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.


  1. From little acorns doth the mighty acorn grow. All SF have to get is a few percent of the Loyalist community and it is majority time

  2. I agree that “from acorns grow mighty oaks” but I find it funny that any attempt by Sinn Fein to engage with Unionists is, in the media, portrayed as a cynical or malignant move, with a sub text of once Mr and Mrs unionist have been sucked into the united Ireland trap they will be turned upon! We have to be clear and sincere and counter the message that we have some Machiavellian plan that must not be trusted! We are truly and wholly committed to the old cry, “Protestant, catholic and dissenter” and an Ireland not post partition but a new Ireland of equals. But beware the leap to vote Sinn Fein today is not the same as getting that same vote for a united Ireland, this will take a long, hard, inclusive discussion with unionists and some nationalists, but not impossible, and as a republican, it must be totally transparent with the media being confronted and anyone else who peddles beware of the boogie man!

  3. Not a great deal should be read into this. Sinn Fein didn't erect the sectarian divide and it will not dismantle it. There have been people in Ballymurphy and elsewhere who voted for the DUP not because they were going unionist but just to spite Sinn Fein. Same sort of thing.

  4. I assume anon 4.56 is a republican, but he is the problem we face. A united Ireland will notbe achieved wihout the support of those we now consider unionist. Republicannism is not unionist against republicansim, but logic against nonsense.

  5. The media will be cynical to Sinn Fein's work with unionists because they still review the situation with an old perspective. In effect they are catching up with SF. Fine let them catch up in their old time. Is this an earth shaking change these votes. As Yeats said 'peace comes dropping slowly' but no less irrevocably for all that. This is change small change but deep change none the less.

    Anon notes SF did not create sectarianism therefore it cannot be required to resolve it.

    Sectarianaism predates Sinn Fein but the circumstances that shaped deepen sectarianism are the same forces that helped shape the circumstances from which our party grew. I am not talking about the Troubles but earlier.

    With the effective defeat of repubicanism (IRB) by the Irish parliamentary party and RC church a strong correlation between Irish political expression and the RC church was created that made the presbyterians react the other way and equate their identity to religion. The British may have not intended it, and the church may have not realised it and the Irish parliamentary party might not have cared but their alliance against IRB republicanism and victory over it had far seeing consequences one of which was secatarianism.

    The British cannot be blamed for all evils. Thats a thoughless approach. But we should not be frightened to try to determine how our society has been created and they have a played their roll.

    For a republican to then not feel SF must challenge sectarianism is a mistake i think, Secatarianism is a force that, in its current form, has been shaped the greatest by the combination of Britsh alliance with the RC church and Home rulers.

    The sectarianism which exists in north Ireland has the same roots in the church dominated society of south ireland. And just as the church power that influenced so long (since Cardinal cullen) has fallen, then so will the same forces in the 6 counties fall.

    So Anon while you may feel as a republican you have no role in tackling sectariansim the fact that that same sectarianism is rooted in British strategies, CHurch political machinations and Home ruler careerism then I think republicans most definitely have a role to play.

  6. An Giorra,

    not my point. Sectarianism should always be tackled. It is an evil. SF will not overcome it. And if we pretend that this vote is earth shattering that merely confirms how far up our own rears we have gone. No more earth shattering that Ballymurphy people voting DUP. Nor should SF pretend that republicanism did not exacerbate sectarianism. The IRA campaign in the mid 70s against innocent Protestants did nothing for us. The wider IRA campaign while not sectarian in intent was sectarian in effect. Unavoidable but there all the same.

    Anonymous T

  7. T, as I say its a small change and not least because the more loyalists start talking about it then the more they will vote for SF or not against SF. But it aint earth shattering its just a small positive signal. Michelle Gildernew's seat in FST is in no small measure thanks to the votes won by John Stevenson an independent candidate with a presb. background. Upon hearing MG has won he congratulated her with a warmth that is all too absent at counts. This is part of the same trend. The same trend that saw Pearse Doherty get strong votes all across Protestant sections of Donegal. And also the same trend that means having SF ruling in the 6 counties doesnt lead to war.

    SF didnt create sectarianism and critically the central ideas of Sinn Fein are not based on sectarianism. Inevitably in a conflict with the historical roots as here there was always going to be times when the conflict took a different hue. Unavoidable as you say and not good but thats where we are and we need to move on from it.

    At its root SF does not argue a sectarian position. Ultimately that means people who once felt opposed to Sinn Fein can vote Sinn Fein.

    Sinn Fein will have to solve sectarianism because nobody else will bother. The southern parties idea of reconciliation is to cave in and accept sectarianism . The brits wont be bothered and political unionists cant.

    Whether SF likes it or not it alone has to do so.

  8. An Giorra,

    small movement but of absolutely no political consequence. To think otherwise is to ignore the history of the North. Small change and deep change don't seem to chime with me. I think you hope therefore you see. Politics in the North are always sectarian even when they are not intended to be. Sectarianism will arguably dissolve in a united Ireland but not before on. It is how to square the circle in the meantime. I don't think SF can do it. And it is not a matter of will, just circumstance.

    Anonymous T

  9. Maybe it is hope and then seeing as you say. I think each and everyone is susceptible to that. We all try to get around it though.

    I dont agree that sectarianism will dissolve in a UI but not before it. A UI will not bring a new set of circumstances. Those issues need to be resolved as fully as possible now otherwise there will be no UI.

    I think SF has a role to play but accept you disagree. Who do you suggest could make a big impact to speed things up?

  10. An Giorra,

    once in a UI the loyalty to Britain should dissolve. That is why Southern Protestants don't fear SF in the way that Northern ones would. We should not delude ourselves that because the DUP and SF are in government that they are somehow closer to each other. More civil but that is about the height of it. The GFA was never about overcoming sectarianism but about managing it. There won't be a UI in my view. And I don't think anybody is going to speed things up.