Gerry Adams blind ambition for his party to gain a share of governmental power within the Republic of Ireland, by entering as a junior partner a Fianna Fail led coalition, has resulted in SF being forced by the southern electorate to
sacrifice many of the political gains it has made in the southern State over the last decade.
Sadly but not surprisingly, instead of a thoughtful analyses as to why SFs lost a seat and failed to move forward in the
recent parliamentary election in the RoI, all the wrong signals are coming out of the ‘kitchen cabinet’ of Gerry Adams as to the reasons for this undoubted set back for their Party. Far from drawing the logical conclusion that the party should cease its mad rush for power at any price, and stop bending over backwards to accommodate the southern
bourgeoisie, who are never going to vote SF in any numbers. The SF leadership now look like continuing down their opportunist path by filleting the party program of its socialist and progressive content and re positioning SF as a party of the populist centre.
Those whom the media, the British State and the Adams coterie have branded Irish Republican Dissidents, have pointed out time and again that SF’s membership should ponder the fact that their party’s current strategy would end with the party losing, not gaining seats in the Dail and so it has been proved. Yet this fact does not seem to have diminished Mr Adams ardor for a minority share in governmental power. His thought process being that if his party membership will tolerate sharing power in the north with an arch conservative and somewhat bigoted political Party like the DUP, how can they oppose his love in with the political centre in the south of Ireland.
The center/right political ground in the RoI is already taken and has been since the civil war, it belongs to Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, and now the Irish LP is also increasingly moving in that political direction. If SF is to have any lasting impact on Irish society, it must aim to become the radical voice of the dispossessed in town and country; the Irish working classes. That is the political representatives of the people who have provided the physical muscle for the Celtic Tiger, yet have benefited least from it. If SF is to prosper beyond a minority party and play a real part in building an Ireland based on fairness, equality and prosperity for all, then it must cease fawning too; and tail-ending those who have benefited economically most from the Celtic Tiger, often at the expense of their fellow citizens; and their political representatives like Bertie Ahearn.
Gerry Adams nonsensical attempt to position the party policy wise on the left, whilst masquerading to the electorate as moderation incarnate who had no intention of implementing their manifesto commitments, has been revealed by the electorate’s rejection of SF in all its duplicitous shallowness. The core historical lesson of Irish Republicanism coming out of a period of armed struggle has been that once the weapons become silent, the movement believing it is acting pragmatically,
jettisons many of its core beliefs and moves dramatically to the right in the belief that it will attract mass support by doing so. True FF managed to pull this trick off, but since FF formation, no preceding generation of Irish Republicans have managed to prosper on the centre/right of Irish politics. The founder of Irish Republicanism Wolf Tone, understood only to clearly that its bedrock are the men and women of no property and so it is in the 21st century.
Sinn Fein still has the metal to avoid the fate of previous generations of republicans who put away the guns, but only if Mr Adams leadership clique returns the movement to democratic accountability and stops being blinded by over ambitious middle class boys and girls looking for a political leg up. Having said this I am of course not suggesting middle class youngster should not be welcomed into SF, but the political ground should not be moved to accommodate them. Even the
most loyal member’s of SF are questioning why a movement that was built into a formidable force by working class men and women, today has almost no working class youngsters moving through the party into leadership positions, whilst the Mary Lou’s are becoming a dime a dozen.
SF has been at the fore of the campaign to bring more women into active politics and leadership positions within Ireland, but unfortunately in tandem with this, the party leadership has concentrated on bringing along sharp middle class youngsters to the detriment of young workers. This cannot but have an influence on the type of party SF will and to a degree has become.
To conclude, the main flaw in Sinn Fein’s southern election campaign had little to do with the current Party program, as much as it lacks fine detail; and all to do with how it was propagandized to the electorate and by whom. To use Gerry Adams as the
front-man was naive in the extreme and very arrogant. When he failed so dismally in the Party Leaders debate, all his own and his party’s short comings were brought to the fore, not least that SF was a party whose leader felt so little of the southern State that he himself was not prepared to put himself before the electorate. He was exposed as
an ill informed politician who was touting for the votes of the citizens of a State, the governmental machinery of which he had little grasp of.
The fact that he was not a candidate made the electorate immediately spot the democratic deficit at the heart of SF’s electorally campaign. Which in realty meant Mr Adams was asking the Irish electorate to give him power without having to prove himself at the ballot box. Being extremely careful with their democratic freedoms, the electorate rejected Mr Adams offer as not being to their liking in its current packaging..
Perhaps the membership of SF should now question this desire for power without principle, and consider whether one can achieve real and lasting change with what amount to a strategy of power without glory.