PAT CULLEN: KER-POW! (Number three)



This is developing into a pattern. There we are,  walking along hands in pockets, whistling, thinking of next-to-nothing, when KER-POW! – out of nowhere comes a political event that leaves us winded, even stunned.

The Irish public has experienced three of these KER-POWs in recent weeks.

First there was Leo Varadkar. People are thinking about eating fish and chips, or scratching their left ear, or taking up tap-dancing,  when KER-POW!  Leo Varadkar approaches a microphone and says he’s had it with being Taoiseach, let somebody else try their hand, he was outa here.

Then there was the KER-POW! news that  the leader of the DUP, Jeffrey Donaldson, was stepping down as leader and was being questioned about sexual abuse charges. If you saw that one coming you were more of a psychic than a political wise man/woman.

And now, as we check out the TV schedules to see when will the big political debates be on and didn’t Sunak look positively shrunk after that talk delivered in Drowning Street, when KER-POW! – Sinn Féin announces that their candidate for Fermanagh-South Tyrone will be Pat Cullen.

EH?  You heard me. Yes, the Pat Cullen who was General Secretary and Chief Executive of the Royal College  of Nursing. The Pat Cullen who was the RCN spokesperson during their first-ever strike. The Pat Cullen who was listed as No. 15 on the list of powerful left-wing figures of the year, ahead of a lot of supposedly left-wing politicians. The Pat Cullen from Carrickmore.

This is KER-POW! No. 3 because, as with Leo and Jeffrey, it came out of nowhere. Will it help Sinn Féin keep the Fermanagh/South Tyrone  seat? You bet. Beyond her refusal to doff her cap to anyone, her determination to get her way, Pat Cullen  is simply a strong, articulate candidate who has proved her mettle to everyone in Britain, let alone Ireland.

Besides encouraging people to vote for her because of her role as spokeswoman for the Royal College of Nursing (oh how that ‘Royal’ bit must ache in unionist quarters), Pat Cullen will have a wider impact.

Let me tell you a little story. In the days when I was an Irish News columnist, I remember having a dispute with a senior republican about the importance of column-writing. I made what I considered the clinching-point, that I had never written a column which had persuaded anyone to abandon their position on an issue and become converted to my point of view. The prominent republican said yes, it might not change people in their perception of an issue, but it did have the important role in affirming people in their views – pulling together ideas or sentiments which they had in a vague way but never quite clarified for themselves.

I see Pat Cullen as being extremely important in the same way. There you were, thinking that only slightly unhinged lefties were drawn to Sinn Féin; and now here’s her, middle class, leading the Royal College of Nursing, admired on all sides – and it turns out she sees Ireland from a seriously republican stance.

That kind of me-too moment can have a wide impact. There’ll be people who were sorta republican but not quite sure,  half in agreement with the need to win Fermanagh/South Tyrone but also more than a bit iffy about supporting Shinners, after all, weren’t they a bit, well, uncouth, look at the way Gerry Adams talks Irish, all that stuff. But now here comes little Pat, the essence of respectability, and she doesn’t care, she’s happy for the world to know that she’s a republican and she is fully supportive of the need for Sinn Féin to win this seat and at some point hold that promised border poll.

Short of Gavin Robinson being struck and crisped by a thunderbolt, the DUP must be feeling very, very sorry for themselves right now. (Yes, Virginia, your punching the air and shouting “Yeee-hah!” is perfectly permissible at this significant moment.)




9 Responses to PAT CULLEN: KER-POW! (Number three)

  1. Charlie Casey May 29, 2024 at 1:59 pm #

    You have a lovely way with words Jude!!

  2. Charlie Casey May 29, 2024 at 2:00 pm #

    You have more than a lovely way with words Jude!!

  3. B Morgan May 29, 2024 at 2:29 pm #

    Nicely written Jude.

    Pat Cullen is a woman of great integrity. I heard her speak about an all Ireland health service when Jeremy Corbyn addressed a packed hall during the Feile.

    She spoke logically and with passion. She would have been well aware that her views would arouse the fury of the unionist establishment, and sure enought radio presenters were questioning her rights to have a personal opinion that wasn’t unionist in outlook.

    I believe she would be a superb asset to the people of Fermanagh and South Tyrone.

    She has a track record of representing all spectrums of political opinion as a respected trade union leader so should be ideal for speaking up for the whole community.

    The unionist fury has yet to reach ‘ramming speed’, I suppose we can expect that later!

  4. Surveyor May 29, 2024 at 4:37 pm #

    Any chance of Sinn Fein actually delivering on their election promises Jude, instead of blaming the British and the Tories like they usually do?

    As for Pat Cullen, what’s the point in voting for someone who will refuse to take her seat in the House of Commons?

    Sinn Fein attended the coronation of King Charles, so why they refuse to take their seats is a puzzle that perhaps they should answer.

    • Jude Collins May 29, 2024 at 5:30 pm #

      Surveyor – – What did SF not deliver that you were looking. for or. they promised?
      Gramdstamding in the debating chamber is just that; Constituents can be served at Westminster without the look-at-me speeches.

  5. Nosucjanaplace May 30, 2024 at 7:44 am #

    Cuir Gaeilge ar troll nó sock puppet.

  6. Another Jude May 30, 2024 at 3:56 pm #

    Surveyor, the DUP were sitting in Westminster when the Tories drove the bus over them, several times. Fat lot of good that did. The fact is the Commons is an English parliament with a few rowdy Scots thrown in for good measure. An English parliament for an English people. Think of the actual influence unionists would have in an Irish parliament, they would be a huge chunk of the electorate rather than a handful of what their British friends regard as foreigners.


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