The thieving bertie

Brian Feeney argues the SDLP’s role as the Dublin government’s client party in Northern Ireland is over with its loss of electoral dominance. This has meant Fianna Fail has had to intervene and will consume the SDLP rather than a merger. He expects their first electoral foray to be the 2011 Assembly elections. Fianna Fail’s message will be the same as Sinn Fein but with greater credibility:

He’s about to steal Sinn Féin’s political clothes. Fianna Fail will become a 32-county party preventing Sinn Féin from being the sole owner of that title. More importantly FF, not Sinn Féin, will be on course to have ministers from north and south sitting across from each other in the North-South Ministerial Council and on the all-Ireland bodies.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    He may well be right in his analysis but he’s wrong when he says SF are the only A-I party at the minute. Green Party is as well.

  • Juan Carr

    In the last 6 weeks:

    – Aer Lingus have announced they are in future going to be flying to Heathrow from Belfast instead of Dublin.

    – Hourly trains to run between Dublin & Belfast.

    – Driving penalty points to be applicable in both jurisdictions.

    – FF ‘thinking about’ running candidates in Northern elections.

    – Foot & Mouth disease restrictions in UK but not applicable to the island of Ireland.

    I reckon there are other examples of ‘closer integration’ too but they’re just 5 I can think of off the top of my head

  • abucs

    Can only be good for Republicanism in my view.

    May have a boost for SF as well in the 26 counties if they are constantly shown going ‘head to head’ with FF as equals in the North.

  • Wee slabber

    Do FF “cute whores” think that they can simply walk in after 30 years and expect nationalists to welcome them as some kind of saviours? Lynch’s “we will not stand idly by” (while they did just that, stood idly by!) speech hasn’t been forgotten, you know”! Bring them on, northern nationalists will lead the way in putting manners on these brown envelope taking, goombeen men.

  • willowfield

    Workers [sic] Party is also all-Ireland.

    Possibly also the Socialist Party and/or the Socialist Workers [sic] Party (not sure if they are the same party).

    Does CPI still exist? If so, there’s another all-Ireland party.

    And don’t forget RSF.

  • Splurge

    Could we keep a separate “nationalist” party solely to contest and take up seats in Westminster. would be good idea for SF and FF to go head to head in other elections but not contest Westminister at all.

    And I presume, Wee Slabber, that FF would have wit to run local candidates.

  • Harry

    There are a lot of assertions in that article that are not necessarily convincing.

    Feeny: “the objective [for Fianna Fáil] is to fight the next assembly elections in 2011”
    Really? Has someone told him this or is it just a presumption on his part? It could just as easily, and perhaps more convincingly, be asserted that FF intend contesting northern elections sometime around 2017 than 2011.

    Feeny: “Fianna Fail has decided to intervene in the north exactly because it has decided the SDLP cannot recover its position and Fianna Fail cannot permit Sinn Féin to remain the dominant nationalist party in the north.”
    Really? Where has he got this from? Have FF HQ told him this is their strategy or is he just making it up? For this analysis does not necessarily make sense – at this precise moment after Sinn Féin’s poor showing down south it is difficult to say what effect this will have on votes in the north. Either the SDLP may experience something of a resurgence (possible) or the disillusioned will break away from SF (in which case FF’s strategy is not to challenge SF but to fill a potentially dangerous vacuum).

    Feeny: “Fianna Fail will become a 32-county party preventing Sinn Féin from being the sole owner of that title […] FF will be on course to have ministers from north and south sitting across from each other in the North-South Ministerial Council and on the all-Ireland bodies.”
    Indeed, and allowing for te possibility of such a scenario, n. ireland might be the fulcrum around which Fianna Fáil will be destroyed. Thus there is unlikely to be any haste on the part of Ahern et al to involve themselves in a situation where a few simple incidents – either organised or spontaneous – could undo all their plans while gripping them irrevocably deeper into a situation which is significantly beyond their control.

    In short, this article has lots of assumptions and a sense of hurry and rushing that is not borne out by any other aspect of this process so far, which has been glacial in its pace. In all it would appear to be a piece of journalism composed with a flushed face and a tad too much excitement, perhaps after one too many brandies, and lacking any reference to sources that might give any substance to its claims.

    Perhaps Feeny too, like all the rest of us, is unsure what any of this means or what is really going on in n. ireland. But in his case, because he’s a journalist, he feels the need to act sure about what he’s talking about. That’s what he’s getting paid for,There are a lot of assertions in that article that are not necessarily convincing.

    Feeny: “the objective [for Fianna Fáil] is to fight the next assembly elections in 2011”
    Really? Has someone told him this or is it just a presumption on his part? It could just as easily, and perhaps more convincingly, be asserted that FF intend contesting northern elections sometime around 2017 than 2011.

    Feeny: “Fianna Fail has decided to intervene in the north exactly because it has decided the SDLP cannot recover its position and Fianna Fail cannot permit Sinn Féin to remain the dominant nationalist party in the north.”
    Really? Where has he got this from? Have FF HQ told him this is their strategy or is he just making it up? For this analysis does not necessarily make sense – at this precise moment after Sinn Féin’s poor showing down south it is difficult to say what effect this will have on votes in the north. Either the SDLP may experience something of a resurgence (possible) or the disillusioned will break away from SF (in which case FF’s strategy is not to challenge SF but to fill a potentially dangerous vacuum).

    Feeny: “Fianna Fail will become a 32-county party preventing Sinn Féin from being the sole owner of that title […] FF will be on course to have ministers from north and south sitting across from each other in the North-South Ministerial Council and on the all-Ireland bodies.”
    Indeed, and allowing for te possibility of such a scenario, n. ireland might be the fulcrum around which Fianna Fáil will be destroyed. Thus there is unlikely to be any haste on the part of Ahern et al to involve themselves in a situation where a few simple incidents – either organised or spontaneous – could undo all their plans while gripping them irrevocably deeper into a situation which is significantly beyond their control.

  • Harry

    [cont’d]

    In short, this article has lots of assumptions and a sense of hurry and rushing that is not borne out by any other aspect of this process so far, which has been glacial in its pace. In all it would appear to be a piece of journalism composed with a flushed face and a tad too much excitement, perhaps after one too many brandies, and lacking any reference to sources that might give any substance to its claims.

    Perhaps Feeny too, like all the rest of us, is a bit confused about what any of this means or what is really going on in n. ireland. But in his case, because he’s a journalist, he feels the need to act sure about what he’s talking about. That’s what he’s getting paid for, after all.

  • Harry

    Bit of a fuck up in the editing department there. But you get what I mean.

  • dublin exile

    Why, having given SF a pasting in the southern election would FF then offer them a re-match in northern ireland where SF are far better organised with recognisable candidates and a history of work on the ground?
    Unless – the first election they intend to fight is the European Parliament where DeBruin might well be taken out by another high profile nationalist carrying the FF banner?? Even if FF were to loose this it wouldn’t really matter because SF are going to lose their Dublin seat anyway and thats what’ll make the headlines south of the border where FFs primary interests lie.

  • The Penguin

    Harry

    I agree.
    Just a lot of wishful thinking and speculation presented as fact, and (another)opportunity to sideswipe at the SDLP gleefully taken.
    And this is called ‘political analysis’?

  • Wee slabber

    Splurge – I agree. They would have the wit to run local candidates. But so too do the SDLP and they can’t get them elected. Local doesn’t equate to “electable”.

  • Dec

    Harry

    Your objections to Feeney’s piece on the grounds of presumptiousness and speculation could just as easily be directed towards your own criticism of his sources (or lack of).

  • Fianna Fail’s message will be the same as Sinn Fein but with greater credibility

    Then what happens to all those people who vote SDLP precisley because they disagree with Sinn Féin’s message?

    (Alliance activist walks off singing Holywood Swinging by Kool in the Gang, because it’s just one of those feelgood kind of days.)

  • Nevin

    Morse, get down to the Alliance office pronto and put a decent administration system in place!!

  • My question is – will FG and Labour be tempted to follow?

  • qubol

    Sammy Morse: Then what happens to all those people who vote SDLP precisley because they disagree with Sinn Féin’s message?

    SDLP voters in the main vote SDLP because they disagree with the use of force by the IRA. FF can easily pick up those votes, SF will also be well placed to pick up the SDLP’s leftish vote – especially as the IRA move further into history.
    The one point that SDLP, SF and FF all agree on (and the defining point in our politics)- is that Uniting Ireland is the way to go. These Nationalist votes won’t be going anywhere else but within the nationalist block so if your happy because you think they’ll go to the small u unionists of Aliance then… no, you’re mistaken.

    Another point that feeney makes is that FF will get Nationalists out to vote, who haven’t voted because they are don’t like SF and see no future in the SDLP. If any other parties such as alliance think they could benefit from the FF move (and subsequent death of the SDLP); why haven’t they managed to get these disillusioned nationalists out to date?

  • kensei

    “Then what happens to all those people who vote SDLP precisley because they disagree with Sinn Féin’s message?”

    I don’t know that I buy that SF has a fundamentally different message than the SDLP. They have been running against them on two counts 1. We’re greener and 2. We can get a better deal (be it in negotiations or in the Assembly). The problem isn’t the message, the problem is who is saying it. Plenty of Nationalists who despise SF for the Troubles, some of them are on here.

    FF neutralise SF on both those issues. And probably offer a greater choice in that the SDLP and SF are both on the left side of the spectrum, whereas FF would be to the right.

    You’ve never answered me on how you expect to make gains within Nationalist areas considering you are dead there. You seem to think that doing the same thing repeatedly will produce different results.

    That’s the definition of madness, isn’t it?

  • Harry

    Dec: Harry’ Your objections to Feeney’s piece on the grounds of presumptiousness and speculation could just as easily be directed towards your own criticism of his sources (or lack of).

    That’s true Dec, but unfortunately unlike Feeny I’m not getting paid for my ‘blue sky thinking’. Feeny may have a point to his analysis, at least in part. But then again maybe not. Some actual journalism rather than editorialisng would be helpful here to see if there is any substance to back up his claims.
    Personally I’m sick of of being left dangling in the wind about what is really going on in n. ireland, subject to whichever way the wind blows accoding to the requirements of the moment as decided upon by my unseen and unspoken superiors – a situation that is seemingly to be our lot as Irish people even into the 21st century. No clarity, manipulation from the top down and a sense of powerlessness among the people as they are told to be happy that at least they’re not under physical threat and should be happy about the situation, even to the point of supporting this situation themselves as if its what they really want.

    British interference in Ireland in the 21st century – and at the back of it all, just as in the preceding 4 centuries, British aims and British guns.

    The British belong to the Joycean school of thought in regards to their artistry in Ireland – they have written our history and are still writing it but appear to stand apart from and above it, paring their fingernails.

    Hurrah for the peace process!

  • Wee slabber

    It would be good to see FG come north. It would split the unionist vote even more!

  • The SDLP could decide to be a solely Westminster party while vacating the Assembly space to FF, sharing organisers and get-out-the-voters.

    The current cosy relationship between the Action Democratique du Quebec and the Federal Conservatives in Canada is not directly comparable, but might by instructive in terms of two parties with somewhat common aims and common back-roomers but for whom it is convenient to not run for each other’s legislature or to directly share their infrastructure.

  • Garibaldy

    Sammy,

    Nationalists view Alliance as unionist. Always have and always will. No reason to think any other than miniscule numbers would consider voting Alliance over FF.

    I admire the optimism of yourself and pounder over a number of threads, but not going to happen.

  • qubol

    Harry“Some actual journalism rather than editorialisng would be helpful”
    “But in his case, because he’s a journalist, he feels the need to act sure about what he’s talking about.”

    Harry I’m not sure if your familiar with Feeney’s column but its a comment piece as he is a political commentator (and historian?) Its not like this is just some young hack battering away at the keyboard after reading a few stories on this. He may be wrong but this is his specialist subject.

  • mnob

    Once again – has anyone actually read the article ?

    Feeny postulates that because SF wont support Irish government policy, FF will organise in ‘the north’ so as to have a party in ‘the north’ to support their policies in the south.

    In other words youll have a party in NI fighting an election on issues relevant to the ROI. Thats going to work as well as an NI party fighting elections in the south based on NI issues – with the same results as SF enjoyed.

    There is absolutely no benefit in having an all island party simply because the issues and politics of the two states are different. Vote for us we are an all island party is a pretty hollow sell.

    Anyone who tries it will end up with two parties with the same name but fighting on different issues. viva partition.

  • Juan Kerr

    Remember: You can’t spell ‘Analysis’ without ‘Anal’.

  • merrie

    I have been reading Feeney’s column for years and he has been pretty accurate, except I think the size of SF’s gains in the South this last election.

  • Ian

    “He may well be right in his analysis but he’s wrong when he says SF are the only A-I party at the minute. Green Party is as well.”

    If SF are really an All-Ireland party, then how come the voters of Limerick West and Cork North West weren’t able to vote for a SF candidate in this year’s Dail elections? Last time I checked, Limerick West and Cork North West were in Ireland.

    There aren’t yet ANY All-Ireland parties.

  • The one point that SDLP, SF and FF all agree on (and the defining point in our politics)- is that Uniting Ireland is the way to go. These Nationalist votes won’t be going anywhere else but within the nationalist block so if your happy because you think they’ll go to the small u unionists of Aliance then… no, you’re mistaken.

    You know Alliance isn’t a unionist party, and when using that phrase just means “I don’t want to be bothered discussing the matter, because I don’t really have any good arguments, so I’ll just render you a jaffa unperson.”

    Face facts, these nationalist votes can and do go outside the nationalist bloc at every election when they transfer to Alliance ahead of Sinn Féin. The SDLP only really started talking about a united Ireland in 2005 when they got frit of the Shinners; and it didn’t do them any good. For most of its existence, the language of the SDLP has been about an agreed Ireland, a pluralist Ireland, and Ireland where borders are fundamentally irrelevant, one where agreement threatens no-one. If you can’t see how that language is a damn sight closer to Alliance than either FF or SF then you are deliberately deluding yourself.
    Another point that feeney makes is that FF will get Nationalists out to vote, who haven’t voted because they are don’t like SF and see no future in the SDLP.
    And his evidence for this point is… jack shit. A party that doesn’t even get voters out very well in the Republic (which has one of the lowest levels of election participation in Western Europe) is going to come North and, in the context of steeply declining turnouts, bring lots of new Nationalist voters out to vote. Yeah, right.

    I don’t know that I buy that SF has a fundamentally different message than the SDLP.

    No, you don’t want to buy that SF has a fundamentally different message than the SDLP. Listen to Alban Maginness argue passionately on the importance of shared future issues, then listen to Martina Anderson excocriate the whole thing as a NIO-inspired diversion from the serious business of tackling inequality, and tell me there is no difference between SF and the SDLP’s message. Again, tens of thousands of SDLP voters make clear in their transfers at every election that they see a profound difference between the two parties.

    You’ve never answered me on how you expect to make gains within Nationalist areas considering you are dead there. You seem to think that doing the same thing repeatedly will produce different results.

    Circumstances alter cases and times are changing. 25,000 people defected from Alliance to the SDLP in the 1990s not because they thought Alliance was wrong, but because they thought that Hume was international statesman who could bring peace to Ireland, and then the tactical argument ran way against us in the 2000s. That’s over.

    They aren’t going to come back to us for no reason but they aren’t ill disposed to Alliance and certainly don’t see it in the same light as you do. Why would they come to us – let’s think – shared society, honest government, no money wasted on communal white elephants, integrated education. These things can and do change very fast. If in 1995, you’d have suggested any circumstances in which Sinn Fein could win South Down, you’d have been sent off to Purdysburn. Times change. We got caught fighting the previous decade’s battles post-GFA and got very badly burned. Are you sure the FF wannabes aren’t fighting the same battles today).

    Nationalists view Alliance as unionist. Always have and always will. No reason to think any other than miniscule numbers would consider voting Alliance over FF.

    You are assuming the SDLP’s vote is entirely Nationalist and contains no nationalists. I think that’s a mistake.

    In other words youll have a party in NI fighting an election on issues relevant to the ROI. Thats going to work as well as an NI party fighting elections in the south based on NI issues – with the same results as SF enjoyed.

    Shhhh! Don’t bring facts into this debate, they aren’t welcome.

  • lib2016

    Everyone missed the scale of Bertie’s victory over the smaller parties which includes the P.D.’s and Labour, not just Sinn Fein though you wouldn’t think so from from the posts here.

    It is going to be interesting to see whether that can be carried on in 2011 and whether it will extend to the North and even more interesting to see how long it takes for unionists to realise that they are finished at Westminster.

    Fine Gael has already started to make contacts with the Northern Prods, especially noticeably in the way they have adopted what remains of the Reform group in Dublin.

    Meanwhile the Conservatives will no longer risk being tainted by the Orange card and Labour rightly or wrongly despise unionism and everything to do with it. In any case decisions on the scale of the British retreat from Ireland are made at a crossparty level and largely dictated by the Amurrikans.

    Doesn’t leave the next generation of ‘wee Nordiners’ much choice, does it?

  • Ian

    “You know Alliance isn’t a unionist party, and when using that phrase just means “I don’t want to be bothered discussing the matter, because I don’t really have any good arguments, so I’ll just render you a jaffa unperson.””

    That ‘Jaffa’ reference misses the point that the general outside perception of Alliance is that it’s a Unionist party MINUS the Orange baggage.

  • kensei

    “No, you don’t want to buy that SF has a fundamentally different message than the SDLP. Listen to Alban Maginness argue passionately on the importance of shared future issues, then listen to Martina Anderson excocriate the whole thing as a NIO-inspired diversion from the serious business of tackling inequality, and tell me there is no difference between SF and the SDLP’s message. Again, tens of thousands of SDLP voters make clear in their transfers at every election that they see a profound difference between the two parties.”

    1. Both parties encompass a range of views. Alban Maginess is not the SDLP and Martina Anderson is not SF. There have been SF people talking about wanting the peace lines down, IRC.
    2. I couldn’t tell you the SDLP’s policies on the matter and I follow politics.
    2. “Shared Future” issues are not a major issue in either the broad Nationalist electorate or the broad Unionist electorate. Else, well, the Alliance would be doing better.
    3. I’m not suggesting they are totally the same. But Constitutional Nationalism? Check. Commitment to United Ireland? Check. Reaching out to Unionism? Check. Broadly Left Wing? Check. There isn’t enough there for major ideological pull. It comes down to competence and image.

    “They aren’t going to come back to us for no reason but they aren’t ill disposed to Alliance and certainly don’t see it in the same light as you do. Why would they come to us – let’s think – shared society, honest government, no money wasted on communal white elephants, integrated education. ”

    Certainly, there are plenty who aren’t as ill disposed as me, because I have zero time for the Alliance. But none of those issues really resonate within the Nationalist electorate. Plenty of light green nationalists educated in Catholic schools they liked and want to keep. Equally, plenty of dark green Nationalists that hated it. It’s not likely to be a unifying issue to pull in your vote.

    And “Honest government”? Oh come on! unless there is an ability to tarnish your opponent with sleaze it’s meaningless. And if the South is anything to go by, sometimes not even then.

  • Harry

    lib2016: In any case decisions on the scale of the British retreat from Ireland are made at a crossparty level and largely dictated by the Amurrikans.

    And what do you think the Americans want to see in Ireland? A united Ireland or an Ireland with a considerable British input? An Ireland united within the European Union or an Ireland subject to the cultural, economic, political and military influence of its ally and partner the UK?

    Which would America prefer? Which would Britain prefer?

  • qubol

    OK we’ve all been here before but let’s be straight here – Alliance are unionist and if they weren’t they wouldn’t get anywhere near the amount of votes that they do.
    A lot of the transfers that Alliance receive are from nationalists voting tactically in Unionist dominated constituencies like in North Down where the nationalist candidates don’t have a great chance of getting in. If Alliance could get the SDLP vote why don’t they do well in places where the SDLP was formerly strong or won a seat, like West Belfast? They have never got that SDLP vote – they only get the SDLP vote in unionist constituencies, don’t kid yourself that these voters believe in the Alliance message.
    The point Feeney made regarding getting the nationalist vote out, was that FF without the baggage of the IRA connection will give moderate nationalists a party that has power and will be able to do something with their vote, unlike a vote for the SDLP(or Alliance for that matter) the vote won’t seem wasted.

  • ulsterfan

    I am not in the least bit interested in FF organising in NI.
    Unionists will make sure they respect the Border.
    Those who exercise power in the south become impotent( in political matters) when they reach Newry and republicans/nationalists in the Assembly have no influence in the South.

  • PaddyReilly

    Nationalists view Alliance as unionist. Always have and always will.

    I don’t. The subtle difference between real Unionists and Alliance is that Alliance members will not do anything violent or unethical to maintain the Union. The Union was created by a plantation, and like all horticultural projects, it needs constant weeding to maintain it. Anyone who opposes anti-Catholic discrimination and anti-Catholic violence can only be a short term Unionist, in the long term they are preparing the way a Nationalist take-over.

    The moment Nationalists grab 50% of the vote/seats Alliance will effectively become a Nationalist party. All indications are that it will turn into, merge with or form an alliance with Fine Gael.

    Did you not see Anna Lo shake hands with Gerry Adams?

  • qubol

    PaddyReilly: “The moment Nationalists grab 50% of the vote/seats Alliance will effectively become a Nationalist party.”

    I wouldn’t hold your breath

  • Harry

    PaddyReilly: The Union was created by a plantation, and like all horticultural projects, it needs constant weeding to maintain it.

    Excellent. However your following point is perhaps questionable: The moment Nationalists grab 50% of the vote/seats Alliance will effectively become a Nationalist party.
    Whatever about Alliance, the idea that unionist will accede to nationalists demands when nationalists reach the mythical 50% + 1 is far from a foregone conclusion. Unionists after all threatened war, with the backing of the british, when they were a much smaller proportion of the population in 1921 than they are in n. ireland. Playing the 50%+1 game could be and quite probably is a game of playing for time wherein nationalists are cajoled, inveigled and threatened into accepting the northern state for the time being. When this 50%+1 comes unionists may very well change the goalposts at that point and do so with the backing of the british, whose geopolitical interests are better served by retaining one foot in Ireland than letting Ireland go its own way. The current use being made of the acceptance for the time being of n. ireland by nationalists and irish people across the island would tend to indicate strategies being worked on to make that acceptance permanent and the british presence perpetual.

    In other words we’re being played for fools.

  • Sean

    Harry I have 5 simple words for you……. It Is Not 1922 Anymore

  • IJP

    In short, this article has lots of assumptions and a sense of hurry and rushing that is not borne out by any other aspect of this process so far

    I think that can be said about most Irish Nationalist “analysis”. Wishful thinking doesn’t deliver, though.

    Nationalists view Alliance as unionist. Always have and always will. No reason to think any other than miniscule numbers would consider voting Alliance over FF.

    Even if this were true (which it isn’t), it assumes that all those who vote SDLP are Nationalist (which they’re not).

    Voting (among real people at least) is more about community representation than constitutional end-goal.

  • ulsterfan

    Harry

    A very interesting point.
    Unionists would have to give some reasons for blocking step to unity.
    If their objections are insubstantial they can give reasons of being denied freedom, justice, civil and religious liberty.
    A mantra used for centuries by people who can not or will not give allegiance to a particular State.
    Should the ROI start soon to listen to these complaints?

  • The Dubliner

    Brian Feeney doesn’t say why he thinks that the Irish government need a political party in the north to act as their proxy or why he thinks that the Irish government thinks that the dominant nationalist party in the north must be one which simply nods its head in agreement with the Irish government policy. That may have been the case during The Troubles when the dynamics were different, but not now that there is no threat of civil war and when the Irish government have considerable input into the north.

    I think he misses the point of FF going north:

    “Fianna Fail will become a 32-county party preventing Sinn Féin from being the sole owner of that title. More importantly FF, not Sinn Féin, will be on course to have ministers from north and south sitting across from each other in the North-South Ministerial Council and on the all-Ireland bodies.”

    Yes, he is correct that the purpose is to weaken PSF, but he doesn’t seem to understand why it is necessary for the Irish government to do that in the national interest. It is necessary as a condition of the GFA to engage with unionists toward the objective of securing a united Ireland. It is a recognition by the Irish government that the actual policy of PSF is to maintain partition as a means of furthering their own selfish political interests, and that even if engagement with unionists toward the PoC was an actual objective of PSF’s (rather than a false claim), they are unable to engage with unionists toward that end due to their historical baggage and due to the nature of the PSF beast being sustained by promoting low-level sectarian strife. As long as PSF are identified with the all-Ireland project, that project will never happen. Whether northern nationalists see the difference or not, they are profoundly different beings from their southern counterparts. There is so much unification that must be done in a plethora of diverse areas before a united Ireland can ever occur. You’re looking at decades. This is best seen as the beginning of that long and torturous process.

    “Do FF “cute whores” think that they can simply walk in after 30 years and expect nationalists to welcome them as some kind of saviours? Lynch’s “we will not stand idly by” (while they did just that, stood idly by!) speech hasn’t been forgotten, you know”! Bring them on, northern nationalists will lead the way in putting manners on these brown envelope taking, goombeen men.” – Wee slabber

    How very partitionist of you! I like the irony of so-called ‘republicans’ objecting to southern political parties having a greater input and interest into the north. What next? A civil war by ‘republicans’ to keep the border in place?

  • halftone

    Fianna Fail’s tactical aim is surely obvious: force Sinn Fein to defend their home turf. For a De Valera Republican the Provos are a regional, factionalist, sectarian, semi-criminal mafia who masquerade as Republicans. The maimed off-spring of Partition. Sooner or later a showdown with these people, and a showdown with them in the North is inevitable.

    The Party’s strategic aims are more obscure.

    The real news seems to be that Fianna Fail intends to theologically recognize the Assembly. Fianna Fail regards Dail Eireann, the National Assembly of the Irish People, as the only legitimate source of power in Ireland. Dev was a member of the old Stormont Parliament for many years but never took his seat. When the first Fianna Fail Assembly Member goes through the formalities at Stormont the Party will have recognized the democratic legitimacy of an institution constitutionally separate from Dail Eireann.

    Dev’s classic formula, ‘Loyalty to the State, Fidelity to the Nation’, captures the epochal nature of this event for Fianna Fail. This goes far beyond the good relations Sean Lemass wished to see with the old ‘de facto’ administration in Belfast. Ian Paisley’s status as First Minister will be legitimized. Paisley can then join Issac Butt and Lord Cloncurry to swell the throng of attendant spirits in the National Pantheon.

    If the Assembly is accepted as a legitimate democratic institution then it is unthinkable that Fianna Fail should stand apart. In the fullness of time a DUP-Fianna Fail administration would be the strategic goal.

    Perhaps that’s why Dr. paisley is so cheerful.

  • Nevin

    Any news of FG organising here? It’s hardly likely that it would give FF a free run.

  • sammaguire

    “You know Alliance isn’t a unionist party”

    Posted by Sammy Morse on Sep 27, 2007 @ 02:52 PM

    If that’s the case what are the chances of Alliance organising in the 26 counties?

  • sammaguire

    “Lynch’s “we will not stand idly by” (while they did just that, stood idly by!) speech hasn’t been forgotten, you know”!”

    Posted by Wee slabber on Sep 27, 2007 @ 12:21 PM

    What exactly did you want him to do? Send the troops over the border for slaughter by the Brits??
    Speaking of standing idly by where were northern nationalists in 1916. Out fighting with John Bull in Flanders??

  • Aquifer

    SF played Bertie and FF during the peace process. This could now be payback for all the Provo prevarication, all the upstaging of real governments by flawed revolutionaries. Electorally, Fianna Fail may not have to dominate to do real damage. They may stop many SDLP transfers finally going to SF. More Unionists may get elected short term, but if that relaxes them in an all-ireland political arena. So much the better. And NI could teach ROI lots about rights and equality. Up the new binary Republic!

  • pith

    Politics aside, how can an editor publish Brian Feeney’s awful writing? His use of ‘tosh’ and ‘guff’ is an insult to proper dictionary-familiar columnists. His methaphors are so bad they are not even mixed. Wolfish smiles and pronouncements of death sentences all between two full stops for goodness sake.

  • MacAedha

    qubol – ‘A lot of the transfers that Alliance receive are from nationalists voting tactically in Unionist dominated constituencies like in North Down where the nationalist candidates don’t have a great chance of getting in. If Alliance could get the SDLP vote why don’t they do well in places where the SDLP was formerly strong or won a seat, like West Belfast? They have never got that SDLP vote – they only get the SDLP vote in unionist constituencies, don’t kid yourself that these voters believe in the Alliance message.’
    You might be to young to remember, back in the 1980’s Will Glendinning, an Alliance councillor, won a council seat in west Belfast, as to the ‘are Alliance a unionist or nationalist party? a quick check of their constitution reveals they are unionist, just like FG.

  • kensei

    “Even if this were true (which it isn’t), it assumes that all those who vote SDLP are Nationalist (which they’re not).”

    It is, broadly. And in terms of representation, there is no question. Your electorate is soft Unionist, and that touches everything you do.

    And if there are so many soft SDLP votes, why aren’t Alliance pulling off many of them? Isn’t the fact that you are dead in Nationalist areas some kind of fundamental question you need to be asking yourselves. Rather than hoping circumstance delivers you?

  • McKelvey

    I think that it is obvious that Fianna Fail are considering organizing in the north because they perceive that it would benefit them – mostly in the south where if they could present themselves a national movement, then they could conceivably recover votes from Sinn Fein – particularly in places like Donegal or Wexford, where Sinn Fein didn’t win but polled respectably. In a sense, perhaps, this is Fianna Fail’s attempt to reclaim for itself the mantle of it being a “movement” rather than a mere political party, which it had for decades but lost for itself, sometime around the Hunger Strikes.
    For Sinn Fein, Fianna Fail’s participation in the north would force it to be a more competitive party. The SDLP were never much of an opponent – they have been saddled with poor organization, poor funding, and poor leadership since the beginning of its existence. I think this would improve the level of political competition – at least within nationalist politics – in Northern Ireland.

    Yes, he is correct that the purpose is to weaken PSF, but he doesn’t seem to understand why it is necessary for the Irish government to do that in the national interest.

    —————————-

    I would argue that the purpose is to strengthen Fianna Fail, rather than weaken Sinn Fein. I doubt Fianna Fail’s motives have anything to do with any perceived “national interest” – a fluid and ultimately completely subjective and ultimately meaningless term. This is about Fianna Fail, anything else, if there are any other factors under Fianna Fail’s consideration, is a distant second at best.

    It is necessary as a condition of the GFA to engage with unionists toward the objective of securing a united Ireland. It is a recognition by the Irish government that the actual policy of PSF is to maintain partition as a means of furthering their own selfish political interests, and that even if engagement with unionists toward the PoC was an actual objective of PSF’s (rather than a false claim), they are unable to engage with unionists toward that end due to their historical baggage and due to the nature of the PSF beast being sustained by promoting low-level sectarian strife. As long as PSF are identified with the all-Ireland project, that project will never happen.

    ————————

    If you are indeed serious that Sinn Fein’s unofficial policy is actually to maintain partition, then it must follow that you think that their electorate – about 60% of nationalist voters – are amongst the most gullible people on the planet. Furthermore,since you feel that Sinn Fein sustains this by fostering “low-level sectarian strife”, it must follow that you feel that their electorate are indeed amongst the most masochistic people on that planet. If one considers that their electorate has historically born the brunt of most “low-level sectarian strife”. I think that you clearly have a very low opinion of northern nationalists.
    If one believes that Sinn Fein are duplicitous in their claims to engage with unionists, they are, I think, ignoring one critical factor, which is that it is in Sinn Fein’s interest to engage with unionists – if for nothing else then because it could help lead to increased stability, which is in everyone’s interest, but also for more selfish reasons. This is because Sinn Fein’s growth in the Catholic-nationalist community has probably reached its peak, therefore, by reaching out to unionists they may, largely or entirely in vain, hope to attract to themselves young disillusioned unionists.
    They have shown themselves more than able to reach out to and to work with unionists. It is rather unionists who have had problems with engaging with nationalists – of the Sinn Fein or SDLP variety. It was unionists unwillingness or inability to engage positively with nationalists which delayed the formation of the executive and furthermore, this is reflected in their unwillingness or inability to share power in local councils under their control.
    Whether one likes it or not, Sinn Fein are part of this all-Ireland project. However, as they would admit this themselves, they have not the power to drive this process alone. Which is again another reason why Fianna Fail’s move north is a positive thing – from a nationalist perspective. Moreover, this a project already well on its way through the agency of the business community – upon which Sinn Fein has very little influence. all-Ireland economic unity is absolutely inevitable, institutional-political unity is another matter.

  • McKelvey

    Whether northern nationalists see the difference or not, they are profoundly different beings from their southern counterparts.

    Northern nationalists are “profoundly different beings” from, for example, Chukchi farmers in eastern Siberia. The differences between northerners of any political stripe and southerners are petty and inconsequential – and essentially come down to accent and the fact that northerners are better footballers.

  • David

    Alex Kane is right. Strand One has been torn up. How ironic that the nationalists would destroy GFA.

  • Reader

    sammaguire: Speaking of standing idly by where were northern nationalists in 1916. Out fighting with John Bull in Flanders??
    As were many of the southern nationalists. In fact, if forced to guess, I suspect that northern nationalists would be less likely to volunteer for the British army than southern nationalists, since the usn’s and themmun’s divide was more intense up here.

  • mnob

    “Moreover, this a project already well on its way through the agency of the business community – upon which Sinn Fein has very little influence. all-Ireland economic unity is absolutely inevitable, institutional-political unity is another matter. ”

    Can we *please* knock this one on the head. NI is fully integrated with one of the biggest economic blocs in the world – the UK, ROI fully integrated with one of the other biggest economic blocs in the world – the Eurozone. There is no common ground between the 2 unless and until the UK joins the Eurozone. It wont because the 2 economies are dangerously out of sync.

    To create a 1/2 way place – between the two blocs is impossible and any attempt to do so dangerous.

  • The Dubliner

    “I doubt Fianna Fail’s motives have anything to do with any perceived “national interest” – a fluid and ultimately completely subjective and ultimately meaningless term.” – McKelvey

    Hardly, when the Irish state is threatened by a subversive political party with an Army Council that sees itself as the legitimate government of Ireland; does not recognise the right of the Irish Republic to exist; does not recognise the right of the Irish people to electorate their own government or freely determine their own future, but sees the Irish state as illegitimate entity that has usurped its self-appointed ‘right’ to establish a 32-county socialist republic. PSF/PIRA is a direct threat to the Irish state and to the Irish national interest. Previously is proffered violent revolution as a means of overthrowing the democratically elected government, now – defeated in such means – it attempts to further its subversive agenda via the electoral process, manipulating the dupes north of the border to that end, who don’t have a united Ireland as their aim but who use the desire of nationalists for a united Ireland as a means to garner support for their socialist dictatorship agenda, and as a means of furthering the selfish interests of the multiplicity of ne’er-do-wells and sociopaths who lead PSF/PIRA.

    If you think those ‘beings’ are similar to their southern counterparts, you are badly mistaken. Indeed, they wish to destroy all that the south has strived to achieve, replacing success with their own inimitable brand of dismal failure. That is why FF is acting to cut out the cancer of PSF from Irish poilitical life – the cancer that northern nationalists voted into it.

  • kensei

    mnob

    “Can we *please* knock this one on the head. NI is fully integrated with one of the biggest economic blocs in the world – the UK, ROI fully integrated with one of the other biggest economic blocs in the world – the Eurozone. There is no common ground between the 2 unless and until the UK joins the Eurozone. It wont because the 2 economies are dangerously out of sync.

    To create a 1/2 way place – between the two blocs is impossible and any attempt to do so dangerous. ”

    Sometimes on here, someone posts something so wrong it hurts. Fiscal policy is significant but it isn’t the economy and you may care to remember the infamous “Five Tests” Brown was applying to see if the UK and Eurozone economies were in sync before moving to the Euro. Political smokescreen to an extent, but one that only worked because there was a reasonably sound economic basis behind it.

    And for heavens sake England is barely integrated with itself, nevermind anyone else.

    Dubliner

    FFS, can you please stop with endless stream of bullshit every time SF is mentioned. It ruins threads. Post something relevant. FFS, one one in SF believes any of that nonsense, nevermind anyone else.

    And Northern Nationalists are not “dupes”. They merely will ride the horse they think that will best deliver what they want. When a better horse comes along, they’ll move – just ask the SDLP.

  • MacAedha

    Folks, a small matter you all seem to be missing re: the possible organisation of Fianna Fail in the six counties.
    While there has been much analysis of the economic, social, electoral, constitutional and ‘wiping out Sinn Fein/RUC’ here reasons why Fianna Fail may/may not organise, or instead support SDLP, the emotional reason remains,the bulk of Catholics (regardless of what weighed opinion polls tell you)are brought up to regard the continued occupation of any part of Ireland as wrong.
    So long as this is the case, an alternative ‘republician party’ which supports business and job creation, agriculture and is, officially anyway, euro-sceptic, will attract middle-class Catholic votes in areas presently voting for SF.
    Such a prospect, if handled correctly could absorb working class nationalism with potentially transfers from soft unionists.
    In any event, Dermot Ahern will be careful in his consultations and measured in his proposals back to an Taoiseach whose idea it seems to have been.

  • PaddyReilly

    The reason why people vote for FF is simple. Because it’s going to get into power. If your TD considers you to be one of his voters, it may be that he will prove useful if you get into a fix. The reasons why people vote SF are more complicated. Some contributors question the worth of this choice:-

    Proposition no1: As long as PSF are identified with the all-Ireland project, that project will never happen

    Proposition no2: Unionists will never be persuaded to vote for unity if PSF are identified with the project

    I can’t see what the point of the conditional clause in this sentence is. Unionists are for the Union: they are not open to persuasion. They object to SF more than the SDLP because SF is more of a threat to the Union.

    Let me put it this way. An old lady with two sons is bothered by noise from her neighbours, which is making her life unliveable. She sends one of her sons, a law-abiding and peace-loving sort of fellow, to get them to turn the sound down. They laugh at him. After decades of this she sends her other son, who is a psychopath, and he shoots the man next door in the leg. However, after he gets out of jail he apologises and says he will only use democratic means in future. (I suspect he does not understand big words like democratic: he probably means eirenic.) Nevertheless, the problem seems to have diminished: the music does seem to have been turned down. Maybe the old girl is getting deaf, but I have the distinct impression that it has gone down. But in future, for negotiation with her neighbours, she will be choosing her psychopathic son. For any other purpose, the other fellow will be chosen.

    The reason that the Nationalist population of Northern Ireland has tended to choose SF over the SDLP is that the latter party are treated by Unionists like useful idiots. A merger with FF would give them a new lease of life, giving them a new patina of sedition as a branch of a 32 county party. It does seem that all the favorable reviews of FF’s proposal come the SDLP side. The unfavorable ones come from SF.

    But obviously, a party like FF, with a determined agenda of staying in power, is not going to be happy about the addition of 6 more counties from which they can expect at most 25% of the vote. What we might then expect is that FF will agree to go into coalition with SF, by then grown respectable by the passage of time.

  • McKelvey

    “I doubt Fianna Fail’s motives have anything to do with any perceived “national interest” – a fluid and ultimately completely subjective and ultimately meaningless term.” – McKelvey

    Hardly, when the Irish state is threatened by a subversive political party with an Army Council that sees itself as the legitimate government of Ireland; does not recognise the right of the Irish Republic to exist; does not recognise the right of the Irish people to electorate their own government or freely determine their own future, but sees the Irish state as illegitimate entity that has usurped its self-appointed ‘right’ to establish a 32-county socialist republic.
    ———————–
    The idea that the Irish state and the “national interest” is “threatened by a subversive political party” etc. is completely subjective and has no concrete meaning outside of the perception or perspective of the person who would suggest it. Fianna Fail’s motives are its own and not the “nations”.
    The ideas that the Army Council is the legitimate government of Ireland, that the Irish state is an illegitimate usurpation and has no right to exist and so forth are ideas that were first articulated, advocated, and endorsed by southern nationalists – most of whom later ended up in Fianna Fail. It was northern nationalists who discarded these ideas in practice as they gained control of the movement that had inherited them. Resistance to these changes largely came from southern nationalists – hence Republican Sinn Fein.
    Furthermore, it was not Sinn Fein’s elected representatives who shouted down or assaulted other elected officials when they attempted to speak, or walked out of the room when they rose to speak, or denied them the right to physically sit at the same table as other people’s elected representatives within council chambers. In addition to this, Sinn Fein’s endorsement of and participation within the framework of the GFA, which puts the future of the Irish people firmly into the hands of he Irish people, really should put this matter to rest.

    PSF/PIRA is a direct threat to the Irish state and to the Irish national interest. Previously is proffered violent revolution as a means of overthrowing the democratically elected government, now – defeated in such means – it attempts to further its subversive agenda via the electoral process, manipulating the dupes north of the border to that end, who don’t have a united Ireland as their aim but who use the desire of nationalists for a united Ireland as a means to garner support for their socialist dictatorship agenda, and as a means of furthering the selfish interests of the multiplicity of ne’er-do-wells and sociopaths who lead PSF/PIRA. If you think those ‘beings’ are similar to their southern counterparts, you are badly mistaken. Indeed, they wish to destroy all that the south has strived to achieve, replacing success with their own inimitable brand of dismal failure. That is why FF is acting to cut out the cancer of PSF from Irish poilitical life – the cancer that northern nationalists voted into it.
    ———————–
    Unfortunately, there really isn’t any evidence to uphold the rhetoric that you’ve put forth and, frankly, I think its utterly absurd. Just as I think your contention that northern nationalists are “dupes” is disgraceful.
    Even if Sinn Fein had some secret, malevolent design for the domination of Ireland (and really why stop there, why not go for world domination), the reality is the opportunities for its expansion in south are limited. At best, for Sinn Fein, would be to develop into a party the size of Labour on an average year, at worst, it will disappear except in a few tradionally strong republican areas. Regardless of Sinn Fein, for better or worse, Fianna Fail will be the largest party in Ireland for decades to come, if not centuries
    Be that as it may, political parties wedded to electoral politics are fortunately rather predictable – they will seek to advance their political fortunes, which is why Fianna Fail wishes to expand north and Sinn Fein would like to expand in the south. Fianna Fail will organize in the north because Fianna Fail’s leadership believe that the party will benefit from it and they likely will and I wish them luck.

  • The Dubliner

    “FFS, can you please stop with endless stream of bullshit every time SF is mentioned. It ruins threads. Post something relevant. FFS, one one in SF believes any of that nonsense, nevermind anyone else.” – kensei

    “Unfortunately, there really isn’t any evidence to uphold the rhetoric that you’ve put forth and, frankly, I think its utterly absurd. Just as I think your contention that northern nationalists are “dupes” is disgraceful.” – McKelvey

    So, exactly when did PSF renounce the Éire Nua policy document from the Provisionals in 1969 which stated that its aim is to overthrow the state of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and replace then with a socialist 32-county state? When exactly did PSF state that PIRA is no longer to be considered at the government of Ireland? When exactly did it recognise the right of the Irish Republic to exist? When exactly did it recognise the right of the Irish electorate to elect their own government and freely determine their own future?

    It has done none of those things. It remains a subversive organisation that has those stated aims. It remains a threat to Ireland’s national interests and to the state. The fact that those who vote for PSF are unaware of that more than proves my point about them being dupes.

  • PaddyReilly

    The six counties in particular and Ireland in general are in a very peculiar position because normal democratic procedure, if such a thing exists, has been flouted by the implementation of partition.

    Gerymanders do occur elsewhere, particularly in the US, which produced the first recorded example of the procedure, but it is unknown for the principle to be used to create an outpost of a different country. The nearest thing I can think of is (partitioned) Kashmir, itself hardly a model of peace and stability.

    The constitution of Northern Ireland, as it was formed in the 1920s, is based on two principles:

    1) A dissenting minority may secede within borders of its own devising (Ulster will fight and Ulster will be right)
    2) A dissenting minority may not secede within borders of its own devising (Not an inch)

    Astute readers may notice a contradiction between these principles.
    The enormous gap between the current arrangement and how things should have evolved means that every party has to devise some ideological narrative which explains it. The Unionist narrative is that the current set up is perfectly valid, but the province which is thereby created has the misfortune of being infested by traitors and criminals, who constitute at least a quarter of the population. Alliance are not much better. What the current Sinn Féin narrative is I neither know nor care, it is probably revised at every Ard-Fheis, but I cannot see that it invalidates their vote. Where proper democratic procedures have not been followed, no party has the right to disqualify another for not adhering to democratic procedures.

  • kensei

    “So, exactly when did PSF renounce the Éire Nua policy document from the Provisionals in 1969 which stated that its aim is to overthrow the state of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and replace then with a socialist 32-county state? When exactly did PSF state that PIRA is no longer to be considered at the government of Ireland? When exactly did it recognise the right of the Irish Republic to exist? When exactly did it recognise the right of the Irish electorate to elect their own government and freely determine their own future?”

    Go look up “implicit” in the dictionary.

  • ulsterfan

    kensei

    Implicit is not good enough.
    Democrats prefer certainty ,Precision and explicit arguments and decisions without ambiguity.
    Lets have the truth for once from PSF. Or do they deny the cause for their existence and was it a sham all these years?

  • lib2016

    ulsterfan,

    Sinn Fein have endlessly stated their committment to peaceful support of the GFA and their supporters have grown in number as a direct result of that fact.

    Yes, we all know that it is fun to lay with words but the Unionist Party has collapsed largely as a result of being unable to distance itself explicitly from the sectarian excesses of the past. Shinners just aren’t that stupid. Sorry.

  • qubol

    I’m with Kensei on this – I can’t tell you how completely boring it is to read The Dubliner – its just the same ol’ trolling bullshit and it does nothing but ruin threads – Dub, I’m askin politely, please just give it up.

  • McKelvey

    “FFS, can you please stop with endless stream of bullshit every time SF is mentioned. It ruins threads. Post something relevant. FFS, one one in SF believes any of that nonsense, nevermind anyone else.” – kensei

    “Unfortunately, there really isn’t any evidence to uphold the rhetoric that you’ve put forth and, frankly, I think its utterly absurd. Just as I think your contention that northern nationalists are “dupes” is disgraceful.” – McKelvey

    So, exactly when did PSF renounce the Éire Nua policy document from the Provisionals in 1969 which stated that its aim is to overthrow the state of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and replace then with a socialist 32-county state? When exactly did PSF state that PIRA is no longer to be considered at the government of Ireland? When exactly did it recognise the right of the Irish Republic to exist? When exactly did it recognise the right of the Irish electorate to elect their own government and freely determine their own future?
    It has done none of those things. It remains a subversive organisation that has those stated aims. It remains a threat to Ireland’s national interests and to the state. The fact that those who vote for PSF are unaware of that more than proves my point about them being dupes.
    ————
    Eire Nua ceased being Sinn Fein policy when it was voted out at the 1982 Ard Fheis. Eire Nua incidentally was written by two southern nationalists – one from Roscommon and one from Cork – and rejected overwhelmingly by northern nationalists.
    Furthermore, Sinn Fein has never rejected the right of the Irish people “to elect their own government and freely determine their own future”, the conflict in this matter was over whether this should be on a national basis or a partitionist basis, an issue resolved by the GFA, which Sinn Fein endorsed and has clearly accepted. As for formally accepting “the right of the Irish Republic to exist” – why bother? Fianna Fail never did and Sinn Fein, like Fianna Fail or Fine Gael, are inextricably bound up into the system which upholds the Dail. By participating in the structures of the Irish Republic, Sinn Fein has accepted the right of the Irish Republic to exist.
    In concrete terms, Ireland is an island – it has no “national interests”. The Irish nation, which is its people, has “interests”, which vary considerably from Irish person to Irish person and may often overlap with the interests of people who are not Irish.
    The Irish people, regardless for whom they choose to vote, have the same capacity to determine for themselves, which political party offer the best representation for their own interests. Part of accepting the “right of the Irish electorate to elect their own government and freely determine their own future” is to accept the legitimacy of other people’s choices and the integrity of their decisions – and not to dismiss them as “dupes”.

  • McKelvey
    Implicit is not good enough.
    Democrats prefer certainty ,Precision and explicit arguments and decisions without ambiguity.

    If that were true, then it is miraculous that any politician or political party ever received a single vote anywhere, ever!

  • Ian

    ‘”You know Alliance isn’t a unionist party”

    If that’s the case what are the chances of Alliance organising in the 26 counties? ‘

    By that definition the SDLP is also a Unionist party!