“Sinn Fein needs to think carefully about a choice in which it offers no perfect alternative…”

Of all the three stadia earmarked for improvement and renewal only the one serving Sinn Fein’s own base community has failed to even commence. The Minister at DCAL has insisted (and she may well be right) that she will be able to ring-fence that money until current problems are resolved.

But what should give her and other serious concern is what is likely to happen to her overall budget if her party leaders threat to refuse to sign off on a budget and instead all budgetary decisions are consigned to very civil servants Martin McGuinness once boasted he would put manners on?

Liam Clarke’s analysis suggests the party’s tactical meanderings in Northern Ireland have landed it in a position where its political hands are tied:

Sinn Fein’s last minute document on welfare reform took the unrealistic option. We all know that the party is preparing for great things in the Republic. It wants to be in government in 2016 and its main platform is resisting austerity. For that reason it doesn’t want to be seen to be imposing cuts and extra taxes here.

It is also keeping a weather eye on the SDLP, which is taking a similarly unbending line in an effort to outflank it.

Compromising might be hard for Sinn Fein to explain. Yet it may have an even harder job if the Assembly collapses due to its inability to balance a budget or compromise on a spending issue. That makes it a very poor candidate for coalition in the South, especially if violence and street protests fill the vacuum.

Referencing the Taoiseach’s harsh words at leaders questions the other day, Liam notes Adams’ defence that the party

…was merely pursuing its established policy of protecting the vulnerable, but that may not wash with everyone who votes for it, especially if trouble starts.

Sinn Fein needs to think very carefully about its choice, which offers no perfect alternative. Politics, the democratic form in any case, is the art of the possible, where you achieve what you can with the resources and partners available.

You don’t protect the vulnerable by forcing your opponents to cut even deeper into welfare budgets than if you had taken action yourself. In the Taoiseach’s words from Tuesday, “responsibility was sought, responsibility was devolved, and responsibility is not being accepted…”

Similarly Ms Ni Chulain may be able to hold on to the Casement cash, but deadlock (significantly with a subsection of her party’s own voters) doesn’t even get Antrim GAA the modest county level upgrade it so desperately needs and deserves.

And the ramifications cascade onwards. Without a new Casement there will be no little NI participation in any future Rugby World Cup. The kiboshing of the Maze (or any other shared site) made it our last second card. So too the opportunities for local economic renewal (which DCAL have been exceptionally poor at selling) in building a high regional grade sporting asset.

With Ravenhill delivered, Windsor on the way but Casement interminably delayed, it’s a pattern that suggests the party’s maximite demands away are leading to minimal delivery at home. Surely even Sinn Fein, in it’s own almost fanatically loyal political parish, cannot afford to discount the long term effects of inaction on their own base?

And deeper post March cuts in welfare will hurt their base much more than almost anyone else’s.

  • Dan

    Why does Antrim GAA ‘deserve’ anything?

    They’ve been selfish, self centred and entirely devoid of any honour whatsoever throughout the decade long stadium debacles….add that to their questionable indifference to concerns about who they support, name trophies and clubs after and their complete failure to demonstrate their association is a sport ‘for all’, the idea that they deserve anything whatsoever is farcical.
    The money should be returned to the pot.

  • Ernekid

    Sinn Fein will do pretty well in any upcoming elections, The SDLP are totally moribund and offer no real competition within Nationalism. People are still going to turn out and vote Sinn Fein, as they are the default Nationalist voice.

    I don’t think the Casement decision will have any long term damage to Sinn Fein but it’s a body blow to Ulster GAA.

  • barnshee

    Its all coming out of the block grant
    Money on Stadia will come from Health Education etc
    Add up the books any way you like lads the answer is the same

  • Paul Devlin

    Clarke states “Sinn Fein needs to think very carefully about its choice, which offers
    no perfect alternative. Politics, the democratic form in any case, is
    the art of the possible”. No alternative or indeed any option or political stance is perfect. As the old Muslim saying goes “only Allah is perfect”. Sinn Fein aren’t collapsing anything. Basically the British are holding a gun to the head of Stormont (and Mr Spencer got it wrong in his cartoon) and saying ‘hurt the poor to subsidise business or the assembly gets it’. That’s no choice at all for a leftist party

  • mickfealty

    Nail on head EK. It’s also a function of human nature, where there’s little or no competition people get complacent, incompetent, promoted above their abilities. Whatever internal worries SF have about the SDLP it’s not a threat of anything that might come from that quarter.

  • mickfealty

    A party of the left might be expected to have some policies. Rather we have a series of talking points which fizzle out upon contracting actual executive power. That’s where the Magic thinking kicks in.

  • chrisjones2

    especially if violence and street protests fill the vacuum

    Which might show they were not fit for democratic Governmnet unless they unequovically condemn

  • chrisjones2

    Carol’s being disengenuous. The.The money is approved for the life of the project.If the planning fails there is no project

  • Practically_Family

    Planning decision has now been quashed.

  • Dan

    £5million already wasted by these clowns.
    Send the bill to sdlp and Sinn Fein.

  • mickfealty

    FFS!! Bow doors wide open as Nick Ridley once infamously said.

  • sean treacy

    Ex Stick Liam Clarke urging SF to implement welfare cuts.Blueshirt Enda demanding austerity in the North .How do the Stoops view their Freestate allies urging welfare cuts up here?Or is it alright as long as SF are the only ones being attacked?

  • chrisjones2

    the default Nationalist voice.

    That seems to suggest that the worst things the Unionists say about Catholics are right. I feel you do our fellow citizens a gross disservice

  • aber1991

    “that to their questionable indifference to concerns about who they support, name trophies and clubs after and their complete failure to demonstrate their association is a sport ‘for all’, the idea that they deserve anything whatsoever is farcical.”
    Why should gaelic football and hurling be “sports for all”? People play those games to enjoy themselves. Why should members of the GAA agree to any development which would reduce their enjoyment of those games.
    You seem to be insinuating that Catholics should pay tax to subsidise Protestant games like rugby, soccer, hockey and cricket while receiving no assistance for their own games.

  • aber1991

    Just as the worst things Catholics say about Protestants are right.

  • aber1991

    Leave it to Catholics to decide who represents us in government.

  • Fraggle

    I disagree. SF have nothing tangible to offer the tax payer in the country. Unfortunately, there are only 1 million tax payers and 2 million living of those 1 million.