Sinn Féin and the tipping point

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You’re familiar, I’m sure,  with the notion of the tipping point. It’s defined in one dictionary as “the critical point in an evolving situation that leads to a new and irreversible development”.  It’s fair to say that electorally, Sinn Féin have now reached that point. The question has changed from being “Will Sinn Féin make real headway in the south?”  to “What kind of party will Sinn Féin be as it becomes a leading player?”

For  a lot of people, Sinn Féin means one thing only: the Irish unity party.  That’s not to be sniffed at: there’s an ache in the bones of many Irish people to achieve a position where Irish people run Irish affairs, insofar as that’s compatible with a world moving towards globalisation. But while there was a time when people voted for Sinn Féin on that basis, and before that because there was the proverbial whiff of cordite from them, those days are long gone. And the party is where it is today because those days are gone.

Gerry Adams’s Bodenstown speech yesterday reflected the key areas that concern the party at present. He placed considerable weight on the futility of trade union fidelity to a Labour Party that ignores their interests. If Sinn Féin shows it is willing and able to supply what the Labour Party manifestly can’t or won’t, then ex-Labour voters will turn to Sinn Féin.

I’d prefer to think that Sinn Féin are working for those suffering most in southern society not for political advantage but  because they believe it’s a core feature of what they are as a party. They’ve shown in the recent elections that their appeal is wide and deep across Ireland. What is now crucial is that they maintain their focus on a united Ireland of equals.

The danger is that, in its concern for electoral success, it could water down key features of its political philosophy. There are those who say Sinn Féin, in its eagerness to be in power by 2016, will make all sorts of compromises. I’d like to think Gerry Adams’s Bodenstown speech made clear those things that are crucial to its life and success as a party.

To quote Tony Blair, only this time for real: the hand of history is on the party’s shoulder. 

5 Responses to Sinn Féin and the tipping point

  1. peadarmor June 16, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

    Set out and nicely said and I would just add to your analysis that SF should say what they mean and mean what they say because people have had it with the lies as you tend to do in elections.

  2. Patrick Fahy June 16, 2014 at 4:10 pm #

    Jude, Sinn Fein is a party of conviction who will carry their principles into all their dealings. Equality is their cornerstone, much derided in the days of plenty in the south, but now more and more recognised as a sound if not yet fully developed basis for governing. In that there is explicit recognition of the need to protect the vulnerable in society so that as before the fat cats can not prosper at their expense. 90 per cent of the population have a vested interest in making that happen. The other 10 per cent for obvious reasons tell us such change cannot happen. Let’s see.

  3. Iolar June 16, 2014 at 5:15 pm #

    It would appear that Tony Blair’s hand of history appears to be unaware what his other hand is up to, as he continues to advocate military intervention in Iraq and Syria. Gerry Adams, speaking in Ireland, about Ireland, was specific when he stated that Sinn Féin will tackle disadvantage, unemployment and inequality in a peaceful, democratic, agreed Ireland. The current administration in Dublin is on borrowed time. The electorate will decide the political complexion of the next administration. Time will tell.

  4. Chris June 16, 2014 at 5:25 pm #

    Spot on as usual Jude, it is ok to be in opposition, the main test for SF will be when it is in power then and only then will we see if it holds up to its values and promises where so many failed, I for one believe they will and they will have my continued support. But my loyalty is not unconditional.

  5. neill June 16, 2014 at 7:01 pm #

    Yes the Leader of Sinn Fein has a strong record of standing up for the oppressed as long as its not his neice or the electorate of West Belfast who he deserted for pastures anew in Couty Louth.

    Thet will break many of their promise they already have but sure they are forgotten now are they not?