Sinn Fein still struggling with partition…

In An Phoblacht, Eoin O’Broin pinpoints at least three problems for Sinn Fein the wake of the last election, the poor media performance from Adams, policy confusion, and positioning difficulties in the very differently grammared southern polity:

Update: Mícheál Mac Donncha’s analysis from last week.

A substantial reduction in negative media coverage coupled with significant progress in the peace process ensured that on television and radio, in the papers and on the doors, we were involved in policy debates about the economy, taxation, health, housing and crime.

On all of these areas we have strong, radical, left-of- centre republican positions. However, we clearly failed to defend these positions effectively. The leaders debate on RTÉ was just one of a number of interviews post Ard Fheis in which senior party spokespersons appeared weak and uncomfortable with our policy positions.

Our attempt to avoid the issue of taxation was seen by the media for what it was: an exercise in evasion. The pre-election abandonment of our policies on corporation tax, capital gains tax and a 50% upper band made us appear inconsistent to many, irrespective of their actual view on the policy.

More importantly, it also alienated left-of-centre voters, who chose instead left independents such as Brid Smyth and Joan Collins, almost costing Aengus Ó Snodaigh his seat. The centre ground is a crowded political place. Sinn Féin does not belong there and should not be in the business of trading fundamental redistributive policies in the hope of short-term electoral gain. That’s a kind of politics that we should leave to Fianna Fáil.

The real difficulty is the apparent fiscal stranglehold British ministers seem to have left for their local Sinn Fein counterparts. The (albeit forced) actions of ministers in Northern Ireland are hardly compatible with a left wing identity in the Republic.

Partition may be sufficiently strong to demand two approaches north and south, but it also porous enough for the populations north and south to see where policy doesn’t join up.

  • CTN

    Indeed Sammy- but maybe 09 may come to soon for O’Snodaigh’s councilors 2 are co-optees- in Ballyfermot and the South West Inner City (your point about roots comes into play here) and the other is standing under the shadow of Cllr. Joan Collins (poll topper in Crumlin/Kimmage) who might use a running mate and leeched quite a few votes of the snod himself in this election.

    With recent resignations denting his latest campaign- he really is up against it to remain in the Dail and certainly can’t afford any more goof ups from hq or members and councilors going awol as 69 votes aint much of a cushion from the resurgent Cllr Eric Byrne….

  • Cruimh

    dublinsfsupporter – is there any chance that Gerry would step aside for the good of the party?
    I get the impression he’s like Yasser arafat – there for life.

  • slug

    “dublinsfsupporter – is there any chance that Gerry would step aside for the good of the party?”

    Yes, indeed. He’s not there for life.

  • CTN

    You reckon he will go as some stage slug?

    He is 59 now, carrying 2 bullets and in fairness to the guy putting in a hectic schedule…

  • dublinsfsupporter

    Slug and CTN

    While I would agree with Slug that he will not be there for life I don’t see that there is a vacancy for a while as he is still one of the best party leaders around. Maybe another 10 years?

  • CTN

    I know you don’t want to envisage it dub but if Mary Lou lost her seat with a few Dublin councilors do you think Adams would vacate his position regardless of how the shinners do elsewhere?

  • dublinsfsupporter


    I would say first of all that Sinn Féin and Mary Lou will be working hard to make sure handsome gains are made. If some losses are made in Dublin as you speculate then no I would not treat that as a situation where I would expect Gerry Adams to vacate his position.

  • CTN

    I don’t doubt your determination for a minute, but my view is that even though sterling efforts will be made by the DSF membership- that membership is so much smaller now that it won’t be big enough to head of their rivals in the left- ie Richard Boyd Barrett or the anti bin tax candidates- Brid Smith & Joan Collins on the one hand and then the establishment parties on the other- especially since a lot of DSF’s biggest grafters are in Eírigí who I think will be picking up more disgruntled DSF members- especially if this imminent new economic policy debate within SF doesn’t go the way of the left.

    Personally I would prefer SF to stay to the left, as if I want to vote center I have a range of parties to choose from.

    SF used to be a leftist party in Dublin that had a decent chance of winning a seat- the perception now is that it’s a wasted vote again- just like the early nineties and before.

    I just can’t see a platform for them to pick up new members- they aren’t a rising star anymore in Dublin-they’re in actually in reverse, the peace process has concluded in St Andrews, the republican struggle depends upon the two govts granting the nationalist community concessions, ex members are feeling vindicated that they were right about the Adams/McGuinness diktat and young socialists are put of by Adams opportunistic policy shifts….