“It wasn’t meant to be like this..”

In the Sunday Times, Liam Clarke has a critical assessment of Sinn Féin’s fortunes following their weekend Ard Fheis.

The party is struggling despite conditions that favour it. Parties of the far left and far right traditionally do well in recessions when establishment thinking is seen to falter. Nationalism can also prosper at moments of economic crisis.

But to do so, a political movement needs a clear vision, must seize the popular imagination and develop policies that offer hope to the dissatisfied. This is what Sinn Fein lacks. Its history has not prepared it for the current situation. After the Good Friday agreement, failures and setbacks were not in the script. Sinn Fein assumed the glamour of the peace process, the sense of relief it engendered, and the apparently charmed leadership of Adams would pay political dividends indefinitely.

For a time the payback did flow. The party thrived by extracting concessions from the British and Irish governments in return for IRA weaponry. As its leaders shuttled between Downing Street, Dublin and the White House, the reflected glory burnished Sinn Fein’s credentials as the only nationalist party tough enough and influential enough to deal effectively with the DUP.

The process of selling the guns was played long and skilfully. But now it’s over, leaving Sinn Fein, in Sands’s image, looking rather like a lumbering, flightless dodo.

It wasn’t meant to be like this. Sinn Fein’s strategy was to move so quickly that it would never hit the ground. It would speedily enter government north and south, enabling it to squeeze unionists from both sides of the all-Ireland bodies and make the prospect of a united Ireland by 2016 look less of a hopeless case than it does now.

Read the whole thing.

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  • Former Shinner

    As long as Gerry Adams and his belfast dictatorship rule Sinn Fein and deny any democracy within the party they will never gain support in the free state.

    They replace the one member of the leadership from the south (Pat Doc) with Mary Lou, why not replace Gerry Kelly or Mitchell McLaughlin?

    Its Gerry Adams that needs replaced

  • “The party is struggling despite conditions that favour it.”

    If you think about, PRM guns and munitions weren’t the only things that were ‘decommissioned’. Just think of all the scriptwriters and strategists from the British and Irish governments; people like Martin Mansergh, the Redemptorists, Vatican Curiacrats, etc. What are you left with but the not so very bright parapoliticians?

  • Pete

    Is it true that parties of the far right and left do well in economic recessions, it did not happen worldwide in 1928 nor in the UK in 1981-3.

    People often look to a comfy old pair of shoes, even if they were the ones they were wearing when they fell off the mountain top.
    Governments often put this old chestnut out to frighten people into supporting them.

  • dunreavynomore

    Former Shinner

    as another ‘former’ I agree completely with you.
    Not only is the party non democratic but they are drawing in more and more yes-men to their ranks. Eoin O Broin made the point that the last thing the present leadership is looking for is people with ideas as the leadership feels threatened by people who think for themselves.
    Nevin, I believe that republicanism was also decommissioned and that the present day leadership will abandon anything to secure their own position and futures. like the dead parrot, they are ex republicans.

  • cynic

    What makes you think that all the British scriptwriters have shuffled off stage? Perhaps they are not so visible now but rest assured they will be in there somewhere gently steering the Shinners. Indeed, I suspect at the moment it may actually be more like poking them with a pointed stick to get them to wake up as it suits the Brits to have a vibrant SF to keep ‘the process’ on track.

    But the reality that is now becoming apparent is that SF in its current guise is weak, tired and lumbered with old history and old ideology. Like the British Labour Party it needs to shed the old leadership and renew itself. That might also make it easier to get meaningful engagement in the North where Unionists were dealing with counterparts who didn’t have a personal history of murder. This isn’t just a matter of changing faces or introducing fresh Southern blood, as the ‘Catriona’ Ruane disaster so clearly demonstrates. It goes far deeper than that. What is SF actually for – as opposed to against?

    Liam Clarke’s article neatly highlighted this but Ian Og’s comments (almost as an aside) that the SDLP would have given the DUPs much more of a run for their money, are both accurate and much more wounding.

    So will the Shinners do it? On current evidence, no. The leadership is too complacent and too settled. It will all be dismissed as Media Hostility (see other posts and Ard Feis motions). ‘Liam Clarke has alaways been agin us’. ‘It’s all the fault of the Prods/ Brits/ Phase of the Moon.’ ‘We’re not as crap as they say we are’

    They will stagger on relying from time to time on the Brits and Irish governement to apply a bit of life support or haul them out of the hole they are slowly digging.

    So are SF a dodo? Not yet. Unlike the dodo they still have a choice about what happens. At the moment though they seem too introverted and lazy to choose anything but extinction. Short trem just wrapping a tricolour around themselves may get a few votes. Longer term, voters may think it just looks like a shroud.

  • Former Shinner

    As much as im no fan, the men who walked in 1986 predicted every last step that Adams would take, the attraction most of us had to Sinn Fein was that it was a revolutionary party on the left that would challenge the elite and campaign for the working man. Where has this party gone? They no longer seem bothered with Community campaigns unless there is media exposure and an election coming up.

    Its a pity there isnt an alternative to Sinn Fein, a revolutionary left wing party that is willing to break the mould and stand up for the working class.

  • FS

    I agree about the need for a left republican alternative, but unless éirígí bite the electoral bullet and take on the mainstream parties on their own ground, i e within the countries parliaments, Assemblies and local councils, Republicanism is destined to remain on the margins of Irish political life.

  • Quagmire

    Another subjective piece by Liam Clarke then I see. Its quite obvious that all objectivity goes out the window when this mouth-piece/journalist decides to comment on SF. SF are currently on 9%-10%, which seen in the light of hostile media coverage, is an admirable achievement. Was just browsing through some of the southern papers this morning and you’d think that Ard Fheis didn’t even happen over the weekend. Just more stuff on the “Golden Circle” which incidentally is an issue that Gerry Adams has been banging on about for the last number of years. RTE will prob devote some of their air time via the week in politics show tonight to the SF Ard Fheis, but after that you won’t see a shinner on TV again for the rest of the year. How many times has a SF rep been on any of RTE’s political programmes in recent times? Apart from MLMD a few months back I can’t remember any. Section 31 is alive and well my friends and muppets like Clarke only serve to push the anti-Republican, pro right wing/establishment agenda. I mean the Greens are currently on 4%,half of SF percentage of vote, and they are in Govt and the PD’s,if there still are any floating around, receive far more coverage even though they have only one TD who incidentally also sits in Govt. People like Clarke can wish SF away all they like, but as the civil war mentality recedes with younger generations of Irish voters, Partys like SF will prosper at the expense of the tired old rhetoric of the establishment Partys. All that separates FF and FG is a 80 year old Treaty. They are both one in the same from an ideological perspective. Two right wing conservative Partys. What Ireland needs is a proper left and right wing alignment,like most western liberal democracies, to replace the tired old politics of Tweedledum and Tweedledee that we have seen for nearly a Century now.

  • Quagmire

    I understand your concerns, myself I feel this gives a fairer view of the SF conference.

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2009/0221/breaking33.htm

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    As mentioned elsewhere on Slugger – at yesterday’s Ard Fheis SF economic policies suddenly had the smack of plausability about them and in the middle of one the biggest crises in the state’s history SF now seem to be in line with the angry public mood. Grizzly can now turn the “economic illeterates” taunt from the before the last election to his favour as formerly “looney left” policies are now seen as mainstream in Ireland and Britain and indeed in the US. 9% Nationally could well translate into much higher in their best constituencies and as next government will probably be FG/Labour the new space on the left of Irish politics will be available.

    Outlook: Good

  • Quagmire is deluding himself when he talks about ‘hostile’ media coverage of SF leaving it languishing in the polls. It’s always been at 7-10%, indicating that the party has a hard core of support but is unable to grow that support. As far as hostile coverage goes, I don’t see that much of it these days on account of the party’s increasingly shrill irrelevance in modern day Irish politics. Ironically this is the time that a party with a radical left republican agenda is most needed – but Sinn Féin isn’t that party, not in its current guise.

  • Former Shinner

    Mick Hall

    I think Eirigi could well be that alternative, whether or not they bite the electoral bullet is another matter, they need to pick there time very well if they are to do it. If they pick the wrong time and wrong election and get trounced then they will be finished. They need to involve themselves in community politics and community campaigns that are being ignored by the provos and the SDLP.

    Local elections would be perfect to start with but they have been pushed back to 2012 havent they?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Is Gerry Adams going to restate his view that corporation tax should be raised, then, Sammy ?

    Keep deluding yourself. It benefits Sinn Fein’s opponents that people like you refuse to take an objective and critical view of your own party’s plans for the future. The critical thing, in my view, which is hampering SF’s development right now is the party’s role as a member of a powersharing government. I think they would be much more successful – electorally – outside of it.

  • Scaramoosh

    It is the classic Catch 22.

    When there was a “war” it was much easier for SF to play the downtrodden card; to snipe from the sidelines; to feed the needs of the disafected, disenfranchised Catholic poor, who bought into the notion that they were being trodden upon by the big bad British State.

    Things ain’t so easy, when the war has been put to bed and the journey towards becoming what one wit recently tagged “Vichy Sinn Fein” completed.

    With the war rhetoric gone, and the Brits off the streets, the realisation has suddenly dawned on many ordinary folk, that the Brits could not actually care less what goes down in N.Ireland, and, moreover, they realise that the Shinners are as impotent in power as any government anywhere
    on the planet.

    Republicanism was great as an aspiration; a dream, and there are many people out there who had great fun playing out the pantomine; the fantastical notion, for example, that there were/are a bunch of guys sitting in the pubs in Dundalk, who are the true governmnet of Ireland.. etc!!

    The bootom line is, that that which was unobtainable through force, is just as unobtainable through politics. And, somewhat ironically, in the same way that the Provos were responsible for ensuring that the Brits stayed on the the streets for thirty years + ; it is the partitionist State that gives Sinn Fein its life blood.

    In a United Ireland, these guys would be shown the door, and that official government that sits in the Dundalk pubs, would finally be in for something of a rude awakening.

    A united Ireland is an aspiration of many Irish people, it is not a creed that belongs to any one group of people; risen, or not.

    The hurt and emotion that still lingers, could best be difused were people to channel their interests towards the things that matter; such as ensuring that Ireland is never again sacrificed on the altar of a cosy coterie of cute hoors, with friends in high places.

    Time to wipe the slate clean and to start again from scratch.

  • dunreavynomore

    Sammy

    “Sinn Fein’s economic policies suddenly had the smack of plausibility…”
    eh, no, they didn’t because Sinn Fein still don’t have real economic policies apart from being ‘agin’ other policies. What is their take on corporation tax? answer, variable.any real policies??

    regarding media bias, I can only say that I have lost count of the number of time I have heard a radio or T.V interviewer announce ‘Sinn Fein were asked to provide a spokesperson but said no one was available’. the same applies in the print media as the number of times Sinn fein speaks through some unnamed ‘spokesperson’ rather than through a real person is growing. They appear to have lost their guts and only want to discuss when they are on a winner or put the likes of B McEllduff up to speak about unimportant items like post boxes. Of course their poor showing in the last dail elections cost them speaking rights and therefore they lost a lot of automatic media time but that is their, and particularly Adams’ fault for assuming they would walk home with 12 or 15 seats(arrogance).

  • dunreavynomore

    Regarding the ‘media bias’ the strangle hold S.F. keeps on its members on speaking to the media also needs to be recognised. Any member, councillor or whatever who speaks out without clearance will soon be called to book. I see one of their major cheerleaders in blogland, Gaskin of Balrog, seems to have thrown in the towel and got on the religious freak trail instead. This may have something to do with the control freakery rampant in S.F.or maybe it’s the media’s fault too.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Comrade Stalin

    ” It benefits Sinn Fein’s opponents that people like you refuse to take an objective and critical view of your own party’s plans for the future”

    SF will continue to dominate Northern nationalist politics in the North (they are favourites to top the Euro poll) and be a small/moderately sized party in the South – but such parties get into government in South. Economic condicitons are in their favour at the moment – whats delusional about that ? After all it is more or less the current situation.

    I apprceciate that many who were either in the firing line of the Provo campaign or only saw/see Norn Iron troubles in simplistic terms or from their own side of the fence are not capable of rational discussion about SF without flying off on one – but hey – that what makes Slugger interesting.

    Yesterday was a very good day for SF with the President’s address going out live on RTE TV(so much for SFs silly claims of not getting enough coverage) and their star turn Grizzly putting on an excellent performance – the only way is more than likely up. I personally would put a ceiling on SFs rise to about 15% – but in these very, very funny times you just never know.

  • Expenses

    Sinn Fein in the North is dominant due to the failure of the SDLP leadership of Durkan, McDonnell and Ritchie. In the North nationalists all pile in with Sinn Fein as they are the only party that touch base with the electorate. In the South there is more choice and that is why Sinn Fein cannot get its foot in. The leadership of Sinn Fein are completely out dated. Gerry Adams has been there too long as is Martin McGuiness and Gerry Kelly. People in the south recognise these people for who they are (terrorists) so therefore vote with the parties of peace i.e. Labour, Fianna fail etc. If there was to troubles in the North then Sinn Fein would have disappeared years ago or would have been like the raven looney party!!

  • frustrated democrat

    SF are a party of opposition they are not a party of government. They have found as many people do that having to do something is not so easy as opposing what other people do.

    They need policies that people actually want to vote for, blaming the media only makes them look weak and ineffectual.

    Those facts coupled to an in ability to tell the truth about a UI and when it might happen also do them no favours as continuing to perpetuate a date that everyone knows to be preposterous frankly makes them look ridiculous.

    They need to grow up and realise that politics is for serious people with realistic believable ideas about the future not green misty eyed views of the past particularly violent ones.

  • Current member

    Unfortunately, this time, Clarke is right on the button. As a current member I am incredibly concerned with the lack of progress SF is making. Yes we only have four seats in the Dail, yes there is an bias in the media, BUT that does not explain why SF have yet to say a single thing of interest or new since the banking crisis mainstreamed statist economics.

    The fault, as O’Broin, has pointed out is the stifling message that must be adhered to. In a time of war or transisition it was essential, now its rotting the creativity and vibrancy of a party.

    SF resembles a retired content former revolutionary, it needs new leadership,but they must emerge from an internal struggle of ideology and policies.

  • Seymour Major

    On the politics show today, Jim Fitzpatrick asked Gerry Adams (in a very nice way) when he was going to retire. If you read the last sentence of Liam Clarke’s piece, you might imagine this was journalistic choreographing. The fact is, the media have reached the same conclusion. GA is no longer an asset to his party except perhaps for a limited amount of time in the North.

    Who would replace him?

    In the same interview, Adams made reference to the SDLP leadership. He pointed out that since John Hume stepped down, the SDLP had no effective leadership. He sounded grateful!

    What Ian Paisley Jnr is quoted as being said has already been said by the SDLP a number of times (“Running rings around them”), particularly by Margaret Ritchie.

    Could it be that IPJ may have provided the SDLP with a timely boost?

    Is is beyond reasonable doubt that the SDLP will not make any headway against Sinn Fein in the Euro elections?

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Given that there is likely to be a lot of self-serving arguements on both sides it would be interesting to see the next poll on SF and Adams in particular.

    Most comments by Unionists about SF are so laced with hatred and opportunism that it is difficult to get a clear picture particualrly on somewhere like Slugger.

    The same allegation could be levelled against Nationalists but I think most neutral obeservers would agree that yesterday’s performace by Adams could not be matched by the other leaders of southern political parties.

    SF are in government in the North and are more than big enough for government in the south – having been led their by Grizzly – and no amount of Unionist spin about the SDLP or his age is likely to change this for the forseeable future.

  • cynic

    “Another subjective piece by Liam Clarke then I see.”

    What did I tell you?

  • cynic

    “Most comments by Unionists about SF are so laced with hatred and opportunism ”

    Sammy

    Where’s the hatred in my comments? I don’t like SF but I think we need them at the moment and just wish they were better at their job.

    As for ‘opportunism’, politics is often ‘opportunity realised’ and part of the art is not to grant opportunity. Recently SF have been poor at this lacking vision and forethought. They have often done themselves more damage than their opponents have. They give the impression of being tired and unconnected.

  • cynic

    ” having been led their by Grizzly – and no amount of Unionist spin about the SDLP or his age is likely to change this for the forseeable future.”

    Read the comments above by people who claim to be SF supporters Sammy.

    Is this a party or a cult?

    Or perhaps they are not ‘real’ SF supporters and just don’t realise it! Again, see my earlier post

    ‘Liam Clarke has alaways been agin us’. ‘It’s all the fault of the Prods/ Brits/ Phase of the Moon.’ ‘We’re not as crap as they say we are’

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    cynic,

    I did say ‘most’ comments but I take your point.

    But SF are doing well and yesterday was a good conference – with positive publicity. In relation to Norn Iron they are now favourites to top the Euro poll and with demographics still probably going in the right direction its probably more of the same for years to come.

    In the South they appear to have quite few fresh faces and it is a good time to be ‘left wing’. On RTE, at lunchitme, they were actaully saying that Mary Lou could now win the Dublin Central seat if shew stood in the bye-election – that would have been unthinkable 6 months ago.

    So it all looks pretty positive – unless you have made your mind up in spite of the facts to only see a negative picure.

  • Seymour Major

    “laced with hatred”

    Sammy, I hope you were not referring to me.

    “most neutral obeservers would agree that yesterday’s performace by Adams could not be matched by the other leaders of southern political parties”

    What do you say about the following two points in Clarke’s piece

    “The seeds of failure were sown in Adams’s speech at last year’s ard fheis when the policies he advocated lacked edge or definition.”

    Later on, he says this

    “In the republic, Sinn Fein has never recovered from Adams’s dismal performance in a leaders’ debate during the 2007 election”

    Do you agree with what Clarke says? Even if he gave a good performance yesterday, the fact is that he displayed a very weak hand when he appealed for unity with the Irish Labour Party.

    Never mind the fact that I am a unionist. There are other Sinn Fein supporters here that have agreed with everything Clarke has said.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Seymour,

    “The seeds of failure were sown in Adams’s speech at last year’s ard fheis when the policies he advocated lacked edge or definition.”

    Later on, he says this

    “In the republic, Sinn Fein has never recovered from Adams’s dismal performance in a leaders’ debate during the 2007 election”

    In relation to part 1 – that is standard-speak that can be attached to any statement by any party leader in any country and could itself be described as lacking “edge” and “definition”.

    In relation to Part 2. Grizzly had a shocker in the debate – but in case you missed it yesterday and today on RTE he is now using the fact that he was called an “economic illeterate” last year to point the finger at his accusers who were sleep-walking into financial crisis. Classic use of turning the enemy fire on themselves – and except much more of the same as the ‘looney left’ policies move into the mainstream with Grizzly now being able to stand up and say “I told you so – but you were so busy insulting me you couldnt heed my words of foreboding”.

    I’m afraid the boul Liam will have to do considerably better than that. lol

  • frustrated democrat

    Sammy

    The problem is what was said appealed to you as a
    dedidcated SF activist, it didn’t appeal to the new voters you hope to attract.

    If voters don’t move to you, you have to move to them, at the moment they do not want a far left wing party to represent them, you will have to accept that to move forwards in the polls.

  • former shinner

    good performance from Gerry??

    I dont think so, i seen a last desperate attempt to hold onto power within Sinn Fein. He has disposed of his able 2nd Pat Doc to try and appease the southerners’ its not going to work.

    Sinn Fein with Adams in charge will get no further than they are now, its time the party opened up to democracy rather than internal stalinism which all us former activists have seen

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    frustrated democrat

    dedidcated SF activist moi? I just enjoy debating with my fellow Irishmen/women particularly those from my favorite province Ulster.

    “If voters don’t move to you, you have to move to them, at the moment they do not want a far left wing party to represent them, you will have to accept that to move forwards in the polls. ”

    You will hav to update that analysis to take account of the last 6 months – leftwingery is the new politics of the centre.

  • frustrated democrat

    sammy

    In which country?

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    FD

    the papal state to your south

  • veritas

    I saw a lot ot truth in Clarkes piece.

    SF are still dwelling in the politics of yester-year, their days as a perceived “revolutionary party” with the gun just out of the picture are well past….

    Real political parties have inner democracy,the right to discuss,the right to dispute,the right to criticise, these rights if they do exist within SF are hid deep behind the principle of democratic centralism!

    Under the continued leadership of Adams, SF will NEVER make any headway in the South. Until SF allows open,honest,frank debate within their own ranks nothing will change. Their movement will continue to be that, a movement and one based in the North.

    SF have to learn that no one person or group of people is bigger than the party, if they refuse to, they`ll suffer just as the officials/workers party did….

    The backwaters of northern republicism might in the short term gave solace to SF supporters but what of the long term goal, political advancement in the South!

    SF have to face facts which they would rather ignore, the southern electorate don`t trust their northern based leadership, those linked to the IRA…

    The sticks when they got 5 or 6 TD`s started believing that they where on the verge of State power, believed that if they pretended the official ira didn`t exist the electorate would follow…..SF haven`t learned that lesson….

  • kensei

    Seymour

    “In the republic, Sinn Fein has never recovered from Adams’s dismal performance in a leaders’ debate during the 2007 election”

    Do you agree with what Clarke says?

    Er, no, as he was flat wrong. The damage to SF was done by a combination of the Northern Bank robbery and the the McCartney murder. SF were pushing 12% at that point; they dropped backed to about 8% and have stayed steadfastly there ever since. The TV debate had bugger all effect on SF’s vote.

    An outstanding performance by Adams may have netted SF a gain or two, but that’s an alternative history we’ll never know. SF’s problem is transfer repellence, which probably costs them a couple of seats. From that perspective trying to talk up a broader Left coalition makes sense. It also necessitates Labour to come up with a thinking response: if they reject the notion they can be portrayed as supporting the right wing, and they give favourable noises they’ll get attached for having anything to do with SF. It’s one of the better things out of that speech IMO.

    I also don’t buy this:

    Sinn Fein assumed the glamour of the peace process, the sense of relief it engendered, and the apparently charmed leadership of Adams would pay political dividends indefinitely.

    I don’t agree. While the peace process horse seemed to be working, SF were perfectly happy to ride it, which was perfectly true to last year. After all, it brought them leadership in the North and Dail representation. Now from the much less frequent mentions, it’s clear they are trying to move on. But that’s difficult, and it’s as true of any other party. Yet, even in difficultly they retain Nationalist leadership in the North and Dail representation in the South. Why does SF seem to engender doom laden language more than other parties?

  • o’cadhain

    More people in Ireland will watch and be more concerned with the Academy Awards, than with the SF Ard Fheis.

    SF has lost. SF is done.

    SF is revolutionary as the Teletubbies.

  • dunreavynomore

    Sammy
    “leftwingery”, are you sure you don’t mean “leftwhingerey”?

  • Pat

    “I dont think so, i seen a last desperate attempt to hold onto power within Sinn Fein. He has disposed of his able 2nd Pat Doc to try and appease the southerners’ its not going to work.”

    Pat Doherty was SF Director of Elections, so the debacle of ’07 lies with him. In any other Party he would have been got rid of long before now. I would also assume that replacing the veteran IRA man with a very capable younger female with no IRA connections, signals the path SF is about to take.

  • lorraine

    SF is revolutionary as the Teletubbies.

    surely that should have read: sinn fein is as revolutionary as the taliban.

  • dunreavynomore

    lorraine
    Sinn fein is as beardy (grey)as the Taliban and as revolutionary as a horse and cart.

  • frustrated democrat

    Sammy

    FG are left wing?

  • Bairbre de Brún’s interview on the BBC live coverage highlighted how much Sinn Féin seem to have lost touch since taking up the position of dominance within nationalism.

    For more on this from the Guildhall tower –

    http://northbynorthwestblog.wordpress.com/

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    frustrated democrat

    Left Wingery is now up to about 40% – Labour 20 something SF 9% plus sundry others – thats about double the previous number.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    NBNW

    is that site quite keen on the SDLP perchance?

  • “I see one of their major cheerleaders in blogland, Gaskin of Balrog, seems to have thrown in the towel and got on the religious freak trail instead.”

    I have not thrown in any towel, I simply don’t have the free time for blogging that I once had.

    Some of us have to work.

    Nobody within the party has ever questioned me about my blogging. You can present this model of an overbearing monolith all you want but it simply is not true.

    I have taken issue with the party on several occasions and nobody has ever tried to censor me.

    Then again dunreavynomore, when did you ever let the truth get in the way of a dig at Sinn Féin?

  • Dear Sammy Watcher

    As the ‘About Me’ says, the site is constitutional republican trying to give a North West view. So yes, much more SDLP than any other party on the Northern side of the border.

    But as that post on Alban Maginnis should so, not unquestionably.

    Any view on the post about de Brún BBC interview?

    NBNW

  • dunreavynomore

    Chris gaskin

    aye, for a fair few years now I have been digging at them and rightly so but what has happened to all your posters like the comical Adelante in all his various forms, have they no time either? You have time for a bit of religious nuttery but none for your darling S. F. Curiouser and curiouser.
    Chris, you did indeed take the party to task an a few occasions and I believe more S.F. members need to do so. Eoin O Broin tackled the issue of S.F. support for the Dublin government’s new Credit Institutions Bill last Autumn (I think you had a thead on that)but to read people like Sammy you’d think S.F. never kowtowed with the dreaded .bankers’ (except Phil Flynn and he’s one of their own).
    If more of you would step forward now and then there would be less ‘digging’ from people like me.
    DITCH GERRY

  • Chris Donnelly

    Kensei

    Good post above. Regarding the final question you pose, I’d suggest it’s a case of wishful thinking from political opponents.

  • Comrade Stalin

    SF will continue to dominate Northern nationalist politics in the North (they are favourites to top the Euro poll)

    Favourites according to whom ? I wouldn’t like to bet my house either for or against. All things considered equal, if we were in the same situation we were in 2004, yes I’d say there’s a chance SF will top the poll, but things aren’t equal; SF’s reputation in government is boring (rather than bad) and they’ve not been able to make any headway on their shopping list. I have a suspicion many former SF voters will stay at home. Of course, I can’t prove that, but on the other hand I can’t see what message SF are going to go to their electorate with.

    and be a small/moderately sized party in the South

    They are in decline and it is hard to see how they will arrest that.

    – but such parties get into government in South.

    The parties in the South are all actively hostile to Sinn Fein and won’t go into government with them unless their backs are against the wall.

    Economic condicitons are in their favour at the moment – whats delusional about that ?
    After all it is more or less the current situation.

    If this is the approach that SF have taken then they have really lost their way. They can’t sit back and hope that the general situation will cause votes to come to them. Fundamentally, I think SF were fatally wounded when Gerry Adams opened his mouth during the last general election. To expand in the South they need an RoI based leader who operates more or less independently of the leadership in NI and who is free to set the party’s own policy down there. The NI leadership may twig this eventually, then again they may not.

    I personally would put a ceiling on SFs rise to about 15% – but in these very, very funny times you just never know.

    There’s no point in talking about a ceiling if you won’t talk about a timescale.

    Seymour:

    Do you agree with what Clarke says? Even if he gave a good performance yesterday, the fact is that he displayed a very weak hand when he appealed for unity with the Irish Labour Party.

    That’s an important point. I have a couple of friends who are Labour activists. They deeply dislike Sinn Fein, most likely because Sinn Fein will have ran sustained and well-organized efforts to take seats off them. I can’t see there being an environment where these two parties could collaborate.

  • DC

    Kensei adams is a dud with low level economic intelligence.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Comrade Stalin,

    who says they are favorites ? says my trusty investor advisor Patrick Power Esquire.

    “They are in decline and it is hard to see how they will arrest that. ”

    Wrong – they are up to 9%

    “They can’t sit back and hope that the general situation will cause votes to come to them.”

    Wrong again – Thats precisely whats happened – leftwingery has become fashionable now that ringwingery has made a pigs mickey (or at least perceived to have) out of the country’s finances.

    “There’s no point in talking about a ceiling if you won’t talk about a timescale. ”

    Well actually you might be only half wrong there -it would take a “political lifetime” ( that a proper poitical liftime – not the DUP version )for SF to get elected in some parts of Dublin for example.

    “I can’t see there being an environment where these two parties could collaborate. ”

    Probably wrong again on this one – any student of ROI politics will have observed far stranger and more diffiuclt liaisons – but they need to put on another 10 points or so between them before that could happen.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    “Kensei adams is a dud with low level economic intelligence.”

    We are in the middle of biggest economic catastrophe of all time and Grizzly looks like a guru compared to the mad feckers running the show.

  • kensei

    CS

    I have a suspicion many former SF voters will stay at home. Of course, I can’t prove that, but on the other hand I can’t see what message SF are going to go to their electorate with.

    I have a suspicion that the highly motivated SF electorate will turn out like they’ve done for every other election. I have a fear the SDLP vote may collapse, like it did in that council by-election, screwing nationalism.

    They are in decline and it is hard to see how they will arrest that.

    Polls shortly after the Northern Bank Robbbery – 8%. At last election – 7%. Current poll – 95. They have stagnated, but are stable. They might lose seats on that, they might gain seats. Depends on transfers and relative performance of other parties.

    But hey, don’t let the facts get in the road.

  • kensei

    DC

    Kensei adams is a dud with low level economic intelligence.

    I don’t think I mentioned anything about Adams anywhere…..? As it is, Adams is a fairly skilled politician, if for nothing managing to turn around the RM and remain alive.

    I’m not a fan of most of SF’s current economic policy but taht’s not the same thing.

  • DC

    Sammy entirely incorrect, in fact the banks here would not without intense persuasion meet SF. They did not meet because sf are not up to speed with the issues.

    Tell me sammy in fact quote please, give me a specific quote by adams, that helps with recovery of the problem with a sf diagnosis of the right way out of the problem.

    So I put it to you that you give me such a strategic way out by sf please. Thanks dc.

  • DC

    SILLY kensei, politics and economcs are intertwined! Unless you are dud, like adams of course!

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    DC,

    I presume you are following some ideological path otherwise rather than worrying about those who have been deeply critical about government policy – particulalry on the housing/building boom you would be questioning the economic credentials of the crazy feckers in FF (and FG) who were quite happy for the country to be run like a casino.

  • DC

    Qoute sammy please yeah?

  • Pete Baker

    Ken

    “Polls shortly after the Northern Bank Robbbery – 8%. At last election – 7%. Current poll – 9%. They have stagnated, but are stable.”

    It’s not nearly as straightforward as your figures may make it look.

    Nor is it as optimistic as some once believed.

    As Chris said in March 2007 – Sinn Fein gets bounce in latest polls.

    Apart from that, Sinn Fein are the big movers in the poll, up three points to 10%, clearly benefitting from the northern election triumph and the Ard Fheis exposure. With the election scheduled for some time in May/ June, perhaps the simultaneous launch of a northern Executive- complete with accompanying media exposure- may work out to be a nice electoral present from Ian Paisley for republicans!

    Of course, the SF performance in the Northern Ireland Executive since then may well have had an influence on voter opinion in Ireland as well..

    Optimistically, ‘stagnating’ about sums it up.

    But that permanent protest vote tends to go to parties of opposition. Not parties in [Northern] government.

    That’s a circle yet to be squared by Sinn Féin.

  • DC

    Sammy. Sorry *quote*; so give me the sf strategic quote out of this event of wholesale financial failure that should otherwise be a normal safe and secure place for customers to invest in banks; give me a sf definition, on behalf of the people of the irish republic, of a way out of this. I am not asking for a quirky grievance interpretation, that many at sf ard fheis favour like that favourable to c donnelley and such like – it is *fantasy*. But instead proper, and adequate, answers to these southern problems.

    Thanks dc.

  • DC

    Sorry Chris *Donnelly*, I am on fidgety t-mobile phone sorry!!

  • spiritof07.com

    This is a long thread. Has anyone used it to point out that while Gerry was attacking the bankers at the Ard Fheis, their own former Chairman (Phil Flynn) and current advisor, is one of the few bankers in the RoI to actually fall on his sword? Of course that was for reasons other than the credit crunch.

    SF = zero credibility on the economy or much else.

  • DC

    Just give me a quote me a Sammy, was immer du willst, ja?

  • kensei

    Pete

    No, Pete it is exactly that straightforward.

    Nor is it as optimistic as some once believed.

    People assumed that SF were under polling. While probably still true here, it’s been comprehensively blown out of the water in the Republic.

    Second. Party optimistic before election, reality hits in after. It happens. Neither parties or the world collapse over it.

    As Chris said in March 2007 – Sinn Fein gets bounce in latest polls.

    Are you fucking kidding me? Party gets slightest of bounce, fractionally outside of the margin of error on poll shortly after huge publicity boost? Single data point too? You are seriously spinning that as a big win? Chris, sure, it’s his horse, but you? The only reason you have it is for pushing your favoured narrative. Stop doing that and go back to fucking Maths class, Pete. I’m actually offended that is so bad.

    Optimistically, ‘stagnating’ about sums it up.

    No, stagnating sums it up perfectly. You could also use “plateau”. What did everyone think SF would keep going up until they got 100% seats? This was always happening at some point. Probably happened earlier than they would have liked, but it’s up to them to deal with it. These types of glass ceilings are tough for all parties. The Lib Dems suffer from it. It typically takes inspired leadership or great ideas to get out of. The SNP managed it, just about.

    I reckon it’ll probably take a change of leadership in SF to have a hope of gett5ing to a new plateau. But the roof is unlikely to cave in. It could happen, but negative media coverage that doesn’t really shift polling numbers do not indicate that, to me.

    But that permanent protest vote tends to go to parties of opposition. Not parties in [Northern] government.

    That’s a circle yet to be squared by Sinn Féin.

    You assume SF is a permanent protest vote in the South. That is overly simplistic. They have a reputation for hard working local reps that helps them, and when they ran against type with Mary Lou it bit them in the ass. They also have an attraction to a Nationalist vote. And bluntly, Southerners tend to ignore the North. It depends how badly others like Eirigi want to chase that vote.

    Northern government also offers opportunities, of course.

  • Pete Baker

    Ken

    “I reckon it’ll probably take a change of leadership in SF to have a hope of gett5ing [sic] to a new plateau.”

    Indeed.

    And that’s where you agree with Liam.

  • LURIG

    There was a time when I would have risen at 8.00 a.m. and raced down to vote for Sinn Fein. They were the voice of many disillusioned Nationalists but they are now the SDLP of the 70’s. They are presently a very integral part of the British political establishment and do their bidding like nodding dogs. I wasn’t surprised to hear that Downing Street ended up writing their speeches and now firmly believe that Sinn Fein has been controlled by Britain’s Security Services since the late 1980’s. The Nationalist/Republican community has no effective political representation at this time and it’s no wonder that the DUP swagger about with an air of arrogance. They have NO opposition whatsoever from Nationalism/Republicanism and they know it, as Ian Paisley jnr recently alluded to. It’s time for a total rethinking amongst the Nationalist electorate. We have been conned and our so called representatives bought off and turned by the sheckles of British ministerial power and money. Shocking, totally shocking. The last 40 years have been a big con and EVERY Republican AND ALL other victims died for a big lie.

  • frustrated democrat

    Lurig

    The past 40 years set back the cause of everyone in NI, there was a path to equality in NI and 3000 people did not need to die on that path, no industry needed to be destroyed, no families needed to be pulled asunder.

    The wrong path was taken due to two men, one was Ian Paisley and the other John Hume both men fostered divison and allowed terrorism to flourish from the early seventies.

    SF, the IRA and the loyalist groups could not have been sustained without them, they have a heavy burden to bear. However SF came to the only position it could have as the leadership grew older and wanted more of the trappings of real power that could be exercised on the world stage post 9/11 when populist terrorism died.

  • Seymour Major

    One commenter (24 2nd page) has indicated uncertainty about SF topping the poll. Assuming the Unionist vote is split, I think it is more likely than not that they will but he is absolutely right to be in doubt.

    One thing we have never had before is a significant period when SF have been in government followed by an election. There seems to be an assumption that all SF voters who have previously voted for them will just follow like sheep being led into a pen.

    Nobody knows if the eleven plus saga is going to do SF damage.

    If SF top the poll but their vote share goes down, is that a victory for them?

  • cynic

    All hope of topping the pole lies in the TU splitting off the Unionist nutter vote from the DUPs.

    The SF acolytes might reflect that that is not a positive sign of health in SF or a strong SF position! FOr some, it’s even a sign of desperation – trying to salvage something from the situation.

    The leadership now seems more like an old, favourite, green blanket draped over the party than a positive political force. Yes, its warm comfy and truly republican under there (the blood stains are still on the mattress) but one day you have to get up again and go to work or you don’t eat.

  • kensei

    Pete

    Indeed.

    And that’s where you agree with Liam.

    No. Both you and Liam definitely think it requires it. It’s likely, but I keep an open mind.

  • Conchuir O Fearain

    In my opinion, Sinn Fein should be judged after the local and EU elections, then we will see how the party has faired out, and if the people want real change. If Sinn Fein progress, it will completly kill, the dissident fantasist movement, who believe they will take on the DUP, by doing what exactly?? I don’t see very many Eirigi candidates in the EU elections, were as Sinn Fein have a candidate in evey constituency.

  • dunreavynomore

    Isn’t it interesting that despite S.F’s strong atacks on Fianna Fail and Fine Gael they still refused to rule out coalition with either party post next election? Could they be more honest about their wish for government regardless of the consequences?

  • Quagmire

    “Isn’t it interesting that despite S.F’s strong atacks on Fianna Fail and Fine Gael they still refused to rule out coalition with either party post next election? Could they be more honest about their wish for government regardless of the consequences?”
    Posted by dunreavynomore on Feb 23, 2009 @ 07:48 PM

    couldn’t be further from the truth. Check out this article.

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2009/0221/breaking33.htm

  • That call for an alliance leaves a lot of wriggle room post-the next election, as we might expect from a small party in the south.

  • Pete Baker

    Actually, Quagmire, despite the rhetoric noted in that report, when asked directly about potential coalitions Adams left all options open – including a Fianna Fáil coalition.

    See the interview here.

  • dunreavynomore

    Quagmire
    Your point in 23 has been answered by Pete Baker in 25 but I want to add that during debate Caoimhin O Caolain, on behalf of the leadership, said it would be wrong to rule out coalition with any party pre election! (remember a few months when, ahem, revolutionary S.F backed up the despised government’s plan to bail, out the bankers? no real policies, just opportunism)

  • dunreavynomore

    ” a few months back…” mea culpa

  • pope-jock

    Are you the same Chris Gaskin that wanted psychiatric help on David Vances blog? something to do with too much party pressure

  • kensei

    Pete

    Actually, Quagmire, despite the rhetoric noted in that report, when asked directly about potential coalitions Adams left all options open – including a Fianna Fáil coalition.

    Which remains the right answer for a small party, of course. Though the circumstances where going in with FF is a good idea at the moment are minimal.