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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: February 27, 2011 @ 8:24 pm

    Rebellion through the Ballot-Box

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    I’ve spent the weekend in Louth, chronicling the success of G. Adams in the constituency and the Sinn Fein electoral performance in general. I don’t feel qualified just now to pronounce in any detail about the overall result of the general election except to say that whoever remarked on radio that this was rebellion through the ballot-box put it very well.

    As a young fella, I recall that, by 1973, Fianna Fail had been in power for 16 straight years and this created a good deal of alienation. That was the period when the mohair-suit brigade developed and the fundraising wing, Taca, was set up.

    FF was running the show, putting their own people onto State boards etc, etc. It was time for a change and that came with the general election that put FG and Labour in power.

    Four short years later, Jack Lynch got the biggest-ever majority in FF’s history. Shows how things can change. Mind you, he wasn’t starting from as low a base as FF will be in future.

    The demise of FF is astonishing in its extent. Is it just the economic crisis or are there other issues? The party’s moral capital has been seriously depleted by the various tribunal revelations and it needs to put clear blue water between itself and the “cronies” of yesteryear. It also needs to think again about its plan for unelected and “substitute” ministers – people might see that as undemocratic.

    The arrival of Sinn Fein as a serious political entity with 13-15 Dail seats – final total not certain as yet – makes life more complicated for Micheál Martin. Will the two parties grow closer in opposition or will SF lean more towards the Joe Higgins/Richard Boyd Barrett wing of the Opposition? One to watch. There really isn’t a lot of room for two Opposition republican parties, one will swallow the other up at some stage surely?

    • RayD says:

      Yes I think that SF will swallow up the FFers. Not too difficult to do mind you as long as you are hardworking and have honesty and integrity.

    • A good article on a great event – but I end up asking myself where are the Irish women? The real rebellion will only bring real change when our women can play a serious role in public life. Maybe RTE’s reporting on the election was so amazingly hard headed and rebellious (and often fun!) just because of all the good ladies there doing such a great job.

    • Jaygee says:

      My guess is that SF is the beneficiary of the electorate’s revulsion with FF. Former FF supporters who couldn’t bring themselves to switch to FG and who were never going to find a comfortable berth with Labour, voted for the party which echoed their Nationalist sympathies. SF is first and foremost a Nationalist party, any voter with a wish to vote Left would have chosen Labour or ULA, providing of course that such a choice was available to them. In the end I feel that any party in Europe with a Nationalist philosophy at its core will remain on the fringes.

    • Qu says:

      If SF did not have a huge bulwark in the north of the country then it would be SF who weakened as FF regrew. Instead the FFs seem now to be the ones in trouble.

      If you suggest merger as the route of swallowing up. Don’t see that either. SF members could hardly want to merge with Martin a person who sneered at Adams coming “down here” to our republic. To say that proved something about Martin would be an understatement.

      Afraid FF is dying Deaglán. Dying through its own arrogance, corruption and its now ridiculous attempts to call itself Republican.

    • Kynos says:

      “The demise of FF is astonishing in its extent. Is it just the economic crisis or are there other issues?” – google ”Karma” Deaglan.

    • dealga says:

      I must say I’m very pleased that during the worst economic crisis in our history my fellow county folk in Louth decided to reward a proven economic illiterate with a poll topping election result.

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