Saturday, January 9, 2010

Ladies and gentlemen, Killian has now left the building

Well here we go. Killian Forde has followed on from his decision to vote against Dublin Sinn Féin policy by deciding to quit the party as a whole.

Below is his statement on the matter. Dublin Sinn Fein has now lost three sitting councillors since the last local election. To paraphrase.. To loose one councillor may be unlucky, to loose two councillors is strange, but to loose three is fucking disastrous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anyway here is Killian's statement.

Yesterday afternoon, after nine years of membership, I resigned from Sinn Féin.

As people within the organisation will know I had become increasingly concerned with the direction of the party over the past three years. This concern was magnified after the 2007 elections but I believed that organisational changes promised to create an organisation fit for 21st century Ireland would evolve. These changes were re-promised after the election debacle of 2009 and yet those changes still had to materialise.

Sinn Féin had become staid and unresponsive and lost direction in the south over the past few years in both policy and organisational terms. The leadership of the party appeared to not recognise or were unwilling to accept that changes are long overdue. These changes were essential to transform the party into one that values discussions, accommodates dissent and promotes merit over loyalty and obedience. It is only logical that if you disagree with the direction of the party and are unable to change it there is no option but to leave.

In relation to my recent vote on Dublin City Council I will explain; as chairperson of Dublin City Council’s finance committee and the Chair of the Budget Working Group I had a specific responsibility to try and secure as fair a budget as possible. A budget that had to be balanced despite tens of millions in cuts in central government funding, a collapse in income from development levies and a massive reduction in our own revenues from services such as car parking, leisure and rates.

Working with other left wing parties and individuals we ensured that the budget presented to the Councillors on December 21st protected jobs, front line services, secured leisure facilities and minimised service charge increases.

The one item that all political parties were unhappy with was the partial removal of the bin waiver for those on low incomes. However this is not the function, responsibility or within the power of the Councillors to change. The power to set the fees and any waiver is the sole responsibility of the City Manager. This power was removed from Councillors and handed to the City Manager by a Fianna Fail minister.

I felt that voting against the budget, particularly given the positions I held in the Council, would have been totally futile and a meaningless gesture. Surely Irish politics has had enough of this.

For this reason I proposed and voted for the budget despite the instructions of my party.

The country needs radical change to make it fit for purpose for a new era. Many of our institutions of governance are creaking, discredited, some are corrupt, and they need to be radically overhauled.

If we do not shape success from the opportunity this crisis presents, we will be left high and dry. Decisions taken over the next few years by governments will dictate whether Ireland can finally become a modern, democratic European nation or the Haiti of Europe.

I want to be part of an organisation that can introduce the necessary legislative changes and constitutional reforms that will enable my generation to live on an island they can be proud of. Sinn Féin was not that organisation.

I look forward to continuing to work with all of my colleagues on Dublin City Council promoting a fair and vibrant city and providing a comprehensive constituency service for the people of the Donaghmede ward.


  1. It was inevitable that he would go. SF is not exactly the type of party that welcomes alternative points of view. The Left in the party, if it is to make headway, needs to dismantle the totalitarian structures constructed by the leadership. As KF points out above, it is essential 'to transform the party into one that values discussions, accommodates dissent and promotes merit over loyalty and obedience.' Although he voted for the budget he is obviously a man with a social conscience and will be a loss to any ensemble that wants to enhance its radical content.

  2. However we look at Killian's statement I think we must be careful not to dismiss all of it immediately.

    Even if we read it and instinctively reject it and disagree with his arguments we have to still retain our focus and consider whether parts of it have merit.

    However we review this we have to ensure that we dont just write off a valid criticism if they exist.

    The loss of councillors is not the loss of one individual; instead it means the loss of additional future councillors and additional TDs.

    How so?

    Because it damages the party brand and makes people think that we are not a viable party. That surely costs votes, stops additional SF candidates getting elected and stops us from delivering on our agenda.

    Nor is this an impact solely limited to Dublin city. The 26 counties is a small place and if the city with a quarter of the population is proving a barren place for SF at the moment then it will have an impact on the other cuige and how successfully we build the party across the island.

    "To loose one councillor may be unlucky, to loose two councillors is strange, but to loose three is fucking disastrous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

    Thats a fact.

  3. AM - I thinbk Killian does raise some valid points and I agree regarding the need for the party to be more open and welcoming to discussion.

    However, I would question Killian on this point and how strongly he supports broad debate on Sinn Féin and its direction etc.

    He refused to post a link to this site on his own blog and claimed we were washing Sinn Féin's dirty linen in public. He sent me a comment on these lines and I posted it as an article back on 2nd June 2008.

    He did not ask me not to put up his name, but i chose not to. Now I feel i am entitled to.

    The party clearly has serious problems in Dublin in terms of its direction, leadership etc and i believe we can only overconme them by being open and encouraging debate from all quarters and in a variety of ways.

  4. In relation to the above post this is the comment sent to me by Killian back in June 2008

    This is a general comment on your blog, having read through your earlier posts.

    I mean this genuinely with no disrespect, as I don't know you or your background in the party. I realize your intention here is something positive, but would it not fit you better, rather than washing dirty laundry in public about the party, to get more involved in your local party structures and argue your case from there?

    I think you'll find the more active you are and the more responsibility you take on, the more respect you will have in SF circles - the more respect you have then the easier it is to argue your case up the line and have leadership people take your views on board.again no disrespect - but would you stand at the side of the road with a megaphone criticizing and debating the parties faults? No? well then why do it on the internet?

  5. Whilst Dublin is not the end all be all, it is was central to SF's strategy in 26 counties. We've been virtually wiped out by defections to the left and now to the right. Let's harbour no illusions about Labour Party intentions since their policies, as currently constituted and sold to the public, are just another form of right wing political-economic orthodoxy. Labour wants a few more peanuts doled out to the monkeys but they do not have one policy item that will fundamentally change how politics and business is conducted in Ireland.

    Leaving aside the careerist motivations of Forde, for his comments and analysis are self serving in the extreme, the yawning gap in leadership in 26 counties is now apparent to every punter in Ireland. This needs to be addressed immediately. Not some time in the future. Right now.

    It's rather strange that just as SF adopted a progressive economic program Forde decided to jump ship. It doesn't speak much for his socialist credentials, or it reveals that Forde doesn't understand economics and is therefore no loss. I also wonder if Forde's resignation wasn't centrally motivated by the Labour leadership given the possible demise of the 6 county government at this junction in time. Timing in politics, like comedy, is everything and Forde's resignition timing has been faultless in attempting to maximise damage to SF.

    If Forde did bullshit, it would be the best bullshit around. Does anyone think FF, FG, Greens or Labour are open societies of endless debate and dissent? These parties are highly structured and almost draconian in their rules of debate and disagreement. FF is one of the most centralised party organisations in the world. Their party hacks, even at the Dáil level, wouldn't dream of going against the party leadership line unless they decide to leave the party, and that's the only alternative to such members who have the temerity to go against the leadership. Forde is a mere Labour pawn now. If he does move up the Labour ladder, it will by dint of disloyalty and self service. Good riddance.

    Personally, I can't get on board with the Socialist Party's program, and I wouldn't touch any other leftist organisation in Ireland with a 40 foot barge pole. Needless to say, I won't be going to the dark side - FF, FG, Greens or Labour.

    Either I stay with SF or like so many disillusioned people forgo politics altogether (probably the biggest party in Ireland at the moment). What's particularly frustrating is that SF is really making advances in its political economic policies. The conditions to advance such policies exist. All we lack is the public forum to get the policies out into the public arena. If this trend of resignations continues, and the MSM will be beating the drums load in the coming weeks and months, is there a way for SF to recover? And what happens if the peace process dies?

    There is a delicious irony at work in Irish politics right now. Those who perpetrated the biggest financial and economic meltdown in Irish history, are not only surviving but driving the agenda. The very masters of the universe in Irish politics and business, whether they support FF, FG, Greens or Labour, have colluded and continue to collude in keeping the cosy crony capitalist pig sty together to the detriment of ordinary wage earners. Instead of SF pointing out the obvious and driving a viably alternative agenda for change, the crony capitalist parties have circled the wagons.

    No doubt the masters of the pig sty want to drive out any viable leftist alternative, and SF is the only party that fits the bill, while opening up some ground for the likes of the SP and other micro-parties to squabble amongst themselves as they are naturally wont to do. Meanwhile, the sty masters will just keep taking more production, money and assets for themselves.

    I like a fight. I won't be running away. And its damn good to know who your true commrades are.

  6. Starry Plough, you are absolutely right. I just read that anonymous post made by KF in June and it is clear he is using the lack of debate as cover for his defection. I actually remember reading the dirty linen post at the time and thought it was from a party hack trying to kil off debate. Now, it seems it was. Something of the Iris Robinson there - do as I say not as I do

  7. Just following on from the post that Sinn Fein Keep Left posted on my facebook. It certainly wasn't me that sent that post to the site in June.


  8. That's a depressing but revealing email...starry plough. From my perspective, being outside SF but again regarding it as part of a left that I understand and identify with, the idea of jumping to the LP (despite the fact there are good socialists within that party) seems near incomprehensible. Leftwards? Well, I probably could see a few more options that tgmac, :) but even so ... rightwards? Hmmm....

    BTW, continuingly interesting stuff you post.

  9. worldbystorm, it wasn't an e mail but a comment and i posted it as a article.

    Killian, I've posted this on your facebook page.

    If it wasn't you Killian I apologise but it had your name on it and it ties in with the dates. I asked a number of times for you to put up a link to the site. The last was on the 1st june. This was an old article that hd been up for a month already and on the next day i received the comment with your name on it. If it wasn't you then it is strange indeed.
    Here's the link to the request by me and the dates.

  10. I wish Killian well. He was always to my left and we often disagreed on things; but he's certainly right in many of this criticisms of the party culture.
    The loss of such a talented young man is a clear sign that SF is in terminal decline. The party is trying and failing to ride two horses: in the north it advances right-wing policies in conjunction with the DUP while in the south (particularly Dublin) many live in a cloud cuckoo land of radical 'oppositional' politics.
    Killian's error was to express in Dublin the sort of right-wing policies normal in the north (where SF councillors support every and all council budgets irrespective of their right-wing nature).

  11. Aren't posters describing the loss of 3 Dublin councillors as "disastrous" overlooking the fact that (a) They all resigned for (stated) different reasons and all went in different political directions; (b) All 3 jumped ship within months if not weeks of getting elected on a Sinn Féin ticket before they found being in Sinn Féin unbearable.

  12. Why have you not posted up the Sinn Féin statement's on this man's departure?

  13. Anon, you need to get over your reaction to debate. It's people with attitudes like yours that has the party where it is at at present.
    Leveller, the point is not where they're going but that they are going. People deserting a party which has suffered a complete ideological collapse can be excused for responding to that collapse in different ways. The fact that SF has always lacked any firm political coherence will also contribute to that. However, the loss of a party member to Labour is, I believe, of greater consequence as this is a sign of more advanced decline (and more acute ideological collapse).

  14. AM TGMAC and others

    With regard to my calim that Killian wrote the Dirty linen in public piece. i adnit now I may have been mistaken as it has been claimed by somebody else.

    I genuinely believed the the comment about dirty washing in public was from him, but as the article was originally a comment I cannot acess it anymore.

    As i outlined the dates etc led me at the time to believe it was from him (and i thought his name was there, but i cannot go back and check it and i cannot now be 100% certian). Given this lack of certainty I accept I should not have made the calim.

    I have contacted Killian on this and asked him what he would like me to do about it.