Martin McGuinness (not Michelle O’Neill) describes the DUP as bigots in Mid Ulster

My analysis of Mid Ulster is a little harsher for Sinn Fein than most. But I can’t see much bounce for the new leader since last June since Mid Ulster was the constituency of the previous SF leader, Martin McGuinness. They’re significantly short of three quotas too. 

In their favour, they have an election machine second to none. Nor are they afraid to use marked registers to help them figure out who has voted and who hasn’t.  Despite the fact that it’s not, strictly speaking, legal.

This precision marketing is key to their enduring ground war electoral success. It has helped them buck the weather, and confound their critics time and again. For instance, take West Belfast where the machine is at its most confident:

So yesterday, this came in from a Slugger reader in Mid Ulster (name and address withheld):


This is not what the party has been sending out across the constituency. Those marked registers give the party a huge advantage in terms of segmenting the local political market. This particular voter had never had such a communication from the party before.

If it demonstrates anything it is that the party thinks Martin rather than the new (and very local) leader is still the main pull. But then look carefully at the text? It describes SF’s putative partners in government as being guilty of crude bigotry.

Not quite a crude 2015 ‘remember you’re a Catholic’ campaign in North Belfast.

But then again it is not exactly advertising a particularly appetising coalition of the willing either.

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  • SeaanUiNeill

    Nevin, do you suppose that the effort to ensure full and equal civil rights for all here was somehow a “rabble rousing” activity?

    As with everyone else in the PD and in the NICRA, the intention was to peacably demand Civil Rights through drawing the worlds attention to the current condition in NI in 1968 through demonstrations and civil disobedience. John’s too, as I remember. I know you imagine the campaign to have been a combination of red revolution and republican malice but I feel honoured to have been someone from the Protestant tradition participating in as clean and necessary an activity, and feel that I can (if only imaginatively) look my Volunter ancestors from the 1780s (who voted for equality in the great conventions) in their eyes only because of having done this. If that were folly, I’m glad that I’m still a “fool”, and in excellent company if John Hume is alongside me in such folly, for which he has uniquely been awarded three major peace awards, the Nobel Peace Prize,the Gandhi Peace Prize and the Martin Luther King Award. Sadly John’s health was in steep decline the last time I saw him, a year or two back.

    But, returning again to the main part of what we were discussing before your descent into “blame placing”, do you really believe that those people around us who unquestionably still conform to John’s description should somehow elicit our respect?

  • Nevin

    Seaan, I’m not convinced that you’re as gullible as you portray yourself in this incredibly naive analysis. The earlier ’56-’62 insurrection failed and Desmond Greaves, who’d shown more concern for the rights of perpetrators than victims, cynically focused on the use of rights issues to advance a 32-county socialist Ireland agenda. John Hume had no illusions about the motivation of those who initiated NICRA and neither did Eamonn McCann. A respectful relationship between the Belfast and Dublin administrations was required as well as reform in both jurisdictions. The few tentative steps that were taken were sabotaged by the unionist, nationalist and socialist rabble-rousers.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Nevin, I was there in person, and from what you say in earlier postings, you were at a distance from what was going on. You chose now to believe the textual versions of events which people such as Desmond Greaves offers, I know. Why you are not more sceptical about such claims in what you must realise was a rather more complicted situation where there was a pre-existent Civil Rights group (the Campaign for Social Justice) and a lot of other people involved with concerns very much removed from Republican seperatism, (including some the young Unionists even, such as Robin Cole), I simpy cannot fathom. You entirely ignore the pre-existence well before the Wolfe Tone Societies Maghera meeting of the Campaign for Social Justice work and their links with many Labour members in England with Civil Liberty interests. No, the Republicans did not start the Civil Rights movement here, no matter how convenient Greaves’ claims may be for the needs of Unionist polarisation myths.

    I can only understand what I experienced first hand which was not of a conspiricy, but was almost blandly a demand for Civil Rights in which NICRA was a broad church where many motivations met and worked together, but it was never at any point a front for any single agenda, as I have told you many times before on Slugger. As I say, I was there and could evaluate things first hand.

    Certainly the PD, my own venue of choice (which incidently grew out of the NI Labour party Young Socialists), had no political links whatsoever with militant Republicanism in any form. I (and others) could already recognise that while O’Neill had an agenda of modernisation, his interest in the minority community went only so far as possibly absorbing them into Unionism’s agendas, and did not extend to anything like genuine pluralistic politics, as O’Neill’s personal behaviour in the vilification of NI Labour after the 1962 election had clearly showed. You speak of “rabble rousers” generally, and appear to include peaceful activity for Civil Rights under this heading, but please consider, we were engaging in peaceful protest and non-violent civil dissobedience, perfectly legitimate activity in any normal democratic society, and it was only after Ronnie Bunting Senior openly expressed the general frustration of Unionism at their inability to understand a non-violent political challenge and commenced his groups violent attacks on Civil Rights activists and others that militant Republicanism could even begin to make any case whatsoever to act as “protectors” to a then threatened minority! As in 1912, had Unionism acted constitutionally, and not reverted to violence as a habitual default when opposed (even peacefully), then there would have been no opening whatsoever for Republican violence.

    But, returning again to the main part of what we were discussing earlier, do you really believe that those people around us who unquestionably still conform to John Hume’s description should somehow elicit our respect? The question can be answered with a simple yes or no.

  • Nevin

    And not a word of apology for the thousands of deaths and tens of thousands of injuries.

  • SeaanUiNeill


    Nevin, what part of exercising ones right to PEACEFULLY protest against injustice, through civil disobedience do you not get? Anyone doing this in any normal society even in 1968 should not have expected to be physically attacked by another political grouping without the police intervening to protect them, rather than, as occured, joking with the attackers and even, as at Burntollet, being (in civies) part of the attack. I have nothing to apologise for, quite the opposite, as the Belfast Agreement has been an expression of something which should have occured in the late 1960s but only came about thirty years on. Should I be apologising, do you imagine, for standing up for the kind of equality, fairness and democracy which the Belfast Agreement has attempted to institutionalise here in my youth? With a solid majority behind them in 1968, the die-hard Unionists clearly showed that they would fight rather than accept any move to civil rights for all. Had political Unionism in the mid 1960s diverged from their “1912/1920” model and had began to regularise their practice with normal democratic practice in Britian, alongside their drive to modernise economically here, do you imagine that the Republican violence which their collective intransegence invoked would have had any purchase whatsoever here?

  • Nevin

    “Nevin, I was there, you were with the cative people”

    I presume you mean captive, not cative. Nice one. One of my ‘co-conspirators’ was much amused when an SDLP rep described me as a ‘dangerous b***tard’, the same rep who’d revealed to me the sleekit manner in which the SDLP had availed of the services, in secret, of the Irish side of the then Anglo-Irish secretariat to avoid transparency and accountability.

    The Campaign for Social Justice was established in 1964 and the McCluskeys had a prominent position in that local campaign. Liam O Comain names the prominent conspirators at that Maghera meeting in 1966, including the McCluskeys, as well as the influence of Desmond Greaves. I presume you are unfamiliar with this comment from Conn and Patricia, ‘The Republicans and the Marxists took over. They spoiled everything.” [Daily Telegraph, 23 August 1993]. In other words, the likes of the McCluskeys were taken advantage of by those who sought revolution, not reform.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Corrected a while back already from my rather odd spelling check version Nevin. I’d intended “inactive”.

    You are cherry picking and missing the endless layers of opinion which make up any such campaign, in your quest to re-imagine the Civil Rights movement as some kind of IRA front. If you’d been there you’d be aware of just how complex and even contridictory things really were in practice, in an umbrella organisation which brought together people from across the entire political spectrum here. I’ve quoted Alex Pope’s quip to you before, “a little learning is a dangerious thing….” and the one thing my historiography has taught me is to attempt to discover everything one may about something you are assessing, so that no surprises leap up to confound your thesis.

    You are evidently unfamiliar with the actual pattern of alliances and influences through which the NICRA developed, but this is perfectly normal as you are coming from textual sources and most of what has been written to date is very general, while little other than fragmentary memoirs coloured by stance have come out from individuals involved, such as Greave’s material. In this context it’s certainly very dangerious to rely much on comments such as those in the Telegarph article taken out of their qualifying context. “The Republicans and the Marxists took over. They spoiled everything.” Information on “when, were and how” are required to realise any meaningful sense of what they are actually saying here, and particularise what this desceptively straightforward comment really means. Decontextualised, as you have presented it, it can almost be used to make any point one wishes it to mean, as you have done here in support of your own interpretation.