Town Hall Meetings

Sinn Fein seems well under way with its latest round of “town hall meetings.” These meetings have attracted a considerable amount of derision in the past. In this mutli media age the idea of a meeting in a provincial town does seem quaint and indeed slightly foolish. In addition from an organisation like Sinn Fein which seems to brook no internal dissent the idea of meetings seems silly. The presumption is that they will be completely stage managed and indeed pointless.I would submit, however, that these meetings are extremely useful and may well be quite important in driving the republican movement forwards. An organisation like SF which is still as much a “movement” as a political party may well find these events extremely useful. It allows the grass roots to feel that they are still influencing the direction of travel of the organisation. It also allows the leadership, who will still retain very considerable control of the meetings, to imply that they are listening to the concerns of those not in positions of influence within the organisation. The meetings may, in reality, have some genuine effect in telling the SF leadership where their supporters feel they are and where indeed they should be going. SF, I am sure, remember that the SDLP grew out of the civil rights movement and has now become in no way a “movement” but instead the at times rather marginalised South Down and Londonderry Party. That is a fate I am sure Adams, McGuinness and the others are very aware of and determined to ensure will not befall the republican movement.

The republican grass roots may well be a little unsure of the way ahead now. I am sure the chuckle coalition caused some raised eyebrows in their ranks but the apoplectic rage it cause amongst many unionists may well have made them feel that it could not all be bad and indicated that they were indeed doing “alright” in spite of a lack of progress on most republican touchstone issues. In the new regime with a much less friendly attitude from Robinson, seemingly popular with many DUPers, and still little progress on their issues, the republican grass roots may be a little unsure. As such, town hall meetings may well help reassure and indeed may be a useful way to pick up some inkling of how their people are thinking.

The other interesting question which these town hall meeting raises is are they related to preparing the ground for another major event such as an end to the Army Council but that is another topic for another day.

  • Turgon: A theological point but Sinn Fein was part of a movement, the Republican Movement, controlled by the PIRA Army Council. Something like the Franciscans and the Capuchins with lots of skeletons in the cupboard. Of course, with Jim Gibney and other worthies around, not all things are in the cupboard. I feel the guiding hand of the Army Council, which never included anyone we might all know, derserves its historical footnote.
    The meetings will be good for Speical Branch overtime and for checking that party activists are crowing the party line. Very useful. The movement’s old allies, Nazi Germany, had time for them too.

  • truth

    I was at one of the Sinn Fein meetings in the slieve Russell hotel on the Fermanagh Cavan Border last friday night and it was totally staged managed. At least half the seats that were laid out were empty, compaired to the meeting 12 months regarding policing where the hall was packed. There was little disent from the crowd and the few Questions like what was happening regarding the Suspension of Fermanagh Councillor Bernice Swift was totally ignored. I thought Sinn Fein didnt address any major issuses for republicans other than say they thought the DUP and British would honour there commitements? no explaination on how they would ensure this would happen
    (1)the Irish language act
    (2)policing and justice powers
    (3)the maze stadium
    (4)MI5 and there new fortress
    these are some of the issues that Sinn Fein have failed on, i find it strange that Sinn Fein are going around the country celebrating the Good Friday Aggrement all they have achieved is putting a DUP dominated executive in place.

  • amy

    turgon: stick to subjects you know something about, like unionism and keep away from sinn fein, about which, i suspect, you know very little. there are several reasons that sinn fein holds “family meetings” and one of the most important is that this mechanism allows them to identify critics and potential troublemakers who they can then deal with. the rest will be suitably intimidated and unlikely to speak out.

  • The Raven

    Oh here! Are they having any in the North Coast area??

    I’d love to go and be a potential troublemaker! Pretty please!!!!

  • The Raven

    Oh. Oh I just checked. They only got as close as Toomebridge, though I note that this meeting covered North Antrim too.

    I must dig out my old grammar school geography books and revise. And there I thought it was only history that suffered from revision.

  • Mark McGregor

    I think the true test of these meetings is if any policy or directional shift comes about through the process. If the outcome is an absolute rubber stamping of the leadership direction it will have been an entirely pointless exercise. No party is getting it right 100% all of the time and from the reviews I’ve read these meetings are being reported as showing complete agreement with every element of SF policy bar some small issues or issues that SF are not responsible for. For a start I can’t believe that the place of Socialism in Republican struggle and Stormont’s actions in this area don’t seem to have been raised at all but then again maybe all those that think ‘Labour can’t wait’ have stopped waiting and gone.

  • percy

    Turgies, when you want something real bad, because they’ve stolen your pride, its like knocking on heavens door:

  • Bigger Picture

    Anyone want to know if it is a unionist or republican agenda is at Stormont?? Just take a peak at truth’s post above at 2.

  • Gregory

    “The meetings will be good for Speical Branch overtime and for checking that party activists are crowing the party line.”

    They are too busy at DENI.

    CEOP/NCIS knew about most of the major child abuse scandals. They didn’t do anything because the victims were not American.

    A Squinter type observation. (a)

    ‘But something struck me as a little fuzzy about the figures: 297 arrests, they said. Well, that’s fine – but we all know that arrests are not the same as convictions. So how many people have actually been charged or convicted as a result of Ceop’s work?’

    Reuters amended their CEOP coverage as the thought hit them that they were reading a press release boasting of zero detections and zero CEOP arrests. That may be the sum of it.

    ‘That information wasn’t so forthcoming. When I spoke to Ceop this afternoon, a spokesman said that the organisation didn’t actually know how many of those arrests had resulted in legal action. He said that this was because Ceop worked in conjunction with a wide range of local and international forces, and it didn’t keep track of how cases had progressed. “These cases by their nature take a long time to come to court,” he said.’

    THat means it doesn’t keep track of linked offenders, the second bigest group of sex offenders arrested in the UK, are subjects gleaned from initial FBI targets.

    Please note for DENI watchers, that Jim Gamble, the person in charge of keeping track of sex offenders, is admitting he doesn’t keep track of them.

    Special Branch run DENI


  • Gregory

    “Anyone want to know if it is a unionist or republican agenda is at Stormont??”

    Good question. I think the mportant stuff was pre-sorted by our real masters.


  • Mark McGregor

    RSF members are claiming they were prevented from attending the Silverbridge public meeting and they were photographed while protesting outside.

  • harry

    photographed by senior PSF people too. i wonder what file those photos will end up in??

  • Gregory

    “and they were photographed while protesting outside. ”

    Good for them, I get real bothered if nobody turns up to take a few photos.

    The worse photo of me was at Stormont looking like a KGB operative.

    ‘Carlin called the school’s suggestion to wear a crucifix lapel pin just “rubbing salt into the wounds”. A crucifix worn around the neck has been a long-standing Christian tradition and a crucifix lapel pin would be much harder to come by.’

    I said lapel pins were for confraternity medals, and crucifixes were sacramentals. Let us not hinder the power of the press to elaborate along appropriate lines.

    The thing is,

    I was photographed protesting. Problem was, I looked like I escaped from a gulag.

    So dere you have it.


  • get real

    It was interesting to receive an invite to the meeting for Fermanagh/Cavan sent in a house of commons pre paid envelope. Public money for office costs is not allowed to be spent on anything to further political party agendas. Perhaps the British Government didn’t mind in this case as they need to keep Stormont going at all costs.

  • Republican Sinn Féin protesters were refused entry to what was billed as a ‘public meeting’ at the Silverbridge Resource Centre in County Armagh on the evening of Tuesday, 22nd April.

    Whilst the protest continued outside the venue, a member of a well-known South Armagh Provo family photographed those protesting in a blatant attempt at intimidation. Three carloads of RUC personnel also drove by in convoy in order to monitor the protest.

    The meeting had been arranged in order to bolster support for the Stormont Agreement and the Assembly established by it. Republican Sinn Féin had intended to enter the meeting to voice their opposition to the Stormont Agreement and to calls for the Nationalist population to turn informers for the British Crown Forces. They also sought to point out that Republican prisoners were suffering as a result of the criminalisation policy willingly endorsed by the Provisionals.

    A spokesman for the organisation added that such tactics would not prevent them from confronting the Provisionals and other agents of English rule in Ireland.

  • The Raven

    F**k’s sake, Greg, would you give the Fox Mulder stuff a rest….