Councillor Forde adds to Sinn Fein’s southern brain drain…

As noted in our post Christmas blogburst, Dublin Sinn Fein councillor Killian Forde, defied the party whip… As noted in that same blogburst, the precedent suggested he would be punished for his efforts… His ‘crime’? Voting for a Labour party budget he had worked with them on… His reasons? Well, before broke the new (and we have independent confirmation of the resignation), he told the Herald he wanted to avoid being accused of ‘chancerism’… From the Herald report:

Sinn Fein councillors on the city council were under strict orders from the party’s hierarchy to oppose the budget. But Mr Forde, who is based in Donaghmede, ignored the dictat.He explained it would have been “chancerism” on his part had he voted against the document as he had spent weeks negotiating for the measures. “We’ve had so many years of ‘chancerism’ in Ireland. It would have been total chancerism if I had gone in there and voted against it. It would have been utterly cynical if I had voted against it,” he said.

Killian, as well as an early politico reader and commenter on Slugger, is not an inconsequential talent… He was moved into Mary Lou McDonald’s office in advance her bid for a Dail seat with a view to taking over from her when she made Leinster House… As we asked on Monday, can Sinn Fein afford to ‘punish’ such talent when they have so few?

Their five councillors now number just four…

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  • Mark McGregor

    i’ve known killian for a number of years and have always been impressed. sadly i dont think he will join a republican or socialist party after leaving sf but i do expect him to do well in centrist politics – probably where he should have been at the start. good luck to him, nice fella

  • Pete Baker


    Has Forde’s resignation been confirmed?

    And has he also changed his opinion from the one noted here

    Then there’s Sinn Féin Councillor Killian Forde’s suggestion, after claiming the murder of Police Constable Stephen Carrol was “quite different from the killing of the British soldiers”, that “They [the British Government] also need to remove all British army personnel, including those garrisoned in the six counties, back to Britain.”

    Or was that/would that be chancerism/utterly cynical?

  • Mick Fealty

    Yes Pete. Just had it authoritatively confirmed. He’s not available for further comment though…

  • Mark McGregor

    pete, has it semi confirmed. i expect it will be announced tomorrow he has finalised his discussions with labour and joined. but the guaranteed dail run wont be.

  • Pete Baker

    It should be noted that he has had more sensible moments, comrade…

    Let’s hope he can dump those “politics of somewhere else”.

  • Pete Baker

    Thanks Mick and Mark.

    I couldn’t see any specific confirmation in the post or links.

  • Wasn’t he their leader on the council after Christy Burke went? To lose one council leader is unfortunate etc.

  • Mark McGregor

    pete, i find it a little amusing that he has a ‘spokesperson’. like who? his wife? or the labour party

  • Pete Baker


    Maybe he’s taking some people with him?

    Just a thought…

  • The Raven

    “He explained it would have been “chancerism” on his part had he voted against the document as he had spent weeks negotiating for the measures.”

    Having no expertise on this subject, would it be completely naive of me to suggest that this is the sort of bi-partisan working we’d all like to see more of? More-so in the six counties…?

  • Mark McGregor

    so sf won 7 seats and have lost 3. that is an implosion in dublin. a party being gutted in the capital

  • JD

    He always struck me as a guy (and certainally sounded like) that belonged in the middle class liberal wing of the Labour Party.

    This is a hard blow for SF in Dublin. He was Mary Lou’s number 1 substitute for her seat in the European Parliament. It goes to show what high hopes they had for him.

    The collapse of Fianna Fail’s working class base has yielded nothing for Sinn Fein. If they can’t make headway against that background they never will.

    A good catch for Labour

  • Mick Fealty

    Or FG? It’s the subject of some speculation where he’s going.

  • JD

    Or FG? It’s the subject of some speculation where he’s going

    Nah. Killian Forde is a good middle class candidate to be sure, but SF to FG defectors are as common as SF to DUP defectors up north.

    His constituency is one in which Labour has been building. Whatever personal vote he has he would more easily carry that to Labour (or even Fianna Fail for that matter) than Fine Gael.

    I think this is Richard Bruton the Fine Gael deputy leader’s constituency

  • Paul Doran

    Mr Forde did not suit SF He would be suited within FG I was snot impressed by him , full of his own importance.If he is a man of principle he should resign his seat and let the people decide.

    All of these former party hacks who resign their party affilations , should automatically stand down and put themselves of for re- election, not many of them have the decenency to do it

  • JD

    “Sinn Fein councillors on the city council were under strict orders from the party’s hierarchy to oppose the budget.”

    The electorate can smell this dynamic, that’s why the electorate on the Republic has bypassed Sinn Fein during the economic crisis.

    As long as Sinn Fein is trying to impose a Northern Party on the South they’ll go no where. Mary Lou is a product of this. If it were left to the Sinn Fein grassroots in Dublin she would have got nowhere.

    Sinn Fein has traded off solidarity with those who are alienated and bitter. There is a wide constituency for that in the six counties, but in the south that is a limited constituency – when you hit that glass ceiling and try reach out to a wider audience then “the alienated and bitter” become alienated from you.

    Sinn Fein has been unable to crack the non alienated left of centre constituency in the south. To be blunt that is well represented by the Labour Party and they’ll make no progress there. Fianna Fail’s collapse took Sinn Fein by total surprise and their inability to make headway there is breath taking.

    Rather than trying to impose a Northern Party on the south, they need to infiltrate an existing Southern Party with Northerners?

    It would be a bitter pill to swallow, but given Fianna Fail’s weakened state, after the next election they could do to Fianna Fail what Demcratic Left did to the Labour Party and do “a reverse takeover”.

    It won’t happen, but if Sinn Fein don’t take the initaitive, a combination of political drift and Alasdair Mcdonnell’s SDLP aggresively embracing Fianna Fail’s all Ireland pretensions will eventually cause SF to retreat back to only cater for the “alienated and embittered” in the six counties and nobody else. It is likely by then that they will also suffer from declining turnout in those heartlands.

    The SDLP thought for years they could trade off past glories and a sense of indebtedness, Sinn Fein are now making the same mistake.

  • JD

    It will be Labour Mick – from his resignation statement:

    “Working with other left wing parties and individuals we ensured that the budget presented to the Councillors on December 21st protected jobs, front line services, secured leisure facilities and minimised service charge increases.”


    “I want to be part of an organisation that can introduce the necessary legislative changes and constitutional reforms that will enable my generation to live on an island they can be proud of. Sinn Féin was not that organisation.”

  • Mick Fealty


    I am really not sure where the FG line came from… Perhaps it was the usual damage limitation SF demob routine…


    I hear what you are saying. And I know things work differently inside the party: a bit like the priesthood, you do what your bishop tells you.

    But in the outside world people are elected as individuals. That way individuals get to take responsibility for their actions, as we are about to see with Robinson and the DUP.

    Ironically it actually is a better way to preserve the health of the party, and always allows for the possibility of renewal and change of tack.

    In this case, the ‘chancerism’ (great term Killian, it deserves to take off) is perfectly evident… You send a guy in to work with Labour on the budget for months and then duck down and vote against… The message it sends out is ‘unreliable partners’…

    What’s interesting is that the party’s actions in Dublin seem counter the instincts of the Dublin chair Eoin O’Broin… So one suspects the kitchen cabinet has been at its old games again… They seem to have learned in minus terms from the 07 rout: Belfast rule is a kiss of death in the Irish capital..

    If it is not (and I suspect that despite the usual mill pond claim exterior, it actually is) the party ought to be worried that former insiders leaving with such confidence too… There was a time when they would almost genuflect on the way out… (Which was generally a good idea to when the IRA nutting squads were much more mainstream than they are these days…)

    Whomever Killian goes to (if it is within the mainstream at all) he’ll take a degree of insider knowledge that I reckon will be useful…

  • Henry94


    I think that’s a good take on the problem. You can’t bring it talented people and then tell them to act as f they have no minds of their own.

    All Irish parties are run from the top down of course so Sinn Fein isn’t all that unusual. But if it wants to make an impact then it has to be different. Real democracy at all levels is the way to go.

    Otherwise the future in the south is a small part eventually going into coalition with FF and getting wiped out by the experience. The people of the south are crying out for a party in my opinion. But one that listens. Sinn Fein doesn’t. But it’s not too late to change.

  • Los Lobos

    Wrong Henry94, it is too late to listen. SF are not unusual as dictorships go in that listening is something they don’t do. Why would you listen when you have all the answers and everybodyelse is wrong? Do you know anything about SF politics at all? Have a look at the last budget from the NI Government. Any necon Government in the Western world would be salavating at the mouth with the offers thrown to private interprise and men of property as it was a charter to bankroll developers. This is the same Party who believed that selling off public owened property and then leasing it back to the tax payer was a good idea because the revenue could be used to fill the trough they had their snouts in! This young fella in the South has had a lucky escape, Dennis Donaldson and many before him weren’t so lucky.

  • Henry94

    Los Lobos

    That kind of rhetoric has limited appeal in the south and the Socialist Party, The SWP and the Workers Party are already representing it. They are all centralist parties too of course run on Leninist lines. The SWP don’t even run under their own name so hush-hush is their cunning plan.

    If that approach was going to pay off in public support it would have happened by now.

  • Mick Fealty


    I agree with Henry… That’s it almost exactly… The coming hiatus in Northern Ireland will not be good for SF…

    If the new SDLP leader can prosecute a half competitive campaign they’ll be just one of four significant parties in the negotiation, and not one of just two.

    And all the others have indicated they are not in principle wedded to mandatory coalition (or permanent government as it is known).

  • Mick Fealty

    Los Lobos,

    Whether those things are good or bad, the political problem with them is that they were not ideas generated from within the party.

    Think education in which their Minister tried to brow beat rival parties to accept legacy and largely unmodified plans borrowed from previous British direct rule ministers.

    They have not developed the assets to work successfully within a representative democracy north or south. Understandable when you consider for a moment where they have come from. But by no means a reliable passport into the future.

  • Henry94


    The SDLP will rule out “voluntary” coalition coalition during the election campaign. It’s seen by nationalists for what it is. A device to exclude Sinn Fein.

    If the SDLP were to do it they would be decimated at the next election. It’s not on and will never be on.

    I think unionists are crazy to even contemplate it. Keeping Sinn Fein on board should be their primary strategic objective but they appear too consumed by their internal own anti-republican pissing contest to see where their best interests lie. Just like with P & J they think bad news for SF is good news for them. It isn’t. It’s good news for the dissidents and nobody else.

  • URQUHARTv2.0

    What will he do when SF do the deal with Irish Labour / Workers Party?

  • Mick Fealty

    Several problems with making ‘keeping SF on board” a priority for other parties Henry…

    – you give them what you should be delivering to your own voters, mostly for little in return… which is both stupid and irresponsible in the sense that you are defrauding your own voters…

    – and you have the tactical approach, illustrated aptly above… they are simply to unreliable to work closely with in any safety…

    – and the last: the record suggests that those who get too close to SF also get burnt, the last one very badly…