McGuinness pays Colum Eastwood the complement of a full bore counterattack…

Suffered a little ‘riding accident’ on Tuesday evening so I’m sure there’s tons I’ve missed. But I did think it interesting that Martin McGuinness’s pretty muscular response to Clint Colum Eastwood’s piece last week was interesting for its tone as much as the dFM’s byline…

…if there was ever a party in need of positive leadership it’s the SDLP. Instead, what was served up was more of the same old lazy SDLP politics: Why bother presenting credible policies when we can just attack Sinn Fein?

Who needs to produce workable alternative when we can just attack Sinn Fein? Why even mention the British Government or the unionists when we can just attack Sinn Féin?

Is the SDLP really so bereft of its own ideas that it must constantly define itself by reference to Sinn Fein?

 They say a week is a long time in politics, but what’s happened to the bright new vision promised by the dynamic young leader just over a fortnight ago? Because all that we have seen so far from his leadership has been more of the same tired old negative rhetoric.

But, of course, that’s all part of politics and no amount of mud-slinging from the SDLP is going to deter Sinn Fein from our objectives.

It then goes on to make some pretty general and unspecific references to elements of the Fresh Start agreement, notably the Corporation Tax.

Since not everyone in the party has been full throated in their support, you’d have to wonder if this is a piece of internal comms, with Martin’s byline slapped on as a signal an end to any internal debate. The message to the unions (possibly inadvertently) is pretty direct too.

It’s something of a backhanded compliment to Eastwood. One old political rule which has served SF well over the years is to avoid talking about your opponent too you are giving them and not yourself publicity.

On this occasion Sinn Fein has paid him back the compliment. You’d have to guess that something the SDLP leader said must have stung internally.



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  • Gingray

    Doubt it will last, but Eastwood is definitely generating some positive momentum for the sdlp, above and beyond not being Al. Be nice if it does, nationalism needs a close fight

  • Hugh Brown

    The SDLP are transfixed by Sinn Fein. Their strategy of becoming a ‘Repubican’ party a few years back fell flat on its face. Their continual finger pointing with no alternatives and age old rhetoric regarding Sinn Fein (and ever increasing internal fractures) have ensured they have become stagnant.

    The SDLP adopted the age old ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend’ during a recent election by befriending dissident Republicans and waving from the distance to parties in the Dail. This followed up with a word in Unionist ears (Pat Ramsey MLA) regarding tactical voting, only caused more division within its ranks, as many seen this as the last throw of the dice.

    The election of Colum Eastwood as leader shows the standard that the SDLP has become to relay on. ‘Colum is bereft of ideas’ was one opinion that stood out at the SDLP conference, and this recent 13 paragraph article, with 12 focused on Sinn Fein, speaks volumes for the new leader; a chip off the bloc of the old guard.

    The next election will be interesting. Will the SDLP stand on its own policies, or relay on negative campaigning to attract votes?

  • Acrobat_747

    That’s a bit of a pointless diatribe because it’s the voters who decide who is right and who is wrong.

    Next May will show if Eastwood can win more seats. And next may will show if the tide is turning on SF.

    I think SF may well loose a seat or two and SDLP may loose something similar. But all will be revealed.

    Such is the nature of democracy. It’s the darn people who decide.

  • scepticacademic

    As an ‘outsider’ who’s lived in NI nearly 20 yrs and watched NI politics in frequent bemusement, I’m still no clearer on the raison d’etre of the SDLP. Who/what exactly is it supposed to be for these days? Personally, I can subscribe to the social democratic part but find their social conservatism and frequent default to futile attempts to ‘out-green’ Sinn Fein rather frustrating. Some kind of ‘vision thing’ wouldn’t go amiss.

  • Nevin

    sa, the SDLP is an Irish nationalist party so its membership will include socialists, social democrats and conservatives. SF, on the other hand, is the political wing of a mafia/fascist-style organisation. With elections in the offing, you can expect further attacks on SF from a range of nationalist parties.

  • chrisjones2

    SF face a series of challenges

    1 the polls show that a UI isn’t a priority for NI Catholic voters so the SDLP have scope to go for the light green vote

    2 the welfare shambles left SF vulnerable

    3 squeezing the smaller parties out of the talks seemed a really good ploy until the Chancellor pulled the rug on tax credit reform. Now it leaves SF and the DUP out on a limb. That doesnt matter to the DUPs but it leaves SF vulnerable

    4 their entire nature is that change scares them

    5 the Disssers have been more effective recently and at some point may turn on them when post the McGuigan murder they are more exposed politically if the IRA do anything

    6 it strongly looks like we are past peak SF in de Nurth

    7 many of the SF Assembly Team (frankly) aren’t very good and only survive politically because the DUPs are just as poorly served

    I suspect Marty is thinking “why the hell am i still doing this” . Expect a “Gone Fishing” sign to appear on the door in 2016 before the thicker elements in the party realise that they lost the war and have lost the argument for a UI for a generation

    Who knows, he might even be offered a seat in the Senate or the Lords (or both)

  • 23×7

    Don’t worry. I’m an “insider” and I’m not clear what their raison d’etre is either. There’s really no room for two left wing nationalist parties in N.I.. The SDLP will either continue to wither and die or form part of a new cross community left of center opposition.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I think you had very little to attack the SDLP on and had to invent myths about Pat Ramsey, dissident republicans, unionists, pretty much everyone but Sinn Féin to defend your point.

    To quote Eastwood himself

    … whatever the difficulties of Sinn Féin, our real concern has to be difficulties which this deal will mean for this society. Dealing with those will necessitate a fundamental shift in our politics. It’s long since time that we got away from simply building stories and myths. They’re not the stuff that good and healthy governance is made of….

    and to quote McGuinness

    …Of course, no one is saying the agreement is perfect or that it shouldn’t be scrutinized…

    It’s funny rather than addressing that scrutiny, he hypocritically attacks the SDLP for negative politics. Is it not a valid scrutiny to simply ask if they negotiated away the benefits of Stormont House and if so, what did they get in return?

  • John Ó Doiḃlin

    You could easily interchange SDLP with Fianna Fáil in this argument!

  • Surveyor

    Hmmm never mind that Mick. Is it complement or compliment?

  • Robin Keogh

    You are obsessed with Irish Unity Chris, in fact i would say u mention it more than any nationalist or republican I know.

  • Robin Keogh

    Its very valid, but at least offer up an equally valid alternative of what ‘could’ have been done or what ‘should’ have been done. Hopefully SDLP and SF will get away from bickering and move to a more productive form of engagement. Ideologically there is little that divides them.

  • Skibo

    Think you will find Colum has already prepared the ground for more losses. As long as he can keep them below 5, he can declare it as a success.

  • chrisjones2

    Well it is supposed to be the primary objective of your party Robin and was the excuse for 2500 murders – then there are all volunteers who died for it and not for an extra £20m to widen a road between Dublin and Derry – but perhaps they talked about nothing else in the H Blocks.

    Did Bobby Sands mention it in his writings?

  • chrisjones2

    …and that is the Stoops problem …they need a KSP but does Column see that?

  • Robin Keogh

    Whats a KSP?

  • Croiteir

    I presume a key selling point – it is gobblegook for something that differentiates you from the others.

  • Robin Keogh

    As I have tried to point out to you before, immature sneers at your opponents are not that affective to be honest. Yes Irish Unity is the goal along with a dozen other issues. The rise of modern Sinn Fein is built on more than just the memory of sacrifice and the struggle for independence. Historians will write about our history long after we are gone, future generations will make up their minds on the turbulent history of this country in the context of where they find themselves at the time. Padraig Pearse and others sacrificed their lives for something quite different to what we have now, but we still remember and commemorate that sacrifice regardless. Try to release yourself from the afflictionof being intellectually defined by the actions of present day Sinn Fein and our troubled past. Look to the future and what people have to offer.

  • chrisjones2

    Key Selling Point to differentiate them form the Shinners

  • chrisjones2

    Ah yes …’modern SF’ is built on ‘more than the sacrifice and struggle’. Well that’s not what the murals on the Falls Road seem to say including the one on your own party office there!

    “Padraig Pearse and others sacrificed their lives for something quite different to what we have now,” – do you mean a socialist republic?

    “Try to release yourself from the affliction of being intellectually defined by the actions of present day Sinn Fein and our troubled past.”

    Pardon me! I will now do that, once I climb over the still warm mounds of the dead – some glorious and some a lot less so. Then I have to squeeze past the allegedly abandoned cigarette smugglers lorries, the fuel launderers tankers and the abandoned robbed out security vans, while being careful not to trip over the odd more recent corpse or slip on the recently spilled blood.

    Just hang on. You – and I will get there eventually I am sure.

  • Robin Keogh

    The key word there is ‘seem’. What you seem to see is for you alone to opine on and is subjective. The Belfast murald have played little role in the growth of SF in south Dublin, Cork and limerick.

    Read up on Pearse’s writings abd u will understabd what he fought and died for ratger than asking immature questions.

    I dont know if you are talking about your local area or the obsession with the past in your head. If its the former, i advise you to move. If its the latter i wiuld suggest u talk to the local police.

    And by the way; i am already ‘there’, its you who is lagging behind young man.

  • Robin Keogh

    There is no difference except they arent popular at the moment.

  • whatif1984true


  • chrisjones2

    No….”gobblegook” is the euphemism for SF economic policy

  • chrisjones2

    “The Belfast murald have played little role in the growth of SF in south Dublin, Cork and limerick.”

    ….so it IS two different parties then and not an all Ireland entity!!!!!

  • Robin Keogh

    Is that a straw in the wind i see? How many people in Newry or Enniskillen vote for SF on the basis of Murals in Belfast do u think. Honestly !

  • Robin Keogh

    What was the most gobblegook part of Sinn Fein’s recent alternative budget, in your opinion?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Even ignoring the 7 papers, the SDLP presented …
    Amendments at Stormont House on Welfare
    Amendments at Westminster Stage on New Start

    Sinn Féin has every right to scrutinise those rather than attack the SDLP on partisan issues.

  • aquifer

    Pretty long for a ‘how dare you’.

  • Kevin Breslin

    And do the DUP … If so is the key they’re selling for Lockkeepers or Gatekeepers?

  • aquifer

    At the moment does not matter to a young man.

  • Robin Keogh

    SDLP did the attacking, in fact in any scenario and on any issue its the SDLP who do the attacking. Ironically it could be suggested that this is tge very thing keeping nationalist voters at home. Stop attacking and start doing, maybe then fortunes will improve.

  • aquifer

    “squeezing the smaller parties out of the talks seemed a really good ploy until the Chancellor pulled the rug on tax credit reform. Now it leaves SF and the DUP out on a limb.” Good point. SFDUP are overdue a day of reckoning.

  • aquifer

    Do Sinn Fein think they are owed a political living?
    Yes, of course, its a narrative thing, a peculiar take on local history.
    But we don’t have to believe a word they say, especially as what they say is often shown to have been false and a calculated lie to deflect blame from very guilty parties. Or an overambitious attempt to re-write history over evidence.
    For negative read called my bluff.

  • Gaygael

    Yes. I think that’s the nail on head.
    He talked about internal processes being changed. Whether this was the work of McDonnell continued or his own process I’m not sure. I think he is prepared to take a hit and modernise the party.
    Pat Ramsey stepping down is interesting. Another co-option. Bad optics to replace a man with another man in a seat with 4 other men, 2 of which are SDLP men.

  • chrisjones2

    By their murials shall we know them

  • Kevin Breslin

    As I mentioned before the SDLP have done things on these issues and offered alternatives as shown by the amendments. There is like it or not a greater imperative on Sinn Féin and DUP to deliver as there is on Fine Gael and Labour to deliver in the Republic as the two biggest and main government parties.

    Instead of ever saying stop attacking us, or what is your suggestion, these parties should defend themselves and take full responsibility for their own actions and their own capacity for action.

  • Robin Keogh

    And clearly neither the British or Irish government felt the documents were worth serious consideration.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Remind me when was the last time a Sinn Féin amendment under Gerry Adams leadership got serious attention in the Dail? I think that may explain the answer.