Sinn Fein’s South Down selection sows seeds for a new post conflict generation…

Nice move from Sinn Fein in their choice of MLA to replace Willie Clarke in South Down. The new boy (seen here signing in at Stormont) is Chris Hazzard, a native of Drumaness, in the north of the constituency. He’s a alum of my old school, which we used to call St Pat’s Knock (grammar school) and has just completed his studies for a PhD at Queens on subjects that might almost have been chosen for his new political life at Stormont in mind.

He’s a passionate GAA supporter of his county who, Slugger understands, is not behind giving the ref a fair slice of his mind from the sidelines. His exceptional commitment to the county team will do him no harm in a GAA mad part of the world, not just because it continues to be a social nexus for nationalist politics, but it will also help reduce the continuing social resistance to voting Sinn Fein here.

He’ll no doubt be targeting Margaret Ritchie’s back yard from Ballinahinch and down into Downpatrick, where there’s already a sense that the younger generation are more prepared than their parents or grandparents have been to give Sinn Fein an option beyond transplanted strongholds like the Flying Horse estate.

There’s speculation that he rather than Catriona Ruane may get the nod for the next Westminster run against Ritchie. Sinn Fein can afford to run and lose against Ritchie (who’s local work rate and constituency commitment is hardly in doubt for a party with, let’s just say, has a mixed record on that score).

It’s a good forward defensive move (if using a cricketing term in regard to SF politician is not considered too sacrilegious) in one of the few places where the SDLP has already made a functional strategic decision to back Sean Rogers to protect the party’s flank across the centre of the constituency, with the young councillor Colin McGrath now having to take on an incumbent Hazzard in the north.

Hazzard is one of a new generation of SF representatives who, like Phil Flanagan in FST and even Belfast’s Lord Mayor, have no real memory of the troubles. He will be given space to make his own running in a party that has enough comfort to ‘pull’ senior players like Conor Murphy and Michelle Gildernew into the background and give the next generation their head.

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  • OneNI

    ‘speculation that he rather than Catriona Ruane may get the nod for the next Westminster run against Ritchie’

    Difficult decision – introduce fresh young candidate who can grid down Ritchie over a number of years or stick with light weight former Minister who is regarded as a bit of a joke?

  • Hopefully more forward thinking than the Lord Mayor.

    Certainly seems to be in a different league than poor Niall on a number of fronts.

    Look forward to finding more out about him.

    Cricketing term pretty apt for SF given Marty’s penchant for the sport, by the way!

  • socaire

    A Íosa Chríost, a Mhichil. Tá do graimear ag éirí níos measa.

  • Nordie Northsider

    Ah now, a Shocaire, that means that Mick’s grammar book is getting worse. ‘Gramadach’ is the word you’re looking for.

  • socaire

    De réir de Bhaldraithe, a chara, tá meancóg déanta agam. Gabh mo leithscéal. Ach má’s feidir ‘ do my Saturday shop’ a rá ……..

  • “He’s a passionate GAA supporter of his county”

    According to his Twitter tweets Chris is also a passionate supporter of traditional PRM interests; he appears to be a younger version of Conor Murphy for the interim more peaceful Republican generation.

  • socaire

    The quality of the candidates is improving. I remember when a public face could be sure that – to quote another ex-IRA man – he had signed his death warrant. As always, the British play their long game. Seduce the revolutionaries into the system and they are no longer revolting. Still, in Dún Geanainn, I see they have managed two small victories. They have won the fight to call the ex-British Army camp “The Hill of The O’Neill” as opposed to “The Hill of O’Neill” and have managed to get the Council to agree to some limited signage in Irish in the newly refurbished Centre. You would nearly think that it was a unionist controlled council.

  • ForkHandles

    the only emotion that normal people would be feeling is one of sadness that a young person has been brainwashed into the shinner idealogy of sectarian hatred and glorification of terrorist killers.
    there is no post conflict type of thinking, there is only the consistent mentality of war and hatred. young people who get indoctrinated into this mentality should be thought of as people who have suffered a kind of child abuse that results in them being filled with the same hatred that the 40-60 year old troubles generation are permanently stuck in. it is something that the entire society of NI should be ashamed that they have allowed this mentality to continue past the early 90s. the people who are commenting pro on this thread are all known IRA supporters. says it all.

  • socaire

    One thing about you, 4 candles, you don’t take sides, do you?

  • sdelaneys

    Mick, “He’s a alum of my old school”, get on to O’Dowd and tell him to sort out that school.

  • Drumlins Rock

    once again SF & the DUP become mirror images of each other, choosing career politicians for quick promotion!

  • BluesJazz

    What is his role in the sandpit assembly? Apart from rubber stamping decisions made at the Real Government in Westminster.
    I suppose he could help justify his *very * large salary (larger than 90% of healthcare professionals) -before additional benefits -by influencing Down Council to shut the white elephant St Patrick’s Centre, which adds to the large rate increase for no benefit to locals.

  • Who really cares what Candidates S/F choose for their Representatives…

    After all, they are what the Worker’s Party once were..A Party who believes that reform is better than revolution. Career Politicians come and go as do their Parties..

    Sadly, those men and women who gave all in the name of a Socialist Irish Republic will be turning in their graves as another Irish citizen signs into another British Parliament.

  • Drumlins Rock

    AR, put up a candidate against him, let the people decide, your a democrat aren’t you? No lover of SF but democracy is democracy.

  • RyanAdams

    DR & AR , South Down wouldn’t exactly be fertile ground for dissoe or dissenter. As evidenced by the only councillor who resigned in the area over SF support for policing wouldn’t stand again in last years election…

    As for the SDLP Rogers is a disasterous idea. I’m not exactly sure how long a seat has to be vacant before it is filled but looking at the electoral office website and the dates of the co-options, one could be forgiven for thinking SF were thinking strategically about selecting someone who would push the SDLP co-optee hardest … considering how long it took to fill the seat – Slugger first reported Clarkes resignation on 21 Feb …

  • redhugh78

    Ard Eoin, you are correct, Sean Lynch who was killed by the SAS on IRA active sevice would be turn….oh wait.

  • sonofstrongbow

    And the point is? Whilst it is a little bit amusing to see those with a penchant for such behaviour grasping at such straws in the imaginary wind-of-change the reality is very different.

    Sinn Fein is not a political party as most democrats understand the term. Unless you toe the partyline, act on the orders beamed from Connolly House, deliver the speeches scripted for you (you may of course claim authorship yourself) you’ll not get through the door.

    This bright young thing is one of many waiting in the wings all with that glazed look in the eye of the zealot so reminiscent of the Chinese Red Guard of the Cultural Revolution. They are fully indoctrinated, wound-up and ready to go.

    I have some involvement with UUJ (although I’m rapidly extricating myself) and let me tell you the place is infested with the type. Having taken Provo Studies from an early age they may now nuance ‘SSRUC’ etc in academic language but they refuse to even consider any alternative to the ‘truth’ of the ‘war’ rhetoric as espoused by older Shinners. It is deeply dispiriting to interact with them.

    They are truly the lost generation having had their potential for development and real growth robbed from them by their immersion in the MOPE culture.

    There is however a silver lining for unionists. The ‘fresh’ coat of green, or should that be blood red, paint that will be applied to SF over the incoming years will ensure a ‘united’ Ireland remains a fantasy real only to those who insist they live in that mythical land of ‘The North’.

  • tacapall


    “There is however a silver lining for unionists. The ‘fresh’ coat of green, or should that be blood red, paint that will be applied to SF over the incoming years will ensure a ‘united’ Ireland remains a fantasy real only to those who insist they live in that mythical land of ‘The North”

    Unlike the DUP who can brush their history of involvement with Loyalist paramilitaries who brought 1000s of weapons into the country that were later used to murder innocents, under the carpet, or so you think. Take the blinkers off.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Taca, to put it in a crude fashion the DUP, and other unionist, might be splattered with the blood of innocent victims, SF are wading up to their knees in it, and as Sonof has said the “new generation” seem keen to dip their hands in it too.

  • Chris on Twitter has a Bobby Sands image for his profile photo – not exactly a great omen for a peaceful shared future, more an anchor to the parapolitics of the old brigade.

  • tacapall

    Drumlins “new generation” seem keen to dip their hands in it too.”

    Thats an ambiguous statement Drumlins so can we taint Mike Nesbitt with the formation of the UVF and say he’s dipping his hands in blood as well.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Willie Clarke was much maligned for his absentism, getting in any new candidate who shows up is an improvement.

    In reality to see PhD holders going into the political life here is quite representative of the massive graduate unemployment here … 45% of undergraduates and 66% of post graduates are in graduate employment. And people say we have a skills shortage, ha!

  • FuturePhysicist

    Basically 55% and 34% in underemployment or unemployment, usually part-time underemployment or are on welfare supported work.

  • “And people say we have a skills shortage, ha!”

    Here are examples from Ballycastle and Portrush; there’s no scarcity on the North Coast and, quite likely, elsewhere too; the transformation from academic ability ability to essential skills doesn’t seem to be working out too well.

  • FuturePhysicist

    We have a glaring absence of essential wills when it comes to employment …

    a) The inability to hire people from the other side
    b) The inability for candidates to go to the other side for a job
    c) The typical prejudice that all young people are undisciplined, lack sense, and have a lower work ethic than the generation who by a lesser prejudice were just given a grant and walked into a job.
    d) The rejection of the idea that a young person’s education is less relevant because it’s more modern and possibly ahead of sync of your business.
    e) The labeling of all young people as students and supporting workfare as a punitive system for youth.
    f) The labeling of all working class people as ruffians.
    g) Prejudice against those on the Autistic Spectrum regardless of their intellectual capacity on the basis that social awkwardness undermines that vital characteristic of “excellent communication skills”
    h) The inability to differentiate the content between many qualifications university or otherwise (lazy did not do the research stuff)
    i) The lack of will to go to university, schools and training centre open days
    j) The undermining of the practical ability of those with a university qualification
    k) The undermining of the intellectual capacity of those without one.
    l) With regards to not doing the research … wanting research graduates to expand your business but then yammering to your MLA that you can’t fill out an FP7 form or a tax credit
    m) Refusing to communicate with previous employees on the types of skills their successor actually needs
    n) Refusal to develop training strategies or make any tangible links between state training and qualifications and employment
    o) Confusing personality and confidence with discipline and effort
    p) Desiring a perfect polymath candidate when a team skill set of specialists is more useful and more flexible.
    q) Blaming apprentices, interns and first time employees for the responsibilities of their supervisors.
    r) Assuming religious, gender, orientation, nationality and race prejudices.
    s) Failing to capitalize on the energy, modernity and demographic networks of young people.
    t) Readvertising jobs in a buyer’s market after turning down 50 for a job.
    u) Where specialist skills set are neesh such as child heart surgeons or MRI technicians improve awareness by school visits.
    v) Putting Draconian preconditions to prevent a good apprentice taking a job.
    w) Demanding lower wages for first time employees simply for cheap labor with no hope of boosting productivity through wage increases or benefits.
    x) Failure to look at what a candidate can do rather than what they cannot.
    y) Refusal to hire disabled people (follow on from x) and particular complaining when said disabled people are claiming benefits or when they don’t claim benefits to try to get a job.
    z) Denying the rehabilitation and competence of those with mental health issues or prison time.

    Many Employers won’t take risks and refuse to hire anyone bar the perfect candidate. Ultimately this creates a Paradox of Thrift effect where future customers, suppliers and workers are unemployable.

    We have a brain drain yes, but all this “Skills shortages” nonsense is just a “Blame game” … and it does nothing to tackle the severity of youth unemployment.

  • FuturePhysicist


    North Antrim thing

    Doesn’t look like a lack of intelligence, to me it looks like they turned their intelligence to fraud, they may even play stupid to lower culpability.

  • FP, to link back to the theme of the thread, there are some new young elected representatives up here but they don’t seem to be asking the obvious questions about these projects.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Oh right qualification of the representatives … well who are you talking about here … Daithi, Frew, McIlveen Jnr? erm Jim?

  • Reader

    FuturePhysicist: 45% of undergraduates and 66% of post graduates are in graduate employment. And people say we have a skills shortage, ha!
    It’s a shocking waste to underuse all of that talent, energy and education. So, since we have no shortage of graduates, how about asking the education system to start producing prospective employers instead?
    Or we could have a retraining scheme for unemployed and underemployed graduates so that they can learn how to create jobs.

  • “well who are you talking about here”

    FP, I’m referring to councillors as well as to MLAs and the MP.

  • FuturePhysicist

    It’s a shocking waste to underuse all of that talent, energy and education. So, since we have no shortage of graduates, how about asking the education system to start producing prospective employers instead? Or we could have a retraining scheme for unemployed and underemployed graduates so that they can learn how to create jobs

    I agree and let’s remember Sinn Féin who are the most popular party amongst QUB and UU students has to stand up to the plate on this issue. I’ve seen Martina try to get a pharmaceutical company to invest in Derry but struggled heavily. I’ll give her a couple of brownie points for that, but a lot more needs to be done. A low corporation tax might bring in international research and manufacturing here but until that happens there needs to be aggressive marketing of the investibility of Northern Ireland’s/6 county’s talent. Also Pearce, Padraig, Gerry and Caoimhghín need to play their part for the so called border regions.

    The biggest issue I feel is jobs and on the job training and I agree we need to produce prospective employers here, small businesses. I think a lot can be done, there’s certainly been a lot of useless imagineering been thrown at it when common sense issues are left unchecked and obstacles not addressed.