[Updated] Sinn Féin behaves like the Tories in North and talks like Syriza in the Republic

To be fair, I nicked that headline from Derek Mooney, a former FF special advisor, so there is an evident and intended spin to it. And yet it contains more than just a grain of truth to it.

Having nearly collapsed the Assembly [Aye right! – Ed] Sinn Fein accepted the outline of a deal it had originally co-produced with the DUP with very little clear detail on what extra money would be forthcoming.

Courtesy of Gerry Moriarty in the Irish Times, Martin McGuinness was playing one of those eccentric word games SF is so fond of playing to suggest that somehow the tabling of amendments to the Welfare Bill was a case of dissident SDLP MLAs defying the party leader [Is that Gerry, or Al? – Ed].

“The SDLP dissidents are clearly now in charge of the party and are prepared to risk the collapse of the Stormont House Agreement – and thereby the power-sharing institutions themselves – for the sake of party political grandstanding,” he said.

[Aye right. – Ed] It’s called politics Martin. There’s no good reason why the Assembly should not table and debate Amendments, other than to run covering fire for, as Ulster Unionist Party MLA Roy Beggs put it, “the DUP shamefully ‘killing off discussion’ of the bill”.

Next, Niall Collins of Fianna Fail:

“Sinn Féin has stated its support for the bill which to date includes sweeping cuts to social welfare supports in Northern Ireland with no alleviating measures. They have not put forward any amendments to the bill,” he said.

Mr Collins said the “bill shows up the sheer hypocrisy of Sinn Féin on both sides of the Border”.

“The cuts to welfare in Northern Ireland flies in the face of what they have been calling for in the Republic. They haven’t even put forward amendments to the welfare bill before the Assembly.

“Estimates range from £130 million to £290 million per annum being cut from the welfare support in Northern Ireland. The proposed £70 million in alleviating funds has yet to be agreed,” he added.

Alasdair McDonnell…

“On the one hand, Gerry Adams announces that he wants to lead an anti-austerity government in the South, while Martin McGuinness tells us an austerity budget in the North is ‘the best deal possible’,” he said.

Dr McDonnell added: “Sinn Féin knows that the ground is slipping under them. The SDLP led on the National Crime Agency. The SDLP led on and opposed the budget. On welfare, the SDLP continues to hold the line for social justice and a fairer deal for those in need. Yet Sinn Féin baulked on the NCA, accepted an austerity budget and seeks to hide behind the DUP and their petitions of concern on key aspects of welfare reform.”

That’s populism for ya. The figures are smallish, and the fact is (as we reported faithfully when Sinn Fein was pretending otherwise) that given the macroeconomics there wasn’t much prospect of getting further concessions from Whitehall.

There is always the option of re-allocating budgets to Welfare from other parts of the block grant. The figures aren’t prohibitively huge and the kinds of safety net that even Tory councils in England (which lack Stormont’s direct control over Welfare) have long since put in place aren’t rocket science.

But it is clear that Sinn Fein lack the political will (or capital) to effect such concessions. Talk left, but lean to the right in government. It’s the tried and tested Irish way of doing politics. Make way for another pick and pick political franchise: there’s plenty of room for one more inside?

Adds: Excellent summation here from Sam McBride (who rarely falls asleep on the job), the parachute deal has sell by date:

although the Stormont House Agreement secured some more money for Stormont, it did not extract from the Government a single additional penny for welfare reform.

And most of the money which it moves across the Irish Sea is borrowed, with the largest loan of £700 million to be used to pay off public sector workers.

Rather than ‘stopping Tory cuts’, it is now increasingly apparent that what Sinn Fein actually secured in December was the agreement of the DUP to use some more of Stormont’s existing budget to top up the benefits of those who will lose money under the reforms.

In coming years, with an already shrinking Stormont budget, increased debt payments from increased borrowings and what are sure to be continued pressures on the NHS, the benefit top-up payments will be fighting with funding for hospitals, schools or the police.

Effectively, everything which Sinn Fein has secured for welfare claimants will come from other Stormont services.

Sinn Fein has pragmatically extracted the best deal which was possible from its perspective.

But that stance goes against two years of rhetoric which led some to believe that Sinn Fein would never allow welfare reform to pass.

So close to an election, this U-turn is either based on extraordinary confidence or desperation.

As Stephen Agnew noted in his contribution yesterday, re the bedroom tax (scroll down):

I am sorry to say this to Sinn Féin, but if that is what they signed up for, it is not what they committed to. Mr Maskey alluded to the previous petition of concern that three parties were going to sign and that would have stopped the bedroom tax. What we are being presented with is a five-year deferral. It is not the ending of the bedroom tax in Northern Ireland, but a deferral so that we can build more houses.

Is it what was promised: to ensure that the bedroom tax did not apply in Northern Ireland? No, because, right now, the Department for Social Development is ensuring that more one-bedroom houses are being built. It would not be doing that were it not for the intention to introduce the bedroom tax at a later stage. [Emphasis added]

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  • Tacapall

    ” It’s the tried and tested Irish way of doing politics”

    Come on Mick your pushing a flaw in human behaviour that is universal rather than autonomous. Only Irish politicians speak out of both sides of their mouths ? Remind us what Perfidious Albion means ?

  • aber1991

    Yes, Mr Fealty, all of what you have written is true. BUT, BUT, BUT Sinn Fein is still the party which my enemies hate most. I will be voting for Sinn Fein.

    As for Sinn Fein in Eire, the politics of Eire should be left to the people of Eire. If Eire politicians and journalists had any manners (which few of them have) they would refrain from passing any judgements on the oppressed Catholic people of Northern Ireland and on our elected representatives.

  • Nordie Northsider

    ‘Éire?’ What decade is this?

  • barnshee

    “Events my dear boy events” A (disputed) comment by Harold Macmillan to explain why political parties can be two faced

  • Practically_Family

    Again, I believe we need a great deal more clarity on the “discretionary fund” which is to help those affected by welfare cuts and exactly why awards from the fund are not to be considered welfare spending.

  • Ernekid

    Sinn Fein are just playing real politik managing their message to differing political conditions in each jurisdiction. The Labour Party are doing the same thing. Jim Murphy in Scotland sounds very different to Ed Miliband in London as he faces the massive competition of the SNP.

  • Tochais Siorai


  • Dec

    So FF, the party that bailed out the banks and their property developer mates, and passed the debts on to the people of Ireland are having a go at SF’s approach to financial matters now? Right, got it!

  • Kevin Breslin

    Real Politik in the South, I would agree … in the North they certainly are not.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Sinn Féin have been involved in expenses scandals north and south, expenses paid by the people of Ireland, north and south.

  • mickfealty

    Can’t get the ball so get the man, eh Dec? Betrays a little desperation, don’t you think? 😉

  • Dec

    Eh what? Having a laugh, Mick? Anyway we’ll see who’s desperate come election time? Prepare for more gnashing of teeth at Slugger Towers ;]

  • Tacapall

    Unlike the SDLP party leader who were expected to believe is on the side of the poor ? Are we expected this is the type of leader of a political party that would champion for affordable housing ?

    We could move on to his expenses next if you like ?

    McDONNELL, Dr Alasdair (Belfast South)

    2. Remunerated employment, office, profession etc
    Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Parliament
    Buildings, Stormont, Belfast (unpaid).
    (Updated 28 January 2014)
    Land and Property

    Smallholding/farm in Co Antrim, from which rental income is received.
    House in Belfast, from which rental income is received.
    Part-owner of Ormeau Health Centre and adjacent property, Lower Ormeau Road, Belfast, from which rental income is received. See category 9 below.

    Holiday house in Glenarriffe, Co Antrim, currentlybeing refurbished and from which renta income is not currently received
    Flat in London, from which rental income is received.

    (Registered 28 January 2014)
    9. Registrable shareholdings
    (a) Arrow Travel, Belfast.
    (a) Medevol (a small clinical trials company); shares sold December 2013.
    (Updated 28
    January 2014)
    (a) Ormeau Health Centre. See category 8 above.

  • mickfealty

    Mar is gnach, is cuma liom! Now, the ball? Or is this a tacit acceptance of Mooney’s rhetorical point?

  • Tacapall

    Note the Medevol link Kevin, a company that uses voters as human guinea pigs for the pharmaceutical industries in return for financial gain. Those same pharmaceutical industries who encourage us to inject into our bodies toxic compounds like Mercury to stop us getting the flu but in reality it works on only 3% of the population while the other 97% are poisoned.

    Sums up McDonnell perfectly a snakeoil salesman who would sacrifice his granny in order to accumulate more wealth.

    Seriously is this the type of person who should have power over our future ?

  • mickfealty

    What’s with all the whataboutery Tac?

  • mickfealty

    Another nice tautology there Morph. This is the very same deal the DUP (and Martin McGuinness) negotiated.

    So are you saying that they are acting like Tories? Or that they’re not because they waited two years to sign up to their own deal?

    PS, you read all of that here first, when you were arguing the other direction. 😉

  • Tacapall

    Is your article not about double standards Mick ?

  • Kevin Breslin

    That not an expenses list, that’s a declaration of interests. None of the money received here comes from the taxpayer and there a number of Sinn Féin land lords on the same document.

    If you want to call SDLP members out for non-drivers claiming travel expenses on petrol used or on excessive use of publically paid printer ink by all means.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I did, I also note that as of this year he’s no longer an unrenumerated shareholder in that clinical trials firm.

  • Tacapall

    So does that absolve him from investing in a company that uses human beings as guinea pigs for financial profit ?

  • Tacapall

    Yes I did make the point that we could move on to his expenses next Kevin. The point I was making is how can a multiple landlord be a champion of the poor and are you sure he doesn’t take taxpayers money just like the rest of the parasites ?

    Post up all you can find about Shinners Kevin I neither support them nor vote for them and to be honest I really dont see much difference between both your parties with the exception that the SDLP swear oaths of allegiance to some old woman who claims she owns half the world. The same old woman who represents the body (Crown) who your party claims want to remove from Ireland, the same crown who pays frpm taxpayers money your politicians wages and expenses, which is another word for opulent lifestyles.

  • tmitch57

    It is the typical use of Irish by the average Irishman–speaking or writing in English with the odd word of Irish thrown in to look authentically nationalist.

  • Kevin Breslin

    McDonnell was an unpaid shareholder, so he would get no financial profit. If you have evidence Medivol was illegally testing on human beings call the PSNI.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Dec brought up the issue not me, I was clarifying and defending my statement.

  • Neil

    The shinners had two options in the north: pass welfare reform or bring the institutions down. The situation here is very different to the situation in the south. Here we are given a chunk of money to slice and dice and do what we can with. Voters know that. In the south they will obviously have more options open to them, and the voters know that too.

    Now some people, Pete for example, would probably make much of the partitionist thinking that may lead the shinners to behave differently in two jurisdictions, but then applying a one size fits all approach to two different situations to avoid the partitionist tag would be an utterly stupid thing to do. Different problems require different solutions. Again the voters are aware.

    Basically the only people who are going to attach much importance to the divergent approaches north and south – necessitated by the different problems and tools available north and south – are the kind of anoraks that think anyone who says the words “Northern Ireland” must be a true blue loyal son of ulster. Those kind of people are dying out.

    And to Dr Dull, if we were to do a balance sheet and guess the effect of his various statements I would probably think of them something along the lines of:

    Pro life – net effect negative, those middle class Catholics and agnostics I think are more pro choice.
    Resistance to welfare reform – as has been thrashed out on this site many times (only usually in reference to SF when their stance was the same as that of the SDLP) pissing in the wind effectively, so no one is going to care about what they would do if they were in a different situation to the one they are failing to deal with.
    NCA – net effect zero – Most people don’t care, those that do are probably fairly evenly split.

    Roll on the election and we can measure the effects, but I fear from Slugger’s perspective, disappointment approaches. If the SDLP manage to hold steady they’ll be doing well.

    As an aside I note (anyone remember Charles Gould?) that the SDLP decided to swerve a meeting to deal with Raymond McCreesh playpark after having made much of their regret at the naming of the park in the first place. Read: The SDLP were instrumental in the naming of the park, then had a change of heart when it was too late and the heat came on so begged forgiveness, finally when faced with the opportunity to get it renamed they sloped off like the cowards they are. “Hey baby, I’m the SDLP and I’ll be whatever you want me to be”. Their moral superiority is an illusion.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Neil, the only disappointment Slugger could get from this election is if it were called off. Westminster elections are this site’s bread and butter. If the election comes and the DUP win two or three more seats what odds is it to this site? More to complain about.

  • hugh mccloy

    The first port of call if SHA was not made would have been an election

  • Tacapall

    Kevin wheres the part about McDonnell being an unpaid shareholder ? Was he not paid for the shares he sold ? Where did I say that Medevol was testing drugs on human beings illegally ? Are you just making this stuff up ?

  • Dec

    Kev, you appear to be equating virtually bankrupting a country and saddling its citizens with a lifetime of debt with the over-claiming of expenses for some offices. Good for you.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Didn’t Sinn Féin vote for the banker’s bailout at the time? perhaps there was a common ignorance.

  • Barneyt

    At last, some clarity. The glaring point here is that we are not comparing like for like. SF in government in the north could not practice as they would in the republic, even if they take office in the republic. Whilst we should flush out hypocrisy, especially if there is a dogmatic conflict across the border, we should realise that government and being in power in the north is very different. There is always the threat of collapse, followed by direct rule. We cant even have a governmentoppostion based government, so we should hold SF to account, but on like for like scenarios.

  • New Yorker

    If SF have a policy in the North and an opposite policy in the South then they effectively have given up on unification, but they won’t say so.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    nationalists don’t say “Eire”, even the Irish speaking ones.

  • nigel mckinney

    what are you talking about and whats your problem?

    that drugs are tested on people? Where do you think drugs for use on people should be ultimately tested? I’m curious

    that people are paid for participating in drugs tests? I can see some basis for concern there – but are there willing volunteers not be paid and as I understand it , its pretty tedious work deserving of some recompense

    that mercury in the flu vaccine causes it not to work in 97% of people – i thought it was due to the fact that the antigens in this year’s vaccine didnt include those from a more recent strain – no?

    and that these are reasons to criticise McDonnell? There’s plenty of reasons I wouldnt want him in power – not least his own attacks om medical science last week – but his role in the international pharmaceutical isnt one

  • Superfluous

    We watched every commentator accuse Sinn Fein of intransigence over not signing up to welfare reform, now the very same people are coming out with shouts of ‘hypocrisy’. How tiresomely predictable.

    P.S I’m not a fan of either Sinn Fein or Syriza’s anti-austerity populism.

  • puffen

    At some stage this debt is going to be paid for, and at sixty years of age I would rather pay for it, rather than my children or my grandchildren, should not the children of the nation unborn not be cherished.

  • Jay

    “Implement welfare reform SF, prove you can make hard economic choices SF”
    “Oh no SF! Why did you implement those reforms, now the poor are going to suffer SF!”

    Its an odd one, when a single party are getting them blame for both implementing and not implementing change.
    Can anyone explain that for me?

  • puffen

    Is it morally correct to take money and spend it and take it from those who are not yet born?

  • puffen

    i work in the the health service, and take from me, there are a lot of work shy in both communities screwing the system

  • puffen

    so shinners do not like people who are grafters !

  • Gingray

    Good points Morpheus – I think the Micky has a slight anti sinn fein agenda, tho I may be wrong.

    The Tories want to cut for ideological purposes. I don’t think sinn fein act like they want to cut, so the premise of this post is incorrect.

    I do think sinn fein are being dishonest in how they portray this. Rather than saying it’s a good deal, admit it’s a fairly pants one, but that they tried. Ya win some ya lose some, the realities of being in coalition locally and funded by Westminster is that other agendas will trump their own.

  • puffen

    Correct, they want a public sector in the North, which the South could never pay for, that is why there will never be a United Ireland , we are on the gravy train lol

  • Tacapall

    Yes some drugs are tested on people who arte desperate and they get paid forallowing themselves to be tested with them them while sometimes other drugs are passed on to doctors to test out on patients, like generic type drugs and the person recieving them are not paid nor told they are being used as guinea pigs.

    Im sure it is tedious work and im sure there are people out there who are very ill and have no choice but to test out new drugs in an effort to cure their ills, but people donig that for no reason other than wanting to do it. Hard to believe

    I didn’t indicate that mercury caused the flu jab not to work in this years vaccine. I indicated that Mercury is a toxic substance that is added to the flu jab. All flu jabs work on only around 3% of the people who take it every year so 97% are poisioned with chemicals and compounds that do them more harm than good.

    Yes they are reasons to critise McDonnell, they might not be your reasons but who cares what you think. im simply telling the truth about a so called doctor who even though doen’t believe the bullshit that comes out of his own mouth he brushes that fact under the carpet and pretends otherwise in order to gain a few votes.

  • mickfealty

    As near as damnit. All you’ve done is borrow money which will slowly eat other services. All about the avoidance of short term pain, by crippling services in the longer term.

    Talk left, act right.

  • mickfealty

    I ask again tac, what’s with all this whataboutery? (I won’t post the link to our glossary, since I’m sure you’ve read it many times before)…

    The subject is SF’s projection of radicalism and its, well, Mooney says conservatism, but I don’t think it is that, it’s more its lack of agency in government.

    Arguing that it’s critics aren’t fit to tie their bootlaces is a legitimate feeling, but it does not address the question.

  • mickfealty

    How does any of that relate to SF’s late capitulation to it’s own co-negotiated reform package? Let me help you, it doesn’t.

    You’ll be waving wee pieces of paper in a TV studio next. 😉

  • barnshee

    “In coming years, with an already shrinking Stormont budget, increased debt payments from increased borrowings and what are sure to be continued pressures on the NHS, the benefit top-up payments will be fighting with funding for hospitals, schools or the police.

    Effectively, everything which Sinn Fein has secured for welfare claimants will come from other Stormont services.”

  • Tacapall

    Point taken about the whataboutery.

    Mick im not trying to be smart here but have you not got your own abject agenda regarding Sinn Fein and while I do agree with most of what you say regarding Sinn Fein it is glaring that that same focus seems not to cross the floor to the SDLP and its actions. Imagine if thousands of pounds worth of cannabis was found in a home belonging to Gerry Adams, honestly do you think there would have been charges ? The SDLP are supposedly a nationalist party who believe in the reunification of Ireland and the removal of the crown from these shores but its actions betray a different agenda. Could you imagine Gerry Adams boasting “Sinn Fein led on the National Crime Agency” a British home office controlled British security agency that supposedly is in place to stop child abuse among other things but where were they in Rotherham or maybe they never heard of the Westminster peadophile ring. Then the human trafficking, I dont think it was any criminal gang other than the British who allowed Romanian street beggars, all those Chinese drug pushers, Polish drug dealers and various other European criminal gangs into this country not forgetting all those criminal elements from former British colonies who murder and rape vunerable women in our society. No thats all thanks to the British and now we’re supposed to believe all will be well now that we have another British crime agency to introduce more British home office controlled agent provocateurs on Irish streets. Be honest would this site not castigate Sinn Fein for the betrayal of the principles it claims to hold dearly.

    What is there to say about Sinn Fein strategy in the six counties other than its, under no circumstances collapse the assembly, build friendships and bonds with unionists and loyalists even if that means doing things that would be considered totally opposite of republican ideals like kowtowing to a monarch take part in British elections, rubber stamp British policy, become the largest party, become first minister and hold out until Sinn Fein in the 26 counties who will act the opposite to Sinn Fein in the 6 counties become the government. Its machiavellian but in their eyes the ends justify the means.

  • Tacapall

    Do you mean lots of work shy people from both communities employed by the health service ?

  • mickfealty

    Believe me, I’m not. None of these details you’re repeating here address the problem being discussed. We’ve had these conversations before and I have been at pains to point out that this (or something like it) was the best deal possible.

    Your response is always to quote more material, previously about what was wrong with this deal, and now what’s right about it.

    The core of the politics here is that only SF (and the SDLP) have been suggesting otherwise. Lesson: populism works at the ballot box, but it doesn’t leave you much to work with when it comes to government.

  • mickfealty

    Look, it’s tough in politics. I take my hat off to SF for everything they’ve achieved in politics north and south, but I cannot pass counterfeit political posturing and just casually let it go.

    I hope I’m fair in voicing my views on these matters, but no one is helped by looking the other way.

  • barnshee

    Politicians are disingenuous and two faced –whoda thunk it

  • mickfealty

    What mitigation? The details, I mean or don’t you have those?

  • kensei

    Sorry, i’m lost here. Perhaps yo could help me out.

    1. SF got the best deal possible
    2. SF got the best deal possible because they don’t have control of the purse strings, the Treasury does and they proved conclusively, there was limited value to fighting. This is not the rules the game is played in the Republic.
    3. SF got 5 mitigation schemes for the vulnerable
    4. Those schemes will eat other services, but they decided to
    pay the cost to help the vulnerable
    5. Or they didn’t?

    Lost. Better question: what is the “left wing” alternative you believe SF should have been following? Do you believe that SF has to rationale react to partition by acting differently in different jurisdictions while they remain in place or do you believe they should go for the anarchy option? I mean, you could, sell on me that I just want a clear idea of what you think the alternative is.

  • barnshee

    “In coming years, with an already shrinking Stormont budget, increased debt payments from increased borrowings and what are sure to be continued pressures on the NHS, the benefit top-up payments will be fighting with funding for hospitals, schools or the police.

    Effectively, everything which Sinn Fein has secured for welfare claimants will come from other Stormont services.”

  • babyface finlayson

    “All flu jabs work on only around 3% of the people who take it every year ”

    Any studies to back that up?

  • Kevin Breslin

    You cannot sell unrenumerated shares, ask any legal worker or financial worker you want. If you have any evidence he’s done so call the police.

  • hugh mccloy

    its not so much that a single party is getting the blame, every other party showed their hand before and we all knew what they were going to do. SF on the other hand played the anti card and then accepted making them very easy targets.

    This is not like 1998 or 2006, people across the country are far more aware of what is happening politically

  • Neil

    Followed by what Hugh, in reality where another election returns more or less the same result? Either a) take the money we are given and divide it out, b) collapse the institutions or c) do what the SDLP would do which is..? Take it away Hugh.

  • Neil

    Of course. In retrospect they can at least claim to have taken that approach with some kind of game plan in mind. It’s a u turn but a forgiveable one if it means they can mitigate some aspects of WR…

  • hugh mccloy

    Ask the people of Greece and Iceland what difference an election made in the face of crunching austerity packages, or are we completely immune to real politics in N Ire

    Syriaza came in and removed a government in Greece like the current corrupt Stormont one, anything could have happened with public confidence at all time low in the establishment parities of SF/DUP.

  • chrisjones2

    ” it works on only 3% of the population while the other 97% are poisoned.”

    Doh because the virus mutates in the meatime. You really dont understand the basics of science do ypou

  • chrisjones2

    “the person receiving them are not paid nor told they are being used as guinea pigs.”

    Give me an example of that in the UK Ireland or EU?

    And at what level Mercury toxic? Do you know?

    Are you aware for example that water is toxic of you drink enough of it? Should we now ban water?

    ” that do them more harm than good.”


  • chrisjones2

    Thats just a racist rant and perhaps even more of those romanians poles etc whom you seem to fear so much may eventually end up in Ireland too

  • chrisjones2

    So how do you test the drugs then?

    What do allege he has done that is wrong – as opposed to what your nonsensical ‘scientific’ views don’t agree with

  • chrisjones2

    …and meantime get a good lawyer