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What Would A Sinn Féin Led Government Do?

See also on this blog “Irish Sovereignty and Political Realignment of the Irish Left” and  Sinn Féin’s 32-County Organisation would not survive Coalition

Jan 23/2017

SINN Féin is no longer the inheritor of the Revolutionary Republican Traditions of the First Dáil as we near the centenary of its first meeting

I carry below the full text of the Democratic Programme of the First Dail. I also carry the full text of speeches given by Michelle O’Neill and Gerry Adams at the Commemorative Meeting organised by Sinn Féin in the Mansion Hiouse, Dublin last Saturday.

The difference etween the Democratic Programme and the Sinn Féin position is very stark. The Democratic Programme is a revolutionary republican document. The Sinn Féin position is totally capitulatory. It fails to mention the growing loss of sovereignty of the Irish people.It calls on the Free State government to become “persuaders for Irish Unity”. The Free State government has surrendered all vestiges of Irish sovereignty to the Franco-German Alliance under the EU Fiscal Treaty. It has put our economic future in the hands of others through total economic reliance on foreign direct investment. Through NAMA and the banks it owns, it is selling off vast amounts of Irish property to Vultures and Foreign investors. This is resulting in increasing homelessness and continuing evictins from homes, farms and small businesses.

The Democratic Programme ,on the other hand, makes the right to private property subordinate to the public good. The reinstatement of this principle is what is required to halt evictions.

When the Bill on which the Constitutional Referendum to Affirm the Fiscal Treaty was passing through the Dáil, Caoimhín Ó Caoláin pointed out in the Dáil that the Treaty “flies in the face of the 1916 Proclamation” ut there was no mention of the Fiscal Treaty of surrender in the Mansion House last Saturday

Clearly Sinn Féin is not the inheritor of the revolutionary republican tradition that inspired the War of Independence

Sinn Fein Position on Irish Unity To-Day

Jan 21  Mansion House, Dulin-98th Anniversary of First Meeting of First Dail

 

Michelle O’Neill MLA calls for inclusive debate on Irish Unity

21 January, 2017

Sinn Féin MLA Michelle O’Neill has called on all sections of society to begin a full and inclusive debate about Irish unity.

Speaking at a Sinn Féin Uniting Ireland event in the Mansion House in Dublin today, Ms O’Neill said;

“The debate around Irish unity is hugely important, perhaps the most important debate many of us will ever be involved in as we move towards what is in my view, inevitable constitutional change in the years ahead.

“We need to see individuals and groups from all sectors of Irish society put forward their own ideas on this issue.

“Obviously, we will have different views on the future but that’s ok. That’s what debate is about.

“There is a place for everyone in the new Ireland that we are building and we genuinely want unionists to be part of the debate, to be part of shaping our future on this small island that we all share.

“Brexit is bad news for the people of Ireland, North and South. Nevertheless, it also opens up a unique opportunity to look again at a future beyond partition, sectarianism and division, and to a new and agreed united Ireland built in the interests of all the people of this island.

“A new and united Ireland will deliver full democracy to the people of the whole island, including the right of people in the North to remain within the EU.

“Sinn Féin has put forward our ideas and will continue to do so in the time ahead.

“What is vital is that an open, inclusive and fully-informed discussion on the future of Ireland involving everyone begins now.”

Imagining a New Republic – Gerry Adams TD

21 January, 2017

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD today opened the Towards a United Ireland conference in the Mansion House in Dublin.

Today marks the 98th anniversary of the First Dáil in 1919.

Today’s speakers include Michelle O’Neill MLA, Susan McKay, Keven Meagher, Brian Feeney, Alex Kane, Mary Lou McDonald TD, Noel Whelan, Cat Boyd and Matt Carthy MEP.

Among the points Gerry Adams will make in his remarks:

  • we need to address the genuine fears and concerns of unionists in a meaningful way.
  • ending partition has now taken on a new imperative following last summer’s Brexit vote.
  • Sinn Féin’s proposition that the North be accorded a designated special status within the EU will not affect the constitutional question. Taking the North out of the EU will. It will destroy the Good Friday Agreement.
  • the North needs a special designated status within the EU. The Irish government needs to adopt this as a strategic objective in its negotiations within the EU 27 as they negotiate with the British Prime Minister.
  • there is at this time no strategic plan coming from the government. That is a cause of real concern.
  • all of this, and the current crisis around the RHI scandal is creating new political conditions. I believe that if we properly frame the positive arguments the potential of a new, reimagined, confident Ireland within the European Union, will prove attractive to some unionists.
  • there is an onus on the Irish Government to prepare a real plan for unity. A first step in this would be the development of an all-party group to bring forward a Green Paper for Unity.

The Full Text of Speech Made by Gerry Adams TD, President of Sinn Féin 

“There are immediate challenges facing those of us who want a united independent Ireland.

These include getting the Irish government to change its policy from one of acquiescing to the union with Britain to one of becoming a persuader for Irish unity; getting the Irish government to begin preparations for Irish unity; and lastly engaging with Ulster unionism on the type of Ireland we want to create.

We need to address the genuine fears and concerns of unionists in a meaningful way. We need to look at what they mean by their sense of Britishness and be willing to explore and to be open to new concepts …

But what is clear is that partition has failed unionists. It has failed nationalists. It has failed the people of this island. And ending partition has now taken on a new imperative following last summer’s Brexit vote.

The citizens of England and Wales voted to leave the EU. The people of Scotland and of the North voted to remain. As the dire economic implications of Brexit take shape there is an opportunity to promote a new agreed Ireland.

Sinn Féin’s proposition that the North be accorded a designated special status within the EU will not affect the constitutional question. Taking the North out of the EU will. It will destroy the Good Friday Agreement.

Clearly the preferred option of many unionists and many nationalists is to remain within the EU.The speech by Theresa May will have reinforced this. The dangers of a hard Brexit are now more obvious than before. The North needs a special designated status within the EU. The Irish government needs to adopt this as a strategic objective in its negotiations within the EU 27 as they negotiate with the British Prime Minister.

I have raised this consistently with the Taoiseach. However, as we saw this week in the Irish governments response to the speech by Theresa May there is at this time no strategic plan coming from the government. That is a cause of real concern.

The British government’s intention to take the North out of the EU, despite the wish of the people there to remain, is a hostile action. Not just because of the implications of a hard border on this island but also because of its negative impact on the Good Friday Agreement.

The British Prime Minister repeated her intention to bring an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court. Along with her commitment to remove Britain from the European Convention on Human Rights this stand threatens to undermine the fundamental human rights elements of the Good Friday Agreement. The British position also fails to take account of the fact that citizens in the North, under the Agreement, have a right to Irish citizenship and therefore EU citizenship.

All of this, and the current crisis around the RHI scandal is creating new political conditions. I believe that if we properly frame the positive arguments the potential of a new, reimagined, confident Ireland within the European Union, will prove attractive to some unionists.

This too is an opportunity and a challenge that political leaders in this state need to rise to. That would be helped by those parties and organisations and individuals on this island agreeing steps that advance the goal of unity.

Regrettably at this time neither Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael or Labour have a strategy to achieve Irish unity and the PBP/AAA alliance are against it. This has to change. Irish unity makes sense. Political sense. Economic sense. And it is in the best interests of the people of this island. Sinn Féin is prepared to work with all parties with a professed United Ireland objective.

There is an onus on the Irish Government to prepare a real plan for unity. A first step in this would be the development of an all-party group to bring forward a Green Paper for Unity.

In addition, plans should be developed for an all-island National Health Service and for all island public services through a ‘United Ireland Investment and Prosperity Plan’.

Now is the time for all parties who support Irish unity to come together to design the pathway to a new, agreed, inclusive united Ireland – an Ireland that is built on equality and which is citizen-centred and inclusive.”

 


Democratic Programme Of First Dáil

21/01/1919

We declare in the words of the Irish Republican Proclamation the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies to be indefeasible, and in the language of our first President. Pádraíg Mac Phiarais, we declare that the Nation’s sovereignty extends not only to all men and women of the Nation, but to all its material possessions, the Nation’s soil and all its resources, all the wealth and all the wealth-producing processes within the Nation, and with him we reaffirm that all right to private property must be subordinated to the public right and welfare.

We declare that we desire our country to be ruled in accordance with the principles of Liberty, Equality, and Justice for all, which alone can secure permanence of Government in the willing adhesion of the people.

We affirm the duty of every man and woman to give allegiance and service to the Commonwealth, and declare it is the duty of the Nation to assure that every citizen shall have opportunity to spend his or her strength and faculties in the service of the people. In return for willing service, we, in the name of the Republic, declare the right of every citizen to an adequate share of the produce of the Nation’s labour.

It shall be the first duty of the Government of the Republic to make provision for the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of the children, to secure that no child shall suffer hunger or cold from lack of food, clothing, or shelter, but that all shall be provided with the means and facilities requisite for their proper education and training as Citizens of a Free and Gaelic Ireland.

The Irish Republic fully realises the necessity of abolishing the present odious, degrading and foreign Poor Law System, substituting therefor a sympathetic native scheme for the care of the Nation’s aged and infirm, who shall not be regarded as a burden, but rather entitled to the Nation’s gratitude and consideration. Likewise it shall be the duty of the Republic to take such measures as will safeguard the health of the people and ensure the physical as well as the moral well-being of the Nation.

It shall be our duty to promote the development of the Nation’s resources, to increase the productivity of its soil, to exploit its mineral deposits, peat bogs, and fisheries, its waterways and harbours, in the interests and for the benefit of the Irish people.

It shall be the duty of the Republic to adopt all measures necessary for the recreation and invigoration of our Industries, and to ensure their being developed on the most beneficial and progressive co-operative and industrial lines. With the adoption of an extensive Irish Consular Service, trade with foreign Nations shall be revived on terms of mutual advantage and goodwill, and while undertaking the organisation of the Nation’s trade, import and export, it shall be the duty of the Republic to prevent the shipment from Ireland of food and other necessaries until the wants of the Irish people are fully satisfied and the future provided for.

It shall also devolve upon the National Government to seek co-operation of the Governments of other countries in determining a standard of Social and Industrial Legislation with a view to a general and lasting improvement in the conditions under which the working classes live and labour.

Dearbhuighimíd, i mbriathraibh for-fhógra Saorstáit Éireann go bhfuil sé de cheart ag muinntir na hÉireann sealbh na hÉireann do bheith aca agus cinneamhain an náisiúin do bheith fé n-a riar, agus nách féidir an ceart san do bhaint díobh; agus fébh mar dubhairt ár gceud Uachtarán Pádraig Mac Phiarais, dearbhuighimíd gur ceart go mbeadh, ní amháin fir agus mná na hÉireann, acht adhbhar maoine na hÉireann fé riaradh an náisiúin, idir talamh agus gustal na hÉireann, gach sadhas maoine agus gach gléas chun maoin do sholáthairt dá bhfuil san tír; agus athfhógraimíd an rud d’fhógair an Piarsach gur dual go mbéadh tosach ag ceart an phobuil chun leasa an phobuil ar cheart an duine chun seilbhe fé leith.

Dearbhuighmíd gur mian linn an ceart, an tsaoirse agus cothrom do chách a bheith mar bhuntacaí riaghlughadh na tíre, agus ná fuil d’urradhas le buanughadh Riaghaltais ná saorthoiliughadh na ndaoine chuige ach é.

Dearbhuighimíd go bhfuil sé de dhualgas ar gach fear agus gach mnaoi bheith umhal, díleas, freagarthach agus freastalach don Phobalacht; agus go bhfuil sé de dhualgas ar an náisiún feuchaint chuige go mbeidh caoi ag gach duine san tír ar a cheart agus a acfuinn féin do chur i bhfeidhm ar mhaithe le leas an phobuil. Mar chúiteamh ar fhreagra is freastal na ndaoine, dearbhuighimíd i n-ainm an tSaorstáit, gur dual do gach duine a cion féin de thoradh saothair an náisiúin a bheith aige.

Isé an príomhchúram a bheidh ar Riaghaltas an tSaorstáit ná gleusa soláthar chun leas corpordha, leas spioradálta agus leas inntleachta na leanbhaí do chur i n-áirithe dhóibh; feuchaint chuige ná béidh an t-ocras ná an fuacht ag goilleamhaint ar éin leanbh de cheal bídh, eudaigh ná dín tighe; acht go bhfaghaidh siad gach cóir agus gleus is gádh dhóibh chun teagaisc agus taithighe ceart do thabhairt dóibh i gcóir na hoibre a bheidh le deunamh aca mar chomhaltaí den tSaorstát Gaedhealach.

Is follus do Shaorstát Éireann nach foláir an dlighe gránna iasachta a bhainnean le Tighthe na mBocht i nÉirinn agus gach a ngabhann leis de chéimsíos is de náire, do chur ar ceal, agus plean éifeachtach éigin do cheapadh a bheidh oireamhnach don tír chun aire cheart do thabhairt do sheandaoinibh agus do lagaibh an náisiúin, daoine a thuilleann freastal agus buidheachas ón náisiún i n-ionad tarcuisne agus neamhshuime. Na theannta son, beidh sé de chúram ar an Saorstát gach gleus is áis dár ghádh a chur i bhfeidhm chun sláinte an phobuil agus leas corpordha an náisiúin, agus leas anama an náisiúin dá bhárr do chur i n-áirithe dhóibh.

Beidh sé de dhualgas orainn cabhrughadh le meudughadh gustail an náisiúin, an talamh a dheunamh níos torthamhla agus níos iontsaothruighthe; mianach na hÉireann, a portaigh mhóna, a cuid iascaigh, a bealaigh uisce, agus a cuanta do chur chun críche i ceart chun tairbhe muinntire na hÉireann.

Beidh sé de dhualgas ar an Saorstát gach níd is gádh do dheunamh chun ár ndéantúsa d’aithbheóchaint is do neartughadh agus feuchaint chuige go saothróchfar iad do réir “comhar oibre” ar an gcuma is feárr ‘s is oireamhnaighe ‘s is mó raghaidh i dtairbhe do chách. Cuirfar feadhmannaigh ó Éirinn go tíortha thar lear d’fhonn ceannuidheacht agus tráchtáil do chur chun cinn idir Éire agus na tíortha úd, a raghaidh i leas don tír seo agus dosna tíortha eile. Nuair a thabharfaidh an Saorstát fé thráchtáil an náisiúin, idir díoluidheacht agus ceannuidheacht, do riarad, beidh sé de dhualgas ar an Saorstát gan biadh ná earraí eile go bhfuil gádh leó do leigint thar lear ó Éirinn go mbiedeh a leórdhóthain fachta ag muinntir na hÉireann, agus a sáith i dtaisce aca i gcóir an ama le teacht.

Beidh sé de chúram ar Riaghaltas an Náisiúin, leis, a iarraidh ar Riaghaltaisí tíortha eile cabhrughadh agus comhoibriughadh ar chomh-chéim leó chun dlighthe i dtaobh gnáthshaoghail agus gnáth-oibre an phobuil do cheapadh a chuirfidh feabhas mór ar an gcórughadh saoghail is saothair a bhíonn le fághail ag lucht oibre.

 

UPDATE MAY 12

REAL CRISIS In Sinn Féin Deepens With Re-Election of Tory Government-  (Statement by Villiers)

What would a Sinn Féin led 26-County government do if a minority Fianna Fáil coalition partner VETOED taxation of Super-Rich in order to end austerity?.

scroll down

// From irishtimes.com – Villiers: Sinn Féin should ‘stand by what they agreed’ on reform – Mon May 11 19:47:21 IST 2015//

To Read Sinn Féin View As Reported By Brian Feeney (SDLP) Click Below   

http://republican-news.org/current/news/2015/03/sinn_fein_right_to_pull_rug_fr.html#.VVGwA45VhHw

(Reappointed Tory Northern Secretary)Villiers: Sinn Féin should ‘stand by what they agreed’ on (WELFARE) Reform

Mark Hennessy

Sinn Féin must “get to grips” with Northern Ireland welfare cuts because the British government will not pay for a more generous welfare system than exists elsewhere in the UK, the newly reappointed Northern Secretary has said.

Theresa Villiers retained the Northern Ireland portfolio when prime minister David Cameron named his cabinet following the Conservatives win in last week’s general election.

Ms Villiers said there had been meaningful discussions about welfare over the past few weeks, “but, frankly, it is difficult for those ever to take place during a general election”.

She dismissed speculation that direct rule by London is looming.

“I think we are some way off that, to be honest.” she said. “Without a budget, the institutions will become increasingly dysfunctional and unable to carry out their basic functions, so it does jeopardise their credibility and even their sustainability. But I don’t see that we are at a cliff edge of imminent direct rule.”

No orders

Facing calls from Alliance Party leader David Ford to put pressure on Sinn Féin to reach a deal on welfare, Ms Villiers said Mr Ford knew “perfectly well” that she can not “order them to take a different position”.

“That is what devolution is all about. If you want to persuade parties, you have to do it by convincing them. There is nothing mandatory that you can do to change their mind.”

However, Ms Villiers warned that Northern Ireland’s budget would quickly become “dysfunctional” unless a deal was reached.

Asked if she feared Sinn Féin’s stand was being dictated by its ambition to make gains in the general election in the Republic, due next year, Ms Villiers replied: “Regardless of what is driving this, it needs to be fixed.”

She added: “Martin McGuinness, Gerry Adams have been negotiating in some shape or form for 20 years. They signed up to a package of top-ups on welfare reform, which they for many months hailed as a great triumph. It was a generous package, a sensible package.

A good deal

“They should stand by what they agreed. Yes, there may have been some misunderstanding, but they agreed it, they signed up for it, they went out and championed it. It is a good deal for Northern Ireland,” Ms Villiers told The Irish Times.

“It is not possible to insulate the Northern Ireland Executive from the kind of difficult decisions that every single other elected administration in the Western world has had to make over the last few years.

“It simply isn’t possible for it to be absolutely completely unaffected,” she said. “We have done our very best in terms of the generosity of the settlement that we have given and we have supplemented it even further.”

Ms Villiers expressed hopes that an agreement can be reached.

“I believe that we can get through this issue. It will continue to be difficult because austerity is not at an end. But this has to be done, because unless it is the Executive’s finances become increasingly dysfunctional.”

UPDATE MARCH 13

Support Workers on Strike in Northern Ireland Today!

Public service workers are holding a one-day strike to-day against the cuts contained in the Stormont House Agreement.

Northern workers again give a lead to all!

THIS IS A UNIQUE EVENT. The strikers are taking action against cuts agreed by all the main parties in the UK and Ireland who brokered or supported the AGREEMENT—Fine Gael/Labour, Tory/Lib Dems, Sinn Féin, DUP, UUP,SDLP

Under the Stormont House Agreement, Stormont ministers are obliged cut £1.3 billion, more than 10 percent of the region’s budget, by 2019.

Unite regional secretary Jimmy Kelly said in a statement: “Without standing up to this, we can expect another four years of even more punishing austerity budgets.”

UPDATE March 12,2015

The Real Crisis in Sinn Féin

Sinn Féin Attitude to Austerity in All-Ireland Causing Deepening Crisis in Party

In August 2014, in my piece on this blog ” Sinn Féin’s 32-County Organisation Would not Survive Coalition” I said : “Already the pressures on Sinn Féin as a result of being a 32-county party in a partitioned Ireland are becoming evident. In Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin has vetoed Tory welfare cuts. This has led to reductions in the British financial subvention and increased tensions within the Stormont executive. Supporters of the party will say that this would have happened in any event. However, it is a fact that it would be seriously damaging to Sinn Féin in the Republic if it had supported such cuts. In addition, it would appear strange to northern nationalists if Sinn Féin were imposing cuts in Belfast while fulminating against such cuts in Dublin”

Since I wrote the piece, Sinn Féin has done a deal on cuts in the 6-counties with the Unionists and the two governments through the Stormont House Agreement.   But now the party has had  to step back from that deal under pressure from southern workers and northern workers. Southern workers will not trust a party and continue to support it at elections on the basis that it will end austerity in the south if it is simultaneously imposing austerity in the north.  Tomorrow  trade unions in the six counties hold a one day strike against the cuts in jobs and public spending in the Stormont House Agreement.

The right wing of Sinn Féin want to be in coalition administrations in Stormont and Leinster House. The revolutionary republicans, genuine socialists and conscious workers north and south see the lifting of austerity throughout the island as the first priority. This is causing severe tensions in Sinn Féin.

Claims by Sinn Féin leaders that they were misled by the DUP and Stormont officials in elation to the Agreement do not bear examination.

The crisis in Sinn Féin which I expected to reach its peak after Sinn Féin joined a coalition in Dublin (either as a majority or minority party) may now occur earlier or progress more quickly than I anticipated.

I carry below an opinion piece by Eamonn McCann in the Irish Times to-day.

I believe that mobilisation for Irish unity , independence and sovereignty will be a key factor in the Irish Socialist Revolution.

As Secretary of the NationaL H-Block Trade Union Committee which organised work stoppages in support of the H-Block prisoners, I believed at that time that it was totally wrong to demobilise the mass movement in the South after the death of Bobby Sands and to seek an internal solution in the six counties.

Union protests pushed Sinn Féin to Pull out of Agreement

Eamonn McCann

Irish Times   Last Updated: Thursday, March 12, 2015, 05:00

One of the factors behind Sinn Féin’s decision on Monday to pull out of the Stormont House Agreement was a series of trade union demonstrations tomorrow calling for rejection of the agreement.

All major public sector unions in the North will be on strike. Most schools and, it is expected, all social security, Housing Executive and civil service offices will be closed. No buses or trains will run. Marches and rallies opposing the economic components of the agreement will be held in Belfast, Derry, Strabane, Enniskillen, Omagh, Magherafelt, Cookstown, Dungannon and Craigavon. (Interest declared: I represent the NUJ on Derry Trades Union Council.)

Over the past month, more than 100 meetings have been held in union offices, community centres and rooms above pubs urging attendance at the protests. Some have been small, others have drawn reasonable audiences of 50-100. This has been the most extensive union operation in the North in living memory.

The demonstrations may not be as big as union optimists expect. The success of appeals to the wider community is far from guaranteed. Enthusiasm sits alongside a degree of cynicism. References to the Grand Old Duke of York have regularly been heard.

20,000 job losses

The unions’ main concern is that the agreement involves the loss of 20,000 public sector jobs. Assurances that there will be no compulsory redundancies have cut little ice. When the jobs are gone, they’re gone for good. Union density is significantly greater in the public sector than in private businesses. A reduction of 20,000 in the workforce would not only lengthen the dole queues but cost the unions almost 20,000 members.

The prospect of being at loggerheads with the unions has dismayed many in Sinn Féin. The party’s ardfheis in Derry last weekend heard an address by Ictu president Jack Douglas, extolling its adherence to the union cause. To the delight of the party, Siptu general secretary Jack O’Connor chose the occasion of the Labour Party conference in Tralee a fortnight ago to hail Sinn Féin as a potential friend of Labour in government.

The party will be acutely aware that many of those who march tomorrow are likely to have voted Sinn Féin in the past.

The vehemence of the unions’ denunciation of the agreement has taken many aback. Leaflets and advertisements have been headed “No Deal! . . . No one voted for our elected politicians to do a deal like this. It is bad for workers, for all communities, for society and for equality.”

This is the first time trade unions have opposed a Stormont deal. On every previous occasion, they have hailed the outcome as a welcome contribution to the consolidation of peace.

Sinn Féin will also have been aware that, despite chaotic disagreement between the two main parties as to what was actually agreed, some past statements on the Assembly record are damning. Responding to claims that the party only discovered last weekend that its Executive partner was interpreting the agreement to mean that “top-up” payments would not apply automatically to all present and future recipients of disability living allowance, the DUP has repeatedly quoted its Social Development Minister Mervyn Storey in the Assembly on February 14th:

“The disability protection scheme . . . involves making a financial payment to those DLA claimants who are unsuccessful in their claim for personal independence payment and who subsequently appeal the disallowance decision . . . A financial payment should be made to those claimants and continue until the appeals service has made a decision on the claimant’s appeal.

“[Another] element provides support for those claimants who receive a lower level of payment under the personal independence payment . . . This will involve a . . . payment that will continue for a specified period depending on the date when the claimant is reassessed for personal independence payment.”

Inexplicable

The DUP argues that it is inexplicable in light of these and a number of other apparently unambiguous statements that Sinn Féin can have believed what it now says it believed.

Green Party leader Steven Agnew MLA, whose attempts to amend the Welfare Bill were systematically voted down by both main parties, described as “irresponsible” Sinn Féin’s claim that no claimant would lose out under the agreement it had put its name to.

The fact that Sinn Féin is now opposing at least some of the cuts which most observers see in the agreement has been welcomed by claimants’ organisations and community and union groups. But the fact that the party has taken such a long and winding road to reach this point has not encouraged confidence that the way ahead will be straightforward.

The numbers mobilised by the unions tomorrow may tell a tale of more relevance to the chances of the agreement surviving than many of the matters widely canvassed since the start of the week.

UPDATE August 8,2014-I discuss here two important Articles from the August edition of Sinn Fein monthly magazine, An Phoblacht, published on August 1.  The articles themselves are carried below my comment. The  coverage of the earlier part of this  discussion is carried further down-Paddy Healy

Further UPDATE Sept 20,2014

There are two further contributions to the political discussion on the way forward carried in the September edition of AnPhoblact. One is by Jack O’Connor, General President of SIPTU, Irelands giant 32-county  union, and arguably the organization through which historically Irish workers became  “a class for itself”. SIPTU remains affiliated to the Labour Party which is the junior partner in the Coalition government which has been in power for over 3 years. It is worth noting that SIPTU supported Joan Burton in the Labour party leadership race. Because of the collapse of the Labour party from over 200 seats to 51 in the local elections, the Labour Party is almost solely dependant on SIPTU support for its continued existence.

The other contribution is by Jimmy Kelly who is General Secretary of the Irish Region of UNITE THE UNION which also covers all 32 counties but is bigger in the 6-county area. UNITE has always been to the left of SIPTU in the 26-counties. The Irish Region of UNITE has now dissaffiliated from the IRISH Labour Party, but UNITE as a whole remains affiliated to the British Labour Party.

These contributions are carried further down in this blog.  I will address their content in the near future

There are a number of opinion pieces in the August edition of An Phoblacht. Two are of particular importance because they are written by Sinn Féin members-Cllr Eoin Ó Broin and SIPTU NEC Member  David Connolly who represents members employed in the community sector..

The editorial in An Phoblacht contains the statement “Reactionary parties, north and south, who champion these cuts need to explain to those who elect them why they are so keen to punish the most vulnerable.——They should join with Sinn Féin and growing numbers of others fighting against austerity and cuts”. Presumably the editor is inviting the right wing parties- FG, FF, DUP, UUP who are implementing the cuts to join SF in opposing the cuts. If this is not political small talk, it is very dangerously confusing. It would be in line with a view that FF and FG could change sufficiently to be suitable partners for coalition government with Sinn Féin as a minority element. Sinn Féin leaders-Gerry Adams, Mary Lou McDonald and Pearse Doherty have not ruled out such a position. The most recent opinion poll shows Sinn Féin and the main governing party, Fine Gael in equal first position when statistical survey error is taken into account.
It is important to recognise that the O Broin and Connolly positions are indeed “another view” even if they do not go nearly far enough and are generally fudged . Neither contribution deals sharply with the coalition issue which is the issue. All else can be forgotten as mere political rhetoric if actual coalition with FF and/or FG in government is effected.

The piece by Eoin Ó Broin is heavily weighted against coalition as a minority partner with FF,FG. He says: ”The experience of our Left republican predecessors in Ireland must be fully understood” and goes on to mention Clann Na Poblachta, The labour Party, The workers Party etc.

However he does not mention let alone sharply oppose participation in coalition as a minority party explicitly as he does in his blog . This is worrying. It is particularly necessary to sharply oppose coalition well in advance of the issue arising in practice. If the Free State wants SF in coalition, the pressure exerted on the party will be massive. All will change in the media. Pro-coalition Sinn Féin leaders who have been vilified for decades will be portrayed as great saviours of the Irish people etc. They will be praised by EU and American leaders who are allies of the Free State. Unless the left republicans are very clear on their position and well prepared, they will be steam-rolled. New reasons will be dredged up to convince members that coalition is needed to save the Irish people from much worse. It may be claimed that entry into coalition is necessary to “save the peace process” and to save northern nationalists from a return to one-party unionist domination etc It would not be difficult for the British government, the Free State authorities and the US to “ready up” such a situation

The best part of the contribution of David Connolly  is :” As presently constituted, the Irish state is incapable of change.” He also advocates joining with community organisations in a mass movement against austerity. All this is very positive. However he does not even mention the elephant which is blocking the road ahead for Irish workers. SIPTU is by far the most important of all Irish working class organisations and sets all agendas both political and economic. But its current leadership is a key support to the government’s austerity agenda and the main barrier to mobilisation of workers. It had also been deeply implicated with Fianna Fáil and the entire Irish elite in creating the circumstances in which an economic collapse was inevitable. For example, the ICTU which it dominates, was represented on the board of the central bank which allowed an outrageous level of foreign borrowing by the banking sector. Despite the savage austerity visited on workers by the Labour Party in government, unlike UNITE The UNION, SIPTU remains affiliated to the party and vigorously defends its role in government. The SIPTU leadership uses the old explanation used by all capitulators and collaborators-it would be even worse for workers if the Labour Party was not in government.

To create a wide mobilisation against austerity, The SIPTU leadership must be removed or, at a minimum, pushed aside. For a leading elected representative of workers to remain silent on these matters is inexcusable. It would not be at all surprising if, after the Labour Party is wiped out,  the SIPTU leadership puts strong pressure, both in public and in private, on Sinn Féin to replace it in coalition. Is the Sinn Féin leadership keeping lines open to the capitulationist trade union leadership?

Some years ago, Gerry Adams said that if SF had entered a joint executive with Unionists at Stormont, it would have no difficulty in principle with being in coalition with any party in Dublin.
Since the recent elections, Sinn Féin leaders (Gerry Adams, Mary Lou McDonald, Pearse Doherty) in several interviews have failed to rule out coalition with FF and/or FG in response to direct questions. They have said that abolition of the property tax is a red line issue or precondition for entering a coalition government. In response to further questions they have refused to set out any other red line issue including abolition of water charges, rejection of the Fiscal Treaty, or any particular initiative in relation to Irish Unity
The strongest position taken in public is that of Cllr Eoin Ó Broin who says that Sinn Féin should not enter a coalition in which Sinn Féin was in a minority. Some spokespeople have also said that Sinn Féin would prefer to be in a Sinn Féin-Labour-Left coalition.
The Dublin government is bound by the EU Fiscal Treaty. In the Dáil Caoimhín Ó Caolain on behalf of Sinn Féin has described this as an austerity treaty which flies in the face of the 1916 proclamation in that it is the negation of Irish sovereignty.

Whether Fianna Fáil and/or Fine Gael are the majority or minority party in a coalition, each party will insist on implementing this Treaty.
Why has Sinn Féin not made rejection of this Treaty a red line issue for participation in coalition?

THE Adams statement which inferred that if SF had entered a joint executive with Unionists at Stormont, it would have no difficulty in principle with being in coalition with any party in Dublin is seriously wrong and misleading. It may lead supporters to believe that since participation in the Stormont Executive has done no electoral damage to Sinn Féin support in the six counties, that participation in a coalition government in Dublin would not necessarily damage Sinn Fein support in the south.

The two situations are entirely different.
The northern executive is merely a mechanism for regional administration within the United Kingdom. It is not and it does not purport to be a sovereign government. It is a fact that the majority of northern nationalists have continued to support Sinn Féin as it participates in this body. Indeed Sinn Féin has ousted SDLP as the leading party in Derry in the recent elections.It is my view that northern nationalists see this continued participation as a guarantee against the return of institutionalised discrimination in the allocation of houses, other public services and to lower status in society generally.
The Dublin parliament is a totally different matter.

Despite severe de facto limitations on its actual powers, it is technically a sovereign parliament and is viewed as such and expected to act as such by the population.
There is no threat of a return to domination by a Unionist caste as in the north.
I believe that participation by Sinn Féin in a government in Dublin which did not deliver significant economic gains to the majority of the population and did not make serious progress in enhancing Irish unity and sovereignty would lead to a collapse in electoral support for Sinn Féin. The party would follow the downward road travelled by Clann na Poblachta, The Workers Party and the Labour Party. If Sinn Féin participated in a government which implemented austerity in accordance with the Fiscal Treaty, it would be wiped out.
Ireland is facing a major historical turning point. The decision of Sinn Féin on coalition in Dublin will be central to the outcome.

I believe that the depth of the historical turning point which Ireland is facing in the next two years is being underestimated . Things cannot go on in the old way because the people of the 26 counties will not tolerate increasing austerity for much longer. They have only voted against austerity. The main cohorts have not yet fought through strikes, demonstations etc but this is on the way as it is now becoming widely understood that restraint will not work. The outcome of the recent elections has accelerated this process. I believe that political crisis will be the most intense since the civil war.
I believe that the notion that Sinn Féin will be able to “play a long game” in opposition while retaining coherence is mistaken. Sinn Féin, in its membership and support, contains a number of political components. At one pole are the revolutionary republicans and at the other are the capitulationist pro-capitalists and there are all shades in between, many simply confused.
It is well to recall that all capitulators claim to be “playing a long game”. Collins said we should settle for a “stepping stone” to Irish Freedom . Brendan Corish said he was fighting for socialism “eventually”. McBride said he had first to remove Fianna Fáil patronage in giving out roadwork and to secure the declaration of a 26-county republic.
After the next election, I believe that the 26 county capitalists will not initially allow a Fine Gael- Fianna Fail coalition. This would leave them with no fall- back position as the more populist FF would be wiped out. This will leave no possibility of a government being formed without Sinn Féin. The problem is likely to be addressed in the context of a significant degree of popular mobilisation on economic issues. The class pressures on the political components of Sinn Féin will be massive as they were in the civil war period of 1921 to 1923.
There will be an intense discussion within Sinn Féin. The issue will not be one of tactical stupidity or cleverness. It is the duty of those of us who understand the positive role that revolutionary republicanism can play in the Irish socialist revolution to do what we can to ensure that the revolutionary republicans are victorious. That is why a serious discussion must take place now so that people cannot be fooled.
Simply denouncing Sinn fein in its entirety as some left wing groups do is counter-productive.
ClannNa Poblachta leader Mac Bride told the small farmer and cottier supporters of Clann Na Poblachta that he had to go into coalition with Fine Gael to break the Fianna Fail ganger system of allocating work on the roads. Collins said the Treaty would give us the freedom to win freedom. We must be ready for the “new fangled” excuses. The need to save “the peace process” and to prevent a return to one party unionist administration in the north is likely to be invoked. But there are always unexpected excuses in politics.

Let us do something positive to protect against capitulation. Let us ask Sinn Féin to publicly commit against coalition with Fianna Fáil and/or Fine Gael and to give an undertaking not to implement the Fiscal Treaty which sets aside Irish sovereignty and imposes continued austerity.
The electorate is entitled to know BEFORE the election
If Sinn Féin made such a commitment it would create a new position which would have to be considered by left wing organisations.

What is important is to positively effect what happens in the FUTURE.
Discussion of previous or current mistakes is important in order to learn from them. There are very many genuine people in Sinn Féin andin left wing groups.
There is wide agreement on the left that entry of Sinn Féin or left TDs into coalition with Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael would be disastrous for the Irish People.

There are also several “left” TDs who have not ruled out coalition with FF and/or Fine Gael.

I believe that we should focus in the discussion on getting a public undertaking in advance from Sinn Féin and left wing TDs that they will not go into coalition with FF and/or FG after the next election and that they will under no circumstances implement the Fiscal Treaty which flies in the face of the 1916 Proclamation

An Phoblacht EDITORIAL  Extract

The an Phoblacht editorial says: “Reactionary parties, north and south, who champion these cuts need to explain to those who elect them why they are so keen to punish the most vulnerable.——They should join with Sinn Féin and growing numbers of others fighting against austerity and cuts”
Presumably the editor is inviting Fg, FF, DUP, UUP who are implementing the cuts to join SF in opposing the cuts. If this is not political small talk, it is very dangerous.
It is important to recognise that the O Broin and Connolly positions are indeed “another view”.

Ready For Government? An Phoblacht, Lúnasa, 2014

Another View-Eoin ó Broin (Sinn Féin Councillor)

THERE IS A LOT OF TALK of Sinn Fein in govern­ment these days. Gerry (Adams) is telling us to get ready. Micheal (Martin FF Leader) and Enda (Kenny, Taoiseach and FG leader) are saying no way. The Indo (Irish Independent-main establishment newspaper)is in panic mode.  Things seem to be getting serious.

There is no doubt that Sinn Fein wants to be in gov­ernment in the South. But big questions remain, one of which is: ‘Are we ready?’

The straight answer is no, we are nowhere near ready to participate in government in Leinster House. But there is enough time to get ready, if we use that time wisely.

So what must we do?

The first thing is to learn from the mistakes of the past so as not to repeat them.

The experience of our Left republican predecessors in Ireland must be fully understood.

Why did Clan na Poblachta’s challenge to Fianna Fail hegemony collapse after such a bright start. Was the implosion of the Workers’ Party and the dissolution of Democratic Left inevitable?

We must also take seriously the failure of Labour to have a meaningful long-term impact on Government policy or to permanently break beyond its half-party subordinate role in Southern politics.

International experience must also be understood.

Why have European democratic socialist parties suf­fered (electorally and organisationally) from their par­ticipation in Government in France, Italy and Sweden?

 

Progressive forces have squabbled about the best route to a more equal society – reform or revolution?

What explains the return of the Right to government in Norway after the Left coalitions successful two terms in office?

If we want to enter Government to achieve real polit­ical, social and economic transformation then we need to debate and understand these failures in order to develop strategies that allow us to achieve our goals in ways that our Irish and international predecessors did not.

Then there is the question of what kind of social, eco­nomic and political transformation are we talking about.

Sinn Fein policy is strong on end points – we know where we want to get to. But we have yet to map out, in concrete policy terms, how we would get there.

How do you get from a dysfunctional and wasteful two-tier, partitioned health system to an all-Ireland, free-at-the-point-of-delivery, one-tier system? If we can’t answer these kinds of questions then we won’t be able to deliver the change we promise.

There is an urgent need for the party to map out the detail of our vision for Ireland and the route by which we plan to get there – step by step, policy decision by policy decision, across the key areas of political, social and economic life.

But policy detail is not enough. We also need to start building the coalitions for change required to overcome the already existing power alliances of the status quo.

Sinn Fein cannot deliver the kind of transformation we are seeking alone. We need to be part of a myriad of movements for change – some local, some national, some short-term and tactical, some long-term and strategic.

These alliances must be social and political, institu­tional and popular. They must involve people and organisations and combined must constitute a mass movement for a better Ireland.

For over a century, progressive forces across the globe squabbled about which was the best route to a more equal society – reform or revolution?

Today this debate is redundant. There are elements of both philosophies and strategies that are necessary if we are to fundamentally change our society.

Our goal is the radical transformation of the political, social and economic fabric of Ireland. This can only be achieved by securing a critical mass of reforms within the institutions supported by a strong and diverse pop­ular movement for change outside the institutions.

Sinn Fein are trying to do something that all of our predecessors, in Ireland and internationally, have failed to achieve to date.

Our success will depend on many things, including on how well we prepare for government.

What cannot be doubted is the seriousness of our intent. Maybe that’s why the political establishment is starting to panic.

 

Offering A Real Alternative For Government

By David Connolly, Community and SIPTU Trade Union              

Activist

DAVID CONNOLLY IS WRITING HERE IN A PERSONAL CAPACITY

(David Connolly is a member of the National Executive

Committee of SIPTU and is Chair of the Community Sector

 Committee of ICTU-Paddy Healy)

IT’S NOT SURPRISING that much of the focus by the Dublin mainstream media after the recent election successes of Sinn Fein has been on the prospects of the party being cen­tral to the formation of the next government. The results certainly sent real shockwaves through the political establishment.

As a community and trade union activist, my concern is that Sinn Fein maintains a focus on building the wider participation and engage­ment necessary to create a radically alternative political reality that serves all of our people.

Gerry Adams in his oration at the Wolfe Tone Commemoration in June declared: “We are about creating a

New Republic, with new pol­itics and a new way of doing things that puts fairness and equality at the heart of how this country is governed.”

In the struggle to achieve this ambitious and worthwhile objective, electoral activity is only one element. It is necessary to engage with and mobilise a wide range of interests, including civil society organisations, single focus groups and social issue campaigns so as to construct a broad popular movement capa­ble of enforcing a fundamental shift in the way this country is governed and enhancing the prospect of real unity across the island.

As presently constituted, the Irish state is incapable of change. This is evidenced by the continuing litany of acute social issues covered up and unresolved, and in the way the severe econom­ic collapse was foisted on the most vulnerable in soci­ety and the poorest people were punished by the impo­sition of austerity.

The governing elite – the wealthy, the professionals, the senior civil ser­vants and their political representatives – remain in power despite the destruction wrought by them, their associates and their policies.

A whole new political dispensation is required that is much more than the revolving of government between political parties. In this context Sinn Fein has much to offer.

Given Sinn Fein’s experience and evolution over the past three decades, it has very different perspec­tives on fundamental values such as justice, equality, par­ticipation and rights.

In a more immediate way it has been involved in an alternative form of govem­ing in the North; it is dealing with legacy issues arising from conflict that can inform a wider policy and has an international reputation and connections unlike any other political party on this island.

It is an outsider to the cosy political appara­tus that has governed since the foundation of the state. This offers a positive agent for change.

Undoubtedly, the attraction will be to con­centrate on consolidating the electoral victory and preparing for the next general election

Given Sinn Fein’s experience and evolution over the past three decades, it has very different perspectives on fundamental values such as justice, equality, participation and rights

with the prospect of entering government; however, in the longer term, it would be preferable to build a real alternative capable of realising the vision set out at Bodenstown. This requires a more sophisticated approach which must also complement the electoral dynamic.

In effect this will involve the party members, the elected representatives and the leadership reaching out to, participating with and helping to shape and influence campaigns mounted by and involving civic society organisations, including trade unions, NGOs, community and voluntary sector entities and campaign­ing movements involved in working for rights around disability, equality, language, gender, minorities and the broad spectrum of cam­paigning issues.

In other words, to engage not as a passive recipient of people’s issues or as a route to build the party as other political parties do, but through genuine participation bringing the function and role of the party to the centre of

the diverse range of current struggles aimed at securing justice and realising rights.

 

It is necessary to construct a broad popular movement capable of enforcing a fundamental shift in the way this country is governed and enhancing the prospect of real unity across the island

Implementing this approach involves a two­ way process, entailing increased demands on party members to become active in relevant organisations and a willing­ ness on the part of the wide range of activists who com­prise campaigning organisa­tions and movements to work with Sinn Fein as an integral part of achieving real change.

It is the effective integra­tion between political activi­ties and popular movements that will greatly enhance the capacity of Sinn Fein to offer a real alternative for govern­ment, not relying on deals with other parties but pre­senting a powerful, and collective manifesto for change that can help to achieve the vision of a New Republic, a New Ireland.

DAVID CONNOLLY IS WRITING HERE IN A PERSONAL CAPACITY

What would a Sinn Féin led Government Do?-Paddy Healy

Would Withdrawal from the Fiscal Treaty be a Red Line Issue?

Sinn Féin regards the Fiscal Treaty as a fundamental renunciation of the Sovereignty of the Irish People.

  In Dáil Éireann (Irish Parliament) during the debate on the EU Fiscal Compact ( Treaty) on April 20,2012, the Sinn Féin spokesperson, Caoimhín Ó Caoláin said : “ On Easter Sunday the Taoiseach and other Cabinet Ministers, as well as Oireachtas Members, myself included, stood outside the GPO and listened to the words of the Proclamation. As I speak on the austerity treaty today, I wonder did the Cabinet Ministers hear the same words that I heard: “We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible.” The Cabinet that stood to hear those words now asks us to put before the people for approval a treaty (The Fiscal Compact) that flies in the face of the 1916 Proclamation. It is a treaty that seeks to negate the right of the Irish people to the ownership of Ireland. It is a treaty that would surrender control of Irish destinies and fetter this and future elected governments, tying them to the failed economics of austerity. The people would have expected such a surrender from the last Government.”

http://oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie/debates%20authoring/debateswebpack.nsf/takes/dail2012042000006?opendocument

On RTE on July 18,2014, Pádraig Mac Lochlann TD (Sinn Féin, Donegal North East) said that his preference would be for a government of Sinn Féin, the Labour Party and Left wing TDS. He did not rule out a coalition government with traditional capitalist parties, a position which is in line with recent statements of the leader and deputy leader of Sinn Féin. However his emphasis was distinctly different.

Some weeks ago, Cllr Eoin Ó Broin, who has huge electoral support in the Dublin working class suburb of Clondalkin, opposed SF entering coalition government as a minority partner with Fianna Fail and/or Fine Gael. Clearly, the question of entering a coalition government is now a burning issue in Sinn Féin. This is to be expected as there is a strong possibility that Sinn Féin will be the biggest single party in the Dublin parliament after the next election.

I have dealt with the general issue of coalition in an earlier document. (see below)

Perhaps the most worrying aspect of recent statements by Sinn Féin leaders is the common statement that the abolition of the local property tax would be a red line issue or precondition for participation in a coalition government. Attempts by media interviewers to get the leaders to set out other red line issues failed. For example, all refused to say whether the abolition of the new water charges would be a red line issue. The implication is that abolition of property tax is the only red line issue for the Sinn Féin leaders. Revenue from property tax can easily be replaced by an equally regressive austerity measure.

In fact the tasks to be faced by any government committed to act in the interests of the majority of the Irish people will be massive. I discuss these below. In that context, it may be useful to discuss what the programme of a Sinn Féin-Labour Party-Left government would or should be. It is important to recognise that the degree of economic and political sovereignty of the Irish people is now less than at any time since before the Land Acts of the late 1800s. The Dublin Government has borrowed massively abroad to bail out the large (but not the small) investors in Irish banks. It has also borrowed massively to pay for public services, however reduced, rather than tax the incomes and/or assets of the very rich.

One outcome of this is the payment of in excess of 8 billion per year in debt servicing charges to big international investors by the exchequer alone. The political representatives of these investors, the EU powers and the US Government, have effectively total control of the current Dublin government as it had of its predecessor. A heavily indebted capitalist government can only survive by borrowing and this gives the lenders total political control. Because loans to government mature regularly and must be repaid on time, governments must regularly “roll-over” or replace loans even if it does not need to increase total borrowing.

In addition, through sales of loan books by the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), IBRC and other Irish banks to international vulture capitalists, many more homes, shopping centres, businesses and even farms are now owned abroad than was the case before the crash. When debt servicing costs by government, banks,  householders, private businesses etc are added together, the magnitude of the outflow of value from Ireland is probably unprecedented since before the time of Michael Davitt and the land league. Total external debt, private and public, was over ten times the size of Irish GDP(over 1000% of GDP !!), one of the highest in the world even before the current fire-sales of assets began. See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_external_debt

Successive governments have pursued a policy which has made the provision of extra jobs almost solely dependent on multi-national companies when there is not a construction bubble in existence. The recent successful demand by Bausch and Lomb in Waterford for pay cuts raises issues of national sovereignty as well as trade union issues. Now the Irish Government is coming under severe international pressure to change aspects of its low corporation tax regime which is central to its job creation policy.Ultimately the EU and the US will decide what corporate tax regime Ireland is allowed to have.  In summary, successive governments have put the provision of existing and future Irish jobs in the hands of other countries.

The Fiscal Compact requires that the current deficit be reduced below 3% of GDP by end of 2015, that the “structural deficit” be eliminated by 2018 and that the public debt to GDP ratio be reduced to 60% over 20 years. Despite the physical exit of the Troika from Dublin , the government is treaty bound to further reduce the current budget deficit in 2015 to reduce the deficit from 4.8% to 3% of GDP. There has been no recovery of national sovereignty.

The current budget deficit of Germany has been below 3% for a number of years. ” But although the German public deficit stayed within the EU limit of 3 percent of GDP for the third year in a row in 2013, it came down from a budget surplus of 0.1 percent in 2012.” http://www.dw.de/german-economic-growth-flat-in-2013-but-deficit-under-control/a-17362284

The EU has now quantified the budgetary position which would be required to eliminate  the Irish “structural deficit” in order to comply with the Fiscal Treaty. (EU Report on Ireland, March 2014)   The over-all deficit needs to be converted from -4.8 % of GDP in 2014  to +4.9% in 2018. Based on a GDP of 148 billion Euro in 2012, this requires a further 14 billion in cuts and tax rises unless there is significant economic growth. Growth in GDP in 2013 was +0.2% , which means total stagnation as 0.2% is less than the probable error in the estimate.

Germany has no structural deficit.  http://ec.europa.eu/europe2020/pdf/nd/sp2013_germany_en.pdf

Under the Fiscal Treaty Irish government debt must be reduced (not rolled over) from 102% of GDP now to 60% of GDP over the next 20 years. This requires further significant expenditure cuts and tax rises into the distant future. German national debt to GDP ratio at 57% is already below the 60% figure in the Treaty as can be seen at this link . http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_public_debt

Fire-sales of assets by the current government may provide it with some short term relief of pressure but only at the cost of increasing debt and austerity above what it otherwise would be in the longer term. In summary, a Sinn Féin –Left Government, would be faced with a very difficult situation, to put it mildly. The extraction of a few hundred million in wealth tax from millionaires, however welcome, would merely scratch the surface of the problem.

In summary, a government cannot act in the interests of the Irish people while implementing the Fiscal Treaty. This Treaty, while its provisions are formally the same for all countries covered, is grossly discriminatory against the programme countries in general and against Ireland in particular. Germany is a net creditor country while Ireland and other programme countries are large net debtors.  See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_international_investment_position

In summary Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil supported a grossly unequal Treaty which had no effect on the German budgetary or state debt position but which crucified the Irish people under every heading!!!

Would Sinn Féin in Government implement the Fiscal Treaty? To do so would be to continue the undermining of Irish Sovereignty and to continue austerity policies with inevitable failure to tackle unemployment. It would be to continue doing what Caoimhín Ó Caolaáin TD (SF) accused the current government of doing in his Dáil speech!!!! Refusal to implement the Fiscal Treaty should be the real red line issue for any left government!

What Would Fianna Fáil Do if Elected?

It  may be useful to discuss what a Fianna Fáil government if elected would do in the context of these constraints. Fianna Fail, with the exception of Eamonn Ó Caoimh TD, supported the Fiscal Treaty and can be expected to implement it. But they will need a political cover. It is inevitable that Fianna Fáil would say that the current government left a complete mess. The “recovery” was a complete fake. Fine Gael and Labour are to blame. Further austerity is necessary to bring about a real recovery!

What Would Sinn Féin Do if Elected???  (To Be continued) (In the document below I say:For my part, I would ,of course, insist that socialists and republicans should not be in any government which includes Fianna Fail and/or Fine Gael even as minority parties. They would veto any real change even from a minority position.)   ( Continued higher up here)

The Exciting Possibility of A LEFT GOVERNMENT by Jack O’Connor, General President SIPTU

OVER the last two elections, upwards of 40% of the electorate, twice as many as previously, opted for ‘Left’ platforms. This raises the exciting possibility of a Left of centre government. However, the scale of the challenge should not be underestimated.

Even on the basis of the most recent polls, the parties of the Centre-Right would still easily command an absolute majority of seats in the Oireachtas. Moreover, if the turnout in the next general election replicates that of 2011, there will be 14 votes cast for every 10 in the locals. All the polls show the “don’t knows” running in the order of 30%. These are the people who will tip the balance.

The next election will not be a plebiscite on austerity but rather a search for solutions. If the Left is to seriously contest to win, it must offer a sustainable economic and social strategy, in the context of globalisation, also taking account of the debt reduction rule of the Fiscal Treaty.

The vitriolically superficial character of our public exchanges should end at once. Labour people should acknowledge that, despite legiti­mate criticisms, the current leadership of Sinn Fein has returned its party to the Left republican course which reflects the outlook of the Democratic Programme of 1919, the 1916 Proclamation and the egalitarian values which extend back through the Fenians and Wolfe Tone to the French Revolution.

Moreover, we should also acknowledge the success of that approach in the Peace Process which now offers the realistic possibility of the reunification of Ireland through consent.

Sinn Fein and people on the non-sectarian Left should acknowledge that, far from selling out and notwith­standing equally legitimate criticisms, Labour in Government has prevented public spending cuts which would have extended to between a further €1.Sbil­lion to €2billion. This would have entailed slashing the basic rates of social wel­fare and outsourcing of public provision on an industrial        scale, resulting inthe ‘Greyhoundisation’ of thousands of jobs.

They should also acknowledge Labour’s role in improving collective bargaining rights and defending the legal infrastructure which protects the pay and terms of employment of more than 200,000 lower-paid workers as well as prevent­ing the wholesale divestiture of public assets at bargain basement prices. All of us should also recognise the critically important role of ”Left Independents” in pursuit of democratic accountability and defending communities. However, they in turn should accept that the attainment of a left of centre government would offer the prospect of much greater progress towards a prosperous, egalitar­ian society.

Realistically, a Government of the Left would not unilaterally “burn the bondholders” or repu­diate the Fiscal Treaty either, given the danger that such a route could become a one-way tick­et to the Stone Age. However, they could shift the tax/cuts burden by €lbillion to €1.5 billion incrementally, from those least able to those most able to shoulder it, in the manner outlined by the Nevin Institute. This would allow for the abolition of both the Property Tax and the Water Charges, which undoubtedly would be popular but hardly progressive.

Deployment of these new resources on build­ing a decent health service, universally available to all, free at the point of use, ending the hous­ing crisis, improving education and public provi­sion otherwise, or making gradual progress on all three simultaneously would be far better.

That would actually constitute a real egalitar­ian agenda.

Of course, some steps could be taken to rebal­ance the Property Tax further, thus rendering it fairer, and to introduce a system of water credits to ensure that everyone had an adequate free supply to meet their basic household needs.

The real challenge for the Left, though, is on the generation of wealth as distinct from the dis­tribution of it.

We must counter the inevitable cuts, public asset divestment and tax competition approach of the Centre Right with a ‘New
Economic Policy’, constructed around public enterprise, strategic investment and skills development.

This in turn should be complemented by a sophisticated elec­toral alliance that is not simply about Labour and others

on the Left serving as transfer fodder for Sinn Fein but which is designed to maximise seat gain to offer the electorate the prospect of a cohe­sive, stable alternative Government.

At the end of the day, the real battle between Right and Left is as it always was – low tax, pri­vate affluence and public squalor on the one hand versus social solidarity, through sustain­able public provision, underpinned by fair taxa­tion, high productivity and a prosperous economy on the other.

BEYOND THE POLITICS OF ANTI-AUSTERITY, By Jimmy Kelly General Secretary og Irish Region, UNITE THE UNION

FOLLOWING the recent elections, progres­sives have still not grabbed the opportunity to drive a new agenda. The Right and employers still dominate the narrative, from taxation to banking policy to economic growth. This challenges all who share progressive values to coalesce and offer a political alternative to the two conservative parties.

But providing a clear economic and social alternative means moving beyond the politics of anti-austerity. This will require honest debate and a radical vision. Challenging the orthodoxy is never easy; it will be even more difficult when the dominant commentary would have us believe that the economy is not only recovering but actually roaring back .That this refrain was rejected by hundreds of thousands in the last election will be of little benefit if we can’ t, together, advance an alter­native vision.

We need to identify several policies to pro­mote long-term, sustainable growth capable of creating full employment with liv­ing wages. Most importantly, the driving force behind economic pros­perity is the level of investment in the economy – public and infrastructural investment, business investment and investment in people’s skill, education and access to the labour market. In all these, Ireland performs poorly. This is not just a result of the recession but something that was apparent before and covered over by the property bubble.

Despite the propaganda, Ireland would have to double its level of investment just to reach the European average.

The deficits are everywhere – from the massive social housing waiting lists, to a creaking water and waste system, to an underdeveloped telecommunications nd energy infrastructure.

In particular, the social housing crisis – with 90,000 on the waiting lists and growing – needs to be urgently addressed. Permanent stable housing is a fundamental social right. To increase social housing would not only vindicate this right, it would drive employ­ment in the badly-hit construction sector.

We also need to address the historically low level of business investment in Ireland. We have the perverse situation where we have one of the highest levels of corporate profit, an ultra-low corporate tax rate but one of the lowest levels of corporate investment. With our corporate model coming under increas­ing international scrutiny, we need a new approach to building a sustainable market economy and export sector.

We need a revolution in education and fam­ily support policies. Increasing investment in education (especially early education) is the one of the best ways to promote future growth. We need a rational, efficient and free public education system at all levels. And we need policies that help families as they attempt to balance work and home life – in particular, a strong public sector childcare network at affordable fees.

Investing in children, families and people’s skills and life opportunities is not a cost – it is the recipe for growth.

We must also accept that our indigenous sector is currently incapable of delivering full employment. We would have to double our manufacturing employment in indigenous companies just to reach the average of other small open European economies. Throwing around money and subsidies will not address this problem (that’s what we have been doing for decades). We need new planning mecha­nisms and the full participation of all stake­holders – that is, workers – to create a dynamic native business sector.

A successful economy will be wage-led. Unite was involved with other groups in the Living Wage Technical Group which calculat­ed the Living Wage to be €11.45. We estimate that over 300,000 workers earn below this hourly level. And this dcesn’ t count those workers with children (who require a higher wage or public services) or those workers stuck in precarious work, unable to find full­time, stable employment.

We need strategies to strengthen labour in the workplace: an increased minimum wage, a more robust Joint Labour Committee syst­em, real collective bargaining rights, and the right of part-time workers to extra hours in the workplace as per an EU Directive that succes­ive governments have failed to implement We also need a strong social wage if we want good public services, income supports and pensions.

Irish living standards are well below the EU 15­ average while deprivation – which affects more than one million people (of whom a quarter are actually in work) – is growing. A

strong social wage would mean substantially increasing employers’ PRSI (social insurance) payments. We cannot tolerate a situation where workers have to pay for their own services ­out of wages which are below those of other countries.

Such a new social compact can only be driven forward by a coalition of progressives based on shared values, a common analysis and determination to ensure that – when the recovery does happen – it is a recovery for people.

Comment By Rory Hearne on article below on Facebook

Rory Hearne
July 19 at 7:01pm
It highlights the need for a political alliance/organisation on the left that makes the case that significant change will only come when working unemployment & marginalised people engage in struggle – themselves & would only partake in a left led gov that would supprt radical transformation – A New Republic -Sinn Fein will come under massive pressure to be responsible & limit their radical policies. Where is the increse on taxes on multinationals or ending ppps & privatisation & expanding public & community & cooperative services. The left still has a way to go to build a popular base in struggle & electoral support – jumping into a market constrained gov would be a disaster

Earlier article   Sinn Féin and Participation in Coalition with Traditional Capitalist Parties Cllr Eoin Ó Broin, Sinn Fein, has ignited a discussion on the attitude of the leadership of Sinn Féin to coalition with Irish traditional capitalist parties. He has enunciated a position of opposition to participation in any coalition government LED by these parties (Fianna Fail and Fine Gael). This is markedly different from the position of the leader and deputy leader of Sinn Féin who have not ruled out such participation. THE CONTEXT OF THE DISCUSSION I believe that WBS (administrator of the Left Wing Blog:Cedar Lounge Revolution)  is correct when he says:” It(Fianna Fail-the main party of Government since 1932) is now in deep trouble because it is outflanked on its Republican side by Sinn Féin. And on its centre left side by… Sinn Féin. On its right side Fine Gael(current majority party in Government) offers an alternative, and an alternative that despite its not great poll position has at least the single great virtue of being in government and likely to remain there after the next election.” For my part,I believe that the European election outcome is the best estimate of the support for parties. European Election %   May 23 FF 22.3 FG 22.3 SF 19.5 Lab 5.3 Others 30.6 FF benefitted from traditional loyalties to local FF families in the local elections and to some extent by the return of conservative voters who had defected to Fine Gael in the 2011 General Election.  Indeed the FF figure in the European elections is inflated by the unusual personal vote of Brian Crowley in Ireland South. (Crowley has now defied the FF leadership and defected to the group which includes the British Tories in the EU Parliament-an indication of the deep crisis in Fianna Fáil) I would go further than WBS. FF cannot recover unless and until Sinn Féin is fatally damaged. FF previously recovered in the fifties after former IRA leader Seán McBride , leader of Clann na Poblachta, entered coalition with Fine Gael. Could it happen again by Sinn Féin entering coalition? The report of an interview with Mary Lou McDonald in the Sunday Times last Sunday (carried below) is deeply disturbing. Though Fine Gael support is diminishing, it is a much more stable political and social formation than Fianna Fáil being deeply rooted in the old Irish propertied and self-employed professional classes. I believe that the real Irish decision makers will prevent a coalition of FF and FG coming to power except as a very last resort. The separate options of governments anchored by FF and FG has been a key factor in maintaining the relative stability of the Free State for decades. A coalition of FF and FG would lead to the rapid disintegration of FF in the context of implementing the Fiscal Treaty. Additionally, the trade union leaders despite their best efforts to protect such a government would be unable to keep workers in check. I believe that the Irish elite will opt for a Fine Gael/Sinn Fein Government. When this becomes very unpopular, Fianna Fail would be available as the anchor of an alternative government. It is the task of socialists and genuine republicans to prevent this elite strategy achieving success. Sinn Féin Leaders on Coalition The position of Cllr Eoin Ó Broin (carried below) is a very different position to that put forward by Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams, and Deputy Leader, Mary Lou McDonald (both carried below) and I welcome it as an important step. In the recent local elections, Eoin O Broin headed the poll in the heavily working class South Dublin  ward of Clondalkin. The second person elected was also a Sinn Fein candidate. He is virtually certain to be elected to the Dáil in the next general election. For my part, I would ,of course, insist that socialists and republicans should not be in any government which includes Fianna Fail and/or Fine Gael even as minority parties. They would veto any real change even from a minority position. In this they would be supported by the entire ruling elite and its international allies (remember the Allende Government in Chile). Eoin only rules out Sinn Fein being in a Fine Gael or Fianna Fail LED government. However his position is, indeed, an important step. It ignites a real discussion on the way forward. Councillor Eoin Ó Broin on his Blog   02/07/14 After The Election http://eoinobroin.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/after-the-election/ Posted: July 1, 2014 in Elections, Sinn Féin Tags: Elections Sinn Féin had a good election. We consolidated our position in the North and significantly increased our strength in the South. We are now well placed to make significant gains in the next Dáil election. As we face into that electoral contest two questions will loom large. Voters and the media will want to know who we would enter government with and what economic policies will form the core of our campaign. In the 2007 election we fudged the first question and back-peddled on the second. The electorate punished us for both mistakes. In 2011 we set out a real alternative to the austerity consensus and pledged not to enter coalition with Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael. The electorate rewarded us with an extra 10 seats. Of course there was a lot more to these elections than just that – but a central part of the outcome of both contests was our answer to those two key questions. The reason is simple. In Dáil elections most voters are thinking about who they want and who they don’t want in government. They make strategic calculations based on what they think is actually possible. Until recently a government led by any party other than Fianna Fail or Fine Gael was not available, no matter how much some of us may have wished for it. This is changing. The combined support for the two centre right parties is falling. A growing number of people –as indicated in the left of centre vote in 2011 and 2014- want something different. The electorate are realising that a better fairer southern Ireland requires an end to the dominance of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. Whether there will be enough of us to end that dominance by the next general election is not yet clear. In large part that will be determined by how we fight the campaign and whether we can convince enough of those people yearning for real change that Sinn Féin is the party that can deliver. We need to come our early and set out our stall clearly. Sinn Féin should loudly declare that we will not participate in a Fianna Fail or Fine Gael led government after the next general election. We want to be in government – but not at any price. We want to be in power to deliver deep and long lasting social, economic and political change. That can-not be achieved in a government where the majority voice is either of the centre right parties. So we should tell the electorate that if they want real change they need a government led by Sinn Féin. If the post elections numbers don’t allow this people need to know that we won’t go back on our word, but will continue to build popular support for a real alternative from the opposition benches. We also need to set out our key political commitments – the red line issues that must form the basis of Sinn Féin participation in any government. We should produce a short pre-election manifesto outlining our key priorities on job creation, tax reform, public spending and political reform. It should be radical, credible and costed. We should print a million copies in pocket book format and go door to door from October. Our aim should be to convince as many people as possible of the merits of our left republican alternative before the election is even called. The next Dáil election has the potential to be a game changer. But that requires us to play a different type of game to 2007 and 2011. If we are serious about the kind of Ireland we want to help create then we need to rise to the challenge. People are hungry for change but they are distrustful of politicians. We have to convince them that Sinn Féin is different – that we mean what we say and will only take office if it means wielding real power to create a better and more equal Ireland

COMMENTS

Séamus says July 2,2014: I think you have to accept that motions to reject coalition with FF and FG and any right-wing party have been defeated at the party’s Ard Fheis.
Eamonn Óg Ó Gallachóir says:
July 3, 2014 at 17:36
An Ard comhairle meeting can rectify that- bring a special meeting if they need, I would include labour in with the right wing to leave them out- questions what u know about left and right

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald, Deputy Leader of Sinn Fein,  in Sunday Times   Sinn Fein: Tax Ideals Up For Negotiation McDonald says pledge could be sacrificed to form government, writes Stephen O’Brien  Sunday Times 29/06/14 MARY LOU McDONALD has admitted Sinn Fein’s promises of a 1% wealth tax on assets over €lm and a48% tax rate for high earners – those paid over €100,000 -could be sacrificed in negotiations to agree a Pro­gramme for Government. The deputy leader of Sinn Fein has revealed her party’s commitment to abolish the property tax will be the only red line in any talks with other parties about formation of a government after the next gen­eral election. “We don’t believe it to be intrinsically a left-wing virtue to tax the family home. The notion is that you tax income, certainly, and that you tax wealth to create a fairer distri­bution,” she said. McDonald admitted the yield from the party’s proposed wealth tax would not be fully costed by the Department of Finance this year, because the Central Statistics Office would not have gathered all the data necessary to measure the likely yield until mid-2015. In 2012, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions estimated that a wealth tax of 1% on assets over €2m could yield €60-€80m a year. Sinn Fein is estimating that its wealth tax – 1% on assets over €lm – could bring in up to 0.5% of GDP or €800m in a full tax year. McDonald said the party would submit all of its budget proposals to the Department of Finance for costing “as a whole”, but it would propose setting aside the yield from a wealth tax for a job stimulus fund. This would mean if Sinn Fein’s estimate of revenue proved to be too high, this would not have an impact on its calculations of the budget deficit. Labour, the Socialist party and People Before Profit would be her preference as coalition partners for Sinn Fein in gov­ernment. McDonald, the favourite to succeed Gerry Adams as party leader, said she would be more comfortable in government with “the party of Connolly” and other left­leaning groups and independ­ents than with either Hanna Fail or Fine Gael. “The dynamic of Irish poli­tics now is different than it was five or 10 years ago. We are in a state of flux, which makes it interesting,” said McDonald. “If the numbers stack up and if the people wish it to be so, of course you could have a left­leaning government. I would have a preference for that, for the simple reason it allows you a lot more political scope to deliver change. It is not that evry party or candidate of the left . . . shares every single policy and detail in common, there is a common dynamic and I think the dynamic is important alongside the policy position.” However, McDonald did not rule out the prospect of coali­tion with either Fianna Fail or Fine Gael, though she agreed a Fine Gael/Sinn Fein alliance seemed “incompatible” and the least likely outcome “given their background, their past”. She said Sinn Fein would not rush into government just for the sake of being there. Asked if her preferred coali­tion option was a hint that she feels Labour will do better than expected at the next election, McDonald said: “No, I think the Labour party is in big, big trouble, worse than that sug­gested by opinion poll figures or election results. “It is almost an existential crisis for the Labour party. Who are they, what do they represent, why are they in gov­ernment? “I don’t have a crystal ball, but I would like to think the party of James Connolly and that tradition in Irish political life would find its feet again, and I think the correct collabo­rators or allies for [that] party are people on the left and the likes of Sinn Fein. “I am always baffled at senior Labour party people going off on a bizarre tangent of feeling that their role in life is to, savage or to stop Sinn Fein … very, very odd. You hear it even from the two candidates for leadership, Alex White and Joan Burton.” In a RedC poll published today, the first since the local elections last May, the Labour party’s support was measured at 7%, down four points on the previous poll and tracking its performance in May. McDonald declined to state what number of seats Sinn Fein would need to win in order to consider entering govern­ment, but did say having 30 TDs would put it “in the mix” in terms of considering the options.   Property tax removal a condition for coalition, says Adams Harry McGee   Irish Times   Last Updated: Monday, June 23, 2014, 10:46 Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has confirmed that reversing the property tax will be a bottom-line issue for the party to enter a coalition government. However, he refused to say if a 48 per cent rate of tax for those earning €100,000 or more would be a deal-breaker. Over the weekend Mr Adams told a Sinn Féin meeting the party needs to begin preparing for government and getting its policy priorities right. Outlining the party’s strategy, he told RTE this morning this will mean developing and working out where best it can stand in preparing candidates and also changing mindsets. “We want to be in government and we want to be ambitious for change,” he said. He said Sinn Féin would not go into government like Labour did and provide a cover for conservative parties. “Let’s get ready to be in government and let’s work out the terms.” When pressed on specific non-negotiable issues for Sinn Féin, Mr Adams agreed it would insist on property tax being scrapped. But in response to persistent questioning on Morning Ireland, Mr Adams would not give the same commitment for the top rate of tax for those earning over €100,000. “We are putting people on alert that we need to be ready for government. This will all be prepared in the upcoming period,” he said. Mr Adams emphasised the biggest difference between Sinn Féin and other parties was its emphasis on core republican values, and the entitlements of citizens to a job, a clean environment and other rights. “We want to see a strategy for Irish unity,” he said, saying Sinn Féin wanted a democratic way of bringing it about with unionists.Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has confirmed that reversing the property tax will be a bottom-line issue for the party to enter government. However, he refused to say if a 48 per cent rate of tax for those earning €100,000 or more would be a deal-breaker. Over the weekend Mr Adams told a Sinn Féin meeting the party needs to begin preparing for government, getting its policy priorities right. Outlining the party’s strategy, he told RTÉ radio this morning that it will mean getting policy priorities right, developing and working out where best it can stand in preparing candidates and also changing mindsets. “We want to be in government and we want to be ambitious for change,” he said. He said Sinn Féin would not go into government like Labour did and provide a cover for conservative parties. “Let’s get ready to be in government and let’s work out the terms.” When pressed on specific non-negotiable issues for Sinn Féin, Mr Adams agreed it would insist on property tax being scrapped. But in response to persistent questioning on Morning Ireland, Mr Adams would not give the same commitment for the top rate of tax for those earning over €100,000. “We are putting people on alert that we need to be ready for government. This will all be prepared in the upcoming period,” he said. Mr Adams emphasised the biggest difference between Sinn Féin and other parties was its emphasis on core republican values, and the entitlements of citizens to a job, a clean environment and other rights. “We want to see a strategy for Irish unity,” he said, saying Sinn Féin wanted a democratic way of bringing it about with unionists. © 2014 irishtimes.com

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  1. Robert Browne
    July 2, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    “The separate options of governments anchored by FF and FG has been a key factor in maintaining the relative stability of the Free State for decades. A coalition of FF and FG would lead to the rapid disintegration of FF in the context of implementing the Fiscal Treaty. Additionally, the trade union leaders despite their best efforts to protect such a government would be unable to keep workers in check.”

    “relative stability” is indeed relative when you consider we are one of the most indebted counties in the world as a result of such ‘pacts’. 123% debt to GDP which includes huge profits of multinationals which are shunted in and out and which arguably should not be included in GDP at all making our debt statistics even more alarming. Not to mention another 120bn OBS, yes ‘relative stability’ is perhaps over stating it?

    This is precisely what is wrong with the Trade Union movement as a whole and why it deserves to be in terminal decline. This is a key admission that unions have not only legitimised and supported FF/FG in but have been heavily involved in keeping these parties in power. That you postulate that such naked support would again by on display and exercised to the ultimate degree in trying to keep a FF/FG coalition in power even as it attempted to continue to implement the self defeating Fiscal Compact, say’s it all really.

    All you have to do to understand what is wrong is contained in your own analysis. Recently, I heard a trade union official boasting on the VB show that the government could not have done the austerity without them. Of course they could not. However, once the unions got what they wanted, the Croke Park and Haddington Road apartheid agreements, they were more than willing to quell any protest and remain silent as savage cuts were implemented against the silenced majority, the poor, disadvantaged the sick. That was their part of the bargain and they delivered it! SF refuses to tax the family home. Labour agree the unions agree FF agree and FG agree that people’s homes and water charges should be used as weapons against them both now and especially into the future. Let’s not forget either, there is no domestic water charges in NI and never will be as long as SF are in government there. The people have a choice. Continue to vote for the same old, same old or vote SF to see some real changes in our life time. Jack O’Connor and David Begg must be wondering how the hell they are going to change horses in mid stream but knowing them they will just dismount do about face and try and tell SF that they believed in a united Ireland all along.

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