2 June 2005 Edition
Democracy in action
Regarding the recent exchange on reserved seats for women in Ard Chomhairle elections at the Ard Fheis, there seems to be some confusion between electoral systems and democracy. Electoral systems are there as a means of achieving democracy, ie the will of the electorate, or in this case, the membership, and they are always "gerrymandered".
Issues such as transferable votes or first past the post, days and times of voting, mandatory re-registration, constituency boundaries, postal balloting, and defining who is eligible to vote are all familiar ways of "rigging" the system.
Every election ever held has been "rigged" by the necessary decisions on these and other questions. Every electoral system has its faults. Sinn Féin is no exception. There is no such thing as a perfect electoral system, only a system that produces a perfect result.
Therefore, the main question we need to address in this context is "what do we want of our Ard Chomhairle?" If one of the answers to that question is that we want women's voices to be clearly heard within it, for whatever reasons, then it is perfectly reasonable to adjust the electoral system to ensure that happens. It is no more "gerrymandering Sinn Féin's internal democracy" than is deciding the size of the Ard Chomhairle.
So don't let's get obsessed with the technicalities. The more important debate is about women's participation. Sinn Féin has decided that it wants to encourage women's voices to be heard more clearly, so enabling that is merely putting collective will into practice.
And that is democracy in action.
Hearts and minds
Full marks to Declan Kearney for 'Hearts and Minds: The Six-County Elections and what next?' (An Phoblacht 19 May).
This incisive piece is required reading for all republican activists and, in my view, should be discussed at Sinn Féin cumann meetings.
Here in the 26-Counties, the degree of hostility from Fianna Fáil activists (in particular) towards Sinn Féin is unprecedented and it shows every sign of being co-ordinated and encouraged from their party leadership.
Republicans should challenge such abuse and expose what is going on, but without succumbing to negativity and trading insults. As Gerry Adams demonstrated on his first appearance on the Late Late Show, the best way to withstand and counteract such vitriol is to engage directly with the people and put across the positive vision offered by republicanism.
To his credit, I felt that Arthur Morgan TD did this admirably when confronted by a raving Fianna Fáiler on a recent Vincent Browne radio show. Arthur retained his sense of humour in the face of provocation and with the assistance of a woman on the panel the sneerers (Vincent included) were silenced.
Brian Mac Domhnaill,
Volunteer photos wanted
Can anyone with information and/or photos of Volunteers Jack McCabe, Jimmy Quigley or Harry McAteer please contact Ballymun Sinn Féin? Email [email protected] or fón (087) 6223157.
Stop dissing Setanta
I was very disappointed to read the negativity towards the All-Ireland Setanta cup football competition by Matt Treacy in his article last week and also in another edition a few weeks earlier.
Considering the fact that we as republicans strive for Irish re-unification, surely it makes sense to welcome any All-Ireland initiatives despite the minor problems they may bring. After all, in a 32-County Socialist Republic we will have an All-Ireland league presenting the same problems as it does now, so preparing for it now can only make sense.
In only one out of 25 games played in the cup was there any outbreak of trouble, and that was only a brief outbreak and happened outside the stadium. This makes the competition a huge success, considering teams like Linfield and Glentoran took part and the bigoted/scumbag elements they have supporting them.
The stories Matt mentions about a friend not being allowed in with a Tricolour and about the supposedly 'nasty' atmosphere are disappointing, however, I know plenty of fans who were at the same game and described the same game as having a terrific atmosphere and they certainly had no difficulty getting a Tricolour into the ground.
There's no doubt that stewarding in Irish football grounds is very poor and having an incompetent police force doesn't help, but hopefully these people can learn lessons for future years. At least the trouble that did happen, happened in and around and caused damage to Bertie's local pub.
Surely that's some consolation!