DUP: “The lack of leadership at the top of Sinn Fein has been evident…”

I’m just pasting this how it came into my inbox this afternoon… It’s a statement from the DUP press office on that apparent rift between Sinn Fein’s own public statements and the actual beliefs of its own political activists:

DUP MLAs Arlene Foster and Edwin Poots have called for Sinn Fein to demonstrate leadership and to end the mixed messages coming from the party. Their call follows comments made at the Sinn Fein conference at the weekend. These included an admission from Martin McGuinness that he has lobbied the Parole Commissioners to seek the release of dissident republican prisoners and comments from Gerry Kelly about policing.

Speaking today Edwin Poots said,

‘The events of the weekend at Sinn Fein’s conference make public what many of us have been aware of for some time. That is the need for Sinn Fein to demonstrate clear leadership to its own membership and activists by ending the mixed messages coming from senior levels of the party.

On the one hand Martin McGuinness did state that dissident republicans were “traitors” but he then is happy to meet the Parole Commissioners calling for the release of dissident prisoners Marian Price and Martin Corry. These kind of mixed messages may explain why over a quarter of Sinn Fein activists surveyed were content to justify dissident republican violence and only 12% agreed that these terrorists were “traitors to Ireland”.

Adding to this Arlene Foster said,

‘Issues were raised in the Assembly today by the First Minister seeking clarity on the views held by the Sinn Fein candidate for the position of Deputy Speaker. Whilst these assurances were forthcoming they were only necessary because of the issues which arose from Sinn Fein’s own conference.

The lack of leadership at the top of Sinn Fein has been evident in the absence of any effective response to nightly attacks on vulnerable communities such as those on the Fountain Estate in Londonderry. Republicans are always more than willing to pass comment on others, but this may simply be to distract from their own inaction and the clear splits they obviously face despite continual micro-management of their own party structures.

The responsibility falls to those at the top of Sinn Fein to step forward and offer some leadership, not just to the entire community of Northern Ireland or to nationalist/republican voters, but to Sinn Fein’s own membership and activist base. The difficulty they appear to have in convincing their core supporters does not point towards an ability to move forward and deliver a better future for everyone in Northern Ireland.’

  • jthree

    The survey was 50 people – so the 12% is 6 people

  • keano10

    Have we broken the record yet for the number of anti-SF threads in the past week…?

    Must be very close…

  • Morpheus

    That cheered me right up, thanks Slugger.

    The DUP talking about a lack of leadership – priceless.

    The desperation is oozing out of every pore

  • Mick Fealty

    Still working on it keano… keep gettimg force fed more material..

  • sonofstrongbow

    Shocking that there are Sinn Fein threads appearing in the week that saw its annual manoeuvres take place in Castlebar; #shocked face.

    But since the a la carte complaints on thread subjects are registering can I mention a sin of omission? 🙂

    After seven nights of nationalist attacks on the Protestant Fountain Estate in Derry, including a barrage directed against that symbol of hated unionist oppression the childrens’ bouncy castle, where is the myriad of nationalist commentary condemning this rampant sectarianism and the idly standing-by police (one arrest and each night the petrol bombers facilitated with access to the estate’s boundary)?

    Would it start the green ball rolling if I alleged that Margaret Thatcher lead the assaults?

  • sherdy

    Mick, you’re trying the Eichman defence, and it didn’t do him much good.
    Talking of leadership, has anyone seen Robbo in East Belfast since last December? He really has been a paragon of good leadership – I don’t think!
    Trust the DUP to give the role of Dumb and Dumber to Poots and Foster – doesn’t it make them sound intelligent?

  • carl marks

    When Sf accused the leadership of unionism lacking leadership i was amused , true the Dup lack leadership of any coherent type, look at the recent flag protests and peters inability to control his own party. However coming from SF it was a bit pot kettle black (Girdwood barracks anyone).
    On the other hand the Dup accusing anybody of lacking leadership is a bit more than Kettle pot black! It’s in the George Bush calling somebody stupid league of things.
    Next we will have TUV Jim accusing somebody of being obsessed with Martin McGuinness in government!

  • keano10

    Mick,

    Unfortunately it just turns Slugger into an unbalanced, vindictive and partial site. It could be so much better. You just drive any form of balanced opinion away from the website. Time and time again

    To be honest Mick, complete drivel like this thread simply shows you to be as narrow minded, insular and with the same bigotries that you frequently accuse others of.

    What next? Maybe Martin McGuinness pet dog Buttons still advocates armed struggle…?

    Sweet Jesus…

  • Comrade Stalin

    Keano,

    I think you are way over the top. The news here is the DUP’s attack on SF and Mick is reporting and commenting on it. It’s hardly as if he is fishing for things. And I don’t think reporting this matter is damaging to SF. If anything it benefits them. I thought SF’s condemnation of violence and the dissidents over the weekend was forthright. I do not see grounds for accusing them of being especially lacking in leadership, at least not in relative terms.

    To the point itself, this is ridiculous on so many levels. Weeks away from the period where DUP councillors and MLAs participated, unpunished, in illegal roadblocks and lent their support to a series of demonstrations which sometimes resulted in riots, they are lecturing others on the need to show leadership. That’s not even talking about the fact that they chose to give succour to the rioters and roadblockers by attacking the authority of the police and courts on their behalf. I can’t get over the brass neck of this crap. This morning we hear a deathly silence from the DUP over the erection of illegal flags celebrating a paramilitary organization in East Belfast. Other unionists called the Nolan Show to defend the practice. The ever-ridiculous unelected “community worker” and ex UVF prisoner Jim Wilson called in and, as usual, contradicted himself by saying the UVF was not a terrorist organization, and then justifying the flags on the basis that republicans erected IRA flags.

    I have not forgotten the way the DUP behaved over the disgraceful parades outside St Patrick’s last year. Rather than show the kind of leadership they feel qualified to lecture others on, they rowed in to justify the behaviour of the band.

    Finally, I wonder how DUP delegates would respond to a similar survey conducted during one of their own conferences. Do people really believe a question such as “do you feel it would be inevitable or justifiable if people took up arms in the event of a democratic vote to end partition ?” would garner a unanimous “no” vote ? It annoys me that people treat the DUP as a normal democratic party rather than one which has off-the-table links with loyalist paramilitary organizations – why aren’t their members being asked these questions ? Peter Robinson himself said in a TV interview during the 1980s that joining a paramilitary organization was an option he considered but rejected and in the same interview gave details of how he asked paramilitaries for “assistance” with the Anglo Irish Agreement “stoppages” during that time.

    I believe this nonsense is a diversion. I have been saying here for some time that it is no secret that relations within OFMDFM are poor; and I believe the DUP are preparing the ground to find a pretext for walking out of the executive – a suicidal decision, but one which seems to be an outworking of Robinson’s position as leader becoming weak. I expect we will hear more statements such as this one over the coming weeks complaining about SF’s “leadership”, and given the time of year the chances are that many of these will be connected with disorder at Orange parades.

  • @Mick,

    This is a common pattern in 20th century Irish history and in loyalist history in NI as well. Those who used violence are condemned at the time then retroactively justified in it as the price of integrating them into mainstream politics. They then go on to condemn their successors for doing the same as what they did by arguing that conditions are different. This hypocrisy is necessary and useful in the short-term but harmful in the long-term. But because politics is a short-term activity it will continue.

  • FDM

    See, you really can’t take the DUP seriously.

    Was there a trombone clown trill after Arlene accused someone outside the DUP of lack of leadership.

    Honestly had I been drinking a coffee when I read that the monitor would be covered in it now after the guffaw I gave out.

    It does again demonstrate however the cognitive dissonance between protestant nationalists and reality.

    “Reality is inconvenient”

    “Heres a new one I invented earlier!”

  • Morpheus[4.49] The brass neck of it, with the DUP having a collective irony-bypass after the deafening silence from their er….. leader Robinson through weeks of flag protests/attempted murder, [about which, no public condemnation from PR at any point since], and now this. Priceless indeed, Morpheus. The private polls must be painful reading chez DUP.

  • Gingray

    Comrade

    Keano is correct about this. The ever excellent work by Alan in Belfast, reporting from the Shinner conference on this occasion, is not being followed up with insightful analysis by the rest of the blogging team.

    Mick has chosen to use a useless poll of 50 people and the DUP response as the basis for 2 blogs, and combined with his “analysis” that SF are copying Dev while avoiding coalition blogs, this is really poor reporting. It adds nothing to the story, and could easily be lifted from thejournal or u.tv.

    I was really hoping that given the large number of blogs devoted to Sinn Fein (apx 30% in the last month) someone would get in to the nitty gritty of the conference – the schism on abortion that took place and where the party will go, the stance on croke park 2, even a breakdown of the various factions within the party and how they all work. The stuff Slugger used to be so good at.

    Can you really imagine a poll of 50 people being taken seriously anywhere else in the world – think about it, 6 people make up the 12% that has got Mick, Edwin and Arlene in such a fluster. If somebody does something similar at the DUP conference, say 6 out of 50 DUPers think Ulster should be defended by force, thats not a story either, that is an extremely small sample being given a selection of predetermined answers in a highly charged environment and no attention should be paid.

    Bah

    Gingray

  • Mick Fealty

    keano,

    It genuinely worries me when people like you say that. There are times when I wonder if in all of this is some of kind bias driving me to write this stuff, when it seems at times to be so unpopular with people who’s judgement I normally have the highest regard for…

    On the anti SF thing, well I don’t think you can accuse us all of that. For one thing there’s no better reportage on the net than Alan’s conference reports for SF and other northern parties.

    You might more convincingly level that at me personally, on this another recent blogs. I am always wary when I find myself out on my own, or segueing into voicing oppositionalist arguments. Now I accept Liam’s poll was a straw poll of little regular account (and I’ve taken the criticism on that other thread on the chin)…

    But I DO think the DUP has a point here (self serving it may be, that comes with the territory I’m afraid).

    tmitch makes the seminal point for me above (http://goo.gl/9AhgB) particularly when he notes that “this hypocrisy is necessary and useful in the short-term but harmful in the long-term. But because politics is a short-term activity it will continue.”

    Politics IS short term. And we do rely on politicians to be hypocritical when they change their minds to align themselves with new facts. They should NOT be excoriated for that.

    The problem rather is that too much of the political thinking inside the leadership and the party activists is too short term and neglectful of charting a credible long term course. The persistent double think is undoubtedly whether you choose to believe the straw poll or not.

    As Fionnuala O’Connor noted back in the day http://goo.gl/RkQTQ:

    Flann O’Brien’s policeman, who spent so much time on his bicycle that man and bike mixed molecules and were no longer distinct organisms, was no more of a hybrid than most leading republicans. There is hardly an individual in the front rank who isn’t three parts Sinn Féin to two parts IRA, or the other way around.

    So what’s the problem? Just look at where the settlement is unravelling most seriously. Loyalists have been kicking off in the last year since those scenes at St Patricks. But the largest quantum of attacks (attempted and successful) are dissident Republicans.

    The problem is that the SF leadership is relying on a ‘trust me’/’talk to us’ rhetoric rather than demonstration by accident or achievement that they do indeed have a strategy to achieve a unified Ireland.

  • BarneyT

    Posts like this are worthy. The DUP is conducting playground politics on this particular matter. Parties sometimes conflict or put out inconsistent messages, however all parties have divergent opionions, some more than others.

    SF however cannot be described as lacking leadership, organisation, discipline..and that is a source of frustration and jealousy if you like for many parties, particuarly those on the republican side who fell away and had elements join other parties to secure a political future. They cant be labelled a machine in one breath and out of synch in the other…regardless of what you believe and think.

  • carnmoney.guy

    Thought that this was a brilliant slight of hand by DUP to cover the real elephant in the room.
    Radio Ulster had Poots & Dowds going hammer and tong about leadership, the Fountain, law and order. The BT has become the print version what UTV is in televisual terms – DUP press office

    The all island vote is the big issue which DUP are terrified of. The GFA states that the union is guaranteed without consent, but if there is no vote then democracy is a sham.

    DUP dont want an open vote, here’s why . . . .
    SDLP and Sinn Fein would get their voters out, pulling on the Orish heart strings, ( especially if there is little chance of it succeeding – vote for unity, but keep your NHS )
    DUP & UUP will get the numbers out but to the extent they would hope?
    Alliance – with the in fighting with unionism will their troops at ground level be happy to rub shoulders with those that stayed silent when they were being attacked. So will the middle class be enthused to vote or go to the garden centre?

    The line in the sand will then be drawn, so that a repeat of a vote would have to be taken every 10 / 15 years.

  • carnmoney-guy[4.33] I d expect SF and SDLP to tell their voters they can put the frighteners on unionists by voting in big numbers knowing[or believing that the Republic’s followup poll would result in a no vote. I believe there will be a very close margin ensuring the follow up refs every 7 years. This will put Norn Iron permanently on the ledge.

  • Neil

    SF & the DUP are equally hypocritical – a necessity as you say Mick or we would not be where we are today. If everyone had stuck to their ‘principles’ the IRA would still be going strong and the DUP would still be refusing to enter power with the Shinners. That said…

    Since Robinson made his Catholic voters pitch the DUP has basically seemed like a party terrified. The census was about that time, and while many will disagree, the crumbs of comfort were not going in Unionism’s direction. Both sides try to spin the census as inconravertible evidence that a) the Union is now safe for ever or b) a UI is now firmly on the cards. The very fact that the questions were such that no hard facts could be drawn from it re: border poll raises a flag in my head indicating that someone doesn’t want to know for sure how people would vote.

    Then came the flegs. This has done little to dispel the notion that the siege mentality is alive and well, and that certain shades of Unionism is basically not too confident in the future of the Union, and are displaying a fair amount of paranoia.

    Now the shinners are where they are, and seem (to me at least) to be talking the good fight. The poll is pretty much worthless (though underlines that support does exist for armed actions) but gives no notion of the level of support. But no one thinks the Shinners are about to go back to the old days, but that the same could be said for Unionism. I’ve seen three mentions on this site in the past month of the notion that ‘canny political operator’ Peter Robinson is looking for the door to pull the assembly down. The Shinners meanwhile have appeared on TV every time a dissident attack happened to condemn it.

    As always when the DUP talk about the Shinners (and vice versa) they are actually talking to their own supporters, either as a means of talking themselves up or as a means of distraction.

    The leaflets. The attending of (severely unpopular) protests. The refusing to stand side by side (a la Martin) and condemn violence. The complaints of police ‘heavy handedness’ dealing with rioters, attempted murderers, a large number of unemployed people making it damn near impossible for people to get to work. Even his ‘unicorn’ speech. Everything he’s done has turned to crap and his people know it, so they need sham fight to draw attention away from that and maybe try to win back some of those new PUP voters by getting to talk tough with SF.

    Projection is what it is. There is a dearth of leadership from the DUP, and that is what they will complain about from SF and why? Because of this vox pop, 40 sample size survey. Genuinely, funny.

  • Mick Fealty

    Look, I don’t know what’s going inside OFMdFM any more than any other outsider…

    But it’s pretty clear that nothing much is happening on the SF side, whilst stuff IS happening on the DUP side (think primary care reform, reform of the NIHE)… Now think what exactly has SF done with its talents?

    Stopped water rates and privatised the 11+… Erm, reacted late to the Dioxen and Horsemeat crisis, Lammed up a bill at DRD for a cool £8mill in legal expenses, and classroom chaos in Primary schools…

    There were some improvements in numeracy and literacy, which is good.. but I’ve not seen anyone join up the dots for me about how the Minister’s actions are responsible for that…

    Now we did see the FM step down for a while whilst he, ahem, had his departmental solicitor clear his name… SF followed by taking the dFM out to do some party business on an election campaign in the south demonstrating just how expendable the party see the office

    So, that stated, who do I think is more committed to making it work? No brainer…

    I DO agree with Neil that there’s nothing much in going back for SF, but there is plenty in stoking a bit of Prod hate to keep everyone quiet.. Nothing stokes that better than running down the flag and getting loyalists out on the streets again…

    In short, if you really think the DUP is even close to pulling this down, well it is possible. Indeed, one think I have learned in the last eleven years is that ALL thing are possible. But but despite what some may say on Slugger and elsewhere, I see no evidence that that is there is the least intention within the DUP leadership of, as you say, ‘pulling the whole thing down’…

  • Comrade Stalin

    Gingray,

    Sorry, but it just sounds like certain people are too quick to shout “bias” every time they read an opinion they disagree with, and that’s what’s happening here. I see no problem with blogging more than once about SF during their conference week; the Belfast Telegraph survey is newsworthy, as is the DUP reaction to the conference.

    Mick, I don’t think this talk about bad feeling in OFMDFM is anything to do with policy.

  • Neil

    I can’t disagree with anything there Mick apart from the fleg business. We’ve seen both sides spin failure into success many times, but in this instance I feel that the Unionist parties deliberately spun success into failure for political ends.

    The fact that most people on both sides are only interested in the sectarian headcount means the Shinners can be as pathetic at their jobs as they like. Another good reason to have a border poll, which overshadows everything else. When that boil’s lanced then people may focus on the bread and butter stuff whichever the outcome.

  • Seamuscamp

    Mick,

    Living away from the fray, as I do, gives a certain perspective different from that of those in the middle of it. To me it seems that you do attempt to be equal handed; but there is an edge to your commentary on things SF that is absent from your pieces on the DUP.

    Okay, so in this case you were merely reporting a daft statement by a Press Office, but you are lending credence by lack of criticism. In what way do you thnk 6 responses to biased questioning is newsworthy? If SF said that they had found 6 DUP supporters who advocated burning churches and that was in some way representative of the DUP, would you deliver the SF line without commentary? It tastes a bit like The Sun and immigrants.

  • Mick Fealty

    Seamus,

    There probably is… But I guess that comes done the fact that I’m really not keen on the way they play the game…

    I think it newsworthy because one, I do think they have a point (even discounting the ‘poll’)… And two, as CS notes its newsworthy because it is rare for the OFMdFM parties to criticise one another so directly…

  • FDM

    Again I think the major problem you are all having is actually taking the DUP seriously on any level.

    If you accept up front that they are a party made up of sectarian flat-worlders who prey on the fears of the weak-minded, ill-educated and politically illiterate to keep themselves in a job then you can see these outbursts for what they are.

    I honestly and I mean this in all sincerity, cannot watch a DUP politician without a smile on my face. They are the good Lords gift to nationalism in this region. I am actually suspicious that Nelson McCausland, Ruth Patterson, Nigel Dodds and Gregory Campbell were actually made on a lightning conducting frame that was built on the roof of Connolly House. Assembled from the bits of real humans, reanimated and given purpose by their creator only to cause mayhem with their belligerence.

    Whats that coming over the hill, is it Arlene Foster?

  • Comrade Stalin

    If SF said that they had found 6 DUP supporters who advocated burning churches and that was in some way representative of the DUP, would you deliver the SF line without commentary?

    If it was me – damn right I would.

    I think it’s true to say that the DUP get an easy ride these days.

    If SF want to deal with this properly surely it would make sense to go on the attack, rather than whinging about the people reporting it.

  • BluesJazz

    FDM
    I concur.
    Except with: “the good Lords gift “;
    “and given purpose by their creator ”

    you sound like them with that sort of verbiage.

  • Mick Fealty

    FDM, http://goo.gl/nNvDQ

    If you go back to the earlier stuff on Slugger you will find I used to comment much less frequently than I tend to these days…

  • Gingray

    Comrade
    OK, I accept what you are saying about crying bias when faced with opposition, I just think this is a weak story that’s been given more legs than it deserves.

    Mick made a really good point above about why Sinn Fein are proving to be quite awful at government. That would make for a great blog, but outside Alans great work, Slugger appears to have more copy and paste a link than the tough analysis it did in the early days.

    I don’t think there is deliberate bias from Mick, but looking through the archive from the last DUP conference, very few blogs went up bar Alans. And none of these attempted serious analysis.

    It would be great if Mick could follow up on the reasons why the parties need or don’t need local government to work, rather than DUP politicians think Sinn fein are inconsistent due to a poll of 50 people.

    Gingray

  • Mick Fealty

    Good idea Gingray, though I need to find some structural means to make it brief (tempus fugit, and all that)…

  • BarneyT

    Would Brian Feeney of the Irish News concur with the lack of leadership assessment? Todays article “Sinn Fein’s day on the national stage has come” suggests they are continuing to progress and are not far from government in the ROI. Something must be working on the leadership front.

  • FDM

    @BarneyT

    Would Brian Feeney of the Irish News concur with the lack of leadership assessment? Todays article “Sinn Fein’s day on the national stage has come” suggests they are continuing to progress and are not far from government in the ROI. Something must be working on the leadership front.
    ————————————-

    Barney get your helmet on for the imminent attack.

    The message that SF are actually continuing to increase their mandate [all over Ireland] and consequently to increase their power and influence upon governance here is one that is not supposed to be mentioned. This is unwelcome news. Try this instead.

    The story has to be told like this.
    SF are dying and they are murderers all.
    Their mandate is decreasing.
    They are leaderless and rudderless.
    They have no policies and no means to achieve a UI.
    Their UI dream is dead. Ulster is secure forever.
    SF have failed and they are murderers all.
    [Last bit for emphasis in case people didn’t read the first line]

    Whilst Unionism is confidence supreme led by the charismatic christian banner bearing hero Peter Robinson!

    Then of course there is reality obviously.

  • babyface finlayson

    FDM
    “They have no policies and no means to achieve a UI.”
    I agree with you.
    Is it Sinn Fein strategy to govern N Ireland successfully or to make it ungovernable?
    It’s hard to tell.

  • FDM

    @babyface finlayson
    “They have no policies and no means to achieve a UI.”
    I agree with you.
    Is it Sinn Fein strategy to govern N Ireland successfully or to make it ungovernable?
    It’s hard to tell.
    ————————————–

    I have already proposed the exact same question on slugger.

    http://sluggerotoole.com/2013/03/25/fm-and-dfm-troubles-a-lot-more-work-to-be-done-before-theres-true-unity/comment-page-1/#comment-1373049

    26 March 2013 at 8:18 am

    I don’t really know the answer the answer. You could work it both ways. I think SF will have a strategy. What is though, now that is a question.

  • Reader

    FDM: You could work it both ways. I think SF will have a strategy. What is though, now that is a question.
    The party is famously well disciplined, but must have thousands of members. One of them will blab.
    Unless the members are being kept in the dark, of course.

  • Reader

    The other issue is that it really should be possible to tell whether they are trying to run the place or ruin the place. That it is so difficult to tell which is a poor indication of their competence.

  • Comrade[11.23]’it’s true to say the DUP get an easy ride these days’

    Well they have the whole NI establishment on their side, The Newsletter, Belfast Telegraph BBC Ormeau avenue and UTV. It’s the Norn Iron jingoism that puts catyholics off the local teatime news programmes on both networks and the readership of the NL and BT are on a steady downward slide for good reason. Even unionist readers are seeing through the spin and not buying it anymore.

  • carl marks

    The NL Can modernise it typeface, change the website or make any change it wants but none of these will make the least difference unless it can up the standard of its reporting its not going anywhere.
    After St Pats day it run a storey about the behaviour of some louts at corn market, it turned out the whole thing was based on a anonymous phone call, and wasn’t even checked up on.
    This didn’t stop the news letter printing it as fact,
    This sort of lazy and biased reportage reminds me of the old protestant telegraph or the sort of thing you would expect to see in the rags produced by the BNP.
    So it can try to look like a newspaper but only acting like one will increase its circulation.

  • carl marks

    oops wrong thread, sorry! ;-D

  • babyface finlayson

    Reader
    “it really should be possible to tell whether they are trying to run the place or ruin the place.”
    I’m not sure if they know themselves. At times I think they are just aiming to stay in the game, as the largest nationalist party.
    So that when the (to put it crudely) outbreeding strategy finally pays off they will still be relevant.

  • Neil

    Can someone in the DUP please confirm that they respect law and order. After all if party members are cause for worry then surely party candidates make for a bigger concern. I’m worried that the DUP is not showing leadership on the issue of terrorist, racist attacks given a party candidate somehow managed to get his hands on an explosive device. Step forward Peter. Let’s hear you confront this one head on.

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/former-dup-candidate-who-admitted-involvement-in-racist-pipe-bomb-attack-will-face-lengthy-jail-term-29204118.html

    After their support for the road blockers and so on I’m worried that they’re talking out of both sides of their mouth on the issue of law and order.

    I wonder is this the same chap:

    Last year DUP councillor John Smyth was elected to Antrim Borough Council. Mr Smyth had previously served a five-year sentence in the 1970s for UVF activities

    http://www.nuzhound.com/articles/irish_news/arts2002/nov8_problem_with_republicans.php

  • Mick Fealty

    I’m usually a BIG fan of Brian’s, but I thought he glossed over some stuff…

    1 – the Ard Fheiseanna have been well organised and polished for most of the last five or six years…

    2 – Gerry has been regular Saturday night fixture for most of that time…

    3 – I’d have dwelled a little longer on the choice of Mayo, which seems at odds with the content of the leader’s speech which was all aimed at Labour. Indicates to me the ambition behind the location (picking up disaffected FF/Govt voters) has been switched in the meantime. Meath East?

    4 – No comparison with the DUP who have similarly modernised (though they don’t get any national coverage in the UK).

    5 – I don’t think SF’s participation in the next government is moot. Barring some catastrophic event for the other parties, they will not sit as a mudguard or have their freedom of action curtailed by taking a govt whip.

    Now, SF are professional. ML and Pearse rarely fail to impress me when they’re on the media. I also think that for all his failings (being unable to tell the truth even when not under pressure) Adams is an icon, and none of the other parties have that. But they need time to build and create capacity.

    That, if it happens, is unlikely to happen sooner than ten years. And given SF has asset stripped their best Stormont back room staff for LH, that’s how long NI will have to get along with absentee nationalist representation in government…

  • babyface finlayson

    Neil
    John Smyth jr is 32 so unlikely to be him. Maybe his dad?

  • BarneyT

    Mick, what events and opportunities are then for other parties to develop an icon? There just isnt the same scope these days for such a person to emerge. Is there?

    Adams, Hume, Paisley and perhaps Trimble were brought to prominence through a series of major events and the positions they took. Looking towards the future, I cant see where a Hume or Paisley could ever emerge.

  • Mick Fealty

    Barney,

    They are not going to get one. Adams is it. He was made by the epic politics of war. It remains to be seen if that proves a good fit with the peace. Recognition certainly is not a problem, stability in his tenure, positive too.

    But the prospects for rule under the old ruler? I would say that’s where the problem may lie…

  • Comrade Stalin

    He was made by the epic politics of war.

    It was wealthy Irish Americans who took this duffle-coat wearing scruffy revolutionary and changed him into the Armani-wearing peacemaking international statesman.

    I’m not sure Adams’ political career has much longer to run; he is 65.