When leadership overrides structure…

Jim Cusack has an interesting quote from what he refers to as Dublin party organiser Justin Moran, who is clearly unhappy about the last minute policy switch the Sinn Fein leadership pulled almost at the last minute:

“To summarily announce, as senior party figures did, that those policies no longer exist, without identifying alternative sources of funding or consulting with the party’s members, is both irresponsible and overrides the party’s decision-making structures.”

Update: Pete points out the Moran quote orginates with an An Phoblacht article first brought Slugger readers’ attention by Wednesday in this thread (no 11).

  • It’s interesting that much of the criticism of the leadership is being attributed to the party’s membership in the Greater Dublin Area. SF has worked extremely hard on the ground in Dublin over the past 5 years and clearly the local party membership feel that the total last minute confusion at leadership level and ad hoc policy changes have potentially cost the party extra seats in constituencies in which they had (and still do) have a good reputation as a hard working party.

  • Justin Moran

    Just to clarify, I am not the party’s Organiser in Dublin, nor have I ever served in that capacity. While I’m pointing out errors in Cusack’s article, Eoin O Broin was not the candidate for Dun Laoghaire in the last general election.

    As the article in An Phoblacht makes clear, I am a former Chair of the party in Dublin and a member of the South West Inner City cumann.

  • mickhall

    What happen in the Dublin area was a combination of arrogance and ignorance on the party of the Adams leadership and it cost the local parties dear. They are already hemorrhaging members to the left and can well do without losing more.

    Having said that I am encouraged that both Justin Moran and Eoin O’Broin have spoken out plus our own Chris Gaskins. I hope others follow suit as if SF is to become a political force in the south it must get rid of the democratic deficit an the heart of the Party leadership.

  • Justin Moran

    Sorry, just to clarify an error in my first post. Where I referred to the ‘last general election’, I meant 2002.

    As for this comment, “They are already hemorrhaging members to the left…” it bears absolutely no resemblance to the truth.

  • mickhall

    To quote the legendary Mandy Rice-Davies,
    “Well ‘e would say that, wouldn’t ‘e”

  • redhaze

    How can the growth of eirigi be accounted for then?

  • mickhall

    Just to clarify my post above, I was referring to the split with Éirigí and in no way was I suggesting that former members of SF in the Dublin area have gone off to join the Trotskyists parties such as the SP and SWP.

  • CTN

    C’mon Justin- have you forgotten the high profile people below from when you were chair of DSF?

    They are all now in leftist Eírigí- your former Dublin organiser, Rathmines candidate, Tallaght Cumman chair and national rganiser-Mary Lou’s sister as with many grassroots members formerly of SF.

    Eírigí as you know (and have commented on in various blogs) have mushroomed from a mere Dublin based campaigns group to an all Ireland political party- you even spoke highly of some of your former friends who are now in Eírigí.

    More honesty or accuracy from SF will help not hinder their endeavors Justin.

  • URQUHART

    Is it just me, or does anyone else find it amusing to read PSF members complain about a ‘democratic deficit at the heart of the party’?

    What the hell did they think they were joining?

  • Justin Moran

    I actually emailed Mick about this as I didn’t see the point in getting into it on the thread but since CTN has raised the issue of the comrades who left to join Éirigí, I’d like to clear up a couple of points.

    The reality is that Sinn Féin’s membership in Dublin is pretty much where it was prior to the departure of the comrades to Éirigí.

    We lost members, outstanding activists, including all of the people CTN names and more. And by the way chara, I’m proud to say they’re friends of mine, not former friends, and off-hand I can’t think of a single one who left that I would not speak highly of.

    But as a proportion of our membership in Dublin it would have amounted to less than 10%. The problem for the party in Dublin with the Éirigí split was not the quantity of members involved, it was the quality of them.

    We’ve recruited enough since then to be more or less back to pre-Éirigí levels. Éirigí itself seems to be doing pretty well and has recruited a good number of people from various strands of republicanism and new activists.

  • CTN

    Justin,

    I too was speaking off hand when I referred to them as “former friends”- it was in the political sense.

    Yes they were high caliber individuals and their absence diluted SF’s potential to impact in this year’s election.

    I don’t see any were near the same level of activity from DSF on the ground and think that this was a bigger contributory factor to your vote dropping by circa 27,000 within 3 years in Dublin than grizz’s goof ups in the media.

    However hard working and single-minded individuals like yourself have to be admired- especially for persevering under the low wattage Adams/McGuinness autocracy.

    You have many challenges ahead in Dublin Justin, if Adams doesn’t relaunch himself with his hands up like Tony Blair did in 2002 coming clean and admitting more than a little arrogance- you will not regain those 27,000 votes and lose Mary Lou inter alia….

  • CTN,

    I disagree with your assertion that Eirigi has mushroomed into an All-Ireland political party. There are many republican areas in The North in particular, (and also large parts of The South) where there is virtually no Eirigi prescence whatosever. Indeed many ordinary people would not even have heard of them.

    There is a lot more to being a genuine, credible political party than distributing 60,000 posters of The Proclamamtion to households in Inner Dublin. (which Eirigi did last year). Quite what they hoped to acheive from this is anyone’s guess.

    SF’s overall loss of personnel to Eirigi is very small on a national basis. As for the calibre of those who have left SF in Dublin, it would be interesting to hear how they hope to proceed any further with The Republican struggle by joining Eirigi. The biggest danger to Republicanism on this island would be a split on a large scale. It would serve no-one in the long run and put back our struggle for many decades to come.,.

  • CTN

    From a starting point of just 6 members of a Dublin based campaigns group last year to now having members in Belfast, Derry, Cork, and Limerick who voted to upgrade to party status is quite a staggering level of growth in the space of a year mac- albeit from a small base.

    I am not saying they are as going to be as big as SF- hardly a mass movement themselves- just that they have damaged them.

    In regards to were the SF led republican struggle is now- apparently painted into a corner in Stormont with a paramilitary force scrapped and a party dwindling in Dublin- it will be equally as interesting to see were they go too.

    I am not biased to either or but don’t like to see political violence on the streets from anyone be it state terrorists or paramilitaries in “struggles” or internecine feuds.

    Thankfully SF and Eírigí aren’t hostile to each other.

  • redhaze

    macswiney,

    I would hazard a guess that you a just a little ignorant as to the personnel within eirigi.

    I would also hazard a guess that you are ever so slightly ignorant as to the logic behind the distribution of the proclamations and what it was designed to acheive as well.

    In fact, ignorance seems to be place pretty highly in your most recent contribution on this thread…pretty highly indeed.

    If the mere mention of alternative vehicals to SF causes you to lash out so ignorantly perhaps it would be best if you avoided the topic altogether.

  • CTN

    Dunno if Mac is a shinner or not red, but if he is then they are hurtin right now and the last thing that any SFer wants to hear is about a new threat- so we have to understand why shinners are a little emotional right now, especially when you consider that they have lost circa 9,000 votes per year in Dublin since between the last 2 elections.

    The fullness of time will dictate who wins the hearts and minds of republicans in Dublin but at the moment this embryonic Eírigí group are goin up as fast as grizzler and the peacemakers are goin down…

  • Red Haze,

    I am a little more informed on this subject than you may realise and I am ceratinly well informed about the presence of Eirigi in Belafst City in particular, That ‘presence’ is absolutely minimal (to put it mildly).

    With regard to their distribution of proclamations, I read their website in detail at that time, but there appeared to be no logic (as such) as to why it was distributed, other than self-publicity.

    Eirigi are the champions of poster and leaflet distribution in Dublin City at the moment. It’s hard to attend a Gaelic Match at Croker these days without the latest pamphlet being thrust into your hands. Whether leaflet distribution on a mass scale qualifies them to be heralded as the fastest growing political party in Ireland is another matter altogether. Perhaps whenever they have the courage to stand in elections, we will find out… (We all know what happened to the various Republican dissidents in The recent Assembly Elections in The North).

    I am also personally familiar with just one of the SF party members who recently defected and this individual had been unhappy in the party for the past 4 or 5 years and had previosuly threatened to leave long before Eirigi were ever conceived.

    CTN

    Your description of Eirigis ‘rise’ is without any factual evidence whatsoever to support it. How many members do they now have? If you do not actually know, what factual evidence can you produce to support your claims? Also, why do you say that the ‘peacemakers’ are now going down? Are you therefore implying that Eirigi are a group avowed to a non-peaceful struggle? I only ask, because their own website would proclaim themselves as being a non-violent organisation…

  • redhaze

    macswiney,

    “I am a little more informed on this subject than you may realise and I am ceratinly well informed about the presence of Eirigi in Belafst City in particular, That ‘presence’ is absolutely minimal (to put it mildly).”

    Given that eirigi’s (lower case mac)place of birth is Dublin, its hardly surprising that its growth elsewhere will be at a decidedly slower rate. They are, however, growing in various parts of the island and the slow build is incidently the most mature option for them to pursue. The temptation of quick growth by accepting anything with a pulse to satisfy on-lookers that you are growing in a receipe for disaster.

    ” With regard to their distribution of proclamations, I read their website in detail at that time, but there appeared to be no logic (as such) as to why it was distributed, other than self-publicity.”

    Leaving aside the fact that any distribution of a progressive republican document such as the Proclamation is to be welcomed in every sense, it does appear that you missed the point mac.

    It was part of the ‘Reclaim the Republic’ campaign, which was designed to encourage people to re-evaluate the document and their perception of what it was aiming for. Thus people were encouraged to (and many did) engage in some self criticism as to whether what they were enaged in was actually furthering the visions of this historic document.

    Secondly, your eagle eyes seem to have missed another crucial aspect of this campaign, which was the distribution of the Proclamation amongst the most recent and welcomed editions to Irish society in their native languages ie. Polish, Mandarin, Urdu, etc. Thus these peoples were able learn of the welcome, rights and benefits guaranteed to them under the auspices of the Irish Republic. Deportee’s with Irish born children may have found it enlightening to note that the ‘great republicans’ in the 26 county administration contravened the spirit and word of this document by refusing to cherish all of the children equally.

    “Whether leaflet distribution on a mass scale qualifies them to be heralded as the fastest growing political party in Ireland is another matter altogether.”

    I do not think that anyone has offered leaflet distribution as proof of eirigi being the ‘fastest growing political party in Ireland’ although whether they are in fact the fastest growing is a matter of interpretation. The purpose of leaflet distribution is quite simple really….raising awareness.

    “Perhaps whenever they have the courage to stand in elections, we will find out”

    Standing for elections doesn’t require courage as a cursory glance at the various political reps and would be reps will atest too. However, I do not believe that their transformation into a political party was driven by a lust for electoral politics. I believe they have made their position on this quite clear, and that is that they will only contest elections on the basis that there is some value in it for their project. I do not believe they will allow the thirst for votes to determine policy as they have witnessed first hand where that leads.

    “I am also personally familiar with just one of the SF party members who recently defected…”

    One whole person huh? Certainly dispells any doubts one may had over your expertise on this topic.

  • CTN

    Hi Mac

    In relation to the much used “tongue in cheek” nickname for SF- “grizzler and the peacemakers”- it pertains to them only and I did not link it anyone else, it neither insinuates that I believe Gerry Adams is an American lumberjack or another party in the same paragraph are fundamentalist terrorists.

    Wikipedia contains information on the extent of Eírigí’s membership- you have admitted yourself that they have a presence in Belfast- no big deal to have a small presence or anything but to have spread to all the main cities in Ireland after 1 year does technically constitute a “rise”.

    Again in case you are confused about my assesment of this group I re-iterate that they are quite small but as Justin has outlined are growing…

  • HIB

    macswiney
    – whats your problem with acknowledging the growth of eirigi- your mentor DSFer Justin Moran is claiming that they are doing “pretty well” and “recruited a good number of people” in post 10- why would he talk up a threat against DSF?

    Stop burying your head in the sand and then go a ranting at other blogger’s for giving you the bad news you can’t stomach.

    It’s no-one else’s fault DSF and Adams have damaged themselves!

  • CTN

    The bottom line here is guys whatever about details in either numbers or geography- Eírigí are expanding from a small base.

    Justin is also correct to state that not all of their members- either current or future are or will be ex-SF.

    Lets not go around in circles with small minded rants about how many are or will be ex-SF and agree that as they grow they threaten to attract disaffected shinners and that there is a pattern over the last few years in Dublin of as mac states- of people who had been unhappy for 4 or 5 years joining Eirigi or retiring.

    As Justin states they have attracted very hard working SFers in the past, but may or not do so again- perhaps all the disgruntled shinners have already left or recent developments troubling members will push out more….

  • CTN

    Fellow bloggers- as this article is now in my opinion dated please be aware as I shall not be giving it further attention I will not be able to comment on any replies to my blogs.

    Thanx,

    CTN