“Leaving Sinn Féin is like leaving the Mafia.”

Not my words, but those of independent Councillor Dessie Ward – who left Sinn Féin in March of this year.  The Irish News reports today that he’s complained of having been threatened and harrassed since he resigned from the party.

“There were various reasons why I left the party,” [Cllr Ward] said. “But I tried not to go into too much detail at the time becasue I wanted to leave on a positive note.” 

“But from the day and hour I left the party there have been constant attacks on my character and ability.”

“There appears to be an attitude that if you aren’t in the party, you’ve had it.

“It’s not like any other political party.  Leaving Sinn Féin is like leaving the Mafia.”

In the report Cllr Ward also said that he felt unable to work with Sinn Féin MLA John O’Dowd.

“I’d say around 30 per cent of the reason I left was because of John O’Dowd.

“Then some of the things came out about Sinn Féin I wasn’t entirely comfortable with.

“The issue of child abuse and how that was dealt with – I thought they should have said that things happened during the conflict that should not have but instead they tried to spin their way out of it.

“Gerry Adams not admitting that he was even a member of the IRA, I couldn’t understand.”

And the Irish News has a response from John O’Dowd

Mr O’Dowd dismissed Mr Ward’s claims.

“Since Dessie Ward resigned from Sinn Féin several months ago he has launched a number of unfounded media attacks on me and the party,” he said.

“Some of his comments regarding me are currently with my legal team and I await their advice.”


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  • Henry94

    Has he also left the Mafia?

  • Mark McGregor

    The attitude he claims was adopted to him post departure isn’t unique to SF. As we’ve seen on Slugger all but a very few are questioned on character and ability when they depart regardless of the party they left.

  • al

    “…me legal team…”

    O’Dowd adopting Ulster-Scots?

    Any information on these ‘threats’?

  • Ulick

    ““I’d say around 30 per cent of the reason I left was because of John O’Dowd”

    I was surprised at this as it always seemed as though John and Dessie had a good relationship. Dessie seems to be thrashing around, without success, trying to find a reason for his departure.

    IMO for what it’s worth, SF ask a lot, time and commitment wise, from their elected representatives and Dessie simply found that increasingly difficult to give. Rather than being similar to leaving the Mafia, I’d liken it more to leaving the priesthood, in that to get involved in the first place you need to have a serious vocation to sacrifice that much of your personal life.

    A lot of people who worked hard to support Dessie were disappointed with his leaving so these threats he mentions are more than likely someone blowing off hot air. He knows this himself so it’s bad form really for him to be trying to exaggerate them out of all sense of proportion.

    I wish Dessie well, he’s a good lad who’ll be missed for the representation he gave the Banbridge end of the constituency, but I always got the impression he wasn’t quite thick-skinned enough for politics.

  • vanhelsing

    probably a typo but pure gold if not:)

  • Jaggers

    I thought the Mafia problem as expressed by Michael Corleone in the Godfather was “Just when I thought I was out they pull me back in”, memorably imitated by Silvio in The Sopranos.

    With Dessie Ward, Sinn Fein told him “Good riddance and don’t come back”. Hardly the Mafia way. And Dessie’s bitching about it is hardly supporting the code of Omerta now, is it?

  • sdlp Man

    Sorry I misposted the full Irish News article on the ‘Nationalism’ thread. Unfortunately, the “me legal team” quote attributed to Lurcher is a misprint.

    What I did say on the other thread was:

    “Lovely party, lovely people. And this is the party Declan O’Loan wants SDLP to merge with.

    By the way, when you read of a Sinn Feiner ‘awaiting advice from his legal team’, it means you can have confidence about the veracity of the story. Think Alex Maskey, BBC Spotlight and the DLA car when Alex was “drawing the average industrial wage””.

  • Jean Meslier

    Maybe- green, white and gold?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    [text removed – play the ball and not the man – mods] It is my observation that people who leave political parties…even after several years membership….Roy Jenkins, Sylvia Hermon, Jeffrey Donaldson, Gerry Fitt, Gerry McHugh…..say rather unkind things about their former Party and colleagues.

    Surely it would have been a surprise if Mr Ward had said something kind about his former Party.
    So “leaving Sinn Féin is like leaving the Mafia” seems to be in the Dog Bites Man category of News Value.
    Perish the thought that this was a quote that Mr Baker has seized upon to make a (political) point.

    Timing is of course everything. In explaining the Hobbesian reference to Dan Purvis leaving the PUP, Mr Baker informs us that he does not view Ms Purvis as “inherently selfish”.

    In Mr Fealtys “Dawn Purvis Resigns From PUP”, Mr Baker has not given us the benefit of his opinion.
    Perhaps Mr Ward, a councillor in Banbridge is a more important politician than Ms Purvis MLA and erstwhile Leader of her Party.

    A thought occurs. The PUP has been the mouthpiece for a criminal organisation not unlike the Mafia to the casual observer. With 29 killings since its own ceasefire, a new PUP leader saying he believes the UVF still has some weddings, police operating on the intelligence that last weeks murder victim was killed by members of the UVF and David McKitterick referring to UVFs “non lethal” criminality.

    So……if leaving Sinn Féin is “LIKE leaving the Mafia”……..a quote from Mr Ward, enthusiastically seized upon by Mr Baker…..how should we view Ms Purvis leaving the PUP. Whats that……LIKE?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Er the UVF has weapons NOT weddings. Sorry Im too focussed on the latter these days.

  • Co. Down Man

    Surprised by Dessie, according to what he said he was threatened on facebook, let him produce the evidence for that, he is only burning bridges by trying to find reasoning for leaving, SF ask a lot of commitment like all political parties me thinks thats the real reason for his departure.

  • Mark McGregor


    As Ulick noted above, Dessie like many other people that left SF will have experienced harsh words from some former comrades.

    These may have been thought of as threats in some instances by Dessie while others may have brushed similar off as to be expected or lacking substance.

    I know many people that have left SF on varying levels of mutual respect/disrespect. I know numerous people that had extremely hostile encounters as a result of their departure – so I’m not assuming Dessie is telling a mistruth.

    My personal experience would lead me to believe that it is more likely than not that Dessie has had to deal with situations he could have judged as threatening or harassing.

  • Pete Baker

    Sorry, that was me typo.

  • G O’Neill

    Summed up very well Fitzjameshorse

    I think this is the sort of article that people were refering to in the discussion that followed Marks “shhhh it wasn’t the shinners article last week”. Anything negative for SF or Gerry Adams is jumped on by certain commentators on here who have their own agenda. If this story had of been about another party would we have this thread? Probaly not.

    In any event i think this is the normal rubbish that comes out when someone leaves a political party. Although his comment about GA not admitting he was in the IRA member is strange. I don’t think people in nationalist cirlcles cares about this with most people finding the unionist obbession with this quite funny.

  • I congratulate Mr. Ward on speaking out about his mistreatment by PSF.

    As a former member of the same Party, I’ve experienced amongst other things; threats, insults, demonisation and had my mental state questioned?? I’ve also been called an alcholic and I don’t even drink! A wife-beater and an adulterer even though there’s not a shred of evidence to all of the above.

    Hurtful yes, strange yes but when one takes the mistreatment of the late Brendan Hughes into account its no surprise whatsoever!

  • That’s all very well but Dessie hasn’t alleged mistreatment by the Party. He’s saying he didn’t get along with big John, unhappy about how the Party handled some things and he got a bit of abuse on Facebook. Seems you have a completely different axe to grind and you’re trying to rope Dessie’s grievances onto yours. I fear your barking up the wrong tree with that.

  • Mark McGregor


    I think AR is talking about his treatment post departure, just like Dessie.

    I think personal mindset can be a part of these things. While I too have been treated with hostility by some former comrades and made aware of the odd chinese whisper it has never bothered me that much.

    The only time I got close to thinking it was a direct attempt at intimidation was the first election after leaving when I was sitting at my PC and saw 4 SF canvassers come down the street one to a door.

    My door knocked and I had all four there – one guy I knew well and had worked with, another a very senior ex-IRA member recently participating in politics and two young West Belfast Ogra members. I was uncomfortable with that as they knew before knocking the door I wasn’t going to be voting for them and they’d done every other door singly.

    Mindsets though – to some that is outright harassment and intimidation. To me it was just a fucking joke.

  • Ulick, Dessie has perfectly highlighted and outlined his ‘treatment’ at the hands of his former comrades in PSF…For many like myself, we’ve also experienced the same kind of behaviour from the politically immature within the same Party.

    Anyone who is treated with inequality or disrespect from PSF has my upmost sympathy and as such solidarity..simple as!

    As 4 barking up the wrong tree, its clear to Irish Republicans that the ‘Ireland of Equals’ only applies to those who agree with the reformism of PSF.

  • Oracle

    Rarely do we get a politician like Mr. Ward prepared to admit his own political failings with his involvement with a party heavily associated with murder, robbery, blackmail and extortion.
    I suppose even the most hardened stomachs in S/F wretched at the party’s handling or lack of handling of the alleged child rapes carried out by members of the party, for fear of exposing to the media a senior link between the intelligence services and S/F.

    But I’m never surprised at the speed and ferocity S/F stalwarts’ race on here to damn the man with faint praise, and a good old dollop of S/F smear-shite talk

    Ulick states
    “Dessie seems to be thrashing around,” (so he’s erratic unfocused and dishonest)
    “trying to exaggerate them out of all sense of proportion.” (yep the bastards a liar too)
    “SF ask a lot, time and commitment wise” ( proclaim the party as standard setters)
    “and Dessie simply found that increasingly difficult to give” (he’s a lazy bastard as well)
    “got the impression he wasn’t quite thick-skinned enough for politics” (a gutless wimp)
    “I wish Dessie well, he’s a good lad who’ll be missed for the representation” Are you on glue Ulick?

    According to you he’s an unfocused erratic dishonest gutless lazy lying bastard of a wimp who will be missed???? Fuck me if he’ll be missed your party in Banbridge must be really full of shite!

  • Mick Fealty

    I heartily recommend people visit the thread in question and read it right to the bottom

    I notice there’s a lot of plausible arguing away of Dessie Ward’s reasoning. Nothing wrong with that, that’s party politics for you. But there are some things that cannot be argued or rationalised away. Most notably:

    “The issue of child abuse and how that was dealt with – I thought they should have said that things happened during the conflict that should not have but instead they tried to spin their way out of it.”

    The party and the various hacks on this thread can try to argue it away, but the movement’s attitude towards the problem was both cavalier and (at the very least) disingenuous and misleading (just stick ‘Liam Adams timeline’ in Google): regardless of what Dessie Ward chooses to say about it.

    That strikes me as the most problematic going forward… It also illustrates what’s most problematic about Mark’s attempt at spin in that thread.

    Of course child abuse is NOT unique to Northern Ireland but on any sane reading those stories of December and January were chilling.

  • Mick Fealty


    Keep that kind of nonsense up and you’ll not just end up off the site.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    It was much better summed up its original form.

  • joeCanuck

    I wonder if people in Brooklyn say ““Leaving the Mafia is like leaving Sinn Féin.”

  • joeCanuck

    I didn’t see the comment but not a horse’s head, Mick. Please.

  • percy

    I can’t imagine anything more pleasant than working with John O’Dowd..
    so I know not of this beef.

  • Ulick

    Don’t know why I’m bothering but in the off chance someone else misunderstood:

    “Dessie seems to be thrashing around,” (he’s given over half a dozen different reasons to different papers since leaving – that’s what I mean by ‘thrashing around’. Dessie’s as honest as they come and don’t try to insinuate I suggested anything else.)

    “SF ask a lot, time and commitment wise” (Statement of fact. The issue has been highlighted on other forums and debated to death such as politics.ie)

    “and Dessie simply found that increasingly difficult to give” (I did not suggest Dessie is lazy. Far from it. He built the Party up from nothing in Banbridge and had the balls to stick his head over the parapet long before it became fashionable. I was hinting at Dessie’s change of circumstances e.g. new job, getting married, young family, new home over an hours drive from the Upper Bann office and the same from his place of employment. I certainly wouldn’t have the time to give half of the commitment he gave to the Party).

    “got the impression he wasn’t quite thick-skinned enough for politics” (as demonstrated by being an SF representative in Banbridge he is far from gutless. He’s intelligent, empathetic and naturally a little sensitive, that’s all. Admirable qualities but not always the best suit for a life in politics.)

    “I wish Dessie well, he’s a good lad who’ll be missed for the representation” (Smithwicks and the occasional fag out the back when the wife goes to bed are my only vices).

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Seems leaving Slugger is a bit like leaving the Mafia 😉

  • Mick Fealty

    Yes, so next time please reserve your boot for the point, not the man….

  • what did the mafia ever do to you Baker?

  • Pete Baker


    All my posts since I joined Slugger, some time ago, can be viewed by clicking on my name.

    I’ve covered a wide variety of topics in the years I’ve been blogging, including the recent murder of Bobby Moffett, the UVF’s involvement, and the member of the PUP Executive who remains on the Policing Board.

    But, since you’re keeping such a close eye on what I have and haven’t said, you know all that.

    So why the rant about a post which quotes extensively from both Dessie Ward and John O’Dowd?

  • IRIA

    JoeCanuck: Funny!

    Though, the only mafia in Brooklyn these days wear flip flops, and have their polo shirt collars popped up.

  • That too.

  • I can see the reason why someone would want to walk away from unanswered questions, obvious lies, and quite possibly personality clashes, especially when you think of one or two of the personalities…

    All a bit of a storm in a tea cup though. Time will tell if the councillor has the confidence of his constituents. I have no doubt the well trained shinners will stick with program.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    I can honestly say that Ive never clicked on your name.
    I merely point out your the hyperbole of the words “like leaving the Mafia” which you enthusiastically ceased upon……while earlier in the same week a person did actually leave an organisation which is exactly like the Mafia.

  • Pete Baker


    Sounds like your complaint is with Cllr Dessie Ward.

    They are his quotes you seem to be taking issue with…

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    In the text removed portion of my message at 5.27pm, I addressed that very issue ….which a moderator ruled was playing the man.
    Obviously it would be totally inappropriate of me to repeat what I said in good faith.
    But perhaps if you ask the moderator privately what I said then he might tell you privately and no one in the broader Slugger community could possibly be offended.

  • Granni Trixie

    FJH: Despite being on the naughty step again (with “Paulie Daniels”?) I think that you make a good point if you are getting at inconsistencies in analysing the resignation from the PUP and SF.

    Most resignations from political parties come as a result of a mixture of human dissatisfactions which reach a point of no return, often dressed up to the public as ‘principles’. But which ultimately prove to be a seven day wonder. A pattern of resignations from a particular party has much more significance in my view and whether this pattern prevails with SF is for further debate.

  • padraig

    People come…and people go..

    hey nonny non and nonny go no…..

    But a nice effort at trying to stir the pot. Have you ever considered summoning demons to attack the Shinners; might be more effective. I have a nice red rooster I could sell you for demon sacrifice if you’re interested.

  • HeinzGuderian

    Indeed. Mustn’t ever question the shinners. The Angrytown News tried that……………….Although El Beardo was not in the least offended,the story was withdrawn,and the author had to apologise profusely…………..

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Thank you granni trixie. As ever you show sound judgement.
    But just to clarify that I wasnt analysing the resignations. I was analysing the analysis of the resignations.
    My position is that I am interested as much in how stories in the mainstream Media (as it is now derisively called) are covered as much as the stories themselves…..eg the way the Daily Express and Daily Mail find a Lady Di and Migrant link to every news story……and indeed how the Independent manages to find a global warming link to everything.
    Ultimately these newspapers are parodies of themselves.
    If you read (or indeed write) as many Blogs as I do, you will quickly discover that the mainstream Media is a lot better than the likes of me and the vast majority of the Bloggerati who set ourselves up as some kinda trustworthy alternative but come with at least as much baggage as the mainstream Media.
    Of course, there is a danger in all Blogs that it just does not become a “Private Eye” which at its best exposes things which for editorial policy reasons or a fear of the libel laws, the mainstream media dont uncover.
    But at its worst Private Eye is the house magazine of Fleet Street and Special Advisor insiders. And hopelessly self indulgent. But well worth £1.50.

  • Framer

    What did he expect?

  • Co. Down Man

    I wonder did you call Sinn Féin PSF when you where a member?

  • Dessie has been expressing an opinion about Tesco re. Banbridge where he gives O’Dowd and others a touch:

    Councillor Dessie Ward: The Tesco developers were at the Council last night…what they presented was very impressive indeed. Apart from the Tesco store they are involved in other things in Banbridge like bringing an Ice Rink to Bridgewater Park, a nursing home on Bannview Road, Industrial units on Rathfriland Road etc. We need to grab these opportunities with both hands..

    Councillor Dessie Ward: Carol, Black is another Drew…and of course my former colleague John O’Dowd! None of them have a clue! They are all promoting the ridiculous line that the Tesco store at the Outlet should not be allowed to sell food! Thats like building a pub that isnt allowed to sell beer!

  • “Leaving Sinn Féin is like leaving the Mafia.” .. DW

    Confusion surrounds Cllr Padraig McShane’s departure from SF. Did he fall or was he pushed? The Moyle councillor has belatedly informed the council that he is now an Independent. The MSM has been surprisingly silent on the controversial departure.

  • Munsterview

    I do not know the full background of Dessie’s story so I cannot comment on it in any meaningful way. My remarks are about Sinn Fein and political parties on this Island generally.

    First off traditionally SF did not regard itself as a political party but rather as part of a wider Republican Movement. It was also traditionally a matter of us against the rest and we had few Elected political friends on the Island of Ireland, in fact we had more outside for most of our recent history, a fact that has not changed for Sinn Fein.

    Of course personal friendships were formed with other politicians outside of Sinn Fein, but always on a one to one, trusts build up over a period with TD and Ministers and were valued to have prisoner issues etc dealt with. However these contacts seldom moved outside a one-to-one basis and at most only two or three individuals, associates of the individuals on either side that could be vouched for. The parties as a whole maintained hostile relations with each other.

    The same applied to Church contacts, on one occasion a local Bishop refused to meet a Republican delegation in a certain area where I was living at that time. He would only meet with me and on a one to one basis as before; again it was a matter of trust build up, the same reverend gentleman was no pushover, when I was not on the delegation as he see it something was being ‘tried on’ that I would not wear. He was entirely correct on that occasion!

    The same with press contacts, ‘off the record’ meant off the record, as did on the record mean just what is said on the tin. I often got calls from a press people to ‘run something by me’ before they wrote up an article. I could sometimes influence or openly redirected a piece but my actions came from trust and the ability to argue a particular issue from a different perspective.

    The game was played within certain rules that the new players on all sides had to quickly learn and operate…. it they were to become and stay players of any significance.

    Most of Sinn Fein’s total history has been one of clandestine, closed ranks, behind closed doors politics. Because the commitment of most Republicans to the Movement got a priority over everything else in their lives, including family and personal lives, involvement
    for most was total. A friday night could start with a seven o’clock meeting, then a bit of postering or pickiting, followed by paper sales, with a few drinks at the end of the night in a Republican friendly pub…… where other Republicans, retired and active usually hung out also.

    Things have changed somewhat but not all that much. In this in house, closed shop, environment individual and group rifts occur. As with all organizations natural leaders emerge or are promoted, so circles within circles develop. If somebody for whatever reason who formerly had the ‘inside track’ is now ‘out of the loop’ and they are not satisfied to be rank and file, for such individuals out of the loop means out of the door….. by their own choice!

    A lot of the ‘ walk aways’ from Sinn Fein were inevitable, in the old days the dissatisfied member could be urged to remember the lads in jail etc. and focus on the bigger picture prevailed. ( F**** sake think of X’s Ministerial reputation, do not have quite the same appeal !) That is no longer there, to Republicans politics may be taken more seriously and the involvements more intense, but they are now just politics for all of that.

    Few members leave political parties that they are in dispute with, in harmonious terms.

    First off they’re leaving will reflect on the party, the party must be protected so the individual is immediately the centre of a spin talking down their service and magnifying their actual faults along with some others invented for good measure. ( spin doctors spin as an art and are not noted for their restraint irrespective of party )

    The defecting councillor not only leaves a political organization, they leave behind a whole social network as well, which only increased the alienation and recrimination. More public linen washing and more party spin etc.

    George Lee was the greatest thing since sliced pan for Fine Gael, for a while he even made Enda look good outside FG and that took some doing ! However when he suddenly left and gave his honest insider assessment of party and politics, he was unmercifully spun against.

    Worse he was trusted by the public, he had shown up the empty bankruptcy of Southern Politics so he was a threat to all involved in the business of politics.

    Politicians, Political Correspondences, Radio and TV current affairs commentators all ganged up on him. He had not played the game, he had betrayed the political club by washing their dirty linen in public and that to them was unforgivable!

    Dessie’s remark may have been an unfortunate throwaway comment, if it indeed it was only that and not chosen for impact damage, he left a culture and burned a lot of bridges behind him.

    While Dessie is occupying what is seen by the party as occupying a Sinn Fein seat that party members worked hard to get and see him as not being entitled to, there is unfinished business there. I cannot see him being invited for drinks or getting a gold watch for services rendered anytime soon.

    That is not Sinn Fein, that is just party politics!

  • Cormac Mac Art

    Why on earth is SF losing so many members these days?

  • Mark McGregor


    I’m at a loss why you are bringing a previous thread into this discussion. Can I suggest you perhaps refer to your own rules. The discussion was focused on the points until you brought in your grudge over my previous and pretty dead thread.

  • Mark McGregor


    Something not to forget is while SF members and party did a lot of the grunt work to get that seat..Dessie at reasonable risk and personal expense put himself at the head of the campaign.

    It wasn’t/isn’t an easy constituency to be the public face of SF in and as such it wasn’t solely a party win. As in many other areas where SF break through it relied on an individual to take flack few others would be willing to take. It also required them to work like a dog in a hostile environment.

    Dessie took great personal risks building that seat, he deserves to retain it and fight against a SF alternative in future imho.

    Can’t see how gifting it to someone that didn’t take the abuse is entirely fair, abuse he continues to take and deal with pretty stoically.

  • Cormac Mac Art

    Yet SF are new to party politics as practised by other parties.

  • Munsterview


    Lest I gave the impression that I was indifferent to Dessie or his contribution to mainstream Republicanism I most definitely am not !

    From Billy Leen in Tralee, to Christie Burke in Dublin etc there are plenty like him that gave the movement their all. In our day we would not dream of going to Armagh, Derry of Belfast and dictating how things should be done yet nowadays it appears people up think they know the local politics of Waterford or Wexford better than locals bred, born and reared in these areas!

    A minority of Republicans imposed, or should I say attempted to impose what they called ‘Democratic Centralism’ on the Movement : it did not work then and required a reorganization of the Movement to sort out.

    I personally cannot see ‘Undemocratic North Easternism’ being anymore healthy for long term Republicanism, especially in the South.

    Last week I see Martin Ferris in the Dail reading from a script supplied presumably by ‘the back-room boys’ and one that he obviously was not farmilar with. Ferris is a bruiser, a street fighter, he was twice O’C Republican Prisoners in Portlaois and he is one of the most experienced people in the movement. Martin did not need a supplied script with feeble build in jokes, he needed to be cut loose and free to rip into the Government Benches!

    I and others like me in the South, did not give decades of our lives just for the North, we did it for a new Thirty County political of justice and fairness. All I can see is SF practicing the same clintellist politics in the South that we condemned Fine Gael and Fiana Failure for up to the ceasefire.

    Michael McDowell challenged the PD’s to be radical or to be redundant !

    The PD’s did not respond and McMacmillian’s famous ‘Events, dear boy, events’ decided things for them and they are redundant.

    The electorate are ready to listen to left radicalism, Gilmore is playing a blinder. Sinn Fein is so busy proving they are constitutional enough for Government to the other parties that they have forgotten that it was street politics that first took us through the Gates Of Lienster House.

    Gilmore ,Rabbit and co know a bit about street politics too. He has played a blinder so far.

    Just suppose he decides that the people have had enough of Nama nonsense and leads his people out of the house and on to the streets to lead opposition from there to bring down Fianna Failure?

    Not as crazy as it may appear at first glance, if he did he would know that he was guaranteed to come back in as Taoiseach ! Where then Sinn Fein ?

  • Munsterview


    Constructive criticism is one thing but if it is all the same to you I will reserve my political arse kicking for the well padded ones under the blue shirts and the Galway tenters.

    This is a Republican family matter…Butt out!

  • Pete Baker


    “I think that you make a good point if you are getting at inconsistencies in analysing the resignation from the PUP and SF.”


    What Fitzy’s done is classic whataboutery – without any reference to what has actually been posted about the PUP on Slugger.

    More than that, he’s fair gaming in order to distract from the original topic.

    We’ve seen it before.


    “analysing the analysis”?

    Where’s the analysis of the resignation of Dessie Ward?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Im quite sure Granni Trixie can see what Ive done.
    And what youve done.
    You have analysed the resignation of Cllr Ward and his assertion that resigning from SF is like leaving the Mafia.

    What Ive sought to do..with a degree of success I might humbly add…is analyse your analysis.

  • Dixie

    Not due to the lack of British funding anyway.

  • Pete Baker

    “You have analysed the resignation of Cllr Ward and his assertion that resigning from SF is like leaving the Mafia.”

    Of course I have, fitzy…

  • Rory Carr

    Nevin (not for the first time) has cracked it !

    Dessie left Sinn Féin because their ideology conflicts with that of another organisation which has a programme of social and economic development (engineering?) with which he is much more comfortable and whose interests and promotion he now arduously promotes – Tesco !

    I expect it was the natty uniform that won him over.

  • Granni Trixie

    Overnight I have lost track so I have to recap a bit.
    I think that some views hinge on ones interpretation of
    “like leaving the MaFIA” which I take to refer to intimidatory actions possibly by former collegues. If so, this is what would distinguish SF from other political parties in similar circs. Intimidation norms for settling grievances are also what make them like the PUP.

    When somebody leaves and publically criticises their party,they break the code of loyalty and it hurts. Sometimes people return (least said soonest mended) , sometimes not. There can be internal bitching as is human. But intimidation would be a no no.

    I think it is legit. to compare Slugger analyses of the significance of someone leaving SF and DPs leaving the PUP as some think Slugger has bias towards DP or David Ervine. I would like to understand this and it is not the same as what I now learn is “fairgaining” (incidentally some Slugger rules remind me of some republican ‘crimes’ such as “felon setting”. But Sluggers rule-concepts are interesting to me at least- keep it up).

    I have already said that I thought it strange that Dawn was chosen as its MLA of the year. I am aware of a class dimension in some peoples support for the PUP/DP/DE
    ie we must at all costs get working class people out of this paramilitary hole. This is patronising. The people of the Shankill Rd are mobilising and articulating that they want change.

    Comparisons with the treatment of people who leave SF is not whataboutery (as is usually practiced here and elsewhere) but about identifying consistencies. SF and the PUP have baggage of a violent,sectarian, practices. Dawn left PUP because murder “was the last straw”. It defies belief. What has she tolerated? What did DE tolerate? Leadership such as Raymond McCord SNR. is showing leadership, only today on Nolan describing intimidation of young people “put off the Shankill and not a word about it from the PUP”.
    In speaking out, Dessie Ward seems to be rebelling against the established norm of loyally taking shit. Its a bit late to tell us to butt out of a “republican family matter”.Unfortunately Repubican actions forced their issues on all of us.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Well said Granni Trixie.
    But loyalty is a two way street.
    Party members are asked for a degree of loyalty that an ordinary voter cannot have.
    We have all seen drops memberships of major political parties in Britain and here. Politics is less (we are told) ideology based and it is certainly more nuanced and voters more cynical.
    But elsewhere on Slugger someone has mentioned the crisis in people leaving Sinn Féin.
    Crisis? What Crisis?
    Are party members a benefit or a liability.
    Yes knocking doors at election time is important but if we look at the example of Sinn Féin-IRA, in the 1980s a large membership was a vital aspect of its success. But does it actually need all those people now?
    If it actually closed its books to membership like a posh golf club would it actually suffer. Oh I should probably mention that SF has a tendency to call its people “activists” rather than “members”.
    People join parties because of commitment….obviously beyond voting ….they give a loyalty and leave generally because they believe that the Party has not reciprocated their loyalty.
    Id hazarrd a guess that the H block protestors of 1981 were core SF people and they have lost a disproportionately high number while retaining and advancing its electoral success.
    Likewise when Rev Ian Paisley led those loyalists from Dundonald and East Belfast up to Carsons Monument before the signing of the Agreement, Id suggest that several of those committed are now TUV people. Yet with the obvious and excellent example of East Belfast the DUP has not overly suffered from the defection of the Committed.
    Indeed the Committed are a pain in the ass to all political parties.
    Would any Norn Iron party suffer if they limited their memberships to say 500 people? Or a fixed number?

    Committment inevitably leads to Disappointment.
    The more committed a person is, the more disappointed they are.
    Like Football supporters at Newcastle and Liverpool.
    Tearing up the Membership card is no different from tearing up a season ticket.
    And the greater the disappointment the more vitriol.
    More vitriol directed AT the person leaving “Mr Donaldson you are a very devious young man” said the man in the Lagan Valley Polling Station. The people who jostled David and Daphne Trimble in Upper Bann in 2005 were the same folks who walked with him on the Garvaghy Road.
    Thats how it goes.
    Slugger O’Toole Awards. Well its not the BAFTAs but I think at one level amusing hostages to fortune (Peter Robinson) far sightedness (Naomi Long) and Dawn Purvis (the leftist, feminist, working class mature student with unfortunate connexion to a paramilitary grouping which is apparently no relation to the Mafia).
    Perhaps not handing out awards would be a wiser course.

  • Pete Baker


    “I think it is legit. to compare Slugger analyses of the significance of someone leaving SF and DPs leaving the PUP as some think Slugger has bias towards DP or David Ervine.”

    There is no “Slugger” analysis involved.

    I am responsible only for what I have written here, not what anyone else has.

    Fitzy, however, is inventing ‘analysis’ by myself to complain about – that’s fair-gaming.

    As for the awards. My only involvement in the awards was to nominate Julia Paul for the journalist award.

    Beyond that I had no other say in the process.

  • wee buns

    ”Leaving the Mafia is like leaving Sinn Féin.”

    When it turns up on The Sopranos, we heard it here first! : D

  • Munsterview


    So I take that any of the Armed Republican purists out there would not use a few rounds of ammo, a short, a long arm or any other war material because it came from British sources?

    When the IRB, my own cousin among them entered Parliament as MPs in the late 19th, century they took any facilities or resources the Brits provided as indeed they did at home to further their cause.

    They were focussed on the attainment of a Thirty-Two County Republic and any alliance or politic or resource that could be used along that road and to end was taken and used.

    War is politics carried on by other means : it has a terrible cost to all concerned whether is large scale regular warfare or a low intensity war as was fought in the Northern part of Ireland. On purely pragmatic terms it is also a waste of Human and other resources and it should not be continued one day longer than is necessary to restore the situation where politics can be again used to continue the same objectives by peaceful means.

    As far as I am concerned if Sinn Fein can achieve their goal with a British pound in one hand and a ballot box in the other, that is as fine to me now as it was to my long dead IRB Fenian cousin in his day.

    He would have understood Martin McGuiness, like him and unlike Gerry he too was involved in the arm wing of Fenianism!

  • Munsterview

    Granni /Fjh

    Fair comments of your take on the matter.

    Granni : my ‘butt out’ comment was not directed at genuine commentators such as both of you that are considering the subject raised per se. Indeed this was one the reason that I ‘lifted the veil’ a little to share with those who do not have such experiences how the culture of political parties operate so it could be commented on.

    My own side will not thank me for that either! I can here one particular voice demanding ” would you ever keep your f’ing mouth shut, you of all people should know what Vance and his kind will do with something like that”

    I do not write for David Vance and people like that, (nor he I would imagine for people like me ) I write to reach and explain my Ireland and it’s psyche to others of good will and willing to learn. I do not expect agreement on all my viewpoints no more than reasonable people on the ‘other side’ would expect me to agree with all of theirs.

    In this regard we can provide useful insights into what otherwise would be a closed culture to each middle ground; I have found ‘granni’s’ take on non mainstream protestant views helpful as I have fjh overviews of different situations very cogent and worthwhile also, even if he is occasionally threatened with the ‘sin bin! ‘

    Certain parties however come on this site with different objectives; old intel tricks are still useful, the odd trigger word subliminally placed, who takes the bait, what is the reaction etc is enough to show a hand.

    There are a few unreconstructed blueshirts out there as are Southern Special Branch monitors who have the same mentality as David Vance and turgon where Republicans and Sinn Fein are concerned and who cannot resist the urge to put the boot in when what they see as an opportunity presents.

    Where I see this agenda the old ways also prevail, keep the enemy under observation, plot his movements and plan the ambush at a time and place of my own choosing, never on the enemies own prepared ground…… all metaphorically of course I hasten to add.

    However I do not by any means dismiss the views of these people : their views were translated into political power and given effect under the Greek Colonels and the Chilean Generals etc. The record of their regimes and their ideas taken to their logical conclusion is still there for the world to see.

    It is currently expressed in the unbalances views of the Pro-Israeli anti-Palestinian commentators. For that these views need to be exposed and challenged for what they really are.

    I regard them the very same as they regard people like me, any other comment in this regard is superfluous, we both understand where we are coming from and our respective values.

  • Argosjohn

    I can feel PSF’s pain that “the dissidents” are still rabbiting on about the children they molested. These attacks ocntinue even though Most RCs in the Six Occupied vote for PSF.

    Mayo people vote for Beverley Tax Dodge No Jail Flynn. Tipperary people vote for Michael No Jail Lowry, and the Dubs vote for Ivor Crashed Boat Big Expenses No Jail Callelly.

    Nice comments on the Mafia but they should not be libelled by associating them with PSF,

  • pith

    Mark McGregor,

    “The attitude he claims was adopted to him post departure isn’t unique to SF. As we’ve seen on Slugger all but a very few are questioned on character and ability when they depart regardless of the party they left.”

    You’re not wrong there for once. I know a fella who left the Alliance Party. They started all this, “He was rubbish on his quangoes anyway”. Then very mysteriously he didn’t get invited to a garden party at Hillsborough. He thought some filth had been put through his letter box but it turned out the cleaner had missed that bit. Worst of all he didn’t get a Christmas card from John Alderdice with a picture of John Alderdice on it. I’d like to see how SF could top that litany of personal abuse.

  • Granni Trixie

    Pith: one case where being off someones christmas card list is a bonus (and thanks for the laf).

  • Munsterview

    All political organizations and the political parties they work through are the same in operative practices irrespective of ideology.

    The differences arise on emphasis; most mainstream party members on this island like those of Fianna Failure, Fine Gael, SDLP and UUP are nominal and semi-detached. Branch meetings are as much about socializing as business, they do not have a real input to party decisions and they accept this, it is top down and the same collection of local party officers have been there for god only knows how long.

    Such Party Members and supporters are mobilized at election time, for ministerial visits etc. occasionally ( and Fianna Failure excels at this ) they get the nod from the top to come out and demonstrate against a Ministerial decision such as closing a hospital or school etc either in a staged protest for the optics or in some cases because discontent can be managed and vented more effectively and harmlessly if the sound and fury is controlled by their own spin doctors and back-room people.

    I have given the example of Mick Dywer of Kerry before in previous postings, he was reveres in Kerry and indeed still is not alone in his own County but through out Gaelic Culture Ireland. He had been approached my all the mainstream political organizations to stand for election, he stood as an Independent, got elected top of the pool and came to the County Council thinking that his many skill and talents could be put to the service of the community.

    Inside Kerry Co. Council chamber Mick found that he did not have a friend : He was forced to nominate himself for every committee position; after a long silence he got a seconder, then a vote was taken and for every one of the ten of so positions he nominated himself for he got two votes only, one of them his own. It is no co-incidence that post politics Mick is to be found involved in the GAA in every County bar Kerry, lesson learned!

    With parties like Sinn Fein, it is not just about politics, it is also about a cause and a mandate from history. The first lesson learned is that the Republican Movement is first last and everything, in the old days it occupied most non working free time of the members. Many older Republicans were self employed, they had no other option, and often these provided work for other Republicans.

    Inside this culture a few days off for the Movement was no problem, the full wage packet was still there at the weekend, it the member was arrested family support was immediate from the wider movement and the family outing was very often to a Republican Commemoration where there was socializing afterwards with Old Friends.

    It was not about dropping out per se, many members regularly did so for domestic reasons, burn out or just did not have the same levels of commitment as before. No problem, these people and their families were still welcome at commemorations and social events etc. They still Regarded themselves and were regarded as part of the Republican Movement.

    Ex-members of the Republican Movement who held prominent positions and left in less than harmonious circumstances are in a different situation, the suddenly find that the culture and comrade that they took for granted just do not exist outside the Movement. Next to Christmas the Easter Commemorations are the most important festival occasions for Republicans, here for a day the dream still lives, we keep faith with the past, have our worth and values in the present confirmed and leave with hopes for the future : if our dead could do it, then so can we.

    Few Ex-Members of the Republican Movement cease to be Republicans, few change their thinking, those who have issues with the Movement quickly find that once out they are isolated not only from a party but from a whole culture. Ordinary rank and file do not differentiate between people and policies; any criticism of the Movement is inter alia perceived as an attack on the remaining membership and it’s values , etc.

    Then the damage limitation people get to work and it is far easier to play the man rather than the ball especially if the object is to put that person in a situation where they are attacking the Movement and damming themselves out of their own mouth. Dessies remark about leaving must have been manna from heaven to those who had questions to answer on any genuine grievances about issues. That closed ranks, burned bridges and ended many long friendships.

    No one person is greater than the Movement; as Joe Cahill said to me at a public meeting around the time of the first ceasefire, the current Sinn Fein Leadership are probably the finest Collective Leadership the Republican Movement produced since those of the Second Defense of the Republic period were killed or executed.

    I personally may have reservations and criticism of some of that leadership as individuals, I may occasionally question policy and strategy but in general I endorse what Joe Cahill had to say. It has been a bloody hard slog, progress has been exasperatingly slow but I do not have to listen to the News, hear there was a person killed in a certain area and do a mental check as to who I know there that it could be!

    Many on all sides are in the same position. For all it’s faults as Churchill once said ‘ Jaw, Jaw, is better than War, War ! I regret that Dessie found himself outside the fold or that he is now the victim of a spin campaign but even for those outside the fold there are still rules of engagement.

    For a politically literate and former prominent member like Dessie to compare the Movement to the Mafia in terms that Vance, Turgon or others of their ilk would use and expect not to be treated like these political opponents are is just not credible.

    I personally regret this situation and I respect Dessies service to our Movement but as to what is happening now…… that is just politics…………… and welcome normality!

  • jim

    like dessie to compare the movement to the mafia………………. then u mention joe cahill up to his balls with whitey the mafia hitman. his usual trick was dissapearing the bodies thats were joe must have learnt it from.the mafia wouldnt get a look in

  • Munsterview


    Give me hard facts that I can contest or an argument that I can respond to and I will consider a response. Trails of knuckles dragging on the ground can only indicate the general direction that you are heading; that is not enough.

    Please try to satisfy my mild curiosity on one thing : why is somebody called after the Catholic King James taking issue with Joe Cahill ?