Wednesday, June 1, 2011


The aim of this site was to encourage left wing debate amongst party members and supporters. Unfortunately, we have not suceeded in this aim and have been unable to generate enough articles and debate to keep this site going.

We never aimed at using this site as an opportunity to simply express the views of 4 - 5 people, but rather to go beyond that.

We here still believe Sinn Féin offers the only realistic left wing political alternative in this country and would encourage as many people as possible to become involved in the party.

Thank you to all those who read the pieces on this site and to those who have contributed and perhaps others will suceeded where we have failed.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The General Election - A Members View.

While we undoubtedly achieved huge gains in the General Election, I can't help but feel that some of these gains were only made through brutally hard work and a certain amount of good fortune. The truth I discovered in this campaign is that our party is still not fit for purpose despite four years since efforts begun following the disasterious General Election campaign in 2007.

Many of the problems identified then, and further identified in Killian Forde's departing note, still exist and show no signs of being rectified, and until they are rectified I feel that the party will be continuing to float along while being the organisational equivalent of the Titanic. Briefly, I'll outline some of the problems I've identified:

1. Communication: The party still lacks effective communications between grassroots and it's structures. For someone trying to flag some issue or aid in some project it's still, as Killian Forde pointed out, a near impossible task of attempting to navigate through a maze of bureaucracy whether policy groups, committees, or an executive that is uncontactable directly.

2. Structures: We have redundant structures which function as simply a rubber stamp for the decisions of subordinate structures, one fine example being the Cuige. Sinn Fein is the only organisation I've been a member of in which the concept of a structure which by-passes all other structures has been conceived or even found necessary, going by the name of the Organisation Development Unit (ODU). Surely this indicates that there are dire organisational problems, which the ODU should have been a temporary fix to until some kind of reform could take place.

3. Appointments: There has still been no changes to how the party seeks candidates for full-time positions within the party. This is still resulting in people who lack qualification in the areas they are responsible for getting the job. An odd advertisement in An Phoblacht does not count as transparent recruitment while other jobs are appointed almost without competition. The party is still in clear breach of employment legislation as long as this practice continues.

To conclude, I think that it is vital that our party must be a mirror reflection of the Ireland we wish to create. The grand aspirations are no good if those who seek to bring them about cannot act in their image.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

In about 30 years time

The talented drawer Brian Moore has passed away. He was the man behind the "Cormac" cartoons in An Phoblacht.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has expressed his ‘deep sadness’ at the death of Brian Moore and he has extended his condolences to Brian’s partner Máire and their son Cormac, to Máire’s son Conor and Brian’s brothers Gerry and Danny and his sister Maura, and his family circle and friends.

Gerry said:

“Brian will be best known to most republicans as the irrepressible and politically perceptive cartoonist Cormac who for many years was a regular feature in Republican News and then in An Phoblacht/Republican News after the papers merged.

His weekly contribution to the paper touched on the big issues of the time; the war, repression, sectarianism, collusion and much more. His cartoons lampooned the British Army and RUC; the British government and media. If he witnessed injustice he turned his satirist’s pen loose.

His cartoons were incisive and funny. And for many readers the back page was the first they read to see what gem ‘Notes by Cormac’ held for them. Brian was a republican and a socialist.
He supported the struggle for freedom and the peace process.
In the 70’s he published political comics and he contributed to other publications, including the British weekly Socialist Challenge and Fortnight magazine.

Brian was also a song writer and performer. He founded ‘The People of No Property’ with whom he sang.
His death is a huge loss for his family but also to the wider republican community.

Go ndeanfaidh Dia trocaire air.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Victory for Peace Movement in new Programme for Government

Press Statement 8/3/2011 Peace & Neutrality Alliance

Victory for Peace Movement in new Programme for Government

The Peace & Neutrality Alliance (PANA) welcomes the statement in the new Labour/Fine Gael Programme for Government, promising to implement international law in terms of the use of Irish airspace and airports by foreign powers. Under the section Foreign Affairs, ODA and Defence, the Programme says: "We will enforce the prohibition on the use of Irish airspace, airports and related facilities for purpose not in line with dictates of
international law."

PANA Chair, Roger Cole, a delegate to the Conference, asked for clarification of this statement in the Programme for Government. He pointed out that a key part of international law governing the behaviour of Neutral States is the Hague Convention of 1907 which prohibits the use of a neutral state's territory to prosecute a war. Switzerland quotes the Hague Convention to explain why no US planes land in Zurich Airport on their way to and from their wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Mr. Cole asked: " Does this mean the termination of the use of Shannon Airport by US troops in these permanent ongoing wars?" citing Afghanistan and Iraq.

Eamon Gilmore in his closing speech to the Conference, replied to Roger Cole's call for clarification. The Labour Party Leader stated that: "Yes, Roger Cole has pointed out an area where is there is a difference" and "that it may be hard to believe" but that the statement in the Programme for the Government " does mean what is says".

In the context of the question asked and the reply given, this means the new government will, like the Government of Switzerland, implement the Hague Convention, and terminate the use of Shannon Airport by US troops on their way to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. We would hope the new incoming government would do so on Easter Monday, the 95th anniversary of the 1916 Rising. PANA will also seek an early meeting with the new Minister for Foreign Affairs.

for more information contact Roger Cole, Chair of PANA Tel: 087-2611597 or Seamas Ratigan Tel: 086-8369793

Sunday, March 6, 2011


23 years ago today Volunteers Danny McCann, Seán Savage, and Mairéad Farrell were shot dead in Gibraltar.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Progressive Oppostion

It looks likely that there will be 14 Sinn Féin and up to 10 progressive left deputies in the incoming Dáil. 
These 24 progressive left Representatives need to eclipse Fianna Fail as the opposition to the incoming conservative administration and ensure that victory could be grasped from the jaws of defeat, so to speak.  This is a platform that we could barely imagine a few short weeks ago,
The election campaign was dominated bu the specific budgetary issues and the immediacy of the crisis facing the people.  Ideology struggled to feature.  It can now be a central feature of debate from the first day of the incoming Dáil.  The people can hear how and why we are in this crisis and just how similar FG and FF are.  It will also continue to force the members of the Labour Party to examine how best to use their political strength. 
I would make a particular appeal to the members of the ULA to resist the temptation to take an elitist view of what it means to be on the progressive left. The days of political sectarianism on the left need to be left behind.
The British Labour politician Tony Benn described British Labour something like this.  Labour is not a socialist party, but it has many Socialist within it.  SF could be described that way,  Certainly, the ULA should reach out to the membership of SF.  It would be good for both groups.  All activism is educational and it works both ways.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Language Freedom movement redux eile

Fine Gael seem to think that the Irish language is a barrier to progress. They are trying to lower Irish's status as a Leaving cert language.

Just like the Language freedom movement Fine Gael is bringing the past back into Irish politics.

Irish is a defining feature of Ireland. No matter where you are from or what your background the Irish language is the patrimony of everyone.

Fine Gael and Fianna Fail have together tolerated 8 decades of failed language policy. For me the failure to restore Irish is a good example of how failure is tolerated in this state. Fine Gael instead of improving the teaching of Irish has responded with the out dated agenda of weakening it.

A move which has been widely condemned by ordinary students and people.

FG or FF does not have a right to destroy our language.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Keeping jobs, giving new opportunities and stopping emigration

In 2010, unemployment peaked at almost 460,000. There are 439,000 people on the Live Register. The country has also seen a return to high levels of emigration with the ESRI recently predicting that 100,000 people, mainly young people, would leave Ireland over the next two years. This level of emigration exceeds anything seen during the worst days of the 1980s. Unemployment is the only figure that matters for those of us concerned with economic recovery.

Employment, not percentage increases in GNP/GDP, is a true reflection of meaningful economic growth. High rates of unemployment don’t just spell bad news for the economy now – structural unemployment into the future will have a devastating impact on any hope of restoring the Irish economy.

The relationship between jobs and the deficit is a clear one – more people in work produce higher levels of spending activity and tax revenues, as well as lower welfare payments. In 2008, employment in this State fell by 84,000. This was associated with a decrease in tax revenues of €6.5billion and an increase in social welfare payments of at least €2.5billion, a total deterioration in Government finances of €9billion.

Sinn Féin’s employment and financial stimulus package costs €7.595billion and will create 160,000 jobs directly over the medium-term, tens of thousands more jobs indirectly and also save thousands of jobs. The full cost of our employment stimulus amounts to €7billion. The financial stimulus of €595million is accounted for in our tax and saving measures. The multiplier effect on GDP of creating 160,000 jobs would amount to 1.8%, according to ESRI figures. And this would be real GDP growth – not growth based on the profits of multinational companies based here.

Our stimulus is about providing immediate and direct employment in key sectors such as infrastructure in the immediate term. But in the longer term the impact of our stimulus plan would see the State’s competitiveness increase as we become a world leader in green energy, IT and research and development, in addition to having world-class infrastructure to attract Foreign Direct Investment and support indigenous enterprise for longer-term employment creation.

Furthermore, the completion of key strategic infrastructure projects, such as the National Broadband scheme, and the improvements in the education and health services, will make Ireland more competitive and put us in a better position for economic recovery in the years ahead. In addition to these proposals, Sinn Féin has a strategy to boost the tourism sector including developing tourist attractions and amenities and a plan to create a new generation of co-operatives. This sustainable, long-term employment would broaden the tax base and secure it.

The 10-point plan

1. A jobs stimulus. Sinn Féin is advocating the transfer of €7billion from the National Pension Reserve Fund (NPRF) for a State-wide investment programme (stimulus). We are calling for a transfer from the fund of €7billion –– for a jobs stimulus package. This money should be administered out of the NPRF over the next 3.5 years, with the Department of Finance signing off on proposals as they are submitted from the departments. All proposals would have to have ‘value for money’ clauses and total number of people that would be employed under the proposal. €2billion would be spent on the employment stimulus in 2011.

2. Growing the agri-food sector. Deploy funding of €500million to set up and support central production hubs for SMEs involved in the agri-food sector so that they have access to advice, support and, most importantly, infrastructure and equipment perhaps not available to early- stage start-ups. We envisage existing agencies such as Enterprise Ireland and An Bord Bia to come together with Government to drive this project. This would create 5,000 direct jobs and 2,000 indirect jobs.

Coupled with regional networking, partnerships and branding across the whole country, this measure alone has even greater potential for job creation. Investment in agriculture and the agri-food sector provides high returns for the Irish economy. The multiplier for agriculture on GDP is 1.73 and 1.76 for the food and drink manufacturing industry (if you invest €1million in these sectors, the wider economy sees a return of €1.73 million). Funding required = €500m.

Creating jobs through the construction of essential infrastructure

3. Health infrastructure. We would build 100 new primary healthcare centres throughout the State at a cost of €500million. This would alleviate the strain on our main hospitals. It would provide local healthcare for a variety of medical conditions and an excellent resource for communities. The building of these centres would create in the region of 5,000 jobs and 2,000 indirect jobs. Our pre-Budget submission provides for the lifting of the current recruitment embargo, which would allow all these centres to be staffed in the years following their construction. Funding required = €500m.

4. School buildings and refurbishment. An increased school-building and refurbishment programme for 2011 to take at least 125 schools through the construction stage. A 16-classroom generic repeat design project costs approximately €3million in current market conditions. This would cost €375million in total and create approximately 4,000 jobs directly and 1,600 indirect jobs. A minimum of 150 school-building projects should enter the architectural and planning stage each year so that school projects are ready to proceed as quickly as possible to the construction phases. Funding required = €375m.

5. Crèches. Build 100 crèches State-wide for state childcare provision at a cost of €200million, creating 2,000 jobs directly and 800 jobs indirectly. Funding required = €200m.

Assisting businesses and entrepreneurs

6. Improving communications infrastructure. Augment the current National Broadband Scheme to provide a fibre-optic island-wide network. Fast-track the €435million spend so that it is delivered beginning in 2011 instead of 2013. This will provide in the region of 4,500 jobs directly and 1,700 jobs indirectly. Funding required = €435m.

7. Assistance for those starting a business. Change the PRSI system to create a safety-net for those who attempt to establish their own business. Provide a one-stop-shop virtual helpdesk for business start-ups with legal, HR, patents, accountancy and funding advice. In addition, create an innovation website where budding entrepreneurs can pitch their business and invention ideas to investors at home and abroad. Funding required = €2 million.

8. Helping businesses to export. Create a ‘Sales Ireland’ strategy to help Irish firms access export markets outside the US and Britain and to help Irish firms looking to set up manufacturing businesses with the potential to compete with out largest imports, including R&D funding. Currently, almost 90% of exports come from foreign-owned multinationals and foreign-owned firms import over 86% of the materials they use, bypassing Irish firms.

9. Maximising employment on public projects. Rethink local authority and public sector construction, service and procurement contracts to create a level pitch for small businesses to tender. Breaking tenders into smaller pieces allows contractors with less significant turnover to efficiently tender for work. Make the employment of a set amount of apprentices a condition on which public contracts are awarded to contractors building public infrastructure.

10. Initiate a ‘Frontline Services Aides Scheme’ where people are employed to take on specific work from overworked frontline workers (e.g. civilianising administrative work that is currently done by Gardaí). Funding required = €250m.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Sinn Fein election manifesto

In this election Sinn Fein, as set out in our policy manifesto, is seeking a mandate to safeguard society and the economy. We cant afford to sacrifice either to the narrow interests of a small clique - either here or in the banking halls of Europe and the policy rooms of the IMF. Too much is at stake. Now we have to stand up for our interests as a society. Beyond this Sinn Fein will be seeking a mandate for:

- Root and Branch reform of the Political System to produce a really open and accountable form of government that empowers citizens and end the influence of the political elites.

- The protection and creation of jobs.
- An end to the two tier health system and and the two tier education system
- The proper use of Ireland’s natural resources in the common good

- Continued support for the Peace Process and the Good Friday Agreement

Saturday, February 12, 2011

If you cant canvass maybe this is an option.

The election is in full swing now and the party, its candidates, activists and supporters are putting their backs to the wheel in terms of time and money.

Its going to be a challenging year for Sinn Fein. Elections to be fought in the southern and northern areas of our country.

If you can canvass or help out please do contact your local cumainn. Look at the map on the side of this page to find your nearest cumainn.

If you cant canvass for any reason but want to make a contribution then a donation is an option. These  are difficult times as we all know but it may be an option for some.

Please consider it if you can. The Sinn Fein donation link is here

Friday, February 11, 2011

Safeguarding Irish interests

Gurdgiev, Ross and even the Fine Gael man agreeing Sinn Fein and Pearse is bang on the money

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Please Like our new Facebook page

We experienced some technical issues recently and our Facebook page closed.

In order to avoid that happening again we have moved over to a Facebook fan page.

This will allow us to keep building our friends and keep in contact with you all.

Our new page is here - Please hit like.

We'll have it back up to full speed in the next few days

Helping young people to stay at home

6 reasons to vote for Sinn Féin in this election


1.  Sinn Féin has shown that there is a better way.  We were the only party not to sign up to the government's consensus for cuts and instead put forward a real costed alternative for economic recovery.

2.  Sinn Féin would reverse cuts to public services and social welfare introduced in Budget 2011. We are the only party to clearly state that we would do this.

3.  Unlike the other parties Sinn Féin would stand up to the IMF and EU. Sinn Féin is an Irish republican party. We are a United Ireland party. We believe in the sovereignty, independence and freedom of the Irish people and the right of our people to build our own society.

4.  Every TD elected for Sinn Féin will mean a stronger voice for working families, the unemployed and all those struggling to survive. The more Sinn Féin TDs elected the louder the voice for those they represent in the Dáil.

5.  Sinn Féin stands up for ordinary people.  Over the last year it is our party, which confronted this government and demanded higher standards. For us, actions speak louder than words.   Sinn Féin was the only party to oppose the Lisbon Treaty, pointing out the dangers for our sovereignty.  Sinn Féin forced the government to hold the Donegal SW by-election, exposed the Taoiseach's contacts with leading people in Anglo, is the only party not to sign up to the Fianna Fáil / Green Party / Fine Gael / Labour consensus for cuts and instead put forward a real alternative for economic recovery.  Sinn Féin TDs only take home the average industrial wage.

6.  Sinn Féin will change politics and put an end to cronyism.  Reform must start with the Dáil.  That means cutting TD's wages and expenses. It means changing how the Dáil business is done so the Government can be held to account.  We would abolish the Seanad in its current form

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ireland’s Austerity Woes


Ireland’s Austerity Woes
07/02/2011 By Nat OConnor
From the very beginning of the crisis, the Irish Government’s response has failed to protect vulnerable people and has damaged the long-term prospects of the economy.

To put the scale of Ireland’s austerity measures into context, about €30 billion worth of austerity measures (cuts to public spending and tax increases) have occurred since the crisis began at the end of 2008. In scale, these total just under a fifth of the current size of Ireland’s economy (GDP €160 billion). To apply the same level of austerity across the EU, with its GDP of €12.5 trillion, there would have to be €2.4 trillion worth of tax increases and spending cuts.

What is even worse is that Ireland is only half-way through the process. The last budget was the first of four agreed with the EU and IMF in order to secure loans to Ireland. What follows is a brief overview of events, and austerity measures adopted in response, for those who might not be familiar with the details of the Irish case.

Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy on 15 September 2008. The Irish Government held a ‘midnight meeting’ on 29 September 2008, centred on Ireland’s banking crisis. Hence, Ireland’s financial and economic crisis dates from then, although other aspects of the crisis only emerged into broad public discourse in later months.

The discourse around the crisis centred on ‘external’ events from the outset. The problems in Ireland were blamed on the global financial crisis. However, it soon became apparent that Ireland would probably have suffered a recession sooner or later, even in the absence of international events; although some people denied this for quite some time. Ireland’s speculative property/construction bubble peaked just as Lehman Brothers fell. As a result, the coincidence of both national and international factors has led Ireland to experience a particularly severe and prolonged economic collapse.

The fiscal policies of the Government in the years leading up to 2008 were increasingly unsustainable. The construction bubble brought in much increased revenue from transaction taxes (e.g. stamp duty on property purchases, plus VAT from construction-related activities). Much of this tax revenue was from private debt invested in the construction market. In addition, income tax receipts were high and low unemployment reduced demand for welfare spending.

During the boom, the Government cut personal taxation and continued to permit high levels of tax relief to individuals and corporations, fatally undermining the stability of tax revenue. When the bubble burst, tax receipts fell by a third in two years. Up until this point, Ireland had been living a fantasy, where unsustainable tax receipts masking otherwise low taxation miraculously allowed the state to raise public spending and provide more services. When tax revenues collapsed, suddenly a massive current deficit appeared. One direct result is that the future size and role of the state is now at stake in Ireland. The balance of austerity measures between taxes and cuts will determine whether Ireland takes a route of low taxation (and therefore eviscerated public spending) or more public services (and therefore more European-average levels of taxation to pay for them).

On 30 September 2008, the day after their emergency midnight meeting, the Government announced a bank guarantee scheme, with the state guaranteeing €440 billion to six Irish banks, with the objective of safeguarding the Irish banking system. To put the scale of the guarantee into perspective, Ireland’s GDP in 2008 was €180 billion. Some prominent figures had called for a bank guarantee scheme, but the devil is in the detail. The guarantee was a blanket guarantee, which did not discriminate between banks of genuine systemic importance to the economy and others, which were not (notably Anglo Irish Bank, which was heavily involved in lending to the construction sector). It also covered more bondholders than should have been protected. Ultimately, it was a costly gamble that assumed liquidity was the only problem. However, it quickly came to light that the problem was not one of liquidity, but of solvency across the entire banking sector.

The Irish Government established NAMA (the National Assets Management Agency) in late 2009 to remove ‘bad loans’ from the balance sheets of Irish banks. However, NAMA was slow to start and has faced legal challenges to its powers. It was quickly overtaken by events. The lack of solvency in the Irish banks has forced the state to recapitalise them. This has led to the complete nationalisation of Anglo Irish Bank (known as ‘Anglo’) and more recently, the near-total state ownership of Allied Irish Bank (known as AIB). Perversely, NAMA continues to transfer loans from these state-owned banks to itself, a state-owned institution, costing unnecessary millions in legal and accountancy fees.

As a euro area member, Ireland has had no direct recourse to monetary policy. A range of monetary policy measures were taken by the European Central Bank in response to the crisis; however, these were insufficient compared to the scale of the problems Ireland was facing.

To date, the government has had four national budgets during the crisis period. (Details available on The first budget, at the end of 2008, was two months early in order to respond to the emerging global financial crisis. Taxation was raised and public spending lowered. This budget did raise the level of unemployment payments, but subsequent budgets cut the rates and qualifying criteria for benefits to a greater degree than this budget raised them.

In the 2009 budget, the Government announced a policy of encouraging workers back in to employment by cutting their social welfare payments. Payments for young people (20-24) were set at special low rates. For all other cases, the rate was to be reduced where job offers or activation measures were refused. Further cuts and tax increases followed in the 2010 budget.

The fourth austerity budget, for 2011, again reduced social welfare payments. The national minimum wage was also reduced by nearly 12 per cent. Increases in personal tax in this budget have also disproportionately impacted on the low paid. Changes to rates and bands meant that an employee on €20,000 per year paid as much extra tax as an employee on €200,000. In addition, changes to social insurance created a new Universal Social Charge, which introduced much higher rates onto low- and middle-income employees than had previously been the case. And, of course, people on lower incomes are more reliant on the state services that are suffering cutbacks.

Unsurprisingly, consumer spending in the economy has collapsed and Ireland continues to experience negative growth in the domestic economy; GNP continues to fall. Unemployment is at 13.4 per cent and renewed high emigration masks a higher rate of job losses. The situation is better for GDP, which is growing again (albeit at low levels) due to strong performance by exporting firms.

The last budget was merely the first instalment in a four-year plan, which envisages further cuts and tax increases. Polling day in Ireland’s General Election is 25 February. The result will determine the extent and timing of further austerity measures, but one thing is sure: much more pain is yet to be inflicted on the Irish people. At the same time, the election provides an opportunity for the next government to change direction on economics: more can be done to increase investment and foster job creation, especially by indigenous companies; private bank debt can be separated from the sovereign national debt; and the conditions of the EU-IMF loans can be changed. Indeed, all of these things must happen if Ireland is to be realistically able to afford to repay the loans.

The resistance within some quarters in Ireland to such measures is perhaps more surprising to an outside observer than it is from within. Part of the solution to Ireland’s current insolvency is that many economic commentators and practitioners have to admit that our previous economic model was – and remains – seriously deficient. There is no going back to ‘business as usual’, but to accept this implies a great deal of cognitive dissonance for those who were the strongest supporters of the economic consensus that brought Ireland to ruin.

The Pipe - A state against its own

If anyone is looking for a bit of down time from canvassing then a good show is on tonight.
The documentary 'The Pipe' is being shown tonight at 9.30 on TG4.

The Website for The Film.
Worth looking at I'd say.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Its Our Choice! Isn't it?

Fine Gael and a increasingly unsure Labour Party are saying that any alternative to compliance with the terms of the IMF/EU deal is a reckless gamble. Vincent Brown (whether mischievously or otherwise) rounded on Eoin O Broin of Sinn Fein on the basis that burning the bondholders and the strategy that SF is advocating would see us unable to pay public servants, including the Gardaí, within a year or so. Scaremongering, in other words.

None of us have a crystal ball, but it seems to be that it is entirely reasonable to go back to the major European governments - the movers behind the deal - and outline in clear terms that we are not going to subject our people to this level of misery over a prolonged period and we are not going to be restricted in our ability to invest in job creation, if the democratic will of our people is to vote for parties that advocate this approach.

And there's the rub. Are we saying that advocating anything other than an agenda suitable to the IMF - a conservative and deregulated economic approach - like the one that facilitated the runaway banks for example-is tantamount to a reckless gamble? So that's it. Its the same political and economic approach or nothing. That's the real danger here and it needs to be challenged. The IMF and EU don't see Fine Gael challenging and, alas, Labour seem to be moving towards the continuation of this right wing agenda too, though I suspect that they are wobbling. I hope so

Monday, January 31, 2011

Its time to unite against a FG-FF political arrangement

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has welcomed the decision by the Labour Party decision to seek a longer period for dealing with the deficit. Sinn Fein has argued from the outset for a six year period for reducing the deficit.

Mr. Adams speaking at the opening of the party's new campaign office in West Street, Drogheda this morning said:

"There is a widespread desire for a realignment of Irish politics. The prospect of a minority Fine Gael government supported by Fianna Fáil, as proposed by Micheál Martin, makes sense for the conservative parties. It also makes sense for progressive politics. It is time for all those who believe that a government without Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael can deliver a better Ireland – to work together.

"Voters want a real alternative. They are looking for change, for a break with the failed politics of the past and for hope that this is possible. A hundred years ago James Connolly appealed for unity among the left in Ireland. It made sense then. It makes sense today."

The Full Text of Gerry's remarks:

There is a growing demand for genuine change. Citizens know this is will not come from a Fine Gael led government.

They also know that the incoming government will frame the economic, social and political life of the state for the next 10, 20 or 30 years.

Voters are also calling on politicians to stop bickering and petty point scoring and present positive, concrete proposals for change.

Sinn Féin is seeking a mandate for:

· Root and branch political reform aimed at producing a genuinely open and accountable form of Government which ends the notion of political elites and empowers Irish citizens;

· The protection and creation of jobs;

· An end to the two-tier health and education systems;

· The proper use of Ireland's natural resources for the common good;

· Continued support for the Peace Process, and the Good Friday Agreement.

Sinn Féin has a plan to protect and invest in jobs and for a fair and sustainable tax system. Sinn Féin will renew our public services. And we believe that taxpayers' money must not be used to pay for private banking debt. Irish citizens cannot afford €80 billion of debt for the banks.

We want the reversal of the social welfare cuts and tax increases imposed on low and middle-income families.
We want a realistic deficit reduction plan that does not punish these same low and middle-income households. We want and end to EU/IMF austerity and interference.
Over the coming weeks we will be outlining in greater detail how Sinn Féin in government would set about undoing the damage done to our society and economy by 13 years of bad government.

A Fine Gael government will not deliver real change. They want to continue bailing out the banks, cutting social welfare and public services. They want to slash 30,000 public sector jobs and sell of profitable semi-state companies. They want to allow the EU & IMF to dictate government policy.
Real change can only be delivered by a new kind of government. Sinn Féin has long argued for realignment in politics. This process of realignment is something that has already begun in the North.

Imagine the type of change a government without Fianna Fail and Fine Gael could achieve.
That is now, for the first time, a real possibility. For too long we have changes of governments and a change in the faces in cabinet but no change in the policies they have implemented.There is a widespread desire for a realignment of Irish politics. The prospect of a minority Fine Gael government supported by Fianna Fáil, as proposed by Micheál Martin, makes sense for the conservative parties.

It also makes sense for progressive politics. It is time for all those who believe that a government without Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael can deliver a better Ireland – to work together.

Voters want a real alternative. They are looking for change, for a break with the failed politics of the past and for hope that this is possible.

A hundred years ago James Connolly appealed for unity among the left in Ireland. It made sense then. It makes sense today.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Election - So Far

Just a few days into this campaign, but a few observations arising out of it so far

Fine Gael are still getting away with presenting themselves as the ‘difference’.  They have been able to sit there without feeling the need to present policy positions.  Instead they are just hiding behind the notion that they are listening. 

 I don’t think that there has been enough reference to ideology so far.  The progressive left may well be missing an opportunity to point out the inherent failings of the dominant political paradigm.  The banks failed because there was insufficient democratic control over them.  Fine Gael, like Fianna Fail, champion deregulation to free up business activity – or more accurately, to give undue advantage to the private sector.  The public sector should be about democratic ownership and accountability, the removal of effective regulation leads to zero accountability.  Fine Gael has been a subscriber to Irish Thatcherism every bit as much as Fianna Fail.  The inherent failings of this approach are the root cause of our current financial difficulties and also the visible divisions that exists in society – the huge inequality.

Labour are struggling to distance themselves from the consensus for cuts.  They are vulnerable on the question of supporting the finance bill and saying that their rationale is to move the election forward a few weeks is questionable.  No more than FG, Labour are open to be nailed on the charge that they are happy to let this government take the hit for budgetary measures that they will shake their heads at but do nothing to change in post election period.   Labour would also be very sensitive to the charge that they will be responsible for keeping Irish Thatcherism alive by supporting Fine Gael instead of using this opportunity to nail it now and build a new political and economic dispensation.

As I have said before, there is an opportunity to have an election campaign that serves to educate as much as wrest power.  What seems clear from public responses on media shows like Liveline or The Frontline is that the anger and frustration is turned towards FF and individual bankers and bondholders.  The link to a future government implementing the same ideological approach is missing.  FG are getting away with it.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Enda Kenny reappears but still makes a fool of himself

At a time of unprecedented politcal turmoil there is one political constant - Fine Gael. Steady as she goes, careful now, take it easy and dont change anything Fine Gael. In the current environment people believe that Fianna Fail are the architects of our misery. They are not however the sole designers of this deeply flawed state. Fine Gael has more than enthusiastically played its role in creating a state incapable of functioning or providing needed services to the Irish people, and more seriously it has failed to defend the interests of all of the people of Ireland against oppresion. To then find Mr. Enda Kenny, the man hiding god knows where, popping up at an Alliance party conference to give lectures to Sinn Fein is deeply frustrating.

And for wiser, more modern, FGers they must be deeply confused. Why is Fine Gael playing to its backwoods men - incidentally from the same genus as your typical Fianna Fail backwoods men a la FF TD Thomas Byrne commenting about Gerry Adams coming down to our country - why is FG making a fool of itself by talking about Sinn Fein when only half a cabinet is "running" the counry.

And for anyone who might doubt FG makes a fool of itself on this issue then watch the following. When the audience of the Late Late are laughing at you not with you then you should be twigging something is up:

Responding to those comments by Enda Kenny at the Alliance Party conference Mary Lou said:

“The fact is that Sinn Féin has no desire whatsoever to go into Government with Fine Gael. That party signed up to the ‘consensus for cuts’. They would further cut social welfare and would fire thousands of public sector workers.

“The simple facts are that Enda Kenny and Fine Gael have nothing to offer that is different to Fianna Fáil.

“Unlike Fine Gael Sinn Féin offers a clear alternative to the failed policies of the current government.

“Sinn Féin’s economic proposals would grow the economy – Fine Gael’s proposals would depress the economy and drive it further into recession.

“While Fine Gael supported the Lisbon treaty and previous treaties which have undermined Irish sovereignty Sinn Féin pointed out the implications of these treaties.We now see that Sinn Féin was right and Fine Gael was wrong.

“We won’t be taking any lectures from Enda Kenny on these issues.”

Amen to that.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Coalition Killing

Definitively ruling a given party out of coalition is a tactic.  It is a tactic designed to undermine credibility and to dissuade support.

In spite of the designed ambiguity of Sinn Féin' approach during the 2007 election on the matter of potential coalition with Fianna Fail, the latter used every opportunity to rule out such an arrangement.  Fianna Fail's approach was designed to undermine SF and arguably it was a successful tactic in limiting the growth of a party that had been making inroads.

I believe that it was also true that regardless of the outcome, that FF - still heavily influenced, if not populated, with the PD's and fellow travellers, would not have accommodated SF in any event.  The antipathy to SF among the political establishment of all hues should never be underestimated..

Of course, what isn't always given a fair hearing by the progressive left is that there wasn't an appetite among the SF grass roots for any coalition with FF.  SF's postion was placed before the membership as tactical - that ruling out the option to participate in government in the south, while in 'government' in the 6 counties, would have been foolish.  It would have flown in the face of realpolitik.  I would have disagreed with that approach, but having had a fair argument, I would have been on the losing side in the debate.  Fair enough.

Labour ruled out coalition with FF at that time.  It probably served them well to do that, as they grew in the polls and could present themselves as principled.  Where Labour completely fall down is in their willingness to coalesce with FG - a mirror image of FF and who advocate policies that would have led to exactly the same inequality and cronyism as we have seen.

Many people are watching Labour and Sinn Féin in terms of what both parties will say about Coalition with conservative and reactionary parties.  Both parties can and should use the tactics employed by FF and FG in terms of ruling out coalition with right wingers.  The credibility of a FG government would take a real hit if Labour looked to its progressive soul and sought alternative options.  The prospect of wiping FF from the map would be given a huge boost by SF making it crystal clear that coalition with them is off the agenda.

There is enough fluidity out there for anything to happen.

The First Dail

90 odd years ago an chead dail set out a vision for the southern state. It never got to see the light of day. What followed was 90 years of governance no more imaginative than parochial home rule. Fine Gale and Fianna Fail never heeded these words. These are the principles upon which the new Ireland must be built.

We declare in the words of the Irish Republican Proclamation the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies to be indefeasible, and in the language of our first President. Pádraíg Mac Phiarais, we declare that the Nation's sovereignty extends not only to all men and women of the Nation, but to all its material possessions, the Nation's soil and all its resources, all the wealth and all the wealth-producing processes within the Nation, and with him we reaffirm that all right to private property must be subordinated to the public right and welfare.
We declare that we desire our country to be ruled in accordance with the principles of Liberty, Equality, and Justice for all, which alone can secure permanence of Government in the willing adhesion of the people.
We affirm the duty of every man and woman to give allegiance and service to the Commonwealth, and declare it is the duty of the Nation to assure that every citizen shall have opportunity to spend [23] his or her strength and faculties in the service of the people. In return for willing service, we, in the name of the Republic, declare the right of every citizen to an adequate share of the produce of the Nation's labour.
It shall be the first duty of the Government of the Republic to make provision for the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of the children, to secure that no child shall suffer hunger or cold from lack of food, clothing, or shelter, but that all shall be provided with the means and facilities requisite for their proper education and training as Citizens of a Free and Gaelic Ireland.
The Irish Republic fully realises the necessity of abolishing the present odious, degrading and foreign Poor Law System, substituting therefor a sympathetic native scheme for the care of the Nation's aged and infirm, who shall not be regarded as a burden, but rather entitled to the Nation's gratitude and consideration. Likewise it shall be the duty of the Republic to take such measures as will safeguard the health of the people and ensure the physical as well as the moral well-being of the Nation.
It shall be our duty to promote the development of the Nation's resources, to increase the productivity of its soil, to exploit its mineral deposits, peat bogs, and fisheries, its waterways and harbours, in the interests and for the benefit of the Irish people.
It shall be the duty of the Republic to adopt all measures necessary for the recreation and invigoration of our Industries, and to ensure their being developed on the most beneficial and progressive co-operative and industrial lines. With the adoption of an extensive Irish Consular Service, trade with foreign Nations shall be revived on terms of mutual advantage and goodwill, and while undertaking the organisation of the Nation's trade, import and export, it shall be the duty of the Republic to prevent the shipment from Ireland of food and other necessaries until the wants of the Irish people are fully satisfied and the future provided for.
It shall also devolve upon the National Government to seck co-operation of the Governments of other countries in determining a standard of Social and Industrial Legislation with a view to a general and lasting improvement in the conditions under which the working classes live and labour.

Read more about the first dail

Thursday, January 20, 2011

End of one chapter; beginning of another

The election is finally called. After two of the most shameful years of prevarication and confusion in the face of one the deepest crisis ever faced by this country we now have the opportunity to end this sorry state of affairs. There is a common phrase in political circles about the voters waiting in the long grass. Well this time the voters wont be waiting in the long grass they will be standing in full sight and they fully intend to give the Fianna Fail cronies and gombeens a kicking.

But just as we are hopefully about to bring to an end a sorry chapter in Irish history we must think now about the next chapter. Sinn Fein will hopefully have a stronger presence in the next Leinster house so that it can acclerate even faster the process of breaking down this failed state and building a modern state in its place.

Looking ahead we must face the prospect of a power Fine Gael with Minister Varadkar and Hayes all backed with a strong Labour party settling in for a few years of power and ministerial baubles.

What will have changed? Nothing! FG and Labour agreed with Fianna Fail so much they went in and had budget consensus talks. They failed to even question the policy of 3% deficit target until given permission by the IMF. The fully backed the FF policy of deflation and dis-investment through austerity.

The only way to change is to now make a political step-change. To build a real opposition in south Ireland. With Fine Gael and Labour in govt. and FF broken on the margins the only way to build a real oppositoin is to vote Sinn Fein. We've proven that with 5 TDs we can make a difference and put the govt. under severe pressure.

After 10 years of closed-minded autocratic rule we dont need a FG-Labour super majority.

Put 10, 15 or 20 Sinn Fein TDs in their and that will be a break from the past and a new chapter in Irish politics. Sinn Fein will provide real opposition to a too powerful FG-Labour govt.

Its time to write a new chapter in Irish history. Tá an lá ag teacht.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Shankill Road

An interesting piece in An Phoblacht about how Sinn Fein is building a vote amongst loyalist communities.

VOTERS in staunch loyalist areas such as the Shankill Road are switching to Sinn Féin because republicans are seen to be active for working-class communities, unionist and nationalist, senior UDA members have told the unionist daily, the News Letter.

UDA leader Jackie McDonald explained that the switch to Sinn Féin is happening because unionist politicians have abandoned their working-class support.

Former UDA prisoner Colin Halliday said:

It wasn’t big numbers but there were votes from loyalist areas went into the box for Sinn Féin.

What we’re taking from that is that voters believe, ‘These people are doing the work for us. We’re being neglected by our own politicians.’

He said the DUP and UUP are ignoring the people of unionist working-class areas:

The days of putting a rosette on a donkey and parading it through unionist areas are over.
The UDA-linked Ulster Political Research Group will be contesting the council elections in May.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Shine a Light on Fine Gael

Received this piece from Vincent Woodwood who has an excellent site at that is well worth a read.

Shine a Light on Fine Gael

One of the clear objectives for people who want to see far reaching progressive change is to work towards the best possible government from the next election.

It is a given that Fianna Fail won’t form part of that government. Nobody would touch them. Even if the figures added up and it was technically possible to form a government between Fianna Fail and Labour, it was long ago ruled out by Labour. That, as it turned out, was a smart move for them to make at time. Support rose for the party, as people drew the conclusion that principle lay behind the decision. It was also very astute. Labour saw that there was a sizable and expanding progressive electorate out there. The decision to create clear distance between them and Fianna Fail was calculated to increase their political strength.

The bookies favourite is for a coalition between Fine Gael and Labour. Labour are going along with this perception. In the immediate aftermath of the fallout from the collapse in the banking system and the run up to the last budget, the public mood has been swayed towards looking for the quickest and most effective way of consigning the current government to history. Therefore, there has been a boost to both parties poll ratings. The boost to Labours ratings can be explained in two ways. In the first instance, they have been presented as the most obvious partner to Fine Gael. They have been in government together before and in does not stretch the imagination to put them in a partnership again.

The other factor is that one connected to Labour’s decision to rule out Fianna Fail and to take off the gloves in attacking the main governing party inside at outside Leinster House.

The rise in the Fine Gael vote I think also falls into two main areas. As the largest opposition party, they are seen as the most likely to replace Fianna Fail and in simple terms, they are the quickest and easiest way to punish the incumbents. There are also a safe home for conservative minded voters and those who want to maintain the political and economic system pretty much as it is. If Fianna Fail are removed together with all of the negative baggage they carry, then a new administration with a different cast of characters can take over without having to change the overall way in which the economy is run.

The ideology and policy platform of Fine Gael is indistinguishable in any meaningful way from Fianna Fail. They both believe in deregulated and privatised provision of public services. They both want to roll back the state. They are both conservative parties. That needs saying and repeating at every opportunity.

There are a group of people who I believe are thinking about their politics. People have been exposed to a one-size fits all ‘choice’ between two conservative parties and a largely compliant media who have dismissed any variation in policy positions or any fresh thinking that may challenge what had become economic orthodoxy. The collapse in the banking system and the light that this has shone on the weaknesses of this capitalist open economy has stirred enough debate to at least open minds towards alternatives.

That these people may feel that their best option would be to vote for Fine Gael in order to sufficiently change the order, has to be a major concern to all who want to see real progressive change. It also poses a challenge.

There are two elements to that challenge. The first is to convince this group that a vote for Fine Gael would not change anything. Fine Gael need to be challenged on their policy platform and on their ‘vision’. What do they want to see in 5 or 10 years time. They are open to attack on there plans for the public sector and the increased role for the private sector.

The other way that people could be discouraged from voting for Fine Gael is to ensure that the party that would have to support them in any new government, Labour, moved away from that position.

That is an enormous challenge. All current indications are that the leadership of the Labour party are gearing up for government with Fine Gael. It’s the easiest option for them. There are also conservative elements within the Labour party who would feel comfortable with this type of coalition. However, there are many within the Labour party and the wider Labour and Trade Union Movement who can see the opportunity for much wider and more radical change in the current climate. They can see that this is one of those moments in history when real change can be effected. They too can see that the political and social landscape can be radically changed and that we are on the verge of being able to consign the neo-liberal domination of the past few decades to history.

The Labour party have an opportunity to contribute to the atmosphere of change. They can join with others to put a different type of vision before the people. One that shifts the political paradigm. In doing so, they would be playing a significant part in influencing that group of electors who mistakenly believe that Fine Gael can be a lead actor in creating a better society.

Conservative people will stay with Fine Gael and whatever remains of Fianna Fail. Progressive forces can then work together to forge ahead with putting a people-centred vision before the electorate.