“or would it be acceptable to just keep it in a box on the mantelpiece?”

In Thursday’s Irish Times Fionnuala O’Connor made an interesting observation.

Martin McGuinness called the dissidents “traitors”, won applause in the wider world, and has been careful not to use the word again. Is that because too many of his own colleagues are sensitive to the charge that participation in a Stormont gridlocked by the DUP is a betrayal of the republican dead? Last weekend McGuinness traded down to “impostors” who are “impersonating” the IRA, and inserted a deft reminder that his “industrial wage” is the same as that of his driver and of Sinn Féin staff at Stormont.

And in yesterday’s Irish News Patrick Murphy tackled some of those legacy issues for Sinn Féin.

Meanwhile in the real world, 400,000 people are unemployed in the south. Where, in the inter-republican argument, is the case for a nationalised banking system? Where is the policy for state investment in the manufacturing industry? Whatever happened to the concept of cooperatives and mutual help in rural society? Instead we have competing claims on the quality and legitimacy of one organisation’s historical pedigree over another’s. It may not be best religious practice but it is time for Sinn Fein to concede the argument and walk away.

Adds Garibaldy adds some thoughts.Patrick Murphy continued.

Otherwise the row will drift into a republican civil war with Britain on the side of Sinn Fein. Britain has never lost a war in Ireland. It will not lose this one. Dissidents will be imprisoned and probably killed, giving gainful employment to a new generation of ballad-writers and graveside orators. That will present Sinn Fein with a won war and a lost argument.

There are more demanding political responsibilities, such as addressing the crisis in capitalism.

Like all religions, these two sects of republicanism offer little in terms of material benefit in this life.

True happiness can be achieved only in the heaven of a united Ireland. In the meantime, we continue to suffer in their six-county purgatory where, for many, a significant part of that suffering is listening to inane arguments while the real world passes us by.

Back to Fionnuala O’Connor

Cynicism about politics among nationalists in particular, and hopelessness in the teeth of recession, could threaten the votes Sinn Féin needs to pull out next month, North and South. Condemnation of the dissident “micro-groups” may be necessary.

But it is no substitute for policies and practice that make sense in Stormont and the Dáil.

If only they didn’t feel the need to perpetuate those myths..

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  • dunreavynomore

    It would be interesting to know if McGuinness draws the ‘average industrial wage’ of the Republic or of the North and how many times the average wage his expenses amount to. If he draws the southern average then he’s streets ahead of those of us up here in the wee 6.

  • Ray

    People in Ireland nearly always accuse others of engaging in the very same activities that they themselves have personally engaged in. Martin McGuinness’ use of the term ‘traitors’ was telling and very recently his use of ‘imposters.’
    What is Martin saying about himself personally?
    It used to be within Derry City that he commanded tremendous respect. That is no longer the case. Two years ago, if someone yelled at his wife, he would have had both their legs broken with that person ending up in hospital.
    McGuinness personally spearheaded his own campaign to trivialise and break down the Irish language education system. One must ask why?
    Perhaps, there is much more lurking in the shadows than meets the eye with his usage of traitors.
    Bairbre DeBrun will pay the price electorally for Mr. McGuinness and whatever campaign Sinn Fein has been stealthly waging against the community. It is time to move on and away from Sinn Fein.

  • picador

    Patrick Murphy argues that republicanism in Ireland is less a political philosophy and more a religious cult. I swear he has been reading my posts!

    Ray,

    It used to be within Derry City that he commanded tremendous respect. That is no longer the case. Two years ago, if someone yelled at his wife, he would have had both their legs broken with that person ending up in hospital.

    You seem to be conflating fear and respect. Perhaps if you go out and get a gun people will start to respect you. Or perhaps not.

    McGuinness personally spearheaded his own campaign to trivialise and break down the Irish language education system. One must ask why?

    Can you provide evidence to substantiate your claim. With links please.

  • Ray

    Picador,
    Go take a look at what Martin McGuinness did to Gaeloiliuint, the community-based Irish language organisation that helped found six dosen Irish language schools.
    Go take a look at the founding of the state organisation, Comhairle, that McGuinness established to put Gaeloiliuint out of business and to stop the growth of Irish language schools. Go take a look at Comhairle’s destructive record against the Irish language schools. Gaeloiliuint had serious street credibility. Comhairle has no credibility as was McGuinness’s original plan.
    Gaeloiliuint established the beginnings of the cross-community university at Springvale, An Bradan Feasa, the Salmon of Knowledge, in 2003-04. Sinn Fein representatives deliberately blocked all funding applications to An Bradan Feasa through another state all-Ireland organisation, Foras.
    McGuinness years earlier was going to send his children to the first Irish school in Derry. The weekend before school was to open, he withdrew his children, and half-a-dosen of his neighbours also withdrew theirs as a direct result of Martin’s actions.

  • slug

    The Springvale campus would not have been a good idea. It is not a location that research-active academics would have been attracted to, in the international academic job market.

    The UU have detailed plans for the attractive Cathedral Quarter area which are much more sensible and hold out considerable development potential for UU as a metropolitan research intensive university.

  • slug

    A problem with Irish language medium schools is that they possibly take Northern Ireland in a more segregated direction.

    Martin McGuinness was more helpful in terms of integrated education – he saw the merit in that and reduced the criteria for viability. Integrated education has since grown considerably. And with greater integration there is more hope that NI will progress away from such a divided society. Allowing protestant and catholic to be educated together.

  • Pete Baker

    Guys

    Try to focus on the actual topic.

    And avoid being sidelined by special interest comments.

  • picador

    Ray,

    Well I would take a look at these allegations if I could find any more information on them.

    However a search on gaeloiliúint reveals little other than similar unsubstantiated allegations posted anonymously on a blog by Máirtín Ó Muilleoir. Links please.

  • slug

    Pete

    “avoid being sidelined by special interest comments. ”

    LOL. Mea culpa. Sorry. Feel free to delete my remarks.

  • Ray

    Slug,
    The point I am making is that Martin McGuinness is disingenuous and cannot be trusted, hence his peculiar usage of traitors and imposters which I find very telling.
    The Irish language is a manifestation of that and is representative of the bigger trust issue. The Irish/Scottish language is in reality the native language of Ulster, not English.
    Perhaps, the GFA was simply a special interests issue and nothing more. Group mono-think may work in the civil service, but not in the real world.

  • pól

    [i]Meanwhile in the real world, 400,000 people are unemployed in the south. Where, in the inter-republican argument, is the case for a nationalised banking system? Where is the policy for state investment in the manufacturing industry? Whatever happened to the concept of cooperatives and mutual help in rural society? Instead we have competing claims on the quality and legitimacy of one organisation’s historical pedigree over another’s. It may not be best religious practice but it is time for Sinn Fein to concede the argument and walk away.[/i]

    It’s about time that a political party here has been pulled up on their severe lack of policy. In political terms, this statelet is bereft of any firm, workable, [b]visible[/b] social policy from the main political parties. It’s a shambles. I considerer myself a republican, but I don’t support any of the shambolic parties we have. The whole political arena here is one big fat junket where people argue over matters that are insignificant to the vast majority of people. I’m not saying that people don’t care about the “National Question,” but we have let it rise to such a ludicrous level of importance that we allow it to obfuscate the actual reality of day to day life.

    We need to collectively wake up and smell the coffee. Just look at the recent threads on Slugger – all this GAA shite, Martin calling murderers traitors, police harassment of a journalist over said ‘traitors’, “your expenses are bigger than ours,” “oh no! my brand of bigot might not top the European poll”… These topics get posts a plently. Water charges, the economic situation, not much said at all.

    In the words of Morrissey, “Come armageddon, come armageddon, come!” I call for Swine Flu, or whatever the next ‘epidemic’ craze is, to be pumped into Stormont.

  • Ray

    Picador,
    I am afraid you will have to do a little street work on your own. There are no links because I imagine there was no money to maintain a web site. You will find some people who knew what transpired and others who will be reluctant to speak.
    Please rest assured, these statements are not unsubstantiated. Go into west Belfast and Springvale and find people who were around at the time and know the actual inside story on what occured.
    I appreciate your genuine interest in getting to the truth! The story is most telling.

  • pól

    And just to prove what I’ve said, have a read through the comments above.

  • picador

    Ray,

    There are no links because I imagine there was no money to maintain a web site.

    Therein lies the problem!

    Hijack over.

  • eranu

    pl, swine flu only a matter of time at stormont. its already full of pig swill!
    unfortunately alot of the people in stormont know nothing other than being in conflict with eachother. they dont know how to be any other way. look at their backgrounds, they have zero skills to be MLAs never mind run departments. so to get things done in the real world we need new people to put into stormont. people with a track record of management skills etc.

  • Declan

    You do not have to be einstein to see the british had a long term plan based around helping marty through the peace plan and now turning republicans against each other.The moral of the tale is never trust a ‘fisherman’. 🙂

  • Peter Fyfe

    jesus trusted fishermen

  • Peter Fyfe

    The head fisherman went on to create the whore of rome and install himself as the anti-christ. I don’t beleive this statement I just made but rough parallels can be drawn and I am not comparing Jesus to the IRA. There is a group of people who are much more interested in how their idea of republicanism is carried out than in what it achieves. I would see similar paralells with the catholic church in it seems more interested in the process than the result with the use of contraception in Africa being a prime example.

    It would be too much to ask of Sinn Fein to try and tackle real issues coming up to election as anybody would catch on how useless the present situation is and hopefully the DUP and Shinners would be voted out. It is easier to say we were right then and now for some twisted reason that once went down to the blessing of a senior citizen and now seems to go down to a democratic mandate now that it suits. I suppose it is a step forward.

    This bit by Marty reminding people about how poorly he is paid is another example of this ill-conceived bashing of public representitives getting money from the taxpayer. I want somebody who can do the job properly. The purpose of a well paid wage to public representitives is to ensure democracy and allow anybody and the best to take these jobs. It is an issue at the very heart of republicanism as it serves to promote the idea any person regardless of their background can be elected to govern if the people see fit to elect them. It is another example of how the rather logical idea of republicanism is swamped in the semi-religion of Irish repulicanism. We all know who comes out the winner in that arguement here. The killing of a electoral office worker would be similar in you would be supressing the idea of democracy just because it was encouraged by an opponent.Another fine example of this crushing of free speech and choice would be the Shinners reaction to squinter when he criticised Gerry. These recurring signs signal the ‘Irish’ is much more importatnt than the ‘republican’ to sinn fein and this ongoing arguement about who owns republicanism is silly. They both clearly ignore what the Irish people want when it suits them to so neither is republican. We had fair westminster elections for many years in which irish nationalists voted for the SDLP who opposed violence and rejected Sinn Fein who supported it. No difference there, Marty, apart from the fact some people caught themselves on.

  • pól

    [i]unfortunately alot of the people in stormont know nothing other than being in conflict with eachother. they dont know how to be any other way. look at their backgrounds, they have zero skills to be MLAs never mind run departments. so to get things done in the real world we need new people to put into stormont. people with a track record of management skills etc. [/i]

    That’s why we should follow Egypt’s lead and have a precautionary cull of our politicians. I’m voting Green this year I think. I don’t agree with all their policies, but at least the bloody have some. It’s more of a protest against the lack of any real politics (for want of a better term) in the North.

    If we just ignored the ‘National Question’ (what an awful phrase) at the ballot box, just gave it a wee try, maybe everything would work out. I wish (Irish) Labour would properly organise here.

  • PL,

    As you probably know, the Irish Labour Party decided that it would never stand candidates up here. Which was no surprise given that Gilmore et al have seen the north as a liability for nearly two decades. If you want to vote for a left alternative that concentrates on social and economic issues, you’ll have to look to The WP or some other group.

  • pól

    [i]As you probably know, the Irish Labour Party decided that it would never stand candidates up here.[/i]

    Yeah I did know. However, according to the Irish Labour NI constituency website:

    “We will be bringing a resolution to Labour’s Wexford Conference. The resolution will task the party with registering with the Electoral Commission as a political party in Northern Ireland, and contesting the next local government elections.”

    Mind you that was in July 2007,and there doesn’t seem to be an update on that at all. It’s a shame, because Labour have a very pragmatic approach to said ‘national question,’ and could potentially gain support here, particularly if this economic crisis gets us deeper in the shit. I’ve emailed Labour. I am interested in joining, but only if their is some commitment from the Party to have another look at the North. Their policies are well thought out and achievable.

    [i]If you want to vote for a left alternative that concentrates on social and economic issues, you’ll have to look to The WP or some other group.[/i]

    In my dark past I was an active member of the SWP. The final straw for that particular dalliance came when a member suggested that we procure some weapons. Even as an 18 year old with dreams of revolution this was a step too far. The WP don’t hold much interest for me, mainly due to their relative irrelevance North and South. I’ve never even come into contact with any WP members/canvassers here in Derry.

  • The recent 21st Century Commission report ruled out standing in elections. A northern Labour member posted on it when the news came out at this link in November, and then again in February. She subsequently left.

    http://southbelfastdiary.blogspot.com/2008/11/close-door-on-your-way-out.html

    Thanks for the SWP story. It’s quite entertaining.

    As for the left here in the north, any of the groups is at the minute in relative or complete irrelevance. I think though devolution opens the possibility of slowly chipping away at that. Frankly though groups like the Greens stand in the way, so it will be quite some time before any serious progress can be made.

  • pól

    Thank for the link Garibaldy. I have no idea how the Labour party have it in their heads that the SDLP are basically equivalent to themselves. Irish Labour seems to be a good few steps to the left of the Stoopers. They seem to have compared the two parties only on the basis of child poverty policy. Obviously mutual membership of the PES is a stumbling block for electoral organisation in the North. I’ve recognised this since I first stted considering joining Labour, but there are 2 PES members from Hungary and Poland.

    Reading through this report is slightly sickening. There is no way I’d dream of joining the British Labour party, particularly with their horrible slide to the right.

    Never knew that you had a blog yourself, I’ll have a look through that now – something else to distract me from post-Communist Transylvania.

  • Not sure I’d agree that the southern Labour party is that far to the left of the SDLP. They came out with some very dodgy stuff under Rabbitte about immigrant workers, although Gilmore is trying to position them more to the left. I worry though that this is not going to be reflected in any participation in a coalition government after the next election. I’d consider both the SDLP and Labour to be on the right of the spectrum of European social democracy.

    If you don’t know it already, I’d say you’d like the cedar lounge revolution blog (which I also write stuff for, though not that much of late). World by Storm is the best left blogger on the island, along with splintered sunrise.

  • pól

    I’ve just discovered it today. Completely confused as to how I managed to remain oblivious to it up until now. Some great reading there. I haven’t been active in politics in quite some time. Going to Uni (and studying Law and Politics) somehow drove it out of me – at odds with the traditional political awakening that students are ‘supposed’ to go through. Having finished that course, bummed around Derry in a dead end call centre job, and having now returned to education with the OU, I’m slowly getting back into Socialist politics – particularly after the shambolic way my redundancy was brought about. Unfortunately most of the politically aware people that I would have hung around with are still caught up in the SWP, and the vast majority of the rest are SF supporters now.

    To be honest, I’ve only started looking at Irish Labour fairly recently, although I did meet some of their junior representatives at a youth politics and poverty conference in Glasgow 6 years ago (just after I severed ties with the SWP), and I was very impressed. Obviously, as is the case with British Labour, some of the grassroots were much further to the left than the head honchos.

  • Driftwood

    pl
    Why not support the UK Labour Party? I know it’s not left wing anymore (hasn’t been since John Smith died) but the word ‘socialism’ still seems anathema to most media savvy politicians.
    The mainland Labour party used to claim the SDLP as their ‘sister’ party here as an excuse for not standing. AFAIK the Lib Dems regard Alliance in such a manner. Now the Conservatives have joined with the UUP. I suppose SF- Ourselves Alone- could align with their spiritual allies the BNP.
    The DUP would be siding with UKIP I suppose.

  • pól

    Driftwood – for precisely the reason that they aren’t left wing anymore.

    I can’t stand they way the Socialism has become a dirty word – in much the same way as Liberal has in the USA.

    On your jab at SF – I think they are a reprehensible party, but to compare them with the BNP is slightly ridiculous. Have you looked at the BNP’s proposition for the future of Ireland? Makes me shudder even thinking about it. Even a staunch unionist would have to admit their racial policies are a world away from SF’s alleged sectarianism.

  • Driftwood

    pl
    Replace ‘Brits out’ with ‘Pakis out’ and you’ll get where SF are coming from. Like Nick Griffin, Gerry Adams mindset is to dress up hatred in media savvy terms. The very meaning of the term ‘Sinn Fein’ is sheer tribalism, to put it mildly.
    The Irish Labour Party seem to me (and i’ve no real insight) to be a mouthpiece for the public sector unions in the republic. That’s not left wing,in any ideological sense, it’s cynical pragmatism. But that’s the world we live in.
    So it goes…

  • pól

    I don’t think that ‘Brits Out’ has been an electoral slogan for SF. As has been pointed out here before, SF an their ilk have always wanted the British State out of the North, rather than British people. I think they are wankers in the extreme, but the mudslinging here (in the North in general) has me totally peeved and feeling disenfranchised. What good is a vote if it doesn’t allow change?

    On the Irish Labour issue, have a look at http://www.labour.ie/party/ or a brief overview, and then look at some of their policy documents. Compared to New Labour, they are most certainly left wing.

    A few brief examples from their policy list:

    [i]Given the huge gap that has developed in earning levels in the public service, an earnings cap of €200,000 in the public sector, and the suspension of the system of performance related pay for higher civil servants

    The rate of capital acquisitions tax should be increased to 28%. The threshold for Category A should be reduced to €250,000.

    Tax relief for all property related schemes must be ended. In order to prevent the re-emergence of such schemes in the future, we propose that a minimum effective tax rate of 30% should be applicable to all incomes over €250,000.

    A cap should also be placed in the Artists exemption at €75,000, with a facility for averaging incomes over a number of years. [/i]

    These measures are, in effect, redistribution of wealth. Their proposed changes to the banking system are also broadly socialist in nature – i.e. greater regulation of the banks, controlling property speculation, and extended state powers when it comes to the investigation of shoddy financial practise.

    I’m not sure why I’m defending them mind, seeing as they can’t be bothered to take on the SDLP.

  • Driftwood

    pl
    All well and good, the Lib Dems would be their British counterparts. But they are up against 2 populist parties that mean they will always be in opposition. And they are defending the average public sector worker in the Republic much more than their private sector counterpart.
    As for SF wanting the British out of ‘the North’. that’s pretty feeble. They want(ed) the Brits (ie Prods) out but wanted Westminster to fund them in their quest. Oh and ‘Brits Out’ was always a SF statement until they were bought over and got their snouts in the gravy train. When they became Crown Servants themselves, the 32 county ‘socialist republic’ disappeared rapidly when the expense account forms appeared on their desks. Like everyone else, they followed the money.
    The only difference between the BNP and SF is that the BNP didn’t indulge in a racist/sectarian murder campaign.

  • pól

    Driftwood, we’ll not agree on this. I just don’t think the comparison is just.

    Particularly:
    [i]The only difference between the BNP and SF is that the BNP didn’t indulge in a racist/sectarian murder campaign. [/i]

    I’m not getting into an argument over it. In the last few weeks I’ve been making a concious effort to remove my political thinking from the shitpit of sectarian tribalism, and I’m not going to do SF the favour of defending them.

  • PL,

    Law and politics is probably enough to depoliticise anybody! Sorry to hear that you also ended up on the sharp end of the fly-by-night nature of the call centre industry (which our entire FDI strategy seems to be built around these days – hardly the quality jobs we need).

    As for sectarianism and politics here. My position is that sectarian politics is a lot more than openly stirring up hostility against the ‘other side’. By defining yourself as a representative of one side or the other, you are guilty of perpetuating a communalist and sectarian mindset. So it is more than just the Provos or the Paisleyites guilty of it in my view. On the specific issue of the Provos, I can’t really see how it is possible to say that sectarianism has not played a large part in their campaign and their political strategy since their foundation.

    The basic motto of the left is workers unite, not catholics or protestants, or unionists and nationalists unite. I think we on the left have a duty to confront any politics that goes against that basic principle.

  • pól

    I agree with you Garibaldy. Sectarianism has played a role in the Provo’s campaign. However, I don’t think it (in it’s pure, religious sense) has been nearly as prominent, or important, as the role racism plays in the BNP. Sectarianism wasn’t their raison d’etre. Again, this isn’t a defence of that organisation, I just feel it is over simplification to reduce the Provisional movement to one word.

    I reject their tactics and I reject their aims.

    As for the call-centre debacle -I’m currently supposed to be involved in a “consultation process” where the workers have a say in the actual decision to move our jobs, and find out the exact reasons that they are being moved. This consultation by law must last 90 days. It’s lasted 60 so far, but our jobs have already been moved to Newcastle (England – hardly a cheaper place to run a call centre). Funnily enough, one week before this was announced, I started to moot the possibility of getting unionised to my colleagues. Bit late on that one. On the plus side, it, along with the history, identity and conflict degree I’m studying, has re-politicised me. And the bastards have to keep paying me until June, as well as the new people they’ve taken on in Newcastle.

  • pól

    Garibaldy – on the WP, I’ve just been looking through their website – that thing seriously needs a facelift. Stuck in the 90s! Some interesting stuff there though. Is there any organisation outside Belfast? I’m assuming you’re a member.

  • Consultation. That word has become the biggest lie in the English language. Nice though that they have to pay you much longer than they would like.

    On the website, I understand what you are saying, though I find it has functionality in that it’s easy to use. There is organisation outside Belfast, including rural parts of Derry. There has been talk of re-organising the branch in Derry city, but I’m not sure what has happened thus far.