Monday, May 18, 2015

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Troubled Times Ahead For Sinn Fein?

Ed Moloney looks at what is in store for Sinn Fein given its not so stellar performance in the recent UK election. Ed Moloney is an Irish investigative journalist. He was the project director for Boston College’s oral history project. He blogs at The Broken Elbow.

When a bubble bursts it usually does so with a loud noise and a rapid discharge of gas. But sometimes all you get is a gentle hissing sound, so measured it can be hard to detect.

Sinn Fein’s performance in last week’s British general election probably falls in the latter category. With the exception of the dramatic loss of the iconic Fermanagh and South Tyrone seat – first won by Bobby Sands thirty-four years ago – its vote hissed softly outwards, declining overall by a just single percentage point. Not the end of the world but not good either.

With the exception of West Belfast, where the vote slumped by nearly 17 per cent, most of which went to the left-wing People Before Profit candidate, the losses were tiny in most areas. But the bad news was that the losses were across the board, in fifteen of the eighteen seats.

But for the intervention of Mairtin O Muileoir in South Belfast and the 5,000 or so votes he won, the result would have looked even worse.

So the losses were there, they weren’t catastrophic but they must be worrying for the Sinn Fein hierarchy for this reason. An important part of Sinn Fein’s electoral success, which began back in 1992, has been the image created by one victory after another, an image of an ever upward, ever onward almighty juggernaut gobbling up everyone and everything in its path.

The loss of Bobby Sands’ seat and the poor results elsewhere have dented that image, reminding everyone that what goes up, can also go down. Once a sure favourite to destroy the SDLP, Sinn Fein now finds its advantage over its rivals reduced to a single seat out of seven.

Also damaged by last week’s election results is the myth that the peace process heralded in an age of Nationalist assertiveness and Unionist despondency.

The drop in Nationalist voting encompassed both the SDLP and Sinn Fein, and suggested either apathy or insouciance has infected voters in both parties.

Conversely the  outcome has produced something of a revival in UUP fortunes and bestowed on Unionists at Westminster leverage they have not enjoyed since the early 1990’s. The new Tory government has only an eight-seat majority (five if SF took its seats), meaning that Cameron and his people will need to nurture the goodwill of the eleven Unionist MP’s at Westminster – and that cannot be good for Sinn Fein.

At the same time there are some signs that the economy in the South is beginning to pick up and that is bad news for the Shinners as well. Sinn Fein’s electoral fortunes South of the Border are intimately tied to economic discontent amongst the electorate; voters angry at austerity policies and suffering from the downturn are much more likely to register a protest by giving their votes to Mr Adams and his colleagues. But the more the economy improves, the less likely that is to happen.

So, things are beginning to look a little gloomy for Sinn Fein. It’s all about timing really. If the Southern election had happened earlier this year or last year things could have been so different. Sinn Fein would still have been cock of the North and the coming power in the South. Now it looks ominously different for them.


Ozzy said...

Yes, The Sunday Independent says the exact same thing.
And just like Baloney they forget to mention the Unionist pact.
And I say the term Baloney as a direct result of this omission.
Baloney may well be right.
But if I say 2+2 =4
Then I subtract 1.4-1 =3
That is right answer arrived at in a mathematical correct way.
If I say 2+2=5
Then I say 5-1=3
I have again arrived at the right answer( assuming I wanted to add 2+2 and subtract 1) but my working out of both the last sums was wrong.

In journalism they call it telling half the story.
The Indo and Ed Maloney has decided to tell half a story.
Now why is that?
whose Agenda is being served?

Michael Mahoney said...

"Who here really believes we can win the war through the ballot box? But will anyone here object if, with a ballot paper in this hand and an Armalite in the other, we take power in Ireland?"

Now that the Armalite and TUAS - Michael Gove's oft use acronym - have been abandoned, Bangers & Mush is looking more and more prophetic. It's a shame now that Morrison can't take credit for his oracular powers.

Ozzy said...

Also I think this is a Battle of Jutland moment for the unionists.
As in; a Tactical victory but a strategic defeat.
The DUP had the UUP on the ropes.
Now the UUP have 2 MPs..which they most likely would not have got. If each of those UUP MP claims the full £650,000 per year which is called "short Money"
That put a a lot of money into the UUP Party. Also a party with 2 MP's could well be seen as a viable alternative to the DUP..And they will most likely get more money in donations because of it.
Ergo..One in your eye for the DUP.
Proof If I'm right will come if the DUP refuse to enter into another Unionist pact.
Enjoy the party unionist chums..This is your high water mark.
Where the Ed Maloney analysis of that!

larry hughes said...

FG and FF votes in the South have increased in the latest poll. SF is down 3%. FF leader Martin has recently called for the UK government to throw open the files on the Dublin Monaghan bombings. Perhaps in an attempt to redress his slip-up in his recent attack on SF as not republican in the 26 county 'free state' sense. It may also be that people in the North are coming to realise that politically SF really are way past the point of no return. Either the electorate has taken its foot off the gas and relaxed regarding SF or there may be the beginnings of a swing back to the SDLP. It will certainly be interesting if the SF surge in the South fails to materialise AGAIN as in 2007.

Robert said...



larry hughes said...


with a bit of 'luck' after the upcoming referendum Ireland will be up to modern 'speed' with matters of sexuality and same sex marriage. The DUP and the RC church have got to be loving the prospect of that probability. Can't wait to see their reactions after the vote if it's a YES.

Ozzy said...

Thanx Robert.
I am smiling like a Cheshire Cat.
Able Seaman William McNeilly from Belfast has told the World that the British Navy's Capital Ship Couldn't pass a Port State Inspection in a Bangladeshi breakers Yard.
And about 3 years ago Petty Officer Edward Devenney From Strabane was trying to sell Royal Navy plans to Russia.

At this Rate the Royal Navy will have to stop recruiting from the WEE 6.
Ya know what they say right?
Their only crime was Loyality.

The only dark that Unionists West Brits are doing MORE to fcuk up da Brits that the bleedin' Irish.

Oh Yeah, to top it off ..It looks like the Brits are going to pull the plug from Europe.And Further sink themselves into even more irrelevance. If I was a unionist..I'd be looking for villas in Spain..I hear they're quite cheap.

Niall said...

"insouciance" more than anything else to account for the drop in votes...Westminster means little to Nationalists as nothing tangible is ever achieved over there and therefore their input is constrained and extremely limited...that's for both parties....local elections is different for they can be seen to be holding the Unionists to account irrespective of our interpretations of events and as for the South, the exact same as here, local elections....the people in the South will not forget the water charges or any other of those nauseous policies....bit like the LibDems

larry hughes said...

Not sure Niall's completely correct here, was there not a significant vote (7000?) for a non-SF candidate?

Niall said...

There may have been that many votes for the other candidates Larry but wait until the local elections and we'll see just how far their vote has fallen...there is a different mindset to different elections.

Robert said...


I doubt if I alone will view that as the most random of reponses to the issue under discussion.

Aside from reinforcing, in the minds eye, the image created by Anthony of a queue in Dunnville Park waiting on a spaceship to take the 'gofers and acolytes' to a United Ireland I'm not sure what relevance any of this has to do with what was a loss making election for Sinn Fein?

'I am smiling like a Chesire Cat'

Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures In Wonderland Chesire Cat?

larry hughes said...


I'm looking forward to see the share of votes in the South here after the next outing. Any notion of SF changing the system is clearly a myth now. Gravy train divvy up is all that's at stake. Sectarian headcount always the story in the wee 6. DUP-SF will flog that until the cows come home. I'd love to see Peter the Punt pull the plug.

Simon said...

Larry, With the lacklustre performance of Sinn Fein in the Westminster elections, although not terrible, it puts them in the unenviable position of not wanting to take part in another election if Stormont is brought down.

They might compromise on welfare reform to avoid the plug being pulled.

It also raises the further pressure of appealing to voters who want representation in the House of Commons. Will they hold to the abstentionism principle if due to peaceful times and relative comfort more people are turned off by it? Will the principle of abstentionism be jettisoned if it's electorally advantageous to do so. Maybe, particularly if there is a change to the oath or window dressing of another nature.

Would hopefully not be announced in 2016 but you never know. :p

larry hughes said...


In all honesty (something SF are devoid of)I think they are so far wedded to the political status quo at this stage they really should take their seats at Westminster. It is a farce for them to still wear any republican clothing. I imagine the only republican garb they wear now is very soiled and ragged undies. Sooner or later the photo ops will have to cease, they are taking way to long to get potty trained by the establishment and the party needs to stand on its own two feet. Honestly all these choreographed photo ops are like a 5 year old being sat on the plastic potty holding mummies hand. If Peter and the DUP collapse Stormont and go for direct rule taking their seats at Westminster then they have 'ACED' the Provos. Game over. AND I hazard a guess that the majority of people would be glad to see it, as they do nothing but squabble. They are unfit to govern anything.

larry hughes said...

The only thing that will prevent such a scenario is MLA jobs....yep the piggery and the little grunters would get very agitated at the thought of losing their nosebags. Could cause havoc within the party structures. Welfare cuts on the other hand... just a wee speed-bump to be negotiated during feeding. Minor and very brief interruption anticipated. Do not adjust your set.

Ozzy said...

Robert what My comment has to do with SF..Is that the upcoming Euro Vote (Brexit) will make SF irrelevant.. If/When Britain leaves the EU..A UI is a forgone conclusion..The Unionists will vote for a UI..Even If they have to hold their noses.
As for my first point about the Royal Navy..It was a topical news story and illustrates what the "loyal" tribe has done for England. And sums up the uselessness of the Wee 6. I never miss an opportunity to rub their noses in it.
Thirdly..I made a solid point about the DUP who have just invaded Russia whilst neglecting to secure the Western Front.( they have given oxygen to the UUP ) So again any failures in SF should be judged against this mistake.
If I've ruined your buzz. Many apolgises. Of course my reply like any comment has to be taken in context..You sent me a frigging video asking me to smile...And now you can't understand why I don't reply on topic??

larry hughes said...


If the UK leaves the EEC there will be no rush to a united Ireland. The economic reality is there is much more likelihood of FG and a large majority on this island rushing to re-join the Union.

Peter said...


An Ulster sub-mariner raising health and safety issues? Non story. The UK to leave the EU? Not a chance, it will never happen. If these little victories make you smile, then I do feel sorry for you on a day when the British monarchy trample all over the south being feted by all and sundry. Sorry if I've deflated your hard-on.

Ozzy said...

There will be no rush from City dwelling Loyalists/unionists that's for sure.
But in the rural areas..Where farmers hold sway. This is where the votes for a UI will come from.
Ulcer Farmers get a nice little money from Brussels.
They'll miss that when it's gone.
How will they get it back??? Join into the 26.
The British have long been in oppostion to the CAP in the eU..Once they go it alone..No more money to farmers..Let the market decide and all that.
As for the Free State.They are too far into the EU to back out now..Euro currency. And don't forget the Irish farmers in the 26..They won't want to find themselves in the same boat as the Ulcer farmers.
Who are the most powerful lobby group in Ireland? I'd say the farmers by a country mile. That'll keep the Free State in Brussels orbit.
Not to mention, Google, Apple Pfzier are all in Ireland due in part to the Euro currency( they don't have to worry about currency exchange wiping out their profits).
So between the 6 county farmers..the Nationalists and the EU "hard border" I say it's a forgone conclusion.

The Sun, The Times, The Daily Mail the Daily Express newspapers are rabidly anti Europe.
UKIP and Tory Backbenchers ditto.
there is supposed to be a vote in 2017. I see it as a close run the minute.
We will await what the big banks, the BBC and the US of A pitch into the picture.
Non Story?
How many murals will the UVF be painting in honour of William McNeilly and the "Traitor" Edward Devenney? My guess is none.
Another piece of history the "Loyal Sons of Ulcer" will try and brush under the carpet.
How many banners will the young Conway Flute band have of those two?
How many Orange lodges?? etc..etc.