Thursday, July 13, 2006

Sinn Féin is on target to oust Labour as the left-wing alternative in Ireland

Brian Feeney:

Two strangers arrived at Stormont as the shutters went up for the summer on the empty shelves of our proconsul's talking shop.

Enda Kenny and Pat Rabbitte at last deigned to notice the north, now that the Dail is in recess for a mere three months – only until September 27.

The visitors didn't bring anything except themselves but that was the whole point of the exercise. It was all to do with the coming election in the Republic.

The Dail may be in recess but its politicians aren't. It's a nervous time.

The election looms in May or June next year. The parties will spend this summer planning and conspiring, paying out a fortune in market research and opinion polls but denying that they pay attention to any poll except the one on election day.

Kenny and Rabbitte have roped themselves together in a fateful knot like mountaineers on the north face of the Eiger. If one slips he'll drag the other with him into the void.

Travelling together, holding joint press conferences and photo opportunities, they're trying to accustom voters to the notion that they are a coalition government in waiting – 'the alternative', they claim, to the present Fianna Fail/PD coalition.

That's all the visit to the north was about – themselves and their electoral strategy. They had nothing to say about the north.

Worse, they are caught in a time warp rehashing old cliches, or maybe that's simply a description of their attitudes to the north.

Instead of repeating the stern message the Irish and British governments gave the DUP at the end of June – share power or else – Kenny and Rabbitte attacked Sinn Féin, told them to support the PSNI and end criminality. They sounded just like some class of unionist.

Mind you, that's not surprising given that ex-stickie Rabbitte – who has done more U-turns than our current proconsul – 20 years ago belonged to a party which advocated supporting the RUC and a revived majority-rule Stormont and had links with criminality.

It's simpler with Kenny. His Blueshirt mindset produces a reflex action when he thinks of Sinn Féin and the north. He hasn't a good word for either.

Nowadays this attitude of mild courtship of the DUP while scolding SF betrays how little thought either of the two has devoted to the north.

It might have been all right 15 years ago when it was customary, nay obligatory, for everyone to ignore and condemn republicans, just as it was obligatory to be photographed beside John Hume and support everything he said because he represented northern nationalists.

Not any more. Southern politicians, and especially senior Fine Gael and Labour people, have yet to come to terms with the sea change in northern nationalist politics where SF is the party that represents most nationalists.

That means when they attack SF, they attack most nationalists. Hard to get your head round if you're locked in the past with Kenny or Rabbitte, maybe, but it's the fact.

Secondly, being complete 26-county politicians, Kenny and Rabbitte see SF only as a rival for votes in the south, which they are. That's another sea change in Irish politics.

For decades a cardinal rule of John Hume was never attack a southern party, because you never know when they'll be the government and you'll need them.

Not any more. SF is part and parcel of the cut and thrust of the Republic's politics which means that now so are northern nationalists, who seethe at the nonsense some southern politicians spout about the north, especially when they're appeasing Paisley.

All the more galling when the truth is that more British MPs than TDs visit the north regularly and know more about here.

So what are the prospects of Messrs Kenny and Rabbitte? Not as good as they claim.

Yes, Fianna Fail is down to about 35% in the polls but together Fine Gael and Labour don't make the cut. They'd need the Greens to form a government.

The really weak link is Rabbitte. Many people think Fianna Fail has most to fear from SF inroads. The real danger is for Rabbitte, because Sinn Féin is on target to oust Labour as the left-wing alternative in Ireland.

Disgusting: Sick 11th night bonfire mocks murdered Ballymena teenager


At 2:55 PM, Anonymous Tony said...

I believe that Sinn Fein have shown themselves up a wee bit. The shite about condeming the attacks on supremacist orange halls as being sectarian, really stuck in my craw. What is really obvious is that in the quest for power in the north may cloud the judjement on some issues.

I must say that while not ready to turn against SF myself just yet, it does not surprise me that many young in the west of the 6 co's are being radicalised against licking any more bigoted unionist arse. If the dunder-heids are to thick and full of hate to grab a good deal while it is going, fuck them.:¬)

At 5:38 PM, Anonymous mh said...

I agree, Tony. I think the nature of the orange squatters should be repeatedly reinforced - a bigoted sectarian organization which has advocated violence and ethnic cleansing since its inception (I believe as the terrorist peep o days boys gang). It should also be highlighted that members of these types of groups are particularly fond of unrestrained violence against neutral non-combatants - i.e. Catholic school girls, attorneys, etc.

At 12:03 PM, Anonymous Tony said...

"It should also be highlighted that members of these types of groups are particularly fond of unrestrained violence against neutral non-combatants - i.e. Catholic school girls, attorneys, etc."

Since when is a fenian a neutral to idiots like them? Remember to them it's KAT and KAI. The problem is that many don't go along with the kill all Irish/Taigs thing, do we often hear from them though, do we frig.

Enough is enough, and if SF want to go the way of the sticks, by advocating peace and love while the haters go on their jolly way, that is their choice.


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