For Sinn Fein it’s the show that matters rather than the politics…

Fionnuala O’Connor is well worth reading in the Irish News today yesterday (she was last week too, but we got run off our feet keeping up with the celebrity story of the week, and all that tiocfaidh-ar-lamh-amatazz).

She’s one of three women who haved nailed a few home truths about the abiding problem with Sinn Fein’s penchant for self narration… Apparently Martin was back at his old ‘Nelson Mandela’ routine on Miriam O’Callaghan’s new Saturday night sofa gig on RTE…

Fionnuala says of that night’s events:

When O’Callaghan asked didn’t violence brutalise everyone he said that could also be asked of Nelson Mandela. But the second line the prepared line came out wrong, when the RTE presenter wonder, laying on the purple prose, if he ever felt remorse in the early hours.

“Would you ask that of Nelson Mandela?” said the man from the Bogside. What he deserved in return and didn’t get, was “You’re no Nelson Mandela, Mr McGuinness”.

She might also have observed that we know precisely what Mr Mandela did not do from the time of his arrest in 1960 until his release in the early nineties since he was in solitary confinement for most of that time.

So we know he was not directing terrorism or blowing the heart of his own home town to smithereens, or devising new and devious ways to kill as many of the enemy as he could.

Mandela’s de facto clean hands rendered such awkward questions inert. Martin’s dirty hands make it hard for any honest journalist not to ask them of anyone seeking democratic power in the state.

So let’s move on to acute woman observer number two, Anne Marie Hourihane:

What can you say about Martin McGuinness though? One minute he’s meeting the queen – as we in The Irish Times like to refer to her; so call us crazy! – and the next thing he’s on the couch with Miriam on Saturday night, giving it more chat show than you can shake a stick at. What’s next, Graham Norton?

As we in the media fall like ninepins before Martin, it is probably safe to call this a Sinn Féin charm offensive. Martin is certainly charming – gotta be. And playing that little bit hard to get, which is so cute.

Talk about being a backstage diva: Martin had more demands on his rider than Cher. All that toing and froing about handshakes being photographed, and not photographed . . . Kim Kardashian is more logical; she’s certainly more straightforward.

Martin addressed the poor queen in Irish, which she presumably doesn’t speak unless she’s been given hours of tedious coaching; and he addressed Miriam in English, even though she’s able to say Óiche Mhaith quite well at the end of her own show. That’s Irish nationalism for you.

To paraphrase Jeanette Winterson’s challenging mother: why be happy when you can be complicated?

Over in London Jenny McCartney’s been turning over the same events and asking what it all added up to:

“It was about justice, wasn’t it?” I had to say that it was not. It was about two relatively small groups, the IRA and the Loyalist paramilitaries, infused with a combination of psychopathic fervour and self-righteousness, who started killing and slowly dragged everyone else into their bloody mess.

It was a nauseating paramilitary war fought without any Geneva Convention. The IRA blew up children and elderly people, civilians and police alike, and systematically hollowed Belfast into a grey shell of a city. The Loyalists pursued a grotesque campaign based mainly on sectarian murder, usually of ordinary Catholics who wanted nothing to do with violence.

No one was left untouched by what these rival gangsters did. But last week, when the Deputy First Minister – ensconced in a power-sharing government of the kind broadly on offer to both nationalists and unionists nearly 40 years ago – warmly shook the hand of the woman formerly known to Sinn Fein as Elizabeth Windsor, one could not help but wonder if the spirits of all those blameless dead ever visit him in quiet moments, and gently whisper: “Martin, what was it all about?”

Well, that was then. But now we’re in the business of real politics, it still seems to be the journey rather than the arrival that matters to Sinn Fein. As Fionnuala notes now in Government they’ve proven a great deal less radical than their rapid ascent to power seemed to promise:

It was a shocker to hear Martin McGuinness end the week with a romping tribute to Conor Murphy, “part of our leadership”, the ex Sinn Fein minister found to have discriminated by a fair employment tribunal.

As if that wasn’t bad enough he went on to attack the anti discrimination machinery, so painfully provided with teeth. Though he reminded RTE’s audience how British governments permitted discrimination by unionists.

Yet there he was on BBC on Sunday (taped on Friday before going south), asking if ministerial appointments were “going to be dictated by a body which effectively is not part of the government?’

Not dictated, Martin, monitored, challenged, in a process – that word Sinn Fein so loves – that has outlawed discrimination. The chief game changer that eventually left him top of Stormont’s hill.

As Marx (Groucho) once said: “Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.”

For now, bums on parliamentary benches is all that matters, and the vital viewing figures for the travelling show. On which subject, last word to Anne Marie Hourihane:

Martin McGuinness looks great, he sounds great. So it doesn’t matter that he has no ideas about the future, that his party is more conservative than the Tories and as impressively diligent as any of our own lovely political parties in claiming all its expenses.

There is no need for us to worry about how far Martin and Sinn Féin are prepared to go with their march into popular culture. If victory means covering Martin in fake tan and getting him to cry until his mascara puddles, then so be it.

Surely it is only a matter of time before he meets Simon Cowell, in a celebrity clash that will set ratings trembling. The only real question is whether Martin would be prepared to appear on Britain’s Got Talent? I feel that he would, as long as they changed the name of the show, didn’t make him sing live and apologised to him at the end.

, , , ,

  • “As we in the media fall like ninepins before Martin, it is probably safe to call this a Sinn Féin charm offensive.”

    Such charm is wasted on grassroots observers like myself; even Mary appears to have finally thrown in the towel.

    I accepted the outstretched hand as a matter of civility; I hope I didn’t crunch it to too hard!

  • Its a very difficult issue for all commentators……those who are opposed to Sinn Fein and those who might be regarded as “critical friends” of (northern) nationalism.

    There is frankly a double-think. Martin McGuinness is being lionised on the front page of newspapers for statesmanship while in the inside pages (and indeed blogs) the columnists rage at the media for lionising McGuinness.

    They/We/I cant have it both ways. In 1998 people…particuarly unionists…were asked to accept some pretty unacceptable things and this fourteen years is how it is panning out. Nationalists and dare I say it…”lets get alongerists” are being asked to accept some pretty unacceptable things.
    Martin McGuinness shaking hands with the “Queen” and its “necessity” might be unpalatable to the former and the mere fact that the process requires this is unpalatable to the latter.
    And yet as a consequence SF….despite rulings on fair employment ….seems more embedded this week than last week. And there is cold comfort for those who want to believe that SF “embedded” is SF “neutralised”.
    Rather……and I doff my cap to Mark Durkan for the phrase…..we are sleepwalking to a one party state with a green and orange wing. Indeed SF and DUP seem to be facilitating each other in building up their support.

    This is a genuine dilemna. In 1998 and in subsequent years unionists were asked to place the Common Good above their own interest and (as they saw it) Common Decency (particuarly in respect of victims).
    Now the other communities are being asked to accept unpalatable things for a Greater Good.
    We chided unionists that it was all going to be worth it.
    Was it really….for them?
    And will it really be worth it for the rest of us?
    I doubt it.
    Agonising about it is not an option.
    Accepting it or rejecting is the option.

  • Mick Fealty

    To be positive, no one (with the possible exception of the DUP who had time on the sidelines to consider it) had a plan for what happened after the Belfast Agreement.

    By time I began writing seriously about it, Stormont was about to topple to the ground in part because the FM and DFM kept being split by the actions and inactions of the IRA.

    But it was clear to me then that the DUP would eventually join the party, albeit with some minor adjustments. Today Feeney notes the disquieting silence from that quarter over Murphy’s discrimination against Protestants case.

    IN the case of SF they did seem to believe (as Collins did in 1922) that conditions would change and the only political prize they care for would fall into their lap within 10/15 years.

    In the meantime, I don’t see this as an intentional policy, but it’s more likely to be the kind of ad hoc stuff that happens to a party who’s internal democracy still runs on old paramilitary lines, with nothing to substantial to defend it with but a massive majority and the old thousand yard stare routine.

    What Fionnuala points at though is the fact they are willing to kick away social protections for the political minority who vote them into power to sake of not losing political face in public…

    The rest is show biz folks… [cue Ethel Merman]

    It has worked up here up now… We’ll have to see what happens when they’re up against other ‘republican parties’… and there’s no Orange Order to convene some useful ‘usness’…

  • We might also add that SF has been fairly silent on DUP blocking a Sinn Féin mayor in Craigavon.
    Possibly because it actually suits SF to wrap itself in martyrdom.
    On the other hand it suits DUP to act the “not an inch”. But DUP now hold Chairs in Omagh and Strabane.
    They are facilitating each other…….an Old Firm perhaps.

  • Mister_Joe

    McGuinness obviously must possess great charm having succeeding in becoming friends with Ian Paisley.
    He does have an atrocious record from the early part of the “troubles”, of course, which raises the question of whether or not he can ever be forgiven. That would be too much to ask of those directly affected by any of his actions or orders but what do “normal” unionists think.
    I should mention that I discussed the question of forgiveness with Turgon a couple of years ago and he was adamant that, from his Christian beliefs, repentance had to come first. So that raises another question; how do you judge whether or not someone is repentant.

  • Reader

    Mister_Joe: how do you judge whether or not someone is repentant.
    Well: Omniscience would help, of course. But, for us mere mortals, we would have to go by signs of contrition, assessed using interpersonal skills and by judging the perp’s subsequent actions. A certain look in the eye and an easy smile shouldn’t be enough to convince, for instance.

  • Im not sure Repentance is the problem.
    Sinn Féin have benefitted from the Irish Republicans Armys past.
    Is it enough to “repent” about breaking into someones house and stealing their valuables?
    Would/Should “repentance” not include “restitution”?
    How exactly to we wind back to a period when SF had not yet benefitted from the misdeeds of their allies?

  • With due regard to Reader’s post in this thread, touching on the matter of repentance, timestamped 4 July 2012 at 5:49 pm ……. does Marty pass that test with flying colours. And surely no one would be justified in denying that, although there are probably more than a few who would anyway to show everyone that not all are blessed with more than just bare essentials for a pretty miserable existence in the shadowy depths of increasingly better informed and educated societies which would appear to be passing them by because of their lack of internetworking constructive skills and critical thinking?

    Time to move on into the future, girls and boys, for that is where you find all the bravest of men and brightest of women already busy working. And the past doesn’t hinder them at all, for they realise it is gone and aint coming back to dictate terms and/or conditions to them.

  • ThomasMourne

    It was gratifying to see Martin challenged on his oft-repeated Mandala comparison.

    Although Mandala was part of the leadership of a terrorist organisation, from what I remember of ‘Long Walk To Freedom’ he made great play of his organisational abilities (before his jail term) but very little beyond that.

    That is not to take away from Mandela’s achievements as President, even though I feel some shine is taken off his halo by the continuing inequality suffered by his ‘people’.

    Similarly, Martin’s token handshake puts no bread on the table of those in need here.

  • Rory Carr

    Surely those final three paragraphs above from Anne Marie Hourihane were just the sort of stuff that would merit a yellow card were they to be attempted by any of the common or garden commentariat here.

    Was that perhaps the purpose of including them ? As an example of the kind of tawdry, meritricious purple prose better avoided ?

    “Do not write any scurriously offensive ad hominem remarks and try to pass them off as analysis.”

    Well anyway, don’t try it unless the subject of your remarks is a Shinner, when the rules do not apply.

  • Lionel Hutz

    When McGuinness asks “would you ask that of Mandela?”, I always wonder why the best interviewer doesn’t simply say “yes”. I mean it’s logical question to ask. I bet he’d answer it.

  • Mick Fealty

    Those rules apply to commenters, not journos… or pols…

  • lamhdearg2

    What bit are you complaining about Rory?, is it this,

    Martin McGuinness looks great, he sounds great. So it doesn’t matter that he has no ideas about the future, that his party is more conservative than the Tories and as impressively diligent as any of our own lovely political parties in claiming all its expenses.

    There is no need for us to worry about how far Martin and Sinn Féin are prepared to go with their march into popular culture. If victory means covering Martin in fake tan and getting him to cry until his mascara puddles, then so be it.

    Surely it is only a matter of time before he meets Simon Cowell, in a celebrity clash that will set ratings trembling. The only real question is whether Martin would be prepared to appear on Britain’s Got Talent? I feel that he would, as long as they changed the name of the show, didn’t make him sing live and apologised to him at the end.
    Was it that bit.

  • son of sam

    As usual F J H has nailed the salient issues.It is refreshing to see commentators such as Feeney and O ‘Connor finally addressing the other aspect of Sinn Fein that is often lost in the paean of praise for the latest “stunt” from Connolly House.No doubt other commentators such as Jude Collins may suggest that their observations reflect the bias of the M S M against his preferred party.One wonders however,whether incisive articles such as these have any impact on the core S F vote which seems impervious no matter what periodic embarrassments are highlighted .Is there a Teflon factor in all this?

  • tacapall

    ” If victory means covering Martin in fake tan and getting him to cry until his mascara puddles, then so be it.”

  • andnowwhat

    I honestly feel like any real republican could make a 5 point plan for the SDLP to seriously damage the shinners.

    Marty clearly hasn’t a clue what a republican is by any of the myriad of definitions. Never mind the dissidents, Denis Skinner would make a [removed – mods] of Marty, Gerry et al in the blink of an eye

  • son of sam
    Brian Feeney reflects mainstream nationalist opinion. And of course he writes in a newspaper favoured by mainstream nationalism.
    I think it is important that the SDLP have a “critical friend” in the media but I dont know if Brian Feeney would regard himself in that light.
    The SDLP has a rather better record at listening to its enemies than its friends. But certainly he is a voice I (as a SDLP member) would prefer to listen to rather than (say) Davey Adams at a Party Conference.

    Nationalist floating voters are a very under-estimated factor. I myself voted SF from 1993 to 2009. And for much of that time I regarded SDLP as an “old” party which was much more likely to compromise too much with Trimble.
    I suspect many others felt the same.
    In 2012 I am appalled…as a republican ….by the compromises that SF has made.
    I suspect many others feel the same.
    Whether it is one election cycle too late to make a difference is of course anothe matter.
    All of which is a strategic opportunity/problem for SDLP. But perhaps it helps that the SF Leadership team looks a little jaded. More importantly SF has stopped being “lucky”.
    They have for example got themselves into a little difficulty over Drumcree in Portadown…the only Catholic post-primary school in Portadown which might well close. In John O’Dowds constituency.

    No doubt these big and small issues which SDLP are already thinking about and it certainly helps to see Brian Feeney writing as he is.
    At heart Brian Feeney is a civil righter and SF are on the wrong side of too many civil rights issues.
    It has always been my experience that most SDLP folks are committed republicans but all are committed civil rights people. And just about every issue…..from benefits to jobs to prisoners to peace to victims to fair employment to housing to students is a civil rights issue.
    And thats a mantra that SDLP politicians need to be emphasising. And probably will.
    Civil Rights….it hasnt gone away ya know.

  • Mick Fealty

    Of all of that, your point about ‘luck’ may be the most salient…

  • seamus60

    fitzjameshorse1745 .Great post. My mother and father were SDLP voters since the partys formation. Even so they, on many occassions during that period had always said if SF were not involved in the violence they have their vote. Peace process — 2 new SF votes. Even they can`t wait to the next elections.

  • seamus60

    Lionel Hutz . I can see that old age reliable
    rebuttal coming back to the rescue. What was it again “You would need to ask them yourself” ( even if they`ve really gone away…)..

  • weidm7

    fitzjameshorse, what are the compromises SF have made that are appalling? (question purely from curiousity, though it never sounds that way on the internet)

    As to the blog article, I presume these people would rather the two hadn’t shaken hands and everyone stayed on the opposite side of the fence until they hated each other enough that they had to start shooting each other again. Or to bring back one-party sectarian rule, they seem to have such a problem with those who were brave enough to fight against it.

  • Mick Fealty

    Weidm,

    Thought tt was odd choice of wording. I think what’s concerning people is the sense in the Murphy discrimination case and the party’s official backing of him, that we are moving towards two party sectarian rule.

  • Martin on YouTube:

    It was a moment for me anyway to, as deputy First Minister, to show my respect to the Unionist people of the North and to extend through queen Elizabeth the hand of friendship, peace and reconciliation to all of them because some commentators say the peace process is over, why don’t they get on with it and I think they are totally and absolutely wrong – peace process is not over, there is still work to be done, there’s still divisions that need to be healed and there is a phase of reconciliation which needs to be undergone and I passionately believe in reconciliation between the people of the North and between the people of the North and the rest of this island and also reconciliation between this island and Britain and there’s an awful lot of work in that and people will need to get their heads around the contribution they need to make to that.

    This was part of his answer to Miriam’s question, “What did you feel personally when you shook her hand” which she followed with, “On the handshake moment, did you like the Queen?”

    So Martin ignored her question and Miriam ignored his answer 🙂

    Martin’s spiel is fairly similar to that used by John Hume year’s ago, though less insulting to Unionists; neither was or has been prepared to acknowledge the Unionist aspiration – Unionism is merely a tradition on the island of Ireland. This is the same lack of respect that Unionists have shown and continue to show to Nationalists in Northern Ireland with regard to their United Ireland aspiration. Dublin currently is showing no respect for those who cherish the Irish label in Northern Ireland and amongst the Diaspora. [ctd]

  • [ctd]

    The totality of relationships includes the Unionist aspiration.

    Irishness – as defined by Dublin – Northern Ireland left out in the cold.

  • tyrone_taggart

    Nevin

    “Unionism is merely a tradition on the island of Ireland.”

    ” There is no one in the world who would be more pleased to see an absolute unity in Ireland than I would, and it could be purchased tomorrow, at what does not seem to me a very big price. If the..”

    Edward Carson

  • t_t, what has that Carson quote to do with my analysis? I don’t expect the southern state to seek re-admission to the UK.

  • tyrone_taggart

    “The origins of a unionist tradition can be traced back to the first decades of the nineteenth century.”

    http://www.qub.ac.uk/sites/irishhistorylive/IrishHistoryResources/ArticlesandLectures/NationalismandUnionisminNineteenth-CenturyIreland/

    Most people call it a “tradition” ?

  • “Most people call it a “tradition” ?”

    t_t, you are quoting Sean Connolly, an Irish historian; his context is similar to Hume’s – the island of Ireland.

    Would you be content to see your aspiration limited to a tradition in the UK or in Northern Ireland? I’d be very surprised if you did.

  • tyrone_taggart

    Nevin

    “Would you be content to see your aspiration limited to a tradition in the UK or in Northern Ireland? I’d be very surprised if you did.”

    What? Any chance of you producing anything to support your claim that this statement is incorrect:

    “Unionism is merely a tradition on the island of Ireland.”

  • FuturePhysicist

    The reality is that the media feeds into this. I’ve seen Michelle Gildernew bored out of her head as UTV in this case had derailed a serious political point of procurement and turned it back to a non-issue matter of First/Deputy First Minister. The fact is that it’s the media that is addicted to the stunts, its the media that shies away from serious bread and butter issues and issues such as budgeting and expenditure. Perhaps there is a lack of technical talent within the media that cannot stand toe to toe with a local politician when they start to talk about economic matters rather than high brow constitutional matters. Perhaps our media can’t really offer fair criticism that would help readers begin to question for the better or worse so they could go to the politicians and engage on these matters.

    What we see is a media desperate to return to the days of democratic deficit, where high brow questions philosophical questions about British vs. Irish, pursuing peace, unifying people rather than economic development, education, health and all those other nitty gritty matters. Some calling out for normal parties and “new issues” are completely blind to politicians attempting to address real issues in the here and now, rather than philosophising on how to create an opposition or reform or create new parties, or the games that politicians play.

    If you have the sustainable income to philosophise about such matters then you probably don’t need to worry about the performance of parties the way those which are disabled or unemployed or part time employed do. All the media does is paint the image that politics is merely a distraction for the middle class way of life and for pub and water cooler talk.

    At the end of the day I think there is a section of our media crying out for the days where they could look to politicians for artistic inspiration rather than practical concerns. If we want people to engage with our politicians we need a “new media”, or at least a serious attitude change from them.

  • Alias

    “What Fionnuala points at though is the fact they are willing to kick away social protections for the political minority who vote them into power to sake of not losing political face in public…”

    And how quick the Shinners are to seek to dismantle the anti-sectarian protections of the reformed state when they fall foul of them is something that should greatly alarm that minority.

  • “What?”

    It’s not rocket science, t_t, it’s just the other side of the aspirational coin.

    As for the rest, you’ll find the detail it in the links I’ve provided. The relationships I outlined in 1993 can be found in the 1998 Agreement although the latter is more Unionist than my shared sovereignty approach. Hume’s notion that Dublin could speak for everyone on the island of Ireland was rejected; his analysis even confused members of his own party.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Fionnuala O’Connor is one who is addicted to the soap opera politics, she is simply unwillingly enabling the stunts by drawing attention to them.

    Perhaps a more talented pundit would be able to emphasise a more positive role for politicians to play in other parts, alas she seems to be addicted to “relic journalism” of the democratic deficit, a journalism being killed off by twitter and blogs.

  • tyrone_taggart

    Nevin (profile)

    “It’s not rocket science, t_t, it’s just the other side of the aspirational coin.”

    Then post some evidence to support your claim!

    There is nothing in you links to support your attack!

    Prove me wrong and post it!

  • SDLP supporter

    Just commenting on Seamus60’s post:

    So your old Mum and Dad were fastidious about body parts and body bags in the street were they, and that stopped them voting Sinn Fein?

    Yes, I’ve come across that ethically despicable voting stance reasonably often. It’s the self-congratulation I can’t stand, such perspicacious people.

    Give me a Sinn Fein voter any day who stood by the objectives and methods, however,bloody, through thick and thin. At least they are consistent. Totally wrong, but consistent.

  • “There is nothing in you links to support your attack!”

    t_t, you must have missed R2: NI and the rest of the UK which I’ve balanced with R3: NI and the rest of the island of Ireland. R2 is an element of Strand 3 and R3 is Strand 2. R2 doesn’t feature in the Hume analysis yet IMO R1 needs a balanced approach to the development of R2 and R3.

  • tyrone_taggart

    “t_t, you must have missed R2….”

    Do you have anyone else other than yourself that you can show supports your view of the world?

  • Seamus60,
    Thank you.
    Just to clarify what I think youre saying.
    In 1970s and 1980s…..there was a clear distinction between SDLP and SF and your parents like mine or myself could not have contemplated a SF vote.
    For most of the 1990s and until recently SF was at least “slightly constitutional” but as I have indicated from 1993-2009 I voted for them…….at the start it was personal and towards the end the conviction that SDLP were tired/jaded and gave the impression of being too eager to compromise things that I would have regarded as too important.
    Now I take the view that SF overdoes the faux compromise. By the way I regard splitting the difference between two views as a faux or fake compromise.
    Now that the parties are both essentially constitutional, voters can make an informed decision on who acts in their ideals and interest.
    All politics is a mixture of ideal and interest.
    While the stereotype is that the SDLP is a coalition of nationalist/republican and labourite, the reality is the glue is civil rights.
    And nothing quite gets the SDLP going as much as civil rights.
    The question is fairly put above, where has SF compromised? Well there was a certain atmosphere surrounding that handshake which went beyond pragmatic, polite protocol which most nationalists/republicans can just about take.
    Personally cant take the royalty at any level but Im not a public figure so Im free to shout at the TV.
    But SF has sold out over Girdwood.
    Sold out fair employment law by insisting a minister has the right to appoint one of his/her own……facilitating any other Party which already thinks that.
    Presiding over a Department which may yet oversee no Catholic education for any child over 11 in the town of Portadown……in John O’Dowds constituency.
    Last I heard decision is put back two years.
    My understanding is that parents are not exactly thrilled about that. But in Portadown DEA..there just happens to be 2 SF Councillors and no SDLP Councillor so SF can just do what it wants.

  • “Do you have anyone else other than yourself ..”

    t_t, I’ve just distilled experiences from the early 60s onwards. It’s not my view of the world, just a small corner of it. Much of my analysis can be found in the relationships covered by the 1998 Agreement. I’ve pointed out on other occasions the merits of shared sovereignty and the limitations of the unfortunate ‘tug-of-war’ constitutional arrangement in the Agreement. How can we make progress with such an arrangement?

  • tyrone_taggart

    Nevin
    “t_t, I’ve just distilled experiences from the early 60s onwards.”

    So you have not other back up for your views.

  • “So you have not other back up for your views.”

    t_t, the 1998 Agreement for my analysis and the current mutual veto for my ‘tug-of-war’ metaphor. What else do I need?

  • seamus60

    SDLP supporter. My parents morality as pacifists is beyond either of us to question. They supported the SDLP from a civil rights perspective and were most likely willing to accept a bit less reward at the cost of less pain to others. However they did believe at times SF would achieve more politically with their attitude of making straight forward DEMANDS. Surely people are entitled to shift political alegiance in a time of shifting politics, are they not. Surely they are allowed to shift again on the relization they are not getting what they voted for. By your logic SF are the ones who have desented yet every one should remain as supporters regardless of the many contradictions between promise and practice. Where then does your logic allow for people like me who no longer agree with a millitary struggle yet see SF as watered down republicanism, watered down so much that your preferred party now lead in the condemnation of issues such as Marian Price.

  • tyrone_taggart

    Nevin

    “the 1998 Agreement for my analysis and the current mutual veto for my ‘tug-of-war’ metaphor.”

    Do you understand that having a “metaphor” does not change the meaning of words? ie

    “Unionism is merely a tradition on the island of Ireland.”

  • t_t, the Hume ‘tradition’ was rejected in 1998. Why do you think that happened? McGuinness appears to be stuck in the Hume groove – even if it is an advance his earlier approach to the Northern Ireland conundrum.

  • I dont know if SDLP Supporter is actually a member of the Party…but hes wrong.
    With the caveat that each individual has their own story and perhaps a reason….a very good personal reason not to vote SF …..most of us probably dont have a personal interest thats directly related to the Troubles.
    As I indicated above I stopped voting SDLP in 1993 for “personal reasons” which were not in any way related to the Troubles.
    While I was certainly more “logical” about my vote for SF after say 2001…..I think that personal reasons are personal tragedy is the hardest obstacle to overcome.
    The only thng done directly on me in terms of non-British violence was by the Official IRA so I would not give their heirs the time of day.
    I suspect a lot of people are the same.

    Its often been put to me that I have voted for “murderers”. If so, quite a lot of people are in the same boat. Should such people be written off as hopeless cases. Certainly I have never voted for anyone BECAUSE they were a murderer and I dont think I am a morally disgusting person.
    I make my voting choices on who is best placed to represent my ideals and self-interest…..Im voting for the package.
    The SDLP cant canvass on the basis that anyone previously voting Sinn Féin is a child of a lesser God.
    How wxactly would that work in a canvass.

    “Will you support the SDLP on Thursday?”
    “Yes Id love to but Ive voted Snn Féin for fifteen years”
    “Oh forget it then….we dont need people like you….and dont even think about joining our Party cos we are better than you…..and dont ever write anything nice about us”

  • Dixie Elliott

    McGuinness comparing himself to Nelson Mandela? Thats nearly as bad as Gerry’s side-kick who thinks he’s Mick Collins.

    Now Nelson spent 27 years in jail while Marty…

    Well he spent 6 months in a Southern jail, (rioters in the North got similar sentences), having been caught in a car containing 250 lb (113 kg) of explosives and nearly 5,000 rounds of ammunition.

    As for the North. He was never interned nor was he put away by any of the supergrasses including Raymond Gilmour. In fact any time Marty might have spent in prison in the North might have been while on visits to some mate or other.

    Nelson Mandela my arse!!

  • tyrone_taggart

    “the Hume ‘tradition’ was rejected in 1998. Why do you think that happened? McGuinness appears to be stuck in the Hume groove ”

    Apparently according to you Mc Guinness did not get your memo about “1998”.

    The truth is you do not have anything and will keep posting up links and statements rather than accept the truth.

  • ThomasMourne

    Wearisome sectarian politics from fitzj.

    Sinn Fein voters have to believe that the murderous IRA campaign was justified and that their vote gives support to that view.

    SF leadership’s refusal to admit to their dreadful errors in the past still hangs over the party.

    Any democrat with a sense of morality would not vote SF until the ‘former’ IRA leaders are out of the picture and a new leadership disowns the past.

    That’s never going to happen, of course.

    In the meantime, vote for a non-sectarian representative.

  • Mister_Joe

    Sinn Fein voters have to believe that the murderous IRA campaign was justified…

    Nonsense. The majority of those voters did not give their support until the murder campaign was ended.

  • “Apparently according to you Mc Guinness did not get your memo about “1998″.”

    I didn’t sent him one, t_t 🙂

  • seamus60

    Dixie we`ll have something to worry about when ,whilst being interviewed Nelson hits back at an awkward question by asking the interviewer “Would you put that question to Mc Guinness”.
    What is it they say about self praise.

  • Dixie Elliott

    I heard Marty say recently that he wasn’t on the Giant’s Causeway before either…

    No ones blaming the IRA for that Marty, that happened years ago…milllions of years ago in fact.

  • Much venting of spleen yet no evidence has been presented from the NT about how it arrived at its decision. As I’ve already said, it may just have been part of a marketing ploy to help feed the great white elephant – a little bit of something for everybody. After all, it is a visitor centre for tourists, not a science museum.

  • Apologies – wrong thread – must have been influenced by the thought of Marty and the republican dinosaurs 🙂

  • Joe,

    The majority of those voters did not give their support until the murder campaign was ended.

    Ah, so they promised not to kill any more people and that’s alright then? Countless politicians have had their careers destroyed for fiddling their expenses or cheating on their wives. If only they had known that they just had to refrain from doing it again in order to get voted back in! The fools.

    “Kill one man, and you are a murderer. Kill millions of men, and you are a conqueror.”

    Somewhere in between those two extremes it seems we can find “respectable statesman”. SDLP supporter is right – at least those who always believed in the armed struggle were honest with themselves. It’s the people who were supposedly against the armed struggle but rushed to vote for SF the moment it became even slightly respectable that need to examine their own consciences.

    FJH,

    Certainly I have never voted for anyone BECAUSE they were a murderer and I dont think I am a morally disgusting person. I make my voting choices on who is best placed to represent my ideals and self-interest…..Im voting for the package.

    We all buy politicians as a package. It’s just that some of us can ignore the smell of congealing blood more easily than others. You’re just another good man doing nothing.

    I voted for the GFA (not the STA which was imposed on us by fiat) because it was the best deal available. I voted for early release for prisoners because it was a price worth paying. I saw at the time that the institutionalised communalism of the mutual veto was a problem, but thought (as did many others) that the “ugly scaffolding” might wither on the vine. We were idiots, just as Marx was an idiot when he said that state socialism would wither away to reveal stateless communism. I did not expect my compatriots to stampede into the polling booths to vote for the very people (i.e. Paisley and McGuinness) who started it. But then there are no certainties in life except death, taxes, and the base cravenness of the electorate.

    My mother stopped voting a few years ago. I give her the usual lecture about democracy being a precious thing, but my heart’s not in it – I know exactly how she feels. If I still lived in the north I’m not sure I’d vote either – if you know that nobody else who shares your politics is voting any more then it’s hard to make the effort yourself. We are heading towards <50% turnout while an unholy coalition of incompatible ideologies is carving up permanent hegemony at the top of a fundamentally broken system. Is nobody else disturbed?

  • Well actually Mr Gallagher, whether or not I am a “good man”, I am I think doing at least doing two things about it.

    The first is to rant on this and other blogs including my own. Which is of course precisely the definition of doing nothing. The Blogosphere is a meaningless cop out for people who observe the process without actually getting involved.
    The second thing I actually did was join a political party at the point (August 2011)where I believed the entire political process could do no worse and I might actually TRY to do something about it.
    Conceivably the particular choice may not be the best one. Others would make different choices.
    But those who stay here (and I absolve you from blame here….its not a dig at people who leave because at least thats a choice) and just want to observe a system they dont like…a system they condemn while avoiding any attempt to change it are not people I admire a lot.

  • Politico68

    McGuinness is good at his job, end of story. Get over it. History – whatever you want it to be – simply does not matter any more.

  • FuturePhysicist

    FJP, In tribute to FJF

    Sometimes it’s a case of …Not Sure if Blogosphere or Northern Ireland Journalism.

    Because it’s really hard to tell the difference these days.

    SF are already half a generation away from losing the IRA veterans wing, isn’t time to try and bring the political debate on to a more normal brand of politics. Political Apathy and Antipathy are the largest growing political forces in Ireland not Sinn Féin!

  • “Well, that was then. But now we’re in the business of real politics, it still seems to be the journey rather than the arrival that matters to Sinn Fein.”

    But the PRM Army Council is still embedded in the world of real politics according to ex-SF MLA Billy Leonard; it hasn’t and it probably won’t go away:

    One Belfast Sinn Fein MLA, he says, told him openly that “he knew who really held the power in the party, and accepted that this was the best way to get on with the work”.

    He said: “In essence he knew that the elected representatives didn’t hold the real power, rather it was held by a blend of ard chomhairle and army council members: everyone was meant to be equal but in classical terms some were more equal than others.”

  • The Lodger

    Nevin,

    He tested the inclusiveness of republicanism and found it to be severely wanting.

  • The Lodger, Billy confirms what Mitchel McLaughlin acknowledged a few years ago viz that SF folks still recognise the PRM Army Council as the legitimate government of the island of Ireland. Some will continue to delude themselves that SF is just a party like any other party.

  • tacapall

    ”A prolonged IRA ceasefire could be the most destabilising thing to happen to unionism since partition”. James Molyneaux UUP leader.

    Almost two decades on nothing has changed to the thinking of Unionism.

  • tacapall, you should hardly be surprised that Unionists and Nationalists give priority to their respective though opposing constitutional aspirations. The less politically astute might think or be easily convinced that there’s a drop of sincerity in the respective ‘reaching out to themuns’ PR puffs 🙂

  • The Lodger

    “”A prolonged IRA ceasefire could be the most destabilising thing to happen to unionism since partition”. James Molyneaux UUP leader.”

    Tapacall,

    Molyneaux was quite correct about that. Indeed the eventual fallout led to the near collapse of his party the UUP.

    I suspect though that you are trying to imply that unionists wanted the IRA to continue murdering them and bombing their towns which completely misses the point.

    Molyneaux was pointing out that in return for a ceasefire the British government of the day might well have been willing to give republicans never ending concessions, which could have resulted in us being trundelled into a united Ireland. At one stage that looked like a very distinct possibility.

    However fortunately unionists held their nerve and republicans over played their hand.

  • tacapall

    “Molyneaux was pointing out that in return for a ceasefire the British government of the day might well have been willing to give republicans never ending concessions”

    What concessions would that be that Unionists didn’t already have ?

    Nevin on the one hand you insinuate that the leadership of Sinn Fein are British agents then on the other you accuse Sinn fein of being controlled by an army council consisting of those same British agents. So from a Unionist perspective what is your problem with Sinn Fein.

  • The Lodger

    “What concessions would that be that Unionists didn’t already have ?”

    Tapacall,

    We will never know because it didn’t happen.

  • tacapall, I don’t know where you got the agent notion from. From a PRM perspective, the ‘legitimate government of Ireland’, the island, struck a series of deals with its opposite numbers in the British government; one such deal being the ‘Derry experiment‘.

  • tacapall

    tacapall, I don’t know where you got the agent notion from.

    Here ya go Nevin.

    Nevin 10 July 2012 at 10:11 am

    “Sinn Fein is a well oiled machine with a behind the scenes management team ..”

    Would that be MI6, tacapall? It seems to specialise in the political stuff.

  • tacapall, you could look upon the MI6 role as one of providing some ‘technical expertise’ to that part of the PRM AC that promoted the TUAS approach. If you browse through Moloney’s history of the PRM you’ll see that at times it was touch an go between the armalite and ballot box segment and the armalite one. You might note that SF folks tend to criticise MI5 but not MI6.

  • tacapall

    Nevin so they were working together to bring about a change in tactics or direction for the republican movement but there was no-one playing dual roles ?