Anthony McIntyre 🏴‍☠️ I have said to friends at times, not always to the approval of some ex-prisoners, that I would consider voting Sinn Fein in a situation where I considered it a vital bulwark against the far-right assuming power.  

I can also conceive of voting for Fine Gael and Fianna Fail in similar circumstances, even Labour despite its history of abandoning those its name would mislead you into thinking it should genuinely represent. The lessons of history lead me to feel it would be foolish not to vote strategically.
 
Rightly or wrongly, I have never seriously considered the likelihood of the far-right emerging as a serious force on the Irish political landscape. This society is fortunate in that its far-right is a magnet for idiots, led by oddballs with a Fuhrer/Duce complex. My ruminating, therefore, on the circumstance in which I might vote Sinn Fein is something of a thought experiment. But given the ascendancy of Georgia Meloni in Italy, it would be imprudent to wax complacent.

My wife who despises the far-right and distrusts Sinn Fein in equal measure, has caused me to consider whether Sinn Fein would make any effort to stop the far-right if there were votes in not stopping it. She feels that when push comes to shove the party will seek to surf any far-right wave if it is big enough, and that Sinn Fein is the natural home for the far right in Ireland, given their armed Catholic nationalist roots. Its existence is why, she feels, the far right has not been able to secure a stronger foothold here, despite attempts to mimic the rise of the US & UK far right. She also believes that comments by the party leader in the Dail were a dog whistle to far right sentiment. 

Was Mary Lou McDonald guilty of anything other than imprecise phrasing when she said the current government has failed to look after “our own people"? It is hard to imagine her harbouring racist sentiment, and there was nothing in her comments that made me feel Taoiseach Micheál Martin was right in claiming she was "playing both sides." Her point was that government policy was catastrophic to refugees and Irish citizens alike. Yet, there have been a number of occasions when the party has found itself accused of playing on anti-immigrant sentiment. Padraig MacLochlainn, Patricia Ryan and Michael Mulligan have all found themselves on the receiving end of criticism, with the right wing outlet Gript joyously proclaiming that Sinn Fein sees what way the wind is blowing on immigration. 

It is important to distinguish between elected representatives voicing concern about infrastructure problems and them playing the racist card. At the same time, given the party’s chameleon shapeshifting, it is not easy for seasoned observers to divest themselves of the suspicion that Sinn Fein would embrace far-right ideology if by failing to do so, political careers would be jeopardised. 

That careerist ambition within Sinn Fein runs deeper than in any other political party on the island as is evidenced through a cursory glance at everything it has turned on its head to ensure that those careers are kept on track.

There are people within the party who I am confident would never facilitate the far-right regardless of the cost to their political careers. Most of them would be at the activist level, motivated by something other than a political career. In the engine room where the careerists congregate, the principle count would take a sharp nose dive in the direction of the gravy train.

Looking back over Sinn Fein’s voyage, the rightward shift has been unrivalled by any other party on the island. Fine Gael, and the DUP – they are probably no more right wing that they were thirty years ago. The same cannot be said of Sinn Fein. That does not mean that Sinn Fein can be characterised as a right-wing party, just that its journey has been inexorably to the right, not to the left.

There appears to be no braking system that can be applied to the careerist urges. Those opposed to the numerous departures and summersaults made over the years have never stopped them. They have been forced to either jump overboard of their own volition, walk the plank, or stay for the journey towards whatever inexorable destination has been laid out by the leadership.

So when Mary Lou McDonald asserts that Sinn Fein is on the right path, a lot of the party's critics for once seem eager to agree with her.

 ⏩ Follow on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre

Our Own Alone

Anthony McIntyre 🏴‍☠️ I have said to friends at times, not always to the approval of some ex-prisoners, that I would consider voting Sinn Fein in a situation where I considered it a vital bulwark against the far-right assuming power.  

I can also conceive of voting for Fine Gael and Fianna Fail in similar circumstances, even Labour despite its history of abandoning those its name would mislead you into thinking it should genuinely represent. The lessons of history lead me to feel it would be foolish not to vote strategically.
 
Rightly or wrongly, I have never seriously considered the likelihood of the far-right emerging as a serious force on the Irish political landscape. This society is fortunate in that its far-right is a magnet for idiots, led by oddballs with a Fuhrer/Duce complex. My ruminating, therefore, on the circumstance in which I might vote Sinn Fein is something of a thought experiment. But given the ascendancy of Georgia Meloni in Italy, it would be imprudent to wax complacent.

My wife who despises the far-right and distrusts Sinn Fein in equal measure, has caused me to consider whether Sinn Fein would make any effort to stop the far-right if there were votes in not stopping it. She feels that when push comes to shove the party will seek to surf any far-right wave if it is big enough, and that Sinn Fein is the natural home for the far right in Ireland, given their armed Catholic nationalist roots. Its existence is why, she feels, the far right has not been able to secure a stronger foothold here, despite attempts to mimic the rise of the US & UK far right. She also believes that comments by the party leader in the Dail were a dog whistle to far right sentiment. 

Was Mary Lou McDonald guilty of anything other than imprecise phrasing when she said the current government has failed to look after “our own people"? It is hard to imagine her harbouring racist sentiment, and there was nothing in her comments that made me feel Taoiseach Micheál Martin was right in claiming she was "playing both sides." Her point was that government policy was catastrophic to refugees and Irish citizens alike. Yet, there have been a number of occasions when the party has found itself accused of playing on anti-immigrant sentiment. Padraig MacLochlainn, Patricia Ryan and Michael Mulligan have all found themselves on the receiving end of criticism, with the right wing outlet Gript joyously proclaiming that Sinn Fein sees what way the wind is blowing on immigration. 

It is important to distinguish between elected representatives voicing concern about infrastructure problems and them playing the racist card. At the same time, given the party’s chameleon shapeshifting, it is not easy for seasoned observers to divest themselves of the suspicion that Sinn Fein would embrace far-right ideology if by failing to do so, political careers would be jeopardised. 

That careerist ambition within Sinn Fein runs deeper than in any other political party on the island as is evidenced through a cursory glance at everything it has turned on its head to ensure that those careers are kept on track.

There are people within the party who I am confident would never facilitate the far-right regardless of the cost to their political careers. Most of them would be at the activist level, motivated by something other than a political career. In the engine room where the careerists congregate, the principle count would take a sharp nose dive in the direction of the gravy train.

Looking back over Sinn Fein’s voyage, the rightward shift has been unrivalled by any other party on the island. Fine Gael, and the DUP – they are probably no more right wing that they were thirty years ago. The same cannot be said of Sinn Fein. That does not mean that Sinn Fein can be characterised as a right-wing party, just that its journey has been inexorably to the right, not to the left.

There appears to be no braking system that can be applied to the careerist urges. Those opposed to the numerous departures and summersaults made over the years have never stopped them. They have been forced to either jump overboard of their own volition, walk the plank, or stay for the journey towards whatever inexorable destination has been laid out by the leadership.

So when Mary Lou McDonald asserts that Sinn Fein is on the right path, a lot of the party's critics for once seem eager to agree with her.

 ⏩ Follow on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre

1 comment:

  1. Far Right and British Colonial Enforcers Sinn Fein? I thought you were writing about one and the same? And as for Londonderry Lou the Cameleon, she's swapped more horse than Lester Piggott. God alone, not ourselves alone, knows where she'll end up next on the rungs of her political ladder.

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