7 June 2007 Edition

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Mála Poist

‘An Phoblacht’ welcomes readers’ letters. Letters in Irish or English should be kept short (no more than 200 words) and typed or handwritten clearly, double-spaced and on one side of the paper only. Name and address should be supplied for verification, but these will not be published if we are so requested.
Cuireann ‘An Phoblacht’ fáilte roimh litreacha ónár léitheoirí. Scríobh i nGaeilge nó i mBéarla. Is fearr litreacha gearra (200 focal ar a méid) clóscríofa nó lámhscríofa go soiléir ar thaobh amháin den leathanach. Cuir ainm agus seoladh leis ach ní fhoilseoimid iad seo más é do thoil.

The Election

A chara,
The mainstream media liked to portray southern republicans as ‘extreme nationalists’, living in the past. This was always nonsense. Many people in the 26 Counties, especially among the working class, were attracted to Sinn Féin because they saw them fighting oppression and injustice, and it was obvious that social injustice didn’t recognise borders. Over the decades, Sinn Féin members have won respect in communities across Ireland by championing the rights of the excluded.
Many hoped that the peace process would give Sinn Féin the opportunity to create a broad alliance for radical social change across Ireland. Any such project appears to have been abandoned in favour of a desperate quest for respectability, and a few seats in cabinet. Quite what Sinn Féin expected to gain from playing a minor role in a coalition government with Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael is unclear. What is clear is what they have lost - a distinctive identity. Nobody seems sure anymore what Sinn Féin stands for.
To imagine that Sinn Féin could supplant Fianna Fáil by imitating them is to forget how Fianna Fáil came to be the leading party in the first place. They did so not by emulating Cumann na nGael, but by openly challenging the liberal economic orthodoxies of the time and carving out an alternative path.
If Sinn Féin maintains its present course, they needn’t worry too much what to do after the next elections because they’ll probably have nothing left south of the border except a couple of buildings in Parnell Square.
Mise le meas,
Maurice Coakley,

A chara,
The unsatisfactory performance of Sinn Féin in the 26 County general election is a wake-up call for the party.
Political pundits have pointed to the poor performance by the Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams in the leaders’ debate and interviews as a likely cause for failing to gain seats in the Dáil. Questions will have to be posed about the strategy for the party’s all-Ireland approach. Policies in both jurisdictions are different and as such will require more in-depth studies by every level within the party and to be able to positively debate and present these to the electorate.
Sinn Féin’s failure in the 26 Counties is an indication of a growing conservatism in politics here. This was borne out in Dublin South West where Seán Crowe failed to retain his Dáil seat. The vote that was available to Seán Crowe in the past has moved away from Sinn Féin. To use the apt phrase, socialism was squeezed.
The PDs may have been overtaken by increasing conservatism on the part of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael and Sinn Féin might have done better had they shifted even further to the right! The same could happen in the Six Counties with the current feel-good political climate there.
If Sinn Féin in the future are to place their policies before the people in both jurisdictions, they must first thoroughly examine these policies, agree on tactics and a strategy to present them in the short term and long term. For Sinn Féin going forward, a quote from Gerry Adams’s book The Politics of Irish Freedom:
“We know that we survived in the past and consolidated in the present despite all our weaknesses and in spite of the strengths of our opponents. We face the future confidently in that knowledge.”
Is Mise,
James G Barry
Dublin 6W


Grants For Education and Training

A chara,
I would like to draw the attention of republican ex-prisoners and their families to the availability of grants to help with education and training.
Part financed by the European Union’s Programme for Peace and Reconciliation, the Educational Trust currently has money available to help with costs for those who wish to enhance their prospects of employment but are financially restricted from doing so.   In order to be eligible to apply, the applicant must be a political ex-prisoner, or an immediate family member, wishing to enter into, or continue with, education or training that could help increase their employability. Funding is only available to those who cannot access the necessary funds from any other source.
On behalf of the Educational Trust, an independent charitable trust, I am dealing solely with the republican ex-prisoner community throughout Ireland. Many have benefited from such grants in the past and I would encourage anyone who may fit the criteria to apply.
To obtain a full set of criteria and an application form, contact me on 02890200770 or write to the address below.
Is Mise,
Paddy O’Dowd
c/o Coiste na n-Iarchimi
10 Beechmount Ave.
BT12 7NA

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1