by Finn McRedmond
Thursday, 18
August 2022
Debate
11:13

Sinn Fein aren’t radical populists — they’re neoliberal normies

The party has sanitised its image by accepting the status quo
by Finn McRedmond
What do they really want? (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Between 1988 and 1994, British broadcasters were banned from airing the voices of Sinn Fein politicians on TV and radio. Thirty years later, The Financial Times appraised the party’s Northern Irish leader, Michelle O’Neill, as “personable”, “inoffensive” with a backstory that “inspires sympathy”.

After years of successful reputation-laundering the party is transformed. It holds the most seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly, and in 2020 it became the most popular in the Republic, winning 24.5% of the vote. A historic coalition between traditional rivals Fine Gael and Fianna Fail — the two parties that have dominated Irish politics since the state’s inception — was formed to keep Sinn Fein from power. Now even Great Britain is psychologically adapting to the party’s presence. How did an organisation – once led by Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, long considered the political arm of the IRA, and still burdened with unsavoury associations – become so mainstream?

Its success is generally taken as proof that Ireland has finally given in to a latent Left-wing populist nationalism. This is not exactly right. Uniting Ireland might be Sinn Fein’s ultimate lodestar, but it is not the primary source of their electoral appeal. In the Republic, the majority are agnostic on the reunification question.

This contingent is also growing north of the border. Their tax-the-rich promises alarm the country’s wealthiest. And Sinn Fein’s apparently cost-free solutions to complicated economic quagmires raise eyebrows among political realists. They often revert to the rhetorical distinction between the “people” and “elites”. They have capitalised on Dublin’s housing crisis to gain traction with young voters.

But their veneer of Left populism is transparent. They diverge from their supposed counterparts on the continent when it comes to immigration, social policy, and the European Union. In Sinn Fein’s bid to cleanse their chequered past and rid themselves of radical associations, they have succumbed to the cosmopolitan, pro-business sheen of modern Irish politics. The party knows what side Ireland’s financial bread is buttered.

Former leader Gerry Adams said in 1979 that Sinn Fein were “opposed to big business, to multinationalism, to all forms and all manifestations of imperialism and capitalism”. Now its Dublin financial spokesman, Pearse Doherty, assures multinationals that “Sinn Fein isn’t going to go after them”. They toe the line when it comes to the Republic’s low corporate tax rate too — a central tenant of Dublin’s economic policy and a sacred cow in Government Buildings.

And they are riding the wave of Ireland’s recent and rapid social liberalisation. Under new leader Mary Lou McDonald they have adopted an expedient progressive mantle, campaigning hard in the 2015 same sex marriage and 2018 abortion referendums. And though Sinn Fein perhaps once conceived of itself as a natural bedfellow of the Eurosceptic tradition, it is now openly pro-EU. The Republic has staked so much of its national brand on its European identity – Sinn Fein are cautious not to disturb this. And diverging even further from their alleged counterparts on the continent, anti-immigration sentiment does not hold much sway over the party’s platform.

Sinn Fein are not Left-wing outsiders. As they increasingly attempt to emancipate themselves from their militant past, they are cleaving closer and closer to the status quo.

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Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
1 month ago

Anti- immigration sentiment may not hold sway over the party’s platform, but according to opinion polls, it does over many of Sinn Féin’s supporters. There is a potentially explosive divergence between what Sinn Féin is telling investors and the middle class, and what its supporters expect of it. Corporate Tax receipts and government borrowing on the back of them have created a vast class of voters who pay no tax, receive extremely generous welfare entitlements by international standards, and have a boundless appetite for more public largess. Sinn Féin will do and say anything to get into and retain office, and will probably be propped up by militant left parties and independents. When that happens, it won’t just be “the country’s wealthiest” who should be alarmed.

Last edited 1 month ago by Stephen Walshe
Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 month ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

The word “jaundiced” comes to mind.. far too negative an outlook. You seem to be among the gullible 25% I referred to. Actually I’m being kind: you’re more likely to be in the 10% wannabe group: ooh or maybe one of the top 10%?? The greedy semi-corrupt? I hope not. Maybe you’ll let us know?

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
1 month ago

The picture shows Mary Loud and Michelle O’Neill campaigning for abortion in Ireland. Until about two days before the referendum on abortion in Ireland, Sinn Fein were anti-abortion. Polling should that position was unpopular. They changed their tune in double-quick time. They are essentially a Marxist party – as in Groucho – they have principles, but if people don’t like those principles, well, they have others.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 month ago

Yer livin’ in de past my good man. You need to get with the program! Labels are passé n’est pas? It’s now ” an Irish solution fir an Irish problem” ala that bad ol’ republican Charles J Haughey! Lol!!

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
1 month ago

Much like Scottish Nationalism, the Irish version seems determined to free itself from one Union only to succumb all the more to another.

Last edited 1 month ago by Martin Smith
Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

But it is also a peverse version of Scottish Nationalism! The Ulster Presbyterian power wielders ARE Scottish, not Irish: the answer must be to give Ulster to the Scotch and give them independence, and be rid of them, and watch UN troops being called in to sort a religious war?

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 month ago

I’ve proposed a solution somewhat along those lines: yes, given the historical linkage why not form a Federation of Celtic States (FCS) with ROI, NI and bonny Scotland? The numbers will balance nicely I believe? The Welsh will come in later as will the Cornish and maybe even the Britons (F) and Galesians (ES). Later I forsee a union of the FCS and our historic “minglers” the Nordic nations, ie FCNS. What an ab fab union that would be, eh? Anything to get away from the Angles, Saxons and Franks! I’m very ok with the Southern EU countries esp. Portugal, Italy, Greece.. for the holidays like!

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 month ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Sounds a bit like Celtic imperialism! Much of Scotland’s population is descended from those awful Angles! (Edin… burgh…) Still, a bit of misty-eyed romantic pseudo-Celtic twaddle never did anyone any harm!

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
1 month ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Your proposal is moot. The future of the British Isles and Scandanavia involves the eradication of their Celtic and Anglo Saxon character.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
28 days ago

Ulster has long been given over to the Scotch, at least when the Powers runs dry.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

The similarity is tenuous I think. Far too many issues are very different. The one similarity is (as you rightly point out) is both of us want to be a part of a highly beneficial club rather than play alone in our backyard!
I suppose there’s no linkage is there between the UK sliding down the economic toilet and Brexit?
Oh, btw we’ve just have a shipment of 33,000 tonnes of grain from the Ukraine. I guess your shipments are going the other way.. lots of weapons for death and destruction..

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 month ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

In other words, Ireland is again ‘neutral’ when it comes to combatting outright aggression on the European continent. That is hardly something to brag about

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
1 month ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Given that the whole world is ‘sliding down the economic toilet’ I don’t see what (yawn) Brexit has to do with it unless it caused Covid 19 lockdowns, Sri Lanka, Ecuador, Cuba, Bangladesh etc. etc. to slide headlong into anarchy, China’s provincial banks to go bust, US inflation to skyrocket, Dutch farmers and Canadian Truckers to rebel, the German energy supply to collapse, and Russia to invade Ukraine. But you know, maybe it did, I stopped following the hyperbole months and months ago.

Ben J
Ben J
1 month ago

SF is run and directed by the IRA Army Council. The armed tail wags the apparently fluffy dog, not the other way around.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 month ago
Reply to  Ben J

Sigh. Not true. How many SF folks do you personally know? What is the source of your insider “information” here?
There is a certain type of right-wing elderly Englishman who will never tire of re-living WW2 and endlessly “re-defeating Jerry” in his head. Similarly, there is also a cohort of white blokes of a certain vintage who almost seem to regret that the IRA no longer exists.
Deprived of the IRA’s existence, they have one less bogeyman to write lurid headlines about; and so, they start to fantasise about the IRA’s continuing existence. Drew Harris, current head of the Irish police, is a Unionist and former head of the now-banned RUC, and even he merely said that the IRA’s structures “remained in a much-reduced form”, that it is “not actively recruiting” and that “its leadership is committed to achieving a united Ireland through peaceful means”. May I quote you the 2008 conclusion from the Independent Monitoring Commission, the body established by the British and Irish govts to monitor paramilitary activity after the Good Friday deal in 1998: “the IRA “by deliberate choice is no longer operational or functional”. May I quote you the 2015 assessment by the head of the Irish police, wherein they formally stated that they: “had no information or intelligence that the Provisional IRA still maintains its military structure”.
Of course, you know more than they do, lol.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

I see your voice of reason, knowledge of the facts and correct assumptions are very unwelcome among the old guard you refer to.
Brexit is the epitome of the old Empire folk giving Putin a bloody nose right now don’t you know: and new best friends with the US deep state (Biden is no good coz like he’s a Paddy).
Looking forward to Liz Plank as new PM for more entertainment!

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 month ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

So, Liam, YOU provide the voice of reason?! Your comment is a complete caricature. As far as I can see – it is not the British who are nostalgic about their former empire – but seemingly, if you are a typical example – the Irish, perhaps with their famed long memories! Do you actually believe this guff?
You seem to be so anti-British that even the outrageous aggression against a European nation is just grist to make more caricature anti-Brexit comments. You have every right to your views on Brexit, though I wonder why so many citizens of so many other nations seem to think it had something to do with them? I’m not aware that the ‘Brits’ piled in with their views on the Irish constitutional abortion referendum.
The Biden administration is arming the Ukrainians you may have noticed, which is entirely in line with the position of the UK government, on that if not much else. (By the way, Biden is a deep-dyed establishment figure who is completely part of the United States ‘deep state’ – not in opposition to it). The Irish of course meanwhile maintain their famed brave ‘neutrality’. Marvellous isn’t it to be located at the uttermost western end of Europe with the blithe assumption that no harm could ever realistically come to your nation.
I don’t actually think your views are typical; I hope not anyway.

Last edited 1 month ago by Andrew Fisher
Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 month ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Surely Brexit was the opposite of Empire-thinking in that many Britons wanted to leave the EU’s empire-building project in favor of wanting to shape their own destiny?
Isn’t this also what the IRA were fighting for back in the 70s and 80s? Freedom from ’empire’?

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

I’m not sure whether your comment was intentional, but using a phrase such as ‘the now-banned RUC’ is completely inflammatory. This was the former Northern Ireland police force. It wasn’t ‘banned’, as it if it were itself a terrorist organisation, but superseded by the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
Your comment about the Provisional IRA is accurate but falls well short of the IRA ceasing to exist. I’d be happy enough with a United Ireland, if that is the will of the people of Northern Ireland. However the triumphalism of some Irish nationalists is misguided and leads to an arrogant ‘history is on our side attitude’. Many have never really accepted that there are two different national traditions on the island of Ireland. If we play this badly, the Loyalists can go where the IRA went so successfully went before, and then the blessed Emerald Isle can deal with the ensuing carnage. I think the majority of British people would think that they were well out of it.

Last edited 1 month ago by Andrew Fisher
Kevin Dee
Kevin Dee
1 month ago
Reply to  Ben J

Oh right is it the IRA Army Council pushing the pride flags and kids drag shows then?

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 month ago
Reply to  Ben J

A bit like the City and the Globals wagging the Tory tail? It’s everywhere now Ben: the Davos crowd have taken over (mostly lizard folk ala David Icke).. just listen to Neil Oliver on the subject!
I’ll take me chances with SF: I hate those Davos lizards.. SF might shoot us but those other buggers will eat us!

Ruud van Man
Ruud van Man
1 month ago

I’m not sure I fully agree with this piece. I think Sinn Fein are political opportunists and are trying to position themselves so as not to scare the voters. They are a broadly left-wing party but I’m not sure they genuinely have any particular political convictions or firm policies beyond wanting to see a united Ireland (which they are downplaying as they know it is not a hot topic amongst the electorate at present). I think they have a fair chance of forming a government in the ROI at some point and my guess is they would be a failure as I see little evidence of the skills necessary to govern successfully. They would also likely be very antagonistic towards the UK government which might please a certain section of the Irish electorate but is not politically sensible. Lastly, I’m not aware that Brexit has significantly moved the dial on the number of people in NI who would vote for a united Ireland. If SF became the governing party in the ROI (as well as being the leading party in Stormont) and started to push Irish unity, I think that could raise the political temperature considerably. And let us not forget that only the other day, Michelle O’Neill said the IRA had no alternative to violence during the Troubles. Looking at Ireland’s history over the last century, I think it would be naïve to think that the bomb and the bullet could not return to Irish politics.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 month ago
Reply to  Ruud van Man

You started out so well! But then you went astray.. so here are a few corrections for you:
Little evidence of skills? What? Their spokesmen are head and shoulders above anyone FFG puts forward!
Antagonistic towards the UK (govt)? Look: if SF can cosy up to the DUP they can get along with anyone.. and yes, they worked very well with the DUP: even the most anti-Irish DUP politicians admitted so on a dept. by dept. basis (never mind the idiotic rhetoric in the Orange Lodges etc.).
No Alternative ..but Violence: true: the UK, permitted gerrymandering and apartheid, ignored civil rights marches and snubbed the moderate SDLP.. Sadly, MI5 only understands violence. Imagine for a minute: a successful Nazi takeover of the UK. your freedom fighters would also be called terrorists.. how long before you Brits would have accepted Nazi rule and stopped “terrorist” resistance? Never do I hear you say? Do you get it now? No comparison you say: Nazis would have installed a repressive, mean, apartheid regime: hello!

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 month ago

Ireland is missing the glaringly obvious opportunity of becoming Europe’s leading new offshore tax haven, by leaving the EU, adopting banking secrecy laws, and sitting back whilst the cash and capital floods in from Europe, Asia, the US, and everywhere and anywhere else… including nu britn….

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 month ago

Sure but we’re better than that. That’s for the city of London and Switzerland..

Richard Barrett
Richard Barrett
1 month ago

This is true. Sinn Fein’s policy on the EU belies the very name of the party, which is Irish for “ourselves alone.” Like Syriza and Five-star, they no longer represent a threat to the status quo.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 month ago

Your Irish lets you down:
Sinn = us (we)
Sinn Féin = we ourselves.
No mention of “alone” there. The Irish for “alone” (only) is “amháin” or aonar (aon = one): so we, ourselves on our own (alone) would be:
Sinn Féin in ár aonar..
So it’s a reflection of we Irish being ourselves (rather than a subgroup of English or UK.. in otherwords: Independent! The EU is a union of Independent states! Try telling the French they’re not an independent country! Or any of the other proud 26 EU states. When you join a club you obey the rules: no need to sell you soul! When you’re as self-assured as we Irish are we fear no other club members. Sure, they’re not always our best friends (that’s why we miss the UK!) but we do ok.. and before you get it wrong we are a net contributor: ‘have been for years. Why not: we’re a wealthy country!

Brian B
Brian B
1 month ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Yeah, we are a wealthy country, sure we are, have you been in the CUH hospital in Cork lately,? or any other hospital in Good ol Ireland for that matter?, for such a so called wealthy country why are there patients being treated on trolleys in corridors for days on end? Wealthy country my foot,
oh and BTW , if the EU is full of your so called independent states ,how come all national budgets have to be approved by our European Masters?

Russell J. Coller
Russell J. Coller
1 month ago

.
Wars end, …even multi-Century wars end,
…and sometimes multi-Century wars with on one side, the Slave-Power-Plantation-Aristocrats (& cops & ministers & troops & mercenaries & psychopaths…) and the other side — self-described descendants of the Slaves …will end.
.

Only by shaking hands and cutting the painful, and humbling deals …murderer to murderer, torturer to torturer, Overlord to Rebel will the oceans of blood recede.
.
There is no other way, except ‘Unconditional Surrender.’ (& I think we can forget about that one in Ireland)
.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 month ago

Too right! I’ve shaken more English hands than you could shake a stick at. All the perpetrators are dead or very old. We moved on a long time ago.. there was wrong on both sides: like always. The innocent suffer the most: it was always thus..
Nothing, absolutely nothing to be gained by living in the past and holding onto outdated grudges..

Brian B
Brian B
1 month ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

You seem to have a massive grudge against the British though,and as for moving on, in practically all your comments you get a little dig in against the Brits or Brexit, me thinks you have a bally and a rifle buried in garden ready for use.

Last edited 1 month ago by clararoche622
Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 month ago

Sinn Fein are typical nationalist fanatics – fascists who have supported other fascists, including Hitler. And like all extreme nationalists, their beliefs are underpinned by anti-semitism.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Wow! FYI my uncle was Ireland’s ambassador to Hitler’s Germany: spent the war in Berlin. While your Churchill heavily criticized Ireland for remaining neutral (we did NOT support Germany) he, Churchill agreed secretly Ireland should do so! Yes: why? Because neither we Irish nor the UK could have prevented a German invasion of Ireland, and that would have meant the UK having to defend its West Coast as well as its East Coast! An impossible task. Hence the clever subterfuge. We interned soldiers (airmen and seamen) from both sides but sneaked all the Brits back home while holding onto rhe Germans. Things are rarely simple my naïve friend.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 month ago

Most Ulster Unionist politicians make Mr Pooter look like Duke!!!

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 month ago

In Ireland – as in most other democracies – any political party wishing to be elected as the next govt has to promote itself as “all things to all men (and women)”. Once elected they do what you like until 6 months before the next election: then the circus begins all over again. Sadly, the electorate fall for it every time. Idiots!
Make no mistake, Sinn Féin is Left wing (ala Corbyn), TG and the country will be transformed when they lead the next govt (with other parties on the Left including the Greens); leaving FFG to languish in the opposition bences for the first time in our history. One or other led govt since the foundation of the state: no difference between them except one was happy to accept 26 counties (FG) the other wanted all 32 counties (FF). Both emanated from the old IRA.
And before you English go all “yerrorust” on me: imagine if Nazi Germany occupied the UK you’d then have before “terrorists” aka freedom fighters.
Ireland’s GDP per head – albeit skewed by US assignment of all EU income to low tax Ireland (but sadly with repatriation of profits to the US) – is the 2nd highest in the world! We have a mild climate and offer stable economic/political environment plus readily availabile well educated keen wirkforce and briwn-nosing govt.
Yet we have poor to average public services and facilities! Why? We also have a huge shortage of affordable housing in an underpopulated state! Why? Simple.. minor corruption but everywhere! And most FFG TDs (MPs) are multiple landlords!
FFG are puppets to multinationals and sycophants to the EU.. all that makes for success for the top 10% and substandard services/ facilities for the 90%. FFG represent the 10% + wannabe 10% and gullible 25%. Sinn Fein (+ other small Left parties) represent the rest: screwed workers and welfare-dependent poor.
Sinn Féin don’t need to turn the Irish world upside down. If FFG were doing even a mediocre job in govt then yes, radical changes would have to be made by a Sinn Féin led govt to deliver on its promises. But far less will transform this country: so yes, Sinn Féin will continue with the status quo 80% – that’ll keep the greedy on side (they’ll be expecting far worse!) and that will be enough to transform the economy: and the lives of the bottom 75% will be transformed at last. It was the hope of the 1916 socialist leader James Connolly – the others were mainly poets and dreamers God bless them!

Rob Britton
Rob Britton
1 month ago

Sinn Fein have become the SNP of Irish politics, realising perhaps that the SNP got further down the road to independence with their progressive politics than the IRA ever managed with their terrorist campaign.

Jon Hawksley
Jon Hawksley
1 month ago

In general the Irish have always seemed to me to be too inherently pragmatic to be tied to any particular ideology so divisions of left v right and even catholic v protestant are consequeces rather that causes. The Troubles were fuelled by the economic injustices that arose from the ruling class looking after their own interests. The DUP are stuck in a time warp whereas Sinn Fein have moved on.

Patrick Heren
Patrick Heren
1 month ago
Reply to  Jon Hawksley

They haven’t entirely moved on. The weapons are still there in the cupboard, as is the carefully concealed bloodlust.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 month ago
Reply to  Patrick Heren

Oh, you’re an authority on this subject, are you?
There is a certain type of right-wing elderly Englishman who will never tire of re-living WW2 and endlessly “re-defeating Jerry” in his head. Similarly, there is also a cohort of white blokes of a certain vintage who almost seem to regret that the IRA no longer exists.
Deprived of the IRA’s existence, they have one less bogeyman to write lurid headlines about; and so, they start to fantasise about the IRA’s continuing existence. Drew Harris, current head of the Irish police, is a Unionist and former head of the now-banned RUC, and even he merely said that the IRA’s structures “remained in a much-reduced form”, that it is “not actively recruiting” and that “its leadership is committed to achieving a united Ireland through peaceful means”. May I quote you the 2008 conclusion from the Independent Monitoring
Commission, the body established by the British and Irish govts to monitor paramilitary activity after the Good Friday deal in 1998: “the IRA “by deliberate choice is no longer operational or functional”. May I quote you the 2015 assessment by the head of the Irish police, wherein they formally stated that they: “had no information or intelligence that the Provisional IRA still maintains its military structure”.
It’s 2022 mate, come out of the forest.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

what? The same RUC that used intelligence sources to establish, for example, which Scots Guards Officers were Catholic on the basis ( and I quote) ” The only thing worse than a Taig is a posh Taig”?

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 month ago
Reply to  Patrick Heren

Nah. Old hat: High button boots. Move on fgs! Look at the actual evidence: the reports from UK inspectors – they’re hardly IRA supporters are they? Get real: wake up: smell the coffee. Stop living in the past: get with the program man!

Damian Grant
Damian Grant
1 month ago
Reply to  Jon Hawksley

Successive British governments have underwritten Unionist supremacy in the statelet of ‘Northen Ireland’ – economically, socially and politically. Electoral gerrymandering, for example, was the very antithesis of the representative democracy they were supposed to be espousing. The problem now for Unionists is that the British elite see them as electoral cannon-fodder and ultimately expendable – the Unionists are no longer even half-sure of their secure position within the so-called ‘United Kingdom’. This supposedly Conservative and Unionist Party, with its opportunist, careerist, unprincipled policians are a truly shocking indictment of what Britain has become.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
1 month ago
Reply to  Damian Grant

There has always been a large swathe of the English establishment that found and still finds the Loyalists an embarrassing and costly nuisance. If they accomodated or enabled them, it was in no small part because they caused so much trouble, and threatened to cause so much more. As that threat has gradually receded over time, especially after Thatcher’s masterstroke Anglo-Irish Agreement, the bond of fear has receded, fitfully at times, but steadily overall, until one day it will be gone. But will it ever recede sufficiently for Dublin to really want to take it on?

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

It will need to be a Federation: ie NI will have to retain much of its status quo with real unity occurring piecemeal over time. We can start with a single soccer team! Look out!

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
1 month ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Good luck.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 month ago
Reply to  Damian Grant

I agree with everything you say except the last statement: it’s the only smart, practical, sensible thing Borris every did: cutting loose the 20thC die hard DUP.. Even within their own ranks reality seems to be dawning!

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 month ago
Reply to  Jon Hawksley

Exactly right, Jon. The patronising assumption is that both sides in NI are ill-informed “extremists“. We’re not. The majority of DUP and SF voters are ordinary, everyday people with moderate, and rather boring, views on many social and economic issues. It’s only outsiders who are convinced otherwise. If you looked to an equivalent set of policies in GB, they’d have most in common with Keir Starmer.  
SF has always been a middle of the road party. They are perhaps centre-left, but little more than that. Their economic spokesman in the S of Ireland elicits grudging respect from other S Irish parties who hate SF.  
Of course, the long shadow of their violent past associations with the IRA means that, in the popular outside mind, SF are a “radical” party. But other than their former attachment to paramilitary violence, there never was anything too radical about them.
Take away the violence, and you’re left with a very middle of the road party indeed. I well remember, in the 1970s and early 80s, prior to SF taking politics seriously, their opinions on anything other than the Troubles tended towards standard-issue undergrad socialism. 
But what outsiders completely failed to realise was that this chic socialism was not representative of Sinn Féin. At that time, since they weren’t really engaging in politics, their positions on anything outside the Troubles did not matter, and such positions were left to a fringe element of starry-eyed undergrad types. They could write what they liked, as it was all entirely theoretical for a party that did not take politics seriously. It was tolerated / ignored. 
Of course, once SF started to engage meaningfully in politics, all the trendy socialism was quietly discarded.  Back in the day, SF were as anti EU as Jeremy Corbyn. It was just another luxury, theoretical position.  But now that they’re in the real world of politics, and local constituents tell them how much they like being in the EU, SF dropped all the standard-issue leftie stuff and now they’re all for the EU. Over the last decade or so, in parts of Dublin and Derry, SF candidates in local council elections are losing out to real left wing candidates as the SF people are seen as too establishment. 
You probably can’t access the link, but here’s a good article by leading NI British Unionist commentator, Newton Emerson, on just how middle of the road SF is:
https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/newton-emerson-sinn-fein-is-not-a-radical-party-1.4162859   
And as a perceptive recent article by the London School of Economics notes:
“Brexit has made a united Ireland – though far from inevitable, and, according to some polls, only at the margins – an increasingly immediate and concrete proposition … Brexit has left the party in a position of political strength unprecedented in its history, and its primary policy goal of Irish unity closer than at any time since Ireland was partitioned 100 years ago.“
However, any eejit could have foreseen that much (although some DUP eejits certainly didn’t) – the really interesting bit is what that LSE article then notes:
“However, far from having viewed Brexit as a wedge issue, to be leveraged in the pursuit of constitutional transformation, we have found that it has instead been overwhelmingly viewed within Sinn Féin as a threat to be managed. Especially in its potential to disrupt the openness of the Irish border, Brexit has represented grave political, economic, social and existential risks, which have been most acutely felt by nationalist voters in sections of Sinn Féin’s core constituency, including in the border counties and multiply deprived communities in Belfast and Derry. Throughout the Brexit process between 2016 and 2019, the party was principally concerned with contesting Brexit policy rather than with using Brexit as an opportunity for polity contestation. As one former Sinn Féin MLA neatly summarised: ‘We are in this dilemma that actually the harder Brexit is, I suspect, the more support there will be for a United Ireland. But despite that, we are trying to mitigate or ameliorate the worst aspects of Brexit.‘”
That’s the un-recognised real-politik of Sinn Féin in 2022. Despite being in theory working for a united Ireland, they’re nonetheless trying to make the North work. They know well that their voters will no longer stand for anything – be it bombs or unhinged political policies such as Brexit – which interfere with people’s day to day economic prospects.

Last edited 1 month ago by Frank McCusker
Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

The whole argument falls a bit flat when one asks why one political movement is based on a Masonic lodge that Catholics are not permitted to be members of, based on a minority church?

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 month ago

There’s a lot more to it than that..

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Sounds about right, at keast gor SF North of the border.. given the ROI’s ambivalent attitude to unity SF in the ROI isuch more focussed on socialist policies and perhaps somewhere in the middle lies the truth. The fact that SF emanated from rhe (new) IRA is hardly Earth shattering given FF and FG did likewise albeit 100 years ago..

R Wright
R Wright
1 month ago
Reply to  Jon Hawksley

The Irish have one ideology: do the opposite of the Saxon

John Dillingby
John Dillingby
1 month ago
Reply to  R Wright

Pretty much true. I don’t believe the Irish are pro-EU because they want ever closer Union and all that malarkey. No, it’s because it’s the EU or us they have to align with and choose accordingly. If you gave most Irish people the choice of closer cooperation with the UK or be Satans lap dog, they would choose the latter every single time.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 month ago
Reply to  John Dillingby

What utter garbage: just because we favour the EU doesn’t mean we’re anti-British. We were your strongest allies in the EU and vice versa. The cooperation between us has always been maximal and continues to be despite your best efforts to screw it up with your crazy Brexit – which benefits only the super rich while the rest are left to go where they are clearly going: to the food banks..

Brian B
Brian B
1 month ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

You are anti British,

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 month ago
Reply to  R Wright

Given your current economic situation, the lunacy that was Brexit and the pantomime that is the Tory govt, that mightn’t be such a bad policy!

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 month ago
Reply to  Jon Hawksley

Absolutely spot you: and again you get dislikes! What is ghat about? Everything you day is (1) true and (2) conciliatory.. what’s to he critical of? Maybe your detractors are DUP dinosaurs? That’s the only explanation I can see.
Btw, NI business is very happy with the NI protocol! Why wouldn’t the be? They’ve got the penny and the bun fgs! And as a result NI growth is now the highest in the UK: it was always lowest before the NI protocol!