Saturday, February 18, 2006


What I want to see at Sinn Féin Ard Fheis...

Hopefully the Ard Fheis proves advantageous for nationalism In political terms, this weekend will centre around the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis which is taking place at the RDS here in Dublin.

The 'Irish Unity and Equality' theme will mark both the 90th anniversary of the 1916 Rising and the 25th anniversary of the 1981 Hunger Strikes respectively and Party Leader Gerry Adams will make his keynote speech on Saturday at 5pm.

I thought I would outline some of the things I would like to see from Sinn Féin's Ard Fheis as well as some of the things I would like to see avoided altogether:

What I would like to see...

- I would like to see Sinn Féin reaffirm their commitment to a United Ireland as the division of the national territory remains the biggest problem facing Irish society today.

- I would like to see Sinn Féin take the Irish Republic's parties to task over their diabolical attitude towards Irish people north of the border. I hope the issue of northern representation in the Dáil is raised as well as the issue of voting rights for people in the North who want to vote in Irish Presidential elections.

- I would like to see Sinn Féin criticise the DUP's rejectionist stance and I would like to see them call on the two governments to prepare for progress, as well as to reaffirm their commitment to the Good Friday Agreement.

What I want to see avoided...

- I would like to see petty archaic insults avoided. I see Caoimhghin O Caolain has already described Justice Minister Michael McDowell as a "bombast bore" and said he should take his rightful place in the House of Lords as "Lord McDowell of West Britain". This is very disappointing. OK the 'bore' comment isn't that bad but the 'West Brit' term is moronic and only serves to damage the cause of Irish Unity seeing as many people in the island regard themselves as British. I hope the 'Free Stater' term will be avoided too this weekend, particularly since they are in the Irish state for their conference!

- I would like to see them avoid criticising the SDLP too harshly. I expect there to be some tough comments made in the SDLP's direction but nationalists have a bigger problem to face right now in the shape of Ian Paisley, and nationalists should unite together to deal with this bully rather than fight amongst one another. I was very impressed with how Sinn Féin welcomed the SDLP's recent North-South proposals and I'd like to see Gerry Adams reiterate that. As I've said before, when it comes to all-Ireland policies, there are no bad ideas.

- Most of all, I would like to see Sinn Féin avoid glorifying terrorism and criminality. They have a real chance to make progress in the south but I think there's a good chance they will draw negative attention towards themselves due to some silly motion. The Belfast Telegraph reports that:

"Sinn Fein's grassroots will be sending their best wishes to the Colombia Three and the killers of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe at their Ard Fheis tomorrow"

and that:

"There are a number of motions supporting "political prisoners", calling for the release of the Castlerea 5, convicted of the killing of Detective Garda McCabe."

I would be disgusted at this. If they offer support to those Garda-murdering criminals then they will be widely condemned by the Irish people and rightly so.

I truly hope that Sinn Féin's Ard Fheis proves beneficial for Irish nationalism. Ultimately Sinn Féin want what I do, even though I feel a very different route should be taken to get to the promised land of a 32 county nation-state.

Let's all pray that this weekend's Sinn Féin Ard Fheis won't make an already tough route that little bit more difficult to traverse.


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