An opinion poll in the Sunday Independent on June 8 suggested Sinn Féin support had increased to 26% since the European and council elections.
By Frances Davis
In last week’s elections Sinn Féin stood on a strong anti-austerity programme, both north and south, with a clear, left alternative economic policy coupled with a strong advocacy of the peace process and for Irish reunification. Its vote is the strongest for the party since 1918.
The recent arrest and imprisonment of Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, who was subsequently released without charge, was a clear political intervention, designed to undermine the peace process and to reverse the rise in support across Ireland for Sinn Fein.
The current failure to move forward on proposals which emerged from the 'Haass' talks in relation to the north of Ireland, as Sinn Fein MP Conor Murphy recently pointed out, `go to the heart of the issues and difficulties involved in making political change and progress’.
The proposals which emerged from all-party talks chaired by US diplomats Richard Haass and Megan O’Sullivan, put forward reasonable and modest ways of dealing with the problematic issues of the past, contentious parades, the flying of flags and use of emblems. Resolving these issues is crucial to maintaining and progressing the Good Friday Agreement’s core principle of equality.
One of the most inspiring moments in the days of tribute following the death of Nelson Mandela has been the way in which it has highlighted the connections between the leaderships of national liberation struggles spanning continents – from South African to Cuba and to Ireland. The critical role of the Cuban leadership and people in helping defeat apartheid was given significant prominence in South Africa at the memorial service with the speech and presence of President Raul Castro.
In addition, and of particular note for the left here, was the prominence given to the connection between the Sinn Fein leadership and the ANC, where decades-long links with the struggle against apartheid and Irish republicans came to the fore.
By Tom O’Donnell
Sinn Féin is hosting a conference in London on October 19 on the theme of Irish unity. It is a tremendous opportunity to hear and learn from the party leadership as it engages with a wide array of forces in the continued struggle against austerity, in defence of the Good Friday Agreement and for a united Ireland.
Last week saw an increased level of sectarian loyalist attacks against Catholic nationalist areas in the north of Ireland, accompanying the summer ‘marching season’ and the yearly determination by a minority of unionists to force sectarian marches through areas where they are clearly not wanted by local communities. Although there have been successful resolutions in some areas over contentious parades through local negotiations, the Orange Order still refuses to engage with local residents.
Next week will see the 15th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, described recently by Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness as ‘the single most important political agreement in our time’.
In his speech to the Dublin Commemoration of the 1916 Easter Rising, Martin McGuinness speaks of the Agreement as a turning point in Irish history, and resulting in a period in which republican objectives can be realised. He also warns against complacency and of the threats posed to the Good Friday Agreement by those who oppose equality and change.
Situating today's struggle for a united Ireland in the context of the revolutionary struggle of 1916 which ‘started a bush fire of decolonisation, which engulfed the British Empire', he spoke of the inspiration it inspired in ‘generations of people throughout the world who rose up against colonial rule'.
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