Is it possible that Fianna Fail has turned another one of those invisible corners?

So averting gaze from the mesmerising polling of the UK election, and to the unfixed electoral politics of the Republic, here’s a constructive question. Is Fianna Fail on the rise again? Mad, eh? Well, Jody Corcoran does not have a completely unblemished track record when it comes to predicting the future. Still, the 1400 at the party’s selection meeting in Kerry is larger than several parties’ national conferences, and 800 turned up in Sligo last week. Specifically Jody notes that… … Read more

Where Gerry Adams Walks, Unionism Fears To Tread

I’ve written before what my views as a “small u” unionist (or as I prefer, a “big picture unionist) are on Sinn Fein, and to be honest, the approach I take as a voter is the same for SF as it is for all the parties, there is 1 party I find much more comfort in voting for, because they are more often than not aligned with my stance on issues, but beyond that…it’s purely a “who will serve us … Read more

#sfaf2015 Gerry Adams: “our challenge … to unite Orange & Green in equality and mutual respect”

Over the last few years, Sinn Féin have made a clear shift to a party that is putting its energy into growing in the south. The NI Assembly and Executive – stable or unstable – no longer requires too much word count from the Ard Fheis stage. Elected reps all got their chance to speak during the “live session” (a series of three-minute speeches that roll one after the other and are televised by RTE) or during the debate around … Read more

#sfaf2015 Martin McGuinness, Rev Steve Stockman, Fr Martin Magill, Declan Kearney – Reconciliation, Ubuntu & grace

Martin McGuinness took to the stage of Derry Millennium Forum on the opening night of Sinn Fein’s Ard Fheis. listen to ‘#sfaf2015 @m_mcguinness_sf addresses 2015 @sinnfeinireland Ard Fheis’ on audioBoom He said that “for almost two years the political institutions in the north stagnated” triggered in his opinion by Belfast City Council’s flag decision and unionism’s refusal to accept the decision of the Parades Commission in relation to Ardoyne. So-called republicans also remain intent on dragging us back to the … Read more

#sfaf14 Sinn Féin ard fheis motions – universal broadband & 4G; praise for Belfast Lord Mayor; abortion (again), underground power lines; removing FOI charges

Sinn Féin ard fheis is underway in Wexford’s Opera House. The party has a long history of streaming its annual conference online, so you’ll be able to follow the business. (Though I do wish the party would stump up the cash top remove the adverts that appear in the middle of speeches.) The full clár is online, along with up-to-date progress on which motions pass and fail. Below are some of the motions that caught my eye – not necessarily … Read more

Gerry Adams says loyalists have much in common with republican neighbours and calls for dialogue

Gerry Adams closed the Sinn Fein ard fheis with his presidential speech. It was live on RTE (and the sinnfein.ie website) and will be repeated on BBC Two NI on Sunday at 6pm. The full text is available; below are some excerpts. On a border poll … There would be no peace process and no Agreement without the commitment, initiatives and political risks taken by Irish republicans. Or, without the great work of individuals like Des Wilson, Harold Good, Inez … Read more

Sinn Féin and abortion – two more motions challenging the party’s current stance

For the second year in a row, motions about abortion have been submitted to the ard fheis. The Ard Chomhairle has its own motion this year around legislating “to give effect to the 1992 judgement of the Supreme Court in the X Case”. But the motion from headquarters is joined by two others that largely reflect last year’s unsuccessful attempts to liberalise the party’s standpoint on abortion. The simplest of the motions is adapted from last year’s unsuccessful “articulate, campaign … Read more

Martin McGuinness: “a lack of cohesion between Unionist and Republican Ministers … frankly this isn’t good enough” (updated with his Saturday observations about dissidents & Orange Order)

Some excerpts below from this evening’s speech by Martin McGuinness at the Castlebar ard fheis. You can listen along … though he was rudely interrupted in the live stream by adverts for Gaviscon Double Action and Harpic White and Shinner Shine at one point! listen to ‘Martin McGuinness @M_McGuinness_SF addressing 2013 Sinn Fein Ard Fheis #sfaf13’ on Audioboo Fifteen years ago this weekend the eyes of the world were firmly fixed on Ireland. Hope, Expectation, even Disbelief were in the … Read more

Sinn Féin ard fheis gets underway with motions on candidate gender, flags, Royal Exchange and Easter Lily stickers (updated)

Sinn Féin’s ard fheis gets underway this evening in Castlebar, County Mayo. Martin McGuinness will give his now-traditional Friday night keynote, followed by debate around motions on a United Ireland and the peace process. The majority of the business is tomorrow – with blocks of motions debated throughout the day, peppered with a band of two minute speeches around 11am that will be carried live on RTE. Party president Gerry Adams closes the ard fheis with his speech at 8.30pm. … Read more

Sinn Féin ard fheis – failed motions – ambassadors, abortion, Household Charges and China

Out of 176 or so motions in the clár, just twelve failed to get the support of Sinn Féin’s ard fheis. None of the failed motions had been proposed by the central party Ard Chomhairle. Kudos to Sinn Féin for publishing a list of motions on their website and updating their status as the voting proceeded in batches throughout the weekend. In many ways, through its use of streaming over many years and its ‘live’ web updates of speeches and … Read more

McGuinness and Sinn Fein finally return to the pluralist language of Tone…

Martin McGuinness’ keynote speech to the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis is up on the party website. It’s worth quoting at length, because at risk of invoking a trite pun it is worth noting at least as much for its reference to Tone (Wolf Theobald) and its generally emollient tone. Partition created two conservative states on our island. The rights and entitlements of ordinary citizens were secondary to the needs of the political class in both states. That is why every … Read more

#af12 “No. No interest, feck ’em.”

It appears that the truth is very slow to dawn on some people. The gates had to be closed as early as 2.25 pm and there were huge queues outside the RDS on the day, but The Examiner gets pretty close to the actual optics of the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis: The queues on Saturday were not for the ard fheis but for the nearby Working Abroad Expo. It goes on to do some vox pops on what those attending … Read more

“One step forward. Two steps back. Very awkward.”

In the Irish Times, the peerless Miriam Lord with a useful corrective to more enthusiastic witnesses of the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis at the weekend.  From the Irish Times article. IT WAS all terribly awkward. An excruciating comedy of manners where the anxious principals were petrified they might say the wrong thing and upset the whole country, again, while simultaneously fretting about bumping into embarrassing old acquaintances who would make a show of them. The tense undercurrent made for an odd … Read more

If Carlsberg did weekends

What a weekend – a hugely successful Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis coupled with Ireland leaving Paris undefeated. The energy and enthusiasm at the Ard Fheis was palpable, not to mention the great feeling from being surrounded by thousands of real Republicans, without a single balaclava or cartridge in sight. The passing of One Member One Vote (OMOV) was a key outcome, as not only does it give all grassroots members a real involvement with the party, it also ensures the … Read more

Fianna Fail plan to scrap with Fine Gael for lost voters (not Sinn Fein)…

Dara Calleary has been telling RTE that next weekend’s Ard Fheis will be tough, but despite much comment in the media regarding SF boost in the Sunday Times poll, he’s clear that the party’s real target is Fine Gael… Not surprising if you look at a basket of key constituencies across the state… Currently in Calleary’s Mayo constituency, FF is the only party within a whisker of taking back another out of the five seater. In Cavan-Monaghan, they lost two … Read more

Protestant and Dissenter: the nonsense of Sinn Fein’s outreach

Part of Sinn Fein’s pitch at the Ard Fheis was the idea of moving forwards “Towards a New Republic.” Alex Kane has pointed out what he calls the “Jekyl and Hyde” quality of Sinn Fein’s unionist outreach: Adams talked, as did Martin McGuinness the night before, of the need to have a “national conversation on the future of the island” and to win unionists over. But then he adds a paragraph about the “British having no right to be here” … Read more

“the failure of the British press to cover Northern Ireland properly”

Roy Greenslade blog banner

The Guardian’s Roy Greenslade blogged again this morning about “the failure of the British press to cover Northern Ireland properly” and the consequential “absence of knowledge among [Great] British people about the realities of life there”. I doubt that many of you have ever heard of the Reverend David Latimer, a Presbyterian minister and former British army chaplain. And it would appear that Britain’s national newspapers are determined to ensure that he remains unknown to you. Yet Latimer made history … Read more

“A very unlikely setting to prepare for unity!”

Alex Kane on Sinn Féin’s ‘historic’ Ard Fheis in Belfast. It was an altogether different bunch of rebels last night, an army of united-Irelands, many of whom had travelled a very long way (maybe even passing Prince Charles as he visited this part of his future kingdom) to debate, among other things, a motion calling for the ‘practical planning for Irish unity to begin now’. The conference programme may have referred to the six counties, but the reality was that … Read more