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ireland, irish, ulster, ireland, irish, ulster, Sinn Féin, Irish America

Desperate Sinn Féin look to centenary year

(Irish Family)

The Sinn Féin leadership is hoping that extravagant centenary celebrations marking the founding of the original Sinn Féin movement in 1905 will help boost party membership.

In spite of its self-projected image of a well organised political force destined to take political control in Ireland, The Irish Family has learned that serious disillusionment with the current leadership and its overall strategy has taken root within the wider Republican movement.

Media hype surrounding the party's gains in last year's local and European elections succeeded in masking a deep malaise within Sinn Féin that has led to a haemorrhaging of its traditional membership throughout the country. Even the successes of the European elections, which saw two Sinn Féin candidates take seats, were short-lived. One of the candidates, Mary-Lou McDonald, who was elected for Dublin managed to enrage large swathes of her voters when, after the election, she revealed her pro-abortion position, having given the impression that she was somehow pro-life during electioneering. While some voters expressed their disgust on radio programmes, The Irish Family has learned that Sinn Féin offices in Dublin and Belfast were bombarded by angry callers vowing never to vote for the party again.

More recently, the party's negotiating teams during the latest attempts to revive Stormont rule in the Six-counties have emerged with little to show for their efforts. The irony of Sinn Féin desperately trying to get Stormont up and running is not lost on observers who recall the proud boast of Republicans over the years on how they had managed to bring about its collapse in 1972. Nonetheless, the current leadership under President Adams urgently needs something to show for all the promises made to supporters that years of struggle from 1969 had not been in vain.

The past twelve months have seen several leading Republicans break ranks with the leadership and condemn its flawed policies and control-obsessed arrogance. Included among these were a number of elected figures. It now emerges that up to 40% of party activists in areas of Dublin and across the North have turned their backs on an organisation that some had served for decades. Most fail to see how administering British rule from Stormont can lead to the party's stated objective of a united Ireland.

The loss of traditional support is mirrored even more graphically in the US where the once formidable Irish Northern Aid (Noraid) has all but disappeared. A former prominent leader of Noraid, New York attorney Martin Galvin, told The Irish Family how "one after another former leaders have walked away heart-broken" from the pro-Irish Republican organisation on grounds of principle. They believed that "current strategies were wrong, that they had been told lies and misled," he added.

It is in this context, and with Westminster elections looming, that Sinn Féin intends to embark upon a series of high profile events attempting to link the party with the organisation founded by Arthur Griffith a hundred years ago. The claim of lineage could just as easily apply to Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Republican Sinn Féin and a slew of others. However these may be reluctant to identify with Griffith's non-republican dual monarchy fantasy.

Through wallowing in centenary schmalz and razz, Sinn Féin hopes to rally new recruits to its depleted ranks of activists. These in turn will promote the party's somewhat confused and confusing Marxist policies along with its pro-abortion and pro-homosexual agendas. The co-ordinator of the festivities is Caitriona Ruane, whom the Adams faction want to see elected as MP for South Down in the forthcoming British elections. In recent months she has been "doughnutting" the party leader at every photo opportunity, along with others who are either seeking seats or who are in danger of losing them through poor constituency work.

The focus on this year's centenary celebrations will, at best, serve only temporarily to muffle the growing mutterings of discontent from within an increasingly disillusioned Sinn Féin party membership.

January 15, 2005

This article appears in the January 9, 2005 edition of the Irish Family, a new Dublin-based newspaper published every two weeks.