Sinn Fein

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Leave it out!  Left in and left out in Irish Syrizian thinking

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The imminent truncation of the Labour Party and the rise of Sinn Féin would probably have tabled it anyway. But the reaction to Syriza’s election in Greece has changed the topography of the Irish left unity discussion (such as it is) in one long political week.  Not necessarily for the better. Sinn Féin and then SIPTU President Jack O’Connor , and others,  have shifted the frame from a radical left alliance to one effectively taking in Sinn Féin and even Labour.

These two propositions are very different animals altogether. Furthermore, in a burst of ‘yeah, let’s do it too’ élan, people are now talking about going for a left government. The strewn constellation of the radical left will likely be split on the wider of the projects, even if it gets no further than a talking point. Including even a shrunken Labour is almost a no-no for the radical left. Including Sinn Féin is highly problematical to say the least. (Some categorise them outside the left; the anti water charge campaign left their left flank exposed, and may still do; two recent developments raised leftist eyebrows that may not have been raised before: the cutback provisions of the Stormont House Agreement and their failure to support Clare Daly’s December Bill to repeal the constitutional ban on abortion).

But here is another problem. Sinn Féin’s stature as a left party does not depend on how they are viewed by one or other far left party, but on how they are viewed by the electorate (voting workers, blue and white collared). It will be very difficult to carry an argument for a united left alternative while simultaneously arguing that it should exclude Sinn Féin (and arguing for a similar exclusion with those who would want to add Labour too).

Fortunately there is an old shepherd’s crook on the Irish left for separating the sheep from the goats: coalition with conservative parties (effectively Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael). If this condition is raised by the radical left it requires Sinn Féin (and Labour) to qualify their political positioning, and rescues the radical left from the accusation of refusing to unite for a ‘left alternative’ offered (with various degrees of sincerity) to the people. So, there is a simple question for Sinn Féin, Jack O’Connor and others. Would a vote for Sinn Féin or Labour be guaranteed as a vote for the left? Or could it end up as a vote for another coalition led by, or with a large bloc from, Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael? How do you stand – now – on such a coalition? Of course there are crucial policy and programmatic matters to be considered. But this initial question would indicate whether there really is any game on at all.

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Conference – A Century of Workers in Struggle 1913-2013

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Conference – A Century of Workers in Struggle 1913-2013

2013 will see the centenary of perhaps the most significant event in Irish Industrial History, the 1913 Lockout. This anniversary offers an excellent opportunity to reflect upon the struggles of workers in the past, and on the challenges facing workers today, both in Ireland and abroad.

To that end, Sinn Fein have organised a major conference early this year in Dublin to consider all the key issues workers faced today and in the past.

The conference, entitled ‘A Century of Workers in Struggle 1913-2013’ is to take place on March the 2nd, 2013 in Liberty Hall in Dublin.

The Conference will hear from many of Ireland's key Trade Union leaders such as Jack O'Connor, Jimmy Kelly, Peter Bunting and John Douglas, journalists such as Eamon Dunphy, Frank Connolly and Gerry Flynn, workers from the Vita Cortex, Visteon, Lagan Brick and Waterford Crystal disputes, International Union Leaders, Siobhán O'Donoghue from the MRCI, writers such as Brian Hanley and Conor McCabe, Sinn Fein leaders Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald, and more.

The full line-up and brochure for the event is provided below.

This is a public event, and trade unionists, political activists, and member of the public are all very welcome to attend.

The details of the event are also available on Facebook.

Please also note that stalls from Trade Unions, NGOs, Historical Societies and other bodies are welcome, so please feel free to contact us if you are interested.

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Micheál Martin – Opportunism and Cynicism of the Very Worst Kind

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The award for opportunist of the week must surely go to Micheál Martin. His hastily written opinion piece in Wednesdays Irish News was a timely reminder of Fianna Fáil’s cynical approach to both the peace process and to politics.

For weeks Belfast city centre has been brought to a standstill by illegal loyalist blockades. Night after night the same protestors have returned to their own neighborhoods and engaged in running battles with the PSNI causing real disruption to their own communities.

In more recent nights these riots have turned into organised attacks on nationalist homes in the Short Strand.

The situation is very serious. If it continues, many fear that someone will be killed.

So what is Micheál Martin’s response to this escalating crisis? Does his article give the impression of a political leader trying to understand the causes of the problem in order to play a constructive role in helping resolve it? Unfortunately not.

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