Sinn Féin: “Big Lads In The Big Picture”

Sometimes…you have to laugh.

In the summer of 1992 or 1993, my family and I were driving past a hotel when we saw a sign “Star Trek Convention” and we thought it would be a good idea…the first and last time at a Star Trek Convention.

It was interesting in its own way. I even bought a Tshirt “Q Here” a leftover from a bigger Dublin show where John de Lancie, the actor who played “Q” in the Next Generation.

There was a lot of humour around. The bar had a sign that said “Ten Forward” and the small room showing the pilot episode of “Deep Space Nine” was held in a room called the “Holodeck”.

If you know about Star Trek, you will get it.

Standing at the door were two uniformed Star Trek enthusiasts. …on sentry duty. My elderly mother (then 80 years old) innocently asked one “are you a real spaceman?”. The Star Trek guy did not know how to answer.

The thing is …..within the context of Star Trek geekdom, all this makes perfect sense. In the context of Real Life, it is pretty pathetic.

Which brings me to the nerdy geeks or geeky nerds going on a Sinn Féin canvas…dressed as 1916 Rebels. Within the geeky, nerdy world, it might make some kinda sense. In the real world, it is laughable. If my mother was around now…she would be 103….but she might well ask “are you a real republican?”

There is no answer. You just have to laugh.

I like a pantomime as much as the next man. And people dressed up in 1916 uniforms canvassing in West Belfast is pretty tacky. Not so much 1916 Rebels as just “big lads in the big picture”.

But Chris Donnelly, the blogger and Sinn Féin apologist says that unlike SDLP, Sinn Féin is an all-Ireland party. Well a hallmark of an all-Ireland party would be delivering the same message in all constituencies. Is that really the case with Sinn Féin?

One of the good things about this Election is that political parties seem free to canvas in unlikely places. I am on record as saying that the Democratic Process is assisted by political parties putting forward their message to all voters. Whether its DUP in Crossmaglen or Sinn Féin in Carrickfergus, the voters are entitled to the respect of the parties and parties are entitled to the respect of the voters.

So it is refreshing to see Sinn Féin out and about in Bangor, County Down. But …no dress-up box in Bangor. In essence, SF are delivering two different messages. Playing to the gallery in West Belfast. And doing the “outreach” thing in North Down.

An all-Ireland party?

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19 Responses to Sinn Féin: “Big Lads In The Big Picture”

  1. bangordub says:

    I very much agree with your thoughts regarding the fact that canvassing should be possible anywhere on this island by parties of whatever persuasion.
    Indeed I would love to be canvassed by those I’d most disagree with 😉
    On your points regarding a (particular) party seeking to appeal to different constituencies in different ways, I’d argue that this is a perfectly natural event and is common to all parties. We all know about the DUP with it’s “fundamentalist” wing, The UUP with it’s Urban/Rural divide and, of course the SDLP with it’s Derry v the rest, not to mention the two distinct factions within it’s elected members.
    I see no issue with diversity, internal disagreements and seeking votes from all sections of the community and I think it’s important to demonstrate that in a practical sense as opposed to paying the aul lip service to it

    • Sinn Féin Supporter in Tyrone says:

      Bangordub do you think there are enough CNRs in Bangor for your candidate to have a shout?

      • bangordub says:

        It’s not “my ” candidate but to answer your question, No. There are nowhere near enough potential nationalist voters just now to elect an MLA in North Down, however I think it is important that voters have as wide a choice as possible.
        I also think that it is important for local nationalists to build for the future by establishing a local organisation and engaging with others constructively

      • Nationalist candidates get around 3% of the vote in North Down . SDLP tend to outvote SF.
        I suppose it is important in terms of the overall 6- county vote. But also SDLP, SF and the others have a duty to stand everywhere.
        All voters must be treated with the same respect. I think that elections are “sacred”.

    • The only Party that sells a different message on different doorsteps is Alliance….1 we are unionist…2 we arent unionist.
      SInn Féin dressed up to appeal to the core vote in West Belfast “look we havent changed”.
      And in Bangor, they want to say that they have changed.

  2. Kev Hughes says:

    Rather mean spirited and snide post tbf FJH.

    ‘But Chris Donnelly, the blogger and Sinn Féin apologist says that unlike SDLP, Sinn Féin is an all-Ireland party’

    It clearly is.Candidates stand in every constituency on the island if I’m not mistaken.

    ‘Well a hallmark of an all-Ireland party would be delivering the same message in all constituencies. Is that really the case with Sinn Féin?’

    Hmmm,

    ‘Full Definition of straw man
    1: a weak or imaginary opposition (as an argument or adversary) set up only to be easily confuted’

    I wonder in the coming weeks which SDLP canvasser will turn up at my door; the Social Democrat? The South Belfast ‘letsgetalongerist’? Or the Nationalist? Perhaps it will be the guy who is an actual unionist in the ranks? BD is right here, parties have ‘wings’ or parts, you’re kind fo scraping the barrell on this one.

    No, what was shitty about your post was the attack on Donnelly of ‘apologist’, as opposed to supporter. I wonder, were you an apologist for SF before you joined the SDLP? I also wonder if you feel some form of pressure to ‘atone’ for your sins of openly supporting SF now that you have rejoined the ‘flock’ and that’s why we’re seeing slightly personal attacks such as this on the page?

    Or maybe I’m just an apologist for Donnelly and others and there’s an election on?

    • I have never felt any pressure to “atone for sins” mostly because I have none (in the political sense) and I have always been open about the political journey/s I have made in my life.
      But I think I am right to say that SF present themselves as changed people and seem to present an unchanged version in West Belfast.
      And I daresay many republicans/nationalists all over this island resent SF proclaiming themselves the successors to 1916 rebels. SF claim it…and you might agree or disagree….but supporters of FF, FG, Labour, SDLP (to name but a few) see it that way.
      It would be sterile to say “yes they are…no they arent”.
      If the argument is made that all political parties amend their tack to suit local circumstances, then I think this is a very fundamental in West Belfast and undermines the North Down campaign rather than enhancing it.
      Over the next two weeks hustings will happen and probably in North Down. INdeed I would go. And I sincerely hope SDLP and SF candidates are on the platform.
      I would not speak at a “constituency hustings” (other than my own) but I think the SF candidate would have a hard time defending the West Belfast pantomime while advancing her own vision for North Down.

      You are right about one thing. I was mean-spirited about Chris Donnelly. I have never met the guy and dont want to meet him.
      Dolores Kelly made a good point that SF “only” got 23 seats in Dáil. Lets be frank that it was at the bottom end of their expectations and Chris Donnelly made the point that SF was an all-Ireland Party.
      I am entitled to say that they are behaving differently in North Down than in West Belfast.

      And youre right about mean-spirited “in general”. I have not been this closely involved with SDLP since 1970s. In those days we had no trouble with SF (they barely existed and relied on is re prisoner issues). The real problem for us was the Stickies who were also involved in elections.
      Its just the case that seeing the campaign as a member changes perceptions and I will hear and see things that get a reaction that would be academic five or ten years ago. And I am sure that SF members as well as UUP, DUP, Alliance see it like that also. It is inevitable.
      Frankly from what I have seen online in the past few days makes me think that the Campaign has turned a bit nasty.

      • Kev Hughes says:

        John, let’s unpack your response:

        ‘I have never felt any pressure to “atone for sins” mostly because I have none (in the political sense) and I have always been open about the political journey/s I have made in my life.’

        I’m sure you haven;’t but it sure looks like you’re making a quar fist of it to me. A road to Damascus conversion or return to the flock normally has some form of contrition or frankly, disparaging your former beliefs and those who up held them. I’m sure it will be a response of ‘my beliefs never changed, they did’, but an article in the New Yorker helps show that up as pretty empty tbh

        http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/02/22/why-leftists-go-right

        ‘But I think I am right to say that SF present themselves as changed people and seem to present an unchanged version in West Belfast.’

        You think the SF in WB of the early 90s is the same or being presented to not have changed? Really?

        ‘And I daresay many republicans/nationalists all over this island resent SF proclaiming themselves the successors to 1916 rebels.’ – I’m sure they do, but they’re not doing a great job of showing that not to be the case. I do wonder where the SDLP’s events regarding 1916 and it’s impact and legacies where? I think I missed them.

        ‘SF claim it…and you might agree or disagree….but supporters of FF, FG, Labour, SDLP (to name but a few) see it that way.’ – Or, the first 3 parties haven’t been able to effectively govern for some time, wreaking havoc, and for political reasons they’re going after SF? I’m sorry, but as for the SDLP, you guys are on such a broken record at the moment, 18 years of ‘we created the GFA’, it’s wearing thin.

        ‘It would be sterile to say “yes they are…no they arent”.’ – well, they do have some lineage to the guys of 1916, as do quite a few parties.

        ‘If the argument is made that all political parties amend their tack to suit local circumstances, then I think this is a very fundamental in West Belfast and undermines the North Down campaign rather than enhancing it.’

        That’s a nonsense. I posted the example of the SDLP, and the many strands of it, are you saying that means you guys are inconsistent? I know, I am going too far, you guys are incredibly consistent…

        ‘Over the next two weeks hustings will happen and probably in North Down. INdeed I would go. And I sincerely hope SDLP and SF candidates are on the platform.
        I would not speak at a “constituency hustings” (other than my own) but I think the SF candidate would have a hard time defending the West Belfast pantomime while advancing her own vision for North Down.’ – Why? What was so wrong with them ‘dressing up’ or commemorating the 1916 Rising? Go on, let’s hear it.

        ‘You are right about one thing’ – I’m right about a lot more than one thing John 😉

        ‘I was mean-spirited about Chris Donnelly. I have never met the guy and dont want to meet him.’ – and? Oh, he supports SF so you feel the need to use inflammatory language? I thought the SDLP is ‘decent’ at it’s core? Horse shit, but we already knew that. It was pernicious and petty. Why did I actually respond today? Because I expected better. I’m disappointed, that’s why.

        ‘Dolores Kelly made a good point that SF “only” got 23 seats in Dáil. Lets be frank that it was at the bottom end of their expectations and Chris Donnelly made the point that SF was an all-Ireland Party’ – if I were Dolores, I wouldn’t be crowing just yet, seems like she’s in a spot of trouble in Upper Bann and, tbf, with my postal vote I don’t even know if she’ll get a preference from myself anywhere on the ballot.

        I will be frank, they were being predicted 19 to 30 so I think it’ll do especially as another election will not be too far away.

        ‘I am entitled to say that they are behaving differently in North Down than in West Belfast.’ – You can point to where I said otherwise? It’s not that you pointed this out, it’s that you would think that this is ‘inconsistent’ and effectively being dishonest. As has been highlighted above, all political parties do this.

        ‘And youre right about mean-spirited “in general”. I have not been this closely involved with SDLP since 1970s. In those days we had no trouble with SF (they barely existed and relied on is re prisoner issues). The real problem for us was the Stickies who were also involved in elections.’ – Hey, someone we mutually despise, hooray!

        ‘Its just the case that seeing the campaign as a member changes perceptions and I will hear and see things that get a reaction that would be academic five or ten years ago. And I am sure that SF members as well as UUP, DUP, Alliance see it like that also. It is inevitable.
        Frankly from what I have seen online in the past few days makes me think that the Campaign has turned a bit nasty.’

        Well, of course it has! I am not saying that it shouldn’t either, But when I get lines such as the SDLP are nice guys and decent and I see your post I point out that YOU ARE NOT BEING CONSISTENT. When I see someone using inflammatory language such as ‘apologist’ as opposed to ‘supporter’ then I will call that out. And don’t for a second think that it’s a one way street from me to the SDLP.

        What I will say is that the SDLP are not in great shape for votes., I think it is good that you guys seem to be getting along with one another internally better, but there is a bit of a dearth of ideas and momentum and as a Nat I am worried that this minimises our vote.

        Perhaps you are right, we need to argue much more among ourselves, but I do not see a battle of ideas coming from the SDLP, I see sniping and BS. Dolores Kelly complained about her posters being down in my area and tried to pin it on SF. Maybe it was them, maybe it was the large number of hoods who live there also? Maybe it was a bunch of kids, bored shitless and thought why not? I do not know. But what I do know is that she’s a bit of a lightweight when it comes to inspiring me to want to vote for her, that she doesn’t exude much in the way of charisma and she appears thin skinned far too often.

        I would read the article above BTW, a fantastic read.

  3. bangordub says:

    Quite comprehensive rebuttal there!
    Fascinating though and well argued. John, the simple fact is that any party that fails to adapt and change will ultimately die an electoral death. Following the electorate is not a path to success, leadership is the key. I’d make no apologies for dressing up myself if I thought it would energise people to come out and vote although I doubt it would work in Bangor.
    The key issue for me is to address the overall decline in the nationalist vote.

    • Catholic Voter says:

      bangordub, as the Catholic population grows and the Protestant population falls so we an expect the nationalist vote to rise and the unionist vote to fall. Tick tock etc.

      As Horseman used to say, just sit back and enjoy the show.

    • Kevin makes good points. It deserves to be read. I dont agree with him but his position is as valid as mine.

      • bangordub says:

        Actually the timeframe is shorter than you may think – Pro nationalist voters are in a majority at every age below 42, Those having children tend to be below 42, which accellerates the effect. My calculations project a nationalist voting majority within 5 years. Unionist Parties are fully aware of this which is why they should be cutting their deals now rather than burying their heads in the sand

      • Catholic Voter says:

        Bangordub that 5 year forecast of a nationalist voting majority is certainly very encouraging to hear.

      • The problem is……Alliance.

  4. Blue Sky thinking Mr Dub.
    The grey clouds are Alliance.

  5. Political Tourist says:

    Live long and prosper.

    • I will be really disappointed if the canvassers dont wear uniform.
      So many ad libs…so little time.
      I might have to run after them “heres another ad lib I prepared earlier”

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