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31 May 2007 Edition

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Sinn Féin is up to the challenge before it

The 26 County general election was a disappointment for Sinn Féin. While the party’s overall vote share increased by over 20,000 votes, and Sinn Féin candidates in several constituencies advanced and were within close reach of taking seats, the party’s vote in other areas fell back. Sinn Féin did not make any new seat gains and Seán Crowe, an extremely hardworking TD for Dublin South West, lost his seat.
Sinn Féin entered the election in a strong position on a popular platform of the need for strong public services, greater equality and the need for the economy to serve the needs of the people. As the campaign wore on, particularly in the last week, the nature and tenor of the debate changed. Fear of change and the idea that the state’s recent economic prosperity could be threatened began to dominate. Increasingly the election was made into a two-horse race. It became a question of which prospective Taoiseach would be a safer pair of hands with the economy – Bertie Ahern or Enda Kenny. Sinn Féin, like others, was squeezed between the two larger blocs.
Sinn Féin now needs to critically analyse its campaign strategy and how it intends to move forward again. This process has already begun and will continue in the weeks ahead. It is important that all party members, particularly those in the 26 Counties participate in these discussions and have their say.
Sinn Féin needs to quickly learn whatever lessons and correct whatever mistakes become apparent from the 2007 election campaign. These deliberations must result in a broad consensus about how best the republican project can be advanced in the 26 Counties.
There exists huge potential for Sinn Féin throughout Ireland. The goodwill towards the party was evident on the doorsteps of every constituency, despite the manner in which its candidates were squeezed on polling day. While last week was a setback, the reality is that many Sinn Féin candidates are poised to take new seats at the local elections in 2009. To maximise the party’s potential in that electoral outing, the work must begin as soon as possible.
Sinn Féin has a historic political mission, which transcends any one particular election campaign. It is an all-Ireland party operating in two jurisdictions with their own political cultures, while attempting to end partition and build a 32 County, egalitarian republic. This is a huge challenge. But it is one to which Sinn Féin is committed and, with the support of the people, determined to achieve.
Whichever of the establishment parties leads the next Irish Government, they do not have the will to address many of the problems facing Irish society such as growing inequality, unaffordable housing, lack of childcare, the chaos in healthcare and the increasing privatisation of what should be public services, available as of right. They will not pursue with vigour the objective of Irish unity.
Sinn Féin is a party of struggle, which stands for a united Ireland based on the values of justice and equality for all citizens. It has more work to do in proving that – just as it has met the huge challenges of the peace process – it can meet the many other problems and issues that confront people in their daily lives throughout Ireland. Sinn Féin is up to that challenge.

An Phoblacht Magazine

AN PHOBLACHT MAGAZINE:

  • Don't miss your chance to get the second edition of the 2019 magazine, published to coincide with Easter Week
  • This special edition which focuses on Irish Unity, features articles by Pearse Doherty, Dr Thomas Paul and Martina Anderson.
  • Pearse sets out the argument for an United Ireland Economy whilst Pat Sheehan makes the case for a universally free all-island health service.
  • Other articles include, ‘Ceist teanga in Éirinn Aontaithe’, ‘Getting to a new Ireland’ and ‘Ireland 1918-22: The people’s revolution’.

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