Fianna Fail setup in South Armagh

Fianna Fail have setup up a branch in South Armagh.

This adds to their groups at Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Ulster, Magee Campus, as well as an association in Londonderry (?).

This will obviously put pressure on both the SDLP and Sinn Fein if the party is to expand further.

  • Nomad

    Which is great, but do they plan to stand in any elections?

    Hopefully this expansion will continue. More choice = road to happiness?

  • Philip

    An Ulsterman noticed that months ago, maybe even a year or so ago. Obviously I hadn’t the same information he had that Southern co-operation in the North would increase.

  • dunreavynomore
  • ulsterfan

    It is interesting they are going into the heartland of SF and pose a greater threat to them than to SDLP.
    I wonder why this is so.
    Perhaps they want to weaken/dilute the republican voice and so put obstacles in the path of UI which they do not want to think about, despite their preference for unity.

  • cut the bull

    This could be intersting in the long run as it will have an unnerving effect on both Unionists,Sinn Féin and the SDLP.
    If FF stand in Assembly elections and win seats while still in power in Leinster House. Unionists will be actually playing a part in governing under a system of Joint Authority.

    Sinn Féin will find it hard canvassing voters not to vote for a party of staters as Sinn Féin has done political somersalts in relation to republican beliefs and princpiles to get where it is now in Stormont. After all instead of decommissioning weapons Fiaana Fail just rearmed its army at the behest of the Brits before taking the reigns of political power.

    The SDLP will be brushed under the carpet as it wont even come into the equation when people speak of Constitutional Nationalism. As all eyes will be on Fianna Fail.

  • Mark McGregor

    Except they stated they aren’t going to properly organise in the north and they aren’t running in elections.

    So this will have exactly the same impact as the longstanding FF cuman in Derry – absolutely none.

  • veritas

    just a little more “push” from FF….to those within the SDLP willing to integrate.

    this could lead to some SDLP members taking the decision into their own hands,and joining FF as individual members forcing the hand of the power breakers within that party to come to some sort of conclusion..

    It will open the debate, again!

  • Mark McGregor

    Er. No it won’t. FF have clearly decided that Lisbon, European elections, council elections and falling poll returns are areas they should concentrate on.

    Allowing a semi-official cuman to operate in South Armagh isn’t going to reopen debate anwhere.

    Nice to see some people trying to spin a ball that is covered in glue.

  • dub

    Er, no, they have not stated that… they have said that the question of organising for elections will be decided upon in due course.

    This northern strategy is evidently not dead as some had mistakenly said. The presence of Dermot Ahern and other senior figures from the original strategy line up confirms the continuity. And South Armagh an interesting place to start…

    Anybody who knows anything about FF said they would take this very slow and painstakingly. The main point here is that they have obviously decided against going in with Stoops and are going it alone, again as many predicted. They strung along the stoops for a year, made them look stupid and have fatally weakened them. Now they are starting from within the SF heartland.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Hard to disagree with much of what’s been said above.

    Sure, were Fianna Fail to seriously go about the business of organising and contesting elections in the north, then Sinn Fein and the SDLP would have grounds to worry.

    But this doesn’t appear to be a credible move in that direction.

    Nor is the appeal for ‘patriotic duty from Free Staters’ from border TDs like Ahern likely to garner many votes in south Armagh…..

  • Mark McGregor

    I’ll go with Cowen over breathless monickers on Slugger:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/7495294.stm

    And assume that a half-arsed ‘Forum’ (not an offical cuman) in South Armagh indicates the intention of the party leader not to seriously organise in the north.

  • Mark McGregor

    Chris,

    Any serious organisation from FF in the north would be a perfect outworking of SF strategy for many years – ‘blurring the border’.

    It may present electoral challenges to an electoral orientated SF but unfortunately the broader strategic benefit it would probably bring seems a long way off.

    Unfortunately the people of Crossmaglen will soon be as British as Finchley in that they’ll have a chance to vote Tory just like the rest of people living under British rule.

  • dunreavynomore

    I am hearing that the people at the meeting included ex IRA members and ex prisoners.

  • Mark McGregor

    I am hearing that the people at the meeting included ex IRA members and ex prisoners.

    Big deal, it was Crossmaglen. You couldn’t have a PTA or SVP meeting that didn’t have former Provisionals in attendance.

    The telling thing is you don’t and haven’t had flagged former/current stoops attending. He must have been busy.

  • dub

    Mark,

    That quote from Cowen goes back to July,and if you read the words carefully he ruled out any “imminent” contesting of elections. FF are taking things slowly as everybody who knows anything about them said they would; I do not believe that figures in FF would indulge in a year’s negotations just to get a meaningless forum going. This is the real start of their move northwards imo. BY the way the fact that the UUP are now re aligning themselves with the Tory Party does not change the nationality of the people of Crossmaglen.

    You’re a funny kind of nationalist.

  • Craig

    I would be delighted to see Fianna Fáil set up formally in the North.

    Not that i would necessarily vote for them, but i would certainly give it careful consideration.

    They were very proactive in their support for the rights of Irish citizens in the North continuing to have the right to play soccer for Ireland, despite the unionist campaign of the IFA to prevent it.

    The Shinners hadn’t a clue about the issue and even the stoops seemed better briefed on the situation.

    Any kind of partnership with the SDLP would alienate a large number of potential voters, so if it does happen, it should be on solely on a Fianna Fáil ticket.

  • dunreavynomore

    Mark
    Current and or former stoops were present. ‘Calibre’ of those attending appears to have been impressive.

    Seamus Kirk is an in-law of the Slabs, Ahern is connected to the Shorts in Cross’, Rory O’Hanlons people came from sth Armagh.This one may just run.

  • Fermanagh Young Unionist

    So is now the time, I as a Unionist, start talking about a split in the Nationalist vote such was the glee from republicans when the TUV was formed?

  • edward

    FYU

    I don’t know, it seems every bit of news that comes out about nationalist politics is a sure sign of the imminent downfall of SF. This seems little different so by all means have at er.

    Tell us why this is going to kill off SF and make them look silly

  • maxi

    There is one person in FF Magee college, one person.

  • nineteensixtyseven

    Fianna Fail, the party who tried to make pensioners bear the brunt of the recession and is about as popular as Iris Robinson at a Pride march at the moment. Gone are the days when northern nationalists looked towards Bertie Ahern and bathed in the reflected glow from his teflon reputation. The political winds have changed and FF is no longer the panacea it looked to be to many. I would not be sure that this cumann will matter as much as it did a year and a half ago nor that FF believe so either. Recession bites, expansion can wait.

  • Mark McGregor

    dunreavynomore,

    Cheers for that. I hadn’t realised how serious this was until I heard about an unknown in-law of Slab.

    If they get the 2nd cousins involved the provos are fecked.

  • ArtyQueueing

    This has been on the cards, Fermanagh also has a large number of members, I am reliably informed that there are more FF members there than SDLP for instance.

    Take note that this is a forum, not a cumann. That is important

  • dub

    Arty,

    Could you expand on that? Have you any knowledge of where this might be going? Do you think FF are slowly moving into the north or is this just window dressing? Or both?

  • Jer

    Last time FF talked about moving north it was to focus the members on the election and away from the travails/dodgy dealings of a certain member of the party.

    The attendance of the Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern at the meeting is noteworthy.

    Ahern has leadership ambitions and being the man who established a forum in Sth Armagh will do him no harm at all.

    Is this a move north for FF – no.
    IMO is this positioning for a future race for FF leader then Yes.

  • finn

    The point is Dermot Ahern once again reckons there’s a chance of snagging the leadership from a flagging Cowen and is yet again pursuing his Unique selling Point srategy of shafting shinners at teh same time as feigning movement towards a united ireland. That is all.

  • finn

    The point is Dermot Ahern once again reckons there’s a chance of snagging the leadership from a flagging Cowen and is yet again pursuing his Unique Selling Point strategy of shafting shinners at the same time as feigning movement towards a united ireland. That is all. Jer is right.

  • Mullaghban

    Who are the current sdlp members who where at the FF meeting, Dunreavy? If it was an open meeting, then there’s nothing to hide. Where you there?

  • JD

    “Do you think FF are slowly moving into the north or is this just window dressing? Or both?”

    I think it is a bit of both. The Fianna Fail posturing around the future of the SDLP in the past year was to an extent:

    • A distraction from Bertie’s tribunal difficulties
    • Probing the SDLP’s vulnerabilities to see what was possible
    • Rattling Sinn Fein’s cage

    I think what blew things off course for the pro Fianna Fail wing in the SDLP was that Irish Labour bottled it as regards electoralism in the six counties. Fine Gael had made clear they did not want to change the status quo while the Labour leadership made clear they would continue to support the SDLP as a stand alone party. Fianna Fail was then faced with being blamed for undermining the SDLP and only being able to pick off a minority of defectors if it pushed too hard too fast.

    “That quote from Cowen goes back to July,and if you read the words carefully he ruled out any “imminent” contesting of elections”

    I think that is correct – but what does contesting elections mean? Dermot Ahern limited Fianna Fail’s ambitions by:

    • Ruling out contesting Westminster elections
    • Emphasising Fianna Fail’s “friendship” with the SDLP
    • The possibility of Fianna Fail having a “strategic partner” in the North

    I know the saying “with friends like these, who needs enemies” comes to mind. However the wing of the SDLP that is in favour of merging with Fianna Fail always underestimated how much Fianna Fail is against going to Westminster. Fianna Fail on the other hand overestimated how widely the pro Fianna Fail sentiment is within the SDLP. This would appear to be geographically limited to border areas – in particular South Down and Armagh.

    In all likelihood Fianna Fail can organically grow a series of fora in border areas. I could well believe that the Fianna Fail membership list in Fermanagh is bigger than the SDLP’s. At some point they might pick up a group of FF leaning SDLP public reps (some cllrs and the odd MLA) in these areas and in turn this might precipitate a “Mullingar Accord” style agreement between Fianna Fail and the SDLP.

    Fianna Fail can blur the border a bit, claim to be all Ireland and be a bit player alongside the SDLP in the assembly. The SDLP continue as they are but with a local agreement with Fianna Fail to ensure their support and First Past the Post Westminster elections and getting their allocation of Ministers in the NI Executive. I don’t see Labour having a problem with this as they have intermittent election pacts with Fine Gael (eg: the “Mullingar Accord”) and they could well be in coalition with Fianna Fail after the next general election in the Republic.

    “The point is Dermot Ahern once again reckons there’s a chance of snagging the leadership from a flagging Cowen and is yet again pursuing his Unique selling Point srategy of shafting shinners at the same time as feigning movement towards a united ireland. That is all”

    Yes – Fianna Fail just taking a few nibbles from the SDLP. They’ve enough problems with opponents taking nibbles off them down south at the moment.

  • dunreavynomore

    Mullaghban
    “Where you there?” No I wasn’t, I would find it hard to support F.F.
    “Who are the ..sdlp members?”
    It is up to them to declare themselves , not up to me.
    “Mark” The point about relationships is simply to point out the close connections between people. Around Cross and Cullyhanna in the majority of households one partner is from across the border so these connections are important. Tom Slab had to live with one of the Kirks when he was on bail so it’s not just a throwaway line or stated for effect. Personally I don’t see any immediate moves from F.F. but time will tell and if I was, say, a councillor in south Armagh, I’d be looking over my shoulder. Pity the council elections have been ‘democratically’ postponed.

  • Mullaghban

    Dunreavy do you think FF would have ran if the council elections weren’t postponed? You seem to have your ear to the ground. Are there any sdlp or SF people who are going to go over to FF?

  • dunreavynomore

    Mullaghban

    There definately are current SDLP people who appear to be keen and spoke at the meeting. the ex ira types are also people who walked away from s.f before now so I don’t know about any current members.If there was a council election I do believe there are people involved who would run and probably do well. A few people highly identified with Cross Rangers there to, I believe. Interesting time.

  • dunreavynomore

    Mullaghban
    I should have said that the people who had walked away from S.F. are none of the readily identified ones who did so but are people who left quietly.

  • catchagrip

    Mullaghban
    “A few people highly identified with Cross Rangers there to, I believe.”

    Ahh, that non political organisation.

  • catchagrip

    I should have attributed that remark to dunreavynomore

  • dunreavynomore

    catchagrip
    “ahh, that non political organisation”
    These people were representing themselves, not the GAA. I mentioned the fact that they were there to show that there was a spread of opinion, not easily pinned down as ‘dissident’, ‘anti peace’ or any of the usual slurs cast at anyone who dares step outside what passes for the norm in ‘republican’ areas.

  • ArtyQueueing

    Of couorse there is window dressing – that is all part of politics isn’t it?

    But it would be a mistake to underestimate what is happening. Do you seriously think people such as Dermot would be associated with a development that has no legs?

    The move north is happening