“Remember the passion, the self-confidence, the enthusiasm with which we hated the Prods”

A return to something like his best satirical form Newton Emerson in the Irish Times takes a bite at those members of southern Sinn Fein now expressing their disillusionment over how things have turned out [file under humour]:

In recent years I have become increasingly disillusioned with the direction of the party. The leadership promised a “peace strategy” to deliver a united Ireland through the exclusively political institutions of the Belfast Agreement. It is now painfully obvious that when they made this promise, they actually meant it. I cannot overstate the mounting sense of betrayal at this realisation among genuine community activists such as myself.

Of course, we all nodded along through all those interminable meetings at all the fine talk of engagement. But it was always understood that we were only doing this to confuse the Brits and antagonise the Prods. Republicans of principle and integrity truly believed that the lying, cheating and stealing would continue.

I distinctly recall a senior party figure winking right at me from the platform while proposing recognition of the PSNI. This is the kind of clarity that the movement has lost as we have been drawn into finally doing what we said we would do. Many genuine community activists such as myself are now asking what Sinn Féin really stands for, other than what it publicly stands for, which I would never have knowingly stood for.

Much of the blame for this confusion must lie with the Northern leadership, which does not understand that the South does not understand the North. Long-standing members here in the 26-county transitional jurisdiction are dismayed to hear colleagues from Belfast refer to the unionists as almost normal.

Our core belief that the unionists are baby-eating occupiers must remain at the very heart of what Sinn Féin is all about. Remember the passion, the self-confidence, the enthusiasm with which we hated the Prods back when many of us joined? We need to recapture that wonderful feeling.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty