“Sinn Féin are the last people in the world to be able to reconcile with unionism…”

Today’s must read is from Denis Bradley in the Irish News today. It’s an almost soulful piece on the late deputy First Minister and the final act of his career.  After a particularly acute take on that famous quote of Enoch Powell’s as to how all political careers end, he recalls:

The press conference, at which McGuinness outlined his intention to resign, was dramatic in political terms and even more so in the revelation of the seriousness of his illness. The ‘aawh dear’ as he sat down, probably evoked more warmth and votes than any of the policy issues he went on to discuss.  The ‘aawh dear’ encapsulated the years of effort, the miles of travel, the weary bones from age and sickness and the disappointment at what he was about to do – bring the devolved institutions crashing down.

He underlines the advantages that McGuinness leaves his party, not least in the manner of his leaving. But it also comes with something of a sting in its tail regarding its glaring deficits…

Sinn Féin is now in a win-win situation. It can agree to resurrect the institutions or it can let them wither for a time or even forever. The dynamic and the push for Irish unity has moved into the realm and the dynamics of Brexit.

Future constitutional decisions have moved into a broader Anglo/European space.

Within a lifetime, we have moved from Eddie McAteer, of the old Nationalist Party, knocking his head against a stone wall, to the leaders of the DUP pleading with Sinn Fein to resurrect Stormont.

Sinn Féin is presently strong but continues to suffer from the blindness that is inherent in the republican project and was easily detected in McGuinness. He and his party were blind to the reality that Sinn Féin are the last people in the world to be able to reconcile with unionism.

Charm and a warm handshake does not heal everything. There is too much hurt and death in that mix. They are also blind to the fact are the last people to lead on the Brexit issue.

They have neither the knowledge, the people or the experience within that world. They would be better following other more experienced political parties into that morass.

In the coming years, the republican project is going to have to learn when best to lead and when best to allow others to lead. It is something they have not yet learned and without McGuinness’s charm it is likely to reveal itself in future in a cruder fashion.

  • Brian Walker

    Very insulting article for the 224 thousand who voted for them in the recent election however, it should be no
    surprise considering Arlene regarded them as no better than crocodiles in a swamp looking for more.
    Its going to be a very interesting election.

  • Ciaran O’Neill

    Some valid points in what Denis is saying without doubt. I think Sinn Fein will be a different looking party in five years from what it is today though. I understand that there will always be a degree of suspicion with Sinn Fein amongst unionists but if Sinn Fein aren’t attempting to reconcile with unionists then who should be doing that? Shouldn’t they always still make the effort and isn’t that what reconciliation is all about?

    “They are also blind to the fact are the last people to lead on the Brexit issue.

    They have neither the knowledge, the people or the experience within that world. They would be better following other more experienced political parties into that morass.”

    They may or may not be the last people to lead on the Brexit issue but who are these more experienced political parties Denis refers to? Brexit is a complete shot in the dark in many respects and we are in completely unchartered territory, who has this necessary experience he speaks of? It’s the first time anyone has ever left the EU, so nobody has experience of it. It certainly isn’t any northern party and Fine Gael and Fianna Fail are still doing their best rabbit caught in the headlights impression at present. Out of all the political leaders across these islands who looks like they even remotely have something resembling a strategy and are sticking to it, it’s Nicola Sturgeon but even she seems to be playing things by ear to a certain degree at present.

    UK Labour
    Fine Gael
    Fianna Fail
    Irish Labour

    Who out of all the above has the experience that Denis is referring to? Bizarre

  • the rich get richer

    Maybe Gerry Adams should remove himself from all Leadership rolls in Sinn Fein .

    This would be a great symbolic action that would be welcomed by many……

  • Ray Lawlor

    I agree with Ciaran below…

    Who exactly needs to reconcile with unionism other then those who need to reconcile? And reconciliation is not a one way street…

    UUP and SDLP can agree all they like… if two “extremes” on the spectrum can’t agree then we don’t have agreement. Regardless of votes numbers.

    This is evidenced by the politics here from 1998 to 2007. Ie the “central” parties could agree all they like… if the DUP are outside shouting “never” and the IRA were still active, then what’s the point?

    Unionists can’t pick and choose who they want to reconcile with… just as Sinn Fein can’t decide to ignore their obligations to the unionist community.

  • Ray Lawlor

    You really should put “[sarc]” after these comments, lest anyone nod in agreement.


    Those people only respect the kind of democracy that gave them the advantage in the
    past,That changed a few weeks ago, Adams is more popular now than ever.
    The Shinners are breathing down the neck of Unionism at the ballot box now and panic as set in.

  • AntrimGael

    Maybe Unionist politicians should resign en masse from the antiquated, sectarian, bigoted, divisive ‘Loyal Orders’?
    This would be a great symbolic action that would be welcomed by many…..


    I have no doubt many would like that,especially after his recent success at the ballot box.

  • Enda

    Just like Arlene should have done before Christmas?

  • Enda

    I prefer to think of it as 224k people voted to see Ireland free from British rule.

  • the rich get richer

    If they went together……together but separately ……

    Just think , not having to listen / view these two regurg-itating the same old Guff ad nauseum……

    Alien Abduction is our only hope….Just Arlene and Gerry …Please…..

  • mickfealty

    I think you’re missing the point Ray. As a case in point, the party actually wants us to take this sort of stuff seriously…


    It’s embarrassingly juvenile.

  • the keep

    Panic hardly SF have overstretched themselves with their demands the comedown will hopefully be very painful for them.

  • Ray Lawlor

    Sorry Mick I can’t see how this is related to what I said.

    If we are to have true reconciliation we need the truly opposed parties to reconcile. The work will be long and difficult but it is worth pursuing. I’m glad Sinn Fein have at least made moves, genuine or not.

    To draw an analogy… what use would there be in move to reconcile Irish republicanism singularly with The Welsh?

    In theory it is Irish/British reconciliation but it’s not the real deal.

    I don’t disagree with Denis that it is going to be difficult. It categorically is NOT going to be easy but it has to be done.

    Regardless of where we end up constitutionally over the next say, 10/20/30 (more?less?) years, that reconciliation has to be progressed.

    My suspicion is that either unionists see true reconciliation as a back to door to a UI or republicans see it as a back door to UI.

    So overall, I think the political stigma needs removed from the reconciliation process.

    I’m under no illusions about how difficult that is.

  • Karl

    And what exactly are unionists (45% of NI, 15% of Ireland, 1.5% of UK) doing to reconcile with anyone else?

    Very little it would appear, yet everyone else should be bending over backwards to accommodate the opinions thoughts and wishes of what is in the main a regressive, insular and discriminatory outdated political dogma.

    I hope to open a newspaper in 30 years to find out that the youth of today could do this politics thing better than their grandparents.

  • file

    Yeah and you seem proud to allgn yourself with the bloodiest, most ruthless and inhuman empire since Genghis Khan asked his Da for a lend of his horse.

  • murdockp

    Unionism can’t even reconcile themselves with what Modern Britain represents never mind Irish Nationalists and Republicans

    They still behave as if the UK is the centrepiece of an empire which still exists.

  • Fear Éireannach

    Brokenshire can refute this instantly by simply saying that any changes to the passage of people, vehicles or animals across the border in Ireland will only be made with the agreement of people in both parts.

    I’ll bet you £100 he does not do so and that he does not do is evidence that he is operating in bad faith.

  • Annie Breensson

    Is their world view not a bit more NI-centric than that, Mr Murdock?

    A dispassionate observer may conclude that the ULs think the heart of empire is situated at Stormont. Westminster administers a vassal state that is required to pay an annual tax (or Danegeld), currently set at about £10e9. In return, “True British” values will be upheld in perpetuity, taigs will kept in check and a handful of MPs will sit in the UK parliament; ostensibly to support the English Tories, but really with a role akin to that of The Remembrancer.

  • grumpy oul man

    This is all true,if we look at the history of unionisn, it is one of compromise and respect for others,
    Of course some of you doubters will point to the mayhem and murder during the UWC strike,but you must remember that the SDLP were the last people to reconcile with unionists, much too greeny.
    Or the attacks on civil rights Marchers who would expect unionists not to be angry with that lot.
    Of course,Drumcree, holy Cross ,Harryville, Twaddle and of course the flags thingy, that last one , Alaince I mean to say could you forgive them.
    Sorry guys unionisn just doesn’t reconcile with anyone, if the Second coming happens to take place here, JC better play in a flute band or they won’t deal with him either.

  • Reader

    Karl: …yet everyone else should be bending over backwards to accommodate the opinions thoughts and wishes of what is in the main a regressive, insular and discriminatory outdated political dogma.
    No-one is going to make you do that of course. You could keep on with your original plan and hope that works better this century.

  • mickfealty

    It’s relatively easy to see from tonight’s Newsline Ciaran. A few seconds of Michelle shouting about how the Brits calling an election (“bring it on”) means they don’t want devolution v several minutes with Colum Eastwood laying out ideas for how to use this election to consolidate the anti Brexit vote.

    His point about the SDLPs three MP being at their work fighting in London at committees and in meetings was very well made in this particular context. We’ve seen SF’s best foot forward on these matters (‘shove it where the sun don’t shine’) and it’s far from experienced or impressive.

  • Reader

    Fear Éireannach: I’ll bet you £100 he does not do so and that he does not do is evidence that he is operating in bad faith.
    You’re asking him to speak for the EU. Even the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland can’t do that. (And neither can the Taoiseach)

  • Fear Éireannach

    Unionism is like a familiar old record, whose chords never change over time.

    What we have we hold
    No surrender
    Croppies lie down (or the modern version no Irish signs in my town)
    Not an inch.
    Never never never
    We will never bend the knee
    Ulster (part of) says No.

    a new tune would be nice.
    how about Quando, Quando, Quando?

  • colin enniskillen

    You are right gerrymandering should remove himself from ulster politics they are trying to get a unified Ireland by stealth lies and bullying it will never work we can see through their guile

  • Charlie Farlie

    How many MEP’s do the SDLP have Mick?

    And abstentionism does not equate to ignorance. What major piece of legislation has the SDLP had any sway over in Westminster at any time in history?

    Parties here fool themselves into thinking they mean anything at Whitehall. Lets not pretend we have more influence than we do.

  • Peggy kelly

    But the problem for those who suffer with paranoid antishinnitis, they are incapable of identifying those moments when SF hit the nail on the head. And on this occasion both Colum Eastwood and Michelle O’Neill are absolutely correct. Teresa May and the tories have shown in their actions that they simply care not a jot for the north and do not want an anti brexit Assembly. Nor do they give a toss about reconciliation. SF and the SDLP are both making an effort, where Unionism fails as per usual. Waving a flag in support for such abandonment does not help a jot.

  • Peggy kelly

    It’s not related to what u said. Not even in the ball park. Duper logic.

  • Ray Lawlor

    Aside here… and I loath to distract from the point…

    I’ve never heard of the term “croppies”, yet have read it 3 times today… anyone care to fill me in?

  • Ray Lawlor

    “gerrymandering”… is that a freudian slip?

  • file

    There is not going to be a vote where either MPs or people can be anit-Brexit … so what is the point of ‘consolidating the anti-Brexit vote’?

  • Ray Lawlor

    Holy Christ… what if he’s a Catholic??!?!?!

  • file

    I’ll fill you in if you keep that up. away and read some Heaney … just joking. Croppies was the nickname for the United Irishmen – explanation from wikipedia.

    The name “Croppy” used in Ireland in the 1790s was a reference to the closely cropped hair associated with the anti-powdered wig (and therefore, anti-aristocrat) French revolutionaries of the period. Men with their hair cropped were automatically suspected of sympathies with the pro-French underground organisation the Society of United Irishmen, and were seized by the British administration and its allies for interrogation and often subjected to torture by flogging, picketing and half-hanging. The contemporary torture known as pitchcapping, or in Irish An Caip Bháis was specifically invented to intimidate Croppies. United Irish activists retaliated by cropping the hair of loyalists to reduce the reliability of this method of identifying their sympathisers [1].

  • Ray Lawlor

    Wow… I’d never heard that. Many thanks.

  • Karl

    As long as people who believe the world is 6000 years old are given serious consideration and not roundly ridiculed by unionists then im not giving them the time of day.
    All previous efforts have been met with a one way traffic of respect. Im tired of having my leg pissed on and being told its raining.

  • tmitch57

    Actually he was a Jew, which means that he would rather be out of place anywhere on the island.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    “The Croppy Boy”

    It was early, early all in the Spring
    When the birds did whistle and sweetly sing,
    Changing their notes all from tree to tree
    And the song they sang was: Old Ireland free!

    Oh as I went walkin` up Wexford street
    Me own first cousin I changed to meet
    Me own first cousin did me betray
    And for one gold guinea sold me life away

    It was early early all in the night,
    When the yeoman cavalry put me to flight;
    The yeoman cavalry were my downfall,
    And taken was I by Lord Cornwall.

    And as I went walking up Wexford Hill,
    Now who could blame me to cry me fill?
    I looked behind, and I looked before,
    And my aged mother I`ll see no more

    And when I stood on the scaffold high
    Me own dear father was standing by
    Me own dear father did me deny
    And the name he gave me was the croppy boy

    In Dungannon town now this boy died
    In Dungannon town does his body lie
    So all you strangers that do pass by
    Will you shed a tear for the croppy boy.

    Sure, it would bring a tear to a glass eye. Certainly moves me.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Unless he was in fact Moses Ri-tooral-iy-ay. © The Clancy Brothers.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    You can add Theresa, Boris, and a bunch of Brexiteers to that. And Donald Trump, and . . . .

  • grumpy oul man

    Stealth, they have been very open about working towards a UI, so not really stealth is it.
    Lies, yep but then again that’s what politicians do, the unionists do a lot of this as well,
    Bullying, care to give us some examples (nothing more than 20 years old please or I’ll bring up holy Cross or Harryville.

  • grumpy oul man

    SF only started getting large vote when they give up violence, the DUP gat massive vote when they were still working with terrorists.
    Shame on all their voters.

  • Donal

    Sinn Fein and the DUP will eventually reach an agreement. “One has to make peace with one’s enemies and not your friends”.
    I am aware that both parties are busy arranging vote registration and IDs for those poor infirm or disinterested people.
    This will now come in handy for the 2017 Westminster election! Readers should look at previous posts/articles about the 2018 proposed boundary changes. Mr Elliott was then certain to lose out, even without a Nationalist pact. The new Blackwater constituency would have been a cliff-hanger. Well we will now all have to wait until 2022, the possible date for next Westminster election which to encompass the proposed parliamentary areas.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Few comments on here actually engaging with Bradley’s point about SF’s limitations as cross-community reconcilers. He’s surely right, isn’t he?

  • Abucs

    In order for the Sinn Fein party to reconcile with anyone they have to grow up and put the Regressive mindset of identity politics and its victimhood ideology behind them.