Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn Féin and elected to the Dáil in the recent Irish elections, draws out the historic turn in the politics of Ireland marked by the 1981 hunger strike and the elections of hunger strikers Bobby Sands (to the Westminster Parliament) and Ciaran Doherty and Paddy Agnew (to the Dublin Dáil). He draws out how this period marked a turn in the politics of Ireland on both sides of the border and shaped the subsequent three decades of Irish politics. The article orginally appeared on his blog.
By Frances Davis
The 2011 Dáil election last Friday represents one of the most significant political shifts in the 26-county state for over nine decades. As Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said, it potentially represents ‘the beginning of a realignment of Irish politics’. He also pointed out that, while the outcome is likely to be Fine Gael and Labour implementing Fianna Fáil policies – one right wing government replaced by another one – an examination of the results reveal a more fundamental change. This is the beginning of the break-up of the post-civil war political domination by Fianna Fáil (FF) and Fine Gael (FG) and in fact some significant move to the left – most notably the dramatic rise in support for Sinn Féin and their consolidation as a significant party in the south, potentially the leading opposition voice in the coming Dáil.
By Frances Davis
Sinn Féin’s stunning victory in the Donegal South West parliamentary by-election on 25 November represents a huge advance in what was the first electoral test for the Dublin government since the sharp deepening of the state’s economic crisis. Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty saw his party’s vote soar from 21 per cent at the last general election in 2007 to 40 per cent of first preference votes. In a reversal of previous showings, Sinn Féin also won an increasing share of the transfers from the eliminated candidates.
Sinn Féin offers a better way
By Nicky Dempsey
Sinn Féin has published its response to the Dublin government’s threatened plans to cut public spending once more in its Budget for 2011, There Is A Better Way. The Fianna Fail/ Green coalition in government has outlined planned further cuts totalling €6bn in both capital and current spending, including welfare payments to the poor. This would bring the total level of ‘fiscal tightening’ to €20.6bn since the end of 2008, which is now equivalent to 13.1% of GDP. For comparison the British government’s current plans – among the most draconian of any major European country – amount to 9.2% of GDP.
By Frances Davis
Yet again, a crisis is brewing in the Irish peace process. This time it centres on the ongoing failure of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to agree a date for the transfer of powers on justice and policing from Westminster to the Assembly in Belfast.
The DUP’s obstructive approach on the issue has seen, at every twist and turn, excuse after excuse in order to block this key element of the new system, which is an integral part of the peace process.
Over 11 years ago, the Good Friday Agreement was endorsed by referenda in the two parts of Ireland. It outlined a series of key measures to address one of the central inequalities of the northern six-county statelet – a legal system and a police force which were riddled with injustice to the core. From the foundation of the ‘Northern Ireland’ state in 1921, an armed sectarian police force acted to suppress and brutalise that section of the population which did not support British rule, and upheld in the most brutal way a rotten, sectarian state, which systematically discriminated against Catholics and Irish nationalists. This history of brutality, of the ‘police’ acting as a pro-British state militia, combined with a blatantly discriminatory system of so-called justice, was unique to that part of the ‘UK’. It included the use of non-jury ‘Diplock’ courts, torture, collusion, political bans and other methods which drew international condemnation – all of which has been well documented. Unsurprisingly, it met with sustained and mass popular resistance and political opposition.
First published: February 1998
Unionist politicians and loyalist death squads are doing everything in their power to wreck the Irish peace process. While Ian Paisley boycotts the talks, David Trimble sabotages them from within by refusing to talk to Sinn Féin, and loyalist paramilitaries murder Catholics chosen at random. Their common goal is to block any fundamental change in Northern Ireland’s status quo.
The Unionist programme is very simple. Northern Ireland must be maintained as a sectarian state in which nationalists are treated as second class citizens. Unionism stands for discrimination in employment, housing, education, culture, religion and politics. Nationalist resistance is met with sectarian murders, pogroms and legalised repression. Unionism correctly sees the partition of Ireland and British rule in the north as the guarantees of the privileges and discrimination which cement the Orange bloc.