Kudos to Sinn Féin for publishing a list of motions on their website and updating their status as the voting proceeded in batches throughout the weekend. In many ways, through its use of streaming over many years and its ‘live’ web updates of speeches and votes during the ard fheis, Sinn Féin is well ahead of other parties (in the north at least) when it comes to offering outsides a good look inside their conference
It should be noted that other than Sinn Féin and the SDLP, no other northern parties debate and vote in public on detailed motions at their annual conferences, relegating this process to behind-closed-doors policy meetings. So without picking on Sinn Féin it is still interesting to look at a few of the motions which failed.
Motion 53 // This Ard Fheis calls for the credentials of the Israeli Ambassador to Ireland to be withdrawn while there is conflict in Palestine. (Charlie McGlade Cumann; Drimnagh, Dublin)
The party’s policy on abortion is not a matter of conscience.
Motion 115 // This Ard Fheis supports the ethical view that a woman should have the legal right to elective abortion whatever the circumstances. We recognise that there are strong views within our party on both sides of the argument but we believe the a woman should ultimately have the right to make the decision where her health, physical or mental, and welfare are concerned. (Keating/Sands Cumann; Waterford)
Motion 116 // All Sinn Féin members should be allowed to articulate, campaign and vote on the issue of abortion according to their conscience. (Doherty/Delaney Cumann; Navan, Co. Meath)
Sinn Féin may not support the Household Charge. However, they are not willing to lend their political support to active civil disobedience against it.
Motion 153 // This Ard Fheis calls on the Sinn Féin leadership to advise members of the public not to pay the Household Charge. (John Joe Sheehy Cumann; North Kerry)
And a bizarre motion that included a proposal to send “a senior-level delegation to China” to boost “the use by Chinese corporations of Ireland as a preferred location for trading with the EU/Europe”.
Motion 159 // This Ard Fheis:
a) Opposes the repayment of c. €65billion of debt arising from the market failure of the major Irish banks, irrespective of the individual or institution presently holding that debt and including any element of that debt which may have been replaced by Irish sovereign debt as a direct consequence of the disastrous ‘guarantee’ given by the Fianna Fáil-led government in 2008;
b) Recognises that Sinn Féin must present a credible plan for executing this policy and to face down a failed elite in this country who will seek to scaremonger the people of Ireland into submission through threats of ‘empty ATMs’ and such;
c) Urges the Ard Chomhairle to seriously explore the despatch of a senior-level delegation to China for talks with politicians and financial representatives;
d) Proposes that these talks focus on agreement ‘in principle’ to a US dollar denominated loan of sufficient scale to give full support to the next Irish Government in the necessary debt re-structuring negotiations with the EU and ECB;
e) Further proposes that these talks examine the use by Chinese corporations of Ireland as a preferred location for trading with the EU/Europe and consider the business and cultural policies that would best facilitate this objective.
(Jackie Griffith Cumann; South East Inner City, Dublin)