SDLP: O’Loan breaks ranks and then is pulled sharply back in…

Well, that didn’t last long. Within hours of suggesting the unthinkable, North Antrim MLA has pulled out of his bold statement earlier in which he noted:

I believe that a major realignment of northern nationalism is now called for and I think that this means the formation of a new single nationalist party.

The values of the SDLP and its ability to command respect and at least second preference votes across the whole community are not something that should be lost. In the interests of achieving Irish unity, that respect is vital.

The election was marked by a high level of tactical voting within the nationalist electorate, and indeed between nationalism and unionism. Many nationalist voters are willing to exercise their votes interchangeably between the SDLP and Sinn Fein. Equally it is clear that there remains solid support for what the SDLP stands for and that support is not going to change.”

His retraction is terse, unconditional and does not even hint at why he made the statement in the first place, or why he was now pulling it, other than it is not official party policy:

The statement which I issued earlier today entitled ‘O’Loan calls for formation of single Nationalist Party’ does not represent established party policy and I now wish to withdraw it. I do not wish to make any further comment on the matter.

It may not be party policy, but it was clearly an honest view from O’Loan. It suggests there is little shared understanding of the party’s position going forward, and indicative of the absence of a healthy internal debate within the party following the election of Margaret Ritchie.

And remember O’Loan publicly declared his support for her, rather than fellow North Antrim man Alisdair McDonnell. I suspect this was not an attempt at an internal coup. But it is an indication of the kind of drift the party has been suffering ever since John Hume stepped down from the leadership.

As Mark’s charts clearly indicate this kind of intellectual and political drift is something the moderate nationalist party shares with its unionist counterpart, the UUP. It is long not short term. It also indicates, perhaps, that no one in a leadership position could have prevented it.

Robert Putnam’s long term study (which we referenced in A Long Peace? back in 2003) of the introduction of regional democracy in Italy suggests a pattern of former ‘extreme’ parties doing rather better at government than former ‘moderates’. Put simply, their innate radicalism allows them to bring much more focus and energy to the job.

Perhaps Mr O’Loan has simply glimpsed the future and is keen to sue for terms, whilst his party retains some strength and political capital. That a Ritchie loyalist has spoken so far out of turn means is party is unlikely to follow suit in the short term.

Yet at a more mundane level it also suggests that the state of the party’s internal democracy is not everything it might be, when such a respected party has had to be closed down so quickly, and frankly disastrously.

In the meantime, we will continue to watch this space with considerable interest…

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  • Although the SDLP may be able to “command respect and at least second preference votes across the whole community” one suspects that Mr. O’Loan has by his outburst lost any such ability to command second preference votes across the whole community and will also have any respect he had in unionist circles.

    The fact that Mr. O’Loan seems keen on uniting with the party which supported the murder of thousands of people here and continues to glorify their murderers, has members who advise against going to the police over certain crimes, regards Jean McConville’s murder as not a criminal act etc. etc. speaks volumes about O’Loan himself. It also speaks volumes about any supposedly non sectarian position O’Loan might try to claim for himself. Finally he clearly understand little and cares less about unionists or the victims of IRA murder and intimidation who in times past included members of the SDLP in terms of intimidation at any rate.

    Additionally although one cannot blame the sins of the husband on the wife, it is fortunate that Dame Nuala O’Loan is no longer PSNI ombudsman: for her husband to propose uniting politically with the likes of the murderer of a police officer (Paul Butler) is hardly the sort of thing which would have helped her credibility. However, as I said above the sins of the husband can hardly be held against the wife.

    Possibly time for O’Loan to consider his position or maybe time for the SDLP to try to show it is opposed to sectarianism and sack O’Loan?

  • Framer

    Sectarian or what?

    I propose that the epithet ‘sectarian’ is no longer to be applied to a party in Northern Ireland that accepts the ethnic reality that Protestants are Unionists and Catholics are nationalists.

    And that the traditional route to victory – that he who first accuses his opponent of being sectarian wins the argument – is abandoned.

  • David Cather

    Haha hilarious!

  • Ruarai

    Shame Declan didn’t further develop the contradiction of how a single nationalist party could emerge without Protestant support and respect shrinking in correlation. I’m not saying it’s impossible, just that it seems…well impossible.

    It’s a contradiction that arguably holes the entire Irish Nationalist project below the water line and we’ve (as in Nationalists) ducked addressing it for too long.

    Is Irish Nationalism simply a tribal ideology?

    Are we Nationalists capable of articulating a vision of a nation most Protestants can embrace as equally their own? Not so far. And Declan’s proposal could surely only consolidate this failure.

    The burden of persuasion has always and always will be on Nationalists to convince Protestants of the merits of a united Ireland.

    Historically we’ve failed and if moderate Nationalists like Declan – a man I’ve always considered one of the SDLP’s more able and interesting figures – now advocates tribal realignments perhaps we better just pack up shop altogether?

  • socaire

    Turgon, you don’t seem to have any problem with your ‘mother-government’ slaughtering right, left and centre, the so called enemies of world security in Persia but you would deny this right to our ‘government-in-exile’ here in Ireland. How do you balance the two?

  • UlsterScotty

    Am I alone in being curious as to how their new leader will react to this?

  • Mr O’Loan is right, nationalists in the north need to unite, but why does it have to be behind a united SF/SDLP? It is long past time the parties in the south were represented in the north, that would give real choice to everyone.

  • Dec

    The simple fact is that the Nationalist electorate have already made that re-alignment in FST and South Belfast and where the SDLP was elected elsewhere, they relied on thousands of tactical Unionist votes. Presumably Ritchie realises any link-up with SF, however loose, would see those votes evaporate so her clampdown today (which incidently would have prompted the mother of all self-referential threads (‘See, it’s true because I said it was true earlier [link]’ etc) from a certain obsessive if we were talking about SF), is perfectly understandable, but hardly points to a healthy, sustainable future for her party.

    Still we should be grateful, for clarity’s sake, that the SDLP has finally admitted it’s no longer a Nationalist party. That’ll please their pretend friends in the UUP.

  • sam

    Turgeon is of course correct If Margaret Richie wishes to maintain the impression with the unionist population that her party is non-sectarian she should remove O’loan from SDLP. It would be like unionist parties uniting with UVF/ UDA. and BNP.

  • RepublicanStones

    Interesting, particularly the economy of the retraction. It seems to suggest a slapped wrist and if so are we now seeing Ritchie brand the Stoops with her own form of Leninist control which the top brass of the Shinners have excelled at for years.

    It is a bit humiliating for Mr O’Loan it has to be said. Would Durkan have demanded such a speedy withdrawal or just been content with a ‘Mr O’Loan’s remarks do not reflect…’ type of press release?

  • socaire

    Do us a favour and explain the difference between Leninist and Stalinist control and how we can differentiate.

  • Charminator

    I think O’Loan’s trying to bring an internal ‘conversation’ to the fore. The dogs on the street know that the future of the SDLP is in peril, it’s not surprising that some of their MLAs are now beginning to agitate. After all, what does the party hope to achieve now? Deputy First Minister? A gain of 3/4 seats? Perhaps retaking their MEP seat? The show’s over. It’s abundantly clear that, whilst the accelerated decline may have slowed (but instead replaced by stagnation), there’s absolutely no indication of any serious recovery. Not the first Irish party to have enjoyed a 2/3 generation shelf life, and likely not the last either.

  • RepublicanStones

    Well i’m not an expert on the matter but for me Leninism is rule by a small coterie at the top who think they know whats best for everybody else, the vanguard(no not that one) as it’s termed.

    Stalinism isn’t so much of an ideology as just a desire to gain and hold onto power. Bit more cultish. But you probably be better hitting wiki or google, failing that go down the novel route – Arthur Koestler’s ‘Darkness At Noon’ is a great indictment of stalinism.

  • Dev

    I’m saddened in many ways that the best our parties can do in response to the need for ‘new’ thinking is to suggest grabbing votes in pacts. The SDLP’s ground has been taken by Sinn Fein and likewise the UUP’s by the DUP. These parties need to reinvent themselves, John Hume’s post-nationalist world is long gone. Nationalist unity is not needed to secure a united Ireland, nor is a united Unionist Party needed to secure the union. Alliance should be making hay!!!

  • The SDLP itself represents a spectrum of interest groups, of which the Labour and FF leaning sections are the most prominent (there are also pro-FG and pro-Alliance people in there too), but presumably it also includes areas where the local party organisation is, in effect, the equivalent of the old Nationalist party. Some of those groups may well find little in common with either Labour or FF (and presumably not SF either). In many respects the SDLP has always been an umbrella and its long term cohesion has always seemed a little tenuous. But, having held together so long, it is hard to believe that some sort of fragmentation is now on the way.

  • socaire

    But, in reality, that is what any organisation is all about. We have a plan and we will try to stay in power to bring that plan to fruition. And our plan is best otherwise we would not be pushing it. Try the Conservative/Labour party, the (any) Church, the GAA?

  • RepublicanStones

    You seem to forget that for a party with marxist socialist background, the top telling the proles what to do and what to think is the reverse of what should be happening. Imposing the view of the few on the many isn’t the way to go about things. Which is why the Shinners have seen so many AWOL’s in recent times.

  • FST was tactical voting allied to the one good candidate SF had. Sorry two, the other one is in Dublin.

    The unholy alliance in the UK is not guaranteed to last the full term so everyone could be going round in the same circle sooner rather than later.

    An alliance between SF/SDLP would be costly in terms of independents and persuadable unionists.

    I think Mr O’Loan is right, but he may be sniffing around the wrong alliance.
    I think Mr O’Loan is right, but he

  • Mick Fealty

    Dec,

    I would also ask for West Tyrone to be taken into account, where Pat D walked to the finish line by barely breaking sweat on the campaign trail.

    The real test of strength is the amount of places in which SF simply no longer have to work for their votes, as compared to the few places where they still have to bring focus to bare.

    I’ve no doubt Ritchie would have taken South Down at a canter with or without the unionist vote. However they were not motivated by a defence of the ‘moderate’ candidate so much as outraged by Caitriona’s disastrous sojourn at Education.

    Why do people still vote SDLP? (I mean that as an honest question). My guess is that it depends almost entirely on the reasons given by each public representative you speak to.

    For Margaret it’s social democracy, it seems. But in reality the major unifying theme for the party is the ‘we’re not Sinn Fein’ tag.

    The problem for nationalism is not so much how would you engineer the kind of unity O’Loan is talking about but how to do so without alienating thousands more of your own voters, and that is leaving to one side the loss of ‘friendly’ transfers from the other side.

  • Alias

    The catholics may be voting for the Shinners but they’re voting for Stoop policies and practices. The Shinners are just Stoops with more attitude.

    In the zero-sum game engineered by Blair (by giving sweeties to the ‘extremes’ in side deals) the two tribes saw that progress for their tribe was made at the expense of the other tribe and so they elected hardliners who would demand the most and concede the least. That led to competition and no cooperation which has in turn led to stagnation and stand-off.

    That’s the way it’s going to be for the foreseeable future so the idea that either tribe will once again vote for non-zero-sum game players is fanciful, and hence the SDLP and the UUP are redundant. But if it wasn’t that way then the DUP and PSF would be redundant since NI is just too small to accommodate a plethora of political parties, requiring no more than one monolith from each of the two tribes as set out in the sectarian GFA to accommodate powersharing between the tribes.

    The main advantage of unity between the two catholic parties is that it will give them a good chance of becoming the biggest party in Stormont and thereby enable to claim the office of Finance Minister – and then its quasi-socialist, state-subsidised Nirvana here we come.

  • Interesting that O’Loan speaks of tactical voting SDLP to SF (and perhaps vIce-versa), but ignores suspected unionist voters in Foyle and South Down that keeps SF at bay in those constituencies. Perhaps O’Loan was reminded of this? Otherwise it would be difficult to know as a unionist why it is worth bothering to vote SDLP to keep SF out. After all by way of example, Alex Maskey or Alex Attwood, which would you vote for?

  • Eire32

    All this from aTUVer, wee look closer to home maybe.

  • PeterFyfe

    Its great how people question his morals for suggesting a pact after the recent elections unless you all believe the other three largest parties acted disgracefully in the last election. I should actually include the TUV who stood aside so other unionists could win. They also have failed to discipline a man who supports Torrens Knight’s right to beat up women, they don’t seem very concerned with his terrorist past either. Sure their is no harm in looking the other way when it is one of their own. We could also look at a current MP who had no problem sharing a stage with Billy Wright while refusing to share air time with other democratically elected representatives.

    It was a bit silly though considering the moral high ground the SDLP tried to take over pacts. However, he was only pointing to the natural progression from a super protestant party with the endorsement of the orange order. It would not be like comments on slugger to hang a man for using reason though, would it?

    Turgon, if you really believe your repeated statement regarding holding this against his wife why do you bring it up? Unless, of course, you have no problem holding Declan’s comments against Nuala. Not that I would think you are just stirring it you must understand.

    After all, can we really target such a fine mathematician for just doing the maths?

  • Alias

    Unity between the two cathoolic parties won’t happen anyway. The handlers of the Shinners would be worried that it would leave a vacancy for an alternative catholic party that might be filled by one that isn’t pro-GFA.

  • PeterFyfe

    No doubt it would be the start of a party that slowly moves to peaceful means before usurping Sinn Fein, who will by then be seen as old age and middle class, by deciding constitutional nationalism is the way forward.

  • Shanmaghery

    I think Declan O”Loan has hit the nail on the head with his proposal.There were a lot of voters around Mid Ulster thinking the same way at the last election, some gave MMG a reluctant vote because there was no choice, a lot of others didnt vote at all or spoiled thier vote.

  • Newsflash: SF are old age and middle class.

  • PeterFyfe

    maybe i should have said older and more middle class

  • Cynic

    Who’s up for the headcount then? Themuns and usuns, as it’s always been.

  • Peter Fyfe

    Nah, you made your point. I just wanted to add salt to the wound…

  • Cynic – seriously? Who would do the counting? Themuns wouldn’t let one of usuns do it and usuns wouldn’t let one of themuns do it.

  • Henry94

    I’m delighted that the issue has been raised and despite the forced recantation it’s now up for discussion.

    Sinn Fein should reach out to the elements in the SDLP who have looked at various options already to re-animate the SDLP.

    The “uno Duce, una voce” response from the SDLP leadership suggests that they see this as more than someone thinking out loud.

    I would say the ball in now in SF’s court. I hope they take this seriously.

  • Johno

    O’Loan’s comments represent the first signs that SDLP rank and file are shitting themselves about the Assembly elections next year. West of the Bann, the SDLP will lose every single MLA. I doubt the Stoops will get a single transfer from SF voters anywhere else either. Ritchie attempt to help the Orange candidate in FST is going to be shown up as perhaps one of the most short-sighted and ill-judged decisions in years. O’Loan knows it and that’s why he spoke up. He’ll leave that party in weeks.

  • marlaghman

    O’Loan has finally let his mask slip to let the rest of you know what we in north antrim have known for years by his actions in the local council, as he always was talking with the same speak as psf
    How many more crossdressers are there in the sdlp closet

  • redhugh78

    Mick your arrogance knows no boundaries, but it is a common trait in Stoops.
    You reckon Mr Doherty never broke sweat on the campaign trail, how so and on what evidence do you base your assumption on?
    The evidence of the result would suggest the opposite because on a turn out down a fair percentage he actually increased both his actual personal vote and also his vote share in percentage.
    It’s all about not taking votes for granted, good constituency service/work and hard campaigning.
    So I suggest you might actualy examine the facts before drawing such begrudging arrogant conclusions.

  • Munsterview

    Pip
    Jesus how could you wish Brian C or Enda on anyone up there after all they have been through. You sure can be a bit heartless at times !

  • braniel unionist

    i wonder how milliband/balls/milliband would react to such a development? surely it would lead to a new sister party for new labour over here? the return of the nilp? or err alliance? they used to support the lib-dems untill yesterday!

  • Munsterview

    SDLP began life as a cobbled together party, nothing wrong with that in itself. However unlike the PDs in the South the SDLP never had a narrow, united spectrum of political belief, they were and remained a dis-separate collection of individuals covering a wide spectrum of beliefs spanning left, center and right.

    The Party however did have temporary authority as for various reasons it was the only voice of Northern Nationalism that the British, The South and eventually the Unionists would recognize. The common dominator in this recognition was to deny Republicans a voice and legitimacy. The SDLP played to its gallery by constant attacks on Sinn Fein.

    Once Sinn Fein became the dominant Nationalist party and party of power, the SDLP anti Republican rhetoric was self defeating as it limited their appeal to a Republicanising Nationalism. They now needed to define what they for, just peace and an end to violence was no longer enough since these were a reality of sorts.

    Since it has been a party in search of a purpose. If Sinn Fein shoots itself in the foot big time it could be an alternative but other than that it can only watch and wait. It cannot just make up the numbers from what is left over from Sinn Fein’s market share to be meaningful in the current circumstance.

    New faces at the top cannot change the old problems at the bottom. Young Solicitors, Doctors and other professionals can now be found in Sinn Fein, that trend will continue. The old professional and Business Nationalist class exclusive voting SDLP only are decreasing with each election while the Party’s problems in making up the deficit are increasing.

    I have made the point elsewhere in recent posts that in all post Colonial struggles, the ‘moderate’ party that mediated for the British were also left without credibility in the post liberation settlement. While the Northern Ireland Political outcome may not have conformed in some respects to the other International struggles, the SDLP aspect of it seemingly do fit the pattern.

  • dwatch

    The devolved government of Northern Ireland has now survived since the GFA. If it survives another decade and is not broken up by rise in support for dissident republicans or TUV its then only a matter of time before SF & SDLP merge into a single rep/nat party. Once leading leading members of SF (like Adams, McGuinness, Kelly etc) ) who had affiliation with IRA violence are replaced from office a genuine drive for a 32 county United Ireland by peaceful means will be supported by SDLP.

    Likewise if the wish for a single Unionist party regards a merger of DUP & UUP is to materialize then this will push SDLP & SF closer together.

    The problem regards tactical voting (classed by some as sectarian head counting) in marginalized seats will have been resolved if the new Westminster coalition government reforms the FPTP system in time for the next general election.

  • PaddyReilly

    I am not persuaded that a single party actually helps the Nationalist cause, if there is such a thing as a Nationalist cause and the SDLP is part of it.

    It seems to me that in the European elections the Unionist side were actually helped by fact that there were three parties out there: it brought out voters who might have stayed at home, and these mostly then transferred to the two Unionist candidates who were elected.

    So in a Proportional Representation type system, a multiplicity of parties is a good thing, and helps the exact nuance of the popular will of the majority to come to power.

    In the Westminster system there is only room for a two way contest and this, in most of NI, has to be between Unionist and Nationalists. However here we have been promised that FPTP will be replaced by Alternative voting, which, if it happens, will mean that the need for united parties does not arise.

  • Munsterview

    More humour from a republican lion, how nice…

    If FF and FG had spent the last ten years concentrating on a united Ireland instead of squandering Irelands cash, the 26 counties would be in a better position to handle 32 counties, don’t you think?

    Admittedly they FF & FG are a poor show, but, be honest now, both are better than SF by a country mile. It’s not like it’s hard…

  • Mick Fealty

    Red,

    It was meant to indicate the depth and breadth of the party’s strength, not as an insult against Pat Doherty. The SDLP is no longer a serious player in West Tyrone. And the party barely deployed a fraction of the effort they put into North Belfast and FST. They didn’t have to.

    And that it is highly germane to a discussion of a senior SDLP MLA arguing that his own party and SF should merge.

    [PS, just because I am generally tolerant of personal attacks against me doesn’t mean you can get away with it indefinitely. This site is for political grown ups who are happy to take criticism and give it back. If you can’t hack that, then I suggest you go elsewhere.]

  • Jean Meslier

    This is the inevitable follow-on story from the post-election threads.
    It has as much to do with SDLP infrastructure (or lack of it), and the internal civil war following the promotion of Conall, the unelected guru.
    On top of this there is the fine high-wire balancing act of attracting the anyone but a Shinner vote and looking for SF transfers which they have received in the past. Quite frankly I believe Mags has made a complete b*llox of it and Deckers has had a Nostrodamus moment:- ie he has seen a vision of the future.

  • Dr TJ McCarry

    As a Welshman it seems logical for the two nationalist parties to unite in order to maximize their potential.

    Current voting trends appear to indicate that they are poised to become the majority at the next Assembly election and addtionally the prize of First Minister. And with the prospect of Irish unity now in site, is it not surely time to begin serious preparations for that ultimate aspiration?

  • madraj55

    Dec I suspect O’Loan may have had two aims in mind with this statement. He wanted to tip off nats voters for the assembly elections, to carry on with the strategy as per FST and SB and even though he was forced to a retraction, the voters will still take their cue. Also he may have wanted to smoke out the unionist politicians who would say he exposed the sectarianism in SDLP and nats generally, while claiming that Unionist calls for unity were not sectariian.
    While it’s credible to suggest that the second call [O’Loan in this case]was not necessarily sectarian but a reaction to the first [Saulters], it’s not credible for unionists to claim, as they would that the call from Saulters was NOT sectarian, but the O’Loan call was.

  • Neil

    And with the prospect of Irish unity now in site

    Any merger won’t have an impact on a border poll. Shinners and Stoops (and dare I say it, the odd person of a Unionist background) will be voting for and against a UI in the booth, what their usual party of choice is called will make no odds.

    I agree that with regards to Republican voters, such as myself, I’ll seriously consider where my preference goes but will do everythign in my power to avoid helping the stoops in any way thanks to their behaviour in F&ST.

    Over the past number of years the Shinners have taken the stoops ground from them, and the stoop reply of late has been to behave more like SF. Which, IMO, is the straightest road to disaster.

    O’Loan was reacting to the comments I’m sure, regarding Unionist unity, but he should have considered two things. First what would a merger mean to his beloved SDLP? Again, IMO, it means death. The shinners would swallow them whole.

    Second what is the general benefit for Nationalism? Being the largest party? Getting the FM job (instead of the exact same job with the word deputy appended to the front)? It’s not worth anything really, least of all to his party.

    I heard Declan on the radio objecting to a large Red Hand piece of art that a local is trying to organise. His objection was that the hand represents Unionism/Loyalism only. Once he had explained to him why this was bullshit, and the fact that it appeared to be Declan’s opinion that the red hand should be abandoned instead of resurrected as a shared Northern Irish symbol from both communities, Declan replied with this blinder: perhaps we should have an artistic examination of the subject. Not actually create the art, but have an ‘artistic examination of the subject’.

    I feel this is relevant, as an illustration of the deep thinking kind of individual Declan is. Making a point without having a point.

  • Big John

    Serious preparations are not required for a “United Ireland” because it is a political impossibility. If a referendum was called tomorrow about 75% of the population of Northern Ireland would vote to maintain the Union. If you had any idea of the consequences that a united ireland would bring you would seriously retract that statement. The one factor ‘Republicans’ never understood about their ‘struggle’ for ‘freedom’ and why it didnt work is because they didnt take into account that the 1 million protestants that didnt want it. Simple as.

  • Cynic

    We’d have to bring in furriners to do it for us.

  • madraj55

    ‘Alliance should be making hay’
    DEV Alas for the AUP , they are seen by many nationalist voters as an extra Unionist party albeit with a small ‘u’, and moreso since the pointless David Ford has been in charge.[I suspect he’ll never really shake of that pointless tag, and has nobody to blame but himself. In the early days of the Alliance Party when Robert Cooper and Oliverr Napier were in the top seats in AP, they had credibility in nats community.

  • Anon

    There are many places where SF has no roots and is still toxic. The girlfiend is nominally a nationalist, but SF are a turn off in a very middle of the road oh they are terrible kind of way. And the nationalism is a very flexible kind. A really good Unionist could maybe get her vote.

    Equally, a certain type of Nationalist could get it. Sf would have a lot of work to do I thin to pull it in. And that’s why sngle parties are stupid; people aren’t the same. What is required is a broad coalition pushing out differnet ideas and emphasising different things. A single voice is a disaster, and a sure way to lose votes in total. The Unionist obsession with it mystifies me, especially considering the fragmentednatur eof Protestanism.

  • John East Belfast

    Just as any big Unionist Party will lead to a uniting of nationalism so this would happen in reverse.
    There is nothing the Orange Order would love more than a single united nationalist party to further its view of unionist unity.

    However one can only expect that both blocs would shed more votes than they gain.
    There are many UUs who could never vote DUP and I have to assume that the problems for SDLP voters is even greater.

    Constitutional nationalism’s distaSte for SF’s past as well as its current economic policies are well exemplified in the ROI elections. From my own experience – unless they are telling me fibs – there are many SDLP voters who couldnt countenace a joined platform with SF.

    I agree with Paddy Reilly above that I cant see how any unionist/nationalist unity in anywhere but FPTP Elections maximises the unionist and nationalist vote. Unionism is a bigger tent than nationalism but even the latter need an alternative – especially to SF.

    There is scope for a UUP/SDLP joint manifesto at the next Assembly Elections to try and put into practice the concept of a voluntary coalition and then go to the centre placed electorate accordingly.

  • SammyMehaffey

    It is not an ethnic reality that catholics are nationalists. If you keep saying it, it dosen’t make it any more true. Still living in the sentimental dreamworld. Sad.

  • SammyMehaffey

    Munsterview
    If the party which negotiates with the Colonial power traditionally disappears then surely it is SF which suffers not the SDLP?

  • Munsterview

    Mick

    Good article and timely topic as the out workings of this will impact on all politics on this island.

    Red hugh is not the only one that is a bit thin skinned regarding stepping on his political corns, as I have recently found out that is an affliction that is quite common on the other side and to be found where I did not expect it given the otherwise intelligent quality of the postings.

    Sadly it would seem that things have not moved on as much as I thought they had in some quarters and intellectual incest is still preferable to outside debate.

  • redhugh78

    Mick,
    Personal attacks?, Was it the use of the term ‘stoop’ that irks you?
    Where in what I have written above did I personally attack you because I don’t think I did?, yes I made a jibe insinuating you to be supportive of the SDLP and come on It’s pretty obvious you have a soft spot for them judging by what you like to comment on and write articles about aswell as what you don’t write about and whom you allow to contribute by way of articles (still no mainstream republican contributor).
    You said that Pat Doherty didn’t break a sweat on the campaign trail for which I asked you for evidence of, in your reply you offer NB and FST as a comparison which is unfair as party resources were maximised in an attempt to fend off the unionist unity candidate in FST and with a realistic chance of unseating Dodds in NB.
    This notion that SF electoral strengthening is a result of pure dissatisfaction of SDLP voters with their traditional party does a disservice to people within SF including Pat Doherty who work bloody hard for their constituents aswell as convincing more natural SDLP voters to support SF .

    Take it from me Mick Sinn Fein broke alot of sweat to ensure Doherty got elected and elected comfortably, they might not have put as much into it as NB and FST but they did not do nothing either, far from it.
    Spare me the threats aswell Mick you must have a thin skin, as a SF supporter on Slugger I’ve been called a lot worse, the amount of anti-sf bile spewed on here at times is cringe worthy but you allow it to go on willy nilly, sure, barr me if you want but it will only confirm what I and others have said before that Slugger is more about promoting anti-sf agendas than anything to do with impartial political comment.

  • SammyMehaffey

    A welshman also living in dreamworld!

  • SammyMehaffey

    …… and form a proper opposition. Exactly what is needed.

  • Munsterview

    A rather nasty little tactic that may be seen in Jury trials in the Superior courts in a regular basis.

    Need to undermine the witness? the Counsel makes a damming allegation, the other side objects, the judge upholds the objection, the Counsel withdraws the allegation knowing that it is firmly planted in the mind of the jury!

    Turgon writes a very coherent post but it seem to me that he is not interest in real debate with Nationalist voices, just his own particular Comrades of ( as I have said elsewhere ) intellectual interest!

  • bigchiefally

    My goodness Ruarai, that is just about the most common sense thing I have ever read on this site. A nationalist who realises that a United Ireland only happens when a good number of Unionists swap sides. Well done sir.

  • bigchiefally

    That indeed would be a tough one.

  • Munsterview

    Pip
    “….. Newsflash: SF are old age and middle class.

    Wrong : this is in fact a large problem with the Sinn Fein disconnect in the South, those of twenty five and under were not even born at the time of the Hunger Strikes and most other significant milestones like the SF/ RSF split and first ceasefire happened in their childhood.

    Neither do many have a Republican background. They relate to the SF leadership as Icons and Legends from this early period, not as fallible human beings that they have sat around a table and debated with as equals. In the words of Robert Fisk ” Pity the land that needs heros!”

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    The answer does not lie in West Tyrone. Look to North Antrim.
    Recent boundary changes have reduced the number of Catholics in North Antrim… and while East Antrim will gain a Nationalist quota…its possible that a seat will be lost in North Antrim (co-incidently????)……..Declan O’Loans.
    His best prospect (at least he calculates it this way) is to be concilatory towards Sinn Féin…
    The combined nationalist vote just two weeks ago was short of 22% (roughly 13-9 in favour of SF) and there is only about 3% AP votes there (half of which might end up with O’Loan).
    A consideration here of course is that a lot of nationalists did not turn out in a first past the post election…..but it seems the SF/SDLP real supposrt is no more than 26%.
    O’Loan has to be worried..especially if he factors in a relunctance to transfer over the FST situation.
    So its in his personal interest to be concilatory to SF.
    Withdrawing his statement is irrelevant. He has made his point.

    Nationalism/Republicanism NEEDS two parties. There NEEDS to be an alternative within the tribe so that votes dont slip away or stay at home when a “single” Party is unpopular.
    Of course the SDLP and SF pretend to hate each other. And in some cases actually DO hate each other. But their voters are much more at each with each other. To the chagrin of the partisans.

    The simple fact is that Nationalism/Republicanism is in a better place than it was in August 1969.
    SDLP partisans will say it was them “wot won it”.
    SF-IRA partisans will say it was them “wot won it”.
    They are both right.
    The simple truth is that the peaceful and courageous politics of SDLP would not have brought us to the place we are today where the laughter of our children (And grandchildren is music to many nationalist/republican ears).
    And its a simple truth that the violence of the Provisional IRA could not ALONE have brought us to this place we are now.
    Of course SDLP and SF-IRA members refuse to acknowledge they are part of the same coin. But alas everyone…..”Republican and Otherwise” as the mural says……had a part to play.

  • Munsterview

    Logical from your point of view perhaps but we do things different here.

    The Irish way ( according to the late Brendan Behan) is once any organization is formed, the first item on the agenda is to propose a split.

    Brendan was a former IRA activist, he knew Republican Politics and he knew Irish history.

  • Peter Fyfe

    he should know who is in control in North Antrim and shut up, isn’t that right?

  • Munsterview

    I have gone into this in greater detail in other postings. In almost post liberation struggles there have been ‘middle ground parties’ who the Brits first recognized as the main and indeed the only voice of the discontented natives.

    In return these had to be reasonable, moderate and above all condemn the violence of the liberation struggle. There is sometimes an interim settlement where the Colonial settlers are forced to join in an administration (as with Sunningdale) where there is one last attempt to keep the revolutionaries out of power.

    It usually fails, the armed resistance continue and finally there are direct negotiations between the Imperial Power and the people that they have labeled’ bombers, terrorists, gunmen etc. and sufficient is conceded to stop the war and allow the revolutionaries minimum access to power. At this stage also it will be revealed that the two timing Brits have been having backdoor exchanges and meetings with the revolutionaries all during the war while they were publicly condemning their activities

    When this happens and ‘moderate party’ are then left without a purpose since their basic focus has been condemning and demonizing ‘the men of violence’ who are now seen to be intelligent, competent, articulate and well able to be either the government. or part of a government.

    The new generation the issues that the ‘moderates’ championed do not exist. They have simply become history. The SDLP are now in this final stage and the penny seems to have dropped with some of them.

    In normal circumstances such people could reach across the political divide and make common cause with the stranded settler Empire throwbacks on the other side along class and economic lines.

    Not here however, one pre-requisite for such an arrangement is that these Empire Throwbacks mentally as well as physically live in the same century. No prospect of that happening anytime soon while some would be leaders of this segment of society are sailing with Admiral Nelson and reliving the past glories of Trafalgar! Sic transit gloria mundi!

    Anyway a lovely evening and time to do a bit of sailing of my own in the 21th, century

  • Perhaps O’Loan was throwing his rattle out to get shifted into East Antrim and pick up a seat there, nothing more.
    And can people get real about the whole FF thing. Who in their right mind wants FF – where on earth are people getting the idea that there is some sort of groundswell for the Galway Races tent to be moved to Down Royal? If one thing was to guarantee electoral collapse for the SDLP it wouldn’t be a pact with SF, it would be a pact with FF.

  • Munsterview

    Agreed in principle.

    Anyone now remember the unrelenting media bile John Hume was subjected to for entering into discussions with Sinn Fein especially from the Independent newspaper group. It was scurrilous, constant, hysterical and unremitting for years.

    The two mainstream political parties in the South would have preferred decades of contained violence continuing in the North than allow Sinn Fein hands near the levers of power.

    Remember what Hume had also to put up with from the Mallon wing of his party and their Fianna Failure puppet masters?

    Like Collins knowing that he was probably signing his own physical death warrant with the treaty, John Hume also knew that the Hume-Adams pact was his political death warrant. He had the courage to do that.

    I have thanked him for his contribution in person in the past and I have no hesitation in publicly acknowledging his contribution here.

  • Peter Fyfe

    In Ballymena, where he represents, the read hand is generally accompanied by UFF, UDA or some other abbreviation of a loyalist grouping. I am assuming he was talking about his Ballymena, though forgive me if I am wrong. Antrim flags get taken down here so I am pretty sure it wasn’t a show of support for Mickey Harte and his men. It is however a very trivial point to bring the man up on.

    If you want to hear about his deep thinking ask any of his maths pupils down the years they would praise his ability at making the most complex problems simple to understand. I never had the pleasure but friends and family did. I had a good enough teacher myself, pity I didn’t do the work. I know I heard several people remark that Decky was surely wasted as a teacher.

    I would have looked to his qualifications from Imperial College or Cambridge when judging his ability to think. Maybe even the time he time he spent teaching in Africa or the fact he headed the maths department of a successful grammar school for many years would be a consideration in his success and character. His thinking on some petty symbol, however, it’s hardly a biggie, is it?

  • J Kelly

    Two things strike me about this story, the Irish News is reporting that these views are shared by twenty members including two councillors in North Antrim at a meeting last Thursday night. If this is the case the Conall Mc D’s of this world will not be able to censor their views forever. By the way over on OConall street you are only allowed to post if you agree with the host.

    Back on message, secondly It seems to me that after all the chat that from Margaret and co about not hearing any concerns “on the doorsteps” about her mishandling of F&ST wasn’t exactly true. It seems that Declan and his colleagues in North Antrim were hearing it loud and clear.

    Finally was this the begining of Declan O Loan’s election campaign as his seat is in real danger in North Antrim.

  • J Kelly

    it should be three things but who’s counting

  • Munsterview

    redh
    “……… (still no mainstream republican contributor)……. ”

    Indeed! Just what is my classification these days, I was not aware that I had been excommunicated as a republican supporter ?

    Do you know something that I do not?

  • Artemis

    Doesn’t look like Margaret is taking his insubordination well. He has lost the SDLP whip, chair of S&P and vice chair of DCAL Committee! What did he think was going to happen if he totally u-turned on the leaders recent message of no unity or mergers?????

    I’m glad Margaret is showing some metal and not letting him off with this even though he was part of her support for party leader. Leaves the way clear for her other cronies though!

  • Ruarai

    I’d go further than that bigchiefally: I don’t think it’s realistic or reasonable or even respectful to expect non-Nationalists to “swap sides”, as you put it.

    My point is that Nationalism has historically been largely incapable of appealing to Ulster Protestants – and Declan’s suggestions would only worsen this core failure

    Sure, there’s a million positive reasons why Ulster Protestants are Unionists and British rather than simply not “Irish Nationalists”. But my point is that people like me, Declan, the SDLP, SF and anyone else who advocate for a united Ireland must acknowledge that winning the support of Ulster Protestants for it is not about them “switching sides”.

    Far from it. It’s about being able to articulate an Irishness as a cultural entity and a potential Ireland as a political entity that is capable to actually celebrating rather than just tolerating elements of British identity that we’ve historically found provocative or even offensive: Ulster Protestants’ military history, Orangeism, Liberal Unionists, etc, etc.

    (For example, many Americans have many reasons to despise aspects of the civil war but they’d all agree that even the worst aspects of American history are “American”.)

    If there is any “switching” to be done then it ought to be done be advocates – like me – for a united Ireland. We need to switch to a celebration of Ulster Protestant identity rather than just a sneering toleration for it.

    It may take decades just to prove our bona fides on this. But it’s a pre-requisite for even conceiving of a “united Ireland”.

    Plus, who would want to live in an Ireland where a whole section of the population bitterly resented the arrangement anyway?

    We tried that with N. Ireland and it didn’t work out so well.

    Nationalist electoral unity can only consolidate the divisions a united Ireland depends on healing.

  • SDLP Man

    J.Kelly

    And more “spin” from O’Dowd on Good Morning Ulster this morning: “Sinn Fein were always in favour of peace.” No, you weren’t, John. For decades all Sinn Fein elected representatives were “obliged to give unambiguous support to the armed struggle”-decision of the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    John Hume put his Nation before his Party.
    Without his courageous stance we would not be where we are today.
    Perhaps there are some in the SDLP who think that individually they would be better off as a Party without the Hume-Adams talks.

    I think they are a minority. Most are primarily patriots. As indeed are the majority in SF.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    John O’Neill, Id considered that and nearly posted it too (the East antrim thing) but I dismissed it as its a conspiracy theory too far.
    No doubt though that O’Loan might have considered moving also.
    The position in North Antrim was usually the SDLP running two candidates to win one seat. One would be “Moyle Council” based, the other “Ballymena based” the transfers would always ensure that one got elected.
    Moyle has been lost to East Antrim now so locals will insst on a Moyle based runner.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    J Kelly,
    In fairness to Declan O’Loan the campaign for Assembly seats began the day after the Election two weeks ago. In fact most losing candidates had an eye on the Assembly quota when they handed in nomination papers.
    And the contributors to Slugger O’Toole are hardly any different.
    We were told of various things BEFORE the Election……SDLP wipe-out, SF would lose out because of scandal, UUP on the non sectarian rise, TUV would eat deep into DUP vote, DUP imploding.
    And none of it happened.
    Yet without any shame, the partisan Sluggerites are predicting the same stuff all over again.
    The only real substance here is that Ritchie is an awful leader. And her own insistence that she is at the Assembly AND Westminster might be a bit hard to take for MLAs (O’Loan is the most vulnerable) who might lose his/her seat.

  • John East Belfast

    Yes I heard that nonsense myself when O’Dowd refuted Mark Carruther’s statement that SF had in the past supported violence.

    Has anyone ever heard of a “non violent” armed struggle ?
    Was the armalite a toy one or something ?

    It beggars belief that anyone can take anything these people say seriously

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    SDLP Man,
    Hard to tell whether youre a SDLP voter…….a SDLP member….or even an “insider” with access to or near the Members Dining Room at Stormont.
    But while O’Loan might be an isolated voice at the moment, he prolly has a bit of support from a few SDLP folks of our mutual acquaintance.
    The object of the exercise for O’Loan is to hold his seat…that would be good for SDLP (and nationalism) as well as O’Loan personally. Im sure youd agree that hes one of their bigger hitters and the SDLP NEEDS him.
    Clearly he will have to be brought into the Assembly Party BEFORE next year.
    O’Loan needs the SDLP label to get elected.
    SDLP needs O’Loan to get a quota in the area.
    With Moyle now in East Antrim (McCamphill and Orla Black territory), O’Loan is just making the sounds he needs to make.
    Of course all will be forgiven if or when O’Loan and SDLP retain the seat.
    But the real story here is the chitter chatter in the Members Dining Room.

    Ritchie should do herself a favour resign the Assembly seat and give Eamonn O’Neill or Marietta Farrell a chance to get into Stormont for a year before Assembly elections.
    But shes too much a piss poor leader to even think about it.

  • propaganda

    Social Democratic Labour and no Party

  • Munsterview

    I agree there is young life in SF, but not enough and it has no voice and no power hence the departures we have all heard about, and in some cases (not me I could care less: whats a few more fools here or there) gloated over.

    I remember SF did not start with Gerry Adams or even Martin McGuinness. It has a long and proud history, pity its been almost completely submerged.

  • redhugh78

    Are you a sf supporter and are you afforded the priviledge of posting your own articles?

  • dwatch

    Could someone with future knowledge of what a 32 county Republican United Ireland is to be like explain what difference would there be between an SDLP view of a Irish Republic compared to a SF irish Republic?

    For instance how would SF or SDLP views fit in with Fianna Fail or Fianna Gael. How could four republican parties agree with each others policies on such a small Island of Ireland?

  • Given the strung-out geographic extent of East Antrim, I don’t think location will be a big issue for candidates. I just wondered did O’Loan look and think, in terms of seniority (relative to the other possible runners), that he could step across rather than fight a losing battle in North Antrim.
    Whatever he was thinking, it looks like he is toast now.

  • Ah now John that is unfair. Paul Butler was a peaceful sort and when he shot a policeman in the back of the head he did it in a non violent way. Martina Anderson had special non violent explosives as did Conor Murphy. Gerry Kelly shot a prison officer in a peace loving fashion.

    Really John get with the programme: none of those people committed any crimes they were minding their own business when bad unionists leaped in the way of bullets or made the IRA bombs blow up. Remember the British Army set off the Enniskillen bomb which was a special non violent device with a timer.

  • Johno

    Margaret is just doing what all STOOPS do…anything to please the Prods.

  • Munsterview

    Pip
    “………I agree there is young life in SF, but not enough and it has no voice and no power hence the departures we have all heard about, and in some cases (not me I could care less: whats a few more fools here or there) gloated over…….”

    It could be so easy to get exasperated with your carelessness with facts, you continually make statements like the foregoing with a convincing assurance. Where are the facts to back it up?

    If I were to comment on the Unionism in such a careless, uninformed way I would have turgon….. bulmer….comrade stalin et al, jumping all over me.

    Well o’k admittedly not a good example, they would be doing that anyway but you get the picture !.

    I do not know when you attended a last Republican Commemoration , or if you have attended any? Things may be a little different down this neck of the woods to up Sligo way, but down here, there are far more under thirties to over thirties and the over sixties like myself are the ones that are now a minority.

    Most political commentators acknowledge this reality and the fact that Sinn Fein has the greatest number of young people relative to the party as a whole than any other of the mainstream political parties. They are not leaving, they are very much staying.

    In the early seventies I was one of the head stewards at a big demonstration in Dublin, I counted off seventeen hundred people in my section alone and that was less than a third of the march. RTE put the attendance at between six and eight hundred people based on Garda figures!

    There are certain spins out there regarding Sinn Fein that probably go back to Garda H.Q. and Fianna Failure black arts dep. These have remained constant during my four decades of my involvement in politics. 1) Sinn Fein is a small organization, 2) Sinn Fein has no support in the South, 3) Sinn Fein is a party of old people, 4) Sinn Fein has no attraction for young people. etc A more recent one : members are leaving Sinn Fein in droves.

    If people posting expect to be taking seriously they should in so far as possible ensure that what they post as factual, is fact. Otherwise it is just at best a personal opinion while at worst it could be taken as prejudice and mischief making.

    As to your glib ‘what’s a few more fools here or there……. come on, think about it, not worthy of you, you are better than this, or at least I would have thought so ! Respect and all to that ?

  • Munsterview

    Respect? Its a two way street! I said the young were there, but not in sufficient numbers and with no power and no voice! I said it went some way to explaining why people were leaving. I also kept my comments to SF and not the republican movement.

    Not worthy of me? Not worthy of you! Whats a few more fools here or there? what indeed, we see them every day after all. As for glib I think not my observations were just that, and not wasted, wishful thinking of days long gone and dreams dead in the dust.

  • Munsterview

    A quick check. On another thread I mentioned the ‘big wind’ I wonder, did you read the thread. If you did I think you may be one of the, possibly few, who know what I was referring to…

  • wee buns

    One of your best to date. Agreed and laughed (out loud).

  • wee buns

    Aye because nationialism is stooopid, has no principle, no heart, no life.
    Splits are the lifeblood of republicianism (also the deathblood) a culture of dissent being central to the principle of self determination.

  • wee buns

    Hume is a greatly underestimated man in terms of his humililty.

  • Munsterview

    Pip
    No, missed that…. please direct

  • Munsterview

    Sorry, tried to reply earlier but not sure it got through. It was not a thread about the Big Wind. It was a comment I made between the combustible nature of the meeting between Ritchie and O’Loan. I said the Big Wind would have been a breeze in comparison.

    Typically, it was only afterward I realised many have never heard of the Big Wind of 1839.

  • Munsterview

    Well remember the Old Traditional Greeting of one Celt to Another 2,000 years ago ” I greet you a free man” ( or woman as the case may be)

    People who commit to a Radical cause like Militant Irish Republicanism and are prepared to pay the price required for it, are also people of strong opinions and ideas.

    The surprise is not that there is disunity, it is that in relative terms given the numbers of the Mainstream core and the numbers of those dissenting from this majority view, that there is so little of it.

    And all of this before the various spooks and hidden hands get to work to stir things up.

    Under these circumstances what is remarkable is that a core majority could consistently maintain unity in the face of such adversity, especially the Unionist ‘playing silly buggers stage’ to get where we are now at and to the possibility of getting to where we are going.

  • Munsterview

    Frightening when one consider it, I left National School with a better knowledge of history and certainly that of folk history back in the early sixties than most leaving cert. students have in the present day despite computers, good reference libraries and what not.

    Had this reference in my paste board, if you do do not already know of it, the article on the Big Wind is worth a read.

    /www.irishcultureandcustoms.com

    As far as I remember the writer is a Bridget Hegarty but her surname is a variant of that and not quite spelled the usual way so you may have to play around with it for a search.

    Corner interval over,……… meet with you back in the ring!

  • Munsterview

    Back in the ring? I hope not, what chance for little old me!

    Thanks for the link I will look into it.

  • Munsterview

    PaddyReilly 25 May 2010 at 7:01 am
    “…..I am not persuaded that a single party actually helps the Nationalist cause, if there is such a thing as a Nationalist cause and the SDLP is part of it…… ”

    Agreed, I personally would not like the SDLP to leave the field. It is possible to be pro United Ireland and Nationalist while being against Republicanism both as a philosophy and in it’s particular Irish manifestation.

    All parties in the South would claim to be Republican. Dessie O’Malley’s ( anyone remember him) ‘ I stand by the Republic’ Dail speech is considered the ‘G.P.O. proclamation’ of the PD’S even if in practice they drove Daniel O’Connell’s proverbial ‘ coach and four’ through every value of the Democratic Program of the first Dail.

    (And no jokes about the party starting on a contraceptive issue and ending up in a political condom please !)

    The two main political parties in the South, Fine Gael and Fianna Failure are, de facto, in policy and outlook Nationalist. Neither can it be denied that their combined vote represent a clear majority view of Southern society.

    Seen in this context the SDLP are far from an endangered species, they were and are a political extension and expression of the middle class ‘comfort zone’ of Southern politics. Well before they will reach anything near political collapse their Southern pals will again open the purses and send supplies North as they did before in crisis times.

    There is a simple explanation for this, by confining social upheaval to the Six Counties during the past four decades they did not have to face Broadwater Flats or Paris riots upheavals in Dublin, Limerick or Cork etc. The Twenty Six Counties remained safe for Fianna Failure, The Galway Tenters, the Builders, Bankers and Wa****s.

    This is not to forget then Fine Gael Taoiseach John Bruton’s best friend Minister Michael Lowrey and all the question marks over the awarding of a television broadcasting license that made a billionaire and several millionaires out of people of limited financial resourced during Fine Gael’s government watch.

    But then again as the bold John said to one of his councillors reporting suspected bribery and corruption among his party councillors in a planning matter, Fine Gael is not a party of altar boys. Indeed. I could not have put that better myself!

    That particular scandal of the Fine Gael government watch has cost the Irish Tax payer 100 million over the past ten years, and is all set to run for another two at least at goodness knows what additional cost!

    In terms of political dividends the SDLP was not only worth every penny spend by the Southern Establishment but in terms of the time they bought and the social upheavals they prevented down here, they came cheap at the price.

    Because of the peculiar governing structure ( artificial attempts to make an artificial state work etc) of the Six Counties and its equally peculiar political legacies there will always be a Nationalist type who will not have a Shinner around the place no more than any of the Fur Coat UUP’s would have an average DUP type clean out their stables never mind sharing a party with them!

    We are where we are, this is political reality on this island.

    Give or take a few hundred votes or a seat here or there, the SDLP / Sinn Fein divide is stable but not static, there will continue to be a slow drift to SF but that too I suspect will reach it’s own equilibrium and we may only be an election or two from that.

    On the Unionist side parallel forces would seem to apply; to para-phase a Nixon vulgarism, now that the TUV have failed to piss, once they get off the pot, there may be some realistic UUP and (sane) part TUV accommodation / alinement that will give that grouping some traction and credibility also.

    It would appear that their mutual distaste of the DUP can give some measure of common ground. After all being opposed to Sinn Fein, oops sorry, I meant ‘ Men Of Violence ‘ was enough to keep the SDLP in the frame to date and the fact that they are currently taking up so much media attention means they are not a spent force yet.

    It seems that these four main political groupings referred to in the Six Counties, also represent the democratic majority. Such a grouping involved in the usual horse trading necessary to get things done would also allow normal politics to work.

    Most important it also should allow other non mainstream political groupings to organize, operate openly and make a meaningful contribution to radical politics.

    As for Sinn Fein in the South, it must be free to set it’s own agenda including putting the boot into Fianna Failure big time without any more ‘ must not upset them because of the North’, nonsense. This, de facto, has the same effect as the ‘Labor must wait’ Dev stunt that Fianna Failure used the National issue for to defer meaningful social politics from 1932 right up to 1969.

    The northern tail has wagged the southern dog for long enough. The only one gaining from this situation is Eamon Gilmore and Labor. Daily republicans are losing ground and credibility that it will be very hard to reclaim if indeed it can be.

    As Mac The Mouth said to his own party ” Be radical or be redundant !”