Monday, March 14, 2005

"Ourselves Alone"-a prophetic name for Sinn Fein?

So the Shinners are being abandoned by everyone?">.

First the SDLP realised that they were crucifying themselves electorally by supporting their main rivals for votes, and now the rest of Constitutional Nationalism is moving away from them too at a fierce rate.

Since the Taoiseach realised in December that the IRA was doing the exact opposite of going away, our Government has issued rare condemnations of the Provo/Shinner alliance. Michael McDowell, our rabid Justice Minister has become "Deputy Taoiseach" of sorts and has taken to railing against Sinn Fein whenever he has the chance. With Mary Harney stuck in Hawkins House, trying to come up with the billions of compensation required by the Travers' eport, a chance has cropped up for McDowell, and I suspect he is enjoying the celebrity attention his statements recieve.

Anyway, the point is that these statements are being made. At last. SF has now been backed into a corner, and are relishing the opportunity to portray themselves as the victims. And it's completely their own fault.

Firstly, they brought up the issue of the McCabe killers being released. The Government were caught on the hop negotiating this, and leaks from Gerry Adams confirmed that the Taoiseach was prepared to release the Garda killers in exchange for a comprehensive settlement north of the Border. Public outrage and the DUP/SF failure to acheive a deal moved this repugnant idea off the table, and now Sinn Fein announce that it won't be brought up again. This was the first public demand for some semblance of propriety when dealing with SF.

Then the IRA robbed the Northern Bank and effectively shot themselves in the foot politically. This, I believe was the last straw for a public sick of having to ignore IRA criminality and punishment beatings. Now we could publicly express our disgust at the status quo that republicans were operating under. Bertie even moved off his upholstered fence and the entire Oireachtas, minus SF and a few independents, have united in condemnation of the republicn movement and the blatant (and still denied) links between Sinn Fein and the Provisional movement.

Then SF managed to make a bad situation worse. Several senior members of the party refused to call the murder of Jean McConville as a criminal act. A rare PR gaffe for the party, and one they just would not deal with. Despite overwhelming public sentiment, they refused to change their tune. The cloak of innocence surrounding the party began to slip. Personally I began to wonder if Trimble was right to object to working with the Shinners all these years.

Then money from the bank raid began to turn up. In a Garda operation so effective that it even drew praise from Ian Paisley Jr, our police swooped on several people suspected as being involved in the December raid. Millions were turned up, and SF found itself even more backed into the corner, with no friends in sight. Then, and it is remarkable, events took a turn for the worse for the beleagured republicans.

Robert McCartney was murdered on the orders of a senior member of the IRA, after a drunken outburst in a Belfast pub. Cue the McCartney sisters, the most commited women in years to have found themselves, willingly or not, on the Irish political scene. While still supporting the ideals of SF, they publicly railed against the IRA and their tactics of intimidation and murder. When it turned out that the Provos had been warning witnesses not to go to the PSNI and had also been destroying CCTV tapes, public opinion turned even more against the republican movement. Gerry Adams' support dropped dramtically in an opinion poll published in the Irish Times, and the part found itself recieving substantially less votes in the by-elections than they had expected. So they tried some damage limitation. Gerry Adams advised people involved or any witnesses of the incident to make a statement to a solicitor. This roundabout method of confession was because the party still do not believe people should not go to the police, as SF do not recognize the PSNI or the Courts. This bizarre advice was ignored by both governments and the McCartney family, who all requested people go to the police. Soon the McCartney sisters were turning up at Government Buildings and Leinster House, accompanied by Mark Durcan, leader of the SDLP (and who I assumed had been in political hiberbation along with Trimble since the last Assembly elections). And now they will travel to the White House to be met by President Bush. SF appear to have been ejected from the political process, until they learn the rules of the game. Also, leading American Congressmen are now refusing to meet Adams on St. Patrick's Day-including Ted Kennedy, the darling of the Irish-American lobby in Washington. And the latest twist; SF will not be allowed fundraise when Adams crosses over to the USA to do the rounds this Thursday.

And last week the House of Commons in London cut off SF's allowance of £440,000 p/a. Significantly the motion was supported by Seamus Mallon of the SDLP, proving that even the republican movement's "wetnurse" has given up on them in the short term.

So what will happen? With an election next year (I doubt Bertie wil go to the wire with a 5 year term again), will they manage to claw their way back into the heart of the Irish political scene and regain the support of the hundreds of thousands of sneaking regarders of their party here in the South? Or will they remain on the fringes for the forseeable future, having burned their bridges with every political party on the island, with the possible exception of grassroots FF and our always flexible Taoiseach?

At the moment the next few months to a year do not look the brightest for Sinn Fein, and it will be interesting to see who blinks first, the Government or Gerry.


Blogger Robin said...

good man! Thats a long start!!! once you have a few posts start dropping the URL around the place.

6:59 AM  
Blogger Robin said... Look whats #1 today in the computer-edited US Headlines!! (which means it's the statistically highest number of stories published today)

IRA are bigger over there than we think!

7:02 AM  
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11:14 AM  

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