“The leadership of the party appeared to not recognise or were unwilling to accept..”

An iol report confirms the news Mick noted last night, Sinn Féin Dublin City Councillor Killian Forde has resigned from the party. As the report notes, “He is the third city councillor to resign from Sinn Féin.” And, Dublin Sinn Féin Chairperson Eoin Ó Broin said it had become clear in recent times that Killian Forde was “in the wrong party”. On his blog, the newly liberated Cllr Killian Forde agrees

As people within the organisation will know I had become increasingly concerned with the direction of the party over the past three years. This concern was magnified after the 2007 elections but I believed that organisational changes promised to create an organisation fit for 21st century Ireland would evolve. These changes were re-promised after the election debacle of 2009 and yet those changes still had to materialise.

Sinn Féin had become staid and unresponsive and lost direction in the south over the past few years in both policy and organisational terms. The leadership of the party appeared to not recognise or were unwilling to accept that changes are long overdue. These changes were essential to transform the party into one that values discussions, accommodates dissent and promotes merit over loyalty and obedience. It is only logical that if you disagree with the direction of the party and are unable to change it there is no option but to leave.

Adds As the RTÉ report points out

Sinn Féin’s representation on [Dublin] city council has now [been] cut from seven to four councillors within six months of the last local elections.

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  • heamaisbharney

    Seven to four! That is serious in the extreme. How much longer can they stall before confronting the demons haunting their party in the Republic?

  • 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.

  • They will not turn things around in the South when will they get the message that dictatorships no longer work.

  • JD

    To an extent I think the Northern leadership may have recognised the difficulty in organically growing an organisation in the south. Their tactical co-operation with Labour since 2007 and their ignored pleas for an alliance with the Labour Party are evidence that they toyed with the idea of a a southern partner with strong organic roots that Sinn Fein could never grow.

    The problem Sinn Fein has in trying to find an organically grown southern partner (whether it is Labour to the centre-left or Fianna Fail to the centre-right) is that both organisations believe the Provo war, was vain, futile, a failure and fundementally plain wrong. Any potential southern partner for Sinn fein holds that view – and for understandable psychological and motivational reasons Sinn Fein cannot think let alone admit that.

    History is catching up with them – there’s too many contradictions in the Sinn Fein story 1970-2010.

  • Expect SF to probably fall away in the cities and probably stabilise or improve in the border areas with the unfolding instabilty in Northern Ireland but their influence will be determined less by the number of TDs (which is unlikley to change much) but more by the arithmetic of Southern parliamentray politics.

  • JD

    “Expect SF to probably fall away in the cities and probably stabilise or improve in the border areas with the unfolding instabilty in Northern Ireland”.

    I think you are right – it is best case scenario for them.

    For example if in a few years time Stormont is mothballed and Fianna Fail is renewing itself from opposition and it is on local authorities on both sides of the border, Sinn Fein will have a lower profile and lost a unique selling point

  • Ulick

    The trite generalisations about Sinn Féins performance in the “south” aren’t really that informative. Their problem is in Dublin and not so much in the rest of the state. From what I hear that problem is now acknowledged in the capital whereas for four of five years they were in denial. Wether that acceptance is the first step on the road to recovery remains to be seen but I wouldn’t be writing them off just yet.

  • Ulick

    “Expect SF to probably fall away in the cities and probably stabilise or improve in the border areas with the unfolding instabilty in Northern Ireland”.

    Kerry and Limerick are a long way away from the border.

  • JD

    “Wether that acceptance is the first step on the road to recovery remains to be seen but I wouldn’t be writing them off just yet”.

    Fair enough, but there is huge gap between their ambition and achievement. How they brdge that gap is hard to see.

  • JD

    “The trite generalisations about Sinn Féins performance in the “south” aren’t really that informative.”

    I take what you are saying. I accept that Dublin is the most obvious manifestation of the problem, but an analysis of unsuccesful SF candiates leaving as opposed to sitting cllrs would be revealing.

    True progress was made in Kerry and Pearse Doherty does look like a good prospect for a Dail seat in Donegal. However progress in Limerick is really like Sinn Fein’s start in Tallaght, Crumlin or Finglas in 1999 rather than breaking out of the “bitter and alienated” constituency I refered to above.

  • Ulick

    JD

    I’ve been admirer of Eoin Ó Broin’s intelect and organisational skills since his early Belfast days and would be fairly confident he’s the man to sort Dublin out. However the problem I see on the horizon isn’t the “contradictions in the Sinn Fein story 1970-2010” regarding ‘the Troubles’ but the contradictions in their positioning in the cities and in the rural areas. Ó Broin is trying to position the Party firmly on the left and certainly that’s their natural position in Dublin and Cork.

    However throughout the rest of the state, Sinn Féin are a more populist Party with supporters less impressed with the socialist ideology but attracted by the effort, honesty and integrity of the activists (I know that will attract the derision of the usual suspects). You can’t ride two horses as they say so I’ve no idea how that contradiction is going to work out.

  • JD

    You are right Ulick about not being able to ride two horses at once.

    The Worker’s Party had taken the opposite approach in the 1980s and conentrated on the left constituency in the cities and abandoned the border and populist rural constituency.

    However Sinn Fein in the North is not pidgoen holed as a Left party and if anything they seem like Fianna Fail in the 1930s – a strong working class base with a broad catch all populist appeal. O’Broin does a good analysis of how in the past Left Repubican political projects ran aground in the South, and certanally it is important to learn from history.

    When I speak of the “alienated and embittered” I don’t mean “working class”. There is the working class that can cope and the working class that can’t cope. Sinn Fein did very well amongst the latter since the late 90s, but have made a bags of reaching out beyond this. Trying to ride those two horses is a phenominally difficult task. Fianna Fail only really successfully managed that feat and that is now unravelling.

  • JD

    I fear you are exposing your own class prejudice, who do you mean, both north and south, when you insultingly describe folk as the “alienated and embittered”

    Sounds a perfect description of the Irish middle classes to me, (at a guess you and yours) although I doubt that is whom you have in mind.

    Speak up and stop hiding behind ‘outdated’ (I loved writing that) ideological reactionary bullshit.

  • Coll Ciotach

    Interesting that he is parroting Gerry McHugh in that SF is not the party that could deliver change in Ireland.

    “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.”

  • JD

    My God – harsh words indeed Mick!

    Alienated
    Down south it means putting up with middle classes who refuse to pay enough tax to fund good public services to support community services and health services for those who need it
    Living in a local authority estate when you are the victim of vicious anti social behaviour and the Gardai or the authorities don’t given a damn about you
    In the North it can be a Republican or Nationalist who have suffered decades of decrimination and misrule and despite this they’re vilified not only by Unionists but a massive swathe of people in the South

    As for embittered – why the hell wouldn’t you be if you are treated like that!

    I don’t think ideology comes into that – its just gut instinct.

    There are many people on the left down south both in Sinn Fein and elsewhere, in politics and civil society who do great work in fighting for communities. In no way did I wish to denigrate that or suggest that people are helpless and don’t empower themselves. But we were dicussing trying to ride two horses at once – the tragedy is that all too often there is a chronic lack of solidarity between those who can cope and can’t let alone the wider class divide between Tony O’Reillys & Denis O’Briens and most ordinary people.

    I’d like to think it was a simple Middle Class/Working Class divide, but sadly its not.

    Is that such a terribly reactionary thing to say?

  • JD

    “Interesting that he is parroting Gerry McHugh in that SF is not the party that could deliver change in Ireland”.

    Its uncanny the similarity of script – one joins FF and the other joins Labour

  • JD

    “Sounds a perfect description of the Irish middle classes to me”.

    By Christ they are – the blame game they are involved in is ferocious. As you can see by the reaction to Lenihan’s budget. Its all about being able to look down on someone and then shaft them.

    However a different form of embitterment than I was speaking of.

  • granni trixie

    Ulick:I do not agree with you – Eoin O’Broin was a disaster in Belfast – why else did SF shift him off first of all to Europe (with Barbre) before he settled back down south?

    I remember that when junior SF were told off by their elders for producing paper lapel badges with an image of an Easter lily with a petrol bomb in the centre, O’Broin was reported to have said “have they no sense of humour”.
    So for all his obvious intellect, he just didnt get the Belfast ‘troubled’ experience and had to go eventually.

  • Kathy C

    posted by Kathleen Collins

    the leadership of sinn fein has failed in the Republic and sinn fein seems to be deliberately following a policy that is actually alienating people in the Republic. A curious way to bring about a United Ireland wouldn’t you say?

  • Jimmy_Sands

    “These changes were essential to transform the party into one that values discussions, accommodates dissent and promotes merit over loyalty and obedience.”

    Why would someone who wanted to be in a party like that join SF in the first place?

  • JD

    Thanks for your reply, perhaps I did stamp my feet a little, but I was interested to see where you are coming from.

    Mick

  • JD

    “Thanks for your reply, perhaps I did stamp my feet a little, but I was interested to see where you are coming from.”

    That’s cool. You were right to challenge me.

    My description of “embitterment” might well be outdated as in the Celtic Tiger years when a huge swathe of people just got smug or deluded and people who couldn’t cope from day to day were ignored and treated like they didn’t exist.

    Many ordinary workers believed they were middle class – it was just that they were in over their head in credit. There is a reactionary “embitterment” that has now exploded and the surprising success of in particular of Fine Gael despite Electrifying Enda is a consequence of this.

    What sums it up for me was Pat Rabbitte’s stupid pledge to cut the lower rate of tax in 2007 that started off the election auction. However Labour suffered no consequences for this on their left flank (although they got nowhere). In fact Sinn Fein panicked during the election campaign over their pledge to increase corporation tax and in the end lost a seat, while Joe Higgins and left indepedents lost their seats.

    Sinn Fein tried to bridge that gap and became impaled on it.

  • Issac Ball

    Maybe some of you great intellectuals could read the Irish News column by Paddy Murphy today, very interesting.
    Remember the idealism of Tone,Pearse and Sands, a 32 county democratic socialist Republic.
    Socialist with a small ‘s’ by the way. We have the banna republic in the south again due to political corruption. Now we have the same in the north the unionists are being finally trumped. But so too Sinn Fein.They also bought into the greed and corruption. If they had’ve stuck to the core republican ideals they would be sailing into power both north and south. Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter. It would have been a penalty kick but indeed they continued to ride two horses.
    A few words from Archbishop Desmond Tutu-“We are in a bad place at the moment in this country…we have let down our guard and quickly forgotten the struggles of the past…please allow us old people to go to the grave smiling, not with our hearts broken.”
    Speaking in relation to the power struggles in the ANC and South Africa over corruption by senior political figures.
    Power corrupted absolutely…

  • Issac Ball

    Maybe some of you great intellectuals could read the Irish News column by Paddy Murphy today, very interesting.
    Remember the idealism of Tone,Pearse and Sands, a 32 county democratic socialist Republic.
    Socialist with a small ‘s’ by the way. We have the banna republic in the south again due to political corruption. Now we have the same in the north the unionists are being finally trumphed. but so too Sinn Fein.They bought into the greed and corruption too. If they had’ve stuck to the core republican ideals they would be sailing into power both north and south. Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter. It would have been a penalty kick but indeed they continued to ride two horses.
    A few words from Archbishop Desmond Tutu-“We are in a bad place at the moment in this country…we have let down our guard and quickly forgotten the struggles of the past…please allow us old people to go to the grave smiling, not with our hearts broken.”
    Speaking in relation to the power struggles in the ANC and South Africa over corruption by senior political figures.

  • heamaisbharney

    good post, issac, greed and corruption seems to snaffle the whole shebang of them.

  • Issac

    Yes, I agree good post, the problem with SF under Mr Adams leadership is they do not have an ideological anchor. (small i)
    Pragmatism became the party’s watchword, however this pragmatism was not based on real political gains but in the latter years has become based on column inches and the number of invites the party leaders receive to attend the worlds political chancellories.

    As old Yasser found out to his cost, what can be given by the worlds political elites can just as easily be taken away.

  • Jimmy_Sands

    “an ideological anchor. (small i)”

    (capital W)