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Sinn Fein Ard Fheis – New standards in hypocrisy

John McAnulty

6 March 2007

The most striking images of the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis of 3rd/4th March are of the audience. They are pictures of the legions of the lost.  Carefully blank faces give their only function – to provide a supporting backdrop for televisual photo opportunities. Part of a tradition of obedience in a militarist organisation, they do what they do best – obey. 

This means that Sinn Fein, given this level of political understanding, are free of the constraints that even capitalist parties often face in internal debate and hypocrisy is free to reach undreamed of levels. 

Step one came from Martin McGuinness.  Having persuaded the Shinners to abandon everything to placate Paisley and get into government, he hinted that they might not be able to pull off plan A, but the plan B – direct rule – would be just as good. London and Dublin would immediately reverse their long-standing policy of conciliating loyalism and the quangos of the North would become like a land of milk and honey for the Provos.

McGuinness was easily outdone by guest speaker Jack O’Connor of SIPTU, who claimed that the working class were facing their most serious attack since 1945.  He neglected to explain that his new 10 year partnership with the bosses and government made him a leading figure in the offensive or that the privatisation of Aer Lingus and the attack on jobs had involved him in persuading workers to support the privatisation. Jack was cheered to the rafters as part of the buddy handshake system.  The Shinners pretended that Jack was leftwing and he pretended that Sinn Fein were socialist radicals.

The easy winner in the hypocrisy stakes was, as usual, Gerry.  His impassioned declaration that Sinn Fein would not enter coalition with the right-wing Progressive Democrats was a slick way for the party to announce that it was desperate for the opportunity for a junior seat in a Fianna Fail coalition.  As if a party seeking coalition with Paisley could balk at anyone else!

There is no opposition inside Sinn Fein but nature abhors a vacuum and the opposition is emerging in a range of condemnations from traditional republican groups and from ex-prisoners.  This provides a limited base for a new movement, but it will at least do something to slow the torrent of self-congratulatory garbage running out of the Ard Fheis.


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