may even enhance it, but I can’t see another way forward for SF in RoI, unless they are depending on an economic downturn – in which case, Labour and FG are also ready to pounce.

  • Medja

    DK Your recovery plan has a few problems…..

    1. Announce that SF is the party of Irish values: Irish language, sport, culture, landscape (green).

    It would be great if the leader of the party could actually speak Irish properly.

    2. Attack the others for their failure to listen to the real Ireland, and for turning their backs on Irish culture – Ireland looks like a suburb of London these days.

    No, Ireland looks more like parts of the USA, with adversting hording everywhere. Plus they have listened to the real ireland, what the irish (26 county irish) want.

    4. Ditch the older revolutionary figures and get some nice Irish-speaking, fiddle playing, GAA charmers.

    Unless they’re TG4 Weather girls,people will just turn off as soon as they hear more than a few lines of Irish……

  • DK @ 11:23 AM; Medja @ 11:52 AM:

    We few, we happy few, we band of armchair pundits …

    DK’s essential point is correct, surely: SF has to play to its “unique selling point”. The only USP they have is as an all-Ireland brand: in every other aspect, SF is seeking occupy political real-estate marked out by others.

    By way of self-contradiction, I equally accept that the urban zeitgeist is international: brands, entertainment and aspirations are common (though I did relish the moment my wife tried to cope with a mobile-phone problem in the Powerscourt complex, to be told “We don’t do Orange in Ireland”).

    However, I see that Belfast Gonzo has caught up with the [British] Labour Party’s decision to permit membership in NI. No sign of a provincial organisation, though. The NITories are already (barely) present. Is there a trend here? And Euro2009 is just down the road a way. Could that have significance for party lines (especially by way of transfers)?

    Final point in this miasma: are we evolving two party politics, both sides of the border? If so, does that invite some Masque of the Red Death, choosing partners? Oh dear, I wish I’d stayed in bed.

  • Ulster McNulty

    “Ireland looks like a suburb of London these days”

    “No, Ireland looks more like parts of the USA, with adversting hording everywhere.”

    No, it’s worse than that, Ireland looks increasingly like a large version of Lisburn.

  • Mick Fealty


    That table is about public perception, not a measure of actual corruption. Nevertheless, it would be interesting to see what the ratings have been like going back a few years. The Republic has figured highly in terms of public trust for quite some time.

    But I wonder if the last ten years has seen any change. By this same index, for instance, it was in 17th place in 2004.

  • Niall

    I think there will be some sort of backlash against liberalism and globalisation in Ireland over the next decade and some party or movement will gain a degree of popularity on the back of a return to traditional values. However, where this has happnened in Europe in the 90s, the groups to have grown support belonged to the far right.

    Usually parties who rely on this type of policy have one or two common traits: a) a heavily religious component, and/or b) an anti-immigration/xenophobic agenda.

    Sinn Fein seems not to toe the Church’s line on any major social issues and it is all about rights for everybody, including immigrants, so I don’t see how it is best suited to capitalise on a return to traditional Irish cultural values.

    An ex-SF man has taken this idea on board, however. Gerry McGeough with his Hibernian Magazine (tagline: “For faith, family and country”) seems to think Ireland needs to get its act together. He certainly ticks boxes (a) and (b), though.

    I would also question whether Sinn Fein has been that strong on Irish culture. In the north, certainly, identifying with gaelic sports, music and language has been pivotal in their image but that has been ostensibly to define itself against the ‘otherness’ of the British. I don’t know how instrumental Sinn Fein members have been in cultural organisations on the ground, although I expect they would have been highly involved.

    In the south, however, Sinn Fein are no more associated with Irish culture than any other political party. Irish culture is state-supported south of the border so there is no unique advantage for Sinn Fein to support it.

    Sinn Fein’s ethos evolved out of the northern situation – marxism to differentiate itself from the property-owning oppressor, gaelic culturalism to differentiate itself from the foreign invader. South of the border the party looks like the answer to a question nobody asked.

  • If the “corruption” sub-thread is a comment on my throw-away comment, allow me a slight addition:

    The “Corruption Perceptions Index” to which George @ 11:04 AM, and now
    Mick Fealty @ 01:23 PM refer is at

    It isn’t even an opinion poll, but a one-man operation out of the University of Passau. However, since it is based on available data and surveys, it deserves some credence.

    That was not behind my original point, which was more to do with the corporatist culture linking (mainly) FF and big business. Elsewhere I have pointed to the curious position occupied by the late Tom Roche, entrepreneur and “staunch Fianna Fáiler”, but the other examples are legion: Des Traynor and Charles Haughey; Denis Foley TD and the curious affair of the Ansbacher account; the remarkable paper chain that linked Liam Lawlor to Tom Roche to national Toll Roads; George Redmond of Dublin Corporatioin and Tom Roche … Oh, and a little recent matter involving household improvements and a duvet.

    I know of no international index which measures these things (or — to get this in before someone else — compares them to Bernie Ecclestone’s largesse or the Halliburton/Cheney nexus).

    None of which was relevant to this thread. So, sorry.

  • Maggot

    “Sinn Fein seems not to toe the Church’s line on any major social issues”

    Abortion ? A radical party that pushes feminism yet opposes “a woman’s right to choose” ?

  • Seamus Barton

    Marty the Stoop

    I am anything but nouveau riche, my family has been loaded for generations. However, buying properties in Northern Ireland (I have never dared stay the night though) has added significantly to my stash. If you don’t like Ireland, don’t come here, we will get along swimmingly without you, just as Northern Ireland will survive without me.


  • George

    I agree that Ireland is a much more corporatist state than many others with lots of credence given to social partnership and working with business groups etc. but does necessarily make it a more corrupt one?

    Less ideologically driven certainly, über capitalist maybe but more corrupt as a consequence?

    (Not relevant to the thread but interesting nonetheless.)

    I haven’t been able to find any earlier measures.

  • abucs

    I think it’s hard enough for any relatively ‘small’ or ‘new’ party to contest elections. And in the south the new Sinn fein are both of these.

    To do so in an already fragmented electorate, with lots of recent conflict baggage, with no real ‘economic runs’ on the board, no real ‘experience of governing’ and trying to compete in a country that’s been relatively spectacularly successful in the last 20 years…

    Well, is it any wonder ?

    If Sinn Fein want to do what the great majority of ‘new parties’ fail to do and establish themselves, then they’ll have to positively transform the juristiction where they will have ‘some’ control over, before being trusted in the south.

    Can’t complain about that.

    But to do this they’ll have to put their heart and soul into Northern Ireland first. That should be interesting.

    Also, a prepondarence of Socialist policies works really well as a party of protest and where they won’t be put to the test. I think, as with lots of previously left leaning western parties of the last couple of decades, they’ll have to be more pragmatic and growth orientated. (that is, move to the right economically like everyone else).

    But where in the southern electoral landscape is there space for them ???

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