Latest polling: Fine Gael pocket most of the benefit of the Troika farewell?

So, the latest poll in the south. Just four things worth considering:

33% of those asked do not have a clear preference. This is an indication of the wider state of mind of the electorate. It probably poses the greatest challenge to Fianna Fail since it represents a large tranche of voters who appear to have turned their back on politics in Ireland since the party’s defenestration in February 2011.

Independents have dropped five percentage points. This is an downturn for a block that seems to have been benefitting most consistently from dissatisfaction with government. And it seems to be the government that has benefitted most from their loss. It should be noted that the independent block is now augmented with a bunch of ex government TDs, so the maverick individual brand may be as pristine in the public mind as it was before.

Fine Gael is up four points. The lead government party have come through a sticky time for them in the run up to the budget, and serial problems with costs in the HSE. The current controversy over top up payments has probably benefitted them more than any other parliamentary grouping. They will hope the going home of the Troika (in a few days time) marks a decisive break with the lost sovereignty narrative so long as the US recovery continues to filter in and the EU continues to ‘stumble forward’.

Labour’s recovery is not a recovery as such. The last Irish Times survey had the Labour Party at a meagre 6%, which has to be treated as something of an outlier. Despite the lift to Fine Gael they are losing the battle for the working class with Sinn Fein, and to some extent even Fianna Fail. If the recovery continues even at the moderate pace, it’s hard to see what Labour can do to rise above the tidy managerialism of the Fine Gael big ship. Horrendously rising debt is the country’s biggest ongoing problem. Some kind of deal on residual debt with the ECB might just release some cash for a functional stimulus. Short of that, it’s hard to see where their room for manoeuvre is.

Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein remain pretty much as they were…

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • RosesInTheDark

    I’m surprised, or not, that you did not care to elaborate on SF’s standing in this latest polling.

    I am not a SF supporter but I think their standing is particularly interesting due to all the negative media attention that they have received lately with the cover up of Liam Adams abuse, the Smithwick Tribunal, and attempts to discredit the links between ANC/Mandela and the republican movement.

    Like I said I am not a supporter and I do think Adams deserved criticism over Liam Adams but the media certainly went into overdrive recently attempting to halt or destroy SF’s progress in the 26 counties.

    The people polled obviously aren’t swallowing the line the media is feeding them. What is required from the media is more maturity and unbiased reporting from the likes of Fionnan Sheahan and the rest.

  • Mick Fealty


    I got some friendly stick on Twitter from one of our SF supporting readers who suggested (sincerely, I think) that I spend too much time on detail and so miss the bigger picture.

    My response was that in the detail there’s often a more accurate microcosmic miniature of said larger picture to be found.

    In this case I faced a problem we always have with mid term polls: the barely out of the margin of error change problem. So I thought I’d stick only to those changes that were big enough to comment on.

    I genuinely think if you are looking at the bigger picture down south the fact that a third of the electorate cannot or will not choose, you are talking about a large chunk of disaffection from politics. Each of the other points reference real if only short term dynamics within the political game in the south.

    FF and SF can certainly be pleased with where they are re the GE11 benchmark, but I don’t see evidence of much change in either party since the late end of summer.

    If we’d had more detail on how the leader’s ratings are made up I might have given the Adams question a go. But, genuinely, what are we supposed to make of ‘no change’?

    If I’m supposed to use it to criticise the one Sindo story I blogged in the last week/fortnight/month (and cooked a storm because I had the temerity to do so), Eilis O’Hanlon’s analysis withstands this no change fairly robustly.

    The whole the premise of her piece was on the theme of loss of future gains, she did not talk about immediate reversal. So, sorry about the omission, but it was for the positive reasons stated above.

  • Charles_Gould

    If the economy does grow and things look to be getting better, FG can hope to build on these poll results and to run the next government as the major party, backed by Labour.

    FF are still toxic, and it takes another FG/Lab government before FF are ready to come back into power.

  • megatron

    I said this on an earlier thread and just want to repeat here – the margin of error for a party on 6% of the vote is not 3%. That is a pile of statistical nonsense.

    Roughly speaking margins of error given different levels of support:

    50% – 3.2%
    40% – 3.1%
    30% – 2.9%
    20% – 2.5%
    10% – 1.9%
    5% – 1.4%

    Carry on…

  • Mick Fealty

    Meg, see my explanation on said earlier thread…

  • megatron

    I think for the moment the narrative of the coalition is winning out – economy recovering > services decimated.

    Which narrative dominates come election time will depend on how things are going for economy and services. I sort of think the government parties (by which I mean the economy) might have peaked a little early.

    What is crazy and ridiculous is the outcome of the election will probably depend on the performance of the world economy. FG are making no effort to downplay world factors in recovery so they are making a risky bed now.

  • megatron

    Mick – no problem – thanks for reply.

    There is a longer point about how we need to get away from the concepts of statistically significant and margin of error altogether but will leave for now. If you want to stick with them the best way of thinking about it is:

    SF’s vote result in the previous poll was best stated as:

    We are 95% sure SF’s vote is between 20.5% and 25.5%.

    In this poll it is:

    We are 95% sure SF’s vote is between 18.5% and 23.5%.

    That is a change – statistically significant (what does that mean?!?) or not.

  • Charles_Gould

    I think where i would agree with Mick Fealty is that you need to look at SF’s trend over a number of months. They’re not rising any more and there are signs of decline but the decline from peak is still quite small.

  • Mick Fealty

    Charles is right, it’s neither trending up or down. So I wouldn’t worry too much about notches on the poll. Ashoka Modi had a paper out late last week saying Noonan needs to play Ireland’s case harder over debt (which has ballooned since 2009). Both parties could prosper from some investment in infrastructure, but Labour in particular.

    And despite all the Frank Flannery generated loose talk about a grand coalition, Labour would be a better fit for them than either FF or SF. To get Labour over the line they will need something to shift in order to let them spend again. Just lifting the ban on public sector appointments would help.

  • Alias

    There is a glass ceiling for the Shinners if you’re looking at their performance in Ireland from NI and a concrete ceiling if you’re looking from here. It’s a glass ceiling for the Northern Irish because they’ve been conditioned to see the Shinners are a normal political party who are as fit for government as any other party so they assume that voters in other jurisdictions share the same perspective, whereas the Irish see them as a bunch semi-thugs in ill-fitting suits who are only fit to run a burger concession (selling horse meat) at a flea market. It’s really not that different to how the English would see them, and definitely not as they see themselves or as said Northern Irish see them.

    The vast majority of voters will never vote for them under any circumstances, whereas FG voters might swing to FF or vice versa they’d never vote PSF. So the Shinners are not interchangeable with the mainstream parties but confined to the margins. Yes, the margin has expanded dramatically in the upheaval of the last few years but it is still the margin.

    So I don’t think it really matters what Gerry Adams says that offends the mainstream of Irish society at this point because they’ve already peaked in the margins and can go no further. Those who vote for them or intend to vote for them do so on the basis of what is in it for them and don’t care about anything else. They would see the Shinners promising them more of other peoples income through more social services and they’re voting for that (or intending to vote for it).

    The problem with those voters is that they’re only loyal to themselves: if you don’t deliver what you promised them in coalition then they’ll switch back to labour just as they’ve switched from Labour to PSF.

  • Alias

    “Labour would be a better fit for them than either FF or SF.”

    And that is the space they left (on the left or nominal left) for the Shinners. Labour aren’t seen as socialists (for good reason) but as socialism-lite (those civil servants that vote for them don’t like paying more taxes for the sake of feckless either), whereas the Shinners are seen as authentic ‘working class’ and therefore more likely to favour the have-nots. The performance of Labour in coalition hammers that home.

  • carlota martinez

    Alias at 12.21.

    What tripe!

    Classic case of whistling past the graveyard. No doubt that you and others in the bubble in which you live would never contemplate voting for these “thugs in ill-fitting suits”,but others will. The polls are unequivocal.

    I’m always fascinated when individuals, blinded by their own hatred and filled with dread, attribute to the world at large their own very particular view of that world. It’s as if they believe that by constantly reiterating the loathing they feel towards the object of their hatred will somehow build a bulwark between them and what they most dread.

    The Sinn Fein project in the South is a work in progress and the jury is still out as to where it will fetch up. However, to assert that ” the vast majority of voters will never vote for them under any circumstances” flies in the face of all reason and experience.

    People give their votes to political parties for many reasons; not all of which are altruistic, but to ascribe to all actual and potential SF voters absolute and utter self interest for so voting is delusional.

    In fact it’s barking.

  • Alias

    “The polls are unequivocal.”

    And they unequivocally show the glass ceiling. And as I said, it’s actually a concrete ceiling if you’re looking at it from ‘down here’.

    The rest of your post also confirms my post in that you fail to see that PSF is not interchangeable with the mainstream parties. They’ve expanded with and within the margin simply because the margin has expanded.
    The margin, by definition, is not of the centre.

  • derrydave

    What utter nonsense Alias – CM is quite correct in stating that you are completely blinded by your loathing for Sinn Fein. Your loathing of them is such that you are quite willing to project that loathing on to a very significant proportion of the population would would vote for them according to the latest polls. Because you loath Sinn Fein so much you assume that all right-thinking people must do so also, and so anyone who does not must obviously be on the margins, ‘in it only for themselves’, and people who do not care about anything else ! Absolutely ridiculous supposition and serves only to make you look foolish when you expound such nonsense !
    Whether people like you like it or not, the Sinn Fein ‘electorate’ are now a very broad church encompassing all sorts from all sections of society. You just need to open your eyes, grow up, and get over yourself !

  • Mick Fealty

    If I had a penny… Look, I don’t know what the future will bring, but SF’s new recruits are well motivated and hacked out of the FF gene pool. If they were leading/and maybe when they come to lead, they’d be more than capable of smashing through that glass ceiling.

    But Gerry’s not interested in the middle class (in part because they impose too great a burden of expectation) vote. If I’m feeling benevolent, I’d say its because he wants to be bed in the 32 county-ness of the party before making any real play for that middle ground.

    Next year’s locals and Euros will be a big test. SF have their candidates in place long before the others. There will be one or two to keep an eye on.

    On alias, he’s not middle ground himself, and I think, albeit by his own account, he has voted SF on occasions in the past for pragmatic reasons.

    Now, remind me, why are we talking about one of the two parties barely mentioned in the analysis above?

  • Barnshee

    “People give their votes to political parties for many reasons; not all of which are altruistic, but to ascribe to all actual and potential SF voters absolute and utter self interest for so voting is delusional.”

    There are two entirely different scenarios/situations
    In the north the vote is split almost entirely along sectaian lines. The “ceilings” that SF has run into in the North are

    1 The Sectarian head count– at least as important however is
    2 The “subvention” ceiling from GB Either through ignorance or blindness SF ignored or discounted the dependency of the charade in NI on the generosity of the Brits. All they can do is squabble over the crumbs from the table -the important decisions on Economic strategy Tax etc are all taken elsewhere.

    The situation is entirely different for SF south of the border. Whilst keen to tie in with 1916 and all that there is no sectarian head count to contend with. The real danger to SF wll be to join in a coalition with access to “the levers of power” and end up responsible/being blamed for economic problems south of the border.

    SF are the perennial critic from the touchline who finally get on the pitch and find to their horror that

    1N Ireland-The referee has the ball and lets you play as it suits him .

    2 ROI -The spectators see/let SF “on” and expect match winning performance. SF are banjoed ( like the rest) by “market forces” and the hangover from the ROI`s debt disaster.

    Do SF really want to be associated (at this stage ) with failure?

  • derrydave

    Now, remind me, why are we talking about one of the two parties barely mentioned in the analysis above?

    Because the majority of people on this site are much more interested in discussing Sinn Fein (either pro or anti), than we are in discussing the relative merits of Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, and Labour. Tribalism may not be a very positive feature of politics in the North, it is however the defining feature and sites such as this would be much quieter places without it !

    Consider yourself reminded 🙂

  • PaddyReilly

    It’s a glass ceiling for the Northern Irish because they’ve been conditioned to see the Shinners are a normal political party who are as fit for government as any other party so they assume that voters in other jurisdictions share the same perspective, whereas the Irish see them as a bunch semi-thugs in ill-fitting suits who are only fit to run a burger concession (selling horse meat) at a flea market.

    Interesting statements here which betray certain prejudices in the author. I think we have here an example of tzimtzum, a kabbalistic concept whereby ha-Shem contracts to leave behind the world of creation. The Irish nation, in the opinion of Alias, has contracted so that it does not include the 6 counties, and further contracted so that only people with Savile row suits have any political say so. This might be the case in the Stock Market, but for elections to the Oireachtas all voters are equal. If the smart suits do not come up with the jobs, then the electorate will give their votes to the off the peg brigade.

  • Fidelis et Verus

    ” With 34 per cent support among the working classes, Sinn Féin enjoys a
    comfortable margin over both Fianna Fáil (21 per cent) and Fine Gael
    (20 per cent) ”
    Taken from the same Irish Times poll on 12/12/2013
    None of the mainstream media thought this was worth pointing out …
    I guess it shows the Government led anti Republican crusade in the media is still plugging away

  • PaddyReilly

    On the subject of polls, we know from the UK’s last referendum on electoral change that most of them are totally unreliable—showing an error margin of 50% in some cases.

    However, it is an established fact that parties in office lose popularity and parties in opposition gradually gain it, except perhaps in wartime. So the results will be something like these. Talking of the support for one party going up or down from poll to poll is a complete waste of time.

    Another complication is that this is just a 1st preference questionnaire, so the actual number of seats won could be completely different. However, when SF reaches 25% of the vote, it would no longer need transfers in a 3 seater constituency, so there might be a sudden and significant rise in representation. Parties on 6% could well win next to no seats.

  • Alias

    “Whether people like you like it or not, the Sinn Fein ‘electorate’ are now a very broad church encompassing all sorts from all sections of society.”

    They’re not “a very broad church” but rather a very narrow cult. When you see doctors, lawyers, business folk (excluding smugglers), et al, declaring support for them then you’ll know they’ve broken through the concrete ceiling. When will take day be? Probably the same day that sun-dried fish heads become a popular snack food.

    Now how do you explain the huge growth of support for independents? If the Shinners were seen as offering an alternative to the mainstream political parties then there wouldn’t have been be a swing to the independents from political parties, would there? Those voters by-passed the Shinners completely, seeing them as no alternative whatsoever.

  • Greenflag

    My voting intentions next time are fluid .Formerly a long term FF voter ( later preferences to Labour ) I may be vote SF( first time ever ) in the absence of a decent independent of the ilk of a Shane Ross or similar .

    FF are not coming back -. Labour may yet end up with the Dail party filling one taxi cab . FG will hold at least 90% of what they’ve got.

    People voted ‘independent ‘ last time out as a mainly protest ‘pox on you all’ to all the main parties . I get the sense that next time around more people than the currently committed will be looking at an SF alternative . It’s clear to everybody that FF are no alternative and that Labour has become just a paler shade of Blueshirt 🙁

  • Charles_Gould


    I am glad I do not have to make those choices, In Northern Ireland there is a good party to vote for: the SDLP.

  • Mick Fealty


    That’s not a detail that got past us here. Quoth I, from above:

    Despite the lift to Fine Gael they are losing the battle for the working class with Sinn Fein, and to some extent even Fianna Fail.

  • Greenflag

    @ Charles Gould ,

    ” In Northern Ireland there is a good party to vote for: the SDLP.”

    Indeed . Unfortunately since the early 1970’s the SDLP were and have been kicked about and ignored /disdained so much by the old UUP and it’s descendants that most of the Nationalist population in particular the younger generation can’t see them seriously as an SF alternative .

    You may say that SF was ignored and disdained even more so by Unionist political parties and that’s true .

    But the perceptual difference and the important one is that SF are perceived as capable and determined to fight back . For all their high minded and lofty idealism and some excellent individual politicians such as Hume , Currie, McGready and Mallon etc the SDLP at least post 1981 seemed to have lost their ‘bottle’.

    Unfair I know but thats life and even more so political life .

    As to the choice in the Republic ? What happens to the Volcker Rule reforms in Washington DC and the detail of the EU banking reforms will be more decisive in terms of the Republic’s economic outlook and future than any policy that any of the political parties can conjure up for electoral appeal .
    The same is true for NI and the UK but on the day that Ireland ‘officially ‘ regains it’s economic sovereignty we can all pause and reflect -who actually bailed out who and why and was it necessary .

    And here’s s the verdict of the local jury just in.

  • Greenflag

    @ Fidelis et Verus,

    ‘None of the mainstream media thought this was worth pointing out …’

    Whatever you do don’t mention the eh ‘working class ‘ except on page 8 or 9 in the continued column .

    ‘I guess it shows the Government led anti Republican crusade in the media is still plugging away’

    Indeed . It’s been gathering pace ever since the Labour Party’s precipitous decline in the polls . Gilmore has long had political insiders in RTE so SF can expect no quarter from that source -but they know that already ,

    RTE is about as neutral as Tass or Pravda in their heyday at least in regard to any coverage of SF .

  • Mick Fealty

    I would not put anything past ‘da media’, you don’t think it has anything to do with the current dubious standing of the party leader?

    I readily admit that from my own pov, Adams is a block, and not entirely a mental one to a more generous take on the trajectory for the future.

    Mental reservation as a popular facility in public opinion has caused huge damage in Irish politics. Trusting FF until the drop was a deeply unwise decision on the part of the plain people of Ireland.

    But I’m not entirely convinced they are about to make the same mistake twice…

    The electorate will, as ever, keep their secrets until the critical moment(s). But in the meantime, I’m keeping the party marked rather higher than its current leader.

  • derrydave


    When you define 20%+ of the electorate both north and south as a ‘very narrow cult’, you do nothing but invite ridicule upon yourself. Given that I am an accountant / finance manager and that I have friends North and South who are architects, doctors, and lawyers who would now vote Sinn Fein, It seems like the day you fear has already arrived, and that sun-dried fish-heads will soon be going mainstream ! Then again, myself and my colleagues / friends will most likely just be labelled by you as the wrong kind of accountants / lawyers / architects / doctors, eh ! It seems that anything / anybody who does not fit your predefined narrative doesn’t count ! What a strange little world you have created for yourself.

  • CoisteBodhar

    Yeah. I know doctors, lawyers, engineers and teachers who vote Sinn Fein. I know people on minimum wage who wouldn’t dream of voting for them.

  • Politico68

    Mick…the 33% who expressed no opinion are more than likely a representative portion of the 33% (on average over the last four GEs) that do not actually vote. If u exclude the 2011 election at 70% turnout on the basis that there was a rush to get FF out, and look to the three previous elections, turn out was in the mid 60s.

    I am not sure why there is such a drop in the independent block, its quite curious actually, I wonder if it has something to do with where the sampling takes place. Does it shift location for each survey. Some constituencies like South Dublin for example would have a large independent vote, while other areas like Offaly say, doesnt. I dont know the methodology so I cant be sure.

    I think Fine Gael are holding on to the ex FF voters who abandoned martin and company. No surprise really as there is zero policy difference between the two parties. I don’t think Martins comment about the Republican movements handling of alleged abuse issues helped him. I live in California but my impression from people at home is that, it seemed a bit grubby.

    Labour has got a lift there in fairness, badly needed, but I think the people they have lost are unlikely to return to the fold. Too much damage done. In so far as most people expect pre-election promises to be broken, its my gut feeling that Labour have gone to far.

    As I said in a previous post I really expected my party of choice (Shinners) to do much worse. As I am out of the loop being so far away; I have been quite amazed at the amount of Shinner Bashing at home from every conceivable angle. Each night I would go online to check the news etc. and practically every day there was some sort of deep crit against either Adams or the Party.

    But they have held their position remarkably well. If as some commentators suggest the GA brand is holding the party back; then I reckon Enda and Martin and Eamonn better get on their knees and pray he stays around. If the shinners can get 20% with an apparently bad egg leading the group, it must be safe to assume then they could add another 6 or 7 points on without him.

    My own view is that this is nonsense, many many people hate Adams for varying reasons but there are enuff people out there that hold him in very high esteem (including myself, middle class etc.) His day is far from done methinks.

  • Alias

    “His day is far from done methinks.”

    That’s exactly right. The Adams brand attracts far more voters for PSF than it repels.

    The media’s strange notion that a party led by ‘the acceptable face(s) of PSF’ Pearse Doherty or Mary Lou McDonald would gain more popular support than a party led by the current leader fails to grasp the dynamic that those two gain their media-led kudos by being a contrast to the current leader; and that if you were to remove the current leader then you also remove their kudos. For there to be an acceptable face there must also be an unacceptable face.

    Their narrow base of voters like Adams and McGuinness, seeing them as the hard men who have ‘stood up to the establishment’ in defence of a particular class and who will do the same for them. Pearse Doherty and Mary Lou McDonald are praised by that class of voter because they see them as being useful in promoting a party led by Adams (and they’re playing the media here when the media think they’re playing them), not as replacing him. Very few voters in Ireland draw a distinction between Adams’ past and his party’s past. Replacing Adams as leader wouldn’t change that.

    Then you also have his usefulness to another state in managing the normalisation agenda and the fact that the PSF is his party, micromanaged by him and his inner circle and not a party where a new boy or girl can jsut change the nameplate on the desk and continue where he left off.

    The hard-core facts, however, is that a vast number of voters swung to independents as an alternative to the mainstream political parties, by-passing the Shinners. In addition, a vast number of voters didn’t vote and a vast number of voters have not declared for any party. In all of that the Shinners have failed to make progress at a time when they should have been an explosion (no pun intended) in support for them as the new(ish) kids on the block – or for any party seen as worth voting for.

  • Politico68

    To jump from 9% of the popular vote to 21% (potentially) is an explosive increase by any standards. That against the backdrop of massive continuous media assaults is pretty impressive by any standard. I cant predict how other people think or what they may or not believe or what they are likely think but, as a middle class, well educated and apparently nontypical SF voter I can see a slow widening of their appeal beyond their core vote base. Lets just hope it continues.

  • Mick Fealty

    It’s not continuous though politico. The explosions nearly all happen around Adams. For the most Doherty, Toibin and McDonald (et al) are given every decent opportunity to shine in RTEs current affairs output.

    And they often do.

    My own problems with Adams resemble that of those I had with the Bert, and Haughey. He cannot tell the truth about the past (which is one thing) but nor is he a reliable witness on the present or the future.

  • …Pearse Doherty or Mary Lou McDonald would gain more popular support than a party led by the current leader fails to grasp the dynamic that those two gain their media-led kudos by being a contrast to the current leader; and that if you were to remove the current leader then you also remove their kudos. For there to be an acceptable face there must also be an unacceptable face.

    That is a bald assertion unsupported by any facts. Their kudos may be gained, as is usual, by comparisons with their fellow TDs in the other Parties.

  • Politico68

    Mick, it remains to be seen how SF will actually perform in a general election. My own view is that support for the party can oft times be exaggerated in polls. If there were to be a general election tomorrow i would guess the Shinners might catch 16 possibly 17% of the vote; this based on previous experience of polls just before the actual polling day.

    As for GA telling the truth about the past; it is my considered opinion that if he was up to his neck in it or indeed if any senior shinners were up to their necks in it; they should keep there mouths firmly shut until such time as there is general agreement on a truth and reconciliation project, where all contributors to the conflict cough up together.

    Why? For me at least it is a no-brainer. Adams and Humes brought the Rep/ Nat communities through the peace process virtually intact. But we still have the problem of dissidents, and we have just seen in Belfast how they seem to be getting more capable. I would bet that there is a fairly decent slice of the Rep community that would never countenance any type of Uni-Lateral move on the part of the shinners vis a vie confesssions of the past. They see the conflict as a muliti-sided conflict where there is collective blame etc. Now, we can argue till the cows come home about this but the bottom line is, this is how the republican community see the troubles and it is not likely to change any time soon.

    Attacking Adams and the Shinners over the past does absolutely nothing except give the dissidents fuel to try and convince wobbly republicans that Gerry and Co have messed the whole thing up, in other words; forcing Gerry Adams to ‘fess up’ will do nothing other than create headlines for the media but could potentially split republicanism, and as much as this may appeal to those who hate GA and the Shinners, they are taking a very short term and selfish view without considering the possible consequences. I have no doubt the truth will out, but I am absolutely convinced that the day will never come when the republican movement stands up alone in this regard, it will only be ever done as part of an agreed process of reconciliation.

    As for trusting GA in the future? Thats a personal choice we all make when assessing political leaders. I personally have never met the man, but if Mandela, Clinton, Blair, Aherne, Father Reid et al. think he is ok, Thats about as good a reference and as any leader could get and its certainly good enough for me.

  • Mick Fealty


    This is true liberty, when free-born men,
    Having to advise the public, may speak free,
    Which he who can, and will, deserves high praise;
    Who neither can, nor will, may hold his peace:
    What can be juster in a state than this?

    A memo from the Greek, Euripides… I get the problem of the prior bargain struck. But surely that’s Mr A’s problem rather than ours? Or perhaps it’s more a case of being Mr Adams problem it then becomes ours?

    My difficulty with Mr As approach to truth (ie, that we need a market upon which one be traded for another) is far less political than it is epistemological.

  • Alias

    “Or perhaps it’s more a case of being Mr Adams problem it then becomes ours?”

    It does become society’s problem in that it is forced to undermine its own collective moral value system in order to accommodate within its political system those who have committed crimes that the society deemed to be morally repugnant to that value system.

    You can’t say ‘these crimes against us have offended us but those who have inflicted them on us don’t offend us and are fit to govern us’ and expect society not to become sick with the poison injected into it. These political leaders have organised crimes against people that rank among the worst ever perpetrated yet they are now to be celebrated by society rather than to be swung from its gallows or sent to the electric chair as their criminal counterparts in the US would have as their ultimate fate.

    That is because it was deemed by the British state to be in its national interest to inject them into NI’s political process, and finally deemed by unionists to be in their tribal interest for them to be injected into NI’s political process. Unionists, of course, didn’t have to share power with those they deemed unfit to hold power and nor did they want to: they were forced into the arrangement by the British state. So-called nationalists were free to elect the gangs to Stormont but that didn’t mean that unionists were under any moral or legal obligation to form a regional administration with them. If they didn’t, however, the British state made it clear that there wouldn’t be a regional administration. So unionists made it possible.

    There you have so-called nationalists, unionists, and the British state all guilty of promoting organised criminals to public office. Once they have done that a dynamic must be created that presented what they had all done as something progressive and laudable rather than something morally reprehensible.

    That was done in a number of ways: recruiting international figures to praise it and to praise the gang members; downplaying the appalling nature of crimes committed; broadening culpability to the wider society from the gang members and organisers; ignoring the victims of the gang’s crimes, changing the status of the crimes from murder and changing the status of murderers to combatants, etc.

    And while it is easily dismissed as hyperbole, the upshot of all that is that you are now governed by folks that make Jimmy Saville and Harold Shipman look like choirboys. Any society that thinks Mr Adams is a fit and proper person to be in government is a society that has had its moral value system turned upside down and doesn’t even know it.

  • Greenflag

    Mick ,

    “I would not put anything past ‘da media’, you don’t think it has anything to do with the current dubious standing of the party leader?”

    Of course it has . The ‘dirty little secret ‘ at RTE is that it’s a Labour Party fiefdom and both FF & FG are quite content to let the meejah generally attack SF in any way they can and they’ve been at it long before Gerry Adams current ‘standing ‘ with the powers that be -be they in Ireland /Northern Ireland /Britain .

    Will Republican and Nationalist voters in Northern Ireland pay any heed to the ” moral indignation ‘ of unionism or British or for that matter Irish Republic commentators ?

    Short answer -NO. They may believe that Mr Adams is past his best ‘political ‘ years and many will not be comfortable with the gory details of an uncivil war or sectarian conflict call it what you will . But they know the leopard of old doesn’t change it’s spots .

    At the same time most will not wish to see NI Republicanism divided against itself . Divide et impera is still one of HMG’s tool kit and in Ireland -North & South it has a long history .

    Adams will retire at a time of his own choosing . My best guess would be after the next general election in the Republic when he will once again top the poll or be close to it in the Louth constituency .

    Politico 68 ‘s point above re attacking Adams and the Shinners over the past does absolutely nothing- is absolutely right . It’s even less likely to produce political benefits as attacking Unionist leaders about the past .

    And then there are the dissidents and the flaggists both still trapped by visions of past certainties and both unable to fathom why they have been left behind .

    The past won’t work for NI’s political future . It can’t .

    SF may not just outpoll the Irish Labour Party in the next general election but may even outpoll FF . Anyone who would have predicted that back in 2004 would have been laughed out of court . Since then of course we’ve had the financial crisis and the failure of financial services led capitalism in Ireland and in the UK & USA and the powers that be still haven’t got a grip on those who would plunge the economic world into turmoil yet again -for the sake of their own personal greed .

  • Greenflag

    Alias ,

    Spare us the morally reprehensible tirades . HMG has a long tradition of settling for what ‘works ‘ in the immediate present . The future can look after itself as long as ‘our ‘ current interests are not affected . Thats as true for Northern Ireland today as it was for the Middle East & Ireland a century ago .Indeed both the French & British imperial predatory classes thought the Middle East would be a much better place if they could divide A from B with a straight ruler. .

    By the way Gerry Adams is not in government . He’s a TD. Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson among others are .
    Which of the latter two is Shipman and which is Saville ? . I’ll guess that Robinson has to be Shipman as Saville was a Catholic con man /hypocrite etc .

    As for the appalling crimes ? There are always appalling crimes . In the year since the massacre of 24 children at Sandy Hook elementary in the USA it’s estimated that 500 children have been killed in ‘gun ‘ incidents . The average age of the children was 6 . 106 were shot dead by a parent while another 87 were shot by another child ,The rest were a mix of accidental shootings and some suicides .

    Appalling ? Indeed . Northern Ireland for all it’s governmental dysfunction doesn’t come anywhere close to that kind of ‘appalling ‘.

    If Northern Ireland’s moral value system is ‘upside down’ where is the USA’s or for that matter the UK’s or the Irish Republic ?

    Get some perspective ffs.

  • Mick Fealty


    “Anyone who would have predicted that back in 2004 would have been laughed out of court.”

    Try 2007? Having said that, I also hereby reserve the right to indulge in said laughing out of court when the next #GE results are in.

    The point in the Euripides quote is a politicians who cannot be freely questioned about the past (for whatever reason) is limited in how much he can contribute to the future of a free and open society.

    Besides, there are a whole set of long term issues all southern parties who want to play a part in solving need to get their heads around. Stephen Kinsella in the Indo is worth reading in this regard (

    …we must remember any reforms will take time, and political capital, two things this Government — only formed in March 2011 — is running out of rapidly. Fairly soon any chance of real reform will have ebbed away, as the political cycle takes over and unpopular decisions become the next Government’s problem.

    The end of the bailout is a bridging moment. This is where the simplest part of the Fianna Fail trajectory as it was set before February 2011 runs out and the tougher more intractable stuff (like taking on deeply vested interests), which has largely been parked, begins.

    I think the government needs to release more from the debt mountain, to free up resources necessary to carry out further reforms. But it also needs to free up some of it’s political and intellectual capital to make sure there are deeper reforms.

    The shambles over the attempt to abolish the Seanad does not fill one with great hope. The too easy resort to opportunism and populism suggests there’s not a hugely deep well of ideas for them to pull upon.

    The fact that SF also jumped (after the last minute) on a government bandwagon that subsequently crashed (even though they were more than capable of putting together a case for reform) is not a heartening augury for them either.

  • Greenflag

    @ Mick,

    “I also hereby reserve the right to indulge in said laughing out of court when the next #GE results are in.”

    It’s too early to make predictions re the next GE which is why I prefaced my comment with ‘may’ rather than will.

    KInsella’s comments ring true btw . And yes SF and the other parties are not replete with a deep well of ideas for practical reform . The end of the bailout may be a bridging moment but I sense that the Coalition is still in ‘rabbit in the headlights ‘ mode.

    “The point in the Euripides quote is politicians who cannot be freely questioned about the past (for whatever reason) is limited in how he contributes to the future of a free and open society.”

    Could’nt agree more but then I don’t see Gerry Adams as much of a future contributor to a free and open society . He’s a prisoner of NI’s closed past just like many former unionist politicians were . I suspect that Mr Adam’s most productive days are behind him in that regard .

    Following the Senate shambles it’s unlikely that Kenny’s FG will embark on any radical economic or restructuring policies however necessary until after the next election . Their election manifesto will focus entirely on their ‘ending ‘ the bailout ‘ and reclaiming Ireland’s financial sovereignty . More than that and they might risk another Senate like shambles which would not do them any favours come election day .

    If SF are going to provide alternative economic policies they had better have their numbers right . Enough of Republic’s electorate have been awakened to the fact that numbers matter and that behind the Bert smileand/ or the Cowan grimace there lay a void of understanding of how the financial world ‘worked ‘ or more correctly at the time -was ‘unworking ‘ .

    But then they were not alone in the void . They had fellow politician travellers from the US Congress to Greek ‘s parliament among many others in like mode.

  • Politico68

    I never really know if to take Alias’s comments serious or not. I have a feeling that his outrage is genuine but unfortunately its useless in helping to provide a framework for political stability. In his post above he literally attacks everyone who had any hand act or part in the peace process. It solves nothing, It helps nobody and it really is just background noise that no longer even disturbs those who just want to get on with the job of creating a future for everyone in society.

  • Greenflag

    @ Poliitico68

    In the book of Alias always remember these two words ‘At and ‘Tack ‘ I’ve yet to see a positive word from him re anybody in politics in NI or the Republic or the UK or USA . The semi conspiratorial world he seems to inhabit reminds me of both a Hungarian Jew a friend of mine(commenting on the state of the world ) who to this day maintains that his eyes don’t see what his ears are hearing and vice versa , and a German from Berlin who whenever asked was he from West or East Berlin maintains he was , is, and remains from South Berlin The man who was born in St Petersburg , went to school in Petrograd and college in Leningrad and died in St Petersburg over a lifespan of 90 years while living in the same house might justifiably ask was all the name changing worth it ?

    It was an old boast of the Dublin Fusiliers as related by the ‘Bugler Dunne’ at the battle/skirmish of Tugela River in Natal that the Dublin’s never retreated (until then anyway ). A strategic retreat has been known to change the course of many a battle and war . In fact had it not been for William the Conqueror’s strategic retreat on his left flank at a critical point at the Battle of Hastings Slugger the Times might look more like this

    And the football supporters at Stamford Bridge and White Hart Lane might sound more like this.

    But then Alias won his war a long time ago -several times in fact so the ‘attack ‘ ploy is now hard wired and beyond self correction .

    But to give him his due -he does provoke debate from some and may indeed enlighten others to a view of the world which they might otherwise not encounter ?

  • Alias

    The normal and moral position to hold is that mass murderers should be either rotting in prison or swinging from the end of a rope.

    The profoundly abnormal and amoral position to hold is that they belong in public office.

    Due to a sustained and effective propaganda campaign those who hold the abnormal position cannot fathom why anyone would hold the normal position. Indeed, they think there are no mass murderers in the equation or that if there are that for some unexplainable reason they shouldn’t be rotting in prison or swinging from the end of a rope.

    It’s a good example of how society’s moral system was turned upside down to accommodate mass murderers within its political system.

  • Alias,

    I don’t know where you live or where you might visit but if you’re ever in N.I. I guess you must shudder with righteous revulsion and indignation every time you pass some of the hundreds of thousands of people you consider to be fundamentally amoral.

  • Alias

    Well, Joe, brainwashing of the masses is nothing new – and one day it might even be possible to brainwash Canadians into thinking they actually have a culture and a national identity.

    Just because folks can be persuaded to vote for X or Y doesn’t mean that X or Y is the correct moral position. Democracy produces bums on seats, not truth. 😉

  • Alias,

    Your comment about Canadians is despicable and unwarranted and displays an amazing overweening arrogance. Totally uncalled for.

  • Alias

    Joe, stop shuddering with righteous revulsion and indignation. It’s unseemly, eh?

    What’s the difference between Canada and yogurt? Yogurt has its own culture.

  • George

    where do you feel the concrete ceiling is for Sinn Féin in votes percentage wise?

    I ask because I would not be surprised you previously thought (circa 2007) it lay in the 10-15% bracket but now they are constantly polling above that.

  • Charles_Gould

    Big drops in SF and Gerry Adams support in poll out tomorrow.

  • lamhdearg

    wishful thinking,inside information, pure speculation?. careful the last may get the mods thinking

  • Charles_Gould

    The poll out in the Sunday Times has already been reported.

  • Alias

    George, I’d put them at an absolute 20% tops with a ton of good fortune on the day but I don’t think they’ll ever get there (requiring 1 in 5 voters to give them a first preference). They were just under 10% in the 2011 general election, and the latest ST poll (that Charles linked to) has them at 15% support.

    Given that dissatisfaction with the government is at 59% and Labour’s support is 11% (they were just under 20% in the 2011 general election) plus the collapse of FF, the Shinners have failed to make any significant progress at a time when it should all be up for grabs for any party seen as offering a credible alternative. They’re not seen as offering a credible alternative because they don’t offer a credible alternative, and that’s the reality of it.

    Irish voters just aren’t concerned with propping-up the Shinners for the sake of ‘the process’ (pretending they have a working ‘republican strategy’) and nor do the tribal dynamics that apply in NI apply to voters here.

    Incidentally, didn’t Labour TD Emmet Stagg (a man of no value to politics whatsoever) recently say that TDs were paid a ‘pittance’ of 100k plus generous pension and expenses? That’s the kind of ‘socialist’ the Irish vote for…

  • Charles_Gould

    “Sinn Féin on 15% is down three percentage points.

    The period also followed a difficult time for Sinn Féin which included fallout from the Smithwick Tribunal.

    Of the party leaders, Enda Kenny at 44% is up 10 percentage points on the previous poll.

    Micheál Martin at 43% and Eamon Gilmore at 32% are each up six percentage points on last time.

    Gerry Adams at 33% is down *eight* points ”

    That’s a big fall for Gerry Adams.

  • Charles_Gould

    The other results of poll suggest FG-Lab government is earning rewards.

    “Fine Gael is at 30% (up five percentage points).

    Fianna Fail with 21% and Labour on 11% are unchanged while Sinn Féin on 15% is down three percentage points.

    Independents and others are at 24% – a drop of two percentage points – while the Green Party is on 3% .”

  • Charles_Gould

    ” most of the Nationalist population in particular the younger generation can’t see them seriously as an SF alternative . ”

    The SDLP Youth Wing is impressive.

    It will be interesting to see how SDLP do against the weak candidature of M Anderson in the upcoming Euros. Expect SF vote to fall.