Fein can only become the dominant force on the
island of Ireland provided it structurally moves
back a generation to the mid-Sixties when Southern
republicanism controlled the movement.
the now rocky constitutional nationalist SDLP
in Northern Ireland must merge with the Souths
major coalition government partner, Bertie Aherns
is the SDLPs only option if it is to avoid
electoral annihilation in the Norths council
elections in May 2005 as well as in the expected
General Election also rumoured to be either
staged in February or May 2005.
can be no doubting Sinn Feins electoral
success in the Republic in Junes European
and local government polls has set the party well
on its road to achieving further gains in the
Dublin parliament, Leinster House.
if the proposed rainbow alliance of
Fine Gael, the Greens, Labour and the Progressive
Democrats fails to emerge, the republican movement
is odds on to be the ideal coalition government
partner for Fianna Fail.
Sinn Fein does as is expected become
the major power broker in the next Dublin parliament,
it will have achieved that accolade without forcing
the Southern electorate to endure a generation
of mindless violence by the Provisional IRA wing
of the republican movement.
Sinn Fein will have followed the purely democratic
route which has seen similar electoral achievements
for the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru
in Wales. There is no way the growth of the SNP
and PC can be attributed to any violent activities
by groups such as the Scottish National Liberation
Army or the Free Wales Army.
Sinn Fein, on the other hand, has eclipsed constitutional
nationalism by riding on the back of the PIRA
Army Councils terror campaign.
time has now come for Southern Sinn Fein to flex
its own muscles within Irish republicanism and
take over the partys ruling ard comhairle.
Indeed, it should go a step further and assert
itself as the controlling body in the entire republican
time is now right for a Southern-controlled Sinn
Fein ard comhairle to send the Northern-dominated
IRA Army Council permanently to the dustbin of
Former Irish President, the late Eamonn de Valera,
led Fianna Fail away from its blood-stained roots
in the anti-Treaty IRA, and Fine Gael has buried
any political skeletons it might have had in the
past with General Eoin ODuffys notorious
there is to be a lasting peace in Ireland, and
there will not be another explosion of 1969-style
sectarian hatred in 2016, then Southern Sinn Fein
has a moral imperative to provide a republican
movement which unionism, loyalism, Orangeism and
Protestantism can openly do business with.
present impasse in the peace process has often
been blamed on the inability of republicans and
unionists to engage in constructive dialogue.
It can be concluded that since the suspension
of the present Northern Assembly in October 2002,
unionism has been talking to the wrong republicans.
the time has come for unionists to engage in direct
talks with Southern Sinn Fein representatives
rather than their Northern counterparts.
too, that is one reason for the recent announcement
from the IRA that it is prepared to allow two
clerics one of whom will be Protestant
to witness any further substantial act
of decommissioning. Perhaps the Northern-dominated
republican movement needs to make a magnanimous
gesture, not simply to move the peace process
forward, but also to reassert its authority within
the overall republican family.
Sinn Feins capture the SDLPs Northern
Euro seat confirmed the victory over its nationalist
rivals in last Novembers Assembly elections
was not a one off fluke.
Feins well-orchestrated European campaign,
winning seats in both Northern and Southern Ireland,
further strengthens its platform to be the only
true all-Ireland political party.
Feins success will have even more far-reaching
consequences for the SDLP in the next Westminster
General Election. Sinn Fein currently has four
Westminster MPs. The European victory by its candidate
Bairbre de Brun a former health minister
in the Northern Assembly - will almost certainly
signal the electoral meltdown of the SDLP with
another three Westminster seats South Down,
Foyle and Newry and Armagh falling to the republican
movement, as the three sitting MPs retire.
an electoral disaster, particularly if it follows
significant losses in council seats in 2005, will
condemn the SDLP to the political dustbin of Irish
dustbin also contains the relics of two former
constitutional nationalist movements the
Irish Nationalist Party from the original Stormont
Parliament and the short-lived Irish Independence
Party founded by Protestant nationalist John Turnley.
in Britain, the political jungle drums are hammering
out the rumours of a General Election in the South,
too. Again, if the Sinn Fein electoral trends
continue, the republican movement will replace
the Progressive Democrats or the Greens as potential
partners in Aherns Fianna Fail coalition
a nightmare would heap further pressure on the
increasingly side-lined SDLP it must merge
with Fianna Fail or face political oblivion.
the beginning of the present Troubles in the late
1960s, there has always been a highly vocal minority
within Fianna Fail which wanted the Dublin-based
republican party to organise in the North and
contest elections. Now Fianna Fail has a fledgling
foothold in Derry.
a Northern strategy would be a major tactical
advantage to Fianna Fail. It would be able to
combat Sinn Feins claim to be the only all-Ireland
movement provided it won seats in Northern
Ireland at council, Assembly and Westminster levels.
merged SDLP/Fianna Fail movement could still rely
on Northern SDLP activists to get the new fledgling
party off the ground with an emphasis on targeting
first-time Catholic voters, Catholic young people,
but more importantly, the Catholic middle class
and business community.
Fail also faces an equally nightmarish constitutional
crisis if it wants to make Sinn Fein a coalition
government partner. The Southern constitution
recognises only one army the legitimate
Irish Defence Forces. How could Fianna Fail enter
a power-sharing coalition with Sinn Fein with
the Irish Republican Army still in existence?
problem for Sinn Fein is how to ensure democratically
elected politicians gain full control of the movement
without causing another internecine split with
its republican hardliners in South Armagh, South
Derry and East Tyrone on a scale not witnessed
since the establishment of the Provisional Republican
Movement in the early 1970s.