After #GE16 Sinn Fein… A reasonably good but largely unremarkable day at the office…

So what of the third largest party in the new Dail? In 2011, we noted that the party had finally acquired ‘national currency’. And for most of the last five years, Sinn Fein has looked set to collect handsomely on that major advance.

Their high point came in 2014 in the European Parliamentary elections when they became the second largest party by seats, taking 19.5% of the total vote on 52.44% turnout.  On the same day, they achieved 15.2% of the local council vote.

An Ipsos MRBI opinion poll in September 2015 put Sinn Féin at 21%, but looking at the trends Red C director Richard Colwell argued that demographically – between scandals and a declining protest vote – the party’s gains hadn’t been as strong as their losses.

23 TDs in the 32nd Dail Sinn Fein hits their pre-election target. But given where the polling had been it was at the lowest edge of internal expectations. The truth is – with the exception of Donegal – seats lost or missed out on were largely due to external factors.

Picking up so many seats on just 13.8% of the vote (Labour’s pre-Gilmore norm) suggests that the party is no longer as transfer toxic as they once were.  Though I suspect we will find that the fluidity is confined to other Right 2 Change parties and independents.

They have eleven new TDs and nine new seats. Putting new TDs into Sligo and Cork East shows the power of the SF machine to retain what they hold.  Five of the eleven are young women: a significant upgrade from the party’s aging contingent in the 31st Dail.

Not a bad day at the office when you do the sums. But the truth is any great step forward was predicated on Fianna Fail’s continuing weakness, who sit on the richer seams of voters Sinn Fein needs to take their presence in the Republic to the next level.

Instead, they’ve ended up splitting the Gilmore’s 2011 Labour footprint between themselves and a group of rival parties and independents. If the recovery continues that space is going to come under more intense competition.

With the exception of Louth the rising Fianna Fail vote in the border areas puts a squeeze on the party in the very areas where it has traditionally been at its strongest. The pipping of Senator Kathryn Reilly by Fianna Fail Cllr Niamh Smyth must particularly sting.

So for Sinn Fein, this is a handy result which owes much to the party’s well crafted and honed form of “stay low and keep moving” guerilla politics: ie, the narrative of continuous growth that has served the party well since the early 1980s.

In the wider picture though it is unremarkable. Next month will see negotiations of epic proportions as parties vie over who becomes the next Taoiseach. Fianna Fail’s bid to close the gap between Sinn Fein’s and the left’s position on water charges will feature highly.

For a party of such newly enlarged proportions, that’s not a piece in which Sinn Fein is to going be allowed to sit comfortably on the sidelines.

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  • Neil

    SF will be not exactly be cock-a-hoop at this result, but as you say it’s solid growth and they can tout that for the success that it is. I believe the media treatment of the shinners was noteworthy, some of it was amazingly biased and hostile, and the SCC issue couldn’t have been more poorly timed. However the latter was a rod SF made for their own back, and while I believe they are correct on the SCC obviously the gang murders in Dublin created a problem for the party that they couldn’t really have foretold.

    I believe they have a very good platform now for the future. There will come a time when the old guard moves on, we will at that stage see if Gerry is holding SF back or not. The very negative attack line from the parties and media outlets suffers from the law of ever diminishing returns, and eventually attack lines in the Indo with editorialised headlines will actually lead to a boost for SF as we have seen elsewhere. So in short they didn’t do as well as they should have, but the likelihood of future growth is high in my opinion and they would do well to consider where certain party policies might blow up in their faces at the most inopportune times.

  • Robin Keogh

    I tend to agree with much of what you say but you do underplay the role of media assaults during the capaign. It was incerdibly vociferous and remarkably rabid in its content and delivery. There is not a party on the planet who could withstand the level of hostility lashed at the party while the same media machine lavishly praised and nakedly promoted Fianna Fail and Michael Martin.

    After all the years of investigating Tom Murphy the only day the SCC was free to pass sentance just happenned to land on election day. A handy way of getting around the media blackout for the election and making sure that every hour on the hour whilst people were making their way to the polls RTE, Newstalk and the rest of the Denis OBrien controlled or owned media empire could remind the people through suggestion and inuendo of the terrible beauty; Sinn Fein.

    But, while it may have knocked a few points off our potential, it did nothing to thwart our growth and Shinners nationwide should clap themselves on the back for saving the house during a tornado.

  • Gingray

    “There is not a party on the planet who could withstand the level of hostility”

    MDC in Zimbabwe, Joint List in Israel and MUD, who have had more successful elections with a more hostile media, may disagree.

    The obsession some in the Irish media have with attacking SF gives many supporters an opportunity to have an easy excuse when things do not go as well as they had hoped, but the Irish public are largely smart enough to look beyond that.

    SF have obvious issues that resonate with the public, perhaps its time to start addressing these? The media are not going to change their tune, but the repeated attacks hold little value these days.

  • Robin Keogh

    Yes and that is why i said that the attacks had failed to cause a reversal of fortunes which were clearly their intent. The reason there is a moratorium on the media just prior to polling day is because of the impact coverage can have on a voter going to the polls. The state managed to get around that through the SCC. I am not suggesting either that the Irish people are thick, but if media advertising was not proven to have an impact on consumer decision, companies could save themselves billions. The fact is some people are persuaded especially when no right to reply is allowed.

  • Gingray

    So you agree then that other parties around the planet have suffered worse attacks yet had better success?

    SF since the election have used variations of the line you are taking, which is to blame the media for a drop off which saw them polling in the 17-18% mark up the election, 15% on the week of the election and then actually getting 14% of all first preference votes.

    That is not all down to the media, indeed I would suggest only a small portion of the drop was because of the sustained attacks.

    There are reasons why people turn off SF, rather than trotting out the same tired excuse, it would be great if the party started trying to address these.

  • Robin Keogh

    I havnt made a direct comparison between irish media coverage of Sinn Fein and that of Zimbabwe and or Israel. An easier example might have been the last Greek Elections and media assaults on Syriza who won the election but slightly down on their previous results however in the context of massive social discord nothing like the tame discomfort of much of the Irish electorate. Indeed SF like most parties need to asses their presentation and policy platforms in the wake of any and all elections.

    My overall point is that it would be niaive to think the hysterical media onslaught had no impact.Not the desited effect maybe, but an effect all the same.

  • OldDog

    A disclosure in advance, I’m not a big fan of Sinn Fein (okay I detest the party).

    With that out of the way, I would like to share my observation of Sinn Fein performance in the GE. Sinn Fein may not have blown anybodies socks off, but I think they have finally broken “taboo” status.
    While they have been in government in the Assembly for a number of years now and they are very much part of the government establishment, (I mean, can anybody imagine SF not in government in NI?), they had not replicated this same image as serious “government material” in the Republic,… untill the fall of the Celtic Tiger that is.

    23 seats or 13.8% (I quote above) is not to be sneezed at and a very respectable performance.

    More importantly than the actual figures, has been the performance and media exposure. Yes, there have been mis-steps like the SCC and Slab Murphy incidents, but to be fair, SF have weathered worse and the more often mud is slung at SF, the more of a diminishing return there is for the slingers.

    I am often conflicted about SF myself,…on the one hand I see a really dynamic party, a party that can actually plan beyond an office term, a party that can come with plans then stick to them, keep most of its internal struggles behind closed doors, get out a coherant message, a large amount of active young people,…. damn but I admire their competence in organisation.

    The problem I have is that I question the party’s sincerity. They have lads like Robin Keogh above, who seems to be a reasonable, locgical and progressive guy. They have Mary Lou’s and even a few grass roots activists who seem genuine enough. Sometimes I dare to hope that the “new guard” will take the helm or that all the pleasant soundbytes about equality and respect and fairness are true.

    Then we have the little demonstrations of what SF does when it has the upper hand, McCreesh Park, the Downpatrick St Patricks day parade, the Castlederg march/ commemoration etc.

    I even had the firsthand demonstration of tremendous insincerity at a party sponsored event (I was an invitee), where a lot of people (professionals) attended in genuine good faith. It was resplendent with young people (who were supposed to have been the focus of the event), a bunch of ex-prisoner facilitators etc.

    Well those poor blighters who turned up in good faith were trussed up like turkeys, with a choreographed show trial of those present (including a good old morality preach by a SF man with a very very bad history in the IRA). The conclusions of the workshop appeared to have been decided in advance,… they might as well not have bothered inviting anybody else.

    I don’t want to go into specifics, but it was completely insincere, people who had acted in good faith were obliged to sit and suck it all up.

    A SF activist, who I know as a decent a genuine sort even appeared to be embarrased by the ambush worthy of a North Korean show trial when he caught my eye and gave me an apologetic smile.

    I know of plenty of other similar examples, the relentless “Sinnerbots” online, the smearing of characters of wnybody who speaks against SF (seriously, why does anybody who is critical of SF and their dodgy past and present get labeled as anti-peace process)so the questions for me are:

    Which SF will emerge in the future? The cult-like, vipers pit of insincere manipulators or the “new guard” like Mr Keogh?

    Will the latter even appeal to the old school republicans?

    I don’t know and I’m realistic enough to appreciate that SF, like any group are not a monolith, but as an Irishman (if not a republican), I still regard them as the “bad guys”.

    To the Sinn Fein younger members and activists I do have one piece of advice from Disneys Wreck it Ralph:

    “And I say, Zangief you are bad guy, but this does not mean you are *bad* guy.”

  • murdockp

    More like being called the best looking man in the burns unit.

  • UC

    A lesson learned in Donegal but otherwise all the other seats held with an extra 8 added and just missing out on approx 7 others. Well placed for gains in the future with the expectancy that seats gained this election will also be held.
    The island wide vote is now pushing toward half a million, is this reasonable for Sinn Fein? I’d say it’s remarkable.

  • murdockp

    The issue for me with SF is the polar opposite policy north and south which is ridiculous to observe.

    In the south one of their big policies to get voters on board was the abolition of the property tax. The the north they have raised the property tax every year at it can no run into thousands of pounds per annum for a household.

    There is also no economic credibility there at all.

    They remind me of the ANC in south Africa. The voters will keep voting regardless of performance.

  • Granni Trixie

    Will you explain to me how bad headlines gives a boost to a party? Whilst there may be somethng in the thinking that the only bad publicity is no publicity, a political party in the business of broadening voter appeal needs an appealing image – which is partly but only partly constructed by media imagery.

    If you are infact sayng that through time the mud has less efficacy – then possibly.
    However I think you can usefully apply Goffmans ideas about how “spoiled identity” are managed by individuals to managing a political identity.

  • ted hagan

    Adams talking economics is a joke. Next time they will need a leader who can produce ideas that have been properly costed. Also, if the Fianna Fail example is anything to go by, then voters will forgive Labour in time and desert SF.

  • Hugh Davison

    It’s easy, Trixie. If the Indo (which is the one I am aware of, though others may be playing the same game) has as policy one negative story per day about Sinn Fein, I think most readers eventually realise this is just irritating background noise, and ignore it.
    Or maybe it’s the Denis O’Brien factor?

  • Roger

    Typical of the Shinners, in desperation they even call into question the country’s courts. These types can’t be trusted with being part of a real government. They don’t accept the constitution.

  • Granni Trixie

    Even when a particular paper is clearly perceived as targeting a politician or party Over time it sustains negativity about them. And even if you do not agree I defy anyone to support the claim that it gives them a boost.

    UNLESS: they have a good reputation and garner sympathy Because they are being treated unfairly. In the cas of SF there are so many other sources of stigma to be managed thAt they only get sympathy from staunch supporters for whom they can do no wrong.

  • Gopher

    Politics ebb and flow but always within parameters and its interesting that for an alleged all Ireland party the atrophying performance North of the Border which was always excused by trying to force a decision in the South has been ignored in the final tally. Failure to control Newry and South Down in the council elections and the loss of of Fermanagh and South Tyrone being the most obvious examples to throw in the scales though North Belfast and the ex Lord Mayors shambles in Belfast South are worth mentioning, if it were not for accepting partition when talking about results.

    Then there is context, when one talks about results one has to look at the context of the election, which as polling day arrived became more muted. This election was fought at the most auspicious time for protest yet by the time polling day arrived it was about power. True FF might be stupid enough to offer SF a coalition but they would just be part of the bag of cats necessary and coalition bargaining from such a weak position invariably cheapens your brand . Nope a second election looms along with further partition of the Island through excuse and resource.

    Stalemates are interesting things and people always focus on the materiel side, usually quite misguided people. Being 1916, the centenary of stalemates teaches us that someone wins and someone loses every stalemate because all aims are not equal. I would say FF won this stalemate hands down.

  • Gingray

    Ha! Robin, indeed you did not make a direct comparison, I was merely pointing out the flaw in your hyperbole. To wit:

    “There is not a party on the planet who could withstand the level of hostility lashed at the party.”

    In this you are incorrect as other parties in much more one sided media environments have done stronger.

    I do not think you, or the party in general are stupid, nor do I think the media did not have an impact. But all the party members I have talked to are coming off with the same line – its the medias fault we did not make the gains we really could and should have.

    This ignores the obvious issues the Irish public have with some elements of the Sinn Fein platform, and unfortunately the failure to address these is holding you back from being a strong all Ireland party, which is what many of us are after.

  • Jag

    If the media was as influential as Robin suggests, Jeremy Corbyn would never have been elected leader of the Brit Labour party (even liberal Private Eye was rabidly hostile towards Jezzers).

    SF just doesn’t have the policies or personalities which voters can believe in (obvs, it does have some credible policies and personalities, but just enough to attract 13.8% – up from 9.9% in 2011).

  • Gingray


    I agree in part, but the Irish Independent is read by around 100k per day – a good number all right, but how many potential Sinn Fein voters are among that number?

    They failed to really set themselves apart from either the Left parties or Fianna Fail, which is more of an issue than the media.

    The negativity for SF from the press is nothing new, and the levels it reached not nearly as bad as 2011 and 2007. Surely this will already have been priced in?

  • Jag

    13.8% share of the vote, up from 9.9% in 2011 after the most oppressive austerity in living memory, when the main party rivals were the three amigoes who wrecked the economy, or enforced the austerity.

    Labour went from 10% in 2007 to 19.5% in 2011 to 6.6% in 2016.

    It was a disappointing result for the Shinners.

    As for boasting about being most popular amongst young voters, that voting group is the most promiscuous and as Labour has found in 2016, they’ll move on to the shiniest new thing at the drop of a hat.

    SF needs to have a good long look at itself.

  • Gingray

    It should be noted that this may have been an ok day for Sinn Fein, not massive % FPV increase, but decent increase in seat numbers, but it was dismal for the left wing parties in general, particularly after 5 years of FG led government.

    In 2011 Labour, SF, SP, PBP, WUA, GP and left wing independents got around 39% of the vote and 62 seats (37% of the total).

    In 2016 SF, Lab, AAA-PBP, SD, GP, WUA, I4C and other left wing independents got around 37% of the vote and 51 seats (32% of the total).

    Very poor showing.

  • Jag

    Donegal wasn’t the only constituency where SF displayed appalling judgment and unmerited hubris. In Dublin West, the 2-candidate strategy allowed Joan Burton to be elected.

    In fairness SF believed the polls which for most of 2015 and early 2016 had the party at an average of 20%; even during the campaign they were at an average of 18%.

  • mickfealty

    There’s no doubt the Indo went after SF, and there’s little doubt they were backing the government parties in an attempt to push the stability message. I’m not sure it worked as they would have wished either way.

    I’m pretty sure it had an effect but in general terms, people are able to distinguish between actual news and spin. Besides, the longer term slide was evident from as early as last October. The cover up scandals were actually real news, as was GA’s struggles with his own party’s economic policy.

    I don’t think it helps matters just to externalise the blame. If you look at FF as an example they got a tremendous thumping in the last days of Empire, and I suspect the reason they’ve bounced back so quickly is that they took their medicine and didn’t complain.

    Revenge is a dish best eaten cold, and all of that…

  • Skibo

    Can you substantiate that statement with actual facts about the increase in rates?
    I believe Belfast produced a zero increase last year. First time in history.

  • Robin Keogh

    Jeremy doesnt have to put up with the hatred of the Irish INM which is as foul as is possible to be.

  • Robin Keogh

    Unless you have embarked on an academic comparative analysis on the effects of media smear against SF versus that against parties in other countries i doubt you can stand over such confident pronouncement.

    Your pedantics aside, Hyperbole in this context is meant to reflect the 74 rabidly anti Sinn Fein articles of one media organisation in the space of just over three weeks.

  • Robin Keogh

    You clearly dont understand democracy

  • Gingray

    Ha ha ha!

    And this Robin is my issue with Sinn Fein – you guys cannot see the wood for the trees! Gurning about the media continues to make the party look weak.

    Meanwhile the public are making up their own minds, with the big two taking less than 50%. Sinn Fein should have increased by much more than 4%, and the failure to blame this on the media will not help.

    Fianna Fáil have come out with the momentum, they look competent and focused on issues that worked for them and against them, and how these can be addressed.

    In addition, as the vote for left wing parties has actually dropped from 2011 to 2016, one can see the broad church FF party reemerging, picking up what should have been votes for SF. Crazy.

  • Neil

    Hi GT,

    you’ve got where I’m coming from, I just believe people have a keen sense for unfairness and know when they’re being hit with a consistent series of attack articles in the press. Perhaps a boost was the wrong phrase to use, but relentless negativity can generate sympathy if it’s perceived to be unfair.

    In the south there we had the SCC stuff, reported like Gerry Adams personally wanted to release every murderer in the Republic, where in fact he was singing from the same hymn sheet as many respected human rights organisations. Gerry’s economic idiocy. Gerry getting his arse handed to him in each debate. Etc. etc. People see through it.

    Adding this, worth a read:

  • Hugh Davison

    As SF continues its slow transformation into FF Nua, ghosts from the past will continue to rise up at inconvenient moments. But as the past recedes, the negative effect of those apparitions will also lessen. Also I believe SF has a younger profile in the South, despite GA, than FF. While FF has had a significant recovery, evidence suggests that a lot of that came from older voters returning to the fold.

  • Robin Keogh

    Gingray, sometimes having a converation about something has nothin to do with being right ot wrong. I gave my opinion on an issue which is backed up by a couple journos brave enough to pop their heads above the parapet against INM.

    In your world maybe its acceptable to assume party members are simply gurning when they offer an explanation in the aftermath of a contest. Maybe it justifies in your mind dismissing the views of others. But thats not really how online blogs work. Maybe you would have more joy on P.IE perhaps.

    In any event SF is evolving and with increases in almost every constituency in the country, we will pocket that and work on our message. Thanks for your suggestions.

  • Skibo

    Do you really think the labour vote went to SF? I think it more likely went to FF with their softer approach. I also believe the voters will be shown that this softer approach is temporary and we will resume to their more conservative policies when in government with FG.

  • Gingray

    Robin, when one insinuate that NO PARTY ON THE PLANET (your words) could withstand the media campaign Sinn Fein did, It very disrespectful to those politicians in authotarian nations risking life and limb against an aggressive media and state, who deliver electoral success despite the very real threats they face.

    If you do not like someone posting holes in your hyperbole, perhaps you should not use it? Its the sort of mass paranoia that one would expect on 😉

    The Irish Independent gets around 0.1m readers a day, and while I am sure many of those are potential Sinn Fein voters, they are a small portion of the 3.3m eligible voters, or the 2.1m who turned out to vote.

    So in a blog, focussing on why, while they improved, Sinn Fein did not do as well as expected, your only answer is to blame the media and dismiss all other suggestions.

    As you are a regular poster on Slugger about all things Sinn Fein, it is just a bit disappointing.

    I want to see the party do well, it just seems that much like in the North, ostrich mode has kicked in.

  • Robin Keogh

    Nowhere have i dismissed other suggestions.

  • Gingray

    Ok 😉

    Its just the media you are focusing on.

  • Robin Keogh

    No, I was pointing out to Mick that he was underplaying the media role whilst i ACCEPTED much of what he said.

  • Gingray

    What bits of Micks blog do you accept as being the reasons Sinn Fein underperformed against expectations?

  • Robin Keogh

    Whose expectations?

  • Kev Hughes


    ‘the Irish Independent is read by around 100k per day – a good number all right, but how many potential Sinn Fein voters are among that number?’

    Yeah, that’s true, but you are ignoring the echo affect that a large newspaper has on setting stories for the remainder of the day, asking questions which other outlets pick up etc.

    Think of it as a conversation or topic starter.

  • Gingray

    “I have always held that 15% will give us the brekthrough we need to provide a hefty opposition in the Dail. If we end up at 12/13%; which is not impossible given the current media onslaught, we could be lucky to win between 18 and 20 seats. ”

    Your own 🙂

    Sinn Fein did not perform as well as you had expected, and other than blame the media and make a comment about accepting much of what Mick says, you have not provided any other reason.

    Robin I have some issues with Sinn Fein, but not enough to make me dislike them or put me off voting for them if I had the option.

    But it is getting boring how none of you guys, North or South are willing to admit that the election did not go as well as it could, and its not just the fault of the media.

  • Gingray

    I accept that Kev, but how many people do you think it swayed?

    Lot of research has shown that in the digital age, when misinformation is repeated over and over again, the source tends to lose credability.

    So if this had been the first election to feature massive attacks on SF, they should be worried, but its the 3rd in a row, people already know the score.

    Blaming the media, no matter how biased they are, means ignoring the other issues that may be holding the party back from making an even bigger break through.

    Or do you think it is only/mainly the medias fault that Sinn Fein ended up with under 14% of the vote, after being neck and neck with Fianna Fail for months?

  • Robin Keogh

    Lol, you are quoting me and proving my own point, or dont you see that ? 😉

    I was responding to Mick and surely if I agreed with some of what he said, it kinda indicates i acknowledged that the media was not the only issue but it was far and away the biggest problem. You dont except that which is fine.

    Our manifesto was excellent but in hindsight i think the plan to reduce the levels of tax relief on private pensions should have excluded lower middle income areas.

    Donegal was a mess, turned out to be a mistake to run three candidates and the party was caught off gaurd by the surge of the far left vote in Dublin where we have been gaining ground consistantly over the years.

    FF did well but it is still their second worst performance in history. They are peeling away at the FG vote so we will need to watch our bacjs there in the coming years.

    On message the party was strong, when our candidates were allowed airtime they performed excellently. But some need to be a little more assertive during interviews and not allow hosts to ride rough shod over them.

    Adams will always have to put up with attacks and smear. Do we do as the media and trad establishment want us to do and get rid? Do we break our own principles and hand control of our party over to selfish interests as the others have done? No thanks, as long as Gerry, Ferris, McGuinness etc keep taking the hits, it leaves the rising stars room to continue building the party and fine tune their skills.

    Overall we did a brilliant job, i am certainly happy that we withstood the worst media battering in the history of the whole world.. 🙂

  • Kev Hughes

    Thanks Ging.

    ‘how many people do you think it swayed?’ – there’s a question which, if I knew the answer I’d be a very rich man! Honestly, I suppose it depends who you speak to. If I speak to INM they would love to say it was them that won it.

    ‘Lot of research has shown that in the digital age, when misinformation is repeated over and over again, the source tends to lose credability.’ – You know, I don’t buy that in its entirety Ging. I look across the pond to how the Donald is doing and I know that misinformation can work on a certain part of any electorate. Your supposition appears to work on the assumption that all are intelligent, rational folks, while I go with Richard Nixon’s head in Futurama and think the electorate are as drunk as ever 😀

    ‘So if this had been the first election to feature massive attacks on SF, they should be worried, but its the 3rd in a row, people already know the score.’ – come now Ging, SF were not in this position before (I’m deliberately ignoring the revolutionary times in this statement before anyone else points this out) where they would be a pretty major party in the South.

    ‘Blaming the media, no matter how biased they are, means ignoring the other issues that may be holding the party back from making an even bigger break through.’ – this is not a mutually exclusive exercise here; one can blame the media AND say there are obvious failings in one’s platform that need to be addressed simultaneously. I actually don’t hear people saying it’s all the media and nothing to do with the party itself, though I could be wrong.

    ‘Or do you think it is only/mainly the medias fault that Sinn Fein ended up with under 14% of the vote, after being neck and neck with Fianna Fail for months?’ – No, why, have I said otherwise?

    I do believe that the media does have a part to play, but I also think their result is down to, amongst other things 1. the brand still not being respectable, 2. PR voting system giving a voice to smaller parties/independents meaning people can kind of get to have their cake on an issue and eat it by voting in one issue or hyper-localised TDs, thus meaning the electorate didn’t feel the need to give their vote to a party like SF when they could just give it to whomever else, 3. FF being an incredibly resistant organisation.

  • Gingray

    See, thats more like it!

    I have never thought that replacing Gerry is the answer, because it is not the real problem. Most of what you mention are, and the results in Dublin and Meath should have been better, but the left and FF just had the better message and approach.

    SF did great everywhere else tbh, Donegal was a mess, but hell it happens. Reilly in Cavan was also a blow, but even a few extra points would not have got her over with the FF increase.

    The issues you raise are very different from Micks, more on the nose and are the steps to moving forward.

    Blaming the media is, in my opinion, lazy, fruitless and more likely to get you nothing but scorn.

  • Roger

    Sinn Fein demonstrated their understanding of democracy during 25 years of murder.

  • Gingray

    We can agree to disagree on this 🙂

    I think the Donald Trump is a red herring here – he is running for an election and is not the press, indeed what we are seeing is that his misinformation is putting off more and more republicans, independents and democrats. He does have a hard core of support, but those are generally people unlikely to support his non republican opponents.

    No, if you want to compare anything from the USA, the attacks from the media on SF are more similar to the attacks on Obama from Fox News.

    The people who would never vote for Obama believe them, but they have had very little impact on the result. I imagine the % of people watching fox news that are likely to vote democrat are broadly similar to the % of people reading the Irish independent who are likely to vote Sinn Fein 🙂

    2007 was the first election I remember big media attacks on SF, Gerry on TV, SF targetting an increase and actually dropping. That had an impact.

    In 2011 the effect was wearing off, media doesnt like SF, big deal, although the party did not do as well with the appearences they had.

    By 2016 tho SF have got a handle on things, performed well, and after 10 years of constant negativity, the folks who would have been swayed have already been swayed.

    So SF need to look beyond blaming the media and understand why they have underperformed against expectations.

  • Robin Keogh

    Dry your eyes love and find a relevant argument

  • Kev Hughes

    No worries Ging, I always enjoy good natured contact sports. I would challenge one thing though:

    ‘I think the Donald Trump is a red herring here – he is running for an election and is not the press, indeed what we are seeing is that his misinformation is putting off more and more republicans, independents and democrats. He does have a hard core of support, but those are generally people unlikely to support his non republican opponents.’

    What I am saying is the following: mass disinformation being perpetrated by people, including Trump supporters and the nut jobs in Tea Party-esque organisations has been ongoing for years now. They know it’s false but it resonates with some who ‘feel’ that it’s correct. And let’s also be clear, his rhetoric is NOT putting off republicans, as they’re going to him in droves, voting for him at primaries up and down the States. It’s putting off the GOP establishment, undoubtedly, but as we’re finding out, the establishment and it’s base are very separate things.

    An excellent read for some background:

    ‘By 2016 tho SF have got a handle on things, performed well, and after 10 years of constant negativity, the folks who would have been swayed have already been swayed.’ – how do you measure that though? Otherwise, how would it’s vote increase or decrease over time? I believe that thinking so statically is doing you a disservice there as it ignores the fact that people change their minds over time. To say that the media don’t play a part in this is a strange line of argument.

    ‘So SF need to look beyond blaming the media and understand why they have underperformed against expectations.’ – I don’t believe they’re laying all the blame at the feet of the MSM (and if they are then they are mistaken and foolish to do so), but ignoring the part the media plays is slightly myopic sir.

  • Robin Keogh

    Gee tnks i feel all warm inside. Maybe highlighting the medias role will lead to people opening their eyes and realising the damage of their influence.

  • Gingray

    I have not checked, but I thought Trump only had around 3 million votes, or like 35% of the voting republicans, and less of the delegates? Which makes him the worst performing “lead” republican candidate in nearly 100 years?

    It will not surprise me if Trump is not the candidate, and if someone
    else is brought in closer to the convention if the ticket is split.

    In terms of ignoring the media, I am not saying it has no impact, I just am finding it grating that generally the SF response to the election has been to suggest the media was the root cause for not reaching expectations.

    But I do disagree with you on how significant the media is, particularly after years of pumping the same message.

  • Kev Hughes

    Okk, so we’re going off on two separate streams here.

    ‘I have not checked, but I thought Trump only had around 3 million votes, or like 35% of the voting republicans, and less of the delegates? Which makes him the worst performing “lead” republican candidate in nearly 100 years?’ – The primary system, as we know it, were people designating and voting for candidates like we are seeing (an election for an election) really only began in the 70s. Before hand it was the big guns in states sitting down and horse trading. So, whatever happened 100 years ago really has no impact or provides us with no real insight on how things work today.

    ‘It will not surprise me if Trump is not the candidate, and if someone else is brought in closer to the convention if the ticket is split.’ – we can only hope so, but I doubt it. He’s amassed a huge number of delegates and while he hasn’t locked it all up just yet I’m fairly certain he will in the next fortnight. The link I previously provided is a good start on where this is all going and why it’s different this time. I was talking to my brother yesterday on this and he said something very insightful (IMHO) on the matter: people/pundits talk about this like it’s a boxing match, of one candidate against another. Meanwhile, Trump is treating this somewhat differently, more akin to another ‘spectacle’ that’s in a ring with a huge number of competitors all fighting each other at once: a ROYAL RUMBLE. He’ll get the nomination because his opponents don’t know what they’re doing in the ring while the Donald knows the rules.

    ‘In terms of ignoring the media, I am not saying it has no impact, I just am finding it grating that generally the SF response to the election has been to suggest the media was the root cause for not reaching expectations.’ – Can you show me where someone from SF has said that it is the ‘root cause’ of their performance? I’m not trying to be churlish here, i’m being honest, for I have not seen this to date. I have seen people saying that they’re not getting a fair go from the MSM and they have hampered them, but not that this is the ‘root cause’.

    ‘But I do disagree with you on how significant the media is, particularly after years of pumping the same message.’ – oh for sure, they can lose their efficacy on certain matters over time, this I will not deny. But when I look at the hoopla over the SCC then I see that they too can have an impact on diverting attention or creating mountains out of molehills.

  • JohnTheOptimist

    The best thing that SF could do now is to totally disband, both north and south. The leadership can probably make a good living for themselves on the after-dinner speaking circuit in America. They should avail of it. The entire Provo Sinn Fein/PIRA project has been a total disaster. It has brought no benefit of any kind to anyone in Ireland (and a lot of harm to many). It has greatly damaged the political cause it was supposedly set up to advance.

    I was 20 and at Queens when the Provos were formed in December 1969. If memory serves me right, it was after a walkout from a conference in Dublin. It is difficult to think of a single person in Ireland since then, whose life has been made in any way better than it would have been if the Provos had gone quietly home that day and let the geriatric 1960s IRA gradually fizzle out. Since its formation, Provo Sinn Fein/PIRA rhetoric has been filled with promise after promise to their gullible and not very bright supporters, but none of the promises have been kept. The reality has never matched the rhetoric. All 3 phases of the Provo Sinn Fein/PIRA project have been a total failure.

    Failure number 1:

    The military campaign was a total failure. I went to a Provo Sinn Fein/PIRA meeting at Queens in December 1972. I went out of curiosity, rather than support. The speaker was one of the post-GFA mid-rank leaders of Sinn Fein. At the meeting he made it pretty obvious he was proud to be in PIRA. I won’t name him, but he was quite well-known post-GFA (not a TD, not an MP and not an AM). Anyway, he assured the cheering audience (probably 80 or so) that PIRA were on the brink of victory. ‘Ireland will be free in 73’ was his rallying call. I thought his prediction was crazy at the time, but, as I valued my kneecaps, I refrained from saying anything. Then, on New Year Day 1974, PIRA declared ‘1974 the year of victory. But, it was all rubbish.

    Apart from the tragedy of 3,000 plus losing their lives, the PIRA military campaign was disastrous for nationalism. Difficult though it is for people under 50 to realise it, back in the 1960s most unionists considered themselves Irish, regarded the border as a political border only and not a social or economic one (Brian Faulkner was never out of Dublin and most of the unionist government had houses in Donegal), and acknowledged that it was probably temporary. Their main gripe was that living standards in the south then were lower than in the north. Had things remained peaceful, the emergence of the Celtic Tiger in the 1990s would probably have led at the very least to All-Ireland economic integration, paving the way for political integration within a generation. But, the PIRA campaign blew that scenario apart, reinforced the unionist population’s sense of separate identity and destroyed their willingness to take part in joint economic and social ventures with the rest of Ireland. In addition, the PIRA military campaign made the N. Ireland economy totally dependent on largesse from London. In the 1960s the N. Ireland economy more or less paid its way and was not dependent on London to anything like the extent it is now. Then, PIRA had a cunning plan, worthy of Baldrick. They’d blow the N. Ireland economy to bits and make it so expensive for the Brits to support, that they’d leave. It never occurred to them that, if you make it that expensive for a country of 60 million to support, its even more expensive for a country of 4.5 million to support.

    Failure number 2:

    Roll forward to early 1998 and the signing of the Sunningdale-For-Slow-Learners Agreement on Good Friday that year. The Post-GFA leadership of Sinn Fein then assured nationalists that the Agreement would lead to a United Ireland within 20 years. The demographics, allied to SF’s ‘skilful’ political leadership would, we were assured, see to it. But, the reality is that in 2016 the Union is more secure than ever (as Arlene Foster said recently), Under SF leadership, the nationalist vote is falling at every election, in marked contrast to the situation when John Hume was the leader of nationalism in N. Ireland and the nationalist vote was increasing at every election (reaching 45% at peak v 38% last May). While, according to the polls, support for a United Ireland has completely collapsed.

    Failure number 3:

    In recent years the SF emphasis has switched to the south. But, the same pattern of grandiose promises not being matched by reality continues. Their destiny was to wipe FF off the political map and be the senior partner in Ireland’s first left-wing government, or so they told us. Following the worst global recession since the 1930s, it all seemed to be going to plan. They couldn’t have had a more favourable scenario. Then comes last Friday. And SF flop again. Big time! Nowhere near government today, and unlikely to be tomorrow.

    So, we have to ask. What has been the point of the entire Provo Sinn Fein/ PIRA project from its inception in December 1969. What has it achieved? Any reasonable observer would say ‘nothing’. Fifty years is long enough for any movement to be given the chance to show its of some value to the political cause it claims to support. Time to disband. Let a new SNP-like nationalist party arise in N. Ireland, free of any connection with terrorism, able to articulate the case for economic and political integration in Ireland and independence from London, and working closely with the main parties in the Republic (FF and FG), rather than seeing them as a deadly enemy to be constantly fought against and eventually overthrown.

  • Roger

    Nothing could be more relevant to understanding the SF-IRA mentality than their murder campaign.

  • Robin Keogh

    Good for you, now look out the window…its 2016

  • Roger

    Top class summary.

    One can ponder too the ‘after-dinner speaking themes’: ‘how to dress up total defeat as victory’; ‘how not to do things’; ’25 years of murdering policemen’; ‘murderers are democrats too’…etc.

  • Jollyraj

    Excellent, clear-thinking analysis.

  • Jollyraj

    It is actually 2016, Rob, and as JohnTheOptimist points out in his devastating critique a few comments up from this one of the lack of progress in the Republican project, no real achievements to show for it

  • Robin Keogh

    Well written post and very interesting analysis from a point of view that clearly rests on wishful thinking rather than pragmatic reality.

    The evolutionn of the struggle away from physical force is something that was nurtured by Sinn Fein every step of the way.

    The deadline mentality of Unionism in the Never Never Never context is the real failure while the republican project grows steadily across the Island.

    The vulgar unionist edifice was torn down, the RUC and UDR dumped, The British Army dipatched and Dublin placed at the heart of northern affairs; whilst the world looked on in giddy amusement at the flailing hands of orangeism sinking beneath the waves of progressivism.

    The economic terrorism, political fascism, and social apartheid employed by mid twentieth century unionism was picked up, wrapped up and shoved down their necks. Nationalism stood by and let Republicans get on with the job.

    Now its all being regurgetated by individuals such as yourself who cannot live with the success of Sinn Fein.

    Sinn Fein has grown steadiky over the last twenty years and is spreading into every corner of the country. Dublin Derry Cork Kerry Antrim Clare and Armagh the party gets bigger and stronger while unionism declines as its own children leave these shores embarrased, never to return.

    So we have to ask ourselves, what was the point in over 50 years of unionist control, only to have it crushed upon the rocks of its own arrogance, delivering over half a million Sinn Fein voters and an ex IRA man as joint first minister; not bad going for a defeated army.

  • Robin Keogh

    Sorry love but SF only had one candidate in Dubkin West.

  • Paddy Reilly


  • Paddy Reilly

    What you are ignoring is the effect of the economy on the Sinn Féin vote. They do best when the economy is doing worst. That they did not sweep the boards as some pollsters expected suggests the economy is picking up.

    So, bad news for the apostles of unification, but good news for the driving force of unification.

  • Paddy Reilly

    A futile exercise in the rhetoric of self-deception.

    ‘Failure’ number 1

    most unionists considered themselves Irish, regarded the border as a political border only …. and acknowledged that it was probably temporary.

    Bullshit. As a considerable swathe of Unionists earned their living from positions which depended on partition, the likes of RUC men, they were never going to accede to its removal or even concede that it was possible.

    ‘Failure’ number 2

    But, the reality is that in 2016 the Union is more secure than ever (as Arlene Foster said recently),

    Bullshit. On a par with statements like ‘The pound in your pocket has never been stronger’ and tannoyed broadcasts in the Twin Towers, telling the workers there was no need to evacuate. What would you expect a Unionist to say? In any case, the increase in the Catholic population is not the doing of Sinn Féin.

    ‘Failure’ number 3

    And SF flop again.

    Bullshit. Increasing your seats by 50% and making yourself the 3rd largest political party in the country is not flopping by any standard.

  • Gingray

    I agree we are – I think your analogy continues to be inaccurate, but hey ho.

    In regards Trump – he is polling, and has been polling, as the choice of 30-35% of the republican voters for over 6 months. No real change.

    His favourability ratings are getting worse however, something that most pollsters view as nearly more important that party polls.

    In terms of someone from Sinn Fein blaming the media – Robin, a party member, above:

    “the media was not the only issue but it was far and away the biggest problem”.

    Also if you are friends with any members on FB or Twitter like I am, then you will see similar.

  • Kev Hughes

    ‘His favourability ratings are getting worse however, something that most pollsters view as nearly more important that party polls.’

    That may or may not be true Ging, but it’s not worth a hill of beans if the others are doing worse than him and not picking up delegates from the primaries. This will only become more pronounced when it becomes winner takes all/FPTP in the upcoming primaries, so Trump’s favorability ratings mean nowt in this regard.

    ‘the SF response to the election has been to suggest the media was the root cause for not reaching expectations.’

    ‘”the media was not the only issue but it was far and away the biggest problem”. – this is Robin’s response, and TBF, not the response I have seen either in the media or elsewhere (family from West Belfast, North Antrim and god’s country of North Armagh) and to date, no, haven’t seen this pedalled out. Robin is a member, so yes, I concede that, but from SF as opposed to supporters of SF, no, sorry, haven’t seen that. I just get the impression you are conflating supporters and ground troops with the guys who run it, and the latter aren’t coming out and saying the media are the root cause for this showing.

  • Paddy Reilly

    Yes I believe the United States achieved its democracy by seeking out anyone wearing the King’s livery and firing a warning shot through their heads.

  • Jack Stone

    No real achievements? Lets look first at Northern Ireland. In 1982, Sinn Fein received 10.1% of the vote and were the 5th largest party in Northern Ireland. In 2011, Sinn Fein received 26.3% and are the second largest party. In The Republic, in 1982, Sinn Fein received 1.0% of the vote, won no seats. In 2016 they received 13.8%, won 23 seats and are the third largest party in the Republic. They forced a powersharing agreement in Northern Ireland (with an Unionist establishment that said they would never work with the IRA, today both major political parties have shared the executive with an admitted member of the IRA) and gained a measure of legitimacy on both sides of the border that they lacked. For the first time since partition, a political party has the potential to be in government on both sides of the border. How do you define a real achievement?

  • Robin Keogh

    We have known for quite some time that on paper at least the economy is doing very well, at the same time SF registered significant growth.

  • Roger

    Sinn Fein haven’t changed leader since 1983…it’s 2016 and you’re sticking with the murderers.

  • Robin Keogh

    The dead babies in the middle east might say the same to u and ur masters in london government if they ever lived to have a voice.

  • Roger

    Colin Nicholl (1) and Tracey Munn (2) were both in a pram when your IRA heroes bravely bombed a Belfast furniture shop. The little ones were in the shop. They didn’t survive.

    We don’t have to go as far as the Middle East to find dead babies. SF-IRA helped make sure of that.

  • Robin Keogh

    The RUC, British Army and UDR took their fair share of young innocent lives, you dont care much for them. Typical.

  • Roger

    As if the actions of others excuses anything. Your IRA heroes are cold blooded murderers. You should call them out as such. But you don’t. SF are not democrats. They are happy to stand over the murder of innocents and those whose politics wasn’t the same as theirs.

  • Robin Keogh

    Your one sided whining shows you to be nothing more than an apologist for state terrorism and someone who has no rational or intellectual understanding of the complexities of conflict. The GFA happenned, nothing you can do about it so suck it up stop whingeing, contribute something positive for the future rather than limp around with a chip on your shoulder.

  • Roger

    Your refusal to condemn the IRA and its murder campaign is what really speaks loudest here.

  • Robin Keogh

    I have no idea what you are talking about. Your refusal to condemn the sectarian unionist state and its killers squads in the RUC, British army and UDR is what really speaks loudest here.

  • Granni Trixie

    I agree with much of what you say. Brings to mind memories of the start of the troubles in context of WB and can testify that many around me saw the riots as a law and order problem which ‘the authorities’ would sort out. Things got worse – more complicated from there on. I believe also that Ray Davey and REv John Morrow, Presbyterian ministers were in support of addressing discrimination so attended meetings in QUB u till they became aware PB etc were being appropriated to other agendas.

  • Roger

    I am very happy to condemn outright all murders. I would not for a moment defend things like Bloody Sunday for example. I have no problem condemning atrocities committed by any side.

    Sinn Fein supported the IRA in their campaign of murdering RUC men, toddlers in furniture shops, protestants in rural areas etc. The IRA are a disgusting group of criminal murderers. That you don’t condemn them shows how shallow Sinn Fein ‘democracy’ is.

  • Robin Keogh

    You took your time in finding it with in your heart to condemn state murder. Its a pity you werent as quick to da that as you were to make assumptions about me. I too condemn many IRA actions. But i respect the GFA and tge principle of consent, democracy and the rule of law. Unlike yourself I dont allow the past to haunt my hope for the future and i trust that Irish men and women will never again suffer brutality under British/Unionist civil, political and economic dominance. In short, I believe them when they say ‘its over’, you should try it.

  • Roger

    I don’t support a party that backed murders and atrocities. You do. You say that you “condemn many IRA actions”. Please tell us what murders committed by the IRA you do not condemn?

    I condemn every single needless, pointless and shameful one of them.

  • Robin Keogh

    Ah I see so you want a heirarchy of victims, a stratification of misery as if one death is somhow less worthy of sympathy than the next. I dont play that game, its macabre, declasse and nothing more than a smokescreen for sectarianism.

  • Roger

    You can ask me any specific question you like. I will happily answer.

    I asked you a clear, simple question. You didn’t answer. Please tell us what murders committed by the IRA you do not condemn?