Send Sinn Fein to ‘re-negotiate’ Lisbon?

Gerry Adams quite rightly praised his party’s southern Referendum team. Although, he might have been better advised to let a rather more impartial observer identify it as a ‘Mary Lou’ factor. The team, notable for the absence of the Dail team, was youthful, thoughtful and reasonable. So reasonable that it has occurred to Fintan O’Toole that they, rather than Brian Cowen should be asked to ‘re-negotiate’ the arrangements for the future (subs needed).

I want to make a suggestion that many readers will find disturbing and that some will see as fanciful. But I don’t make it in any spirit of facetiousness or bluff-calling. Things are far too serious for any such self-indulgence. The job to be done now is to mediate between the Irish refusenik majority on one side and the leadership of our EU partners on the other. I want to suggest that while no one is ideally placed to do that, one party is much better placed than any other. That party is Sinn Féin. The people have spoken and Sinn Féin comes closer than anyone else to speaking for them.

I say this for two reasons. One is that Sinn Féin, unlike the other major No factions, is a national political party. This is not true of, for example Libertas, whose prominence in the No campaign was purely a function of money. (It is ironic that Libertas, the least transparent and accountable body ever to have played a major role in Irish democratic politics, campaigned for transparency and accountability in Europe.) Neither is it true of Youth Defence (which declined to seek a mandate by deciding not to campaign under its own name) or of the many small left-wing groups whose energy and activism contributed greatly to the strength of the No vote but who would not claim a broad national profile.

The second reason why Sinn Féin is best placed to articulate the No vote is the nature of its campaign. Its main advocates, Mary Lou McDonald and Pádraig MacLochlainn, performed very impressively and, for the most part, without resorting to hysteria.

The coincidence of the highest No votes with areas where Sinn Féin is strong suggests that it was also very effective on the ground. And crucially, Sinn Féin’s whole appeal was based on a simple proposition: “A Better Deal In Europe”. The argument it made, and that a majority of the people bought, was that, if we voted No, we could go back to the table, get a better deal on a range of issues, and vote again. Whether you think this is true or not (and I don’t), the fact is that the Irish people chose to believe that it is.

The one patent absurdity in Sinn Féin’s otherwise effective argument is the repeated contention that “A No vote on June 12th will give the Irish Government a strong mandate to negotiate a better deal for Ireland”. It is pure nonsense to suggest that a No vote gave the Government a mandate to do anything. You get a mandate by winning the popular vote, not by losing it. The peoples’ democratic verdict is that it does not trust the Government to negotiate on its behalf in this area of vital national interest. The people trust Mary Lou McDonald much more than they trust Brian Cowen to do a deal for us in Europe. The political establishment can’t cop out from that reality – but neither can Sinn Féin.

It’s an intriguing thought experiment. He suggest the following format:

Replace Dick Roche as Minister for European Affairs with, say, Pádraig MacLochlainn (via the Seanad). Give him the sincere and whole-hearted backing of the apparatus of the State to deal with the EU leadership. If he gets a fraction of what Sinn Féin believes to be attainable, it will be a wonderful achievement. If he doesn’t, the electorate will at least know a fundamental premise of the No vote was mistaken.

Aye. And perhaps, one day, pigs will fly too Fintan? 🙂

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  • An Lochlannach

    By ‘Padraig Mac Lochlainn’ does he mean ‘Pearse Doherty’?

  • Ulsters my homeland

    support the terrorists, vote IRA/Sinn Fein!

  • Greenflag

    I can just see Mary Lou expounding to the EU leaders the benefits of the D’hondt system and the way ‘true democracy’ works in Northern Ireland . I see one European First Minister with 26 Deputy First Ministers . But what I don’t see is an outside Exchequer with the dollars to bankroll this ‘new People’s Europe’ Northern Ireland is lucky it has Westminster to turn to, to support it’s ‘democratic experiment’

    Who would Mary Lou suggest the EU should turn to ?

  • Quagmire

    “support the terrorists, vote IRA/Sinn Fein!”
    Posted by Ulsters my homeland on Jun 17, 2008 @ 03:45 PM

    Whats this got to do with Lisbon? You sound like the way Enda Kenny did last week on Q&A;and it only goes to prove that in both cases the same old tactic is being employed i.e. we don’t have a coherent argument so lets play the IRA card. People are getting bored of this tripe and the result in the referendum goes some way to prove this. SF are the second largest party in the north and I believe this result on Lisbon goes some way to prove that they are evermore increasingly becoming a more acceptable proposition to the southern electorate.

  • Quagmire

    “Northern Ireland is lucky it has Westminster to turn to, to support it’s ‘democratic experiment’”
    Posted by Greenflag on Jun 17, 2008 @ 04:07 PM

    We are all a victim of the circumstances we find ourselves in within the 6 county arrangement. It was one which was forced upon the nationalist people of the north and I think given the choice I’m sure SF and the nationalist electorate in Ireland’s north-east would rather partition didn’t happen in the first instance hence there would have been no need to rely on the London exchequer. The reason we turn to Westminster for financial support is because we are their problem because they decided to partition the Island. They created the problem.

  • Reader

    Quagmire: The reason we turn to Westminster for financial support is because we are their problem because they decided to partition the Island. They created the problem.
    However, unlike SF and the IRA, Westminster never set out to destroy jobs and businesses in Northern Ireland. Of course, you might believe that SF and the IRA were completely ineffectual in their attempts to do this. Or you might feel that the businessmen and workers deserved their losses for their failure to take up arms against Westminster rule or partition.

  • Quagmire

    “Westminster never set out to destroy jobs and businesses in Northern Ireland”
    Posted by Reader on Jun 17, 2008 @ 04:45 PM

    No they just turned a blind eye to decades of Unionist misrule then engaged in a process and a policy of colluding with loyalist paramilitaries in order to murder a section of their own citizenry. Indeed sometimes they were less than subtle in relation to this form of ethnic cleansing i.e. Bloody Sunday! Ask Pat Finucane’s family about Britain’s alleged non-partisan role in the north and I’m sure they would have an interesting story to tell you.

  • picador

    Send Sinn Fein to ‘re-negotiate’ Lisbon?

    Get the Ra to bomb Brussels first.

  • nineteensixtyseven

    Hopefully not if their St Andrews negotiations are anything to go by.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    [b]Quagmire[/b]

    “support the terrorists, vote IRA/Sinn Fein!”

    [i]”Whats this got to do with Lisbon?”[/i]

    maybe you don’t know but the terrorists supported the no vote.

  • Steve

    Ulstersyourhomeland

    maybe you don’t know but the terrorists supported the no vote.

    ???? I thought the RUC had been decomissioned

  • Ulsters my homeland

    Steve, the RUC protected life. Maybe your frustration with them is because you were unfortunate enough to be connected with the people who the RUC were searching for, ie- terrorists.

  • Steve

    Maybe the RUC protected your life, your catholic neighbours werent so lucky

    But then you know the old saying one mans freedom fighter is another mans terrorist

    And they didnt have to look too hard for terrorists they had tea with them every day

  • UFB

    “Steve, the RUC protected life”

    Aye, of course they did

    http://www.relativesforjustice.com/?pid=38

    Perjurious murderers

  • Quagmire

    “maybe you don’t know but the terrorists supported the no vote.”
    Posted by Ulsters my homeland on Jun 17, 2008 @ 06:02 PM

    You claim that Ulster is your homeland. Within the occupied 6 of the overall 9 counties of Ulster SF have over 25% of the electorate’s support. They also return a TD from the Cavan-Monaghen constituencey and were within a whisker of returning a further 2 members to the Dail in the 2 Donegal constituency s. They also have representation in Seanad Eireann (upper house), in the form of Pearse Doherty, a fellow Ulster man. Are you suggesting that such a large proportion of your fellow Ulster men/women are terrorist sympathisers? What an offensive remark to make to such a large and diverse range of people. It only serves to highlight your own ignorance and introspective perspective on matters. But then again the same can be said off political Unionism.

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    Gerry and Mary Lou seem to be taking all the credit for the NO vote. And they sure are milking it. Gas to think that they are in the same camp now as the UKIP and the Conservatives and it has been mooted that Ireland should rejoin ‘Pound Sterling’ as the No vote may leave us marginalized in Europe. Perhaps Gerry and Mary Lou can offer their alternative solution to the dilemma that the EU is now in. But somehow I don’t think they have any. After Gerry’s rather appaling and disappointing performance on RTE during the last election down south, it was revealed that he is not some brooding insightful mastermind, but rather an uninformed amadan of sorts, ignorant of day to day politics, economics, etc.. of which when questioned will always give an off the topic answer that refers to human rights, etc…instead!

  • Mick Fealty

    Come on guys. I don’t want to stifle debate, but try, for once, to stick to the subject!! We’ve heard this discussion a hundred times before. The post was about a possible renegotiation of Lisbon and SF’s bright young (and non military) Referendum team.

    – Thank you Greagoir…

  • LOL

    My god, going by their track record in negotiations, that should finish SF once and for all in the south, if they deliver for them in Europe what they got for Republicans in the north! Is Fintan O’Toole completely mad?

  • kensei

    GOF

    Gerry and Mary Lou seem to be taking all the credit for the NO vote. And they sure are milking it.

    Er, you have seen politicians before, right?

    Gas to think that they are in the same camp now as the UKIP and the Conservatives and it has been mooted that Ireland should rejoin ‘Pound Sterling’ as the No vote may leave us marginalized in Europe.

    Not by SF, the chances are 0% so – and…?

    Perhaps Gerry and Mary Lou can offer their alternative solution to the dilemma that the EU is now in. But somehow I don’t think they have any.

    There is a fairly comprehensive list of “wants” from SF up on Balrog. That isn’t a “solution” in the sense that they’d need agreement elsewhere but it is a platform. You may not agree with it, but that isn’t the same as it not being there.

    After Gerry’s rather appaling and disappointing performance on RTE during the last election down south, it was revealed that he is not some brooding insightful mastermind, but rather an uninformed amadan of sorts, ignorant of day to day politics, economics, etc.. of which when questioned will always give an off the topic answer that refers to human rights, etc…instead!

    What the hell has the last election campaign to do with this referendum campaign? Adams hasn’t even been particularly prominent in this campaign, the whole point of the post is that SF pushed out younger members to take the lead.

  • abucs

    If the Irish Government had any backbone, or respect for the electorate, it would call together a summit and go through what the major objections are. It would then look for support in Europe in promoting these amendments.

    I hope it will not cower in the corner and hope to push it through a second time after the electorate realise they are going to do jack sh*t about respecting their vote.

    Sinn Fein may have won a mini public relations coup but now is when it really counts. They should push for a nation wide summit (with their fellow ‘NO’ partners) and look for support within Europe IMHO.

    They should put pressure on the main Irish parties to either organise this or at least attend and participate.

    The leverage the ‘NO’ camp have is the issue of whether the government respects the voice of the Irish electorate enough to act, or not.

    As the article said, being a national party and having members in Europe Sinn fein are best placed to push for this summit and garner international support. It will be hard work and good luck to them in getting the government to act.

    Inevitably it will be the Irish government who have the resources and responsibilty to make a difference IMHO.

  • Greenflag

    abucs ,

    ‘They should put pressure on the main Irish parties to either organise this or at least attend and participate.

    Of the 166 TD’s in the Dail -6 support the NO side .Please tell us exactly how 6 put pressure on 166 ?

    ‘it will be the Irish government who have the resources and responsibilty to make a difference IMHO.’

    Make a difference to what ? You surely don’t expect the Irish Government and the main opposition parties to go out of their way to help the NO side formulate their REAL objections to the Treaty as opposed to the imaginary ones they dreamed up courtesy of Libertas and a shower of ultra right wing nut jobs ?

    Britain will today ratify the Lisbon Treaty leaving Ireland well and truly up the creek without a paddle and soon enough without even a canoe 🙁

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    “Adams hasn’t even been particularly prominent in this campaign,”

    Really! ye should have seen him and Mary Lou strut their stuff around Dublin city, visiting the salt of the earth folk down traditional old Dublin streets like Moore St, etc…Unfortunately they’re so outta touch that they failed to realize that Moore St is now home to our immigrant population, Dubs are somewaht rare to be seen here as they’re off up in the Jervis Centre or around the corner in Henry St. spending all their big bucks in Debenhams etc…

    Besides all the bluster about the working class, and ‘common people’s rights’ Mary Lou (and Gerry too) enjoys all the trappings of a comfy middle class lifestyle living in the leafy suburbs of Dublin. They claim to champion the common folk but they are no better than the rest of the politicians who exploit the common folk!

  • joeCanuck

    I don’t believe that anyone from Ireland can renegotiate and then that Ireland will hold another referendum and if the result is “Yes”, everything will be hunky dory. Surely all the countries that have already ratified will have to do it all over again. And, if Ireland is given something “extra”, there will be demands by other countries for their “extra” too.
    The whole thing is dead in the water for another 7 years.

  • Dave

    This again demonstrates that the EU has had a profoundly destructive effect on democracy, not just on the practice of it but on healthy respect for the concept. Yet democracy is the most precious of all of the possessions of a nation state. It should be exalted, not systematically undermined and devalued. It is deliberately subverted in this way by the EU as part of its campaign to dupe the citizens of its member states into transferring the powers of their democracy to the EU, thereby engineering the evolution from a common market to a common country.

    The sovereignty, independence, territorial borders, and right to self-determination of member states MUST be transferred from member states to the EU in order for ‘Europe’ to become a state as it is obliged to do under the Treaty of Rome; and, rather obviously, it can only do this at the direct expense of sovereignty, independence, territorial borders, and right to self-determination of its member states (since these are the attributes that it must gain possession of in order to be a state). Therefore, this conflict of interest between serving the interests of member states and actively seeking to undermine them is the core dynamic.

    You are seeing this core dynamic in the insidious propaganda which informs you to act as though you had no right sovereignty, independence, territorial borders, and right to self-determination as a nation state and, indeed, have no right to be a nation state or to exercise the powers of your own democracy that are invested in you by those inalienable rights. They don’t state that you have no such rights (for such a statement would be automatically refuted): they lead you to conclude by organised propaganda that it is in your best interests and the best interests of the other member states within the EU to transfer these powers to the EU wherein others will exercise them on your behalf.

    To this end, you are encouraged to practice the Robert Mugabe School of Democracy: the result of a democratic vote doesn’t serve your EU agenda, then undermine the result of that democratic vote and proceed regardless of the democratically expressed will of the people. Short of claiming vote-rigging and fraud in the system, they must claim that the people were defrauded by a motley alliance of malcontents who tricked the people into rejecting the EU’s blueprint when they really were in favour of it and would have voted in favour if they were not tricked by said motley assortment of malcontents. Ergo, they must be given the right to show that they support the EU’s blueprint for a super state (err, sorry, for helpful and mutually beneficial ‘reforms’) by holding a second referendum. Naturally, this can’t be as blatant a display of abject contempt for democracy as the re-run of the Nice Treaty, so the Lisbon Treaty should be tweaked a little to accommodate the feckless and ungrateful Irish and presented to them again until (but only until) they vote in support of the EU. If the No-side loses the re-run, naturally they would not be entitled to another re-run (only the pro-EU side has that right under the Robert Mugabe School of Democracy).

    You must pretend that you didn’t have a Unanimity Rule wherein the treaty was defunct if the ratification was not unanimous. Instead, you must further undermine the democratic process by proceeding with ratification, ignoring the Unanimity Rule because it produced a result that doesn’t serve your conspiratorial agenda. You must pretend that the referendum was not a zero-sum option of yes or no, but rather that it was a list of pick-and-choose options wherein the obvious solution is to remove what the Irish voted ‘No’ to and proceed with the rest. To this end, you must plant ‘polls’ in the media which redefine the poll as pick-and-choose rather than zero-sum.

    And so the Irish are once again indoctrinated with the propaganda that they have no right to determine their own future, no right to be a nation in control of their state, but must redefine democracy as meaning ‘rule of a people by a parliament that is not elected by them and wherein they have 0.8% control over their own legislative affairs’ rather than meaning “a system of government by which political sovereignty is retained by the people and either exercised directly by citizens or through their elected representatives.”

    Yup, they must put their democracy in the hands of those who hold abject contempt for democracy. Alternatively, they could begin the process of de-colonisation and regain control over their own internal affairs by opting out of the EU if the rest of them continue to pervert democracy and proceed with ratification, and watch as the EU integration project collapses under the weight of its own bloated bureaucracy, inefficiency, and internal dissent.

  • George

    Sinn Féin have come out with what they want:

    · The retention of a permanent Commissioner for all member states

    · The retention of the Nice Treaty formulae for qualified majority voting

    · The removal of all 8 self-amending articles including the simplified revision procedure in Article 48

    · The removal of Article 46a giving the EU a single legal personality

    · A strengthened protocol on the role of member state parliaments

    · A significantly expanded protocol on the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality including the aims and values of the EU

    · Substantial amendments to aspects of the Common Foreign and Security Policy

    · Substantial amendments to the section of Common Defence and Security Policy

    · A new protocol on neutrality

    · A strengthened social clause

    · A substantially revised protocol on vital public services

    · Amendments to articles dealing with public services and state aid

    · The inclusion of the European Trade Union Confederation Social Progress Clause to protect workers rights

    · A protocol on Irish tax sovereignty

    · Substantial amendments on Article 188 dealing with international trade agreements including a cast iron veto on mixed World Trade Organisation
    agreements

    · A new protocol ending Irelands participation in the European Atomic Energy Community

    · A series of amendments to Articles 10 and 188 promoting the needs of the developing world in the context of international trade.

    Some are show-stoppers for me, like the self-amending articles and Article 48. Others I’m not overly pushed about, even the Commissioner.

    On defence, I think we should actually decide under what circumstances we would want in rather than simply looking for an opt out.

    Down the line, not having this discussion about national defence could come back to haunt us so better to have it now.

    Everyone has their own shopping list. This should be fun in the coming months.

  • joeCanuck

    This should be fun in the coming months.

    I think that will be years, George, not months.

  • Greenflag

    Dave ‘

    ‘they must put their democracy in the hands of those who hold abject contempt for democracy. ‘

    You must mean SF and Libertas here for the EU is a union of democracies . Many of them only winning their freedom from totalitarian communism in the past 15 years .

    ‘Alternatively, they could begin the process of de-colonisation and regain control over their own internal affairs by opting out of the EU if the rest of them continue to pervert democracy and proceed with ratification, and watch as the EU integration project collapses under the weight of its own bloated bureaucracy, inefficiency, and internal dissent. ‘

    What a complete load of utter shite . The Lisbon Treaty was about reforming the bloated bureuacracy and improving the efficiency of EU administration .

    People in Northern Ireland complain about the ‘contradictions ‘ in the GFA and how many ways it can be interpreted . The GFA was negotiated by 2 ? 3 or 4 parties at most and even that took the best part of 5 years to put together and another decade to implement . Do we throw out the GFA because of it’s ‘internal contradictions’ ?

    The EU is Ireland’s ONLY hope to have some influence on protecting the rights of our citizens in an incresingly globalised world market . The EU is a better bet for the health care and social security of Irish citizens than what would be served up were we to be isolated or out of the EU.

    Mary Lou needs to take her shopping list to the likes of Libertas or the anti EU ranters of the British Tory Press and it’s affiliates .

    Perhaps they will form a ‘United Front for the Liberation of Palestine ‘ between them while they’re at it .

    How would people in Ireland respond if we were one of the 26 who ratified the Treaty and say the Slovenians or Danes or Austrians were the ones holding up ratification ?

    We’ll soon be finding out to our cost . As for the powerful British anti EU press barons . Unlike the Irish voters the British House of Commons and Lords will not be scared into voting NO .

    Ireland is a small country and when it comes down to brass tacks we will never win anywhere based on our numbers . Our only hope is to win friends and allies in the EU through winning their confidence and increasing our influence . What we have done in this referendum is we have lost the confidence of our friends in the EU and reduced our influence and if anybody tries to persuade me that that’s a good result for Ireland then they can also try to persuade me that it snows in the Sahara 200 days of the year . They’ll have better luck persuading Mary Lou McDonald. It would appear she already believes it 🙁

  • Grenflag: Democracy = rule by de,os, the people. Only the Irish people (in the 26 cos) plus sundry economic refugees/spongers got to vote on this. So, it is not a union of democracies. Similarly, the USDA is not a democracy. It is a republic (deriv: res publica, affairs of the people). These are very distinct principles and you should be aware of them before you spout off.

    Mary Lou McDonald and her team of Provo groupies (who get off on the cordite smell) had very little to do with this result. Nor had Republican Sinn Fein. Don’t set up decent Irish people like this. Mary Lou is contaminated by her cordite fixations. She is unclean. Just like most Provos who have little in common with decent Irish people, who work for a living, go to church and don’t get off on killing nuns. The fact that Sinn Fein TDs and wanna be TDs and ex TDs (like Sean ye fuckin know Crowe) were kept in the closet where they belong tells its own tale. The only good place for Provos is Glasnevin Cemetary but not in the Republican Plot. Those in it should be dug up, incinerated and and their ashed flushed down the toilet of the Irish Independent.

  • Greenflag

    joecanuck .

    ‘The whole thing is dead in the water for another 7 years.’

    You might think that jc but it won’t be . There’s too much at stake for 490 million people not mentioning countries like Ukraine and others trying to gain admission. The EU commission has to be reformed and the administration made more efficient before any more new members join.

    I heard Martin Mansergh, Mary Harney, Ruari Quinn and Hugh Coveney speak in the Dail debate on the referendum and it’s clear to me that a way will be found out of the predicament in which we have placed ourselves as a country.

  • Greenflag

    dave o’connell

    ‘So, it is not a union of democracies’

    So the UK, Germany, France , Italy, Holland , Belgium, Denmark, Finland , Sweden , Italy , Spain , Portugal, Austria, Czech, Slovenia, Poland, Greece, etc are not democracies and only Ireland is ?

    Would you ever go f*** yerself ye gobshite !

    The rest of your post is not worth anybody wiping their arse with never mind replying to !

  • Pol Deeds

    Fintan O’Tool lets on to be surprised at SF’s line that the NO vote would give the government a strong mandate to seek changes… But he knows well that this was simply a positive way of saying that a clear NO vote would give the government no other option than going back and asking, with much egg on face, for said changes. No failure in the argument then Fintan. And I’m surprised that you’re impressed, Mick, with his pretty poor proposal that having carried the majority of the state in the referendum, the main advocates of the winning position should be tasked with negotiating the way forward. Not that I’ve a problem with the notion, nor would I imagine many in SF would. In fact, this is why I think it’s so dumb. You might as well say: “Ha! I know! Let’s let those crazy lefties take control of the government – they’ll get what’s coming to them when they have to negotiate their way in the modern world…” Bring it on, I think would be the answer. It’s all about Fintan once again trying the SF bogeyman trick on the electorate of course. ie. “1. They couldn’t do it, no way. 2. Considering they couldn’t do it, could you really bear them trying it on your behalf??”

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    Yep,I saw that article by Mary Lou in todays Irish Times.

  • abucs

    Greenflag,

    i agree with much of Dave’s first post about democracy as it is being practised. Unfortunately i also agree with joe on what is likely to happen. For me this points to a deficit of democracy and a turning away from the ideals it is supposed to promote.

    That is, it doesn’t matter how many of you disagree with the establishment – you’re not getting it. The referendum was just a facade, you all should have just realised that and gone along with this pretended democracy.

    as i said in my post, the ONLY issue i see Sinn Fein (and the others) being able to run on, and use as a pressure leverage, is to confront the government on the ideal and principal of a democratic vote – an Irish democratic vote, and whether that actually means anything at all.

    I suspect, unfortunately, it doesn’t.