Sinn Fein Take Half Term Holiday.

So farewell then Councillor Tom Hartley, Sinn Fein Councillor for Lower Falls.
So farewell then Councillor Gerard O’Neill, Sinn Fein Councillor for Upper Falls.
So Farewell then Councillor Danny Lavery, Sinn Fein Councillor for Oldpark.
All have announced their resignation from Belfast City Council. They were elected to the Council in 2011 but are bowing out before the 2014 Council Election.
They will of course be replaced by three “co-options”. Decided by Sinn Fein, they will be a mixture of bright young things and boys (and maybe girls) from the Felons Club.

And…STOP PRESS….Councillor Conor Maskey has also resigned to be (probably) re-cycled.
Co-Option is the process where the Party of a deceased or resigning councillor nominates the successor…and it is nodded thru by the Council, without a bye-election.
At its best, it is all very civilised.
In multi-seat constituencies, take Upper Falls…there are five elected councillors. Four Sinn Fein and one SDLP. The resignation of the SDLP councillor and the co-option of a SDLP replacement is the decent thing to do…preserving as it does the mandate and respecting the wishes of the minority SDLP voters.
Sinn Fein could of course trigger a bye-election by blocking the SDLP nominee but a convention has been established in the Assembly and local council chambers where rival parties will do the decent thing when a councillor resigns or dies.

It is a civilised approach and works well but sadly open to abuse and Sinn Fein and DUP have done it rather too much. Double jobbing …the process where a politician is elected to serve in more than one Legislature and the public disapproval has meant that politicians have resigned one job and a co-option has been accepted.
Its over-use is an insult to the electorate.
In fairness its not really an issue that disturbs many people, in part because it is not exactly on the radar.

There are of course alternatives to electing an individual. We could have a “list system” whereby people vote for a Party and the Party nominates people from their Party.
Why are Sinn Fein doing this?
Well in part, they want to bring forward some new faces and give them a profile before the 2014 Election.
In part, its a disciplinary device. SF have a…dare I say it….military discipline. Their personnel are less important than the overall “Goal”.
Sinn Fein (they claim and it is disputed) pool their individual income and re-allocate it to the Party as a whole. So there is no (allegedly) more benefit to being a MLA or “advisor” in Stormont or local advice centre.

Personally I think that it is a shame that a convention designed to ensure the protection of smaller parties is so abused.

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8 Responses to Sinn Fein Take Half Term Holiday.

  1. Irish Aussie says:

    Abuse, what a abuse? The SDLP could learn a lot from Sinn Fein
    “In fairness it’s not really an issue that disturbs many people” well you got that bit right, unlike rorting your entitlements hey?.
    Its a pity you didn’t take the next step and ask yourself why it doesn’t disturb people, possibly because it is a sensible and pragmatic way to manage the process.
    I know you are no longer formally associated with the SDLP, but you seem to still have their ability to misread an issue or are you just letting resentment cloud your judgement.
    When you catch Sinn Fein rorting then you can complain about abusing the process, in the mean time you just come off as petulant and snide.
    Stick to bashing the Alliance, you do some good work there.

    • factual says:

      Irish Aussie

      No need to adopt that tone. FJH is raising an important issue. A high proportion of SF’s politicians are now not elected, in NI. I wonder what % it is of MLAs.

      • Irish Aussie says:

        FJH has never complained about my “tone” unlike yours and is I think more than capable of defending himself.
        While I stand by everything I’ve said I can see how some of my criticisms could be seen as a touch sharp.

        In my defence I might of let my frustrations with my beloved Australian Labour Party get the better of me. A party whose political management skills are even worse than the SDLP’s, which has managed to boot itself out of office, elect an unelectable right wing lunatic, consign itself to opposition for a decade or more while presiding over the best preforming economy in the western world, depressing stuff.

        I believe that ultimately FJH and I want to see the same thing, a confident, dynamic, progressive and Nationalist SDLP, I believe that’s critically important to the whole Nationalist project.
        At the moment that’s just not happening and the SDLP’s performance seems to me to be disenfranchising a large section of the community and holding back the Nationalist project, if not actually undermining it, equally depressing stuff.

  2. Replacements will be by appointment not co-option

  3. factual says:

    Irishaussie, maybe I came across bad in my comment to you. No hard feelings I hope.

    I think Alasdair is quite a good leader for the SDLP , though the loss of Conall is a blow (imho).

  4. I think the reality is that someone has puled the plug in the bathtub and the SDLP is swirling around the hole. We need a new party, but not one that is a partitionist one.

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