“Sinn Féin’s purported defence of social welfare recipients will play well to their galleries”

Noel Whelan in his Irish Times column notes a cooling in Washington towards the leader of the Sinn Fein this week:

…there was a sense that Gerry Adams was feted and focused on less during this year’s St Patrick’s festivities and exchanges than in previous years. The situation with his on/off/on again meeting with the US state department reflects not so much a wariness about engaging with him in light of recent events but rather a weariness with Northern Ireland politics in the current US administration, and indeed in much of Irish America.

There was a sense of going through the motions in public utterances about Northern Ireland in both New York and Washington. Many pleasantries were uttered about being supportive of ongoing efforts to “bed down the agreements” and being anxious and available to help.

The reaction of most American politicos and Irish-American voices privately when they heard about another round of crisis talks in Stormont this week was along the lines “is that not done?” and “we thought that was all sorted”. They just hoped Northern Ireland politicians would get over themselves and get on with it.

This post-peace-process fatigue is not confined to that side of the Atlantic. In Northern Ireland itself, voters are bemused by the Stormont antics. In the Republic, people are just bored by it.

That indifference is reflected both in the research, and in falling turnout (which, coincidentally or not, is falling disproportionately faster on the nationalist side).

Perhaps it is that – to quote Ian Paisley Junior (as was) – people (bar the odd bought and paid for hack) are not that impressed with “clever tricks and cunning plans”.  Certainly, as Whelan notes, last week’s reverse ferret had Washington flummoxed:

Sinn Féin claims not to have appreciated that payments to existing recipients of some welfare payments to offset the impact of welfare cuts would not also be made available to new claimants.

It doesn’t say much for their famed negotiation skills, let alone their capacity to work powersharing or agree coalition government, that they left that unclear. It is not exactly a detail of fine print.

Yes, and well, there was the little Dublin South West problem to keep in order [Ah, so that’s why Paul Murphy was up in Belfast supporting the Unions last Friday? – Ed]. And a little bait and switch always helps keep things simple.

Whelan concludes that the switch will play well to the party’s base, north and south. For populists the world over, what you say going into an election may be absolutely no reflection of what you mean to do afterwards..

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  • Ulick

    “Noel Whelan in his Irish Times column notes a cooling in Washington towards the leader of the Sinn Fein this week”

    Funny that. Eugene McEldowney didn’t seem to detect it, though it did detect a certain amount of hostility from southern Ireland based journalists, such as ermm, Noel Whelan…


    Whatever takes your fancy Mick.

  • chrisjones2

    The big problem for the Shinners is not just Stormont House (or more now Stormont Hovel perhaps) – its the UK Budget published this week.

    We are looking at anther 4 + years of Austerity which will cut budgets further and further. Even if LAbour get in (and that is unlikely) the SF stance on welfare is therefore a fantasy

    At some time even the electorate has to grow up and realise that sadly the tooth fairy passed away many years ago

  • pearse mcaleese

    more of the same anti sinn fein ,from the irish independant,sluggero otoole!! mick does your hate or maybe its fear of us,know no bounds???give it up!!!

  • Glenn Clare

    The shinners/provos good at street politics bad at realpolitik.

  • barnshee

    Its not just a problem for the Shinners

  • chrisjones2

    Agreed but they are making a fetish of it

  • chrisjones2

    give it up!!!

    ie no criticism allowed no matter how many lies SF tell or rapes they cover up

    Come on Pearse. Give it up for us. Do you support what your party and their associates did in the rape cases? Do you think it was right that rapists were free to rape again?

  • chrisjones2

    Read the statement from State.

    No access at senior level until the problem is resolved. The egg on Gerrys face wasn’t of the Cadbury Cream variety

    Perhaps he can ask the trampolining dog for advice?

  • barnshee

    Stormont is a racket to divert taxpayers money into various groupings on both sides of the divide. It is a nest of vultures with open mouths who only exist because of the nest`s existance. Stormont,sadly, is safe too many mouths depending on its existance for it to fold.

  • mickfealty

    Nothing like (another) bait and switch to put the dogs off the scent, eh U?!

    Eugene’s is a colour piece, not analysis. Besides, I bow to no one in my admiration of the machine Ulick.

    I’ve seen Gerry in action live at the St Patrick’s day breakfast in Boston, and no one comes near to his raw popularity with an Irish American audience.

    Washington, that’s differ matter. Gerry has his fans there too, who will drop everything at a moments notice to provide him with a covering photo op.

    But the attempt to game State was blatant (as was the no show for the SHA and at the White House) and won’t have increased his popularity in official quarters.

    But I have no doubt Whelan’s account is both an accurate and truthful one. If you want to challenge that, be my guest.

  • mickfealty

    You are new here Pearse. We both encourage and embrace strong criticism, but do check out the rules: http://goo.gl/OWMzUk.

  • Tacapall

    Chris you should direct that question to your masters on the other side of the pond across the Irish sea or maybe even all those unionist politicians who are quite happy to keep quiet and see the Kincora scandal kept neatly brushed under the carpet. Why do you think the British refuse to include it with the far reaching, judge led UK child abuse inquiry, is this part of the world now not part of the UK ?

    By the way is it only Sinn Fein voters that receive welfare payments ? Will all those protestant welfare recipients gladly do without, gladly and without question accept they must do without in order that wealthy and powerful people can use taxpayers money to fund countless expensive historic inquiries into their own cover ups, their own wrongdoings and their own turning a blind eye to all kinds of perverted behaviour rather than admit Sinn Fein is the only party that seems to be fighting their corners regarding their special needs.

  • largely true barnshee, but there could be a bit of a shake-up ahead.

    Mick’s earlier post referred to steadily reducing voter turnout. I suspect that could be partly down to the fact that most people are reconciled to the fact that the national question is settled for a while to come…so what’s the point in bothering to go out and vote for someone who’s only offer relates to the national question?

    Moving on from that, we’ve got the pain of austerity measures coming. Add to this the reduction in the block grant that will accompany any devolution of corporation tax. Combine the two, you’ve got some pretty hard times ahead. And I think that when things start to get really brutal, that’s when Joe Public is finally going to start demanding their public representatives stop posturing, and actually deliver something.

    Playparks and Flegs don’t put food on the table.

  • chrisjones2

    ” your masters on the other side ”

    I have no masters anywhere thank you. Read some of what I say about the Brits as well as politicians here. I fear that you make the mistake in assuming that your personal views are so intrinsically right that anyone who disagrees must be a charlatan or fool or in the pay of whomever you think runs the New World Order. Sometimes they just have a different view. Sometimes they are just more objective or much better informed.

    “see the Kincora scandal kept neatly brushed under the carpet”

    You seem obsessed by Kincora. I have already said that I think it should be part of the national UK investigation / inquiry as perhaps should the murder of poor Brian McDermott which has never been solved

    “Why do you think the British refuse to include it”

    Most probably Home Office insularity. They dont give a stuff about anything over here so why should they spend English money on it. Its that simple

    “is it only Sinn Fein voters that receive welfare payments ?”

    No not at all and I want to see all people who NEED welfare get it and get more where it will do good and we can afford it. I also want the system cleaned up. Again, I suggest reading what I have posted repeatedly on this issue

    At the same time I recognise the economic reality that the UK faces and that we will have budget cuts on a huge scale and have to live within our means. Thats life. You dont like it? I suggest you try prayer or getting elected to Westminster. Both will be equally useless in changing UK macro economics

    “wealthy and powerful people can use taxpayers money to fund countless expensive historic inquiries into their own cover ups,”

    So are you for or agin these? Its not terribly clear

    “Sinn Fein is the only party that seems to be fighting their corners”

    OH dear. You seem to have swallowed the propaganda pill.This is real politik. SF is positioning itself to harvest the votes of the gullible. It signs up to Stormont House then disowns it as it claims it was misled. The reality is that there isnt enough money to pay for everything so what do you want? Welfare reform or health or Historic Enquiries or Roads or Development? Take your pick ….there are hard choices to be made on all our behalfs and SF is unable to make them

  • chrisjones2

    I always thought vultures were much more attractive and had a useful role in the ecosystem

  • barnshee

    “By the way is it only Sinn Fein voters that receive welfare payments ? ”

    I think you may find PARTof the answer to that in ( amongst others) the DLA stats -try West Belfast and then West of the Bann
    Then try stats on family size -where (unless I am wide of the mark) state funding is closely related to family size

  • Glenn Clare

    Yes indeed vultures do have a roll they are carrion and clear up the dead. However our vultures their ex-prisoners and community activists eat the flesh of the living. Putting bread on their tables by taking it form the real hard pressed people.

    Holiday homes for some, and a hard up home for others. The others are not as equal as the former players.

  • mickfealty

    Have you heard it has been resolved Tac? It won’t be, but SF will be credited for making a noise about it. That’s the key import of Whelan’s analysis above. #EatCake. 😉

  • Practically_Family

    The SF stance on welfare is win/win for SF.

    Anything bad that happens is “the Brits” fault.

  • Tacapall

    Thats such a long rabble to just say yeah I know but I’d rather just point out the sins of the Shinners.

  • Tacapall

    West Belfast, now doesn’t that also include the loyalist Shankill Road too ?

  • Tacapall

    Of course its resolved, the problem for Sinn Fein was the SDLP not acting in their usual reactionary manner by not siding once again with unionists and implement the bill, leaving Sinn Fein the opening to finish them off electorally. Playing to the gallery in politics is a well worn unionist game having it thrown back in your face must be bitter for some elements.

  • Deke Thornton

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-31988225, Looks like the can is being kicked to after the election in hope of more money, desperate stuff.

  • Niall Noígíallach

    You two want to get out for a pint and enjoy yourselves lads. All political stuff aside, yous are in desperate need of it judging by this site

  • Niall Noígíallach

    Why don’t you show us the West Belfast stats then lad?

  • mickfealty

    That was a serious question Tac. And the answer is no, it’s not fixed yet. Nor is it likely to be. But it’s the optics rather than substance that matters. #EatMoreCake

  • Niall Noígíallach

    “Most probably Home Office insularity. They dont give a stuff about anything over here so why should they spend English money on it. Its that simple”


    You’re a unionist aren’t you mate?

  • chrisjones2

    Yes but I recognise the Home Office culture. So what? the Home Office isn’t the UK and one of the advantages to living in a democracy is th right to challenge ones Government, kitten heeled or not

  • Niall Noígíallach

    Is it really just the Home Office who think like that though? Out of interest, how do you go about recognising “Home Office culture”

  • Tacapall

    Its not fixed yet nor is it likely to be, you believe Stormont will collapse for good ? Well it depends who needs who and what most and at this point in time Sinn Fein dont need Stormont they can quite happily talk to the British government in the not too distant future from the other side of the table, minus the unionists, as members of the Irish government. Like you said eatmorecake

  • Tacapall

    “”Most probably Home Office insularity. They dont give a stuff about anything over here so why should they spend English money on it. Its that simple”

    Or, which is the more likely, covering up for powerful people, like former Tory British Prime Minister Ted Heath and Lord Mountbatten, like Theresa May said, the British public will have to, well, eat humble pie and accept that the British establishment and its institutions were not as transparent, upright, democratic or could be classed as a shining example of virtue and moral goodness to the rest of mankind.

  • barnshee

    “Why don’t you show us the West Belfast stats then lad?”

    Happy to

    “As our interactive map above shows, the north and west of Northern Ireland and Belfast are said to be the areas which should brace themselves for the biggest financial impact.”

    Some detail? try


    Family size?



    I think its clear where the majority of expenditure lies

  • barnshee

    “West Belfast, now doesn’t that also include the loyalist Shankill Road too ?”

    According to the 2011 census West Belfast has some 95000 residents of whom some 15000 are protestants, It would appear that the welfare costs for the area would be ahem a little one sided


  • pearse mcaleese

    chris the catholic church had multiable rapists in their ranks and i never head any off you on here complaining day and daily for their arrests or imprisonment.Is Sinn Fein such a threat to you all that it warrants your cuntinued bombardment?I guess it could also be taken as a endorsement to Sinn Fein,they must be doing something right if they have you rattled to such an extent!!!

  • mickfealty

    Collapse would be bad for business all round. So no.

  • Zeno

    “Playparks and Flegs don’t put food on the table.”

    They aren’t intended to. There are there to put votes on the table while there are still enough intellectually challenged people to fall for it.

  • Robin Keogh

    There is literally not one and I mean NOT ONE southern journalist currently with anything good to say about us Shinners at the moment so I think we can dispense with paranoid feelings and just accept the fact that the system has truly gone into overdrive heeding INM’s public call for politicians and the media alike to unite in an effort to defeat Sinn Fein. Noel is only too willing to oblige but in fairness he is not completely wrong. The cold house of the Southern Political and Media establishment was well represented in Washington, actually I was amazed that the organizers didnt agree to move Gerry away from Enda for the lunch. Part of diplomacy is pandering to your guests predicaments and given Enda and Gerrys stormy relationship its not unusual that efforts were made to try make Adams feel second rate. Of course, its another waste of time, Gerry, Enda and anybody else who is truly concerned about what the Americans think of SF have only to take a look at the Party’s bank balance to see what their standing is. Welfare issues will be sorted in due course, it sticks in the craw of SF opponents that the party seems to be able to stick to its guns when all others just roll over and take a spanking. It suits the deniers to believe its a pandering to the southern electorate but silently they realise that SF have the courage of their convictions. A corrupt media (INM) will never change that.

  • mickfealty

    I agree you don’t have many friends in the Irish media. Some of those you have had have also parted company over party policy when it switches to something they consider to be beyond the pale.

    Whilst complaining about what is in effect an increased level of media scrutiny (of often grave matters like child sex abuse and financial corruption) don’t you also have to ask yourself why?

    Yes, I get the fear thing. And the innate conservatism of corporate media is also very real too. I’ve said from the start that SF’s rise may usefully shake things up and that that may play its part in a national renewal.

    Isn’t this a transition from attractive fringe party to one with credible ambitions to take power. It is only a recent development outside of the Sindo who have always viewed the party as a dedicated enemy of the Republic.

    For the most part the Irish media has concentrated most of its ire on the government, and the previous government parties. SF has had a relatively easy ride (in the way UKIP has in the UK).

    Now as the reality of a SF led government edges closer to the Overton Window people are taking a closer look and not just at those famously DoF costed budget proposals.

  • Granni Trixie


    You just need be new to Slugger if you are not aware that the Church’s culture of denial and silencing has been well and truly discussed over the years. Besides, what’s whaabiutery got to do with anything? Why would a SF supporter take their standards as regards sexual abuse from the Churches?

  • Robin Keogh

    I actually understand the quandry for some of the media. The sensitivities around sexual assault on this Island are very raw given the tragic revelations across the board. Nobody wants to be seen off gaurd when it comes to making people accountable so attacks are to expected, justified or not. Nobody in the Irish media wants to be seen to be soft on the Shinners in this regard even though most of them know that the party is opposed to such crimes just as much as any other party and there is no conscience policy of cover up amongst the party or the ten thousand members. In any event it seems the recent attack is passing but God alone knows what INM have up their sleave next. Of course the positive in all of this is that we are all on our gaurd, waiting for the next assault and unsurprised by the lies and exaggerations, we are – to a man – ready to fight back on all fronts, united all the way. I have said before, if a corrupt media organisation like INM think they will destroy SF they are sorely mistaken, they are right to fear us, in governemnt INM ill lose their privilaged position and Denis O Brien will pay his debts. I have to admit this is a very enriching learning curve, i spoke to a Shinner Counselor recently and she was saying that the constant attacks mean that u have to research a lot of info and figure out whats going right or wrong pretty quickly. Most party’s foot soldiers nevr have to bother much avbout such things so in many ways INM are doing us a favour. For me at least, I can wait as long as it takes to see the smile wiped off Denis O Briens face….in fact, it makes it all worthwhile.

  • Robin

    I have to admit this is a very enriching learning curve, i spoke to a Shinner Counselor recently and she was saying that the constant attacks mean that u have to research a lot of info and figure out whats going right or wrong pretty quickly.

    That’ll make a change. But if you don’t ask, you can’t tell, right?

    Did Conor Murphy do the research? Or was it Peadar Tóibín.

    I have no doubt that in the IRA modus operandi of the time that people were moved. And even in the situation you told us of, the family in County Louth who suffered abuse, it was clear that that’s exactly what happened with the abuser.

    And as we’ve noted here on Slugger.

    In fact there is a marked reluctance from anyone in any part of Sinn Fein to ask any hard questions about his own personal conduct in this serious case…

    Here’s a typical response about Liam Adams’ Sinn Féin activity in Andersonstown from Gerry Kelly on The Politics Show in Jan 2010

    “Let’s be logical about this. If Gerry Adams went in Louth and spoke to his brother and told him to leave [the party], why would he not do it in Andersonstown?”

    And from that same post, the first appearance of the ‘very busy’ defence of Gerry Adams’ ignorance of his brother’s involvement in Sinn Féin in Andersonstown – “From 2000 and for a number of years”, according to Sinn Fein’s own account.

    The BBC’s Gareth Gordon asked: “How could you not have known? You’re the MP for West Belfast, that’s your power base?

    Mr Adams replied: “Well, I can only tell you I don’t know every member of the party in west Belfast. I’m also a very busy activist. A lot of this happened at a time of intense, hyper activity.

    “But I didn’t know. That’s it. People will make up their own mind on that and decide on their own position.”

    But, as Gerry Kelly recently admitted,

    “You know, I [still] don’t know enough about the detail of this…”

    And, as someone advised just the other day

    [Gerry Adams on the BBC/RTÉ programme The Disappeared] “I learnt a long time ago, if you don’t ask, you can’t tell.”

    As lately as Tuesday Alex Maskey claimed he still hasn’t read the transcript of Gerry’s court evidence…

    Tell me, Robin. Have you read the transcript? It’s still online.

    Here’s an extract on Gerry’s complaint to Social Services about Liam’s abuse Aine’s mother.

    Q. Well may I suggest to you that you, as the Member of Parliament for this area, reporting your own family to the Health Visitor , because of concerns about hygiene and lice, is surely something that would stick in your mind?

    A. Well I can’t give you the answer; other than the answer that I have given you.

    Q. Well do you dispute that you did make the complaint?

    A. Well if I brought anything to the attention of Health Visitors (or anyone else) it wasn’t as a complaint; it was to try and help in the situation. But I ……I don’t have a recollection. This is in ’87 and ’86, so I don’t have a recollection. I do have a recollection of meeting with a Health Visitor in the house. My memory of that was almost that it was accidental, that I was either in the house and she came in, or she was in the house when I went into it.

    Q. Well now that’s another occasion, Mr Adams. It wasn’t the Health Visitor you met on that occasion, it was the Social Worker.

    A. Right.

    Q. …called Sheila Brannigan.

    A. Right.

    Q. And that was on the 10th of March of 1987, the day after the meeting in Buncrana. You told police, in your interview ……or in your statement, rather, to them in June of 2007 that you recalled neither meeting Miss or Mrs Brannigan, but had no reason to dispute that it happened. Nor did you remember making the complaint to the Health Visitor, or report to the Health Visitor but, again, you’d no reason to dispute that it…that it happened. Now you recall, no doubt, coming to this Court on last Thursday? […]

    And here’s a post I put together on the absence of Gerry Adams as a witness in the retrial of his brother Liam.

  • Robin Keogh

    Pete, I have to be honest and admit that sometimes i dont remember stuff from last week never mind 20 years ago !! Our memory cells dont always discriminate between whats important and whats not. I find it odd that people expect GA to remember every single detail on every single issue no matter how complicated and no matter what the time distance is and fail to contextualise around peace neogtiations and election battles etc. But thats just being an apologist apparently no?

    I spent quite a long time dealing with an issue of abuse in a family situation. It was heartbreaking to say the least but the experience of it is probably why I am less than quick to judge Adams memory or behaviour. I will say no more on that for obvious reasons,

    I think its clear that Republicans and Loyalists moved people who were supposed to be committing anti social crimes in their respective communities. In fact people in those communities actively went to the IRA to sort out issues rather than go to the police. I dont get why this comes as a surprise for so many people, even as a teenager I can remember news reports refering to this practise. I can only assume if loyalists and Republicans were policing themselves and dealing with complaints from their communities, accusations of sexual assault etc. must have been part of all that. If an IRA individual was found to be committing crime, they would probably be moved, punished or shot, no? Is that not what we have always assumed. I cant see any circumstance why they would be handed over the the police to be turned into informers and spies or to rat on their communities. Did Aine not tell us that the RUC were more concerned about getting info from her rather than helping her. Has Mairia Cahill not said similar?

    You dont know that hard questions are not being asked within SF. You can only assume. Its inconvenient I know that SF dont wash their laundry in public. Its also inconvenient that SF members dont court the media like other parties do for selfish personal gain. It is probably far more inconvenient that the media have to deal with the frustration of not being able to get ‘into’ SF the way they can other parties. But, thats the way of it…of course its easy to call us drones or stooges or robots or declare us all cult like amadans, that way you dont have to address your own failures at not being able to break through the wall. And the punishment for not playing the game? Keep up the attacks even if you have to make it up.

    Of course the problem you all have is the very thing everybody wanted Sinn Fein to accept and respect, the Justice System. In case you have forgotten, this is the system democratic societies use in order to bring crimes to court and punish culprits. In fact if some people put half the energy into finding abusers of children as they do trying to frame GA and SF, victims all over might have a better nights sleep. However, the pesky police and courts and all that wont play the game will they? They refuse to destroy the lives of perfectly innocent people because the traditional establishment dont like the colour of the current politcal sky. Well, they better go buy an umbrella… cos the rain is surely coming.

  • Robin

    I neither have the time, nor inclination to deal with your avoidance of the facts presented to you.

    “Keep up the attacks even if you have to make it up.”

    Nothing has been made up. Not even Conor Murphy’s denial of “the IRA modus operandi of the time”.

    “You dont know that hard questions are not being asked within SF.”

    I know that senior Sinn Fein representatives denied knowing the details, long after the facts have emerged. Despite the fact that you have suggested other Sinn Fein representatives claim that “the constant attacks mean that u have to research a lot of info and figure out whats going right or wrong pretty quickly”.
    But, again, you appear to miss the point.
    It’s not so much what happened at the time – although for some it will be.
    It’s the denial of what happened at the time. And, in Liam’s case, the evolving version of events.
    You haven’t read the transcript of Gerry’s cross-examination, have you?

  • Robin Keogh

    Pete, I posted a lengthy reply to you there but it has disappeared for some reason? Do u know why?

  • Robin Keogh

    Pete, I have neither the time nor the inclination to deal with your hissy fits when you dont get the answers you want to hear. I have indeed read the full transcript and I note the inconsistencies. I also note the amount of times that Adams tried to expand on his answers but was cut off. I also note that he has difficulty remembering the exact times, dates and circumstances of many of the events, which is far from unusual when talking about something that was not only personaly traumatic but also happened a number of years in the past. Do I believe that GA didnt care about his niece? No. Do I believe that GA deliberately meant to cover up her abuse? No. Do I believe that GA ever intentionally set out to hurt his niece? No. Do I believe that he handled the situation correctly based on what we know now about how these issues should be dealt with? No. Do I believe that he should be hung drawn and quartered for this? No. No more than I believe anybody should. What I do believe is that we should find these people who abused kids and throw away the key. Families are NOT equipped to deal with such issues behind their own walls. The media is certainly not equipped to do it either. The only place for these things is in the courts and let the law be seen to serve. That’s good enough for me. It clearly is not good enough for you. I am sorry, but there is not much I can do about that.