Following the Sinn Fein Debate in the Media (articles linked below fold)

Given the range of opinions being expressed on the current predicament facing Sinn Fein, I thought it useful to post a thread linking many of the pieces which have appeared in the media in recent weeks (though a number of articles of a slightly older vintage have been included due to their relevance to the discussion.) Some of those penned are, in my very humble opinion, not worthy of further comment, owing more to political hang-ups with the Sinn Fein leadership and or party as a whole, though I’ll leave that up to readers’ discretion.

But there have been many other articles which point to the desirability of the party leadership taking time to consider the pros and cons of the party’s current status and modus operandi in an open and self-critical manner.
To my mind, it is infinitely preferable to engage in an honest process of self-scrutiny, and be seen to deal with apparent deficiencies, from a position of relative strength than to await the type of electoral/ political meltdown that has all too often faced political parties which did not grasp the nettle and face legitimate criticism.

There will always be detractors seeking to seize an opportunity to strike a blow against Sinn Fein, and in this part of the world, they will usually find a compliant media ready to provide the platform for such an assault.

But republicans should not be deflected from listening with an open mind to the opinions of others, for there are plenty of friendly voices raising challenging questions. Ultimately, far from doing harm, such a process- if handled correctly- could leave the party in a much better position to build towards its political objective.

Regarding my own thoughts, I am delighted that voices are being raised at this time. There isn’t any question of the party seeking a new leadership at this time- and for very good reasons, some of which were alluded to by Niall O’Dowd in his linked piece below.

But an honest debate does need to take place within Sinn Fein to steady the party’s nerve in the South and to provide clarity as to the direction the party needs to take at this juncture.

Crucially, however, it has long been my opinion that the debate must not address the Southern wing of the party alone, and I have long been convinced that resolving many of the problems currently facing the party will entail a deeper scrutiny of the internal party culture and structure in the North.

I will be elaborating upon these views in time here, but many of my thoughts on where the party currently stands- in a positive and negative sense (and here)- have been detailed on Slugger before.

There is clearly an appetite for debate within the party, and this is borne out publicly by articles and letters attributed to sitting councillors which are clearly critical of the party’s direction- apart from Toireasa Ferris, Killian Forde in An Phoblacht and Matt Carthy on his blog have expressed thoughts publicly which many, many republicans have for long been expressing in private, perhaps best summed up by Cllr Killian Forde’s comments published in An Phoblacht this week:
“Sinn Féin needs to become a meritocratic organisation that relishes discussion, political tension and a constant battle of ideas.”

Fionnuala O’Connor: 14/7/09 Irish News

Toireasa Ferris: 9/7/09 An Phoblacht

Liam Clarke: 26/7/09: Sunday Times

Matt Carthy blog comments

Mick Fealty: 23/7/09 Guardian

Declan Kearney: 23/7/09: An Phoblacht

Chris Gaskin: June – Balrog

G Adams : 27/7/09 Leargas

Conor McMorrow- 26/70/09 Sunday Tribune

Ed Moloney 21/7/09 The Village

Eoin O’Broin: 28/7/09 Irish News

Tom McGurk: 26/7/07 S Business Post

Dennis Bradley: 3/7/09 Irish News

Douglas Hamilton 4/3/09 carried in Slugger article

Tom Griffin: 15/7 Our Kingdom

Brendan O’Leary Views related in Ray O’Hanlon’s article

Killian Forde- An Phoblacht 30/7

  • John O’Connell

    Feeling a bit of a crisis on at the moment, Chris. Or maybe you’re throwing all this stuff out for our information. Kind of you, if so.

    A united Ireland is a great goal for Sinn Fein. It’s a pity they spent the Troubles trying to score even for the past rather than trying to build for the future. But it just goes to show you that Gerry Adams isn’t the best person to lead Sinn Fein into a new era of persuasion.

    When are they going to wise up?

  • g

    Chris, thanks an interesting list. Some of which is as you say redundant.

    Many of the articles you list and some others have been posted on the following site which is a close observer of the debate in the party. It focuses on constructive debate rather than allowing potshots.

  • Ray

    The senior Sinn Fein appears to have a massive inferiority complex. The question is why?
    Was it their Christian Brothers education?
    Was it the paedophiles they were possibly exposed to?
    Why is the SF leadership so terrified of any new ideas?
    Why is the SF leadership so scared of the truth, any bit of truth? Why the constant and never ending stream of lies?
    Why is the SF leadership so terrified of others who produce results for the benefit of all communities?
    Why does the senior SF leadership practice a scorched-earth policy against the Irish language?
    There are many fundamental questions, but no one within the SF leadership dares to answer any.

  • barnshee

    The problem is partition it– provides SF with its power base its whole “raison d` etre”. The lack of vision ( beyond a UI) is badly exposed as they and the DUP confirm the sectarianisation of N,fill their respective boots as they dole out the funds generously supplied by the UK taxpayer and avoid any hard decisions.

    Where are the policies (not platitudes) to solve our problems?? What actions can they (or anyone else) point to? The shit will hit the fan in 2010/11 when the UK govt starts the cutting process in ernest. Watch the blame game begin when the water rates hit.

    The “problem” of partition will be their saviour -watch for a rise in emphasis on “irish unity” issues ignoring the fact that in any UI they would have to compete with FF FG and the rest for the catholic republican vote when these parties decide to have their piece of the action.

  • I’m hearing that Comical Marty is Rathlin bound tomorrow. Wouldn’t it be a shame if the ferry broke down – again?

  • I’m fairly sure that the Cedar Lounge had a few detailed posts on SF… well worth a read.

  • kensei


    I’m hearing that Comical Marty is Rathlin bound tomorrow. Wouldn’t it be a shame if the ferry broke down – again?

    Blunty – no one fucking cares. At least, no one on a topic that has nothing to do with those bloody boats cares.

    No one else gets away with spamming, I don’t see why you should be exempt.

  • Vladimir Lenihan

    Radical group seek republican ground lost by Sinn Fein

  • fair_deal

    Ferris’s stuff seems pretty bang on. Kearney’s is the usual, manages to write an awful lot that means very little with a few dashes of denial for good measure – it probably is meant ot be Adams rebuttal without his name on it if so it seems Adams is clueless what to do.

    Adams piece is schizo half arguing its because people are ‘spooked’ by the non-event that is the unity campaign and half ‘nothing to see here everything is fine’. O’Broin is holding on to his dream that SF is a genuine party of the left and ignoring all the signs that Adams would have no problem ditching any social policy in return for power. Adams isn’t about smashing Fianna Fail or Fine Gael but getting big enough to cut a deal.

    Some of the other pieces will be no doubt dismissed as the ‘usual’ critics but the issue is that sometimes your critics do get it right but Adams seems intent on just ignoring them.