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FF and SF May 9, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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There’s a telling piece in the IT recently on foot of Micheál Martin’s address at Arbour Hill to commemorate 1916. In it he launched an attack on Sinn Féin and in no uncertain terms:

[He] firmly ruled out a coalition with the party after the next election.
“I have made this repeatedly clear,’’ he added.
He said the failure of Gerry Adams and Sinn Féin to dissociate themselves from the Provisional IRA was unacceptable.
And:

He said they had had shown there were still many appalling stories to emerge from the illegitimate campaign of the Provisional IRA.
They had yet to receive proper attention in the Dublin media, he added.
“There are still many families waiting to hear the full details of how their loved ones were condemned by masked men without reference to even basic humanity,’’ said Mr Martin.
He said the end of the Provisional IRA campaign had marked a victory for democratic republicanism on the island, which was enabled by 1916.

But, and here is where the utter contradiction at the heart of his argument comes sharply into focus…

The agreed future ratified by the referendums North and South recognised, for the first time in history, the right of the people of this island to decide its future,’’ he added.

But the problem – in relation to his analysis, is that that ‘agreed future’ and those ‘referendums’ explicitly brought Sinn Féin into the heart of that process and in such a way as to, if not quite render the past irrelevant, make it more difficult to sustain precisely the sort of attacks on SF that he engages in above. It’s a sort of running with and against the logic of the GFA/BA simultaneously. He’s trying the old trick of saying that SF today is essentially SF in 1987. It’s an argument but the situation is different.

But in order to sustain that attack he has to leap back in time prior to the GFA/BA…

“At the core of their [SF] narrative lies the claim that the hidden leadership of the Provisional movement retained the right to kill and maim in our name in spite of constant rejection,’’ he added.
“For them, it retained the right to bomb civilians, to kneecap children and to have a parallel and secret justice system devoted to covering up the crimes of their members.’’

But clearly it stopped retaining that right during the process of implementation of the GFA/BA. This isn’t to wave away that past, but it is to suggest that his argument attempts to position SF in a narrative where little has changed.

There’s a broader discussion too, about the past and how to engage with it. I used to think that reconciliation and truth processes would be a good thing. Now, now I’m not so sure. Granted that last is perhaps making a virtue of necessity – there is going to be no such process, but there is part of me that wonders if any such process even were it possible to arrange would have any significant positive impact. Part of that is a utilitarian analysis too. Uncovering the past – even a past a few years gone, is hugely difficult. Uncovering a past of actions that by their nature were covert and concealed seems an order of magnitude greater.

This, by the by, isn’t either to dismiss inquiries into what occurred in the past, but a broader reconciliation and truth process seems more problematic than perhaps it once did.

And the past is an issue. I listen to Martin and I wonder who he is trying to reach in these attacks. Is it FG voters willing to be prised away from that party with a sort of FG lite rhetoric about Republicanism? Because another point is that all this is dipping into the distant past. For those of us old enough for the conflict to be a presence it is one thing. I wonder what it is like for those for whom it is not even a memory.

And I wonder what the political effect of that is.

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Comments»

1. Aengus Millen - May 9, 2017

I think your last point is spot on. Putting aside the irresponsibility of Martin’s argument (remember when Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin voted for Bertie Ahern as taoiseach because of the republican ties between the parties) it is also hugely limiting for Fianna Fail. Only people who can remember the troubles are convinced by this argument and FF continues to limit their vote to older people. All the papers this weekend were suggesting that Gerry Adams will turn over the reigns of leadership at the end of the year. Anyone under 40 especially in the south doesn’t have the instinctual connection between SF and violence and especially with the move away from troubles era leadership this argument is going to be less and less successful.

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2. benmadigan - May 9, 2017

“The agreed future ratified by the referendums North and South recognised, for the first time in history, the right of the people of this island to decide its future,’’ he added”.

But he doesn’t like the fact that many people North and South vote for sinn fein?
So those voters have no right to decide their futures on the island of ireland?
Does his “agreed future” envisage only the status quo north and south as it obtains (and has always obtained since the treaty was signed)?

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shea - May 9, 2017

On the last line a few politicians down here, martin on ivan yates show last sunday, ahern previous sunday on yates show and in the seanad adressing a commitee on brexit a few weeks past, howlin at his party conference in wexford, Vradaker at a reported FG local meeting have all come to the conclusion that 50+1 in a border poll is unjust. Some saying that a majority of both unionists and nationalists is needed in a border poll to bring about a united ireland.

So hypothetically we could be approaching a situation were a majority in the north vote to leave the uk but its not a big enough majority.

All a bit mad. a unionist by definition is someone who supports unity with the uk.

Would appear that yes some ‘envisage only the status quo north and south as it obtains’

Liked by 1 person

benmadigan - May 10, 2017

They may think “50+1 in a border poll is unjust” but AFAIK it’s written down and ratified in the GFA.So they can hardly move the goalposts at this stage.

Some Southern politicians MAY feel a sorta reluctant moral duty to accept nationalists/Republicans from the north into their cosy state.
None has any desire whatsoever to cope with northern Unionists so the upshot is . . . “only the status quo north and south as it obtains”

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3. shea - May 9, 2017

The civil war was been faught in this fashion into the next generation. The move away from the troubles era leadership might not sort this for the shinners.

its irelands version of reds under the bed. Green scare. If in a few decades saoradh or eirigi or what ever enter parliamentary politics the shinners will probably be at it to them by then. The media apatite for this stuff in its day is possibly why the first FFers set up the Irish press.

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4. roddy - May 9, 2017

That FF have no recollection of what was thrown at them in the 20s and 30s is ironic in the extreme.

Liked by 3 people

irishelectionliterature - May 9, 2017

You’re not wrong there Roddy ….. although we read it as appealing to a certain demographic of Southern Voters, I think his comments were in part aimed at The North.
FF are due to stand there in the 2019 Local Elections and elements have convinced themselves that there is a raft of SDLP and SF cllrs only waiting for FF to contest and they’ll be throwing their lot in with FF !

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5. roddy - May 9, 2017

I can’t see FF standing here but wish they would to see the SF “corner boys” give them their electoral comeuppance

Liked by 2 people

6. Alibaba - May 10, 2017

Martin is making the pitch to say Fianna Fáil is the THE republican party and denigrates Gerry Adams for his association with the IRA to support that. The truth is that Adams alienates many Sinn Féin potential voters because they deem him to be a liar. Never mind that if Adams acknowledged he belonged to the IRA, which he indisputably did, the gardaí or PSNI would be obliged to arrest and charge him and this would most likely have ended his political career. Most southern people don’t get this.

When Martin says he will not go into coalition with SF after the general election, I guess it all depends on the numbers and Adams being gone. Forget what FF says and see what they do.

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7. oconnorlysaght - May 10, 2017

In considering Martin’s outburst, I suspect that he may be fighting a battle within his own party. Last week i was at a commemoration to the Early Irish Communist, Sean McLoughlin and was struck by the way that it was masterminded by a combo. of SF and FF. Bertie Ahern laid the wreath. I suspect that there is a conspiracy here between the St Luke mafia and there friends to use the coalition issue to embarrass the bould Micheal. Does anyone have any opinion?
As to Alibaba’s suggestion that Adams is merely protecting himself by lying about his membership of the IRA, this seems unlikely to me. Unlike the average Volunteer, Adams’ arrest would be decided by political considerations. Its worth remembering that McGuinness’ admission of membership did not do him any harm.

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Alibaba - May 10, 2017

The reason that Martin McGuinness’ admission didn’t do him any harm was because he could and did acknowledge his IRA membership up to 1974, the time he was released from prison after serving IRA-linked convictions. Adams’ admission would have had different consequences for his political life, particularly if it happened later, and I suspect that he declinied to do so as a matter of his integrity as well as strategic considerations for SF. Adams was caught on a hook which is vitually impossible to wriggle off; but he did so because they never nailed him for IRA membership. Being an adept statesman as he is, the right choice was taken by Adams and the leadership.

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oconnorlysaght - May 10, 2017

It remains true that he did not have to lie. They could have done nothing if he refused to reply when asked.

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Alibaba - May 10, 2017

And they would have simply moved on? I don’t think so. Adams would have been crucified for not replying. While socialists don’t share nationalist politics, surely we should be keen on exposing the social realities they face and even support their efforts and decisions when the establishment seeks to punish them in their legitimate fight for self determination.

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oconnorlysaght - May 11, 2017

Had Adams been an ordinary Volunteer, they might have crucified him, but he was who he was, a crucial figure in any settlement. To have imprisoned him would not have destroyed his credibility in the movement; it might have strengthened it (see Parnell, Kilmainham, etc). On the other hand, in the short term, there would have been a gap opened for less reasonable (& I don’t just mean co-operative) people to move in.
I would say that I consider Adams to be the canniest republican leader since de Valera, though he does not share Dev’s sinuosity. Also, his speech to Barnier in the Dail today was quite good.

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EWI - May 11, 2017

I suspect that there is a conspiracy here between the St Luke mafia and there friends to use the coalition issue to embarrass the bould Micheal. Does anyone have any opinion?

I suspect that FF and SF could get along very easily indeed in government, but no-one wants to yet spook the IT, Examiner and Sindo readers (and RTÉ viewers) ahead of an election.

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EWI - May 11, 2017

And ‘St. Luke’s’ is now gone, sold, though I could try to find out for you where they now meet. I guess that ‘Drumcondra Mafia’ is the appropriate term now.

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8. Joe - May 10, 2017

“He launched an attack on Sinn Féin and in no uncertain terms”. Well fair play to him I say. We need more of that not less.
Mr Martin is criticised in the main piece and in the comments for having the bad manners to allude to some of the deeds done by the ‘Republican Movement’ during the Troubles. That’s the way it’s been going for quite a while now – it’s considered bad manners, on here and elsewhere, to even mention some of the things that the Provos did.
But the thing is – they did them. They killed all those men, women and children. They maimed and disfigured and terrorised so many more.
And when Martin or anyone else dares mention these facts, they are criticised and mocked and great effort is expended in identifying their real motive for doing so.
And that stuff about lots of young people about now who were born after the Troubles had ended. So? The implication that these people couldn’t give a toss about what the Provos did and that Martin or anyone else shouldn’t bother telling them. The young people aren’t listening, they don’t care and they’re voting Sinn Féin. Really?
Martin’s motives are electoral and it won’t work. Really? Before the last election there was some speculation as to whether SF could get as many or even more seats than SF. But it turned out that FF gave them a sound enough thrashing. SF are on maybe 20% of the vote in the south. They may be stuck around that mark for good because most of the people in the south opposed what the Provos did during the Troubles, won’t forget it and won’t forgive.

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shea - May 10, 2017

Martin can say what he wants, IRA people shot tans for that right. It is pefectly reasonable to oppose, critique the provo’s during the conflict in the north. But his analysis of the troubles rings a bit hollow though, suggests the provo’s were the only ones shooting people. Are good manners expected to not poke holes in that analysis.

What is the proper code of conduct to express for other actors in that conflict. ‘Gods’ next in line for the crown of the english is currently on a trip to this country. What should this states relationship be with the one he is going to inherit. Seems to be good manners not to say anything on that score.

Does he have anything to say about this states role in that conflict. The creation of a sense of other through the sacking of the RTE authority for a journalist doing his job and the zealot like enforcement of that act over the next two decades. Suppose we can just ignore and pretend they are not connected the thousands of people who went through a non jury court in that time. Don’t mention people getting beaten to a pulp or dare i say it tortured in garda stations. Homes getting smashed up. Also seems to be good manners not to bring that one up.

Would seem to my eyes that there are some things that are acceptable to bring up and some things that are not. Martin would be on the safe ground in that regard.

If the shinners do or don’t break 20% is largely irreverent, the world won’t change much.

Breaking that dominant analysis might lead to something though, understanding.

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EWI - May 11, 2017

Mr Martin is criticised in the main piece and in the comments for having the bad manners to allude to some of the deeds done by the ‘Republican Movement’ during the Troubles. That’s the way it’s been going for quite a while now – it’s considered bad manners, on here and elsewhere, to even mention some of the things that the Provos did.

Well, just as it’s now considered ‘bad manners’ to bring up FF’s armed revolutionary past who did some ruthless things, or FG’s, or that of the ex-WP people in the Labour Party.

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9. roddy - May 10, 2017

The thing is Joe,members of FFalso killed many men,women and children and maimed,disfigured and terrorised many more.Had anybody thrown this up in say the late 1940s to Dev or Aicken ,they would have been told to fuck off and rightly so.Don,t even start me about how your sticky mates were able to escape censure a couple of years after killing their last victim and continuing to terrorise communities until they finally lost their last Td..Get up the yard you hypocrite.

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Starkadder - May 11, 2017

“Don,t even start me about how your sticky mates were able to escape censure a couple of years after killing their last victim and continuing to terrorise communities…”

How do you know that the other poster has friends in the Official IRA ?

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10. roddy - May 11, 2017

Joe is WP,the political wing of the Official IRA.

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WorldbyStorm - May 11, 2017

No he’s not, he left at the early 90s spilt, didn’t go back.

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Joe - May 11, 2017

Yeah. I was a member of WP from about ’85 till the WP/DL split.
Dropped out at that time, didn’t go either way.

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11. roddy - May 11, 2017

He certainly was enthused by theirmany false dawns in recent years and assured us they had his support.Whether he is a card carrying member at the minute is irrelevant.He never even admits they had a military wing while sitting in the dail and denounces others in hypocritical terms.

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Joe - May 11, 2017

I vote WP. As it happens they stand a candidate where I live. That’s about the total support they get from me, bar the odd comment on here. Must do better.

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WorldbyStorm - May 12, 2017

roddy, I’m reminded of the joke of the guy feverishly tapping away at the computer and someone asks his partner what’s the story and they answer, ‘someone is wrong on the internet’. This site is pretty big in the broadest sense of the term and – for example, Joe and I who were in the same branch in the WP, don’t share the same views on these matters but we remain good friends and comrades. And that’s the thing. I can’t tell you how to respond but perhaps stepping back a little and accepting that others will take a different view is no harm. After all, we can all be affronted at the basic fact that a good 80% of the population of this island don’t share our politics in one way or another (be it left or or republican) but what’s the point? Live and let live.

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12. roddy - May 12, 2017

I called a truce with Joe some time ago but to quote one J Lynch of FF, “I will not stand idly by” when tirades are launched against SF from supporters of parties whose hands are not historically “clean”

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Joe - May 16, 2017

The Joe/Roddy peace process is just that – a process. There will be ups and down along the road. The hypocrite jibe is fair enough – the official IRA did similar things to what the PIRA did but on a smaller scale and stopped a lot sooner.
So if my verbal support of the WP entails turning a blind eye to its history, fair enough.
Doesn’t change the points I made about SF and the limits of its potential support level in the south. A better criticism would be that it was wishful thinking on my part. I hope not.

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