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The provenance of Sinn Féin April 24, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Harry McGee’s overview of the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis is heavy on the emphasis of its supposedly ‘low-key’ atmosphere, with terms like ‘deflated’, ‘in a strange place’ etc scattered around liberally. That said there is a broader aspect to this, the situation where a government still hasn’t been formed after two months and the intricate and possibly eventually unrequited dance between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael continues with less progress than was predicted as late as Friday.

But McGee has to note that SF has:

…added an extra nine seats to take its total to 23. Compare this to the four seats it had in 2007.


Factor in the real possibility of the party taking seven seats in the Seanad. All the signs should be positive. Yet, it hasn’t quite worked out that way.

Yet apparently:

The party’s expectations were too high, and amid the gains were a couple of big setbacks, no more than the loss of Pádraig Mac Lochlainn’s seat in Donegal.

I wonder about that. Yes, Mac Lochlainn’s seat was a loss (albeit in a constituency – two really – that was redrawn) but the sense I had from SF people going into the election was not one of overly heightened expectations so much as, and this was shared by most in Irish politics I suspect, caution and hesitancy as to what the outcome would be. SF was bound to make gains, but they could be greater or smaller. As it happens they were mid-range. If there were exaggerated claims during the campaign they were generally of the type one hears during campaigns where every effort is made to boost support.

And there’s one point McGee doesn’t address. The underlying drum beat, a continual one, from FG and now more proximately FF, as regards keeping SF out of government, not this time of course, but the next. If one looks at that dance mentioned above between FG and FF so much of it is shaped towards FF retaining some sort of political higher ground in its war of attrition with SF as a rival. It’s not all that that is about but it is a significant part. SF is making political weather at the moment, but it’s an indirect dynamic, not a direct one.

Still, McGee isn’t far wrong when he notes the following – which by the by is a fairly barbed indirect critique of at least one of the leaders of our two ‘largest’ parties.

The argument its detractors use – that the party was not founded 100 years ago – is slightly vacuous – everybody understands the party’s lineage and tradition, irrespective of a formal arrangement.

There is no doubt that Sinn Féin did not “own” the commemorations, as some predicted several years ago.

The reason for this is the major parties all became decidedly green-tinged (including Fine Gael), and the State’s commemoration of the Rising was undoubtedly more than a slightly counter-revisionist affair.

Again, the predications of others shouldn’t be confused with those of SF (or more generally one shouldn’t confuse any predictions about parties from their rivals with those parties intentions), but it is absolutely true that SF sits within a lineage and heritage – as do other parties – that draws fairly directly on 1916. Attempting to pretend otherwise is a pointless exercise.


1. CL - April 24, 2016

“While many of its delegates still decry the “establishment” parties, the party is already an establishment party in the North – and is on an inexorable path to becoming one in the South.”-McGee.

Sinn Fein is willingly assimilating itself to the extreme centre.

The 1916 commemorations have countered the fulminations of the revisionist propagandists, and with Sinn Fein receiving the support of just 14% of the voters it is only in the fevered paranoia of Harris, and Dudley Edwards that it is a threat to the status quo.

And yes the Ard-Fheis seemed lackluster and low energy.


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