Micheál Martin: Setting a high standard, for everyone except himself?

Setting high standards for everybody else to live up to is all very well, but failing to live up to them yourself is not the mark of a credible future Taoiseach.

With an eye on the next 26 county general election, Michael Martin has recently ramped up his attacks on Sinn Fein. While his most recent rant speech includes attacks on Republicans, Unionists and both the Dublin and London governments, it’s clear who the real target is. Martin has said in the past that Fianna Fail will not share power with either Sinn Fein or Fine Gael after the next election. Assuming he sees himself leading Fianna Fail into government at some stage in the future, this means the party will have to double their current support if Martin is to avoid becoming the first Fianna Fail leader never to be Taoiseach. The current shabby state of Fianna Fail might well be seen as his biggest obstacle on the road to power. However, given this most recent tirade, his biggest problem might be his own level of credibility in the eyes of the electorate.

Fine speeches are all very well, but they fall flat if you appear to lack sincerity, or don’t have the courage of your convictions.

Many will agree with his fair criticism of the Irish and British governments, and their failure to properly engage in Northern Politics. Like it or not, the relationship between the parties at Stormont is not mature enough to avoid collisions.  With zero trust sparking antagonistic and stubborn behaviour, the current stalemate should come as no surprise to anyone. Both governments need to step up their engagement with parties in the North if we are to see any break in the current deadlock.

But McGuinness and Robinson would be forgiven if they smirked at comments from Michael Martin on the threat to the North’s economic stability. Martin was in cabinet in the South when his party decimated the Irish economy, bringing on the biggest financial disaster in the history of the state. In fact Fianna Fail had to stomach some of the worst accusations ever to be levelled at a party in Dail Eireann – economic treason. During those celtic tiger years Martin stayed quiet when his government were cozying up to financiers and developers and making catastrophic decisions at cabinet level. He also stayed quiet in the aftermath when his government tried to strangle the most vulnerable in society by cutting the minimum wage and removing the medical card from senior citizens. Martin has even admitted himself that he wasn’t always comfortable with some decisions during the tiger years but fails to explain why he kept his mouth stitched and did nothing. How credible then are Martin’s statements on problems in the North when he was one of the architects of the worst crises in the history of the Irish state?

His comments on the failure of the Northern parties to tackle sectarianism are disappointingly opportunistic. He spreads the blame between Sinn Fein and the DUP; trying to give an impression of balance but in reality it is all about the Shinners again. He fails to point out that despite the difficulties, Republicans and Unionists are hard at work  trying to encourage reconciliation between the two communities. He also fails to point out how the vast majority of sectarianism is currently emanating from within the broader loyalist community. He deliberately misrepresents Gerry Adams comments; ‘Break the Bastards’ when he knows fine well that the comment (unfortunate wording aside) was targeted at all those who would seek to deprive others of their rights to equality such as minority groups, LGBT community and immigrants etc. Again this is shockingly disingenuous and proves once more (as if proof were needed) that Martin is willing to distort the facts in order to demonize Sinn Fein. Unfortunately however, unlike his media buddies in the South who have been pulled up for the very same type of deliberate distortions, there is nobody in the Dail other than Sinn Fein to call him out on it.

 

Whilst it is refreshing to see that Martin has given up on accusing Sinn Fein of murder, (he obviously heeded some good advice from his team regarding trying to win votes by manipulating the tragedies of victims) he does allude to alleged abuse in the republican community. In fairness I think it is understandable that where there is suspicion of such crimes; pressure needs to be exerted if culprits are to be found. But again here his credibility can be called into question. Martin guffaws at Adams’ calls for people to come forward with information (conveniently ignoring that Gerry Adams himself has handed names over to the PSNI). Martin claims that nobody has come forward, but how does he know this? Have the Guards and the PSNI told him so? He offers no evidence to back up his assertion. He also calls into question Sinn Fein’s sincerity on the issue claiming –

Sinn Fein has been able to expel people for wanting to deselect a TD but cannot find anyone to take action against in relation to the systematic covering up of child abuse within the Provisional movement

The message here of course is that Sinn Fein are not bothered about the issue of alleged abuse in republican ranks. The fact that Martin even draws the comparison between local party selection processes (where everyone is out in the open) and the covering up of alleged abuse (where everyone is most certainly NOT out in the open) is startling and frankly quite worrying coming from someone who would one day hope to be Taoiseach. Moreover, Martin conveniently neglects to remind us that even when Fianna Fail – with himself in government – had the opportunity to make an institution pay for their role in Child abuse, Fianna Fail let them off the hook.  Martin has failed to convince his own mentors and party grandees to fess up to home truths at the banking enquiry but yet he somehow expects Sinn Fein to miraculously produce unknown, unnamed alleged abusers out of thin air. Maybe Martin finds it difficult to see a Shinner such as Pearse Doherty on a panel holding Fianna Fail to account for the chaos they caused during the financial disaster and maybe all this bluster is designed to detract from the enquiry. But this does not excuse his attempts to demonize the entire Sinn Fein party with unsubstantiated accusations.

None of this of course  lets republicans of the hook, as a Shinner myself I am only too aware of the urgency within the party and the wider community to do all we can to bring the perpetrators of abuse to book. Despite Martin’s claims, it is a serious issue across the party and it is treated seriously by all so I am glad to see that Martin agrees with the Deputy First Minister who was the first to call for an independent enquiry to address issues of abuse North and South. It took a while for Fianna Fail to catch up, but they got there in the end.

Martin also agrees with Sinn Fein when he criticises the British government for not ‘investing’ hard enough in the North and for not realising the ‘special’ case that the north is. At the same time he castigates Sinn Fein for being part of an assembly that is introducing cuts forced on them by the Tory government in London. This is confusing because Martin is fully aware that the assembly has no power to deliver adequate revenue (Unlike Dublin)   therefore it has little room for manoeuvre in budgetary decision-making. The assembly parties don’t have the luxury that the Fianna Fail government had. It does not have the same space to make considered spending choices. Fianna Fail did have this luxury and still managed to wreck the economy and collapse their government.

Reading Martin’s speech one would be forgiven for thinking that he is distraught, or even enraged at the political, social and economic state the North now finds itself in. Martin has taken a swipe at the DUP, Sinn Fein and both the British and Irish governments despite his own history of abject failure. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating as they say. With the terrible crises occurring in the North, what is Martin going to do about it? You guessed it, absolutely nothing.

For years we have heard Fianna Fail leaders including Martin himself declare their intention to stand candidates in the North. If there was ever a time to do it, and if Martin truly believes his own guff, there is no better time than right now. Fianna Fail still has a huge machine nationwide. A ten minute phone call and he could have candidates ready to go in every constituency across the North. So what’s the delay? If he so perturbed by everybody else’s failures, where are the soldiers of destiny in the North’s hour of need?

Here we can get the truth, we can easily get to the bottom of what is really going on. Martin knows that Fianna Fail in power in the North could never accept Tory cuts, could never face down unionist politicians in debates claiming the IRA were bad but the old IRA were good, could never hope to run the North on the ever decreasing hand-outs from tax payers across the water in the UK and could never hope to balance party policy in two different jurisdictions on the Island. Martin’s stance when it comes to Sinn Fein marks him out not as a defender of truth and justice, but an opportunistic and desperate man who simply fails to understand that his awkward hypocrisy is just as transparent as his crocodile tears on conditions in the north.

If Michael Martin is serious about leading Fianna Fail into government he needs to do a lot more than criticise from the side-lines without committing to tackle problems himself. He needs to do more than ape Sinn Fein  policies and ideas, such as universal Healthcare and his sensational U-turns on issues such as water charges. But more than anything else he needs to be credible, Irish people have cottoned on to the Fianna Fail habit of twisting the truth, massaging the facts and distorting the information. If Martin wants to set high standards in irish politics North and South, he needs to do more than merely apply them to others, he needs to adopt them himself.

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  • gero

    anyone make it through yet?

  • KevinC

    Yep. No problem. Ask a grown-up to help you with the big words.

  • james

    A lot of moralizing here for a party which has just been tried for guzzling public funds via the benefit fraud of party members on the thread next to this one. A thread which the author Mr Keogh is curtly dismissive of as an irrelevance. High standards indeed.

  • Roger

    I am biased against SF-IRA murderers. They’ve never even said sorry for what they did. These days we are finding out about their sex crimes too. FF are bad, but shouldn’t take lessons from those types.

  • gero

    there are no big words, robin, believe me. A big word like sorry, wrong, murder, terror, theft, rape. Not in their/your vocabulary.

  • Robin Keogh

    What party is moralizing James. Am I a party now? And where is the moralizing exactly? Assesing credibility is not moralising or are u just confused again?

  • Robin Keogh

    I dont know why i should say sorry for the actions of Fianna Fail

  • gero

    what have they done wrong? Why should ff say sorry? They haven’t killed anyone, or buried any mothers of ten, or raped any minors. If you mean say sorry for not giving your heroes an easy ride then I think you’ll find your in an approx 15% minority.

  • Robin Keogh

    The founding members of Fianna Fail did far worse

  • Zig70

    Nobody said anything in the tiger years. Did SF? You would expect FF to attack SF just as SF criticise FF, SDLP etc etc. I’m no fan of Martin. He should put his money up and organise here, then he’ll find he doesn’t have the answers either. Ulster could do with some more right wing politics, there definitely isn’t enough.

  • mickfealty

    You are not, and nor should people treat you as anything other than an individual, but I have to say if I’d seen the piece before it was published I’d have advised you against that particular opening since its a pure invitation to whataboutery.

    Aside from that editorial advice, I’ve a couple of personal quibbles, one being the idea that Martin has only recently been criticising SF. If you hit the Micheal Martin tag on Slugger, it’s been pretty consistent over the last four or five years. He’s reprising some of that tonight in Glenties…

    But it is in the context of some other more interesting stuff on the future of the Republic. Of course he’s going to blatter hell out of his political opponents. But he has at least three of them (not including multiple others inside his party and in the media), and SF is only one of them.

    Here’s the end of tonight’s speech:

    We urgently need a new urgency in relation to Northern Ireland. This should start with a Border Region Development agency to protect and deliver on the economic and social potential in the border region.

    We need an end to tolerance of sectarian actions by parties.

    Equality isn’t a ‘Trojan Horse’ as Gerry Adams said recently, it’s a fundamental principle for the future of both parts of this island.

    The Irish people have not just shown endurance in the last 7 years, they have been actively engaged in public affairs. They have been deeply concerned with policy and they have evolved very significantly in their beliefs.

    One of the many reasons why they have not bought into the government’s narrative is that they can see that there is an obsession with presentation and short-term tactics.

    What is missing is a sense of where we want our country to be in the years ahead.

    In the election which will mark the centenary of our revolution the single most fitting thing we could do as politicians is to understand this and to respond.

  • gero

    which justifies what? Anything goes because long dead people did worse? Does that particular joker apply to all sides in the game or is that a special sinner trick card?

  • ranger1640

  • Robin Keogh

    No trick just a fact

  • gero

    ???
    you lost me. Pretty much like the article.

  • Robin Keogh

    Doesnt seem to be too hard to lose you

  • Robin Keogh

    It seems that the members must have known it would be mainly waffle, hense the empty seats. He is reading every single word. Sad.

  • Robin Keogh

    Knowing No Other Bloke

  • Robin Keogh

    Mick I am a member of Sinn Fein which means no matter what I say; it is seen as an invitation to whataboutery. It doesnt bother me, in fact I find most of it quite amusing.

    Thanks for your comment. I am actually quite aware that Martin has been loudly critical of Sinn Fein for a number of years now.But it has been stepped up recently and become more vociferous. Sinn fein have a public manifesto containing pages of policy that Martin could choose to criticise all he likes. But he doesnt do that. He focuses on the past and legacy issues heavily in an effort to ‘remind’ people of the Sinn fein bogey man. He adopted this poition quite late in the game. Fianna Faill brought SF into the politcal house back in 1998 and before. They were the main architects of the GFA and most subsequent agreements, with not a whimper on the issues that Martin finds so objectionable. In fact it was only when it became clear that SF were crashing the FF party in terms of electoral preference did Martin suddenly resort to the kind of hysterics we are now becoming accustomed to.

    His statements on problems in the North are not incorrect in the main. He has a point and if he was a regular Joe we could all say fair enough, good point etc. But he is not a regular Joe, he is the leader of a Republican party on this Island, once a monolith and now a struggling runner – up. he needs to step up. If he is sincere about the issues facing the North and it is not just a tasctic to save a few votes; where is the organisational structure in the North? Where is the party task force to address the issues? Where is the call for a cross-party approach on the issue?

    I am sorry but his words in relation to tolerence of politcal sectrarianism are bluster as he doesn’t lay out a roadmap to counteract it. In terms of equality, FF are late arrivals to that particular party and again he cites Adam’s Trojan Horse which was said in the very context he alludes to regarding its importance on the Island. His platitudes towards the Irish peoples ‘enduarance’ and cocerns for where we want to be in the future, is politcal waffle. Meaningless words to fill in the gaps.

    If he wants to fix something, its no good telling us what needs fixing. As the leader of Fianna Fail, he needs to tell us what he thinks is broken, how he intends to fix it, what tools he will use and what outcome he hopes to see. Maybe he should focus on that very large rump in his party that would prefer if he saw his own future on an island in the outer hebrides.

  • Gingray

    Robin, would you want Fianna Fáil to stand in Northern Ireland?

    With an election next year in the south, I think the rhetoric has went up a notch, and the media are reporting it more. Some of this is because it’s a story, some because certain people in the media loathe Sinn Fein.

    But Martin has been consistent, but when he talks about Northern Ireland it’s worth considering it through the prism of the Dáil elections.

  • Gingray

    You mean all nationalists are not left wing?

  • Robin Keogh

    Yes i do want FF to stand in the North. We need another nationalist party to shake things up a bit and another all ireland party alongside People Before Profit and Sinn Fein can only be a good thing for Irish Unity.

  • gero

    Great Article Yo!
    Gerry Adams Youth?
    Classy.

  • gero

    an article within an article. Very weak analysis. Could apply some of it do dear leader also. Empty rhetoric and rump of colleagues wishing he would head of to Tory Island sounds familiar.

  • Reader

    Robin Keogh : He deliberately misrepresents Gerry Adams comments; ‘Break the Bastards’ when he knows fine well that the comment (unfortunate wording aside) was targeted at all those who would seek to deprive others of their rights to equality such as minority groups, LGBT community and immigrants etc. Again this is shockingly disingenuous…
    I don’t think it is Micheál who is being disingenuous about the ‘Trojan Horse’ horse remarks. There are people who pretend to believe that Gerry didn’t understand what the Trojan Horse was – they are the ones being disingenuous.
    The key point of the original Trojan horse was this it was a deception

  • Robin Keogh

    Cheers man, thanks. I dont intend over talking.

  • mickfealty

    You are always going to get a rough ride if you are advocating for a political party. NO matter which one.

    Going back to Martin, his last day job in government was at the DFA which brought him into a lot of contact with northerners of all persuasions. Conor Lenihan was rarely out of Belfast or at some class of bilateral conference elsewhere.

    That higher priority for NI within the Irish government has changed (if, given the intensity of the Eurocrisis, for understandable reasons), and demonstrates a differential in attention and commitment to NI between Martin and Kenny.

    I remember hearing Kenny speak early in his period as leader of the opposition at Glencree and I know for certain that he is a passionately anti SF and its political advocacy of the Provisional’s armed struggle.

    But as noted by both Martin and Adams in the same debate, there has been a drift, and not just on the Irish side. In Martin’s case freed of ministerial responsibility (and emboldened by Adams’ presence in the Dail), he’s gone political.

    He is always very careful though to point towards the continuing failure of the DUP/SF partnership to do anything but block the progress of each other and any rivals to power they might face in the present or future. The accusation is a tough one to refute, not least because there is so little transparency around the institutions.

    Opportunity is always a factor in politics. Martin’s is twofold. One, the presence of Adams in the Dail gives them a constant opportunity to call him to account for his party’s own failures in NI, and two he is the only significant southern political leader who has been consistently narrating the slo mo ride to hell in the otherwise consequence free zone of NI politics.

    What else can SF say about the matter other than dismiss it as insincere opportunism? Dealing with the actual critique is clearly too difficult/compromising.

    That there have been no FF candidates thus far can be put down to FF’s significant sponsorship role in the Belfast and St Andrews’ Agreements and after. That he has put off the awful day they do till 2019 can probably be explained by the need to constrain all resources (which are a great deal more visible than SF’s these days) to moving forward in the south.

    It also gives people in NI a longer time to consider their own options and for the party’s membership in NI to start sorting issues around potential candidates, sustainability and resources. UCU-NF and NI21 each provide lessons in what not to do.

    My own scepticism revolves around a party culture that relishes winning over the sort of failing moral protest that has helped the SDLP sustain itself through some otherwise pretty hard times. I doubt they will come north just to be another brave second (or third) unless it is as a waystage into OFMdFM.

  • Jag

    “It is striking that Sinn Fein has during the last seventeen years chosen never to nominate a person to hold one of the principal economic ministries.”

    Why is that? MM suggests it’s because SF doesn’t have an economic policy let alone a credible economic policy, or that it simply doesn’t have the personnel with the basics to fulfill those roles. All fine and well saying this is a political attack by MM, but what is the answer? The response from GA last week was to say MM was merely telling an amusing story. I’m not smiling.

  • mickfealty

    Jag,

    Indeed. There has been no reason proffered for, say, not taking on DETI last time which clearly even their partners in OFMdFM expected them to and were prepared for. In that continuing gap people will pour in their own stories.

  • Robin Keogh

    At worst he chose an inaccurate analogy. But of course it is jumped on because its Gerry Adams.

  • Jag

    Well SF does have Mairtin O’Muilleoir who threw his cap into the south Belfast Westminster election (possibly knowing he didn’t have any realistic prospect of succeeding despite the hubristic tweets). You’d think he would have the basics for DETI and given his performance as mayor, might actually be good for that role. If he was prepared to become an MP, then he was obviously committed to a more full-time political role alongside his business interests.

    Are education and (agri/aggro) culture more important for SF – is that it?

    Whatever the answer, it is a good question from MM.

  • Jag

    When Ulster was a cold house for Catholics, the coldness was most bitterly felt in terms of poorness and absence of wealth. So, makes sense that the cradle of nationalism would see poorer folks as their natural constituency.

    That’s all changed of course, but the most business friendly, right wing political parties are all unionist – DUP, UUP, TUV, UKIP, Tory.

    There is definitely a space for a right wing, or at least right of center, nationalist party. And in four years, FF will be it.

  • gero

    that’s the other horse they ride sometimes. It depends who their talking to really. To be honest I don’t think most nationalists realise how far right they are.

  • Zig70

    We might find the lack of a right party is the reason for the nationalist vote decline. Already have forgotten where they came from or born too late to know. Though I think Michael will need to focus on FF strengths rather than sniping if he wants that vote.

  • Gingray

    Um OK. How stupid are those nationalists eh, not realising they are far right 🙂

  • Gingray

    IF they stand – my worry is that this is purely a political ploy to allow them to attack SF in the South.

  • Glenn Clare

    “He is reading every single word” LOL. better than making it up as you go along like Gerrys time lines on several events.

  • Jag

    The FF position on NI is not very committed, is it? Six years (from 2014) before they actually open shop. In the South, we’ve had three political alliances/parties launch in the last six months, and none of them had more than a year of pre-planning.

    Will there be a nationalist NI21 party before then?

  • gero

    your only defending him because he is g Adams. You couldn’t possibly know if he chose an inaccurate analogy or otherwise.

  • chrisjones2

    “This should start with a Border Region Development agency to protect and deliver on the economic and social potential in the border region. ”

    And why is that a priority? Has he seen the housing stock in South Armagh? Some people (the right people obviously) are doing very nicely out of screwing both Governments.

    By the way, have the Irish Authorities lost the Slab Murphy case down the back of the sofa or did I miss something???

  • chrisjones2

    Did they rape children? I don’t recall that one before so please elucidate

  • Gingray

    Remember, they actually started setting up in Northern Ireland from 2007 and in Gerry McHugh had a MLA who was a weird FF/independent after leaving SF.

    By nationalist NI21, do you mean a moderate party – if so, I think we largely have one in the SDLP. Ultimately nationalism in the North is stagnant, neither party is offering the fresh ideas that will enthuse voters, and there is no sign of a flag crisis equivalent to motivate the base.

  • Reader

    Robin Keogh: At worst…
    No – “At best” he chose an inaccurate analogy – and it would be terribly disingenuous to pretend to believe that.
    At worst: he meant exactly what he said. And in that case SF grandstanding has damaged the causes that it pretends to support by moving them into the area of dirty, partisan, party politics. Shame.

  • mickfealty

    …aka, the gift that keeps on giving?

  • Robin Keogh

    Not too far from the truth there Mick

  • Robin Keogh

    If SF thought they didnt have enough fuel in their engine to carry a role such as DETI, I would certainly be happy they didnt take it on. I suggest however they prefer to take on roles that bring them in direct contact with their constituents.

  • Robin Keogh

    Nonsense, his message was targeted at those who would deny others equality, simple. It suits his opponents to event meaning that was not there or intended, it gives them a very weak branch to lean on while they are sneering at those dirty nationalists.

  • Robin Keogh

    i never said he deliberately chose it, he probably thought it had an impressive ring about it. Either way, his message is clear, anybody who would deliberately deprive others of social equality are Bastards, do u disagree?

  • Robin Keogh

    I am not sure about rape as in those days the voices of children were soundly silenced, they did kill a few if that counts

  • gero

    I don’t disagree with what your saying he meant, I just don’t agree that it is what he meant. Having lived in West Belfast for over 40 years (reaping the fruits of gerry’s endeavours) I know exactly what he meant. West B is not the most deprived area in NI by accident. Extortion, protection rackets driving employment away. Gerry done alright mind you. And a few of his friends and family. Sure whatever. Who cares. Somebody somewhere is worse.

  • “At worst he chose an inaccurate analogy.”

    He did nothing of the sort, Robin.

    “i never said he deliberately chose it…”

    He knew exactly what he was saying for the audience he saw in front of him. Even if others felt compelled to excuse him for his supposed lapse.

    He just didn’t expect there to be a record of it.

    [Gerry Adams] “But what’s the point? The point is to actually break these bastards – that’s the point. And what’s going to break them is equality. That’s what’s going to break them – equality. Who could be afraid of equality? Who could be afraid of treating somebody the way you want to be treated. That’s what we need to keep the focus on – that’s the trojan horse of the entire republican strategy – is to reach out to people on the basis of equality.

    “The question about where is the tipping point… You see, the interesting thing about Gorbachev… Gorbachev didn’t set out to get rid of the USSR – that wasn’t his intention. He wanted to modernise it. It needed to be reformed but once he started to pull the thread it wasn’t possible. The afrikaners didn’t want to bring about an ANC government in South Africa. They wanted to get rid of the international campaign that was hurting them in terms of their different money making ventures. They actually, and I had the privilege of going there after Mandela was released and I talked to the guy – I forget his name but it is well enough written about -went into the prison to talk to Mandella and he told me, because he was one of the people who went and argued for them to start defusing some of the worst aspects of apartheid rule. They thought Mandela was going to home, they thought that blacks couldn’t govern themselves – he told me that.” [added emphasis]

    As I said then,

    At last, then, the answer Gerry Adams refused to give to the question posed on his one-night-only appearance in New York in June 2009, “United Ireland – How do we get there?” On a Trojan horse!

    [Look into my eyes, the eyes, the eyes, not around the eyes..? – Ed] You might very well think that…

  • Reader

    Robin Keogh: Nonsense…
    There’s a lot of complaining from you there, but not much analysis. There’s nothing wrong with my at best/worst scenarios. Do you think Gerry does, or does not, know what “Trojan Horse” means?
    And do you think it is morally right to spin for the Dear Leader while he is messing with important social issues? Maybe the Republican Cause or the Sinn Fein Project trumps all other concerns?

  • Reader

    Quick test then, valid all over Europe – pro-Choice or pro-Life?

  • Gingray

    Reader, wow, you really think what defines the far right in Europe is abortion? Interesting lol.

    Outside of Northern Ireland and the USA its really not an issue, the far right are much much more interested in immigrants these days, while the christian right are all about gay bashing.

    By your logic all Unionists are far right like big old Adolf, while the pro choice SF are not. Which is obviously contrary to gero 🙂

  • Move Along

    Not taking on something like DETI is a big problem for them though – whether a lack of fuel(?) or whatever the reason it projects an image that they can’t do it, because they lack a clear economic strategy. As Bush (or Reagan?) once pointed out “It’s the economy, stupid” – The achievement of republican goals won’t happen without clarity on the economic approach – the basics of job creation, the scale of the private sector v public sector, import / export, getting the numbers to add up.
    Also suggesting they want roles that bring them direct contact to constituents rather assumes that people involved in running businesses and creating jobs aren’t part of that constituency. SF need to reach out and show they understand these issues and have a believable solution.

  • Reader

    Gero said “how far right…”, not “far-right” – i.e. a measure, not a label.
    As for the abortion debate – no, I think it’s a test, not the test. Nationalists will happily and smugly compare themselves with the DUP, and nod at the useless posturing of SF. But attitudes in the communities themselves are very similar to each other; and SF only gets the free pass so long as it is assured of failure.
    By the way. every now and again I look through an SF manifesto with an eye open for a genuine pro-choice policy. It appears you have found one – what exactly does it say?

  • Gingray

    Ah, you are speaking for Gero now. I am not sure what he meant, but I think the when far and right are used together its fairly obvious what he was getting at.

    Its interesting that you are using a social issue however to define the left and right issue here, but only picking one that suits your case (no mention of gay marriage for example). And its interesting that it appears on this page rather than the Tim Farron one (by your logic can I assume he is far right?)

  • gero

    I meant SF and my point was they are positioning themselves to be whatever you want to see them as. I didn’t mean far-right in the nazi sense but if they think that will bring them voters they will try and ride that horse too.

  • Reader

    Gingray: Ah, you are speaking for Gero now.
    I only claim to have read the whole sentence in context instead of freaking out over two words in isolation.
    As for wider social issues, the most recent and relevant information I have is this:
    http://www.marilynstowe.co.uk/2014/10/06/majority-of-northern-ireland-back-gay-marriage/
    Maybe you have survey evidence to support your apparent belief in a vast gulf between the attitudes of the two main communities here? I think that both communities contain left and right, liberal or conservative thinking, and they are poorly served by the tribal parties that have dominated political life here.
    By the way – any luck so far in finding something to support your belief in a “pro choice SF”?

  • Gingray

    Well then, we can agree on that. Sinn Fein are a populist party, they will say and do most anything to win votes. New labour and Fianna Fáil did something similar but at least they delivered occasionally.

    But I will disagree on them being far right, maybe on a couple of issues but broadly centrist or leftist overall.

  • ranger1640

    Is it disingenuous of Gerry to go to America to have £25K private hospital treatment, and convalescence paid for by one of his millionaire American friends. This at a time when his former constituents had to wait on lengthening waiting lists and so many of their children are in poverty.

    That brings us onto another issue that Squinter brought up but had to remove and give a groveling apology, he asked what had Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein done for west Belfast? Now there’s a question and a half, and as for the answer, they are still waiting for it in west Belfast.

    Sinn Fein have held the parliamentary seat exclusively from 1997 and since the 2007 have held the majority of MLA seats, so what have they done???

    http://sluggerotoole.com/2008/03/20/gerry-must-go/

  • gero

    in the context of them being a real political party that would be true but they’re not. That would require a genuine commitment at all levels of the party/cult but since we’ve all witnessed principle after principle surrendered in the name of GA without a whimper and flip after flop over all manner of real world issues then I don’t think you can properly say that they are who they say they are

  • Gingray

    That’s a valid opinion but one I strongly disagree with. It’s easy to label your political opponents as the worst party in the history of politics ever, but they are just behaving in a similar manner to most political organisations these days. They represent a valid section of the electorate, you do those voters a disservice.

  • Gingray

    Reader
    Sorry, I am struggling to follow your point here, where do I suggest there is a vast gulf between nationalists and unionists? Could you reference it please?

    Personally I think there’s a broad range of views from the electorate on both sides, economic left to right, and socially liberal or prescriptive.

    But broadly speaking the nationalist parties are economically left and socially moderate, while unionist parties are economically centrist and socially prescriptive.

    I’ve not read any manifestos so will bow to your knowledge, but my understanding is that Sinn Fein are the only one of the big 4 to have voted for abortion in any part of Ireland or the UK? Similarly for gay marriage?

  • Robin Keogh

    Really, so when SF say they will introduce a tax rate of 48% on high earners, how popular is that amongst the wealthy?

  • Robin Keogh

    But what is the point when they have no revenue raising powers in the North. Its not as if they can make radical decisions to fund and or encourage investment. The London hand out doesnt stretch far enough.

  • Robin Keogh

    Pete can u ever just explain ur position without giving links to other links and other links again. You can decide what he meant in the context of your bias. He knew what he was saying in the sense that he knows Unionism will be demolished if at some point it does not open up to the concept of equality.

  • Gingray

    Robin
    Populist in the sense that they will generally support policies popular with the majority of the electorate. Most voters support taxing the wealthy more so it’s a no brainer.

    In Northern Ireland however where tax changes are more limited, Sinn Fein have supported things that hit the poorest hardest, but which have an all Ireland outcome. The plastic bag levy, brilliant as it is, takes more proportionately from those at the lower incomes. Similarly lowering corporation tax will initially cause cuts to offset the tax cut to business, and these cuts will impact more on those who need the state ie low earners

  • Robin Keogh

    In that case then one could argue that all parties are essentially populist in that they structure policy around the constituency from which they hope to extract most votes. Right wing conservative governments will attempt to alleviate the tax burden on the wealthy in order to maintain their support, populist? Yes indeed.

    The plastic Bag levy is a poor example because people do not have to pay it if you bring your own bag. There is effectively no cost then to the consumer, but a great saving for the environment.

    Lowering corporation tax is the real no brainer. Every economic and government analyst will tell you that the 6 counties is at a huge disadvantage when it comes to attracting FDI and encouraging local business expansion due to the 26 county corpo rate. Bringing the rate in line with the rest of the country is a necessity not an option. In any event, whenever unity occurs the rates will be synchronised anyway so might as well do it now and help the North pull up its socks in line with the South.

    There has to be a sustainable long term plan, which is very difficult in a region that can only provide two thirds of the revenue it needs to survive locally. The rest having to come from hand-outs etc. The UK tax payers across the water are not willing to pay to keep a leaking boat afloat for much longer. We have seen that in the Tory determination regarding welfare cuts; its only going to get worse.

  • Robin Keogh

    I can only comment on SF economic position in the South. This can be seen clearly laid out on their website. The problem for the Shinners is that for years there was no serious economic maturity obvious in the party. This has changed over the last few years with people like Pearse Doherty, Toibin, Mary Lou etc. etc. who are far more clued in, but it is hard to shake off perception. However, MM rejects SF policies not because they are bad but because they show up the kind of reckless policies adopted by parties such as FF/FG and Labour who have formulated and imposed budgets in line with the needs of the wealthy elite and their construction/financier buddies; leading to the collapse of the economy. MM is scared that SF in power will show up FF failure to responsibly tax and spend in a way that supports enterprise while at the same time offering stability to lower income cohorts. In fact MM has just recently copped on to this re-wired keynesian approach as shown in his last Ard Fheis speech on economic imperative, basically stealing the Policy straight off the back of SF manifesto.

  • Move Along

    The point is that DETI can create the right environment to attract investment and thus job creation, which in turn allows real people to access jobs, increases tax revenues and reduces the pressure on the benefits system. There is money in the pot to drive inward investment – Invest NI do a lot in this regard with the support of DETI.

    The problem is that SF economic strategy, or lack of one for the north, and unwillingness to take on the challenge leaves a huge void in peoples belief that they have the right policies to take the country forward or in the direction they want.

  • Move Along

    Sorting out Corporation tax is part, but only part, of the solution. FDI is not solely down to tax rates, businesses will look at other economic factors such as currency stability, employment taxes such as National Insurance, cost of premises, as well as other issues such as access to skilled workforce, proximity to the markets they are targeting. So clearly it would be good to show a competitive tax rate but its not in itself the golden goose. I also think we need to be realistic that it could take anything up to a decade to fully implement to a like for like rate – it will not happen in one go. In the meantime we need to work on the other levers.
    As you say a sustainable long term plan is difficult but we need to drive all political parties to develop one. You may be right that UK taxpayers are no longer willing, but what makes you think current ROI tax payers want to take on the subsidy culture? Regionally we need to balance our books – not for the sake of the rUK or ROI – but for the sake of real people living here today!