12 July 2007 Edition
Most republicans find slightly amusing the obsessive hatred with which papers like the Sunday Independent wage their campaigns against Sinn Féin, with no effort spared to frighten the children with tales of dark deeds and malicious manipulation.
For some weeks now the Sindo has allocated the spear point of their campaign to Jim Cusack, a former Irish Times reporter who now freelances in the gutter.
The general election was naturally a cause of great rejoicing in the Sindo, with Sinn Féin’s setback greeted with exceptional glee. Well, you can’t begrudge your enemies their moment of joy.
But Sinn Féin hasn’t done the decent thing at all according to the Sindo – it hasn’t packed up shop, but has instead engaged in a deep reflection on all aspects of the campaign, the party’s strategy and so on.
So for the last few weeks, the pages of An Phoblacht have carried various opinion pieces from party members. No holds have been barred in these pieces, and it has been a showcase example of democratic participation and debate.
The Sindo, of course, doesn’t practice debate. It just publishes smears and lies and hopes that gutter tactics can nullify the positive work being carried out by Sinn Féin.
When the debate began, Cusack didn’t know how to deal with it. Criticism of Sinn Féin from Sinn Féin?! There had to be another explanation, and so he invented a story about “Adams facing a Southern backlash”. This picked a number of critical comments, in isolation and at random, to back up the line that there was a serious crisis in the party rather than that the party was facing up directly to the setback it had received.
There was of course no effort made to summarise the various arguments and opinions. The point was not to inform but to create the view of a party in crisis and on the way out.
This sort of wishful thinking is what Cusack gets paid for. Unfortunately for him, the public debate in the pages of An Phoblacht caught the attention of open-minded people and the contributions were widely read outside of republican ranks.
So Cusack had another go a couple of weeks later. This time he argued that Sinn Féin’s eyes were staying shut as the “26 county element implodes”.
Once again he ignored the debate, and picked random events to back up his own analysis. He queried whether Nicky Kehoe had voluntarily not gone forward in the last election, despite the well-known public discussion of this for a couple of years followed by the discussion of what candidate would take his place.
He threw in the retirement for personal reasons of Dublin councillor Tony Smithers, not bothering to check on Smithers’ personal circumstances, but preferring to hint at dark deeds.
On the one hand then, we have the leadership hit by a ‘Southern backlash’, but then the backlash is only a blind ‘implosion’. He attacks the new generation of republicans, suggesting they squeezed out longer serving members; but attacks the longer-serving members for their service to the cause!
He invents “sources” who ‘explain’ that the party’s peace strategy and political direction were inspired – don’t laugh – by former British Labour Party leader and Prime Minister Tony Blair, but denounces the “Northern dominated” leadership for being out-of-touch with the new young thinkers in the party.
He cites the debate as an example of the party’s crisis, but condemns the debate for being controlled by the leadership, and then, in his latest offering, condemns the leadership for “closing off the debate”.
The debate in An Phoblacht has run for six weeks – during which no analysis of it has been offered in the Sunday Independent – and all points of view have been expressed. This internal debate has been shared with the public. But in Cusack’s version, Southern members were allowed to ‘vent spleen’ for two weeks before being “firmly stopped”!
Cusack’s ludicrous, contradictory rants are all part of a sustained campaign of muck-throwing in which Tony O’Reilly’s Sindo hopes that enough will stick to do Sinn Féin some damage.
Sinn Féin, however, will get on with the real work, and as policies develop and new ideas come to the fore we can be sure that Cusack will be there, bewildered and uncomprehending but always inspired by the privileged hatred of those who when bought by the owners of newspaper stay bought.
Republicans meanwhile can see what he’s at, and the contradictions show the political dishonesty of Cusack and his Sindo colleagues.
An Phoblacht Magazine
AN PHOBLACHT MAGAZINE:
- The first edition of this new magazine will feature a 10 page special on the life and legacy of our leader Martin McGuinness to mark the first anniversary of his untimely passing.
- It will include a personal reminiscence by Gerry Adams and contributions from the McGuinness family.
- There will also be an exclusive interview with our new Uachtarán Mary Lou McDonald.