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Correspondence: Sinn Fein in the south 

12 July 2007

I think Andrew Johnson's piece "Sinn Fein members discuss election rout"(July 4) was spot on.

However, one small comment.  Andrew says, "Southern members, particularly in Dublin, are resistant to coalition, not on ideological grounds but on the pragmatic grounds that too close an identification with FF will lose them votes."

This may be what Eoin O Broin has argued in AP/RN but I think you underestimate the degree of hostility in principle that there is among southern members towards Fianna Fail.  I think there is a still a layer of southern members of New Sinn Fein who genuinely shudder at the prospect of coalition with Fianna Fail.

I think it's important here to note a difference between the south and north.  The sell-out on and in the north is complete.  Those who are still in New Sinn Fein in the north have crossed the Rubicon - indeed, more than once. 

I think it's still a bit different in the south.  Southerners have gonealong with the sell-out over the north, which is obviously appalling, but they haven't been yet confronted with crossing the Rubicon of being in government in the south.  There is probably still a section of southern members who not only are reluctant to coalesce with Fianna Fail for pragmatic/loss of votes reasons but also because of the history of Fianna Fail in suppressing republicanism and murdering republicans.  I still recall the extradition of Robert Russell and the hatred against FF over that. 

So I think there is still a little way to go in the south.  While most people of principle and gumption in the north have already left, I think there may well be more layers that will peel off in the south.  It's unfortunate that New Sinn Fein didn't do better and go into coalition with FF, as that would have speeded up the process.  No sense dragging out the agony!

But I think the departure of Eirigi will be followed by further departures.  Good luck in trying to engage recent and future departees.

Philip Ferguson



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