By Paddy Dollard
The most important thing in the recent Republic of Ireland general election is what happened to Sinn Fein. Its leaders had boasted that they would at the very least, double their six seats in the Dail (parliament). In fact, though there was a slight increase in their total vote, they lost a seat. They now have only five.
They might reasonably have expected that their recent success in Northern Ireland in forming a coalition with their equivalent on the Protestant-Unionist side, Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party, would boost them in the 26 County election. So would the disarming of Sin Fein’s alter ego, the IRA, earlier this year.
Nothing like that has happened. Why?
Those who saw it say that Gerry Adams, his cat-that-got-the-cream grin fixed like a mask on his face, did very badly in a trade union debate between the party leaders, and that was a factor. Two more basic reasons suggest themselves.
Such events as the murder by Belfast IRA leaders for private ends have made a deep and lasting effect on people in the south. And Sinn Fein has shifted its political “positioning” sharply to the right. That was done so as to remove obstacles to Sinn Fein going into coalition with the main party of the bourgeoisie, Fianna Fail.
All such hopes have gone now. Sinn Fein’s “strategy” of using positions in both Belfast and Dublin governments to push forward a united Ireland is in ruins, for now and may be forever. One possible result might be the strengthening of the unreconstructed militarists in the Republican camp and beyond it.