Monday, February 20, 2006


Sinn Féin's 5 strategic challenges

I commented quite a bit about the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis this past weekend but I neglected to comment on Sinn Féin's "five strategic challenges" which party leader Gerry Adams set out for his party in the coming months.

I figured it would be a good idea therefore to give my views on them step by step:

1. Concentrate on the current negotiations to advance the peace process and ensure the Good Friday Agreement was implemented in full including resolving the issue of policing.

Pretty basic one this. Obviously the party's main focus must be on the upcoming negotiations with the two governments, but the important thing is that they ensure that the Good Friday Agreement doesn't get watered down through DUP intransigence. It's been disclosed that the issue of joining the policing board has been left to a special Ard Fheis. That's good to hear as some Sinn Féin members were coming out with worrying talk of waiting until the 'British had left Ireland'. Sinn Féin can do without that kind of nonsense talk.

2. Develop an entirely new relationship with unionists, deepening and broadening the party’s engagement with that community.

This is definitely something Sinn Féin needs to do though one wonders how they will do it. Interestingly, Adams at the Ard Fheis mentioned members should personally try to do this themselves which would suggest that the hierarchy aren't too clear on what this will involve. I would say that ideas such as the 'green paper on Irish unity', which requested the Dáil discuss the issue of reunification, are quite unhelpful. There's no need to preach to the converted. How about a 'green, white and orange paper on unity' to discuss the idea with unionists? That would be more productive anyway.

3. Build support in Britain for the unification of Ireland.

As I stated on Balrog, I find this one the most intriguing of all. I certainly think there's alot of untapped potential in Britain for the idea of Irish reunification. As this poll in The Guardian showed in 2001, most British people support the idea of Irish Unity and this poll was conducted at a time when the IRA were still committed to their armed camapign and when David Trimble was the leader of unionism as opposed to Dr Pailsey, so I imagine it's alot higher these days.

4. Promote an Ireland of equals, emphasising the cross-border agenda.

Not sure what this will involve but I imagine it will centre around creating closer ties to Ulster counties such as Donegal. Speaking of promoting the idea of an Ireland of equals, what happened to the proposed all-Ireland human rights agenda? I know the SDLP seemed to be more focused on it but surely that's an area that both nationalist parties can work together on?

5. Build up Sinn Féin as a party, giving a more prominent role to women.

Could you give a more prominent role to the sumptuous Toireasa Ferris? Please?

Overall, the challenges that have been set seem pretty sensible and hopefully Sinn Féin will be willing to work together with the SDLP on some of these challenges as nationalists need to stick together in the coming weeks and months in the face of rejectionist unionism.


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