Against the wrong sort of ambition

Eoin O’Broin is one a few voices in An Phoblacht that more times than not causes me to nod my head in agreement. Particularly on International issues whenever I’ve heard his instinctive take or considered view I mostly find it more informed and naturally socialist that anything I would arrive at after lengthy reflection. In short I have a hell of a lot of time for the man that seems to be SF’s internal lightening rod for party criticism.

However, Killian Forde’s departure from Sinn Féin seems to have been a difficult pill for him to swallow. He devotes an entire column to having an extended dig at his former colleague/comrade. Eoin, a former North Belfast Cllr who moved on to head SF’s European Department, goes on the attack ‘Against Ambition’ and representatives who leave behind a mandate to advance themselves:

“They were tasked to represent the interests and aspirations of those who selected and elected them…And in each case they broke that mandate and turned their backs on those who put them in such a privileged position in our political system.”

“Politics presented itself as a display of ambition; the desire by individuals to advance and prosper.”

“It is time to stand against ambition and for a politics in which policies, not personalities, are what matter.”

For some reason he doesn’t name check two politicians in his piece who have previously featured in the publication he writes for – Billy Leonard and Thomas Pringle. I’m sure there is a reason they weren’t included…maybe the two exceptions that prove his rule? Surely he can’t be saying that rejecting your electoral mandate to join Sinn Féin demonstrates a lack of ambition?

  • granni trixie

    Mark: sorry to disillusion you, but Eoin O’B. was shifted away to ‘help Barbre’ because he was a disaster here (NI) – ‘Head a european deptartment’ gives the wrong impression.

  • Mark McGregor


    Most here will know I worked ‘under’ Eoin in that Department for a short period. I certainly didn’t perceive his role as being downgraded, it seemed more like an identification and recognition of his ability. Maybe I’m wrong, wouldn’t be the first time.

  • RobertNoonan


    I would agree , he is very good and a good organiser.listenner.He presently chairs DSF and is doing a good job by all accounts.He has unfortunately been too quick to hope for a liason with Labour under its present Leadershp.They are a few young Cllrs in Labour who wants an Alternative to the present situation with FG and are waiting in the long grass.Gilmore and his formers cohorts from the Workers Party are disgracing themsleves.

  • Mark McGregor


    As an outsider I think BAC SF (given its recentdecline) would require a respected figure to re-orgnise. Hearing Eoin has been tasked with that role doesn’t make me think GT’s claims of him being pushed to the side are particularly valid.

  • The criticism of Eoin is unfair. Used to see him every other night going into the New Lodge flats with his partner.
    Seemed like a good bloke.

  • Mark McGregor

    Why am I supporting Eoin now? The blog was about criticism on his article ffs.

  • Pete Baker


    What happens in the European Parliament, stays in the European Parliament. Particularly for a group with no influence. Just another specific audience to be told what is thought they want to hear.

    And how long has Eoin been chairing Dublin Sinn Féin?

    How’s his record on that front?

    As for the article/whinge itself.

    The telling phrases

    “In the most immediate sense the losers in each case were the party activists who secured the election of these three politicians and, more importantly, the voters who put their trust in these party candidates.”


    “They were tasked to represent the interests and aspirations of those who selected and elected them”

    If you think representative democracy is about electing “party candidates” then you might as well vote for whichever donkey has been wrapped in your preferred colours/flag.

    That’s an advocation of a tyranny of the party whips – in which the biggest loser is politics itself.

    But don’t complain when your donkey turns out to have a stubbornly independent streak.

    Not surprisingly in this case.

    How dare those elected representatives, how double-dare they, then work out that ‘democratic’ centralism isn’t exactly a synonym for representative democracy.

  • Framer

    He’ll be in the Irish Labour Party before the 100th anniversary of the Rising.