Crisis, what crisis? Sinn Fein’s septimana horribilis may only be the beginning…

At the start of the week, Danny Morrison delivers an ‘almost time to panic’ post to Eamonn’s blog… Next he’s on Nolan filling out what he means:

This sort of rhetoric has been streaming out of that quarter for weeks. But as Ken Reid noted last night, there is little evidence of any crisis other than a threat by Sinn Fein to send the EU money intended for the Maze site back to, erm the EU, if there’s no agreement on the Maze:

Not a strong negotiating position.

By end of week, Martin McGuinness’s ‘look, honestly, no one’s really panicking‘ statements coincide (unfortunately for him) with the announcement that the former Derry based US call centre company Stream is coming back to Northern Ireland with a thousand jobs. Unfortunate, because it’s Belfast rather than Derry.

Much to the chagrin of Sinn Fein’s Foyle MLA Meadbh McLaughlin. It prompted Mark Durkan – not the most aggressive MP in the world, it has to be said – to pen a deft reproach:

“Employment creation by Stream – even if pre-planned by an acquired company – should be welcomed. However many questions are being asked in Derry given Stream’s history.

“Stream’s management consistently testified to the performance quality of the North – West workforce. Market conditions were emphasised as the reason for the last big run-down from 300 in 2011 and the preceding redundancies.

“Obvious questions now occur as to whether Stream might have considered restoring some jobs to Derry.

“Stream must now indicate if there are realistic prospects in the future of locating additional jobs in Derry. People in Derry are rightly interested in Stream’s future consideration of our city where it has a strong history’.

Just the sort of meaty policy bone a modestly reviving SDLP could do with a few more of. And the sort of hostage to fortune given away when a team is over focused on matters other than tending the home farm.

The final blow of the week came in today’s loss of the Seanad abolition referendum.

Now referendums are tough for all political parties, not least because as Quintin Oliver has pointed out “they encapsulate issues and ideas in theory, rather than people and personalities”, making them tough to judge or play.

There was banter earlier on Twitter suggesting that they leapt onto the huge early lead for the Yes campaign in the polls (74%). But the scant evidence we have is that the party’s Ard Comhairle spread an intense discussion over several weekends trying to determine which way to go on Friday.

In the end we understand, Mary Lou lost the argument for reform, and Pearse Doherty was given his head.  For the second time in a row Sinn Fein found themselves on the losing side. Yet unlike the fiscal compact, there may be serious constitutional business to follow the Seanad referendum.

However the real elephant in the room all week has been the party leader’s oddly underreported post trial predicament. Just as the NSPCC details a systemic failure of courts to handle victims of child sex abuse, Gerry Adams is confronted with damning public evidence of his own attitudes on the issue.

What’s surely occupying minds high and low within the party is not what’s just passed, but what’s to come . And Dail Eireann rather than the Northern Ireland Assembly is the likely arena in which these matters will most likely be played out.

Niall Collins stated the bleedin’ obvious to the Irish Daily Mail on Friday:

“…the issue that Gerry Adams appears to have done nothing to ensure the safety of other children at risk until he spoke to police in 2009. Unfortunately we have seen too many times in this country what happens when the reputation of organisations is put above child safety. Deputy Adams needs to explain the reasons for his failure to act on the information he had.”

Last time Mr Adams apologised to the Dail it was for the killing by IRA operatives of Garda McCabe. On that occasion he was listened to by TDs in a sullen, if intense, silence.

Next time, given the implications for a public issue of rising concern, deputies may not feel compelled to be quite so restrained this time, not least in applying Sinn Fein’s own, seemingly protean, standards for others in society to its own leader.

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  • Pete Baker

    Mick

    Here’s the quote from Martin McGuinness.

    “There’s been a lot of scaremongering in the course of recent times, a lot of debate around the word ‘crisis.’

    “I hear some people speculating the institutions could fall.

    “The institutions are not going to fall. These institutions are the peoples’ institutions.”

    He wants to have a word with his party colleagues, then…

    As for the “debate around the word ‘crisis'”.

    It’s a ‘crisis’ when we say it’s a ‘crisis’. Or not.

    Then again, and understandably, their minds are on other things…

  • Dixie Elliott

    Danny Morrison…”We’ve hit an iceberg”

    Martin McGuinness…”Don’t panic this ship is unsinkable.”

    Gerry Adams… “I won’t go down even if the ship does.”

  • Charles_Gould

    Good blog post. This does bolster Mary Lou’s leadership campaign.

  • aquifer

    The trouble is electors, they are ungrateful and fickle. They cannot be trusted to continue voting for the altarboys gone bad, or the Paisleyite promise of red white and blue salvation.

    With the country on the high seas of high capitalism and the tsunami of welfare reform about to engulf the single identify enclaves, the continued appeal of root vegetable and revolver Irish separatism, or British pork pie in the sweet bye and bye, cannot be assured.

    So lets bring down the Assembly?

    No. The Assembly has a better mandate than its tenants.

    Time for an election, and a decimation of the terminally deluded, the congenitally dishonest, and the selfishly inane.

  • aquifer

    And if the law cannot rule on criminal irresponsibility at the macro scale, the citizens must.

  • Bishops Finger

    Time for an election, and a decimation of the terminally deluded, the congenitally dishonest, and the selfishly inane.

    ========
    Sorry, but you’re talking about Ulster, not Utopia or any other sensible place.

  • DC

    what about welfare reform?

    Centre For Social Justice – well that was a misnomer, centre for reducing benefit payments.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Good Heavens! Aquifer:

    “No. The Assembly has a better mandate than its tenants.”

    The Assembly IS its tenants. Just try getting an empty Stormont chamber to debate anything meaningful (or anything at all). The problem is that these MLAs are the people who have been and with minor variations will be voted in, ie: given what they think of as a “mandate”. That’s what you have to work with. The real problem is that they think that having fooled people into voting for them this means that any silly idea that enters the void between their ears is “the voice of the people” (or sometimes “the very voice of God” or “History”).

    Yes, we need a dramatic transformation to bring sanity into the situation, but it just will not happen. Not with the dull patchwork of ill cobbled compromises that characterise the Assembly. These compromises can just barely paper over the real unaddressed and continuing animosities in the interests of keeping the Westminister and European cash flows open.

  • cynic2

    “These institutions are the peoples’ institutions.”

    ….which is why so few of us now bother to vote

    Wise up MArty

  • cynic2

    “the terminally deluded, the congenitally dishonest, and the selfishly inane.”

    What about the dishonest, incompetent and corrupt ……

  • Brian Walker

    I can’t see Sinn Fein suffering serious damage as a result of current events, including the welcome defeat in the Seanad referendum and Gerry Adams’ actions or lack of them over his brother’s guilt. I doubt if they’ll disturb the internal dynamics of the party and they’ll be barely noticed by the vast majority of voters who are struggling with their standards of living. I’d guess SF’s reputation will suffer less than the reputation of both the Taoiseach’s and opinion polls, although neither has suffered a mortal wound.

    On mainstream issues the polls are surely right to point out yawing olatility. In the Republic the latest Ipsos/ MRBI poll suggests SF holding on to the substantial gains of their anti-bailout populist strategy with Labour hogtied in government, although whether this will hold and translate into seat gains seems impossible to read right now.

    So what is the likely future shape of southern politics? Given Micheal Martin’s forensic attacks on Sinn Fein, the slow revival of Fianna Fail seems to rule out any chance of a FF/SF alliance. Martin deserves credit for boldly reviving FF as a party of government rather than succumbing to old fashioned republican populism. There are signs that the electorate is beginning to respond.

    A grand coalition of FG/FF seems more likely if Labour implodes. A rainbow coalition or a minority government supported by independents on a confidence and supply basis can’t be ruled out but are definitely unappealing at this time of financial austerity. The days of Haughey -type promises to small lobbies are definitely over (or certainly should be).

    It is hard to see Sinn Fein losing out completely in any likely scenario in the medium term. A realignment of politics away from the old civil war battle lines would – irony of ironies – work to the benefit of the original party label of independence, particularly if Sinn Fein had the sense to stay clear of the harsh responsibilities of government. .

    In the North Sinn Fein outliers have been probing hardline opinion to contain seepage to the dissidents with more finesse than the DUP. This seems to have the effect of consolidating their base.The DUP have had less success but their recent wobbles seem unlikely to reduce their dominance when it comes to elections on a declining turnout. No significant rival political force has emerged and the room for manoeuvre is slight.

    The Haass intervention is intriguing and I don’t pretend to understand it fully. It will make sense if both sides make the concessions over parading both privately know are necessary under cover of external mediation. I presume the general assumption is that the streets have to pacified before any progress can be made over building a more stable future. There will only be agreement on the Haass agenda if the main parties can spot the political dividend for themselves. The best to hope for perhaps lies in the choice between playing it long or playing it short term. Who would take bets on the former?

    Like Mr Micawber we wait for something to turn up. In the meantime it’s the same old, same old with the odd seizure to try to keep up interest…

  • Rory Carr

    Hooray ! The SDLP are poised to wipe out Sinn Féin and become the largest party representing the nationalist community in the Assembly and probably the largest party over all.

    Or maybe not.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Ironically Gerry Adams is not going to suffer consequences connected with what he did, or did not, do over the abuse of his niece – for him to be in real trouble, he’d have to do something really bad like accidentally say “Londonderry” or “Northern Ireland” or be caught having a pint with the Duke of Edinburgh.

    Some of the comments above have drawn attention to what appears to be a split in Sinn Féin. There is certainly a disagreement and I detect the hand of Gerry Adams (via Kelly and Morrison) trying to stir up mischief in the belief that this will somehow help his cause; and Martin not seeming too enthusiastic about this approach. I think McGuinness is closer to reality here; the assembly is not going to collapse, and I outlined some of the reasons why I feel this is the case; all withdrawing from the executive will do is bring about a mutually assured destruction scenario. The DUP and SF are both stuck with the assembly and with each other until the electorate decide they no longer want them.

    To those of us who remember the 1990s the role reversal was interesting. Back then McGuinness was the militant hawk and Adams was the nice guy gently cajoling the hard men away from violence. McGuinness has evolved a hell of a long way from where he used to be.

  • Charles_Gould

    SF seem divided and Mary Lou’s leadership prospects look stronger now. Anyone know when Adams intends to stand aside?

  • David Crookes

    Think I’ll sneak down to Paddy Power’s, Charles.

  • cynic2

    On BBC Politics today right at the end Susan McKay mentioned a number of other cases coming down the line that will be very embarrassing for the leadership.

    I thought after Meehan and this one that they were all over. Am I wrong?

  • cynic2

    By the way if this wasnt so desperate and terrible an issue, the Sunday Life today would have been priceless – it alleges that Gerry reported Anine’s mother to Social Services because the children had lice but didn’t of course report Liam for his little vice.

    Now why did he report them to Social Services. Was Liam trying to get some sort of access or custody at the time?

    And given that Liam had been away from home living in Donegal for some time when this issue was first reported to police, did any of these awful attacks take place in the Republic?

  • son of sam

    Dixie has posted another good satirical piece on The Pensive Quill about the Stream jobs issue.The whole story of the Stream jobs illustrates perfectly the contempt that Sinn Fein has for the ordinary punter in Derry.On the one hand,You have Marty with his rictus grin alongside Peter welcoming the jobs to Belfast.On the other you have Maeve Mc Laughlin M L A professing outrage at Arlene Foster at the jobs not coming to Derry.The party seems to think that it can ride both horses simultaneously .No wonder Mark Durkan and Colm Eastwood were moved to comment on the incongruity of it all.

  • Morpheus

    Helluva leap there Son of Sam. Martin McGuinness is the DFM of Northern Ireland and has to welcome jobs to the country regardless of where they go – that’s leadership.

    On the Stream issue then it stinks to the high heavens. Stream received millions of pounds from the tax-payers to set up shop in Derry but the business wasn’t viable resulting in 1000 redundancies – no issue there, shit happens in business – but to then give them additional millions of pounds to set up in Belfast which has a much better (or should I say less bad) unemployment rate is yet another example of what goes on at Invest NI. I am open to correction but I was told yesterday that the Stream offices in Derry are still vacant to this day and Derry continues to have the highest unemployment rate.

    I honestly think Invest NI needs to be investigated – not for corruption but to ensure that they are in fact giving all of NI a fair crack. If they are going to focus on Belfast then the rest of NI shouldn’t be expected to contribute

  • sherdy

    aquifer, – Will you be organising and leading the lynch mob?

  • Charles_Gould

    Morpheus

    Invest NI have been doing a good job in terms of investment – the comparisons with other parts of UK are very favorable and have been pointed out in the Economist and Financial Times. The distrubtion of jobs in the Foyle constituency is reported as being in approximate proportion to the population there.

    I think that it’s fair enough for the DFM to welcome the jobs, while the Foyle representative to ask why more jobs don’t go to her city.

  • cynic2

    They must think they can get higher productivity or lower costs in Belfast. That’s the way in the real world.

  • Morpheus

    I disagree Charles. In 2010/11, Invest NI offered Derry firms £2.58m — 2.4% of the spend in Ulster. Does that seem fair and equitable to the country’s second city which is still an unemployment blackspot?

  • Morpheus

    “They must think they can get higher productivity or lower costs in Belfast.”

    Yeah, a multi-million pound payout by Invest NI tends to lower costs a smidge.

  • BluesJazz

    Most of the McJobs at Stream are minimum wage, McDonalds actually pay better. They’re also mostly cold selling. That’s why there hasn’t been the usual overkill on the media.
    One things for sure, no MLA son or daughter will be working there when the Stormont gravy train (1st class) still has tickets available.

  • Charles_Gould

    Morpheus,

    I said above that Maeve’s comments were quite okay in my opinion, and indeed I would love to see a lot more investment outside Belfast. If I were investing I am not sure Belfast would be my choice, though for some businesses especially creative related it makes sense to be close to the centres of population.

    In my own “home patch” of Ballymena I see a fantastic manufacturing economy – Michelin, Writghtbus, Gallagher – which makes a big difference to the town.

    As for the figures, I was thinking of a stat on Nolan in which about 5% of jobs created in NI were in Foyle – and as there are about 18 constituencies this is not far off. But I am sure there are other ways to slice the data.

    I have read that NI has enjoyed relatively a lot more FDI than other parts of UK (per capita terms), which is good news.

  • Charles_Gould

    BluesJazz does make a good point. While 1000 jobs are welcome, we want high value jobs.

  • Gopher

    I think it is a bad month for Martin rather than a bad month for SF. The movement will grind on with remorseless pedantry whilst Martin tries to do politics. Must be disconcerting at meetings, you know when the normal people have that “I wonder how many more Lavrentiy Beria’s their hiding” look when he he engages with them.

  • Charles_Gould

    “I think it is a bad month for Martin rather than a bad month for SF.”

    I thought the other way round –

  • sean treacy

    With regard to Dixie posting a good satirical piece on THE PENSIVE QUILL,I think a good satirical piece ABOUT THE PENSIVE QUILL would be more appropriate.Anyone looking for a laugh need look no further than the various postings concerning McIntyres current battle with THE IRISH NEWS.Full comic effect can be obtained if you follow the whole story from the start.

  • Gopher

    Nope definitely got it the right way round. Nothing as unedifying as the talented pro having to ply his trade in the lower leagues. SF keep dragging Marty down the divisions to ply his trade at a mean level of talent. A few months back he was the darling of everyone now he just plays for some long ball team.

  • son of sam

    sean tracey
    By the looks of things, that particular battle may end up in the courts.However Anthony Mc Intyre does have a habit of pointing out that some of the Sinn Fein emperors have few clothes!!

  • cynic2

    Morpheus

    Yes but the grant would lower the costs in Derry as well, There is an economic or operational reason for choosing Belfast – either its cheaper or has a bigger pool of skilled staff

  • cynic2

    Sorry…I missed the usual ‘We wuz robbed” Derry whinge. But hwy should all these jobs go to Belfast people. We have houses lying empty here so Derry people can get the jobs and move down Its called labour mobility

  • SeaanUiNeill[11.14] ‘Assembly has a better mandate than it’s tenants’
    Trouble with the whole mandate at Stormont notion it’s the same for Unionist parties as when they ruled the roost there until 1972, ie that, for them Nationalists mandate meant a mandate to sit in the backbenches but not to sit in the executive. They still stand by that double standard but have been forced to operate equal mandates to sit in executive since 07, but with a very bad grace.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh dear, danielmoran, that was not actually me, butt was me quoting Aquifer’s earlier posting (6 Oct 9.20.) “No. The Assembly has a better mandate than its tenants.”

    I think we’re actually in agreement about the boys in red, white and blue. And, as far as I can see, they still think that their opponents should be sitting on the back benches. “First past the post, that’s real ‘British’ Democracy”, which they will continue to think until the 49/51% goes against them.

    But if you read my posting again you’ll notice that the point I’m trying to make is that “The real problem is that they think that having fooled people into voting for them this means that any silly idea that enters the void between their ears is “the voice of the people” (or sometimes “the very voice of God” or “History”).” Its their interpretation of mandate (ie: once elected, mandated to be completely free to do their own thing) that is the real problem. They do not even begin to understand what representing their own voters actually means, let alone representing us all. But then that was also the the old Fermanagh Mafia gang’s version of “mandate” in days of yore! plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose…………