Sunday, January 02, 2005


Sunday Scrutiny-Mark Durkan

Since I said I was looking for a feature for Sundays,welcome to Sunday Scrutiny where each week I will look at individuals important to either Irish politics or politics worldwide.
Earlier in the week I commented on the SDLP so this Sunday,Mark Durkan will be the subject of scrutiny.

Mark Durkan came in for some heavy criticism during 2004.Indeed over at A Tangled Web they named Mr.Durkan Worst Northern Ireland Politician of the Year.So does Mr.Durkan deserve the criticism he's getting?
Well,yes.He is the leader of the SDLP and as a result the buck must stop with him.The fact is the SDLP were overrun by Sinn Fein in 2004 and as party leader he must accept responsibility for that.But just what is his problem?Why can he and his party not appeal to broad nationalism?

Having heard him speak I know he is a competent orator and that he is witty but where are the areas he's lacking?I would say in terms of organisation the SDLP are lagging way behind SF.
Durkan seemed to accept that the SDLP were poor in their campaign for the Assembly election.
If you remember at the time the SDLP seemed more intent on focusing on the DUP than on Sinn Fein.Sinn Fein made it clear what they were after and that they would stand up for nationalism.Did the SDLP?No.
The SDLP seemed more intent on letting northern nationalists know that most parties in the south were hopeful they would do well.The SDLP were inept.
Durkan should've took Sinn Fein to task on IRA activity but the SDLP seemed like they almost willingly handed over the reins of nationalism to Sinn Fein!
Sinn Fein like to focus on young people.The SDLP have an image of being geared towards an older generation.
Durkan lacked the organisational skill that Sinn Fein had and still have.

Where else is Durkan lacking?Well he doesn't seem like a natural leader in my opinion.Indeed in the last few months he has been reduced to appearing on RTE whining about being left in the cold by Ahern and Blair in their talks with the DUP and SF.
Why doesn't he focus on the flaws of these parties then instead of moaning about being ignored?
You're being ignored Mark because you are being ineffective!Furthermore it is not being ignored by the two governments that you should be worried about but by being ignored by the nationalist community!

What is the answer for Durkan?He must realise his desperate position and take measures to fix this.It's time to take the gloves off with Gerry and Martin and tackle them on the major issues that many nationalists see happening around them.
I would've liked to see Durkan issue a strong warning to Adams and co. regarding the bank heist and warning of the danger of Provo involvement.

I have already outlined that I feel the answer for the SDLP is to merge with Fianna Fail.Would Durkan want this?Probably not but it is something the SDLP as a whole must consider and in my view go through with.
Unfortunately,since he seems a good man,his long-term future at the SDLP does not look promising.Durkan has not emerged from the shadow of John Hume.
On top of that,I cannot see the SDLP emerging from the shadow of Sinn Fein.


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