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Eamon Gilmore and Sinn Féin… November 28, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.

…It struck me the other day on foot of our discussions on the nature of Sinn Féin and the deeply problematic manner which the Government parties have in their dealings with them in the Dáil chamber where the issue of the murder of Jean McConville by the IRA is used as a sort of diversionary tractic, that there’s one genuine oddity in all this. Well, there’s actually many. As we know, the interactions between those involved in the chamber are fairly complex. So it’s not every time that Gerry Adams or whoever stands to speak that such comments are made. Quite the opposite. But only in certain contexts where the Government is feeling the heat.

But it wasn’t always so in relation to some in Labour and Sinn Féin. No, not at all. For in 2002 when a younger, perhaps wiser, E. Gilmore was contesting the Labour leadership he took a vastly more emollient line in relation to Sinn Féin. Now, sometimes this was implicit, as in this piece here (behind the IT paywall but worth a look if you can access it) where on foot of the 2002 General Election where SF was returned in some numbers along with the GP and a number of left Independents, he wrote:

This general election re-elected the government and changed the opposition. But there still is an opposition! Whether the next government is FF/PD or FF/Independents, there will be almost 80 TDs on the opposition benches.
For the first time, however, there is no single party which can claim to be the national opposition, or even to be the majority part of it. The opposition benches in the 29th Dáil will be occupied by two medium-sized parties, three small parties and 13 Independents.

And he continued:

At first glance, the fracturing of the opposition may appear to prolong Fianna Fáil’s grip on power. But the new opposition also has the potential to be reconstructed and to provide a political alternative to Fianna Fáil.
The political complexion of the new opposition is predominantly left of centre, including the Labour Party, others on the left and social democrats in Fine Gael. Most of the new independents have been elected on public service issues such as health, arguing for policies very similar to those of the Labour Party.

It is simply untenable that he wasn’t speaking of SF as comprising a part of that ‘opposition’.

And indeed he clearly was, for he had previously in his leadership bid, which failed, although not quite as ignominiously as some have painted it subsequently where he received almost 20% of the vote, state a preference for left cooperation including SF. An Phoblacht noted this when he became leader and turned his back on such matters.

Eamon Gilmore has succeeded Pat Rabbitte as the leader of the Labour Party without a contest and without immediate debate on the future of the party. It remains to be seen if any such debate will ensue or if Gilmore will focus solely on reorganisation after the failure of his predecessor’s strategy based on the Mullingar Accord with Fine Gael.
Prior to his unsuccessful 2002 bid for the leadership Gilmore raised the prospect of co-operation on the left, including Sinn Féin. This time he ruled out such political co-operation, apparently fearful that it might be used against him by rival candidates. He need not have worried as no-one in the Labour Parliamentary Party rose to the leadership challenge.

As did Éoin O’Murchú at the same time:

When Eamon Gilmore stood for the leadership of the Labour party in 2002, against Pat Rabbitte and Brendan Howlin, he offered a very different prospectus from the one he has advanced this time.
In 2002 he argued Labour should seek to construct a united Left, which Labour as the strongest element, would lead, harnessing the combined energies of Labour, Sinn Féin and the Greens to present a challenge to both the leading capitalist blocs – Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. His focus then was on a left agenda, on substantive equality and justice.
But now that is all abandoned. He has made it clear there will be no alliance of the left, no cooperation with Sinn Fein and left-wing Independents. Labour is not to change, it is to be available yet again for government with one or other of the ‘capitalist’ parties.

The obvious problem here is that one G. Adams was, as he still is, leader of SF and if there is a problem now with Adams et al, then the same problem existed then. Indeed one could argue that it was more pointed given that the political dispensation in the North remained less stable, more fractious and issues like decommissioning were…

It is this that makes the use of the murder of McConville so self-serving on the part of some. What deep held principle is it drawn from? I wouldn’t advocate it, but had FG and the LP argued for a position of refusing to acknowledge SF, a sort of living Section 31, that at least would be more consistent (indeed thinking of same I’m reminded of Eoghan Harris’s not dissimilar injunctions against SF, while I remember very well quite positive comments he made about SF’s Seanad presence when he first arrived there on foot of the nomination by Bertie Ahern). But that the thing. There is no consistency, there appear to be variable principles at work. Distaste alone, even loathing, when it is applied so patchily isn’t enough. It’s worse than nothing.

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1. The Rambler - November 28, 2013

From this post and other comments, I see you really haven’t grasped what’s going on at all re. how Adams has been dealt with by the southern political establishment.

Sigh :( OK, let me spell it for you, apples and oranges stylee.

See, Adams is a war-criminal, pure and simple. His defining moment was to order that a widow be dragged from her children by thugs and then shot in the head and buried on a beach far away. That’s if you don’t count his other defining moment when he helped a child abuser escape justice.

Just so we all know what we’re dealing with here. But he was the only one with the ability to dissuade the psycho-er psychos. So noses were held and deals were done for the greater good.

In Gilmore’s defense, back in 2002 it wasn’t yet clear at all that his murdering days were behind him. So everyone had to make nice. Pretend that SF were invited to the respectable tea-party. For fear that he would revert to form and go back to the old ways.

The whole point was to lock him, his hence-men & hench-ladies into the settlement. Holding our noses we voted for the GFA. But it certainly was not a vote to transform Adams into a cuddly, grandfatherly figure. It was a vote to stop him killing. Which it did.

The idea that it was all about creating a respectable figure out of an animal, is beyond risable. And I doubt if even you believe it. But for some reason, the essential goodness of SF seems to have become an article of faith on the naive left. Well, good luck with that. Enjoy their friendship until, well, until you’ve outlived your usefulness.

WorldbyStorm - November 28, 2013

The day you started using Jean McConville’s murder to attack me and this site was the day you lost any chance of being taken seriously in discussions here. Goodbye.

yourcousin - November 29, 2013

Does this mean that there won’t be a CLR balaclava in my stocking this year? Oh well, at least I can still dream.

EamonnCork - November 29, 2013

It’s ‘risible’ not ‘risable.’ I’m surprised you can’t spell that one actually. And there’s only one e in ‘style.’ I’m not sure what ‘hence-men’ are. Maybe men who haven’t happened yet?
And you’ve misspelled Wanker in your second post.

2. The Walker - November 28, 2013

So does that disappear me to the cedarlounge equivalent of Shelling Hill beach?

Well, you’re a fool if you don’t realize that the Shinners are laughing up their sleeves at proxies like yourself willing to do their bidding.

In my experience it usually takes some bauble of office to turn the head of an ex-WP operative. Whereas for you, seems the approval of the Shinners would suffice … go figure. Enjoy the approbation! It will last as long as your website remains useful to their multi-decade project (hint: that project does *not* include you being elevated to office, finally wielding mighty power for good!)

WorldbyStorm - November 28, 2013

Wow, you really have an axe to grind, don’t you? And it’s not with the Shinners. I’d go get help if I were you. In the meantime goodbye again.

Ed - November 29, 2013

Sindo troll is Sindo obvious … tell us WBS, was the email address harris_eoghan@protestantpogram.cork? Or rde_rule@britannia.co.uk?

WorldbyStorm - November 29, 2013

If only, at least there’d be the very slight outside chance of a semi-civilised discussion.

Ed - November 29, 2013

In its own way, the madness is quite revealing though … the idea that Adams had to be dragged kicking and screaming into a non-violent strategy that he had been preparing the ground for since at least the late 1980s … the idea that people in 2002 (!) were petrified that Adams was going to lead the Provos back to a full-blown military campaign … the idea that he could be swayed from doing so by some vaguely-worded offer of co-operation from a defeated Labour leadership candidate … this furious rewriting of history is perfectly symptomatic of what WBS has been talking about, the cynical, opportunistic approach to the northern conflict that is dictated purely and exclusively by the ebbs and flows of southern electoral politics, with the death of Jean McConville eliciting as much genuine passion as the results of the latest focus group.

EamonnCork - November 29, 2013

Harris would have more manners. And he wouldn’t be drunk when he posted.

WorldbyStorm - November 29, 2013

I think the way you outline that dynamic Ed is correct, it is revealing, and depressing. You and me and EC and others have said it numerous times. We’ve no illusions about SF – indeed the idea that we, or I, are somehow cozying up to SF more than our general attitude of broad leftism to all leftish inclined forces (and given we’ve critiqued SF for its problems in regard to the latter issue) let alone that any of us would hold the truly bizarre notion that there was something for us if we did is a breathtaking misreading of reality (though perhaps another telling insight into how some people think political activity works, that it’s all transactional) – actually at various times this blog has been criticised for being ULA, SP, SF, WP and a mouthpiece for the late Tony Gregory. Oh yeah, and WCA/Red Action as was. I’ve had people say in all seriousness to me in person that each of those is the case. More recently someone muttered about us being too kind to Nulty et al. I figure something must be being done right to get such a broad response.

WorldbyStorm - November 29, 2013

Just on Harris, I’ve talked directly with Harris in the past on a different though not entirely unrelated issue I was researching. I found him brusque but courteous and actually very helpful in the specific.

Eamonncork - November 29, 2013

The problem with your man, and why I get so irritated about him though I should have more sense, is that it’s all just tough guy gangster movie stuff to him. Unusually so even by the standard of nutcases. Hence Wbs you gonna be sorry when da boys knock on da door and you’re there screaming, “But I’m Gerry’s friend, help me,” and they say, “Gerry didn’t say nothin’ about you pal. We don’t need you no more.”

WorldbyStorm - November 29, 2013


It’s when we’re attacked for our supposed failings – and Christ, it’s not like we don’t get it having seen it ourselves through the 70s and 80s, when someone just doesn’t get how the use of that sort of language is from the off just wrong in the context of the argument. It’s playing at it, playing with the seriousness of the actions, events and yes murders, that took place.

3. Starkadder - November 29, 2013

” this blog has been criticised for being ULA, SP, SF, WP and a mouthpiece for the late Tony Gregory. Oh yeah, and WCA/Red Action as was. I’ve had people say in all seriousness to me in person that each of those is the case.”

Wot? No Workers’ Solidarity Movement? We’ll hafta fix that… ;)

WorldbyStorm - November 29, 2013

Hah, fair point.

4. shea - November 29, 2013

Gilmores mistake was that he saw the enviorment as a product of ff rule rather than ff as a product of the environment they existed in. Common mistake so no harm to him, when he stepped into the same enviornment he repeats the same mode of thinking. It’s getting dul the amount of times people are shocked or feel betrayed with the same process in the last century. people’s thinking needs to extend beyond the brand name rivalry.

WorldbyStorm - November 29, 2013

That’s a great point shea re the environment.

5. Pasionario - November 29, 2013

Didn’t Enda and Rabbitte try sucking up to the Shinners after the 2007 election in the hope of forming an everybody-but-FF government?

The jist of this is that the Shinners have always talked out of both sides of their mouth and everyone else talks out of both sides of their mouths about the Shinners. So Adams is the great peacemaker/ statesman/ potential coaltion partner, one day, and then he’s Jean McConville’s murderer, the next. This is the logic of the peace process, I suppose. There’s no getting over it until he and McGuinness finally shuffle off the stage. And do that they must!

shea - November 29, 2013

It will go on after if its convieniant. Doubt mcdonald ever wore a bally or jumped out of the back of a hiace van, she gets the same rebuttels set in the same narative. Green scare has its value but your right as well will be ditched if there is self interest in it

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