Friday, February 27, 2009

Sinn Féin - the glass is not broken

More than enough has been written about last week’s SF ardfheis, so I will note only this. I don’t think Gerry Adams has a clue when it comes to promoting his party – and it is his party – in the Republic. In my experience Southerners become very irked when being told what to do by Northerners. Partition has wrought its own damage over 80 years and the last 30 years of conflict have added to that estrangement. Appointing Mary Lou McDonald as vice-president makes little sense to me as she simply lacks the populist touch that Southerners like in their politicians and, given that she could not secure a seat in the Dáil last time out, strikes me as a bit desperate.

That is not to say that they are finished; the glass may be half full or half empty, depending on your point of view, but the glass is not broken at the very least. They have enough money and discipline to keep themselves relevant but it will be a case of swings and roundabouts for the foreseeable future. I think Pearse Doherty will yet win a seat in Donegal for the Dáil. I heard, anecdotally, that one FF TD in Donegal was texting everyone in a panic during the last general election that he was in trouble and needed their votes.

Doherty could – like FG’s Joe McHugh in the neighbouring Donegal dáilcheantar – see himself elected next time out. McHugh used his time in the Senate very wisely and got himself into the Dáil very handily; Doherty is doing the same. (And don't forget Doherty was given support by the Labour Party in his bid for that Senate seat which leaves the door very, very, very partially ajar for future co-operation.) That said, there will be no breakthrough on a grand scale for SF and they will have to fight for every vote. Nonetheless, a handful of seats in the Republic will still be worth much more than a handful of Westminster seats.

Also, I noticed that SF are running a former student of mine, Tomás Ó Searcaigh, as one of their EU candidates. Tomás is a councillor in Dundalk and I taught him Irish during my very brief career as a teaching assistant at QUB. He is bright, articulate, intelligent and good humoured. In short, he would be an asset to any party. Watch out for the name – he is just the kind of candidate who could swing more people behind SF in the Republic.


Anonymous said...

There is def. a shift towards the south and you can see many of the southern leadership coming through. The shinners vote did go in the last election and their membership and cumann continue to grow. I would say SF in the south is about 10 years behind their northern counterparts in terms of electoral gain.

Anonymous said...

I also think that a leader of SF from the South would not be acceptable to northerners

Anonymous said...

Na i don't think the northern population has the partitionist mentality as much, I think they would be quite excepting of a southern leader.