“Any electoral damage that might ensue would affect only southerners.”

Having just voted against a motion rejecting a possible coalition with either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael, it’s a bit odd for Martin McGuinness to be ruling out a coalition with one of those parties. Probably wiser to wait until you’re asked… and in a numerical position to join a coalition. And isn’t it up to “the membership of Sinn Féin”, “alone”, to decide? Still, it matches the contradictory statements made ahead of the vote. Interestingly, those speaking in favour of the rejected motion included the chairman of the troubled Dublin Sinn Féin constituency party, Eoin O’Broin, who reportedly argued that “participation in government with a “right-wing” party would entrench partition and damage Sinn Féin”. Odder still, then, is the unelected Mary Lou McDonald’s claim that the dysfunctional mandatory coalition that is the Northern Ireland Executive [any right-wing parties there? – Ed], which they’d been threatening to collapse, is evidence of Sinn Féin’s “ability to deliver” in government an administration. As Brian Feeney noted earlier in the week in the Irish News.

In Sinn Féin’s case the ard fheis motions opposing coalitions are all from southern cumainn while it is clear the northerners desperately want to get into government so they can have ministers on both sides of the border sitting across the table from each other in the North-South Ministerial Council. Any electoral damage that might ensue would affect only southerners. Indeed the northerners would benefit electorally. How to square that circle?

They haven’t bothered trying, Brian. [Partitionist! – Ed] Indeed.

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  • Alias

    But think of the fun that media pundits could have when the Shinners in an Irish government complain about the government buying British chickens when there are plenty of good Irish chickens to create Irish jobs and boost the Irish economy while the Shinners in a British administration threaten to take the Shinners in an Irish government to an EU court because they’re insisting that the state buy’s Irish in preference to British.

    You can’t people in an Irish government who are promoting the competing economic interests of another state, even if one of MI5’s agenda is to promote British economic interests. That’s one circle that can’t be squared…

  • The siutation in the South is fluid to say the least but government is probably not the best place to be at the moment with so many difficult decisions to be made. But it’s a nice problem for SF to have, as it is better to have a foot in 2 camps rather than just a foot in just one, as the recent attempts at same by the UUP, SDLP and FF proves.

  • joeCanuck

    it is better to have a foot in 2 camps

    Or better described as sitting on the fence. Just make sure you don’t get impaled.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Brian Feeney is probably the best observer of the Northern scene.
    But I think it must be emphasises that a Southern Govt is an inevitability regardless of SF-IRA while a Northern Govt is transient……it can exist or not exist.

  • joeCanuck,

    in SF speak there are 2 ‘jurisdictions’ and there is no doubt that the Northern part of the equation is the more important and to some extent is relatively safe so it makes good sense for SF to diversify to the South as long as they keep their core business intact.

    Now that they no longer support violence they probably expected to make quicker strides in the South but because of the electoral system any party with a handful of seats can potentially look forward to government and a disproportionate influence on affairs and their current policy of a Northern ballot box in one hand and a Southern ballot box in the other looks like a sensible one.

  • joeCanuck


    They have successfully played the sectarian card in the North but that doesn’t resonate in the South. The folks there don’t really care so long as the guns are silent. Having said that, I think they were, indeed, on the way to picking up extra seats there in the last election. That hope disappeared after their President’s woeful performance on the televised debate.

  • S/F are, or at least, have been losing ground in the south. The delivery of P&J will probably help them here as will the current state of the economy. I find it hard to believe it is cheaper to grow and sell potatoes in the UK than it is here. Better not to count your chickens before they are hatched.

    This government is to a large extent responsible for the outrageous prices and constantly saying prices are coming down when the consumer, who is also the voter, knows they are not, will also help S/F.

  • Alias

    It seems to be a truism that small parties are damaged by going into coalition with FF, with no relevance to whether that party is on the left or the right of the political spectrum (the PDs and the Greens, respectively).

    The core factor seems to be that the smaller party garners its support on some principle or special interest, and then be betrays it in pursuit of power. It is then punished for this betrayal at the next election. If so then it is more a case of not being able to move beyond its core support group electorally and not being able to delivers this groups’ agenda in government.

    It is hard to see how anyone would vote for a party that has betrayed every one of its core ‘principles’ in the past and not expect to be betrayed by that party in the future, so PSF’s history may mean that it would be exempt from that core factor in that nobody would expect NOT to be betrayed by it and, ergo, it would not lose the supprt of those who are betrayed by it.

  • joeCanuck

    it is cheaper to grow and sell potatoes in the UK than it is here

    I have a reasonable sized lot and grow some of my own. It’s easy and costs next to nothing (I have a bad back and my wife digs them up without complaint).
    Can you still get allotments over there?

  • Alias

    “This government is to a large extent responsible” for ensuring that its state agencies compete effectively with the other English-speaking competitor for FDI in the EU, by ensuring that such investment goes to Ireland wherein the taxes on the profits that these corporations generate goes to the Irish state and not to the government of the United Kingdom.

    On the other hand, the Shinners have an agenda to promote the economic interests of the United Kingdom, and will demand that such investment goes to the UK and not to Ireland. Electing the Shinners to Irish government is the same thing as electing MI5 to it, so that agency will continue to use its touts to promote British economic and national interests at the direct expense of its competing economy, Ireland.

    Allowing such touts any role to undermine the economic intersts of the Irish state from within would cost the Irish economy billions – with just one such successful ‘poach’ by said touts (such as an Intel) costing hundreds of millons in lost taxation revenue to the Irish state.

  • Paddy

    “Eoin O’Broin, who reportedly argued that “participation in government with a “right-wing” party”

    More comedy from the kneecappers’ party. It is in bed with the DUP and one of its main US supperters is right wing fanatic Peter Kill all Muslims King.

  • Joe

    I have a large garden and when it is sorted out I too will grow my own. I must not complain too loudly about the cost of potatoes, my wonderful neighbours (farmers) have ensured I have not had to buy any for most of this appalling winter.


    I agree with you regarding the small parties and F/F but to be honest would any governing party do any better in the current situation.

    S/F are playing a long game, unless you want the continued murder and mayhem of previous decades you should be in favour of their strategy.

  • David Crookes

    Is SF a fair-weather quasi-romantic form of candy floss in the RoI that becomes an unthinkable frivolity when wintry economic winds begin to blow? We may have made too much of GA and his personal troubles. (People in the RoI have been distressed by cognate troubles in the ecclesial sphere, but they haven’t all stopped going to church.) I wonder if SF has yet realized that it needs to recruit a couple of economists. There’s no point in pooh-poohing an economics graduate like Sammy Wilson if all you’ve ever done is serve drink in a bar and refuse to join the IRA.

    Whenever an economic crisis walks on to the stage, romantic Ireland’s dead and gone.

    [Let me say a word about one speech from the Ard Fheis. MMcG’s robust analysis of Andy Pandy and his party is not going to make a volte-face on P&J any easier for the UUP next week. Whatever happens, the UUP at present is little more than a loose agglomeration of incompatible factions. Andy Pandy should not be held totally to blame for the UUP’s necrotic state. The party itself has neither the courage to defenestrate Andy Pandy, nor a strong intelligent person to put in his place. If after the election it replaces RE with its own MMcG, it will be voting for extinction.]

  • Marcionite

    Pippakin, are u saying that unless we want the mayhem of past decades, we must play ball with SF ? so the IRA has won. We must do what their troglodyte spokemen in SF tell us otherwise they might plant a bomb

    I often wonder why the BNP get so much venom and spleen pitched at them when they never shot or bombed a single person ever yet SF the party of ethnic cleansing and child killers and kidnappers and murderers arrange a meeting, the BBC and RTE have live broadcasts and streams.

    A large freighter should be tied to the island and have it dragged to the middle east or some other region where the basic tenets of democracy are similarly decried, desecrated, mocked or ignored. We are west European in geography only, not in spirit. What a horrible little island we are

  • To get inside Sinn Féin’s decision to remain open to coalition to Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, you had to listen to Pearse O’Doherty talk about it on RTE at lunchtime. He said that Sinn Féin would set the bar so high for FF and FG that they would not end up in coalition with either party as both would have to become, in effect, subsidiaries of SF (a return to their historic roots then!).

    He was speaking after Toiréasa Ferris had just said that politicians often say one thing before election and do another after election. A stunning piece of political insight.

    This is Sinn Féin’s notion of running with the hare and chasing with the hounds. The party remains committed to power at all costs down south and it really doesn’t care how it achieves this – it will be all things to all people between now and election day. After that, all you have to do is to look at their ‘super efficient’ ministers on the NI Executive to get a measure of their potential effectiveness in government in Dublin.

    Ní bheidh go raibh maith agat. No thanks.

  • Marcionite

    Atrocities were committed by all sides in this long and pointless journey. Surely it is time to say we will forgive the past and get on with the future.

    I have been surprised by the sense of betrayal many of the posters and commentators feel toward S/F. Is it possible apparently intelligent people thought they could bomb and continue to bomb their way to a united Ireland. If it did happen would the victors simply hand their guns and bombs to the Irish government and go back to their ‘day jobs’?

    If we can make it work, and provided outstanding allegations do not do too much damage when they get to trial (which will not be this side of the GE in the UK) S/F may yet evolve into a party to be reckoned with in the south. Martin McGuinness has been doing well. I get tired of the people complaining about him. He at least seems to know the old saying ‘least said soonest mended’ I say we need to give this a real chance.

  • Marcionite

    Pippakin, how can we forgive when the murderers are not contrite? Why is it always the decent and law abiding have to make concessions? the SAS should have been let loose on these Neanderthals and their nests of supporters. Once evil is rewarded, it never says “enough”. It is now in abeyance but they will revert to type. The RIRA is SFs insurance policy in case they have to play their trump card when their political lives are in mortal danger from dissidents. None so blind as those who are dazzled by the white of the flag of surrender.

    Sometimes some things just cannot be resolved without all out war. Fancy footwork with the devil only leads to falling down on ones ass. too much pussy footing. Wars are nasty and are never won by sanitary surgical strikes. They’re won by Dresden like terror at the heart of those who give support and succour to terrorism.

    If Blair was in charge during WW2 we’d be running d’hondt to see who would get the Reichsministries in Whitehall.

    have our standards sunk so low?

  • David Crookes

    Marcionite (#170, you ask, ‘Why is it always the decent and law-abiding who have to make concessions?’ Amen. If after three or four years our MLAs have not made life eaier and more pleasant for decent law-abiding people, then let us go back to direct rule. I want to live in a country where thugs and vandals are AFRAID to break the law.

    Life is hard sometimes. In 1941 the evil Soviet Union became our gallant ally in the war against fascism. Fourteen years later West Germany joined NATO and became our gallant ally in the cold war against communism.

  • Marcionite

    History shows, especially recent history, that we all end up supping with the devil. It is a bitter pill to swallow, but if we want peace that is what we have to do. It was bad for both sides remember, terrible things were done, by both sides.

    If we cannot let go of the past the children do not have a future, just more of the same bigotry and hatred.

    David Crookes is right, life is hard sometimes but in order to make it better we have to recognise when those who cannot find the words produce the deeds. I believe S/F are trying to deliver peace to the north. We must give them the chance.