Fianna Fail: a modest but confident beginning

Tom has an interesting blog on the organisation of Fianna Fail in Northern Ireland. He notes the names of the two new university cumainn, William Drennan Cumann at Queen’s University Belfast, and the Watty Graham Cumann at the University of Ulster. Not exactly designed to have Protestants flooding through the doors of what is effectively a new party in Northern Ireland, but a clear differentiator from the ‘wind up the Prods’ strategy of Sinn Fein. Tom also notes that Ivan Cooper, the SDLP’s most prominent Protestant member has come out in favour of a realignment of the party he helped found with Fianna Fail. Cooper tells the Observer:

‘But I will also say that it’s now time to take a fresh look at things from the SDLP’s viewpoint. I favour an alliance because Fianna Fail is coming north and it would be wrong to see them competing for votes with the SDLP. They should have a strong relationship and work together as a political force. It’s also attractive because it means this alliance is part of an all-Ireland organised party.’

So is this a chimera based on clever PR, or a serious long term challenge? Tom’s own analysis bears repetition:

The major partners in the executive, Sinn Féin and the DUP, have yet to show much evidence that they can deliver a substantive policy agenda together, but there is little sign of any immediate challenge to their dominance. On the nationalist side, that is unlikely to change until the uncertainties around the future of the SDLP are resolved.

Anything more certain than that would be shameless futuring, but Fianna Fail’s limited opening shots at least show a literacy in unionist sensibilities that appears to be almost entirely missing from the current offerings of the two Northern Nationalist incumbents.

It remains to be seen whether a nationalist party that is not at its core anti-unionist (in other words purely pro-unification) can gain sufficient grind with voters and make the required gains to become a significant force in Northern Irish politics. Not least because it will likely need to draw support from both the SDLP and Sinn Féin

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  • Garibaldy

    Mick,

    Let’s not forget that the Republican Clubs were named mostly after United Irishmen but that the names were changed because unionists saw only an association with violent history. So rather than a sensibility towaards unionism, I’d say this shows a failure to understand it, on a par with Martin Mansergh unionists offering an interpretive centre at the Boyne in return for political concessions. In fact I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he was behind the names.

    BTW, I assume you’re trying to start a row with the wind up the Prods strategy remark. It’s entirely accurate, but people will ignore the point you’re making to focus on that.

  • Mick Fealty

    I’m not as it happens, though I am aware it will not go down well in many quarters. Interesting point about Mansergh. The modern context though is the contrast been calling them after some of the original Protestant progenitors of Irish Republicanism rather than members of the modern IRA who in many cases, particularly in rural areas, fought a civil war against their uniformed Protestant neighbours.

    It looks like a move to free blue space, though as I’ve hinted above, I don’t think that Protestants are the target audience. It’s rather more in line with Hume’s original hearts and minds campaign for a UI than the political and cultural revolution of the traditional northern nationalist mythos.

    If that makes sense?

    But I genuinely do wonder (like you) if such a southern idea will take root in northern soil.

  • ulsterfan

    Who were William Drennan and Watty Graham.
    Save me doing some research as the names mean nothing to me.

  • Mick Fealty

    Two clicks from this page via Google:

    Born in Belfast in 1754, William was the son of the Revd Thomas Drennan (1696-1768), minister of Belfast’s First Presbyterian Church, under whose ministry, according to Alexander Gordon his nineteenth century successor, the doctrine of the Trinity first ceased to be preached in that church. Thomas Drennan was a contemporary and friend of John Abernethy and James Duchal, leaders of the Irish Presbyterians who did not subscribe to the Westminster Confession, and had been assistant to Francis Hutcheson at an academy in Dublin, before Hutcheson’s appointment to the chair of moral philosophy at Glasgow University in 1730. Thomas Drennan was himself educated at Glasgow University and was ordained to the ministry of the congregation of Holywood, county Down in 1731. In 1736 he moved to Belfast’s First congregation where he remained until his death. He was a powerful influence on his son. His religious convictions served as the foundation of William’s radical political ideas. Later in life Drennan boasted, “I am the son of an honest man; a minister of that gospel which breathes peace and goodwill among men; a Protestant Dissenting minister, in the town of Belfast; who[se] spirit I am accustomed to look up, in every trying situation, as my mediator and intercessor with Heaven”.

    If you feel so moved you can look up Watty Graham yourself, but Drennan is the better known of the two.

  • ulsterfan

    Thanks Mick but I am not really interested.
    Why do political parties hark back to personalities long since dead as if they would be inspirational to us, when that is not the case, and is it an Irish thing?
    It would make more sense to call the local FF parties as QUB FF or Ulster University FF without attaching a name which some might find objectionable or others be overwhelmed with apathy.

  • Garibaldy

    In addition to Mick’s stuff, Drennan was a founder member of the United Irishmen and supposedly the person who first used the phrase ‘the Emerald Isle.’ Unlike other founder members like Tone and Thomas Russell, he left the United Irishmen long before 1798. He opposed the Union, though later said he was reconciled to it, but will be familiar to many posters here as the founder of Inst.

    I understand what you’re saying about the names of the cumainn, but the point I’m making is that this naming after Protestant republicans was already tried in the 1960s and 1970s, but without much success. In that sense it shows that the people involved don’t have their finger on the pulse in the way that FF has in the south, and that has made them so successful down there for so long. Even if the target audience is the SDLP vote, it doesn’t show much understanding of it either. The attraction of FF is its hard-nosed pragmatism and influence rather than its proclaimed republicanism I’d say.

    And just a minor bitch about your description of Hume’s politics. Given the communalist nature of the SDLP, especially once leadership had transferred to him, the hearts and minds thing was mainly rhetoric. Especially when his actual political agenda after 1974 was to internationalise the solution. He was convinced following the UWC strike (and quite possibly with good cause) that unionism would not make a deal if left to its own devices. Greater political pressure was needed from outside, and the way he saw that coming was by getting Dublin and the Yanks more involved. And he proved not to be a bad judge there.

  • Garibaldy

    I think Ulsterfan’s remark proves to some extent my point about the names and the likely reaction.

  • Mick Fealty

    Boys,

    Before I head up the stairs for the night, let me repeat myself one last time, “I don’t think that Protestants are the target audience”.

    Night all…

  • ulsterfan

    As a Unionist I welcome FF organising in NI as I think I know where they stand on the national question but they are worth watching.
    On that basis I would be able to do business with them but they should re think their approach.
    It is not good enough to take an existing model as in the South and think it can be transplanted here without modification.
    It is also condescending on their part to name cumman after Protestant United Irishmen in the hope we should be grateful. This is a great mistake.
    It would also help if they explained why the are organising in the first place and in the absence we can only speculate.
    I could guess that they really want to achieve a UI and want to be in control on both sides of the border to control the speed and events but more importantly push SF to the side and reduce their influence.
    Perhaps I am not only naive but wrong!

  • The Dubliner

    “It remains to be seen whether a nationalist party that is not at its core anti-unionist (i.e. pro-unification) can gain sufficient grind with voters and make the required gains to become a significant force in Northern Irish politics.” – Mick Fealty

    Pro-unification [with the UK] doesn’t mean anti-unionist any more than pro-unification [with the Republic of Ireland] means anti-nationalist in the personal of ‘anti’ as opposed to the poltical sense. It’s true that FF don’t have any personal animosity to unionists as PSF and the SDLP are often accused of, but those parties would point out that is because FF don’t have personal experience of them – and that last factor is about to change dramatically. So that may be a moot advantage.

    Normally, I’d object if anyone said that FF was pro-unification, and FF would object, too – given its claim to be The Republican Party. But Bertie Ahern does seem to be rather fond of using the term “All-Ireland” which is used as a de facto substitute for a united Ireland. This is the end goal: one island, two states (with the only likely modification decades hence being a federal Ireland, or, less likely, an independent NI). At any rate, I think it likely that a united Ireland in how that was traditionally imagined will never occur.

    I’m not so sure that other FF’ers fully aware of FF’s (or Bertie’s and Blairs’s) new position on this. You should also keep in mind that Bertie won’t be the leader of FF by the time FF goes north, so FF may pull back from this All-Ireland substitute and start arguing for a united Ireland – or, at any rate, they may be forced into arguing for it by events north of the border. Assuming, that is, that nationalists begin to see that All-Ireland substitute is the end goal and not a transition to a united Ireland, and aren’t happy with that outcome – and they probably are.

    The next decade will determine the settle the constitutional issue once and for all without a poll even being required.

  • The Dubliner

    Typo: Pro-unification [with the Republic of Ireland] doesn’t mean anti-unionist any more than pro-unification [with the UK] means anti-nationalist…”

  • joeCanuck

    Shame on you ulsterfan.
    You asked Mick for info, he took the trouble of looking it up, then you tell him you’re not interested.
    Fie!

  • joeCanuck

    I suspect that the majority of the “nationalist” electorate know very little about FF since, of course, they have never campaigned here.
    They should have some success though since the SDLP seem to have lost their way and, hopefully, SF’s star (or brand, as Mick calls it) is losing a lot of its luster.
    I imagine that FF should have no trouble exceeding SF’s percentage vote in the last southern election.

  • In reality FF don’t have to do much to get themselves ahead of SF/SDLP in terms of the attitude of unionists towards them. Simply using the term “Northern Ireland” would accomplish that I’d imagine. Not saying it will necessarily win them many votes, but simple acceptance of what was agreed in the Belfast Agreement would show a huge amount more good faith than the “big 2” NI nationalist parties.

  • The Dubliner

    The first problem FF will face going north is that (a) a political party’s economic, political and social policies need to be formulated on the actual economic, political and social conditions that are applicable and that they seek to influence and determine, and given that (a) the economic, political and social conditions that are applicable in the Republic of Ireland are dramatically different than the conditions in Northern Ireland, and given that (c) a political party cannot have two sets of policies, it follows that one political party cannot operate effectively in two separate and distinct states. That means, unavoidably, that FF must split into two separate parties, FF and FF NI.

    That leads instantly to the second problem: how do you keep the two parties from splitting completely when issues arise that sees a direct conflict between the interests of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland? Clearly, FF NI will be competing in Northern Ireland with FF in the Republic of Ireland for foreign investment, for example. In effect, FF NI will be serving the best interests of Her Majesty’s Exchequer by seeking to divert investment from the Republic into the United Kingdom, to the benefit of the UK taxpayer and Citizen at the direct expense of the Republic’s taxpayers – an act that is tantamount to treason. Alternatively, another problem is how do you prevent FF in the south from colluding with FF NI to increase its votes by the expedient of directing investments, grants, etc from the Irish taxpayer into NI, giving a conflict of interest situation where FF is in a southern government between what is in the best interests of the Irish taxpayers and what is in the best interests of FF NI?

    I would suggest that the conflict danger is so severe that it will mean FF will not run the risk of it by spitting into two parties, thereby meaning it will take the unworkable route of saying “this is out policy, except for Northern Ireland, where this is our policy” – an expedient that simply won’t work where one media operates in both states, leading to utter confusion for the citizens of NI about the applicable policy is.

    It’ll probably all end in tiers. 😉

  • Dec

    Simply using the term “Northern Ireland” would accomplish that I’d imagine.

    If they used the terms ‘Ulster’ or ‘the province’ (in lieu of ‘Northern Ireland’) would you be similarly peeved? Thought not.

  • Queens Man

    Ogra FF have had quite a positive impact @ QUB thus far.

    They seem to have built up a working relationship with members of the DUA on the Students’ Council.

    This seems to have isolated Sinn Fein badly.

  • Nevin
  • foreign correspondent

    I think Fianna Fail´s move into the North can only be a good thing. Any takers on the formation of a Fianna Fail/DUP coalition government in 2020, Brian Cowan as Taoiseach, Ian Paisley as Tanaiste? I am not going to bet on whether it will be Jr. or Sr, though 🙂

  • Kazamir

    Am I the only person who finds it offensive that 100% of Fianna Fail Cumainn in Norther Ireland are named after Protestant Christians. This does not sound very inclusive. What about the rest of us,the “New Irish”.

  • I think their move north might be a good thing for Fianna Fáíl, not necessarily for the north. FF need to rediscover their revolutionary spirit, the reasons they were founded. And if they’re talking to nationalists in the north, they’re going to have to get to grips with what they’re going to do on the question of reunification. That’s not going to go away.

  • Peadar O’Donnell

    ‘Fianna Fail is coming north’

    Tangentopoli hits the wee Six!

  • URQUHART

    This is excellent news.

    The fact that the two Ogra Cumainn are named after Protestants shouldn’t be surprising. Every time he has talked about this move, the taoiseach has been very careful to point out that FF has no interest in becoming just another nationalist party in the north. Read his speech at Bodenstown earlier this year.

    This is hard for many who have built careers on demonizing the other crowd to compute, but properly presented and rolled out it could be the one thing to challenge the hegemony of SF in the North.

  • Turgon

    URQUHART,

    I like your posts and am not trying to be difficult but there is a certain logical disconnect in your argument. You say that “FF has no interest in becoming just another nationalist party in the north”.

    Then you describe it as “one thing to challenge the hegemony of SF in the North.”

    I know that I believe the DUP and SF are far too friendly and indeed in cahoots in an effective dictatorship. However, SF alone does not have a “hegemony in the North”. It may have hegemony in terms of northern nationalists but not in terms of northern unionists.

    Hence, I think your post to an extent implicitly accepts that FF will largely, if not exclusively, appeal to nationalists. I suspect there will be a few unionist / Protestant members and they will be trumpted but I suspect not many (probbaly more than SF though).

  • Queen’s Student

    I have encountered Fianna Fail at Queen’s. Apart from being mostly made up of Southern people they haven’t a good grasp of politics in Northern Ireland. There main arguement for organizing here is because Devalera said he wanted to do it. I think Northern Ireland people will remember that Fianna Fail have waited until the Troubles have ended before they put a toe in the water. They only want to operate in Northern Ireland so long as they don’t get their Armani suits dirty.

  • Nevin

    Ahern at Bodenstown but no mention of the sectarian aspects of United Irish uprising in the south-east.

  • foreign correspondent

    Queen´s Student is right that FF have waited till the end of the troubles to move into the North but then so did Tesco and Sainsburys and the like and they haven´t fared too badly…

  • The West

    To uquhart, sometimes you are on Slugger O’Toole as a Sdlp Supporter and sometimes as a Ff Supporter. Which is it? You can’t swing both ways. Make up your mind if you can. How are people able to make up their mind if you can’t. It’s very confusing.

  • jaffa

    “Any takers on the formation of a Fianna Fail/DUP coalition government in 2020”

    Here’s some shameless futuring for you.

    Pretend for a moment that we live in a normal country.

    Pretend also that people vote along traditional international norms so that you have the following broad blocks

    1) Christian Democratic / Conservative
    2) Liberal Democratic / Reformist
    3) Social Democractic / Trade Unionist
    4) Green

    Then take all the votes cast in the 2007 Assembly elections

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Ireland_Assembly_election,_2007

    and all the votes cast in the 2007 Irish elections

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_ireland

    Add ’em altogether as if we were one country assigning blocks as follow;

    Liberal Democrats

    Fianna Fáil
    Social Democratic and Labour
    Alliance
    Independent
    Independent
    Progressive Democrats

    Social Democrats

    Sinn Féin
    Sinn Féin
    Republican Sinn Féin†
    People Before Profit
    Labour Party
    Workers’ Party
    Socialist Party
    Socialist Environmental
    Progressive Unionist

    Christian Democrats

    Fine Gael
    Christian Solidarity
    Democratic Unionist
    UK Unionist
    Conservative
    Ulster Unionist

    Greens

    Green NI
    Green ROI

    I’ll accept FF & SDLP being “liberal democrats” maybe contentious and there’s an argument about whether SF are socialist or just opportunist but the point above referred to 2020 so let’s pretend everyone’s settled into a more stable political niche by then.

    Anyway considering FF’s alliance with PD’s and Greens, FG & UUP’s quiet but friendly exchanges and SF’s developing relationship with Labour in the South and the interests of the people they look to represent I think these are your likely natural long-term allies.

    Anyway the votes break down as

    Liberal Democrats 1194374 (43%)
    Social Democrats 565262 (20.5%)
    Christian Democrats 890075 (32.3%)
    Greens 108885 (3.9%)

    Intersestingly this is almost exactly the same split as the last Canadian elections (if the Bloc Quebecois is considered liberal) , a country which we sit very close to on several cultural plotting matrices;

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_federal_election,_2006

    So unless FF in 2020 want to abandon all social progress in the interest of a coailtion with religious fundamentalist conservatives for the sake of appearing non-sectarian we might just hope for the current ROI government with the addition of the PD’s cousins in Alliance and another slice of the Green Party.

  • Mark McGregor

    Modest start?

    So far they have spent £150 on registering the name, set up a Bebo page they don’t update, a website they haven’t updated or completed and a few student groups of no impact on peoples’ lives.

    The only thing more modest would have been doing absolutely nothing.

    With that level of inactivity, the take-over of the SDLP seems to be the only option for growth and you don’t get shoots watering a dead tree.

  • URQUHART

    Turgon – your point is fair enough. Certainly I think that the bulk of FF’s support will come from the broad nationalist background – that’s inevitable given where they are coming from and the way that the political system in NI is currently constituted. But I don’t think that’s incompatible with not wanting to be just another nationalist party.

    The fact that FF is the main Government party in the Republic of Ireland trumps any nationalist rhetoric that SF might come up with, without FF having to make it an issue. At the same time, they can then genuinely go to the whole electorate with economic development and social inclusion messages in a way that no one else can.

    “To uquhart, sometimes you are on Slugger O’Toole as a Sdlp Supporter and sometimes as a Ff Supporter. Which is it? You can’t swing both ways. Make up your mind if you can. How are people able to make up their mind if you can’t. It’s very confusing.

    Posted by The West on Dec 10, 2007 @ 12:39 PM”

    Come on, it’s not that confusing is it? Faced with the current choice of parties in the North, I would be closest to SDLP than any of the others, but I think that the arrival of FF in the North will be a great thing and I’ll support it. If you can’t get your head around that, you’re in the wrong store.

    Queen’s Student: Armani suits???? Have you ever met anyone from FF? Also, criticising FF for not wanting to split the SDLP when it was delivering the Provos into democracy is a line that’s going to be hard to sustain.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Mick

    It is hardly a new development for an Irish republican organisation to name cumainn after protestant republicans- I could list half a dozen Sinn Fein cumainn off the top of my head that are named after protestant Irish republicans.

    The most interesting aspect of your piece is the belief that Fianna Fail will be able to attract unionists any more than Sinn Fein or the SDLP, which for me completely ignores the fact that unionists (by definition) believe in a political vision running completely contrary to that of Irish republicanism.

    The ‘wind up the prods’ reference is a disappointing remark, which is easy to make but increasingly hard to sustain (unless we’re to get into how much unionists ‘wind up the taigs’ tit for tat which will serve no one.)

    As for your suggestion that the FFers will bring some new thinking and awareness of unionist sensibilities, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    It is a comment you have made before- justified by virtue of the fact that unionists like Bertie more than Adams or Durkan’s parties- but it completely ignores the flip scenario in which nationalists here have more time for ‘British’ parties like Labour and the Lib Dems (over ‘there’) than they’d ever have for the two unionist parties here.

    Let’s take a topical case in point. Tomorrow the unionist parties will propose and fail to pass a motion seeking to get the world authority on football, FIFA, to prevent northerners from representing the Republic of Ireland at international soccer. It will fail because Sinn Fein and the SDLP will ensure it requires cross-community support.

    As far as ‘winding up the taigs,’ this one’s up there with the best. But look further into unionist objections and you’ll find their political spokespersons dealing with this have directed more bile at Fianna Fail’s Dermot Ahern than anyone from Sinn Fein or the SDLP. Yet, as a nationalist political party, Fianna Fail up here will be expected to endorse such proposals regularly.

    All of which suggests that many unionists have a problem not with the messenger, but with the message.

  • The West

    To uquhart, Ff IS here; they’ve registered! They are now rivals of the Sdlp so decision time has arrived. If you can’t get your head around that I think YOU’RE in the wrong store; you can’t support two parties in the one place.

  • Nevin

    “which is easy to make but increasingly hard to sustain”

    I’ve called it the Athboy strategy, Chris, because that was where Adams bummed about the success of the so called residents groups and others who lent them a hand. Philip McGuigan, ex-MLA, was demoted when he failed to note or accept the end of the strategy.

  • Dewi

    Jaffa

    “a country which we sit very close to on several cultural plotting matrices”

    That’s interesting. Got any links ?

  • Dewi

    Paper

    Not entirely relevant but trying to search for data on Protestant voting habits in Donegal came across this.Of some interest the bits relating to cross border Protestant perceptions of each other.

  • Mark McGregor

    Dewi,

    If you are interested, the decline of the Donegal Progressive Party with the Protestant population before eventually losing its final council seat through boundary changes might be worth a google.

  • Dewi

    Thanks Mark That’s a bit more generic but interesting.

  • jaffa

    Hi Dewi,

    This one’s a classic

    http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/

    and this guy pretty much wrote the book on the way that culture affects organization form

    http://feweb.uvt.nl/center/hofstede/page3.htm

  • jaffa

    Hofstede’s matrix doesn’t lend itself to pretty pictures like the world values survey (awkward bugger used 5 measures) but this one’s quite user friendly. One of the key similarities on these measures is that both Ireland and Canada are more acceting of ambiguity than the European average. Canada’s a bit strong on the individualism measures.

    http://www.geert-hofstede.com/hofstede_canada.shtml

  • The Raven

    “The first problem FF will face going north is that (a) a political party’s economic, political and social policies need to be formulated on the actual economic, political and social conditions that are applicable…..

    What, are you mad or something?? Since when have ANY of the parties in this region EVER had a clear voice on what their economic policies are?

    Shit, we couldn’t even have a discussion on this very website about the 1400 jobs lost over the past three months in the North

    Anyone here, I throw down a challenge…show me exactly where and when in the North ANY of the political parties have implemented a clear economic policy that has had a define-able impact on the local economy? Other than the part where bombs and guns dampened it down for 30 years.

    All we ever get is “oh…errr…I know! Less public sector workers”. And sure, won’t dumping a shit-load of public sector workers on the unemployment register do the region absolute wonders at this moment in time?

    I expect FF to be no different. It’ll be the usual out-greening the greens where possible…oh and if we can get the odd orange vote, that would be nice, but actually (as Mick RIGHTLY points out) that’s NOT where the marketing is going to be aimed.

    Some economic reality checks needed on this site. The most that FDI is likely to bring to the North at the moment is more call-centre jobs. Nice one.

  • The Dubliner

    The Raven, isn’t that an admission that your society is ‘mad’? Where else would you think it insane for a political party to have a grasp of economic and social realities and to attempt to formulate policies by that understanding in order to influence them? Call me old-fashioned but I like my doctors to have a medical degree. Oh wait… NI is mad, a public-spending-to-GDP ratio of over 70% and folks vote for tribes. Never mind.

    You will find that economic, political and social realities in NI are a completely different than to the Republic, requiring completely different policies. Heaven forbid FF should bother formulating economic policy for NI, deal with the issues of the day, or even dreaming up a development plan to sell to the other parties in the Executive and the Assembly and to Her Majesty’s government. Let them stick to aspiration, rhetoric, and practicing the type of non-politics that has made such a mess out of Northern Ireland and all will be well.

    If, on the other hand, FF actually intend to formulate policies (as it the quaint, old-fashioned role of political parties), then they will either have to proffer two sets of policies for two separate and distinct states creating confusion via a shared media of which policy applies in which state or they will have to split into two parties with one set of policies each.

    If they split, then the fun starts, since those two separate states – the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom – are in direct competition with each other. For example, FF policy on corporation tax direct from Brian Cowan, Minister for Finance: “…our guarantee that the corporation tax rate will remain at 12.5%, Ireland can remain a preferred location for the world’s most value-creating, profitable businesses.” Note the reference to “preferred location” for the investment? That would be the Republic of Ireland, by the way, not the United Kingdom. Now if FF advocates the same policy for United Kingdom, then they do so at the direct expense of the Republic of Ireland. Of course they can advocate it, but they’ll have to campaign with the British Exchequer to introduce such a policy – and thereby seek to destroy the Republic’s competitive advantage and that “preferred location” Mr Cowan referred to. That will be seen as tantamount to treason in the Republic and FF will be flung out of office.

    So, it’s a little more complicated to resolve than burying one’s head in the sand like an emu, pretending the issues won’t arise because political parties don’t need to address any reality.

  • Mark McGregor

    Dubliner,

    Though your corporation tax policy is only temporary, Europe was about to haul you into line until they realised you had a referendum coming up and then sidelined that policy but once they get the result they need or to punish you for not delivering it you get harmonisation rammed down your throat and the tiger neutered just as it hits a big dip.

  • The Dubliner

    Support for the Bersani Report on corporate tax harmonisation comes from the socialist crackpot MEPs in Europe, unsurprisingly. All of the party leaders in Ireland are against it and support Ireland’s tax sovereignty – even the leader of the Labour Party.

    However, that doesn’t address the point that polices differ between states – we’re not all a super state called Europe devoid of a national government – yet. But it is noted how ‘republicans’ are quick to dismiss the notion of national sovereignty arguing we’re all de facto ‘harmonised’ when it serves their purpose.

    There also will be other ‘conflict of interest’ factors will that arise if FF goes into ‘government’ in the United Kingdom, vowing to serve that country’s best interests. It could be argued that is tantamount to spying, by having those who serve Her Majesty’s best interests in the Irish government – making the UK’s spying operations in the Republic of Ireland redundant. Why have agents attempt to gain access to state documents and policy formations when you sworn servants of the state under the same party banner as them, knowing what the policy of the competing state is likely to be? If a FF member of Her Majesty’s government’s Executive in the Northern Ireland with responsibility for inward investment wants to know what financial incentives the IDA is offering to a large multinational to locate in the Republic which he is seeking to have locate in the United Kingdom, then he can simply phone his party leader in Dublin and ask him to find out. Clearly, a whole range of protocols will need to be devised to control conflict of interests’ situations and to monitor them very closely indeed. Cabinet Confidentiality, Official Secrets, and all that.

  • The Dubliner

    One final caveat: there isn’t a better way to have a competing state serve your national interests than to make it think it is serving its own national interests by so doing, is there? So, let’s pretend that Northern Ireland is a part of Ireland – let’s call it “All-Ireland” even – and let the Irish public and state direct investment into it from the Republic. Of course, they’re not investing in Ireland: they’re investing directly into the United Kingdom with all of the benefit of that investment going to Her Majesty’s Exchequer and the UK taxpayer to the direct detriment of the Republic’s taxpayer. However, the United Kingdom wouldn’t manipulate public sentiment for selfish interests like that, would they? Of course not; that would require that they serve their own interests before the interests of other states and to the direct detriment of other states – and states don’t do that now we’re all one ‘harmonised’ big happy family.

  • URQUHART

    “To uquhart, Ff IS here; they’ve registered! They are now rivals of the Sdlp so decision time has arrived. If you can’t get your head around that I think YOU’RE in the wrong store; you can’t support two parties in the one place.

    Posted by The West on Dec 10, 2007 @ 05:17 PM”

    Well West, back here on Earth we have a different approach. The fact that the name has been registered doesn’t quite cause the sort of conflict you suppose.

  • gaelgannaire

    Question for our new Soldiers of Destiny [sic.]

    If Fianna Fáil found themselves in a position where they held the education brief in Stormont, would they then proceed to move againist Irish medium education, taking Mary Hanafin’s lead, in effecting banning early year immersion education, the building block and keystone of the Gaelscoileanna movement, a move which has flown in the face of all international academic research and inspired frankly by anti Irish clique in the so called Department of education.

    Their struggle clearly continues by the way.

    http://www.gaelport.com/index.php?page=clippings&id=2666&viewby=date

    What would be the difference therefore, from an Irish speaker’s and / or Gaelscoil parent’s point of view from one o these self styled ‘Republicans’ and say, Sammy Wilson of the DUP.

    This is an example of the kind of questions that Fianna Fáil canvassers are likely to face from many nationalists.

  • Another QUB Student

    To quote Queen’s student;

    “I have encountered Fianna Fail at Queen’s. Apart from being mostly made up of Southern people”

    Utter nonsense – their membership is overwhelmingly from the North, say about 10 out of the 100 or so are southern. And they also have a membership that spans all communities in the North.

  • Dewi

    Jaffa – thanks – fascinating.

  • hotdogx

    Guys,
    Im fairly sure I know FF. They are not like anything currently available in NI. The following points:

    1 For FF image is everything, thats why they are only moving north now. The end of the troubles means that they wont dirty their armani coat tails in dirty affairs as somebody said above.

    2 FF always plan everything down to a TEE even if its reopening of the western rail corridor or moving north you can rest assured that this has been well thought out and timed perfectly as by such things as elections, crushing sinn fein and retrieving their republican (true republican not PSF model) roots

    3 FF is about business, BIG BUSINESS! This will be good for NI celtic tiger comes north, This will put the food where the mouth is in NI and allot of people may end up changing the way the vote when the see what happens in Dublin is becoming more important than in the UK

    4 This is a huge PR move and one that hits home here in the republic. It is a show of strength as well as getting votes by a return to its roots. FF the republican party HMMM, but now they will have the actions to prove it!

    5 Number 5 goes hand in hand with number 2 above.
    If you think FF have moved north to find themselves competing with two other nationalist parties you may be mistaken. As FF plan everything to a TEE i believe there will be a merger of FF and SDLP. They have waited till the time was right when the SDLP is weak, SF in the republic has been squashed and with a peaceful environment to operate in it may be a mere rubber-stamp merger.

    6 Number 6 I think is for reasonable people like yourself Turgon, FF can appeal to a much wider audience than the two current players. FF arrives with a clean-slate and this opens many possibilities. It will give a new dimension to the previous tribal politics. This will be the end of sinn fein as they can rub shoulders with the greats but can never wash the blood from their hands!

    7 Number 7 is power. For the first time ever the people of the north will have access to a party that is in Government that has experience in leading a country, that knows its business. This will be interesting when the government of the republic is also in government in NI. Dublin will be more important than London since 2&#xUK; representation (an uncared about 2%)won’t come close to the power of 20% representation in a defacto united Ireland.

    Interesting times ahead!
    The next 10 years will be the raising and cleaning of the tricolour in the north after the political filth and mud it was dragged through by PSF and terrorists and their ugly twisted campaigns
    Im no big FF fan either but its better than PSF or the SDLP all on its own.

  • The Raven

    “The Raven, isn’t that an admission that your society is ‘mad’?”

    No. I don’t need a website to admit that, but I don’t know what relevance it has to my post.

    “Call me old-fashioned but I like my doctors to have a medical degree. Oh wait… NI is mad, a public-spending-to-GDP ratio of over 70% and folks vote for tribes. Never mind.”

    Perhaps I should explain my point for the hard-of-understanding. The “less public sector” cry seems to be the only one they all rally round…and yet never a clear manifesto as to how to do it. Or indeed what to do when the 30% less public sector hits the claimant numbers. I have explained this before. This needs to a slow, and well thought out process, run in tandem with the growth of the fledgling private sector. Our seemingly-timeless crop of current politicians are very good at the “slow” bit – but can’t seem to manage the “well-thought-out” part.

    “You will find that economic, political and social realities in NI are a completely different than to the Republic, requiring completely different policies.”

    Phew. I am glad FF is moving up north to teach us how to do it properly. Because what we really need here, is a slew of overseas companies on a here-today-gone-tomorrow agenda. And you aren’t you lot about to pay the price for that very shortly….

    I’ll come back to your NDP points some other time…like when we actually see the money spent, and instead skip forward to the pithy “emu” remark, much of which is preceded by a worshipping of the God that is FDI. I would be the first to advocate that the Republic of Ireland is welcome to as much FDI as it can handle.

    Why? Because I am sitting in a region where around 1300 will be gone over the next 8 months. 1100 of them are FDI-attracted jobs. Now, I am not going to get into the benefits or otherwise of FDI companies…their spin-off to the local economy in terms of wages…their local sourcing…etc etc.

    We are a small and rural region. Slap 1200 jobs in a 40 square mile area, and when they go, we feel it. We shouldn’t be looking for your quick-fix foreign investment solution – even in a global economy. There are ten locally owned, NW, family run companies operating globally I could name right now who have sat through the comes-and-gones of FDI and employ just as many people as the companies who have just quit the North West.

    And what do they need? Certainly not lip-smackingly good grants from INI or indeed some all-ireland equivalent. Nor is their greatest bugbear the issue of corporation tax. See, I have to laugh when I hear FSB and others talk about alignment of corporation tax.

    This doesn’t matter to the mainstay of NI’s economy, the owner-managed businesses up to the 90 employee companies. They pretty much don’t give a shit about FDI companies either, unless they have foolishly ended up putting all their eggs in one basket to provide local sourcing for said overseas company.

    What matters to them is a reduction in red tape…business friendly employment laws…affordable insurance cover…an education system which actually produces the workers they need…guidance in business law…guidance in export markets…handling overseas customers…marketing… I could go on, I mean for PAGES, but you probably got bored when I stopped writing about those lovely dollar-spending overseas companies.

    And NONE of the above are part of the manifestos of any of the so-called political parties here in the North. Which is ultimately my point.

    And by the time FF realises what it has to do in the North to get votes, they’ll get down into the sectarian muck with the rest of them, or it’ll be 4th place politics for at least twenty years.

    I’m going to pretty much leave the rest of your posts. By the time I had read about FF infiltrating the British government for investment secrets, I thought the X-files was back on, and got bored shortly thereafter.