Sinn Fein, their faltering game and one big European chance for glory…

Catriona Ruane probably has the stiffest test of all Sinn Fein’s new ministers. For that reason, I’m not sure that Frank’s analysis suggesting she’s performed poorly alongside her colleagues Conor Murphy and Michelle Gildernew, even if that was the impression given by northern delegates at a recent ‘closed door’ meeting in Dublin. Neither have faced the challenge she does in carrying forward actionable reforms in an area that is both prominent and which splits neatly down the Nationalist /Unionist divide. Nevertheless, he is less than impressed with the total impact of Sinn Fein, both on the governmental front, or in the decidedly partisan way they have dealt with public order problems such as the killing of Paul Quinn. He’s less than impressed with the response of the northern leadership to failure in the south:

It is telling that despite Fine Gael’s success Kenny fired Phil Hogan and a question-mark remains over Kenny’s leadership. Rabbitte and the authors of the Mullingar Strategy in Labour have been cast aside. Sinn Féin’s upper leadership remains intact and the move of key northern activists like Declan Kearney into positions of authority in the party in the South suggests that Adams, having listened to the opinion of Southern members for the last six months has decided to ignore it and continue to centralise control in the mistaken belief that someone other than him, and he alone, is responsible for the party’s disastrous election campaign.

The party’s response to the Paul Quinn murder is being distinctive by its very repetition:

The murder of Paul Quinn brought out the standard Sinn Féin approach of blackening the name of the victim with accusations of criminality that seem unproven. What seems more clear is the eager desire among their political opponents to hi-jack the Quinn’s case to attack Sinn Féin, but they would have no campaign to manipulate were it not for Quinn’s murder and how Sinn Féin handled it.

.

He finishes with a useful corrective to Vincent Browne’s view that Sinn Fein is likely to be pro the EU Treaty in the upcoming referendum:

Ahh Vincent, take thy head out from the Mahon Tribunal and read a paper. Sinn Féin’s party leadership, and McDonald & Adams in particular, have been making clear their intention to not simply oppose the Reform Treaty, but to lead the opposition to it. Most recent press statement from the party on it is here. What makes Browne’s error all the more mystifying is that the former Sinn Féin European Director Eoin O Broin now writes for his magazine. This referendum campaign gives Sinn Féin the opportunity to portray itself as the ‘real’ opposition to establishment centrist politics and even the possibility of fighting a winning campaign, which would be a massive boost to a party going into Local Elections in 2009, and European Elections where only a miracle will save their seat in Dublin.

In truth, Sinn Fein has much more in common with UKIP on Europe, since both are concerned with protecting what’s left of their respective countries’ independent sovereignty.

With most other parties in favour, Frank may have fingered one way for the party to get back some of its equilibrium south of the border.

, , , ,

  • sms

    I think you’re right Mick. although all the knives have been out for Ruane she has succeeded in getting rid of the 11+ no matter what compromise takes its place. She rid out the NIPSA row and showed plenty of steel on the issue. Voters are inclined to like a strong willed politician, so come the next electoral test I think Ruane might do better than some people on the far left would like.

  • Reader

    sms: she has succeeded in getting rid of the 11+ no matter what compromise takes its place.
    No she didn’t. Martin McGuinness got rid of the 11+. Catriona Ruane’s job has been to try to find agreement on a replacement. There has been exactly 0% progress on that!

  • runciter

    She rid out the NIPSA row and showed plenty of steel on the issue.

    On the contrary, she was putty in the hands of the bureaucrats.

  • Mark McGregor

    She certainly hasn’t made any efforts to stop some schools from operating their own version of the 11+ in the future meaning it’ll continue without any oversight. So instead of ending it she has just failed to stop it being privatised.

  • sms

    mark, runciter and reader
    so you all think that the 11+, in its present form, will continue beyond next year

  • Mark McGregor

    sms,

    Some schools have said they fully intend to use their own version. As yet Ruane has done nothing to prevent them being funded if they continue with a process against policy or to prevent Primary Schools from assisting with the process.

  • Mick Hall

    I think for SF to move further to the right over the EU would be a grave mistake, OK the may end up on the winning side in the referendum but it will not stop the move towards an intergrated EU. What SF should be doing is demanding the democratization of Europe, for that is a battle worth fighting.

    I would be interested to hear more about those British Eurosceptic’s Mick alleges that SF had been leaning on. Frank is absolutely correct in that Adams has decided to move the party to the right as many of us predicted he would. All his talk about consulting the membership was simply more control freakery.

    Perhaps it is time to ask what is the point of SF?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Perhaps it is time to ask what is the point of SF?

    The voters will be asking that as well. Sinn Fein and the DUP are protest parties. They approach voters on the basis that a vote for them is a signal to the powers that be that they’re against something. Neither of them have any coherent strategies about how to build, extend or improve anything. The 11+ farce is pretty representative of this.

  • sms

    mark
    what you are saying is that the 11+ will be gone
    but that some other kind of selection, as yet
    unspecified, may be introduced by the grammar schools. I suppose that is a possibility and could well be akin to the “banding” system used by many secondary schools already. But my main point is that the 11+ will no longer exist and that is all that was ever promised.

  • nb

    Mick Hall – you have email

  • DC

    Mick,

    Good post.

    The failure of Adams to move on is clearly a sign of his arrogance and something that seems to permeate Sinn Fein as a party, even McGuinness smacks of it. Over on Balrog many comments have been left to him about Adams hanging on in when others have been hung out to dry due to the democratic wishes of the electorate. The main excuse for Adams as leader is that he is party ‘president’ and didn’t actually stand despite spearheading the campaign, a strategy which I suppose protects him from immediate failure yet leaves people like Frank and us thinking that Adams’ campaign strategy was poor and becuase of this he should go.

    The performances of SF in the Assembly have been poor, as you have mentioned on occasions, but it is clear that abstaining from parliamentary bodies has stunted the ability of the party to speak on its feet on the floor of the Northern Ireland assembly.

    Anyway, in terms of Ruane, yes she has difficulties but the question should be asked of the wanting DUP as to why it left so vital, so key, a department for others to bring in fundamental changes.

    Education is the best form of social welfare, the springboard if you like and Unionists have wandered off too many times using familiar tactics of blasting opponents from the outside while they are in trying to make changes for the best.

    In relation to change and educational change the question has to be asked is change such a bad thing. Change is necessary and is something we all must embrace and if it is embrace meaningfully with relevant educationalists involved then the determination should be deliver change for the *better*.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Mick Hall: “I think for SF to move further to the right over the EU would be a grave mistake, OK the may end up on the winning side in the referendum but it will not stop the move towards an intergrated EU. What SF should be doing is demanding the democratization of Europe, for that is a battle worth fighting. ”

    A pity the powers that be don’t like that notion, Mick — too much of a chance that the little people might vote down the negotiated capitulation their political masters seek to foist off on them, such as the EU Constitution. The Dutch and French votes on that particular dead letter has like as not all but driven a stae in the heart of honest democracy, for fear the sheeple might actually say “no.”

  • lib2016

    The traditional case for unionism has collapsed so we are now being subjected to a barrage of anti-Sinn Fein sophistry.

    Sinn Fein are to far left/insufficiently left. They refuse to take the blame when hard men (including demobbed republicans) fight amongst each other so they don’t care about their fellow citizens/are identified with those same hard men. And on it goes.

    You still don’t get it. Powersharing is the only game in town and unionists missed their chance to play a leading part in it.

    Loyalists aren’t going to flock back to the lodges – they know co-operation is the only way forward for both sides.

    If unionism wants to make a comeback it has to redefine itself. This sort of nonsense just shows that they have no constructive way forward.

  • DC

    “so we are now being subjected to a barrage of anti-Sinn Fein sophistry.”

    Are you saying the people of Ireland, the electorate, tricked Sinn Fein out of votes here or something or what.

    Adams was shite on TV, he put across outdated arguments of too heavy a northern substance especially by wanting to Pattenise, perhaps he meant patronise, the Gardai, this was a statement by him that stood out as being contradictory in terms of wanting to, seemingly, Tory-ise the Irish Police service. At least if I were Irish I would think that’s what he wanted to do.

    Patten = Tory = Hong Kong Governor = Discriminatory Police Service, etc.

    And that’s only picking up on one example. TV is everything nowadays you gotta do it there, he didn’t do it, he’s still there, why – is he special – devine perhaps?

  • Mark McGregor

    I’m not sure being on the winning side of a No referendum vote will build a profile as the party of true opposition. It didn’t deliver anything sustainable after Nice 1 and 2 for either SF or the Greens. To be the voice of opposition you wouldn’t be showing a willingness to get into bed with FF at almost any cost in both cases.

    To be a credible opposition you need to be consistently credible as an alternative.

  • dewi

    Strategy is a little strange. If I were in Sinn Fein I’d completely focus on the North – where they know what is going on. And try to reach out to urban Protestants.

  • lib2016

    All the small parties did badly in the South and as the Greens are demonstrating so well the price of influence is a willingness to compromise.

    Sinn Fein lost one seat and you guys are writing them off. It won’t happen that easily and the proof of that is their willingness to go along with whatever it takes to start building a new society here.

    People have rejected the old ‘Not an inch’ type politics, not Sinn Fein. It is the old intransigents in the UUP who have lost all credibility not the two largest parties at Stormont.

  • New Yorker

    Most of the above may be irrelevant considering the Paul Quinn murder. They had their chance and they blew it.

  • lib2016

    New Yorker,

    You may be right but my information, anecdotal it’s true, is that the locals in South Armagh are more than a little shocked by some of the people Bradley etc. are getting close to.

    We all know that Sinn Fein and earlier the RA had some very dodgy connections as all revolutionary groups do. They are seen locally in NI as having gone to huge lengths over the last twenty years in their bid to clean up their act.

    South Armagh is a special case, just like the Markets. Outsiders butting in, especially SDLP outsiders will get nowhere.

    The republican tradition there predates the IRA or the setting up of the border,never mind one six-county party. They aren’t going to split over one killing however awful. As anyone with local connections is well aware much worse went on during the armed campaign when local volunteers went on the beer.

  • Mick Fealty

    lib,

    I buy some of the logic of that, but there are two questions arising: one the burtal corporate response to both killings; and the new ‘deadline’ of May 8th. One surely has a baring on the other?

    Is a party that pleads political exceptionalism over the proper investigation of serious crime (Mr Adams declared Quinn a criminal within 48 hours of the murder) in a position to suggest they can properly handle oversight (albeit somewhat limited) of policing and justice with due probity?

  • “I’m not sure being on the winning side of a No referendum vote will build a profile as the party of true opposition.”

    I’d disagree on that. I think Sinn Féin were able to use their success in the first Nice referendum and their position as a key part of the unsuccessful second campaign to good effect in the 2004 elections. Your point about failing to be a ‘real’ opposition when desperate to get into bed with FF is well-taken, but voters have short memories and SF is still, however validly, generally perceived as an anti-establishment party. The EU Reform Treaty will allow them to buttress that aspect of their support.

    There are some interesting polling figures (EU wide, not Ireland specific) I saw a while back saying that while local issues still decide how voters cast their ballots in a European election, that figure is decreasing in comparison to an increasing amount who vote on EU issues.

    If Sinn Féin is to achieve the almost impossible in keeping their European seat it will be by appealing to a certain section of the constituency who would not vote SF in Ireland, but believe there is a need for a critical voice in Europe. There’s a section of Fianna Fáil and of the left in particular looking for someone like that on Europe, albeit for different reasons.

  • Some schools have said they fully intend to use their own version. As yet Ruane has done nothing to prevent them being funded if they continue with a process against policy or to prevent Primary Schools from assisting with the process.

    Correct, and that opens the prospect of the worst outcome of all, unless she outlaws academic selection for all schools in receipt of state funding, which I don’t think she can without the agreement of the DUP, which won’t be forthcoming.

    In that event, we would have the real prospect of a pre-War situation where schools run what are de facto stand alone scholarship exams, which children in Primary Schools in working class areas are vastly less likely to be entered for in the first place. And less likely to succeed when they do, as the lack of a common curriculum will increase still further the value of private tuition, and plance a new premium on knowing through the golf club where your child’s best chances of securing a place lie.

    CCMS may well whip their schools into line, and the handful of Controlled grammars can also be dealt with, but the majority of grammar schools which are Maintained and outside the Catholic sector will be able to do what they like. At which point, an awful lot of my neighbours on the Upper Antrim Road will lose their burning desire for a Catholic education if that means Bearnageeha and Little Flower and enter their own little flowers for entry exams at BRA, Inst, probably even Belfast High.

    Therefore we will widen inequalities and risk losing our record of producing the highest proportion of working-class graduates in the British Isles.

    It isn’t that there isn’t a need for reform, especially with demographic changes transforming grammar schools into de facto comprehensives for the middle-classes. But Catriona has fucked this one up big time. You know, she didn’t even try and get us and the SDLP onside (which she could have done) before she announced this in the Assembly. No harm to her, but she ain’t no playa.

  • lib2016

    Mick,

    There’s so much hypocrisy over this killing that I am trying to be tactful about what I say – it’s not something I am comfortable with as regular posters will know. 😉

    Could I suggest that maybe the President of Sinn Fein has sources of information not available to the PSNI without drawing down a torrent of abuse on my head?

  • Mick Fealty

    You can say that. And I might agree. But that is the larger part of the dilemma sketched out above.

    Police services will only thirve under conditions of public trust. Effectively what you are describing is a privately owned secret service. Since the publicly owned secret service is currently (and for the foreseeable future) operating under zero scrutiny, you might say that’s a quid pro quo.

    Apart from considerations of good governance, I’m not sure that that will suffice: especially when there are allegations against the very organisation to which the people providing the ‘intelligence’ to Mr Adams belong.

  • New Yorker

    lib2016

    As I understand it, most of the supporters for justice in the murder of Paul Quinn are primarily involved to see justice carried out in relation to his murder and determined that will be the end such acts against the local community. Also, the supporters are from a broad spectrum of political opinions. They enjoy considerable local support as many think it is time to move on and want murder and such acts consigned to the past. Many see SF as covering-up for this murder and many others to their own benefit and not to the wellbeing of the local community. This is a genuine grassroots movement set to gain further momentum next year. Governments and politicians would be unwise to ignore this movement: It is democratic, non-violent and has high moral principles as its guiding force.

  • lib2016

    This thread is like so many others on this board – a tired re-run of previous attacks on Sinn Fein rather than an attempt to put forward an alternative future or to find a new Unionist identity which has some credibility.

    Has Slugger lost it’s way?

  • Mick Fealty

    That last has been removed lib. I’m minded to move to a registration only model to help keep the abuse down to a minimum. But I think you’ll find this is a problem everywhere. I was up past two last night, trying to get some individuals to hit hard but straight. Not tonight however. I’m off to bed now. Night all!

  • Mark McGregor

    Frank,

    I’m not as sure as many that SF will lose the Dublin seat. The protest vote is there for the taking especially now the Greens are clearly propping up FF and Labour will have to suffer from a clear yes drive on the Treaty given de Rossa’s central role in drafting the original constitution. I’d think it is being heavily targeted with grassroots work (though have no way of knowing). And to be honest Mary Lou while not my cup of tea is a credible candidate who while justifiably light on work in the Institutions (babies and a long run trying to become a TD) has maintained a decent constituency profile beyond the targeted Dail constituency.

    I’ll be watching the odds on this one, could be worth a punt.

  • Mark McGregor

    Damn. I need to qualify that ‘not my cup of tea’ remark about ML. I meant it on a purely political level. She is absolutely my cup of tea as a human being.

  • Cynic

    “she has succeeded in getting rid of the 11+ no matter what compromise takes its place”

    Only in Shinner speak.

    Bye bye 11+. Hooray. welcome…either “academic selection” (doh) or poscode selection where thsoe nearest the good schools get in…which will benefit all the nice middle class kids anyway. Whoopeee. A great Shinner Victory.

  • Mark McGregor

    Frank,

    On another element of Euro 2009; even with a Dublin lose it could end up swings and roundabouts for SF (or two swings). I see a very strong chance of a gain in NW. It will be interesting to see if they split the profiling for a future Dail run, which is what I’d do, and run Padraig in Europe while keeping Pearse in the Seanad.

  • Cynic

    “In truth, Sinn Fein has much more in common with UKIP on Europe, since both are concerned with protecting what’s left of their respective countries’ independent sovereignty”

    Agree completely Mick. The little Englanders and the Little Irelanders make great bedfellows.

    “Adams, having listened to the opinion of Southern members for the last six months has decided to ignore it”

    Sorry but the phrases ‘listening’ and the ‘SF leadership’ rarely ever did go hand in hand. Its always been a one way flow, we tell, you do, or else.

    Their problem is that the ‘or else’ (literally) has much less force these days and, with less and less scope for the Brits to clear a path for them, voters in the North are realising that the policy cupboard (and the heads) are empty of new ideas, while those in the South dont want these culchies coming down telling them what to think and do.

    Grievance only goes so far in the new dispensation

  • lib2016

    “..Sinn Fein has much more in common with UKIP..”

    except that Sinn Fein accepts that Ireland’s future lies within the EU while the main aim of UKIP is British withdrawal from the EU. But don’t let the facts spoil a cheap gibe… they never have before.

    I’m not a member of Sinn Fein but I have attended several public meetings and was reasonably impressed with their willingness to engage in debate with members of the public.

    It seems a strange way to have built their base over the last decade or so while they were also getting rid of the old die-hards. Could you give us some hard facts about what goes on behind closed doors.

    One of the things I found attractive about them is their party discipline. Obviously you prefer the old way the SDLP did things with everybody pointed in a different direction.

  • New Yorker

    lib2016

    Are you the last person in Ireland who believes anything that SF says? Check with your local sources in South Armagh for an update on SF veracity.

  • lib2016

    New Yorker,

    I did…as I’ve posted before we heard all the same attacks after the McCartney murder but I did take the elementary precaution of ringing a few people just in case. After all these years people aren’t that easily fooled by black propaganda.

    But if that’s the last weapon you have left then I suppose you may as well go on using it. To paraphrase Kipling the game is almost over so it doesn’t really matter anymore. The only judgement which will count in the long run is the one from the court of public opinion. That verdict will come in the local elections of 2009.

  • kensei

    I think the death of SF has been greatly exaggerated. Despite everything, polls in the South sit at 7% – precisely where the were at the election. FF could well change the game, but there seems no chance that the SDLP will do anything. I don’t really sense any on the ground anger on the 11+ except for those who would have strongly opposed it anyway. The Quinn murder will probably do damage, but more in maintaining transfer repellence; is there really anyone who this attacks that wouldn’t have been driven off by the McCartney murder?

    I also disagree you can lay the entire failure in the Southern elections on Adams. It was a complete leadership failure, and I don’t think anyone had a good game. Aside from that, is any serious player within SF seriously offering a credible alternative, even speaking about it? Adams is simply an easy target right now.

    Similarly, there are noises about change in policy coming and we have yet to see what will come of that; and the point that SF is clearly struggling with the policing issue and that is probably what is driving central control seems to have been missed.

    They weren’t going to remain and unbeatable electoral machine with unmatched forward momentum forever. We’ve hit the point where we see how they handle more failure. But there has been a lot of jumping the gun.

  • New Yorker

    lib2016

    There is certainly a parallel with the McCartney situation – the murder and cover-up go right to the top and that is widely held in the local area. I just spoke to a non-aligned person in the area. It was true with McCartney and it is true with Quinn. Two critical things are different this time: SF is in government and the murder occurred in the Republic. Government ministers involved in a cover-up and doing their dirty work across the border cannot be tolerated. The Dublin government must have a clean record on terrorist activities to maintain and attract foreign investment. At present, people are waiting with anxiety to see how they perform in an organized terrorist murder committed in their territory.

  • New Yorker

    Kensei

    You ask “is there really anyone who this attacks that wouldn’t have been driven off by the McCartney murder?” And the answer is that there are many in South Armagh and beyond (see my previous post). People in South Armagh are revulsed both that this happened to a local lad and that SF lied from the beginning. SF may be lying low in the area lately but the local people have very long memories.

  • George

    The Dublin government must have a clean record on terrorist activities to maintain and attract foreign investment.

    Do you honestly believe that the Irish State’s credentials are in question? You must have an oddly low opinion of it.

    “At present, people are waiting with anxiety to see how they perform in an organized terrorist murder committed in their territory.”

    Who? Compared to the noise following the McCartney murder this one has barely registered in the Republic, the UK, US or anywhere else.

    Sinn Féin has a problem in that it is having difficulty engaging the southern electorate. I don’t know if the Lisbon Treaty is a way to do so. People will make up their own minds on this one and won’t think party politically.

  • Kensie and anyone else,

    Do you feel that Gerry Adams not being a candidate in the last general election in the south played any role in SF’s failure in that poll.

  • New Yorker

    George

    You asked “Do you honestly believe that the Irish State’s credentials are in question? You must have an oddly low opinion of it.” I said they must have a clean record. To keep the clean record they have to fully follow through on the Quinn murder and thus dispel any suggestion that organized terrorist murders can take place on their territory and the murderers will get a pass. I don’t have a low opinion of the Dublin government, quite the contrary, but I will if they fail to fully address this matter.

    Then you say “Who? Compared to the noise following the McCartney murder this one has barely registered in the Republic, the UK, US or anywhere else.” Who? – Some friends I was dining with on Wall Street two weeks ago asked me about it. It has received national coverage in the US as did the McCartney murder. And it’s obvious that the media of the Republic and the UK are covering it.

  • George

    Mick Hall,
    Gerry Adams isn’t from the Republic so him not running played no role.

    People south of the border see Adams as the representative of his community, not theirs.

    In my view, Sinn Féin’s failure had more to do with its failure to realise that people’s priorities were local, not constitutional or ideological.

    Sinn Féin didn’t offer the local solutions necessary and there was a sense of desperation about the party in the last election.

    It hopped from pillar to post with its policies, so much so that it didn’t even slighlty convince on the constitutional or ideological fronts.

    Perhaps it took the electorate for granted, perhaps it is bankrupt of ideas.

  • George

    New Yorker,
    I said they must have a clean record. To keep the clean record they have to fully follow through on the Quinn murder and thus dispel any suggestion that organized terrorist murders can take place on their territory and the murderers will get a pass..

    I find all this quite odd. Have you ever asked that the UK government have an impeccable record to protect its FDI?

    Money follows stability not morality. The unfortunate truth is that virtually nobody cares about the Quinn murder, and definitely not if it destabilises the economic environment.

    A whole host of terrorist murders seem to have gotten a pass in the UK and I never heard the chestnut of FDI being affected being raised as an argument. And certainly not at dinner parties on Wall Street.

    Some friends I was dining with on Wall Street two weeks ago asked me about it. It has received national coverage in the US as did the McCartney murder. And it’s obvious that the media of the Republic and the UK are covering it.

    I live in Ireland and the atmosphere regarding the Quinn murder pales into insignificance compared to the McCartney. I’ve been to a rake of dinner parties over the festive season and Sinn Féin or the Quinn murder haven’t come up once.

    Global downturns, the fall of the dollar, house prices, the EU Treaty, cocaine, Katy French, job security, sub-prime mortgages and the credit crunch were much more popular.

  • George,

    OK, if what you ay is true, and I think you are partially correct, surly Adams being seen as an outsider and by not offering himself up for election must have played a role in whether people voted for SF or not. After all he might be an outsider but he came on the southern TV etc and asked people to vote for his party, was this very fact counterproductive for SF and would they have been better to have had a southerner fronting their campaign.

  • George

    Mick Hall,
    I think you are looking for an answer to a question that even Sinn Féin haven’t been able to find.

    I’ll try. It’s too easy to blame Adams for the election results. People look at him as the leader of a movement rather than a party so it was natural that he would make an appearance.

    That wasn’t the problem. His performance wasn’t even the problem because if things were going well then he wouldn’t have been needed to step into the breach to shore up the faltering campaign.

    The problem is that in order to get elected to run an Irish economy with a 170 billion turnover you have to be more of a party than a movement.

    Movements are for the streets not what the general populace want to see in the corridors of power. Not in times of plenty at any rate.

    But what is Sinn Féin the party as opposed to Sinn Féin the movement?

    The middle class don’t trust it to be middle class, the Republicans don’t trust it to be Republican, the Socialists don’t trust it to be Socialist.

    Sinn Féin being against the Lisbon Treaty but for Europe, being against the Euro but for Europe etc. are just cases in point. The movement wants a socialist Republic but what does the party want?

    Having a southerner at the front of the vanguard would have been equally unsuccessful.

    Sinn Féin needs to shed the movement image and become like any other party, leadership battles, ambitious members looking to climb up the ladder etc.

    Otherwise it will always be thought of as a Trojan Horse sitting outside the gates looking to fool us into letting it into the citadel.

  • New Yorker

    George

    FDI is a much more important factor in the ROI than the UK. You cannot compare the two. Read the recently released government papers regarding the murder of a du Pont executive in the 1970s. The importance of FDI is even more important today. As you correctly say, stability is important and this is a situation where organized terrorist murder took place in Monaghan and one likes to see that a government has full control over all of its territory and does not have areas where terrorists have a free zone.

    I was at a business dinner and this was not the main subject but some at the table knew I follow Irish events and asked about it. It was not a Christmas season dinner just a business dinner, so the context is different than your reference.

  • George

    New Yorker,
    FDI is a much more important factor in the ROI than the UK. You cannot compare the two. Read the recently released government papers regarding the murder of a du Pont executive in the 1970s.

    Lets look at the facts as we enter 2008. Ireland has one of the lowest murder rates in the western world and the idea that somebody being beaten to death in a barn in the middle of nowhere will stop Google or whoever else investing here is laughable.

    You are comparing this murder to a bombing blitz by the IRA that was followed up by the shooting dead the head of the Du Pont Corporation in Derry and a couple of other business executives a couple of weeks later.

    Now if you want to compare a man being beaten to death in a barn with that chain of events in 1977 and somehow extrapolate that FDI will be affected off you go but I for one think it holds no water.

    I look forward to seeing your business friends investing in Ballymurphy and Crossmaglen, wonderful parts of the UK, a country where the “government has full control over all its territory and does not have areas where terrorists have a free zone”.

    P.S. You’ll be telling me people pulling out of London in their droves in the 60s because of the Krays next.

  • kensei

    “Do you feel that Gerry Adams not being a candidate in the last general election in the south played any role in SF’s failure in that poll. ”

    I think that it made it easier to paint SF as a Northern party and out of touch. But if the policy had have been right, and the campaign a bit more sure footed and sparkier, that would have been a much hard one to pull off. I think it reinforced rather than was a direct cause.

    I think if Adams had have stood somewhere and done badly, then that would have been much more damaging.

    I don’t disagree that SF is having a rough time, btw, simply that it is overplayed. SF vote percentage at the election – 7%. Last polls I’ve seen – 7%. And that’s been the same for the past 2 years. In the North there is no immediate threat. So stalled, rather than rowing backwards. Though I’ll be interested to see th effect of pulling off the more hardcore fringe that seems to be occuring since they signed up to policing.

  • “P.S. You’ll be telling me people pulling out of London in their droves in the 60s because of the Krays next.”

    George you are absolutely correct on this and I might add the same could be said for Islamic terrorist today, it is infantile to pretend as Bush Brown and Blair have that Bin Laden and co are threatening our ‘way of life’ and must rational people understand this.

  • New Yorker

    George

    You said “Lets look at the facts as we enter 2008. Ireland has one of the lowest murder rates in the western world and the idea that somebody being beaten to death in a barn in the middle of nowhere will stop Google or whoever else investing here is laughable.” The Quinn murder is totally different from a drug dealer getting shot in Dublin. Paul Quinn was murdered by an IRA gang of 20 in a highly organized manner operating in the Irish Republic. The Irish government and others told the world the IRA was out of business. Apparently that is not true. Now that must be dealt with in a convincing way. What else have they said that is unreliable?

    You seem to think us Yanks do not follow the news that is important to us in other countries. Don’t you think people at Google read the recent story in the LA Times on this matter? BTW, did you read it?

  • lib2016

    My contacts in South Armagh would be sympathetic to the SDLP, as I was myself during the Troubles. Then it was important to have leaders like Hume and the rest who stood between physical force republicans and the forces of a rogue state trying to enforce the oppression of a bygone era.

    The price of having that sort of leadership is that no-one could ever have claimed to organise them into acting together. They were dedicated individuals rather than a normal political party.

    Those days are over and the SDLP now have to find a role to unify around. Plenty of ambitious well-educated young professionals just dying to get stuck in.

    If they can be persuaded to join the local councils and do the boring repetitive chores that local representatives do then their time will come.

    Unfortunately we are going through a period when the real stars like Mallon Curry etc have left the stage and when the second-raters like Bradley, McAllister etc are blocking modernisation.

    The SDLP may threaten Sinn Fein eventually but that time is a long way off. If as looks likely the new SDLP bears a distinct resembence to Fianna Fail then there will be plenty of room for both parties since they will be canvassing a very different spectrum of voters.

  • George

    New Yorker,
    Don’t you think people at Google read the recent story in the LA Times on this matter? BTW, did you read it?

    I have read it now and the article titled Old tensions revive in Northern Ireland (I think there is a clue in the title there as to where the paper thinks the stability problem lies) talks about the “hard men of South Armagh”, about how maybe “nobody told the South Armagh boys the war was over”, about how “the Police Service of Northern Ireland patrols the streets of South Armagh, albeit in heavily armored vehicles”.

    It also says:

    “The killing in October of Paul Quinn, a 21-year-old truck driver who grew up in this sleepy emerald village — a slaying so brutal that lots of people start crying just describing what happened — has rocked the new power-sharing government in Belfast and offered a stark reminder, if any were needed, that Northern Ireland’s legacy of paramilitary violence remains alive and well in these long-turbulent borderlands.”

    Now if you want to point out to me where the LA Times asked, intimated or even mentioned how this was a test of the Irish State’s credentials, or even better, how FDI to the Irish Republic could be affected by this murder then I’m all ears.

    Otherwise I’ll continue to hold the view that your argument holds absolutely no water. Or perhaps are you talking about another article that contains something to back up what you say about how this murder is being viewed in the United States ? I could only find the one from December 12 which would also seem to back up my point that this murder is not getting the coverage that the McCartney one.

    By the way, The British government also said the IRA was out of business and I very much doubt the LA Times or any other newspaper in the US is questioning it as a FDI destination because, in case you didn’t realise, the South Armagh referred to in the LA Times is part of the UK.

  • steve

    You seem to think us Yanks do not follow the news that is important to us in other countries. Don’t you think people at Google read the recent story in the LA Times on this matter? BTW, did you read it?

    Posted by New Yorker on Dec 31, 2007 @ 05:35 AM

    I read it New Yorker, and it was off base and complete bollocks! I mean they even quoted Willy McCrea which completely destroys any credibility the story might have had

  • New Yorker

    George

    That is the article I was referring to. It is filed by a staff European reporter for the LA Times. It is a news report not an editorial. The issues you raise would be properly addressed in an editorial piece. Readers will draw their own conclusions and the murder took place on the Republic’s soil and the victim died in a hospital in Drogheda. Also, the police in the Republic have the lead position in the investigation.

    Those of us over here who follow Irish affairs know NI is a work in progress and are not impressed by the current attempt at local government. We’d like to see a good outcome but there is a cloud over Stormont and Brown is not as engaged as he should be and as Blair properly was. There are still massive law and order challenges in NI and South Armagh is not the only area that is a problem. But from the Republic’s perspective, the juncture of South Armagh, North Louth and Eastern Monaghan is the problem that needs attention and is hopefully getting it. The results of the current investigations will be watched.

    You are correct that so far the McCartney murder has received more coverage that the Quinn murder in the US. But there is over two years difference in time and Mr. and Mrs. Quinn have not been to the US yet. When and if they visit the US, there will be significant coverage.

  • New Yorker

    Steve

    Did you read the same article? I know the area and think it is on-base and perceptive. Certainly there is much more truth in the article than the frequently updated fairy tales from SF. Do you agree?

  • Steve

    Not one bit New Yorker

    they took the dissafected wet dream explanation of anti-Sinn Fein propagandists and published it as fact. Nothing I have seen bears any resemblance as to the IRA’s involvement except those that hold an anti-Sinn Fein point of view

    Even the anti-Sinn Fein representatives that are in government won’t blame Sinn Fein or any IRA members with out the full benefit of parliamentary priviledge and even he has been described as completely wrong by the police. And in fact he has shown to be a direct liar by naming an innocent man and making him the target of harrasment.

    I am no fool, I know there is a very high likely hood of some former members of the IRA and possibly even some current members being involved but since they can not control former members, and with the stripping of the command and control structures, they have only loose control of current members to call this an IRA murder is assinine at best.

    And nothing I have seen says that Paul was an angel, I think like McCartney he was playing at being a hardman when he came up against the real deal. Unfortunately for both they were in over their head before they ever knew they were swimming.

  • New Yorker

    Steve

    I believe Mr. and Mrs. Quinn and they say the IRA murdered their son. I know the area and know people like Mr. and Mrs. Quinn – good and honest people who know right from wrong. I also know SF and I wouldn’t believe a single thing they say unless there is independent verification.

    If you really believe what SF say, I feel sorry for you, most people these days see their BS for what it is. This time they really messed up and will pay the consequences, no matter how they squeal or wiggle.

    Happy New Year!

  • Steve

    Funny New Yorker, you will believe anything against Sinn Fein with out atribution or even circumstantial evidence

    But anything pro-Sinn Fein is to be believed only after third party independant confirmation and multiple sources required

    Every one with any real authority or an ability to see any of the evidence has all said the same thing. No Sinn Fein involvement, No official IRA involvement.

  • New Yorker

    Steve

    When a good and honest person tells me something, I usually believe them. When someone who has lied to me tells me something, I look for independent verification. I have been told lies by SF – and so have you. I check into what SF says, you apparently do not.

    The anti-SF position is usually the correct one. I recall they said the IRA did not kill Detective McCabe and look how that turned out. As you well know, there is a long list of lies told and the truth finally comes out. This case is no different.

  • The Quinn murder will probably do damage, but more in maintaining transfer repellence; is there really anyone who this attacks that wouldn’t have been driven off by the McCartney murder?

    Reality check alert. While the murder of Paul Quinn was absoutely repellent, an awful lot of people are buying the official Republican explanation. This includes, for example, any PSNI officer of my acquaintance (those in my close acquaintance operate in Greater Belfast), and Joe Public of various backgrounds. No-one outside the British Isles (with the exception of a few, increasingly meaningless, diaspora communities), could tell you the difference between Cross, Carrickmacross, Killarney or Carrickfergus). To those who are going to disagree, I would require you to give me a brief resumé of the ethic balance along the Kosovo-Serbia-Macedonia-Montenegro-Albania frontier before I believe you aren’t blowing your own trumpet.

    The problem for the Shinners, is that those in the immediate vicinity (by which I mean not just South Armagh, but the immediate vicinity of Cross, Cullyhanna and Silverbridge), especially those who knew Paul most direcly, tend to believe the family’s story. There are two problems here – firstly, cross-contamination: those in the area pass their understanding to their friends, and that gradually spreads across Ireland; secondly, the unique relationship of South Armagh to traditional physical-force Republicanism. If the Shinners lose Cross and Cullyhanna, where is loyal to them? It’s like Alliance getting a tanking in Holywood or Kircubbin. They’d be well advised to shut people like Dominic Murphy up and let Coly Burns, Terry Hearty and the Carraghers handle matters.

    But Silverbridge ain’t Silver Spring and anyone thinking that this murder, at this stage, would have an impact on American industrial opinion needs their head examined.

    “Do you feel that Gerry Adams not being a candidate in the last general election in the south played any role in SF’s failure in that poll

    You’re all making a big analytical mistake. Of course, Gerry was a weirdo, Nordie, foreigner, but is the spectacular election result in the North invalidated by the disappointing one in the South? The Shinners still own, by and large, Nationalist areas in the North. If you have any sense in politics, you ensure you do, those things you already do well, even better.

    Is that outweighed by an upset in Dublin (and it is Dublin we’re talking about)? I don’t think so. Of course the result in the Republic is disappointing for SF. That causes problems in the North because of the the Shinners lose the the air of invulnerability . But at the end of the day, North is North and South is South; Gerry didn’t make a tit of himself up here in the way he did down there. The Shinners would still wil 28 or so seats in an Assembly election up here, if it were held tomorrow.

    I spend a lot of time knocking doors and the SF vote isn’t slipping in Belfast at all. I’d guess we’ll do better out of SDLP transfers than we did this year (already well ahead of SF in Greater Belfast); all feels good at present. It could be wishful thinking on my part, but I don’t think so. The SDLP are doing OK, but the only people who actually remember Margaret Ritchie’s name are in UDA-run estates; hardly natural SDLP territory (but there is a point in doing what is right just because it is right). Things are better for us in Alliance than for some years, and I’d hazard we’d get 70-75% of SDLP transfers in metropolitan Belfast plus 10-15% of Shinners direct.

    But the SF core vote isn’t budging. If the Shinners have an Achilles Heel, it’s because of water charges, but the dummheit of the journalistic class prevents them spotting this as a problem.

    Shit happens, that’s life, and I’ve had a few tonight, but that’s my take on the world. And as I said, I’ve knocked more doors than, I would guess, anyone since March.

  • The Dubliner

    You’re not far off the mark with some of that analysis, Sammy. I think PSF have inoculated their voters with the understanding that their interests and the party’s best interests is the same thing. In that movement/cult mentality, the party is the end rather than the means to an end. Essentially, it exists to serve the interests of those who are part of that insular movement and has no other function. It is ‘Ourselves Alone’ – even if they are alone and huddled together in a political cul-de-sac. So, it really doesn’t matter to the success of PSF in the north if PSF don’t prosper in the south. Their so-called ‘republican strategy’ of furthering Irish unity by gaining power on both sides of the border can fail abysmally (as it did in the Republic’s election) and their voters will drop all mention of the failed strategy as quickly as PSF do. The failure to achieve that goal (which was once the core objective of their supporters) is no longer relevant to the new dispensation where PSF has power within the UK and the people are happy with that internal settlement because PSF is happy with it. With that kind of devoted grassroots, they could manipulate their supporters into supporting the monarchy – and they would do if that is what the British government compelled them to do in return for power. It is also why they will withstand an onslaught from FF. FF really don’t understand the dynamics, and I doubt that the SDLP will fill them in on it. In the north, FF will be seen as ‘outsiders’ by that huge chunk of nationalists who support PSF. When they attack PSF, the ‘insiders’ will support their own against the outsiders, having the effect of consolidating PSF support up there. You just have to look at how their supporters will overlook the 40 murders that PSF/PIRA have committed since their ceasefire and the hundreds of millions they have stashed away in ill-gotten gains to grasp how profoundly abnormal it all is.

  • Steve

    Sammy
    the few you had i would say gave you insight you dont normaly allow on these pages

    Dubliner
    In my view in the North the republicans have understood that Sinn Fein has replaced physical force republicanism with political force republicanism and that is what has allowed the ascencion of Sinn Fein

    SDLP
    have always failed to capture the imagination of the general republican population because while they embraced political republicanism they didnt embrace political force republicanism. i believe that republicans will no longer accept just the scraps thrown from the masters table, unfortunately thats exactly what people see the SDLP as. beggars for scraps thrown from the table and until they recognize this they will never enjoy the success the believe they deserve.

    Of course I am a total outsider and accept you all are smarter than i am but i have an ability to generally see through the fog and get to the heart of the matter. You are smarter than me tell me why the SDLP has not enjoyed any gains from the present dispensation

    But leave off the intimidation of the IRA in the voting booth malarkey, because as long as it is a annonymous vote then thats just bollocks made up to make the losers feel better.

    I do not believe in, but can understand that there was at one time a need for physical force republicanism but now is the time for political force republicanism and the fact that only Sinn Fein has seemed to understand this is a credit to them and debit to the SDLP

  • lib2016

    Dubliner,

    All the years of resisting smear tactics have innoculated SF supporters. It’s not enough to blame everything on themmuns. Unless you can show us convictions rather than charges which are later quietly dropped you will get nowhere.

    There are too many things which don’t add up – remember how all the drugs were down to republicans? It has emerged that British Intelligence was using the drugs trade to finance illegal loyalist paramilitaries.

    Similarly there’s the Castlereagh raid which suited the same British Intelligenge people and where the perpetrators not only didn’t care about their faces being shown on CCCTV and knew the passwords for internal doors within the Castlereagh complex. Most damming of all the chef who we were all assured was the main republican suspect has tried to give himself up and the British authorities don’t want to know.

    The so-called Stormont Spy-ring where the only confirmed member was the British agent.

    Or the ‘disappearing’ white vans from the Northern Bank robbery, again involving people who seemed to have no fear of appearing on-camera. Seems to me there might have been a few British operatives who wanted to put something in their retirement piggy banks.

    We’re now well down the path of creating a two-party nationalist system in the North with Sinn Fein becoming an ever more acceptable member of an emerging broad-left strategy in the South.

    Forcing Fianna Fail to consider moving North is a sign of the success of the 32-county strategy. One only moves to counter a real and substantial threat.

    You openly show your contempt for the Sinn Fein electorate – a strange point of view for someone who claims to love democracy and the very attitude which has led to the death of traditional unionism.

    The voters aren’t sheep – not the Sinn Fein voters nor the DUP supporters either.

  • lib2016

    Steve,

    For good reason the older generation of the SDLP find it hard to forgive republicans for all the years of physical intimidation. It was a dirty mean war on all sides except the SDLP who were the only people to emerge with their moral character untainted. Now, as you have pointed out they seem to be reaping little reward.

    It will take time for a mature nationalist middleclass electorate to emerge but the signs are already there in places like Glengormley. In time the old crocks who are blocking change will go and a new generation of SDLP will take their place. Durkan is no mean strategist and knows that in present circumstances all he can do is hold the party together.

    The worst thing for the SDLP to do at the moment would be to engage in opportunist attacks on the Shinners. The greatest card the SDLP hold is their integrity. Lose that and they lose everything, a point they know well and the reason why they don’t want to get too close any of the Southern parties.

    The North is not a mature democracy and that has to be remembered when comparing North and South.

  • Sammy

    Your normally give us an excellent analysis, but you are wide off the mark with this one. Sure SF can continue to exist as an important section of Unionist politics, they will continue to hover up the ‘catholic’ vote, but unless they make a break through in the south that is all they will be, a big fish in a very small unionist pond and make no mistake without a war the politics of the north will become increasingly irrelevant compared with that of the south

    If SF fail the next time around to make a break through in the south, SF’s raison det’re to exist will have been removed and the Adams cliques whole political strategy will have proved to have been a failure; and remember it was never about governing at Stormont in tandem with Paisley and co, but completing the Irish democratic socialist revolution and in the process reuniting the nation politically. It should not be forgotten that is why men and women went out to kill and put their lives on the line, having shinners at Stormont never entered the equation.

    Thus if this does occur those dissident republicans who have said all along that Adams had been lulled into supporting a british strategy for Ireland will have been proved correct.

    This will coarse immense demoralizations within the ranks of SF and its core support base in the north the consequences of which are still unforeseen.

  • George

    New Yorker,
    is your ignoring the question your way of admitting that the LA Times article you mentioned in no way backs up what you are trying to argue?

    In fact, can you provide any American, British or even Irish media outlet (hell, let’s go the whole hog and say any reputable media source on the planet) that has argued that the investigation of the Quinn murder is a test of the Irish State’s credentials.

    If you are unable to do so, I’ll just have to continue to assume your view not only holds no water but that you are one of the only people on the planet espousing it.

  • Dewi

    “that the investigation of the Quinn murder is a test of the Irish State’s credentials.”

    I reckon it’s a huge test in the whole credibility of policing in the border area – in either jurisdiction.

  • Steve

    Lib
    I wasn’t suggesting that the SDLP should attack Sinn Fein as I don’t believe this is a wise strategy. They just end up looking like they are attacking their own communities.

    I think regardless of the legal outcome, Margaret Ritchie scored a stunning victory in cancelling the UDA funding. But the SDLP failed to build on that and if they can not find momentum and keep going they will always be the #2 nationalist party regardless of FF involvement.

    To me, and I admit to being a complete outsider, the nationalist population, especially the younger generation, just will not accept second class anything and they expect their leaders to get out and make opportunities for them.

    The SDLP seems to be stuck in the past, they want to quietly sit on their laurels and take what is offered. Now maybe behind closed doors they are forceful and demanding but unless they can convey that message to the electorate they will be hard pressed to make any gains.

  • lib2016

    Steve,

    I agree with your analysis. My only comment would be that I think the current position with the SDLP merely hanging on is due partly to the unwillingness of the older generation to move on, and partly the need to wait for a more confident and hopefully cross community middleclass to emerge.

    Sinn Fein has had such success in its takeover of the centre left in the North that the SDLP will of necessity have to occupy the populist right position.

    That leaves them exposed since they are still a party of protest in most of Ireland but they aren’t fools and will devise suitable policies.

  • lib2016

    Steve,

    I agree with your analysis. My only comment would be that I think the current position with the SDLP merely hanging on is due partly to the unwillingness of the older generation to move on, and partly the need to wait for a more confident and hopefully cross community middleclass to emerge.

    Sinn Fein has had such success in its takeover of the centre left in the North that the SDLP will of necessity have to occupy the populist right position.

    That leaves them exposed since they are still a party of protest in most of Ireland but they aren’t fools and will devise suitable policies.

  • New Yorker

    George

    You question was not ignored. Did you not read the above – “It is filed by a staff European reporter for the LA Times. It is a news report not an editorial. The issues you raise would be properly addressed in an editorial piece.” Readers will draw their own conclusions with the LA Times article as they will with The Economist article, etc. It’s mystifying that you do not understand the difference between reportage and an editorial.

    It doesn’t take that many readers drawing the conclusion I highlight to make a difference. A few key perceptive people in business or government. You can be sure the appropriate people at the US State Department are following this matter carefully, although I do not know what their conclusions are. If they decide the Dublin government is slacking off on bringing the Quinn murder operation gang to justice they could, for instance, call for a review of tax accounting practices of US corporations with operations in the ROI.

  • DC

    I tend to agree with you Mick Hall on this one, and re:

    “This will coarse immense demoralizations within the ranks of SF and its core support base in the north the consequences of which are still unforeseen.”

    True. To remain as neutral as possible, honestly, from what I have witnessed of the Assembly, Sinn Fein are woeful. Very poor and in many ways some of the backbench DUP MLAs are similar too. It’s very hard to see any real ‘eureka’ coming from them at this current rate.

    The all consuming nature both of time and thought on executing NI policy will eat up both DUP and SF grinding them down.

    Perhaps it just me but the way Adams comes across is dated in terms of what passes as political debate elsewhere. Recall your minds back to a clip that Mick posted on here which was by the BBC, the name of the programme escapes me, but in that I thought Adams was dreadful, little or no ideas for the future. In that clip the presenter made mention of Slugger O’Toole.

    So now since the post-GFA98 environment and post peace process and now with a bad Southern election I believe SF are running on empty. Perhaps a replacement tank may be needed too.

    Re SDLP and FF. If I were FF members I would stay clear of merger and build naturally for societal values as per what is offered in the party just across the ‘porous’ border.

    Mergers unless under totalitarian firm hand usually become messy. Change is the hardest thing to manage and the SDLP haven’t managed, yet, to out-manoeuvre SF in that pushing them off ground that was once their own. Or winning over the younger voter.

    This is a bizarre situation for the SDLP becuase they do have a very functioning youth group.

  • British Patriot