Wary of Sinn Fein in government?


Sir, – John A Murphy (“Why we should be wary of Sinn Féin in government”, Opinion & Analysis, July 9th) is to be commended for trying to open our eyes to the true nature of the current Sinn Féin.

There are clearly people who see it as just another normal political party, and are prepared to vote for it as if it were one. That is their privilege. The trouble is that is not how those in control of its heart see it.

At its centre, Sinn Féin is akin to a cult – that is, it has a millenarian goal (Irish political unity) which overrides everything else; a use of language which is designed to support that goal; a charismatic leadership with a satisfyingly sexy whiff of sulphur about it; a control-freakery that does not allow its acolytes to stray off-message; a view of the world that is at odds with reality; and so on.

If people who vote for Sinn Féin aren’t worried about this, then they should be. – Yours, etc,


Rathasker Heights,


Co Kildare.

Sir, – John A Murphy’s warning that Sinn Féin’s prospective coalition partners need to closely examine “features of the organisation” fits in neatly with the increasingly hysterical reaction from Labour and Fianna Fáil to Sinn Féin’s electoral success; the more votes Sinn Féin gets, the more alarmed is the response of the party’s political rivals. They raise the spectre of a violent past – by which they mean, exclusively, republican violence, but clearly it is the democratic future that most worries them. There is a great degree of cynicism behind all that emotive language.

Reading Prof Murphy’s article is like stepping back to the 1980s, when ideological rivals simply flung what ever brickbat came to hand at each other. It’s all about the mood music, vague hints that there is something sinister about Sinn Féin as it stands and that therefore it is not ready for government (south of the border that is).

We have heard similar warnings from Joan Burton, who declared that, despite the fact that it is in government in Northern Ireland with the DUP, Sinn Féin is still not ready for “true democracy”.

This was after her party received a drubbing at the polls. Is this negative politics all Labour has to offer?

The old guard, including Pat Rabbitte and Ruairí Quinn, built careers snarling at Fianna Fáil, blaming that party for Labour’s failure to win working class support; will the next Labour generation do the same, except with Sinn Féin as the bête noire? – Yours, etc,


Monastery Heath Avenue,


Dublin 22.