Why Sinn Féin should retire Tiocfaidh ár lá…

6 May

This week marks the 39th anniversary of Bobby Sands death, the first and most infamous of the ten IRA men who perished in the 1981 hunger strike. These fatal protests were a dramatic inflexion point in the Troubles with immense consequences – both accelerating the brutal violence and, through the election of Sands as a British MP, sowing the seeds for Sinn Féin’s successful entry into politics. The events sharply divide opinions, now as then, but whatever your view, most …

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Not even a global pandemic can bring Sinn Fein to welcome help from the Brits…

14 Apr

Sinn Fein’s recent criticism of Stormont’s Health Minister Robin Swann was a curious occurrence in even more curious times. The UUP MLA’s decision to utilise the UK military to support logistic functions like distribution of PPE and construction of a NI Nightingale facility, was layered with realism, a sense of urgency and for once, relative political neutrality.  And yet, Michelle O’Neill criticised the decision, based not on the intended use of the UK military, but on the lack of consultation that … Read more

Varadkar is having a good crisis. This it seems, is not the time to object.

29 Mar

The Republic are doing things a little differently: joining an EU  initiative to procure much needed ventilators, sending an Aer Lingus plane to China for hospital workers’ PPE; the Gardai Commissioner calling for people in the streets to produce IDs, off licences to stay open  in contrast with  GB. The North at first followed the GB rules but has now fallen into line with the south. The consequences if the northern ban remained in force if a hard Prohibition border … Read more

From abortion to coronavirus, Westminster rule is still decisive – if they choose to exercise it

26 Mar

The situation is replete with irony.   In the absence of the Assembly a formerly inert Westminster sprung into life to enact three controversial reforms; on same sex marriage, victims’ pensions (pending) and most controversially of all, abortion. Sinn Fein which only acknowledges any legal British authority over Northern Ireland with the greatest reluctance warmly welcomed Westminster’s imposition of the most radical shift possible from the most restrictive to the most sweeping abortion regulations in these islands; while the defenders of … Read more

Opinion on a border poll ” on a knife edge” – the latest from The Detail

24 Feb

Here we go again.  Just a bit of cross posting here to draw attention m to a special edition of The Detail, about a border poll. The comment is based a Lucid Talk opinion poll conducted north and south, showing opinion “ on a knife edge” –   46.8%  to stay in the UK and 45.4 % for a United Ireland. The disparity now among three polls in succession can partly be accounted for by different methodology, this one on line, … Read more

A border poll yields pride of place to good government at Stormont. Will the parties get the message?

18 Feb

We’re told it’s the most thorough survey of political attitudes in years                      (what, more than the NI Life and Times surveys?). It shows the graph has tilted over a just a little more in favour of united Ireland, confirming that those who Don’t Know or declined to answer – an  odd description of the middle ground – hold the balance.  I’m caught between concern about growing tension as the day … Read more

Fraught Anglo-Irish relations are about to get tenser

18 Feb

Leo Varadkar was attacked by some Brexiters for ‘anti-British’ rhetoric. Patrick Holden (University of Plymouth) finds that Varadkar’s language was no more emotional than that of his predecessor, Enda Kenny, though he was more outspoken about the contradictions of the British position. If Sinn Féin now enter the Irish government, Anglo-Irish tensions may continue to rise. … Continued

There is no ‘anti-English’ sentiment in Ireland in the wake of Brexit

12 Feb

There is no ‘anti-English’ sentiment in Ireland in the wake of Brexit. The success of Sinn Fein in the recent Irish general election was built on a deep-seated public dissatisfaction with the quality of social provision in health, housing, childcare and other ‘quality of life’ issues at a time of a booming economy. The party’s traditional … Continued

Now the counting is over, what does the Irish political landscape look like

11 Feb

Change. Such a simple word, yet if we could sum up this election, it really was about change, not just for its own sake but ambitious change. A sense that the country was heading in the wrong direction and despite record growth rates, a large section of the electorate opted to take a punt. Fed up of paying high rents, having their children living with them and the cost of everything rising, they looked at who embodied that ambitious change … Read more

Sinn Fein deserve their chance to satisfy the huge expectations their victory has aroused

11 Feb

Let’s stand back. With just one seat fewer than Fianna Fail but with quotas to spare, Sinn Fein’s claim to have gained the moral advantage has credibility in spades.  Another reading is just possible. The two centrist parties outnumber them by rather less than 2 to 1. Twice in France the  right and left  united to defeat the far right, once by joining together and last time by forming a new political party to achieve the desired result.  But France … Read more

Are Sinn Féin Populist?

10 Feb

Last week the Irish Independent printed an opinion by Phillip Ryan. He charged Mary Lou McDonald with the title of ‘Ireland’s Donald Trump’ which prima facie is a confusing argument but I decided to persevere through such arguments and it made me think more broadly about the idea of Sinn Féin being a left-wing populist party. Has populism finally arrived in Ireland? Populism or elitism are nebulous terms, but in the modern usage they imply a party that presents easy … Read more

We have a piece of paper… it looks like a Stormont deal, tbc

10 Jan

Have we got a deal that the DUP and Sinn Fein sign up to or not? By Thursday midnight, it wasn’t clear. Will all parties turn up to the reconvened Assembly? By the time you read this we should know. In the meantime we have – a document .. But Arlene Foster’s verdict looks favourable.. “On balance we believe there is a basis upon which the Assembly and Executive can re-established in a fair and balanced way… This is not … Read more

Looking forward to an early end to the Stormont deadlock. Christmas cheer, or only a Christmas truce?

23 Dec

How will the parties as they say “reflect”  on their stance towards Assembly restoration during the Christmas lull? Will it be peace on earth, good will to all or only a Christmas truce? The finger of fate is pointed at the DUP.  Will their resentment spill over into resistance? How dare the secretary of state break precedent and single them out for blame just because all the other parties seem to have supported a deal? Even that is the wrong … Read more