Why did Sinn Fein not ‘close the deal’ in the south?

It’s pretty obvious that for now, the deal between Sinn Fein and the Northern Irish nationalist population is effectively closed. In Northern Ireland, nationalism delivered an ‘as you were’ result, not dissimilar to the one it delivered two years ago, which rewarded Sinn Fein with three Ministerial seats, and the SDLP with one. Not so in the Republic, where Eoin O’Broin notes that his party failed to close the deal with a growing number of people who are falling away from the two larger parties or ‘Fianna Gael’ as Fintan O’Toole put it last week. My own guess, in a word, is credibility. As Liam Clarke noted last weekend, the fact that Labour alone of the Dail parties voted against last September’s bank communicated something insincere and even capricious about the party’s policy making process which I suspect will be part of the internal discussion that O’Broin to which refers.

Adds: (courtesy of observer) “Sinn Fein has been imploding for quite a while…

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  • observer

    Interesting article in yesterday’s Sunday Tribune as well.
    http://www.tribune.ie/news/article/2009/jun/14/the-partitioning-of-sinn-fein/

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    People dont think they can now afford to be anti-Lisbon – that must have contributed to their difficulties and as we all now know that FG and FF also dont know anything about economics SF’s problems on that front presumably were less important.

  • Mick Fealty

    Like I said Sammy, ‘insincere and capricious’…

  • Brian Walker

    Mick,
    The fruitful discussion you, Pete and others have led on the future of nationalism post-election reflects one weakness, it seems to me. Like the reported remarks of luminaries like Martin Mansergh and Brendan O’Leary, for whom intellectual rigour is an important as political aim, the debate about Unity vs the Union still leaves both positions essentially intact and unchallenged. A creative enterprise now would be to develop a shared and outward looking theory for this community which is defined as much by its underlying similarities as its obvious divisions and is built on more than pieties. The Agreements created a new balance of power and sought to find points of compromise, balance and neutrality over toxic symbols and clashing behaviours (flags, parades, games etc) which are proxies for the basic Union v Unity struggle. The task now is to find satisfactory means for embracing elements of both sides, to express not just the common identities that exist but struggle to find expression but the compelling common interests that are habitually sidelined by sectional clamour. It’s a tough one, to come up with sexy ideas about living together (politically!) to counteract the haunting pull of discrete versions of the past and to extract the best of them for the future. A new Year Zero is neither possible or desirable. A beginning has been made and seems artificial but in its day the Celtic Revival on which a sense of Irish nationhood was built was hardly spontaneous. What it had were champions to keep buggering on. This is an age to forge new relationships, not to cut out old ones, inside NI and with both Britain and the Republic.

  • Sammy,

    Don’t buy that argument. Look at the results of groups to the left of the provos and more opposed to Lisbon. Higgins is anti-Lison, as is the PBPA which cleaned up in the area Ó Broin – at one point talked about as a future TD – couldn’t win a council seat. There is something deeper going on here. I think Mick is right that it is about credibility. I think that the southern electorate does not regard the provos as a serious alternative in Dáil terms (and the pathetic performance of their TDs has hardly helped), while at local level in some areas they were outworked by groups to the left. The Labour Party under Gilmore has gained credibility. Let’s not forget that people were predicting that Labour could lose the Dublin Euro seat at the start of the campaign. In the end they walked it. We can see the difference between the two from that.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Ach now Stuck-record, still at it I see. Here’s why SF failed, yet again, in the Free State: http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/taste-of-good-life-purged-appetite-for-united-ireland-1773206.html

    When even Martin Mansergh rejects Nordie parties for the alien, know-nothing blow-ins they are, even the dimmest amongst us* needs to start appreciating quite how absolute partition is. But perhaps you don’t? I know what: tell us one of yer grand old routines. Tell us da one where ‘da Brits can’t do nuffink’, but now, somehow, they can, but ‘oh soir, pluze soir, don’t do dem terrible tings’. Alternatively, and from your point of view, so much more sensibly, keep on running.

    *’Us’ obviously tolerantly includes even the most plastic among us.

  • kensei

    That Tribune article looks to be on the money for me. If SF remains a “Socialist” party – in other words, marxist and of the far left, then they are on a hiding to nowhere. It is obviously not good that article appears to have people on the Left of the party briefing against it, but in the long term they need to move forward with as many of people as possible on the left, but without them if need be. Eoin points out

    We made important breakthroughs in Limerick, Wicklow, Cork, Tipperary and Kilkenny

    possible in part only because of the changes already made. That doesn’t mean SF shouldn’t be a party of the broad Left, but it needs to be contesting ground with Labour and not far left Socialist parties.

    That means a pragmatism that the far Left would never accept. Though obviously it has to stem from principle. I also think Adams got the tone badly wrong in his Ard Fheis speech. It wasn’t a bad speech – in better times. Compare Gerry’s rambling and wandering affair to Gilmore’s unrelenting focus on the downturn.

    They also need to drop the “We were right stuff” as there is precious little evidence for it; and even if they were correct on housign, no one saw the immense global crisis that excaberate dit. When they they say “We were right – we shoudl do all the stuff we were calling for before” (A state bank – oh c’mon). It looks like they will just call for the same things regardless of context rather than solutions coming from a situation and analysis. Moreover, people know that there will be need to be some tough choices; saying to just run the debt up doesn’t fly. To what level , for how long, what are the benefits, how do you recover it?

    As Liam Clarke noted last weekend, the fact that Labour alone of the Dail parties voted against last September’s bank communicated something insincere and even capricious about the party’s policy making process which I suspect will be part of the internal discussion that O’Broin to which refers.

    I’m not so sure about this. SF is in government in the North and could not simply reflexively oppose it and it’s not necessarily a good idea. It needs remembered that the crisis everywhere was acute and the sense of panic high everywhere.

    More likely they were caught out in the detail and thought without the corruption surrounding the Anglo Irish bank. I doybt FG would still back it, given the chance, never mind SF. It hurts them, but it’s certainly a defensible positon.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Walker: “a creative enterprise now would be to …” blah. No Brian, it wouldn’t be ‘creative’, it would be political esperanto. It would be a remote, high-liberal enterprise, attempting to give political heft to a project for which there is *no* popular enthusiasm. Stay mired in unrealism if you want, but you really are quite old enough to know better by now.

  • Mick Fealty

    Brian,

    I’d say one thing that SF got right in this forum was to bring people in from outside the party’s normal orbit. The kind of intellectual capital that’s required for the kind of project will requires I suspect, real movement inside the nationalist (and/or unionist) intelligentsia; not just one party or another.

    That requires a will and a sense that finding matters of such common interest (to be turned to common endeavour) are actually politically useful.

    If they fail, there is no longer a milch cow available either from London or Dublin, so hopes that a vacuum would suit one side or the other are pretty futile.

    Turning to the south, I am not sure what an attractive southern project would look like. I suspect the party needs to return to first base and ask itself what a 21st Century (post conflict) Irish Republican party would, should or could stand for.

  • Mack

    Sammy wot done it –

    Doesn’t matter how many times you say it –

    as we all now know that FG and FF also dont know anything about economics SF’s problems on that front presumably were less important

    it won’t make it true.

    So will SF back Lisbon now?

  • I think the Tribune article completely misidentifies the problem when claiming there is some sort of socialist v nationalist split. It’s a convenient hook, but little actual evidence supports it.

    You had some people walk away in Dublin and form éirígí who were of a left persuasion, but a lot of their activity has centred round more traditional national concerns, especially of late. It does seem that some damage was done to the political organisation in Dublin by the loss of this group, but that could have been more than compensated for by the gains from media, profile and finances from electoral successes. Ó Broin is the most left of the leadership, and it did him no good at all. Ó Broin couldn’t sustain his leftish magazine as there was no constituency for it within his party.

    In fact, when you look at the people emerging and the people they are replacing there is no split on politics. It’s about presentation and – in the case of Burke – position within the organisation rather than policy.

  • kensei

    Mick

    Turning to the south, I am not sure what an attractive southern project would look like. I suspect the party needs to return to first base and ask itself what a 21st Century (post conflict) Irish Republican party would, should or could stand for.

    They also need to ask: what is a “successful” project, in the medium term? 10% of vote? 15%? How many seats?

    Given those parameters — what is actually possible? You have to want to be in government to do something, not just want to be in government. Where best would joined up North/South minstries be useful? Those pragmatic concerns also impact on how you sell yourself, and how you do your business.

    What is required is pragmatic idealism. The former on its own is too cynical – or insincere, the latter too likely to lead to lead tot he split or the best getting in the way of the good.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Mack,

    thats not one of your better arguements – try this one – doesnt matter how many times you deny it, it doesnt make it false.

    Below is extract from the mustachioed – biggus brushus – Willie O’Dea on the subject of FG economic know how.

    Continuing with the hirsute theme – 2 bald feckers arguing over the economic comb.

    “So what did they say back then? Responding to Budget 2006, Enda Kenny said “my biggest regret about this Budget is that it does not give people enough”. Not much warning there.

    Maybe they were clearer a year later?
    Speaking after Budget 2007, Richard Bruton criticised the modesty of the increase in child benefit and the budget for social housing.

    Fine Gael were still demanding that we spend more
    — even after Budget 2008, with Olivia Mitchell expressing bitter disappointment that funding for arts organisations had been cut.”

  • kensei

    Gari

    I think the Tribune article completely misidentifies the problem when claiming there is some sort of socialist v nationalist split. It’s a convenient hook, but little actual evidence supports it.

    The far left vote certainly seems to have moved on. If it hadn’t Mary Lou and not Higgins would be an MEP.

  • One prime example of SF failure on the All Ireland issue is Foras na Gaeilge, the island wide language body charged with promotion of the Irish language. It seems to many in the Irish language community that this body is entirely ineffective at promoting Irish and that a great deal of public money is being squandered on enhancing the bureaucracy or feathering the nest of the Foras at the expense of front line services.

    SF has four members on the board of Foras and that is the most significant representation by any party other than FF on the board. During the reign of the current board – since December 2007 – began, it has presided over the demise of one Irish language newspaper and is now to watch another go to the wall (Lá Nua and Foinse). It has also failed to publish annual reports and accounts for the years 2005-8 and only published the 2004 accounts in February this year. The Foras has issued an embargo against recruitment, without consultation with the Foras, by frontline Irish language organisations while it has added to the complement of its own staff. Farcically it has recruited an executive in Belfast who had previously been working with a pioneering Irish language organisation in the city. The executive is now with Foras in the city – but has no budget and therefore is in no position to do anything. Meanwhile the organisation from which the executive was recruited is unable to fill the vacancy because the Foras won’t allow it!

    In short Sinn Féin are doing their aspirations towards a United Ireland no good at all with their inadequate, ineffective and incompetent performance to date on the board of Foras na Gaeilge. It seems the worst promoter of the United Ireland agenda is SF itself….

  • Modernist

    Do Unionists ever ask themselves why a nationalist party can do so badly in the south but in the north tops the poll? Thats a question aimed at you Laughting Tory Unionist aka William

  • CS Parnell

    Surely the reasons are obvious. People in the south don’t like violence and don’t want it imported. In the past some of them voted for SF because SF said it was a vote that would strengthen the peace process.

    After the Northern Bank affair and especially after Robert McCartney’s murder some people realised they’d been had.

    The fact that Gerry thought the oul charm was a substitute for having a coherent policy and that he loves to lecture the republic from his Norfolk Drive armchair hasn’t exactly helped. Nobody likes a know-it-all especially when they clearly know feck-all.

  • Brian Walker

    laughing U ( why do people chose such unlikely pseuds for their personalities: maybe that’s the point?) Nationalism and unionism are not states of nature, they’re constructs that have deep but not unalterable resonances. Because I’m “my age” I don’t want the future to lapse back into deceptively comfortable dead zones. The old game of trying to fit history into your defensive theory is bankrupt. Indeed as Mick, notes, SF are savvy enough to open out a bit, at least for appearances’ sake – perhaps more. This reflects the big change in my time, the growing confidence of nationalists/catholics. As long as it rejects force, it’s to be unconditionally welcomed. Next up, growing confidence needed for unionist/protestants? And an end to bitter “laughing.”

  • Ray

    Sinn Fein’s Achilles Heal is that it deceives and lies.
    As Concubhar has pointed out earlier involving the Irish language Sinn Fein’s rethoric and its results are quite different. Sinn Fein is simply not truthful. This is all about power and control, not producing results for the community.
    The current discussion about the hunger strike may prove damning. Sinn Fein repeatedly stated during the hunger strike that it was the prisoners inside who made the decisions, not the party outside. We now know that the leadership overrode the prisoners’ decision to end the hunger strike after four deaths.
    When people lie you usually find an consistent pattern of lying. That does not stop when you go into government.
    Sinn Fein is lying about the Irish language and the hunger strike.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Thanks for the effortless condescension Brian. You coat-trailingly ask, ‘Next up, growing confidence needed for unionist/protestants?’ No, Briain, whatever problem you have with ‘unionist/protestants’ (and how unsophisticated & dreary they are to be either), lack of confidence is not one of their more discernible failings. Instead of this verbiage, come out and say it: you dislike the current constructs, and would undertsandably wish to see them replaced with ones you do. That’s an entirely legitimate high-liberal position, and quite characteristic that it should seek to hide its aims behind criticism of exisiting, uncongenial realities. Honest, open liberalism, that’s all I want Brian, and thus far, here as pretty much everywhere else, it’s what liberalism is quite incapable of being.

  • No matter how much its right wing opponents claim it should move to the center right, SF is a party of the left or it is nothing. The reason for this is simple, the centre ground is already taken and has been for some time.

    The main reason SF did poorly in the South was because its working class constituency rejected it as it saw SF as part of the political establishment, all be it in the north. This is hardly surprising as for ten years Adams and co have been touring Ireland and crowing about being in government etc.

    It only took this section of the electorate to glance at SF’s record in Stormont, to see as far as they are concerned SF were part of the problem, don’t take my word for this, it is would SF party members are saying in the south.

    In return for very little, SF members in the north have found themselves neutered, for fear of upsetting their coalition partners, the Brits and Unionists. Whilst their leaders have supported Water charges, teacher assistants cuts and public private partnerships. Not a single major part of the SF election manifesto has been implemented in the North, not ending selective Education, nor an Irish language act worthy of the name, not even the contentious issue of policing has been resolved.

    As I have said else where, the only way SF will grow in the South is if they get out of the Stormont mockney government before Cameron throws them out. Out of the Stormont government, SF in the north may re-invigorate itself and return to a parliamentary and extra parliamentary political struggle. (not armed)

    In the south SF can then move forward with an attempt to build a coalition of all progressive and left forces, without the taint of just up the road their comrades are comfortably embedded with the forces of reaction.

  • kensei

    Mick

    No matter how much its right wing opponents claim it should move to the center right, SF is a party of the left or it is nothing. The reason for this is simple, the centre ground is already taken and has been for some time.

    The left is a big place.

  • Dave

    Mr Walker’s perspective (more fitting in its delusional aloofness to a Lord of the Realm than an ex-BBC left-slanted hack) is that if the Irish nation just agreed that their culture was some ghastly artificial edifice that should be censored to make room for proper British culture to emerge in its place then the Irish would gradually stop being offensively Irish and gradually become agreeably more British, making them less obnoxious to those who have the good taste and decency to be British, thereby removing the friction between the two nations. Problem solved.

    The actual problem is that you have two nations in Northern Ireland who are competing for control of one state. The solution is for each nation to have its own state. What is asked of the Irish nation under the GFA is that it dismantles its nation-state, willingly placing itself among the stateless nations of the word in order to facilitate the claim of this British nation. This, conveniently, serves the agenda of those who always claimed that the Irish nation was never entitled to a nation-state (a motley collection of British, the West-Brits, stooges, assorted quislings, etc). An entity called Great Britain already exists so those who regard themselves as British already have a homeland and would not be entitled to a second homeland under international law. This rules out any moral basis for a second claim to self-determination for this nation. However, as everybody has now signed up to the legitimacy of Northern Ireland there is in place a right to self-determination for the nation of Northern Irish which is essentially a banner for this British nation. It exists and it isn’t going anywhere soon. This should be used as the basis for a repartition.

    The truth that dare not speak its name is that the Irish are quite fond of being Irish and don’t see any need to censor their culture in order to appease a bunch of rabidly anti-Irish tosspots (for want of a more eloquent reference). So, despite the best effort of others, they don’t have any intention of allowing another nation to have a right of veto over their right to national self-determination. This leaves the Shinners in a bind because their British-sponsored agenda is that the Irish nation will renounce its right to national self-determination in exactly the same manner that they have encouraged the so-called Irish nationalists in Northern Ireland to so and that it will agree to dismantle its nation-state and replace it with a replica of Northern Ireland, agreeing that another nation should indeed have a right of veto. If this was a horse, it would have three legs and only a fool would make a punt on it.

    A nationalist is someone who believes in the nation-state and who believes in the right of a nation to national self-determination. The Shinners, therefore, are not nationalists, just as they are not republicans. They are promoting an agenda that was devised by the British government. Irish people, on the other hand, are nationalists. The GFA is a botched solution to a problem that doesn’t exist in Ireland that won’t exist until it unless it serves as a basis for unity. That is why they won’t get any support among in Ireland beyond a socialist fringe who may in some cases regard themselves as being republican but who don’t fit the actual definition. These folks have never loyal to the Irish state are mere parasites upon its nation, using their ambitions to further their own selfish interests.

    Nobody is going to put a party into the Irish government that is operating in the interests of a foreign government and that would be, for example, acting to siphon investment out of Ireland and into the United Kingdom. They, of course, will sell their service to the British chancellor of the exchequer as serving Ireland but it is serving a foreign country on the “island of Ireland” which they merely wrong call Ireland to obfuscate this betrayal. Likewise, they are used by their masters to “Irish unity” when what they are actually promoting is treason to the Irish nation by seeking to extend the British veto that exists in Her Majesty’s dominion of Northern Ireland into Ireland. They aren’t loyal to the Irish state or to the Irish nation and folks in Ireland see that despite the stooges in the media. That’s why they’re going nowhere down here.

  • ggn

    Dave,

    Can you speak Spanish?

  • kensel

    Yes, the left does cover a wide spectrum of differing viewpoints, but in my opinion it would, given the will be possible to pull together an electoral Alliance of the broad left based on what they agree upon.

    This ‘could’ draw in SF, the LP, Greens, SP, possibly PBPA and some of the indies. The advantages for the LP although less clear, are there as they would clearly be the senior partner, the same is true for the Greens, for unless they join such an alliance they may well be wiped out at the next election.

    SF hopefully will have learnt a thing or to about entering coalition government from the Greens, in my view if they had done better at the last general election and entered a FF led coalition, quiet possible they would have been destroyed in the South at the forthcoming election. Their but the grace of god the SF leadership must be thinking.

    As to the SP, others and indies, an electoral alliance is the only hope of punching above their weight, at both the ballot box and in the Dail as it would allow them to become part of a grouping, with all the rights this entails.

    Forming a broad left electoral alliance will not be easy or inevitable, but it is worth giving it a try, if only for the people and parties concerned to come together and see what they do agree upon.

  • Guest

    LTU,
    “political Esperanto”.That would be the original Northern Ireland.
    What is your stand on the GFA again?

  • Kensei,

    I doubt that the far left vote was big enough to elect Higgins. Looking at 2004, Mary Lou got 60,000 votes as opposed to 48,000 this year. The Greens got 40,000 then, and 19,000 now, with Mc Kenna taking 17,000. I suspect that Higgins took some former Green, some former Mary Lou, and some former FF voters to jump from 23,000 to 50,000 (plus first time voters). If we say that it was the transfers that elected Higgins, then those weren’t far left votes that kept him in the running and then put him over the top.

    Mick Hall is right that a left alliance could make some changes to Irish politics, but not necessarily on the scale that people think. We are a long way away from left-right politics. It’s also possible that such an alliance would damage the Provos in the more rural areas they are doing best in.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    My stance on the BA is that it was a squalid, needless stitch-up that would inevitably lead to an unworkable system of government. Which it has. So there’s my stance: remind me of yours?

  • kensei

    Garibaldy

    I doubt that the far left vote was big enough to elect Higgins. Looking at 2004, Mary Lou got 60,000 votes as opposed to 48,000 this year. The Greens got 40,000 then, and 19,000 now, with Mc Kenna taking 17,000. I suspect that Higgins took some former Green, some former Mary Lou, and some former FF voters to jump from 23,000 to 50,000 (plus first time voters). If we say that it was the transfers that elected Higgins, then those weren’t far left votes that kept him in the running and then put him over the top.

    I don’t think the far left vote is enough on its own. I guess that the majority of votes that Mary Lou lost would have went to Higgins. And where has SF hurt the most? On the left. But given it is a secret ballot, we’ll never know.

  • Guest

    Only show in town

  • Paddy Matthews

    kensei:

    (A state bank – oh c’mon).

    The likelihood at the moment is that we’ll probably end up with three of them :/.

    As with the previous discussion over Eircom, I think you’re missing the point on the whole State vs. private ownership thing and reflexively rejecting something because it’s “left-wing”. Even Fine Gael and the Irish Internet Association have since been talking about re-nationalising Eircom.

    It’s not a matter of whether it’s left- or right-wing; it’s a matter of whether or not the current situation works and if not, what the alternatives are. I really don’t think that State banks or nationalising Eircom are what is putting people off Sinn Féin in the South.

    There are external factors: Gilmore has positioned Labour as being anti-establishment but sanely so; I suspect that if Rabbitte was still leader, the bank guarantees would not have been opposed and Labour would be doing less well in the opinion polls and in real elections.

    There are also internal factors: without being slanderous, I was hugely unimpressed with the calibre of a lot of the Sinn Féin candidates I came across.

    And you can add on to that a continuing unease as to whether voting for SF is giving retrospective support to the IRA’s campaign.

  • Ken,

    I think it’s also a case that the people to the left of the provos have put up a better show this time too in terms of their own organisation and work on the ground. Rather than left voters deserting the provos en masse – their vote held up to show there was no mass desertion, except in Dublin where they were hit hard.

  • kensei

    Paddy

    The likelihood at the moment is that we’ll probably end up with three of them :/.

    Quite. But in theory only temporarily.

    As with the previous discussion over Eircom, I think you’re missing the point on the whole State vs. private ownership thing and reflexively rejecting something because it’s “left-wing”. Even Fine Gael and the Irish Internet Association have since been talking about re-nationalising Eircom.

    I am not rejectign a state bank because it is left wing; I’m rejecting it because it is a bad left wing idea. There are plenty of other ways to get capital to markets that would fit with a left wing but aren’t as staist or centralising. Using the coperative movement offers a possible channel.

    If SF go from “we want X,Y,Z costing a fair bit” before crisis to “we want X,Y,Z costing a fair bit but we were right and its important now” once it hits, it just looks as though they are unprepared to make difficult decisions, and that they are lacking in thought or analysis.

    On Eircom, Ireland’s internet infrastruture is in a mess and it will act as a break on growth if they don’t sort it. If someone tied Nationalisation to huge investment for this purpse, I might buy it. But – where does the money come from now? What is the long term plan? Is there no way to get some private capital in? The devil is in the detail here, and a broad call just to nationalise sounds bad. FG can also credibley call for it where SF can’t, because they don’t also call to nationalise a whole swathe of othetr things.

  • kensei

    Gari

    Rather than left voters deserting the provos en masse – their vote held up to show there was no mass desertion, except in Dublin where they were hit hard.

    I thinkw ere Dublin goes the rest will follow – there is a section of the left vote I just don’t see how SF can hold on to.

  • I was never convinced theirs was mostly a left vote in the first place though Ken. People often say they took the old WP vote, but most of that stayed with the DL people, and then Labour. Or it went to the Greens. Look at where the Provos do well. Not in traditionally strong places for the left, apart from Ferris taking Spring’s seat. The votes they have been getting have been in border and rural places, and most likely been taken from FF. I think the emphasis on the left misdiagnoses their voting base, apart from maybe the Dublin Euro election.

  • kensei

    Gari

    I think the left is the big problems in Dublin, and Dublin is where the big problem is. It extends beyond the Euro vote. look what has happened to their councillors, and the Socialist pick ups.

    On a wider basis, you might be right it is less left less focused but if there is any far left vote there, it’ll go too.

  • GGN

    What would be wrong with keeping SF in the centre and including all Irishmen and women who belief in Irish independance?

    Can we not leave the ‘isms’ to elections after independence?

  • Guest

    GGN,
    I agree entirely

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    If it was the only show in town, why did a.) we bother to show up for talks? Far, far better as a matter of low politics to take a diktat, if it was anywhere near as inevitable as your, uh, revisionism attempts to make out: certainly, unless you’re a tinfoil-hat wearing conspiracy theorist, it didn’t seem preordained at the time – with the Turtle’s witting and unwitting failures during the negotiations being what vexed several of us more than anything else (ie deal, sure, but not that deal) & b.) why haven’t our Provo chums formally signed up to it as end game? Every explicit word Adams ever says about the BA is directly to restate that it, an internally settled NI, is of course *not* ‘the only game in town’ for him. Your analysis, admirably terse as it is, manages to mix both defeatism & buying into the nationalist narrative rather more than a 5000 word essay even by Paul Bew could.

  • I’d agree that the left is the problem in Dublin. But that is because there are now fairly well organised rivals competing for anti-government votes. So they will take away that leftish element. I’m more doubtful they will eat into that core vote. A Fianna Fáil revival will though. Let’s not forget it was Fianna Fáil and not the left that caused the provos to have a bad election in 2007. So they got squeezed from competiting populist forces, and from the left now. It proves how difficult the balancing act they can carry out easily in the north due to the absence of rivals is in the south where they are not the big boys on the block.

    As for those talking about Labour must wait. Shouldn’t they be voting Fianna Fáil?

  • Guest

    Ltu,
    Earth to you,
    I’ll do the polite thing and deal with your points concerning the BA( Pick BA if you don’t know what to study,I’m laughing too)
    A)
    and i’ll even quote you.
    “why did a.) we bother to show up for talks? Far, far better as a matter of low politics to take a diktat, if it was anywhere near as inevitable as your, uh, revisionism attempts to make out: certainly, unless you’re a tinfoil-hat wearing conspiracy theorist, it didn’t seem preordained at the time – with the Turtle’s witting and unwitting failures during the negotiations being what vexed several of us more than anything else (ie deal, sure, but not that deal)”

    They wanted to go to St.Andrews.thay wanted to be special too.

    b)& b.) why haven’t our Provo chums formally signed up to it as end game? Every explicit word Adams ever says about the BA is directly to restate that it, an internally settled NI, is of course *not* ‘the only game in town’ for him. Your analysis, admirably terse as it is, manages to mix both defeatism & buying into the nationalist narrative rather more than a 5000 word essay even by Paul Bew could

    Internally settled.Strand .Read it again.
    Strand and .I will bve so kind as to presume that you have never read it.
    The internals of Northern Ireland are the externals of Ireland and the Grand Bretagne.And always will be.I don’t presule that your view is that of the tories,as you are clearly anti-agreement and your auntie is probably not your uncles’ at all

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Um, can someone a.) translate that (clearly weed at Queen’s is cheaper than ever) & b.) explain that we *were*, pretty plainly, discussing the Belfast Agreement? Perhaps you need the various agreements, plural, parsed for you?

  • kensei

    Sorry for delay in replying.

    Yes, the left does cover a wide spectrum of differing viewpoints, but in my opinion it would, given the will be possible to pull together an electoral Alliance of the broad left based on what they agree upon.

    This ‘could’ draw in SF, the LP, Greens, SP, possibly PBPA and some of the indies. The advantages for the LP although less clear are there, as they would clearly be the senior partner, the same is true for the Greens, for unless they join such an alliance they may well be wiped out at the next election.

    SF hopefully will have learnt a thing or to about entering coalition government from the Greens, in my view if they had done better at the last general election, and entered a FF led coalition, quiet possible they would have been destroyed in the South at the forthcoming election. There but the grace of god the SF leadership must be thinking.

    As to the SP, others and indies, an electoral alliance is the only hope of punching above their weight, at both the ballot box and in the Dail, as it would allow them to become part of a grouping, with all the rights this entails.

    Forming a broad left electoral alliance will not be easy or inevitable, but it is worth giving it a try, if only for the people and parties concerned to come together and see what they do agree upon.

    What is the alternative for the left, Labour forever a junior partners to reactionary parties like FF and FG whom they hate and despise. The Greens to live in hope but never develop their full potential. The SP forever on the outside looking in and squabbling with the sects as who is the heir of Trotsky. SF drifting from left to right as the political wind takes them and ever fearful the Brits will pull the plug on them in the north and make them an irrelevancy in the south. The indies to remain what they are, the muscle to get a handful of decent individuals elected, who have to behave like local councillors within the Dail.

    It seems to me the red-green left has nothing to lose and much to gain by becoming an electoral alliance.

  • Guest

    b)parse then mon ami,parse
    a)And st.Andrews is single stranded?
    And um,are we not discussing the agreements that you find squalid?

  • *What would be wrong with keeping SF in the centre and including all Irishmen and women who belief in Irish independance?

    Can we not leave the ‘isms’ to elections after independence?

    Posted by GGN*

    GGN
    Well the answer to this is pretty obvious, firstly as I have said the centre right republican position is already taken by FF and it will take more than SF on its own to shift them. But the main reason why Republicans can not leave out the isms is because they have been there and done that and Ireland ended up with partition and only half a State.

  • Guest

    Ltu,
    “14.If it was the only show in town, why did a.) we bother to show up for talks?”

    Forgive me for having deduced from this statement that the only show in town or not the only show in town existed before these talks and that therefore you “”were”” refering to subsequent talks.Eer Leeds or St.Andrews, and Um.Um, they resulted in BA/GFA with minor qualifications, and not even modifications.Um

  • Brian Walker

    dave, like laughing boy, You miss the point at length and entirely. Funny thing, to read attacks that assume they are somehow mainstream rather than perched on the margins. You inflict the terms of nationhood as unalterable absolutes on the Northern Ireland people. The situation is bad but not that bad. I am not using code for unionism, I’m looking for a degree of common political identity to emerge from the morass of history. So are many decent politicians, writers, academics, punch-drunk public servants and drinkers in pubs. People of all traditions who are children of the enlightenment searching for progress. If I were unkind I might accuse you of indulging in a self satisfied, chippy, anachronistic rant. The motto for progress is: learning to take responsibility for the present and future, rather than behaving like stereotypes of the 19th century.

  • Guest

    Brian,
    sorry to intervene but by “Northern Ireland people” you are refering to 55/60% of the people who live in the 6 counties.The rest are Irish.

  • Brian Walker

    Guest, see above, and spare me the over-defining. Try Scrabble instead, it has greater political value.

  • Reader

    Guest: The rest are Irish.
    So are most of the 55/60% that you referred to.
    I think Brian was looking for a label that covered 100% of us Nordies but not the southerners. (OK then: “Nordies”)

  • guest

    Brian,
    point taken.I am a bit jumpy this evening.

  • Guest

    reader,
    point taken.
    although I do believe that there is a fundamental contradiction in being Irish and being Northern Irish or British, and that time will pitch one against the other.It may be a darwinian simplicity, but a book is not written until it is read, and “Irishness” will seek to define itself with time, and I can only see the 4 million winning through?It’s rude and non-quantum,but it is life

  • Guest: I must disagree entirely. The idea that there is a fundamental contradiction between being Irish and British is the cause of our problems, not the solution. We live in an age of increasingly subtle identity (African-American, “New Irish” etc.) and I don’t see how forcing people to choose between monolithic labels is in the least constructive.

    Reader: “I think Brian was looking for a label that covered 100% of us Nordies but not the southerners. (OK then: “Nordies”) ”

    What about “Norners”? 🙂

  • Guest

    Andrew,
    I like “Norners”.
    Or “foriegners”?
    I agree that we live in an age of,well, post-nationalism,but my problem with that point of view is that it seems that those who were most nationalist in the past seem to be those who are most in agreement with the end of history lark.
    I have children who have a different nationality than I have and it is eye-opening.Where I have a problem and where I personally see the line drawn is when one’s claim to irishness reduces(officially) anothers claim to nationally.Unionists who “are” Irish(that hurt) reduce “Irishness” to a subset of 3britishness” while on an international scale Brithishness is a nationality en par with “irishness”.Can you see that there will be eventual philophical conflict,

  • Guest

    excuse the orhograph

  • George

    Reader,
    I think Brian was looking for a label that covered 100% of us Nordies but not the southerners

    Considering over 300,000 Nordies are now citizens of the Irish Republic and by 2016 that number should be hitting 600,000, I don’t really think you will have much joy trying to find a label that excludes the Republic.

    It will fail as much as the efforts to have a label for Nordies that excludes the United Kingdom.

  • Guest:

    ‘Unionists who “are” Irish … reduce “Irishness” to a subset of britishness”’

    Oh come on. You might as well say that “Americans” who are “African” reduce “Africanness” to a subset of “Americanness”. Did you study Venn diagrams in school?

  • George:

    “300,000 Nordies are now citizens of the Irish Republic”

    I’m one of them. I’m still a Norner.

  • Guest

    I did Andrew.
    Fascinting stuff.
    I’ll rest determined in spite of your choice quotes.
    amercica is a different ball game.It is a country based on immigration.They are norners in their own land.
    Now, put an American in Africa and let him call himself an African-American.sounds stupid,doesn’t it?

  • Guest: Go back far enough and all countries are based on immigration. Let us for argument’s sake consider a Polish family settling in Galway (an example close to my heart). Would you ask their children to give up being Polish in order to be Irish? Or would you allow them the freedom to choose their own identity, even if it doesn’t fit into your preconceived boxes?

  • guest

    Andrew,
    Can I close off my garden and declare it a part of the Irish republic?
    No.

  • Guest

    “Go back far enough and all countries are based on immigration”
    the cry of the end of history-“we are all ethiopian!!!!

  • Brian

    You cannot get away with dismissing almost 90 years of injustice and undemocratic government by claiming the enlightenment.
    Historically Ireland had never been partitioned until 1922, yet you wish to use that as the yardstick, which for me makes you a child of imperialism.

  • John O’Connell

    Mick Hall

    SF drifting from left to right as the political wind takes them and ever fearful the Brits will pull the plug on them in the north and make them an irrelevancy in the south.

    What ever do you mean by “pull the plug on them”?

    Throughout history extreme nationalism has always been a right wing phenomenon. That changed slightly with the advent of communist states, who were extreme in their nationalism too, but the contradictions of believing that the state must be maximised through individual endeavour and the goal of social justice for the poor and weak tore them apart.

  • Guest

    JOC-Throughout history extreme nationalism has always been a right wing phenomenon. That changed slightly with the advent of communist states

    Slightly?slightly?
    you’re taking the piss?

  • John O’Connell

    Guest

    I see what you mean. It was just a manner of speaking. But in the whole scheme of things the world was only only changed slightly by communism and its failure to do what it says on the tin, create a just world. It was of course a failure to understand humanity at the heart of communism’s failure. What they were proposing was not what people wanted when they talked of a just society.

    Only a major Christian religion like Catholicism could provide what people really want because they have the advantage of an insight into human nature that Communism just doesn’t have. In the case of Catholicism that insight has been largely absorbed by social democracy.

  • John O’Connell

    Gerry Adams’ has a tenuous grip on power in Sinn Fein. His leadership is the reason why Sinn Fein have done very well north of the border, but his same leadership has obviously hampered their ambitions south of the border. His lack of knowledge on secular issues like economics has ensured that their share of the vote has remained at the same levels as it was five years ago.

    In order for Sinn Fein to do better in the south, they need to get rid of Gerry Adams, and this is where their dilemma lies. In order to maintain the levels of support they’re used to in the North, Gerry Adams must stay as leader. For Sinn Fein it is therefore now a choice between north and south.

    Either way, they will face disappointment. Get rid of Adams and the North will decline without any guarantee that the south will increase in support. Keep Adams and the North will hold but this means that they have given up on the south, a plank in their strategy, and if their strategy is at an end, then Sinn Fein support in the North will slowly begin to decline too.

    It’s a no-win situation for Sinn Fein from now on in. We are in effect witnessing the beginning of the perpetual decline of Sinn Fein.

  • guest

    JOC,
    i’ve written a fairly long response nad clicked post bu it seeems to have been lost.Anyway,we’ll get there.
    I would like simply to say that there may indeed be a neccessary decontamination period,and it doesnt matter if its geerry or martin.Necessarry time lapse;thats all

  • Brian Walker

    mickhall You say “You cannot get away with dismissing almost 90 years of injustice and undemocratic government by claiming the enlightenment.” Well the enlightenment re-emerged from c19 early c20 militant nationalism to produce new ideas, like developing HR, the EU, voting systems – political processes and institutions that solve problems without resorting to violence. Only 90 years? Why not 900 hundred? So what do you do next? Commenting on footling details endlessly is an entertainment not serious politics..

  • Guest

    mickhall You say “You cannot get away with dismissing almost 90 years of injustice and undemocratic government by claiming the enlightenment.” Well the enlightenment re-emerged from c19 early c20 militant nationalism to produce new ideas, like developing HR, the EU, voting systems – political processes and institutions that solve problems without resorting to violence. Only 90 years? Why not 900 hundred? So what do you do next? Commenting on footling details endlessly is an entertainment not serious politics..”
    lets wait another 50,Shall we?

  • Guest

    we are not going away.

  • George

    Andrew,
    I’m one of them. I’m still a Norner.

    And what exactly is that?

  • Harry Flashman

    It is perfectly obvious that SF missed an open goal down south, this election was the first election in three generations that was theirs for the taking. Economic meltdown and total and utter disgust with “established” political parties should, if Sinn Fein are ever to be a meaningful part of the Irish political firmament, have led to Sinn Fein romping ahead, they didn’t ergo they’re dead in the water.

    If Ireland can elect a Trotskyite, I pause to repeat for emphasis, a Trotskyite got elected in Ireland, then Sinn Fein should have been topping the polls, they didn’t, they flatlined, their chance of a lifetime has gone, they may as well pack it in now.

    Across the length and breadth of Europe anti-establishment parties swept into the parliament, in Holland the Freedom Party came second, in Britain the UKIP, the UKIP that bunch of loonies who needed Robert Kilroy Silk to get their vote out last time, came second, beating the Labour Party into third place! The Brits even managed to elect fascists something previously unheard of in a nation famously averse to fascist parties.

    In Ireland this was Sinn Fein’s election, they fluffed it, they will never get such a chance again.

    Unless, unless, no hear me out here, it’s just a crazy notion, it would never happen, but let’s just have a look. As everyone says the Left in Ireland is pretty crowded, so is the centre right, there is one last position which no one seems to cater for and which in certain areas of Dublin must have a growing if so far closet appeal. And after all Sinn Fein is a militant nationalist party, they do have past form, it wouldn’t take much of a change in their election literature but no, they wouldn’t would they?

    The BNP have shown the way, could SF not follow?

    It would never happen.

    Would it?

  • Colonel Myers

    A first world country does not need a third world party.

  • John O’Connell

    Harry

    Without Gerry Adams SF are just another BNP. Unfortunately with Gerry Adams they provoke a severely pointed reaction from unionists that keeps him in place at the top.

  • Ulster McNulty

    Laughing Tory Unionist

    A late response, but thanks for the link to the Indo article about Michael Mansergh – one of Ireland’s finest comedians – by Emer O’Kelly, another emerging comic talent.

    I particularly liked his line about the Celtic Tiger era:

    “…we were very happy to dump aspirations for the language and a united Ireland in favour of flat-screen TVs, designer shoes, and the unending sound of road-digging equipment.”

    I always felt that nationalism and good shoes were incompatable … either that or the general quality of political and social comment in Ireland has reduced to complete fuckwit levels.

  • Brian,

    What you are asking me to accept, is the very people who caused the problem by violent and imperialistic behavior, must be given priority when it comes to solving the type of problems you are alluding to and they first created.

    I e the British government and its unionist gofers who created 90 years of inequality and sham government in the North, are not asked to make any major concessions, whilst those they oppressed have to concede this that and god knows what else.

    I suppose you believe that Benjamin Netanyahu offer of a Bantusland and a ready supply of cheap labour, is a step forward to solving the problems of the middle east, if only those pesky Arabs would act like gentleman.

    You are not proposing serious politics, what your is game is prettifying the jackboot.

  • 0b101010

    The reasons why there is no major shift to Sinn Féin across the south seem fairly clear to me:

    – The south already has its Irish Republic;
    – They are a recently-militant Marxish [sic] party in a neoliberal economy;
    – Their Che-shirt socialism loses votes to the far- and center-left;
    – They are untested in government, as proven by the NIA.

    To date they’ve only proven themselves as a party of struggle, not of government. Reunification would likely wipe them out entirely.