Are Sinn Féin ready for government?

Posted: August 6, 2014 in Elections, Government, Sinn Féin

There is a lot of talk of Sinn Féin in government these days. Gerry is telling us to get ready. Micheál and Enda are saying no way. The Indo are in panic mode. Things seem to be getting serious.

There is no doubt that Sinn Féin wants to be in Government in the South. But big questions remain, one of which is are we ready?

The straight answer is no, we are nowhere near ready to participate in Government in Leinster House. But there is enough time to get ready, if we use that time wisely.

So what must we do?

The first thing is to learn from the mistakes of the past so as not to repeat them.

The experience of our left republican predecessors in Ireland must be fully understood.

Why did Clan na Phoblachta’s challenge to Fianna Fáil hegemony collapse after such a bright start. Was the implosion of the Workers Party and the dissolution of Democratic Left inevitable?

We must also take seriously the failure of Labour to have a meaningful long term impact on government policy or to permanently break beyond its half-party subordinate role in southern politics.

International experience must also be understood.

Why have European democratic socialist parties suffered –electorally and organisationally- from their participation in Government – in France, Italy and Sweden? What explains the return of the right to Government in Norway after the left coalitions successful two terms in office?

There are also important questions beyond Europe. Why did the ANC fail to realise the social and economic transformation promised in the Reconstruction and Development Programme?

If we want to enter Government in order to achieve real political, social and economic transformation then we need to debate and understand these failures in order to develop strategies that allow us to achieve our goals in ways that our Irish and international predecessors did not.

Then there is the question of what kind of social, economic and political transformation are we talking about.

Sinn Féin policy is strong on end points – we know where we want to get to. But we have yet to map out, in concrete policy terms, how we would get there.

How do you get from a dysfunctional and wasteful two tier partitioned health system to an all-Ireland free at the point of delivery one tier system? If we can’t answer these kinds of questions then we won’t be able to deliver the change we promise.

There is an urgent need for the party to map out the detail of our vision for Ireland and the route by which we plan to get there – step by step, policy decision by policy decision, across the key areas of political, social and economic life.

But policy detail is not enough. We also need to start building the coalitions for change required to overcome the already existing power alliances of the status quo.

Sinn Féin can-not deliver the kind of transformation we are seeking alone. We need to be part of a myriad of movements for change – some local, some national, some short term and tactical, some long term and strategic.

These alliances must be social and political, institutional and popular. They must involve people and organisations and combined must constitute a mass movement for a better Ireland.

For over a century progressive forces across the globe squabbled about which was the best route to a more equal society – reform or revolution.

Today this debate is redundant. There are elements of both philosophies and strategies that are necessary if we are to fundamentally change our society.

Our goal is the radical transformation of the political, social and economic fabric of Ireland. This can only be achieved by securing a critical mass of reforms within the institutions supported by a strong and diverse popular movement for change outside the institutions.

Sinn Féin are trying to do something that all of our predecessors, in Ireland and internationally, have failed to achieve to date.

Our success will depend on many things, including on how well we prepare for Government.

What cannot be doubted is the seriousness of our intent. Maybe that’s why the political establishment is starting to panic.


  1. good document,thank you.i was a teacher for 32 years in the vocational system and the community school system. i have been labelled bi-polar since 1976.i know from hard experience much of what there is to know about the fiasco of a system we call the mental health system. it has failed the people utterly AND causes more suicides,suffering and violence than it prevents=in ireland and across the world.

    i wrote three articles for an phoblacht on revisionism in education. for obvious reasons they were not published.EDUCATION IS THE KEY.The schools in large part have their backs on real learning:the right of every person to grow towards wisdom physically,mentally,spiritually,soulfully and beyond.the best document i know available in ireland is Rules and regulations for secondary schools published under an tuas.liam o leighin:permanent secretary of education from 32 to 72.

    when he retired the the whole ethos,the glue that bound us together as a people was thrown out along with the children.the words obligation,duty,neighbourliness,respect for the elderly,the woman the man was ditched in favour of money. jobs lost their meaning.when i read 3000 new jobs CREATED today-some big soulless factory where the people will stand for 8 hours for forty years putting one part into the same gadget endlessly==my heart weeps for them. these are not jobs. this is slavery.

    self education is ultimately the only true kind of learning-like self combustion in engines.this will eventually lead to self reliance,collective individuality,self-pride,community pride,respect for everyone no matter how imperfect or how old.this process may take a long time. it will be will be certainly in the beginning. the objective must be painstakingly explained over and over again to the people -not in a didactic way.but this will lead to pride of place,love of ones self and ones community AND bingo to love of ones country

    i have written 3/4000 poems ,many of a very high standard.they cover most topics:love ,love of country all issues. if SINN FEIN would like to use any of them ye are more than welcome.better again ye could publish a book of poems-proceeds to election fund or mairead farrel foundation.i have a book ready to go at the printers. call me 0858587929 or 0214898751.i am disabled otherwise i would do it myself.

    a stone thrown in a stream will change the mouth of the strong. believe. i believe that sinn fein can do it.can bring barr bua.i hope before i die to see sinn fein in government with a huge majority.if not i know it will happen any day day now.the leadership could not be better. in the councillors:maurice quinlavin,new ross all over the country i see nothing but great hope for the future.

    the imf are evil. see naomi watts book the shock doctrine to understand what has being going on in ireland since 1969-when the imf first took an interest in us.for ant prominent member who has an interest in health-not medicine-read ivan ilich limits to medicine(PENGUIN).DO NOT BUY OFF THE INTERNET SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL BOOKSHOP.

    FOR A SIN FEIN MEMBER interested in schooling try ivan ilich deschooling fact could sinn fein not consider stocking good books like these in their offices.(mick)

    easier to access
    1,dr.peter breggin
    3 .my facebook.

  2. “Our goal is the radical transformation of the political, social and economic fabric of Ireland. This can only be achieved by securing a critical mass of reforms within the institutions supported by a strong and diverse popular movement for change outside the institutions.”

    In this regard, one thing Alexis Tsipras from SYRIZA and leaders of the new group Podemos in Spain have all pointed to is the experience from Latin America, in particular the counrties where there are democratic and radical processes seeking transformation — Venezuela, in particular, but also Bolivia and Ecuador.

    Latin America was the first, and worst, hit by neoliberalism and , over the past couple of decades, went through the type of economic and social dcrises brought about by savage policies now hitting ordinary people across Europe. It also led to popular uprisings and powerful, varied and often highly original social movements. It led to election of governments committed to reversing course, which in the case of Venezuela, has opened up a profoundly democratic process that has lasted since 198. The lessons, good and bad, from these experineces are of profound interest to anyone anywhere in the wolrd who wants to achieve something similar, in their own countries and conditions.

    Latin America’s Turbulent Transitions, by Roger Burbach, Federico Fuentes and Michael Fox, is one of the best books on this original, difficult but crucial process that I reckon all Europen leftists should read and think about.

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