Monday, July 27, 2009


July 27th 09

Now is the time for Republican politics.

Sinn Féin’s campaign to progress Irish reunification has struck a few nerves. Not since the early days of the peace process has such an alliance of disparate political elements found common cause to attack the party, republicans in general and me féin in particular.

The SDLP and DUP and UUP and Fianna Fáil and some so-called dissidents and others in the media have condemned Sinn Féin for daring to raise the right of the people of Ireland to re-unification and independence.

So, Sinn Féin is wrong to engage with the Irish diaspora and to win their support for a new phase of activism.

The fact that Irish America and the diaspora have played such a positive role in the past seems lost on the detractors.

The need to engage with British public opinion is dismissed. Our intention to build a campaign in Ireland, including local conferences, is also rubbished.

And why raise this issue now we are asked?

We are rebuked by some who say that this issue should not be raised in the midst of an economic crisis – we are told it’s not the right time.

But then when would be the right time?

The reality is that partition created two conservative states on the island of Ireland. Look at the history of discrimination and inequality and repression and poverty in the northern state! Look at the recent Ryan report and the manner in which successive Irish governments abdicated any responsibility for the welfare of children and young people to abusive systems in the southern state!

The social, political and economic impact of partition has been profound and despite the progress of recent times partition continues to cast a shadow over our affairs.

So now is exactly the right time to have the debate about Irish reunification.

Now is exactly the right time to move the effort to achieve Irish unity up a gear, to move it up the political agenda, and to persuade others, especially unionists, that Irish reunification is in the interests of all of the people of this island, including them.

So this blog is pleased that the old guard of revisionism has re-emerged. They could always be relied upon to overstate their case. So too with their predictions that Sinn Féin is in decline. Or that the party is heading into a split. Wishful thinking!

Sinn Féin certainly faces challenges. But that is what struggle is about and the party is debating the issues involved in an open and thorough way. I am absolutely confident that we will conclude that debate over the summer and face into what will be a winter of discontent in the wider political systems on this island, in a united and intelligent way.

The resignations of a small number of Sinn Féin councillors has also been seized upon by our detractors in a futile attempt to promote their flawed analysis. Sure these resignations are disappointing. But that’s politics. Those involved have their own reasons for resigning, mainly sited in local issues. That is their choice – the wrong choice in my view but that’s the way it goes and it’s hardly the end of Sinn Féin.

This activist has no intention of resigning. There is much to be done. As citizens face greater economic punishment at the hands of an incompetent Dublin government and as rejectionists in the north gear up for more negativity our duty is face the future with confidence and to stand up for decent politics, fairness and equality. And a reunited Ireland. That is what leadership is about. The time for republican politics is now.


Mr Reality said...

Well said Gerry, I have been following the scribblings of so-called journalists in the media as they gleefully sieze on the resignations of some Sinn Fein councillors to push their own warped agenda.
With the exception of the Belfast Media Group the news media both north and south is concentrated in the hands of some very ultra-conservative groupings who do not want the boat rocked at any cost and any article seen to be showing Sinn Fein in a negative light will usually get the green light from the so-called editorial management.
I never had much time for Dev, but he had the same problem in the early days of Fianna Fail, when, much as Sinn Fein now, Fianna Fail were bearing the brunt of negative reporting.
Dev's answer of course at that time was to set up the Irish Press which went on to become one of the most popular newspapers in the country.
That's all in the past Gerry, but you can be sure of one thing, Sinn Fein must be doing something right, otherwise these powerful conservative forces would not be paying the Party so much attention.
Keep up the good work, you've got them worried!!!

Micheal said...

Agreed, the social, political and economic impact of partition is profound- profoundly damaging to the Irish people through the generations- and continues to cast a shadow.

It's a difficult and painful analysis to undertake.

Sinn Fein, as I see it, are the only political party that actually have anything to offer. The only party that bring any Hope to the situation. And I'm very glad to see Eoin O'Broin elected new Dublin Sinn Fein Chairperson.

Ardoyne Republican said...

While I wholeheartedly agree with your strategy and pursuence against partition.

Many Irish Republicans particularly in the North feel less than equal given the continued lack of proper resources and youth facilities in the likes of Ardoyne.

There has also been a concerted effort by some within S/F in this area to engage in the distasteful felon-setting of fellow Republicans. Which has caused the arrest and increased harrassment of a number of decent people.

Keep up the writing Gerry, you've always been an inspiration to me. GRMA.

Linda Coleman said...

As an American Democrat, I have something to say to Irish Republicans who won their seats for Sinn Féin, then resigned saying they didn't get enough support from the national party: shame on you.

I'm in a similar situation, in a part of the U.S. pretty much ignored by the national party--but guess what? Activists like me--just like the activists who helped Sinn Féin win local seats--can get out votes with no money, few signs, not enough literature, just on plain old door-to-door canvassing.

Sure, we gripe about what we perceive as a slight by the national party, but we're not about to resign from the party, not after our region voted 57% for Obama.

Okay, now that's out of my system; anyway, Gerry, about the Irish reunification campaign--hope you got the list of ideas I sent to the Belfast office. I left out one thing, educating the other side about the history of Irish republicanism, specifically all the Protestants who were involved in the 1700s. Maybe a website, but not by Sinn Féin, someone outside the political process--an artist, educator, business person--someone politically neutral with a love for real Irish history.

Anonymous said...

posted by Kathy Collins

Hi Gerry,

I thought sinn fein was supposed to be working on re-unification for years...and it was not a new idea.... Maybe it is time to take a hard realistic look at the problems of sinn fein and stop blaming others and look at what you can do as the leader of sinn fein. Harry Truman had a sign on his desk when he was president which stated, "the buck stops here". As the president of sf...the buck stops with you.

Paul Doran said...


Well said, Now lets get back to simple basics of politics, fight the local issues,get involved all of us.We have seen how they wasted the money we the people created.

Irish Unity is very important British rule is wrong and costs us all Connolly was right on that.

Build the message through An Phoblact a wonderful newspaper.

Anonymous said...

Gerry Hello,
not only is it the time for republican politics but also time those who have demonised the struggle; to have them shown up for what they are : a small eiltist minority who offer humanity nothing. Sinn Féin have not had a voice in the media to tell the realities of why the Western World economy is in mess. Why the bankers and abusers of power get away with it. All those nationalist people on the ground in the North are fed up with the type of right wing morality that is pumped out of meida devices.

I am an actvist I help others to deliver the SF Bulletin I have to say I think it is not being widely read (except by staunch ones); the reason for this is I believe that the populous is fed up with the negative aspects of all politics not just republicanism, which is sad.

My dream would be to hear on working class areas peole talking of an egalitrian society as you say yourself, it is the only way forward. Instead I hear alot of moaning and 'that's the way it has always been' well I am sorry it has only been that way because we lived under an oppressive force for generations upon generations. I would like to see Sinn Féin claiming the moral high ground here in this age of greed, some people in Nationalist areas in Belfast don't even know that the Party shares out all its wages equally, the people see all politicians and that Stromont might be as well in England. Your article in the Guardian newspaper is the type of good soild message that is needed, your goal, republicans' goal is my opinion gravtating towards that inevitability.

You are a strong leader Gerry, agood rator and I respect you upmost Is Mise Neil

Fer gan Anim said...

Blah, blah, blah.

"... Irish reunification ... a new phase of activism ... I am absolutely confident ... seized upon by our detractors in a futile attempt ..."

Same old, same old.

Gerry, the fact of the matter is that your crowd have very little relevence for the majority of people here in Ireland.

That's right, Ireland.

Not the 26 counties, not one of two conservative states on the island of Ireland, or any of the other phrases you have used over the decades.

If you cannot get the name of our country right, its no wonder your party has failed to achieve any decent representation in the Dail.

As far as we in Ireland are concerned, Ireland is united. We certainly do not need a citizen from a foreign country to make us so.

That's you, Gerry. You are a citizen of the United Kingdom, remember?

If Ireland and Northern Ireland are ever to become one country, fine. So long as there are sound economic and political reasons for it. Not some long-past-its-sell-by-date ideal.

Oh I know, the dead martyrs of 1916 et al would be ashamed of me. Know what - they ain't. Because they're dead. They made their decisions for their Ireland, we can make ours for our own. And there's a lot of difference between Ireland of 1916 and 2009.

But you know what Gerry, the real reason I oppose uniting my country with Northern Ireland isn't because I don't like Northern people (I think most of ye are sound), can't understand your accents (in some cases; sorry!) or because it would make Paisley an Irishman (though now that I think of it ...).

The real reason is you.

Uniting North and South has been the dream of the militant republican movement. No consent required, just unite or die.

I grew up watching you, as the head of the militant republicans, endorse (and plan) some of the worst atrocities this island has ever seen. Regrettable, but necessary, I think was your line.

To this day you refuse to admit membership of the IRA, take responsibility for your actions, or apologise.

Language itself was twisted till black meant white, or whatever you wanted it to say.

All for the Greater Good of a United Ireland.

You're not worth it.

Neither you, nor any of your comrades who helped the cause.

You and yours are no basis upon which to form a country.

I have no problem with Ireland and Northern Ireland being united, one day.

But I sincerely hope it will be long after the last of you and yours are in the grave. Where you can turn to your heart's content.

Anonymous said...

What ever happened to the Strategy Gerry?? "This generation can make it real," Adams said. "But I can't tell you how to do it. You know how to do it, and if you don't, you'll find out."

I suppose you realised that 'strategy' requires a lot more than merely repeating the word ad nauseum. Bye, bye Gearóid. To think that we all bought it from you, for so long too ...

Kate said...

well said!
Sinn Fein has survived "Media slagging" in the past and will continue to do so.
We all know that it usually preceeds some upcoming Sinn Fein event, and is a sign that somebody (?) needs to shift focus from something (?).

The way forward, as you have written...must continue, with you as our leader.
Thanks again for all you are and all you do.

Ta ar la anois


Paul Doran said...


As you can see there is a very positive feed on this.Stick to clear guidelines,Stuff the so call with working class issues, People want to be heard, and as sure as night follows day we will garnish enough support to change the so called unchangeable. but we must deliver, report back to our core support.

Communicate. communicate, Communicate

Ed Feighan said...

Hi Gerry, We are safely back home now and this is the only way I could think of to thank you for taking time out from your busy afternoon to join us for lunch and to give Jeanette a head the size of a weather balloon, she even forgot all about having her photo taking that morning with the Irish National Rugby team who were staying at the Europa practicing for their new season. Once you held that picture of the two of you against your heart she was in heaven. Thanks again, Ed F. P.S. Time to catch up on all your blogs

Willie Fitzgerald said...

Keep up the work Gerry and never mind the naysayers. As it stands it is only SF that are doing any work to unite Ireland. It is important that SF keep up this work but it is important that other groups also realise the importance. I can't believe that FF have not got it as one of their priorities, I wonder when UI was last discussed at a FF cumann meeting, I'd say you would be going back 30 years!!
One bit of constructive criticism though is should SF cumanns in the 26 counties be more focused on UI instead of being so deep into fundraising for elections and other things that could possibly be handled higher up. I believe we need to build up a groundswell of support for the idea of a UI and this needs to come from the ground up.
Anyway lets keep up the work and it will bear fruit eventually. If we all did like FF the GFA would end up being a permanent settlement rather than something that enables us to achieve something else.
a chara, willie - Carlow

Timothy Dougherty said...

As I have said Gerry , The team with the right track record will win this game. Sinn Féin certainly will face challenges,but when the cause to attack the party is strong you know your doing something right. The right man at the right time doing the right things.A time to make the change. A Time to move ahead , Iam with you,a good start.One must have the goal set in our minds,no going back or changing the path on to a victory.

Fer gan Anim said...

But WHAT is the point of a united Ireland? The main push for it only comes from a section of the population of Northern Ireland (republicans). Its not a matter that excites the people of Ireland (the actual country, not the island).

So what if you get a majority of people in Northern Ireland who want to join Ireland. Nobody seems to have asked us.

It is simply not a priority for people in the state of Ireland.

Why do you think SF has done so badly in the south? Why do you think Ireland gave up articles 2 and 3 in the GFA? Why, despite all the efforts SF has put in, has the party failed to main any substancial inroads against the main political parties in Ireland?

Because SF is a party who's aims are way out of step with the people of Ireland.

It staggers me, the blase way that northern republicans go on and on about unification as if the only people they have to convince is the Unionists. What about the people of Ireland?

You seem to have forgotten that you need OUR consent to join OUR country.

This means that SF's ultimate policy is a dead duck.

Unless they abandon it and deal with actual issues in their own country, they will always fail to be a really relevant party in their homeland, nevermind ireland.

Fine. You can argue that SF has good representation not as TD's but as councillors.

But all that is because their ticket is local issues.

If any of them made unification their main plank, they'd never get elected.

The only way SF will make any headway in Ireland is to cut itself off from SF in the north, become an independant party, and become Fianna Fail.

Plus, as I said earlier, you and your people have done nothing to deserve your goal.

Not with the people of Ireland.

The People's Party said...

THAT's why the majority of activists are proud to have Mr. Adam's as our party President.

While losses have occurred, that's politics. What we need to concentrate upon is the gains we have made: new councillors in areas where there have been none for generations or one for many years such as in Laois, Offaly, and further afield.

With Gerry's leadership, and our TDs as spokespersons for detailed 26 County issues, we are on the right track. But it will take time.

Chris said...

A good piece, Gerry.

I think the public- and private- discussion being had within republicanism since the European election is a very good thing, which can only be beneficial for Sinn Fein so long as it leads to the type of changes necessary at this time to make the party relevant in the South and stronger and better equipped for the period ahead here in the North.

Speaking with many republicans inside and outside the party in recent weeks, it occurs to me that it would be useful to invite submissions with opinions and proposals from the broad republican base- and beyond.

It would be a positive means of seeking to encourage base participation at this critical juncture, as well as being a rather obvious affirmation of our republican principles.

It would also open up a means of communication for those many republicans who, for better or worse, do not wish to invite negative comment on the party by being seen to openly identify faults and express criticisms.

Fer gan Anim said...

People's Party,

For your information, the country due south of Northern Ireland is not called the 26 counties, we are called Ireland. Please use the correct term accordingly.

Fer gan Anim said...


"so long as it leads to the type of changes necessary at this time to make the party relevant in the South".

So this means that presently SF is not relevant down here?

"republican principles."

The principles being a united Ireland no matter how many lives it takes?

Count me out of any union created by your leadership and followers. You are not worth it.

Anonymous said...

dia dhuit gerry, hope we are finaly in post peace process mode. watched barbrie give her victory speech after the election where SF just got elected the largest party in the occupied six counties. "this is a vote for the peace process" shouted at the TV and any one in the room and possibly the neighbours next door who if they where in would have been able to hear me. ' ahhh don't say that, say it's a vote for a united ireland'. or that was the nice version any way. think the movement has lots of problems like that don't think SF's pr is up to scratch when it comes to the media, the party comes across as very robotic, it's ok to be a little bold or cheeky. the people that give out will always give out, the rest of us, on the dole ques and the offices and the factory floor, we need to hear it.

Anonymous said...

Gerry I will not be hiding behide anonym or any other I respect your judgement but your statements about the SDLp are Hurtfull even if they do not have the centergy pull together nationalists together but singlemindedness. That is were you should be coming in but DO not. Margret Richie is an asset. There are times when you and martin let the loyalist run over you not that you could have done anything about it because they would have done it anyway but it is the spirit of nationalist is hurt when you do nothing but acnknowledge an old fow that still plays games than face reality an I know this takes time.But people suffer on both sides.


Brian said...

Gerry, a good blog post that accurately assesses where we are at the moment. There is much to be done.

The issue is not when it is right to discuss Irish reunification. The fact is that the time is never right to stop. Until we achieve it, that is...