Ogra Fianna Fail to organise in NI Unis…

Well, if it is serious about organising in Northern Ireland, Bertie Ahern will have to build from the bottom up as well as any top down deal with the SDLP. Politics.ie reports that it will recruiting at Queens and the University of Ulster tomorrow and Wednesday. It comes on the heel of Alisdair McDonnell’s statement that his party, the SDLP, and FF will firm up ties (“five, six, seven years”?). You can hear a fascinating full interview here.

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  • reds under the beds

    Fiana Fail are only about 75 years too late….

  • Well for their sake I hope they have a degree of success or else the impending invasion will be carried out by Dad’s Army.

  • David

    SDLP merges with IRA? No decommissioning required. What about this one Margaret Ritchie? And will we continue to get celebrations of terrorism like Dublin Easter 2006? Nationalists obviously have no rspect for the GFA or St Andrews (ironically SF do……they decommisioned etc unlike DeValeras mob).
    Are the IMC going to report on the state of the IRA/FF? It would be untinkable to have SDLP in government if their newly discovered armed wing failed to decommission. What a delicious irony regarding M. Ritchie.

  • Shore Road Resident

    Delicious irony? More like strained irony.
    [edited by moderator – Play the Ball] All decent people are backing Ritchie.

  • Mayoman

    Then again David, some us live in the real world.

  • Ballygobackwards

    FF will not be rectuiting if they aren’t recognised by Queens SRC surely?

  • David

    If my point is invalid, when does a bad terrorist become good? There is no difference between SF and FF except time. SF are there on electoral mandate (rightly) and FF/SDLP would be too (again fair enough). Do not try and pass one early 20th century IRA of as morally superior to late 20th century version.

  • Ballygobackwards

    They must have purchased one of the commerical spots, quelle surprise. It’s Galway races all over again.

    As no FF Cumanna has been ratified by the SRC they will not be allowed to collect membership money on the day but can take names.

    This is all moot however as they tried to recuit before and the only ones to show up were members of other political parties looking a nosy.

  • Ballygobackwards

    CG

    Indeed. I really don’t see Northern Ireland Nationalists buying in to a southern gombeen cute hoorism as epitomised by Fianna Fail. Maybe I am wrong.

    I also find the idea of the SDLP linking up with them to be an act of desperation. It’s a bit like all those UUP wonks who wanted them to become the Ulster branch of the Conservatives because they basically had no faith whatsoever in their own brand anymore.

  • Mayoman

    David: in the case of PIRA etc, as long as it takes the Iraqis to forgive the terrorism of the UK? You’re letting your narrow-minded view on what is/isn’t a terrorist blur a discussion on what is a purely valid political move (if you ‘respect’ the GFA as much as you say you do). If you want to play the game of ‘how long’ etc, then look to the violent history and entanglements of current unionist parties (UUP-Vanguard-UDA, DUP-UVF etc)and ask if, even today, these links have truly been broken. You’re question is far more valid for issues closer to home than to that of FF, who, with their current crop of TDs, have at this point in time, a much cleaner record of involvement with terrorists/paramiltaries/rebels/freedom fighters (take your pick) than ANY unionist party. If the IMC had to look anywhere else, it wouldn’t be wasting its time with SDLP/FF.

  • me

    It’s a good interview and Alex Kane in todays news letter has plenty to say on it, he believes that FF are effectively tearing up strand one of the agreement by organising here.

    I’d welcome FF. Hope they are successful in their recruiting and run candidates if there is an early poll. The sooner the better.

  • David

    Mayoman: I have to disagree with some of what you say:
    1. I do not have an objection to FF organising and takin part in politics in NI. Rather my point is that the ‘time’ element is all that stops those who moralise about the terrorist/freedom fighter/resistance movement links of contemporary parties being applied to FF etc. Personally I welcome any movement from violent to political action.
    2. Contemporary Unionist parties (with the exception of PUP) are not like SF,FF,FG etc as they were not formed out of the militant group.
    3. I have no doubt the current crop of FF Tds are excellent and free from paramilitary connections. My point is that their party comes from the same roots as many contemporary parties. They cannot claim moral superiority (not that they do, it is the SDLP which wants to merge which is more likely to play the ‘moral card’).
    I think we probably agree on many points. I totally support the GFA and as far as I am concerned it opened the door to politics for all, it has been infuriating to watch politicians moralise after they signed a deal to legitimise these parties.

  • Pounder

    I’ll be ay Queens myself helping on the Alliance Stand, so I’ll be greatly interested to see what FF have to say for themselves and what their goals are. Frankly I see this hurting the shinners a lot. Their only remaining claim to fame is that they are the only All-Ireland party (deliberately ignoring the Green Party). Everything else Sinn Fein are about has been blown out of the water by accepting a role in the partitionist goverment.

  • Cormac

    “Are the IMC going to report on the state of the IRA/FF? It would be untinkable to have SDLP in government if their newly discovered armed wing failed to decommission.”

    …the sound of a barrel bottom being scraped.

    Hilarious. Brightened up my Monday!

  • Mayoman

    Thanks for the clarification David. The only thing that I do disagree with you is the line “Contemporary Unionist parties (with the exception of PUP) are not like SF,FF,FG etc as they were not formed out of the militant group.” I think history shows this to be wrong. James Craig was a founder of the UVF and was well known for his love of getting other people to gun run. How many of the present-day unionist parties deny a role for James Craig in their own history? Edward Carson too, a founding member of a pro-insurgency and paramiltary UVF. Are these not the roots of modern day unionism as espoused by the UUP and DUP and do not these parties trace a line back to these men?

  • Indeed. I really don’t see Northern Ireland Nationalists buying in to a southern gombeen cute hoorism as epitomised by Fianna Fail. Maybe I am wrong.

    Pretty much. FF have no roots or organisation in the North. Before anyone points out that they’ll take over the SDLP’s organisation, that isn’t actually worth inheriting outside Derry and Carmel Hanna’s patch of South Belfast, even if all of it joined FF, which I doubt.

    Why do people vote FF in the South? Because their families always have, because their great-grandas fought for Dev and because FF are always around knocking their doors with a wee survey. None of these reasons is going to apply in the North. Oh, and the economy, and Bertie’s personal popularity – if you think the boom is still going to be running in “five, six, seven years”, or that Bertie is still going to be Taoiseach then, you need your head examination. Does anyone think that Michael Martin as leader of the opposition is going to pull too many votes in up here, they need their head seen to.

    Of course, I’m delighted at the prospects of taking a huge lump out of what was once the liberal SDLP vote, just as I’m sure the Shinners are delighted by the prospects of eating yet further into the SDLP’s greenier and leftier fringes, so as far as I’m concerned, bring it on. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a really, really, stupid idea.

  • merrie

    No worries with streaming, using Safari then Quick Time player – though by now they are talking about something else.

  • merrie

    >> Fiana Fail are only about 75 years too late…

    Yes, and if they did organise 75 years ago how would the Vanguard (and/or its equivalent) would have behaved towartds them?

  • merrie

    Sorry, post 17 belongs to another thread!!

  • Briso

    Posted by Sammy Morse on Sep 24, 2007 @ 03:29 PM
    That doesn’t mean it isn’t a really, really, stupid idea.

    Seriously Sammy, why would someone whose main motivation in voting is removing the border, vote for anyone other than FF? Tell me why SF is a better option than Fianna Fail? I don’t get it…

    “eating yet further into the SDLP’s greenier and leftier fringes” What ‘greenier and leftier fringes’? Are you pulling my leg? To paraphrase D Ahern, “SF would be our rivals. They’re a Marxist party”. There is plenty of mileage in old style green nationalist, capitalist politics. SF would be the ones squeezed, no?

  • George

    Sammy,
    Why do people vote FF in the South? Because their families always have, because their great-grandas fought for Dev and because FF are always around knocking their doors with a wee survey. None of these reasons is going to apply in the North. Oh, and the economy, and Bertie’s personal popularity.

    I think you have a slightly outdated view of FF’s appeal in the Republic and the idea that people are following traditional voting patterns handed down from generation to generation. And believe it or not, most people aren’t regaled with stories at the fireside of great-granda’s exploits alongside Dev in the War of Independence.

    FF cleaned up in the new commuter belts around Dublin, for example, while FG managed to gain back just one seat in Dún Laoghaire, a constituency where it once held three.

    Politics has become very fluid down south and, as for the economy, there no reason why it can’t boom for another seven years, or outperform the Northern Irish one at any rate.

    The country has pretty well no national debt so can support a couply of lean years and also has a young and growing population.

    I don’t know how FF will run up north but I certainly wouldn’t dismiss them out of hand – even post Bertie.

    They signed off on a billion euro cheque for Northern Ireland and I wouldn’t be surprised if they sign another even bigger one in six or seven years if and when they eventually do decide to run. Money talks.

  • I hardly know where to begin on the subject of Fianna Fail’s madcap scheme to stand candidates in Northern Ireland.

    That this is supposed to help out the SDLP strikes me as beyond bizarre, since the two parties have absolutely nothing in common beyond an Irish Nationalism to which the SDLP is less than fully committed, certainly in any form recognisable by the activist base and core electorate of Fianna Fail.

    Nothing will save the SDLP, just as nothing will save the Alliance Party, and just as nothing short of a miracle will save the Ulster Unionist Party.

    Still, if Fianna Fail, no doubt followed by Fine Gael, were to fill the vacuum where the SDLP used to be, then the urgently necessary new British parties should fill the vacuum where the UUP and the Alliance Party used to be. Indeed, they should and must do this anyway.

    Just as they should and must fill the vacuums where Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems used to be.

  • Fraggle

    “Still, if Fianna Fail, no doubt followed by Fine Gael”

    Lindsay, you don’t really understand the difference between FG and FF do you?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    David Lindsay

    “I hardly know where to begin on the subject of Fianna Fail’s madcap scheme to stand candidates in Northern Ireland.”

    Couple of things. First off, why madcap?

    Secondly, FF are not talking about standing candidates in the north. At this stage, all the noises coming from FF seem to suggest that that’s going to be a few years off yet. What they are talking about is building Fianna Fáil organisationally in the north. This seems pretty sensible – if they sign up a few more northern-based members, it’s all to the good. If they find there are lots of people in the north interested in joining, they can move on to the next stage of organising local cumainn, or not. Whatever they decide. If at that point things are looking good, then they could look at standing candidates. If it never reaches that stage, no harm done.

    This seems to me like a sensible strategy. It seems like FF understand the northern electorate pretty well – indeed, if I may be a bit cheeky here, I think the way we do politics here is proof that these are Irish constituencies, not British ones. Irish voters north and south, whether in Kerry South or North Antrim, want parties that are active on the ground, with candidates who are strong personalities, linked to the area and with good records on bringing home the bacon for the constituency. In Britain, it seems a party brand is enough, and indeed the Irish way of doing politics is sneered at as “clientelist” or “parochial”.

    Perhaps this is why the Conservatives have utterly failed to make any impact in NI despite contesting many elections? And perhaps this understanding gives reason to surmise that FF might prosper where the Tories have failed?

    “Still, if Fianna Fail, no doubt followed by Fine Gael, were to fill the vacuum where the SDLP used to be, then the urgently necessary new British parties should fill the vacuum where the UUP and the Alliance Party used to be. Indeed, they should and must do this anyway.”

    “Should” and “must” have nothing to do with it. Someone needs to make it happen – and that means more than inviting Dave Cameron over to have his picture taken in from of city hall every few years.

  • JD

    “Still, if Fianna Fail, no doubt followed by Fine Gael”

    Lindsay, you don’t really understand the difference between FG and FF do you?

    Although with roots in the Michael Collins tradition, significant parts of FG are Redmondite, Post Nationalist and Neo Unionist in Outlook. The Alliance Party would be the party with the most similar outlook to FG. Although some in FG would have a moderate nationalist outlook like the SDLP, many more are sympathetic to Reg Empey’s criticism of Fianna Fail’s move.

    FG don’t compete with SF for votes in the south (unlike Fianna Fail) and hence are not driven by a need to counter SF in the north or assert all Ireland credentials through organising in the North. While FF & FG buried their differences over the 1922 Treaty with the GFA an new difference will open up between an all Ireland FF and an FG which sees that GFA like the UUP as not a stepping stone to a united Ireland but a final settlement.

    If FF-SDLP happens (and in some shape or form it will) a few Stoops will go to Labour and Alliance. Fianna Fail will however mop up the non SF nationalist constituency(as opposed to the wing of the SDLP who don’t really want the union to end). After that it will become a battle to prove they can bring home more bacon than SF. It will take a long time, but given that FF is the natural party of government in the south and will hold the purse strings for a lot of projects expect them to ruthlessly exploit this against SF.

    FF won’t be looking to make gains off SF in the North anytime soon. They’ll concentrate their fire on SF in the south letting SF settle into being an established party of government in the North.

    Post-SDLP will Unionists look to British parties or forge a united Unionist party? If FF-SDLP is abstentionist expect that it will result in joint abstentionist nationalist candidates – Unionists will most likely want to face such a development with single unionist candidates rather than British Parties competing against one another.

    Labour and the Tories might well have a small presence here like the Greens, but the two big Orange and Green blocs will be here for quite some time to come

  • Darren Mac an Phríora

    I raised the matter of Fine Gael having a committee in the North with Enda Kenny recently- before FF announced that they were going to set one up. He said he would make a decision on it later.

    YFG already have a committee in the North. I think you will find that Fine Gael will soon be an all-island party also.

  • Darren Mac an Phríora

    “Although with roots in the Michael Collins tradition, significant parts of FG are Redmondite, Post Nationalist and Neo Unionist in Outlook. The Alliance Party would be the party with the most similar outlook to FG. Although some in FG would have a moderate nationalist outlook like the SDLP, many more are sympathetic to Reg Empey’s criticism of Fianna Fail’s move.

    FG don’t compete with SF for votes in the south (unlike Fianna Fail) and hence are not driven by a need to counter SF in the north or assert all Ireland credentials through organising in the North. While FF & FG buried their differences over the 1922 Treaty with the GFA an new difference will open up between an all Ireland FF and an FG which sees that GFA like the UUP as not a stepping stone to a united Ireland but a final settlement.”

    I have never in my life read so much rubbish.

  • The Dubliner

    “Money talks.” – George

    They’ll take your money for sure, but will they actually sleep with you?

    I wonder what the underlying dynamics regarding unity actually are at this point. If you look at that stated aspiration and the actions that are supposedly done to further it, there doesn’t seem to be any consistent logic underpinning them.

    The two nationalist parties in the north chose to negotiate within a format where the only two principles who could deliver a united Ireland (the governments) where excluded in favour of internal political parties who could deliver an internal settlement only. There is an obvious conflict between a political party’s desire to further its own selfish interests and the stated aim of unification which would have the outcome, if achieved, of being disastrous to that political party’s interests. Unity is the last thing either of those parties actually wants, since unity is self-destruction. Which, of course, is why PSF never asked Tony Blair’s incoming government for anything other a place at the negotiating table in return for a second ceasefire, making not one single mention of their stated aim of unification.

    I think the nationalist people in the north have confused the interests of the political parties that represent them with their own interests, such that they assume that what is good for the party they support is also good for them. In that context, they will support a party even if it is at the direct expense of the aim that party claims to serve. For example, the outcome of the GFA was the PoC. That means that nationalists right to self-determination is subject to the veto of unionists. It means, obviously, that nationalists must persuaded unionists that unity is in their best interests. It means they must engage with unionists to this end. Yet, despite voting for the GFA, they don’t seem to understand that the party they now vote for is unable to engage with unionists to that end due to its bloody historical baggage, its sociopathic personalities, and its status as a glorified sectarian cult. They choose to vote for the party which retarded unity by several generations, reducing the number of unionists who identified themselves as Irish prior to PSF’s sectarian murder campaign to next to nothing. Unionists will never be persuaded to vote for unity if PSF are identified with the project, proffering it as the ultimate victory over them and validation for its violent campaign. That’s the simple reality of it.

    So, looking at FF’s entry into the north, what better way of engaging with unionists as a condition of the PoC is there? Yet again we see nationalists in the north overlooking the logic of the PoC and rallying to the defence of PSF, confusing selfish political interests with their own interests. Looking beyond that, PSF’s own self-serving logic was to use the PoC as the means by which they would position themselves as the central dynamic north and south whereby all those who supported unity would them, effectively prostituting republicanism for selfish political interests. Now that FF looks likely to go north, there is no need for PSF to keep the south reminded that the north exists (i.e. get unity on the political agenda). FF can do that as the party of government in the south. Yet even that logic is now to be seemingly discarded by the northern electorate in favour of serving PSF’s interests before their own. The level of brainwashing goes beyond that which any cult has ever achieved before. To them, PSF’s interest and their own interests are now the same. When northern ‘republicans’ talk about the south, they do so as members of a cult, speaking in terms of “free-staters” and seeing the south as an illegitimate entity that has usurped their self-appointed ‘right’ to be a dictatorship of a quasi-communist state. The rest seem to think they will annex the south and not vice-versa.

    We live in interesting times.

  • JD

    “I have never in my life read so much rubbish”

    Darren – did you ever discuss this with Brian Hayes. He was FG spokeman for NI and probably the next FG party leader. The following he addressed to UUP meetings:

    “I wasn’t surprised that it was the Ulster Unionist Party who would invite a Fine Gael politician to an event such as this. Despite public perception, there are many similarities between both our parties”

    or

    “The Ulster Unionist party can be rightly proud of its contribution to resolving the problems that exist here in Northern Ireland. This party has taken risks at a time when others chose to play party politics. It was the Ulster Unionist Party that led the way in forming the Executive after the Good Friday Agreement ”

    or

    “The Agreement was all about resolving the Irish question for good, not just for the next twenty years. It is not a staging post to a united Ireland ”

    If you want to find these quotes they’re on the FG website. Darren you should have more respect for your party’s traditions and policies

    “Enda Kenny said he would make a decision on it later.” As with FF it will be an Ard Fheis that would decide if FG goes north – and expect massive resistance in FG to any such move

    Now you tell me who is talking rubbish?

  • páid

    Erm…

    not you JD. I thought your analysis was rather sharp.

    The long-term scenario, now that we all agree the environment is important, a market economy is a world choice, and it’s best not to invade your neighbours, is a cultural one.

    Ireland, Wales and Scotland will cleave into unionists and nationalists, of various hues.

    England will do a different kind of split, transfixed for eternity by the Saxon v Norman thing, disguised this past 100 years as a class divide.

    You don’t believe me?

    Brown and Cameron, Bertie and Enda.

    Big ideological differences or what?

  • Chris Donnelly

    Those listening carefully to Alisdair at the weekend got a small insight into how much resistance there will be within the SDLP to any Fianna Fail advances that are genuinely about transforming into an all-Ireland party.

    Ironically, this will be a case of Fianna Fail waiting for Sinn Fein to deliver the final knock out blow to the SDLP before the Failers turn north.

  • sammaguire

    “Why do people vote FF in the South? Because their families always have, because their great-grandas fought for Dev and because FF are always around knocking their doors with a wee survey.”

    Posted by Sammy Morse on Sep 24, 2007 @ 03:29 PM

    Think your views on the 26 counties are a bit fossilised Sammy. Like most people down here I have relatives who vote for all the main parties and some don’t even bother to vote at all.

    It may surprise you but FF,FG, and Labour people actually intermarry. Very few of us have grandparents and greatgrandparents who all were on the same side during the Civil War.

    FFers and FGers actually work and socialise together. No peace walls or stone throwing or anything like that. I vote FF because they get things done. They also have a greater interest in peacefully unifying the country and this is in line with my own aspirations.

    Please elaborate on the wee surveys… never come across them myself.

  • Wolfe Tone

    As an individual member of FF I find many of the comments interesting but a few points from an actual Party member.

    We are bigger than the SDLP and our destiny will be determined by our members and supporters not the SDLP. They had their role in nationalist Ireland and a fine role they played. But FF is recruiting young Irishmen like me in Belfast who want a United Ireland and can see the vision with which FF will achieve it. It is based on peace and trust with the Orange tradition and is a strategy that SF and SDLP recognise but don’t have the experience or know how to come close to achieving.

    FF have a track record in political and governmental leadership and quite frankly no northern politicain or party comes close when it comes to political CVs. That is not to say that it won’t be a challenge for FF but we, unlike most commentators (Prof Baw and Ivan Cooper excluded), have long term ambitions for Irish unity and don’t mind waiting another generation if it is ultimately peaceful and successful.

    Don’t write us off before we’ve even got into to arena! You might just end up eating your words.

  • Seriously Sammy, why would someone whose main motivation in voting is removing the border, vote for anyone other than FF?

    Briso, you’re usually one of the sharper commenters around here, so do you really want me to answer a point as facile as that? Many people will think SF are more likely to deliver that objective. You may disagree but that doesn’t change that fact. And many nationalists have more complex motivations that just removing the border. Many people vote SDLP because: they don’t like the Shinners history or attitude but they want someone to stand up for their community; because they regard the SDLP as a middle-of-the-road peacenik party just like Alliance but slightly greener (and we’ll pick up these votes in bucketloads if the SDLP merge into FF); because they want to vote for a socialist/social democratic party (don’t sneer, such people exist, in surprisingly large numbers); and because they’ve always voted SDLP (a new brand will force them to reassess their loyalties). FF may pick up some people from all of these groups but an awful lot of SDLP voters will just walk off to whichever of Alliance or Sinn Féin they’ve been happily, often enthusiastically, giving their second preferences to for years.

    I think you have a slightly outdated view of FF’s appeal in the Republic and the idea that people are following traditional voting patterns handed down from generation to generation.
    Think your views on the 26 counties are a bit fossilised Sammy. Like most people down here I have relatives who vote for all the main parties and some don’t even bother to vote at all.
    I’ll take both these comments together. They’re sensible comments that tell part of the story of contemporary voting behaviour in the Republic but not all of it. In tandem with most established democracies, party loyalties in the Republic have weakened enormously in the past couple of decades. FF have been masterful in adopting to that new reality hence, as sam rightly points out, the massive FF votes in places like Dublin South and Dun Laoghaire. But party loyalties haven’t disappeared; the number of core party voters still greatly exceeds the number of floaters, and FF are particularly adept at keeping their core vote on board. For a lot of these core voters, voting FF through many turns and twists of policy is a tradition thing, a family thing, that in many cases traces its way back to the civil war. Not that people are sticking the vote in the ballot box to get one back for Annascaul, but it’s an inheritance. Before you dismiss that point, just ask yourself why Bertie Ahern, that symbol of the new Ireland, is in FF as opposed to any other party. And that’s not necessarily Irish exceptionalism – a lot of English Tories or French Socialists would be in exactly the same boat.
    Outside the core FF’s vote, while currently big, is squidgy soft (look at the 2004 Euros) and linked directly with competence in government. With no core North of the border, no place in government, no activist base beyond some of the SDLP’s and an economy in the South heading for choppy waters, how do FF establish themselves up here?
    Irish voters north and south, whether in Kerry South or North Antrim, want parties that are active on the ground, with candidates who are strong personalities, linked to the area and with good records on bringing home the bacon for the constituency.

    And they’re going to get that from a party that will, in the North, consist of some of the SDLP (you know, those well known pavement-pounders). I see.

    If FF-SDLP happens (and in some shape or form it will) a few Stoops will go to Labour and Alliance. Fianna Fail will however mop up the non SF nationalist constituency

    After the Shinners have been in power for a couple of terms, how much will there be left of that?

    given that FF is the natural party of government in the south and will hold the purse strings for a lot of projects expect them to ruthlessly exploit this against SF

    Only if FF retain power for the foreseeable future. It’s spectacularly arrogant to just assume that FF are capable of holding power for generations in the way that, say, the Swedish Social Democrats did. One bad recession will kill off FF in power and a lot of the cross-border projects. You can turn a blind eye to the gombeenism when other things are going well but it’s a marriage of convenience rather than true love. And I’ll believe all this NDP money is coming North when I see it; it’s not like big infrastructure projects in the South happen in anything like the timescales that FF claim for them before hand.

  • They’ll concentrate their fire on SF in the south letting SF settle into being an established party of government in the North.

    If they do that, they aren’t coming north for a while.

    The Alliance Party would be the party with the most similar outlook to FG.

    Agreed. FG and Alliance people always seem to be very comfortable with one another. Now tell Enda to come up and canvass for us rather than the SDLP in the next elections.

    It is based on peace and trust with the Orange tradition and is a strategy that SF and SDLP recognise but don’t have the experience or know how to come close to achieving.

    A spectacularly vain post which drips with the entitlement and arrogance that would (if it were representative) kill any FF project of at birth. The Shinners will laugh at you then eat you alive. Success on one side of the border does not guarantee success on the other side. Ask Gerry Adams.

    Folks, I’ve heard all this before from integrationist Unionists during the heyday of the Campaign for Equal Citizenship and NI Tories. If the ‘mainland’ parties organised here, they would have their hands on the purse-strings, destroy those silly little provincial backwoodsmen, convince all the Taigs that they were really British and cure the common cold and bad breath.

    It didn’t amount to diddly squat in the end and the Tories can’t even get a councillor elected in Ballyholme these days. I’ve yet to see any evidence that Fianna Fáil would fare any better. NI remains a place apart politically, and every single pro-FF poster here ignores the manpower, professionalism, experience and hunger available to SF in the North.

    But as an Alliance activist in Belfast, I could do with a thousand extra votes or ten. Bring it on.

  • JD

    “given that FF is the natural party of government in the south and will hold the purse strings for a lot of projects expect them to ruthlessly exploit this against SF

    Only if FF retain power for the foreseeable future. It’s spectacularly arrogant to just assume that FF are capable of holding power for generations in the way that, say, the Swedish Social Democrats did. ”

    Hi Sammy – I’m not an FFer. When I say FF are the natural party of government I say it with resignation rather than arrogance. Their dominance is a phenomenon on par with that of the Swedish Social Democrats – and its not healthy (all power corrupts etc..). What has entrenced FF’s power further is that that since they adopted coalition in 1989 they can pick their partner for government freezing FG out.

    Reading your posts I agree with much of your analysis in particular:

    “an awful lot of SDLP voters will just walk off to whichever of Alliance or Sinn Féin they’ve been happily, often enthusiastically, giving their second preferences to for years.”

    In many ways within the all Ireland Green Republican tradition (I don’t mean the pluralist tradition of FG Darren – I not insulting FG by the way) FF & SF may become a mirror image of one another. One well organised in the south with the other being a bit player and the reverse North of the border.

    I think this is different from the campaign for equal citizenship as this is a re-organisation within Nationalism – nothing more. There’ll be FF MLAs while Irish Labour will have some cllrs. The Alliance will grow a bit and the Greens will be there as they are now. If the UUP and DUP draw together there’ll be a few crumbs for the Tories to pick up

    An all Ireland FF will make SF ideologically indistinguishable – although better organised, SF in NI will be faced with some serious soul seaching in such a scenario. What happens in intra nationalist competition is anyone’s guess. However if SF start complaining about FF stealing their game plan for being in government North & South they’ll loose fickle nationalist support – just like the SDLP did when they started moaning about SF stealing their policies on powersharing and consent.

    Tonight’s “Questions & Answers” on RTE had Eamonn O’Cuiv (FF – DeVs Grandson) and Brian Hayes (FG)on the panel. O’Cuiv said outright FF would negotiate with the SDLP and any FF development in NI would be gradual. An FF-SDLP arrangement is in prospect with some FF organisation on the side.

    As regards Brian Hayes on tonight’s show – if you’re out there Darren. The FG position (as annunicated by him – he would be briefed before the show by the FG press office) is FF in NI is dangerous. He verbaitim said what Reg Empey did last week. Sammy outlines FG & the Alliance Party’s common thinking well Darren. Perhaps you should join FF?

    Sammy, I think Darren is a good example of a southerner voting on family loyalty. He thinks like modern day FF but he has to support FG.

    Which leads me to a related question Sammy. The Alliance is in the Liberal group in Europe – FG is in the Christian Democrats any chance you’d join the CDs instead (if the UUP merged with the DUP)? Then Enda could go canvass for you?

  • David

    Mayoman: You are correct. The UVF and Unionist party was hand in hand…………but then that is the ‘old UVF’ so obviously like the ‘old IRA’ acceptable to contemporary moralists. It reminds me of Billy Connolly’s sketch about being killed by ‘conventional’ as opposed to ‘nuclear’ weapons…….so much more acceptable .

  • Briso

    Seriously Sammy, why would someone whose main motivation in voting is removing the border, vote for anyone other than FF?

    Briso, you’re usually one of the sharper commenters around here, so do you really want me to answer a point as facile as that?

    Errmmm, yes.

    Many people will think SF are more likely to deliver that objective. You may disagree but that doesn’t change that fact.

    Well, the question was, now that they can (for the sake of argument) vote FF, why would they think ‘SF are more likely to deliver that objective’? What is the case?

    And many nationalists have more complex motivations that just removing the border. Many people vote SDLP because: they don’t like the Shinners history or attitude but they want someone to stand up for their community; because they regard the SDLP as a middle-of-the-road peacenik party just like Alliance but slightly greener (and we’ll pick up these votes in bucketloads if the SDLP merge into FF); because they want to vote for a socialist/social democratic party (don’t sneer, such people exist, in surprisingly large numbers); and because they’ve always voted SDLP (a new brand will force them to reassess their loyalties). FF may pick up some people from all of these groups but an awful lot of SDLP voters will just walk off to whichever of Alliance or Sinn Féin they’ve been happily, often enthusiastically, giving their second preferences to for years.

    Well, perhaps and perhaps not. The breakdown of SDLP votes is interesting, but that is not relevant to what I asked. The question was, “Why would someone whose main motivation in voting is removing the border, vote for anyone other than FF?” If FF can pick up a significant number of this type of voter, lets call them ‘Nationalists’, I think they’ll do fine. BTW, I don’t see why Alliance think they would be more attractive to your notional ‘middle of the road’ SDLP voter than FF. But as I said, that’s not what I originally asked.

  • Well, I’d hardly be the only person who couldn’t tell the difference between FF and FG! In practice, FG seems to exsit purey in order to provide some semblance of opposition to FF. So, if FF organised in the North, then so would FG. The SDLP and Alliance, like the UUP, are empty husks anyway, like the mainland British parties. Whatever replaces Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems, together with FF and therefore also FG, could and should provide a much healthier, if rather crowded, alternative to the DUP-SF carve up.

  • Ginfizz

    “the DUP-SF carve up.”

    Typical centrist arrogance. The carve up of which you speak was actually the result of a free and fair election.

  • JD

    “Well, I’d hardly be the only person who couldn’t tell the difference between FF and FG! In practice, FG seems to exsit purey in order to provide some semblance of opposition to FF”.

    True and many a Labour, Sinn Fein or Green supporter would agree with you. That said if you examine the two parties, while there is a huge overlap between the two of them they are anchored in two quite different concepts of Irishness. The difference between the SDLP and Alliance Party (or perhaps the difference between the Alliance and UUP) would be a crude analogy – to Republicans and Hard Line Unionists they can’t spot the difference, however as two parties while having overlapping elements they are anchored in two different bases.

    Hence a different reaction to organising on a 32 county scale between the two parties. Go to rte.ie to watch last night’s “questions and answers” to get an idea. As to what will happen – I’d split the difference between Sammy and David.

    Sinn Fein to eventually lose a little ground, FF-SDLP to be organised an all Ireland basis, One mainstream unionist party in reaction to this. Irish Labour (or in alliance with British Labour if they allow organisation) having a small presence like the Greens, and a handful of Tories for ex-UUP types that don’t like “Ulster Nationalism”. Some change but not all that was before swept away.

  • Continental Drifter

    In reality, post-IRA, what is the difference between SF in the North and FF in the South?

  • George

    Dubliner,
    interesting post. I too wonder about where the dynamic for unity will come from. But it’s not just much of the northern electorate that is happy with things as they are.

    Watching Q&A last night you could see that many were horrified at the appalling new vista FF could open up by moving north. People are afraid of the unknown, especially people with something to lose or nothing to gain.

    Sammy,
    I’m sure FF would be more than happy to see a noticeable greening of Alliance as a side-effect of their move north.

    It would be interesting to see how Alliance would deal with having a strong or even majority nationalist constituency within its ranks.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Was just chatting to a mate of mine who knows about these things. Apparently, six hours after setting up, Fianna Fáil are now the biggest student society at UU Magee. The word from Derry is that they have been inundated with interested parties. SF must be seething!

  • stewart

    Sammy,
    I’m sure FF would be more than happy to see a noticeable greening of Alliance as a side-effect of their move north

    Sammy it might be of interest to know that FF has been trying to join the Alliance Party’s group in Europe. While they were unsuccessful in the past few years in getting into the liberal group, the re-integration of the remaining PDs into Fianna Fail will facilitate that – I look forward to FF and the alliance party working together at European elections!

  • George

    Breakingnews says Ógra FF have recruited 41 at Magee and only need 20 to form a society. Source is an FFer so make of it what you will.

    http://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/mhcwsneyaucw/

  • I still don’t get this, I’m afraid: FF might very well want to be a 32-County party, but why would they want anything to do with the SDLP, and why would it want anything to do with them? There is nothing remotely Social Democratic or Labour about FF.

  • Briso

    >There is nothing remotely Social Democratic or Labour about FF.

    There is nothing remotely Social Democratic or Labour about the SDLP. In fact, there is nothing remotely Social Democratic or Labour about the British Labour Party. You’d be surprised how many Bertie style Socialists there are about. And SF, sure “they’re a Marxist party”.

  • Well, Briso, isn’t it time that Social Democratic and Labour people throughout these islands had new parties to vote for? What are we doing about it?

    But I stand by my point: the SDLP’s commitment to such things might be decidedly watered down these days, but FF is, and has always been, a plain and simple party of the Right. I know of at least one erstwhile FF Senator who simultaneously took the Tory Whip as an hereditary peer of the United Kingdom! How is this ever going to work? I just can’t see it.

  • Conor Lavelle

    David,

    Edward Haughey was one of 11 senatorial appointment’s that are constitutionally within the Taoiseach’s remit to appoint. He wasn’t an FF senator, he was an independent.

  • Well, I think it’s fair to say that he wouldn’t have had, nor will he have, much truck with the SDLP! Nor it with him, of course.

  • Pounder

    Sinn Fein are only marxist when it suits them, they aren’t a famous wood varnish and they don’t do exactly what it says on the tin.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    David Lindsay

    To be honest, I don’t think you grasp Irish politics. If you’ll forgive me, I think you’re taking a British metric and applying it to Irish politics. And you admit, you’re utterly confused by what you find.

    In order to understand Irish politics, you have to understand that it’s a different ballgame from the one they play across the water. What might in British politics seem like idiosyncrasies or inconsistencies, don’t seem that way on this side of the Irish Sea. And that’s as true for unionist parties as nationalist or republican ones.

    You might be confused, but you’ll find Irish parties aren’t. This is perhaps why Fianna Fáil have every chance of succeeding where the Conservative Party has always failed.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    That should have read:

    “You might be confused, but you’ll find Irish VOTERS aren’t.”

  • ballyboy

    It wouldn’t surprise me at all if FF did well at the northern unis, simply because a lot of young people from the Republic study at them. I did the careers fairs at UU last year for my company and at Magee especially, I think I spoke to more people from Donegal and other border counties than from NI.

  • latchheco

    Sammy,
    I think a lot of people might be surprised how well the mexicans do in the north and the chucks are spoofin when they pretend to be unconcerned,the ones i talked to are takin it as a potential disaster after their failures in the south.(ff stole their plan and reversed it) FF are going to be askin northern nats to vote for the irish govt. for the first time and will play it as such and i can’t see how they will lose. Their is little residue bitterness at the freestaters from the generations of voters sf now attract and they are vunerable. SF are going to be askin their voters in the north not to vote for them capitalist swines cos they sold us out (ahem just forget about us recognising the psni)i.e. not to vote for the taoiseach’s party with a record of economic delivery. Ask the stoops how fickle the electorate is. Plus the potential to piss off unionists with dublin ministers in stormont cannot be ignored (and apparantly cannot be achieved by sf). This could be the choce a lot of nats. have always been lookin for ask any gaa supporter in the north.

  • When I say FF are the natural party of government I say it with resignation rather than arrogance.

    I think you may be a bit too hasty in declaring the End of History here. Any left of centre party that joins up with FF tends to be bitten badly in the polls after (and there’s been plenty of public buyers’ remorse from Green voters) and transfer patterns tend to be pro- or anti-FF still. Bertie lucked out on the timing of this election; a year earlier or a year later and he would likely have lost badly. Still, politics is partly about riding your luck and Bertie is a master politician. Does Michael Martin have the same political skills? I don’t think so.

    The Alliance is in the Liberal group in Europe – FG is in the Christian Democrats any chance you’d join the CDs instead (if the UUP merged with the DUP)?

    I actually think the move would be the other way. There’s no reason why FF couldn’t join the Christian Democrats (more fitting than that weird Tory/Gaullist/FF/Czech nationalist group or whatever it is they’re in this week). FG would fit more comfortably into ELDR in any case; especially as it’s now part of a bigger centrist group called ALDE in the European Parliament and the PDs seem to be a busted flush. Alliance is in the right grouping; we’re way too secular and lefty-liberal to fit in with the Christian Democrats and in any case, we’re liberal by ideology in a way that FF and FG aren’t particularly anything by ideology.

    why would they think ‘SF are more likely to deliver that objective’?

    I think you’re asking the wrong questions here. First question, why would people who are happily voting SF defect to Fianna Fáil and, second, how many SDLP voters have a United Ireland (as opposed to a pluralist and fair Ireland) as top priority.

    I don’t see why Alliance think they would be more attractive to your notional ‘middle of the road’ SDLP voter than FF

    Firstly, habit – people are used to happily giving us their number 2 and on occasions their number 1, FF are new and strange, perhaps like the Tories once were sexy for an election or two but then it will be gone.

    Secondly, the SDLP’s middle-class base is heavily dominated by public sector workers and the liberal professions, a more comfortable fit with Alliance’s card-carrying liberalism than FF’s culshie capitalism.

    Thirdly, FF nationalism is probably too capital N for many crypto-Redmondite SDLP voters.

    Fourthly, the Shinners are probably more appealing to the darker Green end of the SDLP’s vote than FF (again, partly economics and partly habit). And everyone here seems to be ignoring the sheer ruthless efficiency of Sinn Fein’s ground machine in the North. FF are supposed to be challenge that with a few Dublin consultants, and the SDLP machine minus the SDLP members who wouldn’t touch the Fáilers with a bargepole? Dead on.

    How many potential FF voters are there in Beechmount or the Bogside? And for different reasons, in the Waterside or Fortwilliam? I don’t see many. Sure, there’s the rural West, but that’s an area where the Shinners are just wearing the SDLP away in election after election, and it will take a lot to shift them. Sure the electorate are fickle, but the SDLP were organisationally dying in many places when political events gave the Shinners their big boost in the mid to late ‘90s. The Shinners are not a dying organisation anywhere.

    Typical centrist arrogance.

    Ginfizz, I don’t think yer man is a centrist!

    I’m sure FF would be more than happy to see a noticeable greening of Alliance as a side-effect of their move north

    Given the way the UUP is collapsing, I would guess it would be growing and broadening rather than necessarily greening. Either way, I would welcome it. Both the UUP and SDLP have large numbers of voters and even elected representatives who would fit quite happily in the Alliance coalition. I’m greener than a lot of SDLP people I know; real-life party divisions are usually more blurred than those on Slugger.

    what is the difference between SF in the North and FF in the South?

    Right-on post-Marxism with a leaven of working class communitarianism versus gombeen capitalism. Quite a lot, actually.

    Sammy it might be of interest to know that FF has been trying to join the Alliance Party’s group in Europe.

    ALDE (as opposed to ELDR) is diverse enough to accommodate FF comfortably, but see above as to what I think the logical result of musical chairs should be. Logic doesn’t always work, of course!

    the chucks are spoofin when they pretend to be unconcerned,the ones i talked to are takin it as a potential disaster after their failures in the south

    They’re right not to be too cocky. But I have no vested interest in that fight and I don’t think they’ve much to worry about.

  • Briso

    why would they think ‘SF are more likely to deliver that objective’?

    I think you’re asking the wrong questions here.

    I hate it when people do that. I asked the question I wanted answered. You did tackle it anyway though, so thanks. 🙂

    First question, why would people who are happily voting SF defect to Fianna Fáil

    Because they are against partition. Fianna Fail are a serious party in the 26 and are a frequent party of government. They have (almost) no baggage associated with the violence of the troubles in the eyes of Unionists or those Nationalists who could never vote for them and, through a long process of engagement, are trusted by Unionists in a way Sinn Fein never will be. For those whos support the GFA (supposedly ALL SF voters) the way to a united Ireland is through a majority vote in a referendum. This will never be achieved without FF taking an active role in the south to bring the 26 county electorate on board. Put simply, Northern basket case, no unity. John Humes mantra about uniting the people being a pre-requisite to truly uniting the country remains true. Sinn Fein will never deliver that. It would also be much more likely where Unionists were less antagonistic. Some might even vote for it then, not many, but enough. If the Garden centre unionists stay at home,… Martina Anderson anyone? A united Ireland where SF are an irrelevant rump is both more likely and less frightening.

    FF ministers are players on the international stage. Since Hume retired, we have had no-one of similar stature. Bertie is quite likely to end up President of the Commission, or at any rate, in a top international job.

    FF are not playground Marxists. SF have proven in the Southern Election that they have no clue about economic development. FF have a proven track record and are in a perfect position to harmonise infrastructure and planning across the border with ministers in the North and Government in the South.

    Much of Sinn Feins vote is softer than people realise. People in Derry, which you focused on, can see every day what FF has done in Donegal, probably the last and least in the queue. We go to Letterkenny to the swimming pool for God’s sake. We almost all have relatives actually living West and North of the border and still practically in Derry. We buy our petrol in Muff, Killea, Bridgend. We eat out in Buncrana, Moville, Greencastle and paddle in Lisfannon. The development of Donegal is in our faces all the time and we want some of that!!! FF wants to develop the links to North Donegal and wants to do it through Derry. The minute they stand in Derry, the SDLP is finished. In Derry. Stalingrad.

    SF cannot compete with this either and will lose a significant number of votes.

    and, second, how many SDLP voters have a United Ireland (as opposed to a pluralist and fair Ireland) as top priority.

    Plenty, especially where they are strong. They recognise that a pluralist and fair united Ireland is the only one worth having. Why do these SDLPers who give you a second preference not give Alliance their first preference? Is it because they’re neutral on the border? Well, then you should come first. Is it because they like you better than the rest? I would think so. They vote SDLP because they want a united Ireland. They’ll vote FF in huge numbers, whether or not there is a ‘deal’.

  • Harry

    sammaguire I vote FF because they get things done.
    Excuse me for a moment while I pick myself off the ground laughing.

    Wolfe Tone young Irishmen like me in Belfast [..] want a United Ireland and can see the vision with which FF will achieve it. It is based on peace and trust with the Orange tradition…
    Funnily enough, Orangism’s position is not based on peace and trust with you – it is based on having lots of guns, the willingness to whip its population into using them, decades of driving out tens of thousands of nationalists in order to retain its majority and the backing of a larger power which fulfils the role of ‘Deus Ex Machina’ in this whole scenario in order to pursue its geopolitical objectives.
    Your idea of ‘peace and trust’ is therefore a little naive to say the least, and not a little spineless. If you can’t even analyse the situation correctly in language then what hope have you of altering it in fact?

    As so often in northern irish and irish politics, there is a great deal of fog and cofusion about what this all actually means and where it’s all going. (This fog is the result of intereference in the the normal functioning of our politics on this island). Do people really believe that Fianna Fáil want to take responsibility for a situation that remains volatile and dangerous? Do they want to get involved in the possibility of another Drumcree over the coming decade? Would their political advisers in the south allow them to risk the destabilisation of the government of the republic by becoming embroiled, definitively, with affairs in northern ireland? What if unionists wished to outflank them or bring about a certain desired political outcome by engaging in a violent incident around which to polarise opinion – would Fianna Fáil, after almost a century of pursuing a policy of sealing up all northern troubles on the other side of the border, leave themselves open to that? What if nationalists wished to outflank them by engaging in a similarly destabilising series of politically charged incidents? What if nationalists wished to spread the effect of such politically charged events throughout the whole island by involving a northern based Fianna Fáil in such things? Do people really think Fianna Fáil will allow themselves to be open to such things?

    On the other hand, perhaps with the soon-to-come parity of numbers between unionist and nationalists in n. ireland Fianna Fáil feel they can no longer avoid the situation and feel the need to get involved. Doesn’t mean, of course, that they won’t be vulnerable to the things I’ve just outlined above. Perhaps with the coming economic difficulties in the south it suits Fianna Fáil to wrap the green flag around them again in order to deflect attention from their abysmally underperforming governance during this time of great opportunity. Or perhaps Fianna Fáil believe that a combination of re-integrating to some extent with the UK while pursuing more all-Ireland economic policies with the blessing of unionist business people will be enough to take the sting out of the tail of this particular conflict?

    One thing seems to be sure, Fianna Fáil are not doing this simply because they are interested in a united Ireland – their track record of complete abandonment of and lack of interest in northern nationalists is proof enough of that.
    In which case there is no reason to suppose that they’re any more likely to pursue an independent united Ireland than they are to pursue a sort of Home Rule within a re-integrated ‘British Isles’. The evidence would appear to indicate this latter scenario above all.

  • The Original Sam Maguire

    “FF ministers are players on the international stage. Since Hume retired, we have had no-one of similar stature. Bertie is quite likely to end up President of the Commission, or at any rate, in a top international job.

    FF are not playground Marxists. SF have proven in the Southern Election that they have no clue about economic development. FF have a proven track record and are in a perfect position to harmonise infrastructure and planning across the border with ministers in the North and Government in the South.

    Much of Sinn Feins vote is softer than people realise. People in Derry, which you focused on, can see every day what FF has done in Donegal, probably the last and least in the queue. We go to Letterkenny to the swimming pool for God’s sake. We almost all have relatives actually living West and North of the border and still practically in Derry. We buy our petrol in Muff, Killea, Bridgend. We eat out in Buncrana, Moville, Greencastle and paddle in Lisfannon. The development of Donegal is in our faces all the time and we want some of that!!! FF wants to develop the links to North Donegal and wants to do it through Derry. The minute they stand in Derry, the SDLP is finished. In Derry. Stalingrad.

    SF cannot compete with this either and will lose a significant number of votes. ”

    Aside from Bertie, I don’t think too many on this side of the border could pick out a Fianna Fail minister if they fell on them. Possibly Willie O’Dea because of the ‘tashe. And maybe Biffo. The charisma isn’t exactly hanging off too many of them. And therein lies the problem. There’s a fair chance that Cowen will replace Bertie before the 2011 target of FF in the NI Assembly elections. There’s an affinity from Northern Nationalists to Bertie because of his work in the peace process and because he’s an affable cute hoor. As for Cowen, from what I’ve seen of him, the BIFFO acronym is as accurate as can be.

    Hume had a certain something that could appeal to an international audience. Mallon came off as a likeable, intelligent guy. They appealed to the moderate Nationalist constituency and as such Post Agreement you had your Statesman and your Deputy First Minister. A perfect illustration of maximum utilisation of resources.

    Fast forward 10 years to Adams and McGuinness. Notice any similarities? Whatever Adams lack in substance on policy matters he still comes of as Statesman because of everything post ’94. The debate debacle will be forgotten in a couple of years, but Gerry Adams legacy will be of the man who led the IRA away from violence. That will still be there when Bertie’s at the trough in Brussels.

    As for SF’s vote being soft, I would disagree. How much of the SF vote post 1998 is former SDLP voters that could be turned back and how much of it is new young voters? Delivery on local issues combined with the bigger picture is where SF’s success in the rural West of the Bann stems from.

    As for FF wiping the floor with the SDLP in Derry I would also disagree. As you put it, whatever about Brid Rogders and Attwood’s posturing in ’01 about West Tyrone being Stalingrad, you’re correct, Derry is. However, you seem to underestimate the legacy of Hume and the SDLP in the City. As someone mentioned, it’s the only real SDLP machine left on the ground. Do you honestly think that they’ll lie down for FF and that people will abandon them in their droves? Whilst Derry and Donegal have strong ties, if FF make any impact in Derry in the short / medium term the nett result will be to elevate SF to win the Westminster seat.

    Short of a merger / usurpation, it will take FF a generation to build a machine that is capable of matching the SDLP in Derry / South Belfast or matching SF in Tyrone, Fermanagh, Belfast, South Derry or South Armagh. Is it a case of “wrap the green flag around me boys (until 2016)”, or are they really here for the long haul?