Final look back at Sinn Féin’s ard fheis

I’ve only been to the Sinn Féin ard fheis twice. Eighteen or so months ago the coffee area outside the main hall in Dublin’s RDS resounded with the voices from across the south of the island. But northern accents were scarce, and as a visitor it heightened the feeling of being an outsider and in a minority.

Empty Waterfront Hall for Sinn Féin Ard FheisThis weekend, the situation was reversed. While the theme was ‘a new republic’ and ’32 county thinking’, the accents floating across the concourse were predominantly northern. The mix of delegates had changed.

No doubt the attendance will shift again next year when Sinn Féin’s ard fheis hits another province and visits Killarney. With a five to six hour drive, trains or flights, northern coach companies and Kerry hotels will enjoy good trade for those that are keen enough to make the trip.

To keep delegates in the hall, Sinn Féin would need to seat all of the delegates at tables and offer waiter service so people could dine and debate at the same time! But the ard fheis is as much social as it is political. The Waterfront’s first floor catering was doing good business all through Saturday. Better business than many of the stall holders who were unimpressed with their isolated position and lack of passing trade. (And the food stalls in St George’s Market were surprised delegates hadn’t been directed across the road to sample their wares at lunchtime instead of queueing in the Waterfront.)

Delegate numbers in the hall varied during the sessions. I timelapsed a view of the stage and one part of the seating. It gives an impression of how different sessions were attended, but doesn’t show the full auditorium. Some sessions were sparsely attended.

Sinn Féin’s ard fheis differs from most other northern party conferences. While snippets of Irish are spoken at the SDLP and Alliance conferences, they have no need – or provision – of simultaneous translation headsets. Sinn Féin also managed to stream video of the two day event, opening up proceedings to supporters (and critics) outside the Belfast venue. It will be interesting to see how they further revamp their online efforts after the motion passed on Friday evening.

Each party has their dress code. Young DUP men tend to turn up in suit and tie. Older UUP women wear hats. Alliance have a lot of open necked shirts. The SDLP are reasonably casual. But Sinn Féin is definitely the only conference where young women turn up in what would pass for formal dresses, and even switch outfits during the day.

Sign saying (Long) Creche at Sinn Féin ard fheis in BelfastOF course, maybe what I should be noticing is that none of the other local parties have as many young female activists as Sinn Féin. A party that provides a crèche at its conference.

While Sinn Féin may not have voted in favour of motions asking for quotas of young candidates at the next southern local elections, they are the party that most consistently pushes young talent forward into the limelight at their conference.

Maybe as a sign of republican/unionist understanding, Barry McElduff will be invited to tell some jokes at the DUP conference, and Willie McCrea or Sammy Wilson will receive a reciprocal invitation to the next Sinn Féin ard fheis.

Overall it was a dull ard fheis. Apparently that was the way the party wanted it. Other than Rev David Latimer’s emotional welcome on Friday night, the business on Saturday was mundane and surprise free. There was no bashing of Sinn Féin’s northern partner in government – the DUP – and the SDLP and Margaret Ritchie were an irrelevance that was better ignored than drawn attention to. Sinn Féin portrayed themselves as being in control of northern politics and only attacked Fine Gael and Labour who govern the south.

Looking at Laganside Courts from Waterfront Hall Belfast had two high profile – yet contrasting – gatherings of alleged (former) men of war this week. On one side of Oxford Street, loyalists were in the dock at the heavily policed ‘supergrass trial’ in in the Laganside Courts. And across the road, Sinn Féin were holding its ard fheis in a well secured Waterfront Hall, in which some politicians, delegates and security men with perhaps at least as violent pasts were sitting freely.

Media interest in Sinn Féin will continue through next week until their presidential candidate is finally named. Youthful. Northerner – if they want to push the all-island buttons during the campaign. Southerner – if they want to avoid claims that they’ve had a northern president for the last 14 years. Bloggers and commenters will continue to waste words trying to predict the unpredictable.

Notes about blogging in the Waterfront Hall

  • Wifi is dodgy. It drops out, slows down, disappears, works in public areas but not in the main hall itself (at least, not in Tier T). Uploading audio is possible, and video streaming is ok, but don’t even think about uploading decent quality video that you’ve recorded.
  • Vodafone signal in the main hall is poor. O2 is better.
  • There are very few electrical sockets, so bring extension reels – plural – and gaffer tape if you’re stringing it across the auditorium.
  • The low balconies at the side of the stage offer a great view of stage and audience. But the best shots come from the ‘bow’ jutting out at the very top of the auditorium.
  • The staff are really nice, so ask for help.
  • The tea/coffee is really expensive, so consider walking across to St George’s Market if you’re there on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

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  • lamhdearg

    How many threads is that now on slugger for the s.f. conference, i wonder will the rest of the partys get the same, and the same air time on local radio and t.v.

  • OneNI

    Extremely dull conference. Very poorily attended – less than 400 in the hall. Very little mention of NI – lots of FG Labour bashing.
    MI5 have every reason to be proud

  • Blissett

    ‘While Sinn Fein may not have voted in favour of motions asking for quotas of young candidates at the next southern local elections, they are the party that most consistently pushes young talent forward into the limelight at their conference.’

    Definitely one of the things that struck me was the youthful nature of this Ard Fheis. The friday night saw a launch of a National Youth Strategy, a sort of new approach to its youth development programme in terms of Ógra etc, which was attended by over a 100 young people, and there was plenty around the place on saturday as well. People like Niall Ó Donnghaile were very much front and centre, and for me, 22 year old Senator Kathryn Reilly was probably the highlight of the live session, very impressive. The youthful aspect showed in the Ard Chomhairle elections too, 3 people under 25 elected from the floor, when some quite experienced candidates missed out. Very much felt there was a youthful feel around the place, though id agree that it was pretty underwhelming as an ard fheis on the whole. lack of controversial motions didnt help.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Blissett, I am wondering is there a bit of “skipping a generation” gonig on in SF, possibly as a long term stratedgy, but may I also suggest it suggests an attempt to sideline any possible dessent to the Adams/McGunniess rule of the party for another decade or so, there is maybe more of a story behind the scenes than we can see.

  • Greenflag

    I’m sure there are many FF’rs who will look at this SF ard fheis and hope that they may get half the numbers for theirs assuming they have one of course . SF are winning the youth of Ireland and not just in the North . They have largely been insulated from the ‘failed ‘ policies of the established parties in the Republic over the past decade and the SDLP in NI is seen as an old fogies hanger on of a bygone age.

  • Greenflag

    lamhdearg ,

    ‘ i wonder will the rest of the partys get the same, and the same air time on local radio and t.v.’

    Probably not .Nobody expects anything ‘new’ from any of the them just the same old kowtowing to economic policies that have not stood the test of time . In a sense the political world is in ‘no man’s land ‘ a bit like Germany in 1929/30 a time when it was patently obvious that the established parties had failed for a decade or more and the communists were becoming more credible and attracting greater support. .

    In the midst of political and economic chaos the outsider party rose from 2% of the vote in 1928 to over 30% in 1930 . Three years later they ‘took ‘ power over a demoralised and helpless establishment who feared the communists more so than the ‘looney’ national socialists .

    In the UK there is no ‘third’ party that the newly impoverished working and middle classes can turn in the face of financial sector led plutocrat tyranny . But in Ireland there is or at least they are positioned to gain from the coming chaos .Whether they will or not depends very much on the established parties and they so far are seen as being no different from their predecessor in all but party names.

  • ORWELLSPEN

    400 in the hall eh? That’s one delegate for every 6 graves their organisation filled

  • 241934 john brennan

    Summary – SF is agin Europe, the Euro, the banks, Fine Gael, Irish Labour, the British Goverment, the British monarchy, but not the Catholic Church as that would involve the subject of child abuse -not mentioned at all – so no change there.
    But SF dropped “a united Ireland” and “an Ireland of Equals”. Now proposing a “New Republic” in which protestant unionists (not all the children of Ireland) “will be cherished” – free from Europe, England and Rome – and SF in the North takes it for granted that all in the South will join? So, at the Waterfront this bit was changed utterly, except for G.A.’s concluding war cry “Chucky ar la” – to which the cherished unionists no doubt all responded with a fervent “Amen” – but that will do until they are taught the Irish for “so be it.”

  • carl marks

    “Sinn Feiners have the look of evil in their inbred faces. “
    Wow, now that is hatred of a order of magnitude we haven’t seen in a while
    “400 in the hall eh? That’s one delegate for every 6 graves their organisation filled”
    So there was no UDA UVF LVF RHD UDR or British army involved in the troubles

  • galloglaigh

    Loyalist Sluggerites like to put the 60:30:10 argument forward when pointing out who did what.

    I posted this on another thread. Maybe ORWELLSPEN could explain it for me?

    Here’s the post I typed:

    60:30:10

    I take it the 60 and the 30 relates to republican(60) and loyalist(30)?

    One thing that is always overlooked in that argument, is the republican and loyalist volunteers who were paid state agents. Were their actions supported and protected by the state? Does that therefore change the 60:30:10 argument?

    Two names come to mind:

    Mark Haddock and Freddie Scappaticci.

  • galloglaigh

    P.S. I wonder will the red card come out for such a sectarian comment???

  • northbelfastview

    Has the shinners dear leader been re-elected again??? Or was there no leadership challenge again???

  • lamhdearg – You’re well aware the Slugger covers whatever the contributors chose to cover. There’s no quota of coverage for any party. Given that the Ard Fheis posts are well peppered with comments, looks like it would have been a quiet weekend without it : )

  • galloglaigh

    So the comment was removed… But no red card???

  • carl marks

    galloglaigh (profile) says:
    11 September 2011 at 5:02 pm

    So the comment was removed… But no red card???

    so it would seem the comment was a Completely over the top secterian rant but it would seem not worthy of even a yellow card

  • galloglaigh

    I get a red card for stating what most nationalists would agree to be fair and correct, and ORWELLSPEN gets a yellow card for a blatant sectarian comment.

    Double standards?

    Anyone agree?

  • Henry94

    Greenflag

    SF are winning the youth of Ireland and not just in the North . They have largely been insulated from the ‘failed ‘ policies of the established parties in the Republic over the past decade

    That’s true. Their biggest disadvantage used to be that they were everyone’s last choice as a partner in government. But when the bubble burst that became a big advantage. They could easily have gone the way of the Green Party had the circumstances been slightly different after the 2007 election. They should now only go into a government if they are leading it.

  • Comrade Stalin

    They should now only go into a government if they are leading it.

    That’ll never happen. Ever.

  • galloglaigh

    That’ll never happen. Ever

    Where they not the biggest party this side of the border no two years ago?

  • Munsterview

    LamhD. : “….How many threads is that now on slugger for the s.f. conference, i wonder will the rest of the partys get the same, and the same air time on local radio and t.v…..”

    Why certainly, of course they should…….. and they almost certainly will when they become as important !

  • Comrade Stalin

    Where they not the biggest party this side of the border no two years ago?

    I don’t know which side of the border you’re on.

    SF as a party have peaked in my opinion. I have nothing particularly against them, there’s a part of me would like to see them do well to shake things up a bit. But at the moment their one (remarkable) talent is winning elections – what else have they ever accomplished ? What are they likely to accomplish ?

    My prediction is that FG and Labour will run for election the next time around on a “preserve and strengthen the recovery” ticket.

  • galloglaigh

    Sinn Fein had the largest vote in la norf for a few years, so it would be fair to assume that I’m north of the border.

    … what else have they ever accomplished ?

    Now that’s not a fair comment. They have accomplished a lot. Too much in fact for me to spend my Sunday evening outlining.

    Labour, according to the polls, are losing support. Fine Gael will be punished for implementing cuts on the working class, and carrying forward the failures of Fianna Failure.

    I don’t think Sinn Fein have peaked. The climate is right, both North and South, for them to fill the vacuum created by FF and the SDLP.

    Just my opinion.

  • Mark

    They must have taken down Orwellspen’s revolting comment about inbreds .

    Is this the same Orwellspen who came onto this site a while back and proclaimed he/she /they would consider voting for Sinn Fein down the line ? What’s happened ? Why the change Orwellspen ?

    Some of the personal comments about Rev Latimer are from the dark ages ….but as van helsing alluded to last night ( after the usual insecure name dropping ) , the man playing rule only applies to those of us in the cheaps seats .

    I mean I you ask , where would you get it ?

  • Mark

    LOL … I mean I ask you ….. where would you get it ???????????

  • ORWELLSPEN

    I was trolling. Apologies for any offence caused

  • Rory Carr

    Your assessment that the conference was by and large pretty boring is not one that will be met with much challenge, Alan. Part of that is down to our expectations of it being the SF conference above the others that provoked most interest just as in Britian, prior to New Labour at least, we expected (and received) the best political debate firstly at the TUC Conference, then the Labour Party, followed by the Liberals and trailing a poor last, the Tory Party conference where there was never any debate at all just a posture of jingoism, trade unuin bashing and handcuff rattling before a sea of flowered hats above blue dresses.

    But like you I suspect, even granting the Rev Latimer’s address, that low-key was the intention, had the party wanted it otherwise, then otherwise it would have been. The tittillation was provided by the speculation following Adam’s “personal view” favouring SF nomination of a candidate for Aras and that was crafted to allow the tension to mount to what I suspect will be a well judged crescendo (barring accidents or spoilers which Norris’s re-entry might be intended to be).

    The vest thing of all of course, for those fortunate enough to follow events on Slugger was youe coverage which was cpmprehensive, objective, professional, slick without being slicky. Bloody good job !

    Well done and thank you so much.

  • Rory Carr

    That penultimate paragraph should begin:

    “the vest thing of all of course, at least for those those fortunate enough to follow events in our underwear….”

    Well… you all know what it should have read.

  • Mark

    No need to say sorry Orwellspen … but if you’re lookin for redemption , you’ve come to the right place .

    When you say you were trolling , was that in relation to the ” inbred ” comment or were you referring to the part where you considered voting SF ?

  • Greenflag

    @ Comrade Stalin ,

    ‘That’ll never happen. Ever.’

    I’d have agreed with you 4 or even 3 years ago prior to this economic meltdown . With the coming default of Greece and with the Icelanders ‘defaulting ‘ their way to recovery and with FF clueless and FG/Labour in the pockets of the IMF and ECB – we’ll have to wait and see . If SF ‘steal ‘ or come close to winning the Presidency that could be the tipping point .

    Of course much can happen to derail that scenario but it seems to me that SF continue to benefit from circumstances and from adroit political leadership as well as a cohesive and disciplined party structure whereas the rest come across as bungling amateurs or training to be so .

  • Henry94

    Comrade Stalin

    ‘That’ll never happen. Ever.’

    A party allowed to operate exclusively in opposition while the other parties take turns at implementing an austerity programme that can’t work. A party with 42 seats could lead a government if the political system was fractured enough. It’s far from impossible. The really tough economic days are still ahead of us.

  • Munsterview

    Galloglaigh : at a guess you may be Catholic. As such you will appreciate that while there are certain aspects of the Catholic Faith that may be discussed and questioned, others are forever regarded as a mystery and therefore we are told, beyond rationalization or human understanding.

    Mick’s carding system, it seems, fits in to the latter category !

  • galloglaigh

    Munsterview,

    I’m neither Catholic, nor Protestant. Not that it makes any difference. If he had of said the same about Protestants and not republicans, then I would also disapprove. I’m not a fan of labels when it comes to race or creed, no matter who posts it.

  • Munsterview

    Blissett : “…..The youthful aspect showed in the Ard Comhairle elections too, 3 people under 25 elected from the floor, when some quite experienced candidates missed out….. ”

    In the early seventies when I was elected from the floor I was one of three under twenty five at that time. We too were elected over more experienced people. So what is new there ?

    That has ever been the Republican way in my lifetime and in my experience ‘youth’ was never a handicap, ability always got chance and was both pulled from the top and pushed from the base level. Historically also this seems to have been the situation also.

    What about that line of the song ” For youth was strong in that dashing throng that followed Henry Joy ” That was also the same situation back to 1798.

  • Comrade Stalin

    gall:

    Now that’s not a fair comment. They have accomplished a lot. Too much in fact for me to spend my Sunday evening outlining.

    Name a couple of things that you would say SF have achieved.

    I know the obvious answer might be the peace process. But did they drive it, or were they swept along by it ? Aside from that, what all is there ?

    Labour, according to the polls, are losing support. Fine Gael will be punished for implementing cuts on the working class, and carrying forward the failures of Fianna Failure.

    I don’t think Sinn Fein have peaked. The climate is right, both North and South, for them to fill the vacuum created by FF and the SDLP.

    Just my opinion.

    I respect your opinion of course. We are all flying kites here.

    But what you are arguing here is the “we don’t need to do anything except wait for the other parties to screw up, then the electorate will fall right into our hands”. I don’t believe that has ever worked anywhere in recent history.

    Henry94:

    I agree that it is very difficult to predict the future especially where Europe is concerned. But I don’t think SF are likely to improve their positioning to capture sympathy votes. The elections just past should have been a perfect storm for them, sitting as they are outside of the establishment, yet they failed to capitalize on it. I’ve heard it suggested that they threw away at least one or two seats due to the massive campaigning effort that was marshalled in order to ensure Gerry topped the poll in Louth. Stupid stuff like that is part of what is going to stop them from being a serious force.

  • Munsterview

    gall ….: “.. we have been over this ground before with Moochin’s work when he has photographer offensive, sectarian graffiti and the contents of the message was ignored while there were crys for the head on the messenger.

    As far as I am concerned it is much better to have that sort of thing up there for all to see and the slugger community forced to take sides on it.

    Changing posts and deleting such things is not contributing very much if anything at all to deleting the thinking behind it or changing the minds of those concerned. Neither should it be forgotten that there are a few ‘Clever Charlies’ here who convey much the came bile but cannot be specifically pinned down on anything as they are accomplished literary polemics with the ability to do this by implication, projection, ridicule or any number of skilled literary devices but all however coming from a disrespectful and disdaining mentality not much different from the cruder Loyalist pond life end of the Unionist political spectrum as expressed here!

  • galloglaigh

    Like I say, I’m not going to spend too much time outlining the achievements of Sinn Fein. But some are very obvious: One being the forced power sharing between Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness. It was said that if the word no was removed from the English language, then Paisley would be speechless! Another being the devolution of Policing and Justice. An agreement between the British government and the Assembly into the implementation of an Irish language Act (which will be implemented over time). Of course the gains North and South in electoral terms are very obvious, but are an achievement, akin to the rise of Sinn Fein from 1916 to 1918 (while not in the same time scale, it is similar). The repeal of the Northern Ireland Act (2000).

    There you have a few examples, others can offer more (or less for that matter), I’m off to bed, school in the morning!

  • Blissett

    ‘In the early seventies when I was elected from the floor I was one of three under twenty five at that time. We too were elected over more experienced people. So what is new there ? ‘

    id agree that youth has always had its fling, however thats no guarantee that young people will continue to be attracted. It’s more difficult to retain younger peoples interest in a more normalised polity, so its encouraging to be able to do so. In any case I felt it ought be noted, given that Alan noted in last years report that it was not particularly youthful, that there was a tangible youthfulness about the waterfront.

    http://alaninbelfast.blogspot.com/2010/03/sinn-feins-ard-fheis-well-organised-but.html

    And in any case, whether or not it was always true or remarkable, its certainly not a bad thing.

    I neglected earlier to commend Alan on his excellent coverage of the Ard Fheis, and all the conferences, its a great addition to slugger, and very fairly reported. Keep it up.

  • Munsterview

    Blissett : I went up to the Donegall by-election count and while there were all ages there, it was youth everywhere swamping the place and it was a delight to see. The Sinn Fein corner was where it was at and a very special man at the computer too.

  • pippakin

    MV

    I’m surprised you appear to have missed the Ard Fheis. I would have thought you would have been deeply involved in sorting the leadership out.

  • Munsterview

    Pip : Oh I was missed all right, so much so that they decided to bring it to Munster next year just to make sure that I would be there !

  • Henry94

    CS

    The elections just past should have been a perfect storm for them, sitting as they are outside of the establishment, yet they failed to capitalize on it.

    Not really. The last election was about getting rid of Fianna Fail. People were not looking for anything radical. They opted for the same policies with new faces. It’s when they are ready to change policy that SF will benefit. Meanwhile growth will be steady.

    I’ve heard it suggested that they threw away at least one or two seats due to the massive campaigning effort that was marshalled in order to ensure Gerry topped the poll in Louth.

    I have not heard that but after any campaign you can look at near misses. They become target seats for the next time and there are a lot of them.

  • pippakin

    MV

    Look on the bright side, if the presidency is between Norris and Gildernew I will not be voting for Norris !! Next year in Jerusalem eh…

  • Munsterview

    Pip : perhaps! However you could also have the choice of another as yet unnamed, but very fine woman to vote for that will be a ‘shoe in’ and a worthy successor to the existing President if this person was approached and she has decided to run.

    That is how I would judge it !

  • pippakin

    MV

    I have ‘heard’ various names mentioned, but Norris keeps reappearing. I will not vote for him! Mind you there are others I wouldn’t touch with the proverbial 20ft barge pole either!

  • Limerick

    “it was youth everywhere swamping the place and it was a delight to see. The Sinn Fein corner was where it was at and a very special man at the computer too.”

    Oh dear.

  • Comrade Stalin

    galloglagh:

    Like I say, I’m not going to spend too much time outlining the achievements of Sinn Fein.

    Indeed not.

    But some are very obvious: One being the forced power sharing between Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness.

    That’s an outcome of SF managing to get themselves elected and becoming the largest party. I have already accepted that they are extremely good at persuading people to vote for them. No dispute there.

    But if you are going to suggest that the DUP were forced by SF to share power, you may with equal validity argue that SF were forced to disarm and disband the IRA by the DUP; in other words, that it is the DUP who forced that outcome, not SF. When you put things in those terms, it looks less like an achievement and more like a historical inevitability playing itself out and having profound effects on all the players. Which is why I made my other point about the peace process being less something that was initiated/controlled/driven by SF, and more like an event they were pushed along by.

    It was said that if the word no was removed from the English language, then Paisley would be speechless! Another being the devolution of Policing and Justice.

    I’ll give you that as well, although I’m being charitable, as a lot of people worked to get policing and justice devolved.

    An agreement between the British government and the Assembly into the implementation of an Irish language Act (which will be implemented over time).

    What Irish language act ?

    Of course the gains North and South in electoral terms are very obvious, but are an achievement, akin to the rise of Sinn Fein from 1916 to 1918 (while not in the same time scale, it is similar).

    Like I said, “getting elected”.

    The repeal of the Northern Ireland Act (2000).

    Rather academic. The NI Act 2000 was passed in under 20 hours by the House of Commons and if the need arose it could simply be reinstated and passed again.

    henry:

    Not really. The last election was about getting rid of Fianna Fail. People were not looking for anything radical. They opted for the same policies with new faces. It’s when they are ready to change policy that SF will benefit. Meanwhile growth will be steady.

    SF was in a state of severe decline until those elections. People were resigning complaining of the top down way the thing was run, Euro seats were lost etc etc. And then you had Gerry coming down not having a clue about things like the VAT rate and benefit entitlements. For these reasons, and a lot of others, SF failed to provide the compelling alternative they otherwise could have.

    I think things would have been a lot different had, some years ago, Gerry and company realized that things were not as rosy in the RoI as they otherwise might be, and that maybe they should hand over the running of the party south of the border to a trusted senior figure with experience in managing and running campaigns and elections. But it didn’t happen, not least because President Adams has a rather delicate ego. That failure left the party there vulnerable and ill-equipped to capitalize on FF’s meltdown. I don’t see those issues being addressed, in fact I think the elevation of Adams into the Dáil is going to prolong those problems.

    I have not heard that but after any campaign you can look at near misses. They become target seats for the next time and there are a lot of them.

    That is fair enough.

  • galloglaigh

    it could simply be reinstated and passed again

    Not without the fall of the devolved institutions.

    As for Policing and Justice, the Shinners had a huge hand in delivering it, that cannot be disputed.

    The Shinners didn’t force the DUP to share power, but their mandate was not overthrown by dummy spitting DUPers. That is also an achievment.

    The IRA were not forced, more enticed to disarm. It was a brave move by the Provos, and it is an achievement of that movement, that they no longer fell the need to use armed struggle, and now lead the political will for a resolution to past differences.

    The Irish language act was promised during the SAA. It will be implemented over time, but it would be my guess that the Shinners have put it on the back burner, so as not to rub it up unionists back.

    I’m not a fan of some of their actions, but you have to give it to them, they have changed this country; changes which the SDLP or the unionist population could never have dreamed of.

  • Limerick

    “The Shinners didn’t force the DUP to share power, but their mandate was not overthrown by dummy spitting DUPers. That is also an achievment.”

    galloglaigh,

    This is a very strange recollection of events indeed. The DUP did not spit out their dummies precisely because the IRA did what they were told to do. Namely decommission their weapons.

    “The IRA were not forced, more enticed to disarm.”

    Absolute nonsense. In September of 2001 Jihadi lunatics decided to start crashing planes full of people into various targets in America.

    Overnight terrorism went from being considered by Americans to be a somewhat romantic passtime carried out by freedom fighters to being criminal evil carried out by the scum of the earth.

    Later that very month the Provos started decommissioning their weapons. Exactly four years to the very month later they had given up the lot.

    “It was a brave move by the Provos”

    They had two choices. Decommission and join civilisation, or keep their weapons and become pariahs. It wasn’t a brave decision to make. It was the only decision they could make and survive as a political entity.

  • HeinzGuderian

    gall

    Far from ‘changing this Country’,the shinners still preside over the cesspit that is West Belfast !!
    The Glorious Leader,has no departed for pastures new,and I can only sympathise for his new victims.

    They take their seats at Stormont,ayee,the very same Stormont that Marty swore to crush. The old Nationalist Party refused to take their seats at Stormont,refused even to recognise the state. Slow learners ? Maybe,but at least it didn’t take 30 long years of terrorism,ending in surrender,for them to realise the error of their ways.

    What have the shinners ever done for us ? Apart from looking on the bright side of a ui. 😉

  • Comrade Stalin

    gall:

    “it could simply be reinstated and passed again”

    Not without the fall of the devolved institutions.

    Nope. The only reason why the Northern Ireland Act 2000 suspension provisions were put in place was because the institutions were about to fall in the first place. It was to save the institutions that the law was passed.

    I appreciate that SF objected to the law on the ideological basis that it empowered the Secretary of State to simply suspend the devolved administration by order. But really that’s all it is – an academic, ideological thing. If the British really decided to be bastards and stop devolution, there is absolutely nothing preventing them from doing so. The idea that SF have forced this is rather laughable.

    As for Policing and Justice, the Shinners had a huge hand in delivering it, that cannot be disputed.

    It certainly can be disputed. It happened when it did because the DUP were weakened by the Robinson property/etc scandals and, as a result, SF had them in a temporary armlock owing to what was then thought to be the serious threat of the TUV. It also happened because Alliance chose to accept the ministerial post. Had either of those events not occurred, devolution still would not be in place today.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am glad it was done. But calling it an SF achievement is a bit excessive.

    The Shinners didn’t force the DUP to share power, but their mandate was not overthrown by dummy spitting DUPers. That is also an achievment.

    Again, you could turn this one on its head quite easily. Who forced SF to share power ? Local powersharing was absolutely not an SF objective until relatively recently.

    The IRA were not forced, more enticed to disarm.

    Enticed by what ?

    It was a brave move by the Provos, and it is an achievement of that movement, that they no longer fell the need to use armed struggle, and now lead the political will for a resolution to past differences.

    They no longer felt the need to use armed struggle because they were defeated. That’s why. Again don’t get me wrong. It takes a lot of courage and leadership for an organization that killed a lot of people to tell its own members that it was all for nothing and that they’d have to stop.

    The Irish language act was promised during the SAA.

    Promised by whom ?

    It will be implemented over time, but it would be my guess that the Shinners have put it on the back burner, so as not to rub it up unionists back.

    There won’t be an Irish language act for as long as the unionists oppose it.

    Unless of course you want to ask the British to force one. Which would be a kind of ironic thing, from a republican perspective.

    I’m not a fan of some of their actions, but you have to give it to them, they have changed this country; changes which the SDLP or the unionist population could never have dreamed of.

    I have grave difficulties giving the republican movement any credit for changing the country for the better. They used violence for a long period of time and killed a lot of people. They decided to stop using violence. That’s a good thing, but I’m not sure that it makes them heroes. It simply brings them up to the same level that some of the rest of us were already operating at.

  • Munsterview

    Comrade S : “…They no longer felt the need to use armed struggle because they were defeated. That’s why….”

    Gregory Cambell, Farmer Tom or Turgon’s buddies could not have put it better ! Again no great surprise since you all are singing of the same hymn sheet !

    And some Alliance are then miffed because most Republicans regard Alliance as just another branch of the Unionist family even if albeit a peculiar one ?

    This is just more of the ‘buying in’ to the spooks and Brit establishment narrative and it is just an update on that 1912 Orange Order ‘ history’ of Ireland that I posted some weeks ago. The only debatable aspect is whether you are so mentally conditioned to this ‘Victorious State Narrative’ that you unwittingly spout it out or are you fully aware of what you are buying into ?

    I believe that you know what you are doing all right Boyo!

    In the past when you have attempted to put the boot into Sinn Fein with you Alliance ‘window dressed’ but still selling ‘Bill Craig’ goods in the musty shop, no one claiming to speak for the Alliance party took issue with you, presumably because they were comfortable to the point of cosiness with what you said.

    No surprise that there is so much of the ‘Old Regime’ look and feel to the Alliance take on the inJustice Ministry, like your good self they talk of the new ways yet mentally still live in the ‘Old Days’

    The collective Unionists attitude remains the same, no respect for Republicans at war, no merit in Republicans at peace and most of Alliance like your good self buy into that !