We Came, We Saw, We Self-Promoted

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From top: Incoming Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald and outgoing Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams at a Special Sinn Féin Ard Fheis in the RDS Main Hall last weekend’ Derek Mooney

I sit down to write this week’s column having just watched Prof Mary Beard’s excellent documentary portrait of Julius Caesar on BBC1. If I had hoped that watching it might give me some inspiration for today’s effort, I was wrong.

This is not the good professor’s fault. Her contention that Caesar’s legacy has echoes in the actions and words of today’s great political leaders has considerable validity – just not so much when you try to apply it to the career of Gerry Adams.

As I argued here last November Adams is not moving off the Sinn Féin stage, he is merely slipping behind the curtain. Have no doubt that his control, and that of the Army Council, has not been loosened that much.

Rather than looking to Mary Beard’s Julius Caesar, the character I should be looking to is Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn’s fictional creation: “Yes Minister’s” Rt. Hon. Jim Hacker, MP. Specifically, the Hacker of the first episode of Series Three, entitled “Equal Opportunities”. There Hacker agrees to give an interview to Kathy, a young kid from his constituency writing an article for her school magazine.

Asked to set out his personal achievements, Hacker gives Kathy a run down of his political CV, listing all the posts and high offices he has held. No, she replies, that is not what she means. What she wants is a list of those personal achievements that have made life better for others. He can think of nothing. He is stumped.

Just as stumped as Sinn Féin’s phalanx of myth makers over the past few weeks as they prepared for last Saturday’s ceremonial changing of the guard.

Asked to list what Sinn Féin had achieved during Adams 34 years, the answer came in the form of numbers: 4 MEPs, 7 Senators, 7 MPs, 23 TDs, 27 MLAs, 261 Cllrs.

To be fair, having this number of public representatives is not an achievement to be dismissed lightly but, like Kathy, punters tend to judge political parties not by what they have done that benefits the party, but what they have done that benefits society.

Their record is what Sinn Féin has gained for itself. It is numbers. Even then, the accomplishment is inflated as it does not account for the waves of resignations including the Senator who quit the party ate last year and then quit the Seanad or the dozen and a half Cllrs who quit since the last Locals.

Ask the average Fianna Fáil-er what their party has achieved and they will list things like the Irish Constitution, free travel, free first and second level education, the Good Friday Agreement, joining the EU(EEC) etc.

Put the same question to a Fine Gael-er and they may cite the declaration of the Republic, the Anglo-Irish Agreement, abolishing illegitimacy, while a Labour party member might point to equality legislation, anti-poverty programmes, marriage equality etc.

A political party is defined by how it has changed the lives of others. How it lived up to its raison d’etre. In those terms Adams and Sinn Fein’s record is a one of abject and complete failure. It did not advance political progress in the North, it has been a brake on it. The Provos campaign of violence set back the cause of Unity.

Even in government in the North its record is threadbare. Though it will pain Sinn Féin-ers to hear this, particularly those on this side of the border, the harsh reality is that the DUP ran rings around Sinn Féin in government.

Not that I expect them to take my word for it. Just read Gerry Adams’s own analysis from his January 7, 2017 speech at the Felons’ Club in Belfast.

There he listed all the areas where the DUP had outflanked them:

…there have been other significant issues of contention, including the decision to renege on the Programme for Government commitment on the Long Kesh site; the DUP’s resistance to the legacy and truth recovery mechanisms of the Stormont House agreement; the Red Sky scandal and the Project Eagle debacle.

Remember that this is barely two months after Martin McGuinness and Arlene Foster were jointly championing their achievements on Nov 21, 2016, saying

“This is what delivery looks like. No gimmicks. No grandstanding. Just Ministers getting on with the work”.

In six and a half weeks they went from a collegiate we are working so closely together to a huffy you just cannot work with these people. All in six and a half weeks, not allowing time off for Christmas and New Year.

Try as they may to claim it, the Sinn Féin tail has never wagged the DUP dog.
When it comes to working within a partnership government Sinn Féin could do with taking a leaf out of the PDs, Labour, Greens or Independents book on making government work.

When I suggest they take a leaf out of their books, I mean just a leaf and not – as Sinn Féin has been doing for the past few months – taking another party’s story of achievements and rewriting it as theirs.

As Adams prepared to step back we saw the myth makers attempt to co-opt the record of the civil rights movement and the legacy of John Hume and other genuine peace makers like Seamus Mallon, Dr Joe Hendron, Ivan Cooper, people who stood up to the Provos, and claim it as their own.

When it comes to political cynicism, no one, is as cynical as the Sinn Féin myth makers. They are shameless. But this shamelessness has a purpose. Their rewriting of history and their “everyone else is a sell-out, except us” narrative is there to mask their real vulnerability.

If calling them out on their paramilitary associations, addressing their murky past or their equivocation on political norms were enough, then Sinn Féin would still be in single digits in terms of support here in the South.

But they are not. Reminding people of their frightful history is not really working. This is not because the public do not care about it, but rather because people do not judge parties, or brands, in the same way that they judge individuals. While character does matter, the public thinks more in terms of capability.

This is the point that political parties have missed. Sinn Féin’s vulnerability lies not so much in its lack of character but in its political incapability.

The self-styled party of equality and the plain man and woman is anything but.

For Sinn Féin, Sinn Féin comes first. The Sinn Féin/Adams project was never about Unity, equality or justice, they are just the slogans. The “project” is just about Sinn Féin pre-eminence.

The primacy of the party is what matters, not its professed primary purpose. It was the case with Adams at the helm and it will remain so with McDonald and O’Neill.

Derek Mooney is a communications and public affairs consultant. He previously served as a Ministerial Adviser to the Fianna Fáil-led government 2004 – 2010. His column appears here every Tuesday morning. Follow Derek on Twitter: @dsmooney

Rollingnews

88 thoughts on “We Came, We Saw, We Self-Promoted

  1. LeopoldGloom

    We get it you don’t like Sinn Féin. Nor do I.

    However, you are giving FF and FG and Labour far too much credit for their apparent achievements.

    Reply
    1. rotide

      How is he going them to much credit?

      He lists things they brought in while in government. This is pretty much the point of his article

      Reply
      1. LeopoldGloom

        And omits the sheer amount of ineptitude that they have displayed while steering the ship. The contempt they had for the electorate and how nearly each and every one of them has profited massively simply by being a TD in the presiding party of the time.

        Reply
      1. qwerty123

        Yes, all parties have self interest at heart, of course, but not in the same cult like way of SF. Adams was president of SF for 35 years!! And he hasn’t gone away you know ;-)

        Reply
        1. Joe Small

          I think SF now are, in many ways, similar to FF in the late 1920s/early 1930s. De Valera was a cult-like figure, FF was still contesting the legitimacy of the state and many were horrified that they might get into power. They were a “slightly constitutional party”.

          Reply
  2. Johnny

    Was Dudley Edwards not available,is this ground not more than adequately covered by MMS,it’s badly written,pretentious irrelevant analogies,full off whataboutism and a bore,like the author.

    Reply
  3. Thomas Russell

    To borrow a phrase from D. Ferriter, that is “unhistorical bullsh*t”.

    Tom McGurk has written that partition cast the Irish citizens in the north into “the ultimate colonial crisis” – “strangers in their own place”.
    As V. Browne says, Adams has played an key role in ending that.

    We are regularly told that the IRA campaign achieved nothing. Why, then, didn’t the British repeal the 1920 Gov of Ireland Act, bring in the raft of equality legislation, issue the statement of impartiality in the ’98 peace agreement, abolish the colonial RUC, etc, etc, in 1969 or 74 or at any time before all those people were killed?
    Was it not a realisation on the part of the British that the age-old policy of ruling by superior force (pursued by Thatcher) was impossible? What brought that acceptance to the British? It’s horrible to think it was killing that brought that stalemate, but what was that not what did it in Ireland in 1922, in Ireland in the 1990s, and around the world where British colonialism ran aground?

    As for the IRA campaign. It was horrible. It included atrocities. So did the IRA campaign which the state celebrates. In both cases civilians were murdered & people were disappeared. In both cases the majority of those killed by the IRA were not civilians but crown forces personnel. That latter point is a fact which surprises people because there is zero attempt to put the Troubles in historical context when it can be used as a weapon in the here & now.

    Adams played a key role in making national rights centre stage in the north, reversing a process in which the more powerful had rendered half the population a conquered people.

    He was instrumental in ending the 2 & a half party cartel which ran the south & which suited Derek’s party so well. No wonder Derek is bitter & makes no attempt at analysis here.

    Reply
    1. qwerty123

      “He was instrumental in ending the 2 & a half party cartel which ran the south & which suited Derek’s party.” – Adams didn’t though, it is still a 2.5 party cartel, they have just replaced Labour.

      Reply
    2. Fodhla

      So well said, I was trying to formulate an answer to this diatribe and came upon your perfectly worded and true response, thanks

      Reply
      1. Amy Band

        +1 Derek Mooney is a third rate tabloid hack and paid for shill hoping for another big payday if his bottom feeding crowd get back into power

        Reply
  4. Gearóid

    Derek Mooney is very good at avoiding discussion on the pressures put upon Sinn Féin – particularly in the north, but in the south also – during the past forty-odd years which none of the political parties in the Republic, nor the vast majority of its citizens, experienced or could likely contemplate. By not mentioning these, it allows for a false equivalency.

    Adams, at the peak of his (print) media savvy during the 1980s, said the following in an interview:

    “…if anybody from Dublin wants to come to Belfast, all they need is their train fare. We’ll find a house to put them up. And they won’t have to listen to any republican propaganda, right? They can go out and have a pint and come back in a month then they will be able to say that they understand what’s going on. And if you want to make that the last prize in a competition, you can do so.”

    I sometimes wonder how many of the Derek Mooneys of the world would take Adams up on this offer in 1983 or 1992.

    The year Albert Reynolds was elected leader of Fianna Fáil, the Sinn Féin headquarters on the Falls Rd. was attacked by an off-duty RUC officer who killed 3 party members. Sinn Féin members were being targeted by loyalist death squads throughout the period Derek Mooney talks about.

    Nobody from Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael or Labour Party members were being shot dead for their party membership.

    Ahistorical nonsense.

    Reply
      1. qwerty123

        SF/Army council don’t recognize the Gardai as a legitimate police force. Pretty much like every institution of this state actually.

        Reply
      2. Thomas Russell

        Unarmed police men who were only in the police because the elder brother got the farm were killed on the direction of Michael Collins. He’s a hero, right?

        People can say the IRA had a legitimate right to respond to armed action with armed action AND simultaneously say that the IRA did things that were wrong.

        Republicans were responsible for killing civilians including children in 1916 & subsequently. The Government lauds those people as heroes.

        Most of the people that the IRA killed from 1969 to 1997 were members of British crown forces.
        Most of the people British crown forces killed in Ireland 1969 to 1997 were civilians.
        Those are facts. Facts which surprise people because the establishment media and establishment parties talk about 1969 to 1997 as if the opposite were true in both cases.
        Also the crown forces fact does not include collusion. We will never know how many Irish citizens the British state killed. They will not be mentioned in Dail debates either. They are the wrong sort of victim unequal in.life. unequal in death.

        Reply
        1. Rob_G

          “Unarmed police men who were only in the police because the elder brother got the farm were killed on the direction of Michael Collins.”

          – what is this gibberish even supposed to mean

          Most of the people that the IRA killed from 1969 to 1997 were members of British crown forces.

          – there were also the times that they blew up two children in Warrington, murdered 10 working men at the side of the road solely on account of their religion, burned the Irish Collie Club alive, and heroically murdered members of an Gardaí Siochána while patriotically robbing banks, but I guess you can’t make an ommelette without breaking a few eggs, am I right?

          Reply
        2. Andrew

          Were the young people having a night out in Birmingham and Guildford ‘legitimate targets’ the shoppers of Warrington. Those attending a memorial in Enniskillen?

          Reply
          1. Rob_G

            I wonder what part Paul Quinn played in the British imperialist system that obliged the IRA to beat him to death in a cowshed 10 years after the Good Friday agreement was signed…

        3. Cian

          @Thomas Russell “Most of the people British crown forces killed in Ireland 1969 to 1997 were civilians.”
          True: 55% were identified as civilians.

          “Most of the people that the IRA killed from 1969 to 1997 were members of British crown forces.”
          So of the 1,823 killed by the IRA, 934 were current members of the army/police. the other 889 weren’t. So yeah, ‘most’ (51.2%) of them were. I’d rephrase this as “about half”.

          Reply
          1. Amy Band

            That’s because you’re a bit thick Cian. If you do count or estimate the unknown number of civilians killed due to UK/UDA collusion I’m sure you will find your exacting lexical criteria will be superseded.

      1. Thomas Russell

        Their grandfathers did. O’Donovan Rossa was a child killer. 1916 killed children. Etc. etc.
        Nice clean middle-class politicians didn’t have to even think about such horror because they had their freedom. Irish people in the north paid for that freedom. Sold like cattle. Literally: the new gov in Dublin didn’t challenge the boundary commission in a deal which meant not having to pay some of Britain’s national debt.
        Everybody knows the name of Tim Parry. Rightly so. He was murdered by the IRA. Can you name an Irish child who was murdered on the same day by British terrorism. Read that story. Or don’t. You probably won’t. It’s easier that way. Down with the Shinners! Yay!

        Reply
  5. bisted

    …I was reading through your piece Derek and quickly came to the conclusion that you, like Gerry, are no Julius Caesar…nor are you Seamus Mallon…no matter how hard you’ve tried.

    You have much in common with Mallon…croney political opportunism and a readiness to embrace appeasement, vitriolic hatred for the people you perceive to have eaten your lunch and blame for the ungrateful electorate who keep voting for the shinners in increasing numbers…

    You, like Mallon, are yesterdays men. Gerry Adams is no Julius Caesar but his memory will endure a lot longer than me feiners like you or Mallon.

    Reply
  6. some old queen

    When it comes to working within a partnership government Sinn Féin could do with taking a leaf out of the PDs, Labour, Greens or Independents book on making government work.

    And that’s it in a nut shell eh Derek? You are not talking about DUP here at all now are you? All of the above went into government as a minor party and all got chewed up and spat out. Will the same happen to SF? Time will tell.

    Reply
  7. andy moore

    Ah , regardless , I see it as just like a teachers report or a comment on the margins . Must try harder is the message & I thank you Derek for such support . But tell me this, how many of your quoted achievements of the other past Dáil Governments are being undermined by the prevading neo-lib policies so avidly promoted by FG/FF & acolytes of the professional classes & the corporate Kleptocracy of the banks ??

    Reply
  8. Tony Geraghty

    In my opinion, this is a particularly grubby article. I am always open to reading or listening to opposing points of view, but in Derek Mooney’s case, he takes us for fools.

    It’s not just the strawman argument that he uses to cite Sinn Féin’s achievements during Adam’s 34 years, listing all the politicians that were elected.

    It is really credible that all Sinn Féin would claim would be a stream of elected politicians? This does serious injustice to the nationalist citizens the North. It does an injustice too, to the working-class communities of the South whose political representation of last resort were the Sinn Féin community activists amongst others, many of which were unelected, that faced off the scourge of the inner city drugs epidemic of the 1980’s. Are they to be written out of our official history by the revisionists such as Mooney?

    Neither is it the chauvinistic nature of the claims that Mary Lou McDonald is not the actual party leader, but is puppet for Adams. If Adams wanted to be leader, he could have chosen to stay on. There was never much support to replace him from within the party. Those calls mostly came from his political opponents and some elements within the media. Is it credible that a political party is going to heed calls from its political opponents as to who the party leader is? It might come as a shock to Mr. Mooney, but women are able to take leadership roles in their own right, and actually lead, without the puppet strings of their male colleagues.

    What makes this article particularly grubby is the patronising fashion it treats us, the readers. Does Mr. Mooney think we are fools, that we will simply take his jaundiced opinion and make it our own, because we read it here on Broadsheet? We are all rational and cogitative beings. We don’t need a dictator-style instruction from the so-called intelligentsia on how to think, and what to think.

    One good thing that has come of reading Mr. Mooney’s article. I can now scroll through any of his future diatribe, as life is too short for listening to such mush.

    Reply
    1. postmanpat

      “faced off the scourge of the inner city drugs epidemic of the 1980’s”? The only problem the SF had with drug dealers was the non-SF/IRA drug dealers.

      Reply
    2. Andrew

      @ Tony Geraghty: You’re either not old enough to remember the eighties and the inner city drugs ‘scourge’ or you are being wilfully ignorant.
      Either way, you have a very thin grasp of history.
      .

      Reply
  9. Anne

    I think with Mary Lou at the helm, it’ll be difficult for the troubles to be thrown at them any more. Well you would think anyway. Clearly not with some.

    The times are a changing. The auld wans will have to get used to it.

    There’s some very talented people in Sinn Fein. People who have had nothing to do with the troubles.
    People spotting some basic maths formulas the current crowd can’t even get right.. i.e. the formula produced for the supposed 4% rent caps, the rent caps that were self policed and no one bothered their barney sticking to, as is clearly the case with double digit rent increases in the last year.

    http://www.broadsheet.ie/2016/12/16/a-drafting-error/
    Eoin O Broin wasn’t it?

    And self promotion is the name of the game with all politicians I thought..

    Reply
    1. Rob_G

      The times are a changing

      – I would like to think so as well, but when Michelle O’Neill & Mary Lou continue to attend commemorations for dead terrorists, and Mary Lou finishing her inaugral speech as leader wiht a ‘Tiocfaid ár lá’, you kind of wonder…

      Reply
          1. Rob_G

            You don’t have to be a West Brit to abhor the actions of a load of drug-dealing, Garda-killing gangsters, sunshine.

            Suggest you go and google the terms ‘proxy-bomb’, ‘green lizard murder’, and ‘Paul Quinn’, and let us all know how you feel about your brave patriots then.

          2. johnny

            thanks but i hardly need a history lesson from a Brit apologist,there were many atrocities from both sides-but what about this,what about that-its juvenile,and intellectually beneath me to engage with a self hating Irishman.

          3. johnny

            i just leave your latest one here so,its biased and misleading,utilized by the Brits and self hating Irishmen,who secretly wish they were British:)

            “And Gerry Adams owns at least as many houses as Haughey ever did (and all while taking only the average industrial wage, amazing that…)”

          4. Rob_G

            It’s funny because that comment in no way references the Brits at all, just Adams’ esoteric interpretation of ‘living on the average industrial wage’.

          5. johnny

            great so i take it you have a source then for you false and misleading claims, comparing him to one the most corrupt politicians in Irish history ?

      1. Rob_G

        Bad as Haughey was, I don’t think he ever the ordered the murder of a widowed mother of 10 children and had her body dumped in a bog.

        And Gerry Adams owns at least as many houses as Haughey ever did (and all while taking only the average industrial wage, amazing that…)

        Reply
          1. Rob_G

            One in Belfast, one in Donegal, and apparently one in Carlingford which, if he doesn’t own, he seems to have exclusive use of, rent-free.

            Not too hard to live on the average industrial wage when you have friends to give you free gaffs, friends in America to pay for your eye surgery privately, etc.

          2. johnny

            and they in same category as Haugheys private island Inishvickillane and his Abbeville mansion in Kinsealy,that you compared them too ?

          3. Rob_G

            No, they aren’t.

            But the likelihood of him being able to pay for them while taking the average industrial wage is about the same as Haughey affording his stately pile on his salary as a Minister.

            Even if you are in favour of a united ireland, are you really so indoctrinated that you won’t broach any criticism of The Leader, even if it has little or nothing to do with the national question?

          4. johnny

            its all non sequiturs and mis-direction,you claimed he owned more houses than Haughey,he does not,nor can you compare them unless your spreading Brit propaganda,its biased and misleading.

          5. Rob_G

            “its all non sequiturs and mis-direction”

            When he was on the Army Council, he ordered a lot of innocent people murdered

            – is that direct and unambiguous enough?

          6. Johnny

            Another non sequiter:)
            You stated he owned more houses,than arguably the most corrupt politician in recent Irish history.
            He doesn’t and never did,if that’s not spreading Brit propaganda,which you asked me give you an example off,then I’m not sure what is !
            How’s that source or link to verify you false claim that’s he owns more property than Haughey !
            You can keep digging or put the shovel down,but there’s absolutely no evidence for your outlandish claims.

          7. Rob_G

            The fact that you are so strenuously objecting to the claim that he owns more than one house, and not at all to the claim that he has killed people, is quite telling of the moral flexibility of the Óglaigh na hIdirlíne

  10. Clampers Outside!

    In fairness, SF (& the ‘RA) have done a lot to their credit….

    – Kept drug dealing out of criminal hands, and managed it themselves instead.
    – Policing with effective punishments like knee cappings
    – Kangaroo Courts and the expulsion of paedos do rapists out of NI ( to roam free in the south and reoffend. Nothings perfect, eh )
    – Highest percentage of population employed by the state in NI compared to the rest of the UK.
    – Controlled the smuggling across the border, again keeping this activity out of criminal hands.
    – The also do great PR.

    Reply
  11. Clampers Outside!

    As for Mary Lou…. her denial of the existence of kangaroo courts and the resulting expulsion of sex offenders from NI to reoffend in the south is all anyone needs to know about Mary Lou’s character.
    She’s ‘party first’ all the way regardless of any human collateral.

    A good and proper silly billy she is.

    Reply
      1. Andrew

        yes accuse a poster on the internet of misogyny, but ignore the politician who is covering up for paedophiles and murderers
        . Get a grip sonny

        Reply
  12. Gearóid

    I wonder whether any others posting here would have taken up the offer to spend a month living in west Belfast during the early 1980s.

    Reply
  13. Dekkard

    As Eamon McCann noted recently the most dominant republican/nationalist faction in the Civil Rights movement was those who went on to be on the other side of the split in the republican movement, the Officials. Practically airbrushed out of history. Mallon et al found the SDLP in 1970. NICRA died with 13 others on Bloody Sunday. Adams deserves huge credit for bringing an end to RA’s campaign but SF can’t complain that people are still opposed to them as long as they keep celebrating what was a vicious, unneccesarily long & horrendously divisive armed struggle

    Reply
  14. Truth in the News

    Adams may have “Gone Away” but Sinn Fein hasn’t and will assume power north and south
    inside a short time and that’s when the fun starts and the current whinging and whining especially
    in the Dublin media and establishment masks their real concern that they might lose their cushy
    jobs and huge pensions and at the end of the day that’s what’s it all about:
    No wonder “Our Day will Come” rattled them and you too Derek, any insight by the way of the
    goings on in Fianna Fail when they ran the country on to the rocks and handed over its sovereignty
    to Merkel and Hitlers successors:

    Reply
  15. :-Joe

    Ah Derek will you stop wasting your time with all this nonsense…

    Just get to the point. Tell us all the juicy details what you were advising the Fine To Fail party and what you heard during your time as one of their trusty PR spin machines when you were helping them all while they were raping the economy and the average citizen for the benefit of the well to-do few in the upper echelons of Irish society.

    Spill the beans, repent your sins and you can become a citizen of and for the people and loved like never before.

    You could become our Edward Snowdon, only slightly older, plumper and a lot less techno-literate… but that’s ok you could be our cuddly teddy bear champion of truth-telling in Irish media and political history. We can never have enough of those.

    Derek, we want to love you, will you be our valentine??…

    x x x

    :-J

    Reply
  16. david

    They want power sharing yet they refuse to take up their seats in parliament and work for the people that elected them
    They will not kiss the queens bottom but instead would kiss the frau’s bottom
    They swap one master for another
    So what has Sinn feinn achieved?
    SFA

    Reply

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