The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

'Pretty Much a Busted Flush'

Anthony McIntyre • Parliamentary Brief, June 2006

If the words of any British prime minister haunt the troubled thoughts of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams, they will have been voiced by none of the six he waged an armed struggle against. 'Events dear boy, events', uttered by Harold Macmillan, must cut even deeper into the mind of the Provisional boss than the 'crime is crime is crime' mantra of Margaret Thatcher.

But for events, Adams could have been contemplating a very rosy political future. Now his burning ambition for power is being confronted with a firewall that no amount of guile or deception can breach.

Adams puts on a brave face. On the first day of a resumed Stormont parliament in Belfast he called for the return of the power-sharing executive, insisting that local people should manage their own affairs and that British ministers be sent back to where they belong. It was a feeble attempt at playing the nationalist card, a futile effort to depict himself as the powerful player of old on the local political scene, someone who struts around as cock of the walk dictating terms to British ministers.

Truth is, as Frank Miller put it to Adams in a recent Irish Times interview, he is pretty much a busted flush.

Up until the close of 2004 when the much heralded deal of deals between Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party capsized, upended by one of the many trip wires that strew the Northern Irish political landscape, Sinn Fein looked to be coasting. Its opponents throughout Ireland fell for the party's spin that it was on an unstoppable march to power north and south, its electoral machine unassailable. Then the bubble burst.

Sinn Fein strategy was premised on presenting itself as champion of the peace process valiantly working against all those seeking to destroy it. Through careful strategic management of the IRA it subverted the peace as a means to maintain the process. This resulted in institutions that were either not up and running or always about to topple when they were up. Having unionism and recalcitrant elements within the British security services take the blame for this was a dynamic that fuelled Sinn Fein expansionism throughout the country as a whole; the island's electorate ready to reward the party with plenty of votes for its ostensible goodwill.

Looking back over the past 18 months there are grounds for thinking that events in December 2004 and January 2005 brought the expansionist strategy completely off the rails. The Northern Bank robbery in December 2004 alone would not have thwarted Sinn Fein other than to temporarily incapacitate it at a time when political inertia would prevail anyway due to the upcoming British general election in May. Having no capacity to move at what was a motionless political juncture would hardly prove too damaging. The five-month hiatus would have suited the party fine.

However, the murder of Robert McCartney in January 2005 by Sinn Fein and IRA members was the Macmillan-event that sealed Sinn Fein's fate and would ensure it remained mired once fluidity returned to the political process. From that point on the party's popularity growth spurt in the Republic has spluttered. The anticipated electoral advancement there suddenly appeared to be incremental rather than exponential - even if that will be masked by the party doubling its seats as a result of judicious vote management in those marginal constituencies where it just missed out in the Irish general election 2002.

In the north Sinn Fein needed to achieve in the 2005 British general election what the DUP managed -comprehensively trounce its own community rival for votes. It failed and instead has managed to keep nationalism divided while ensuring that the DUP is the undisputed hegemon within unionism. To boot, the US is holding Sinn Fein's neck in a garrotte on the policing issue.

The upshot is that Sinn Fein has nowhere else to go but into a power-sharing executive. In circumstances where the wind has gone out of the party's sails the only deal on offer is one that places the Sinn Fein fly in the parlour of the DUP spider.

It is the one position in which they never wanted to find themselves. While the DUP does not need to join Sinn Fein in government in order to maintain its electoral strength, forces other than voters have to be placated. Given its own political strength vis-a-vis Sinn Fein, the thought of dictating terms for entry to government that tighten the thumbscrews on Gerry Adams like never before must be deliriously tantalising to the DUP.

Throughout its artificially prolonged life the god of the peace process smiled kindly on Sinn Fein. Unionism at times displayed the signs of lost souls, not quite damned but in Purgatory nonetheless.

But Macmillan's events have seen a reversal of fortunes. Sinn Fein, rather than taking those who voted for it remotely near a united Ireland, is now so desperate to be part of a British government in the north that is has called for Ian Paisley to be the replacement for the deposed former incumbent, David Trimble. At one time it could be safely said that Paisleyites were to be found in loyalist Ballymena. Now it seems that droves of them are about to be discovered in republican Ballymurphy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Index: Current Articles



9 July 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

Father Faul Saved Many Lives
Richard O'Rawe

Richard O'Rawe, PSF, and Events in 1981
Gerard Foster

Looking Back on 1981
Anthony McIntyre

Haughey and the National Question
Maria McCann

Brits Not to Blame for Haughey
David Adams

Greenfest
John Kennedy

Euston Manifesto: Yesterday's News
Mick Hall

Considering A Multi-Faceted Approach to the Middle East
Mehdi Mozaffari

Book Better Than Its Title
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Crowning Mr Unionist
Dr John Coulter

Extra Time Will Not Be Decisive
David Adams

'Pretty Much a Busted Flush'
Anthony McIntyre

Orangefest
John Kennedy

Just Books Web-launch
Jason Brannigan

The Framing of Michael McKevitt: Omagh, David Rupert, MI5 & FBI Collusion
Marcella Sands

The Framing of Michael McKevitt
Marcella Sands

The Framing of Michael McKevitt: Preliminary Hearings
Marcella Sands

Jury Duty Free State
Dolours Price

Even the Obnoxious
Anthony McIntyre


2 July 2006

Spectre
Anthony McIntyre

Salvaging History from Defeat
Forum Magazine Editorial

Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome
Dolours Price

Monsignor Denis Faul: Tribute
Ruairí Ó Brádaigh

Protest Continues in Maghaberry
Republican Prisoners Action Group (RPAG) statement

Where the Wind Blows
Dr John Coulter

What's Shaking
John Kennedy

Left, Right, Left, Right Wrong
Mick Hall

Irish Democracy, A Framework for Unity
Francis Mackey

The Peace Progress and the State
Davy Carlin

'The Church Brought to its Knees': Two books on Catholic Ireland's retreat
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Somme Battle Conspiracy
Dr John Coulter

March March March
John Kennedy

What's Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander!
Patrick Hurley

Sovereignty Movement Condemns Racist Attacks
Andy Martin, 32 CSM

Greens Propose Plastic Bag Tax to Help Fund Environment Watchdog
Green Party Press Release

The Framing of Michael McKevitt: Introduction
Marcella Sands

The Framing of Michael McKevitt: Garda Harassment & Eventual Sitch-up
Marcella Sands

Alternative
Dolours Price

Judas 118 or DUP Strategy of Subversion?
Anthony McIntyre

 

 

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