23 July 2009 Edition

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Mála Poist

Cuireann An Phoblacht fáilte roimh litreacha ónár léitheoirí. Scríobh i nGaeilge nó i mBéarla, 200 focal ar a méid. Déantar giorrú ar litreachta más gá. Cuir do litir chuig [email protected]
An Phoblacht welcomes readers’ letters. Write in Irish or English, 200 words maximum. Letters may be edited for brevity. Send your letters to [email protected] No attachments please

Louise Minihan – her cumann’s view

ON behalf of all of the members of the Connolly/ Markievicz Sinn Féin Cumann, Ballyfermot, Dublin, we would like to put on record our disgust at the deceitful and underhand way Louise Minihan, a former member of the cumann and our candidate in the recent local elections, robbed a Sinn Féin seat.
She contested the election as a Sinn Féin candidate and never gave any indication that she was unhappy with the level of work this small cumann did to help profile her as a candidate and councillor since she was co-opted to replace Tony Smithers two years ago.
The cumann raised all the funds for her election campaign locally and were out morning, noon and night delivering hundreds of thousands of leaflets, campaigning door-to-door, fund-raising and made themselves available as much as physically possible during the election campaign to ensure that the Sinn Féin seat won in 2004 was retained for the party, with her as the candidate.
If we had been aware of Ms Minihan’s plans we would have stood another candidate who would respect the pledge she took only three months prior to her election.
In fact, before the election she gave a commitment to the cumann that her workrate on behalf of Sinn Féin, the constituents of Ballyfermot and the cumann locally would increase.
Over the last two years, the cumann has not been aware that Louise was unhappy with the party policy or the direction of the party. She definitely never made us aware of any problems at the fortnightly cumann meetings which discussed a range of issues, local and national.
She took part in those discussions at local level, at Dublin cúige and Ard Chomhairle level, and the impression given at all those meetings was that she was content with the political programme and was happy to pursue it.
This was again confirmed to us when she agreed last year to contest the local elections, something she confirmed again on 31 March, when she signed the party candidate pledge “as an honourable person... to work in the interests of Sinn Féin and to advance its policies”.  She contested the election on that basis and deceived not only us, the local party members, but also the electorate who voted for her.
Since the election, the cumann has had several good working meetings looking at the election result and planning for the future. Louise said she was not available to attend  those meetings but did not indicate to the cumann chair or to local TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh that she had changed her mind about her commitment to the party or that she was planning to leave the party and rob a Sinn Féin seat.
It seems that Louise is now Mé Féin, not Sinn Féin.
MICK DONOHOE, Cathaoirleach

 What does Sinn Féin stand for?

WE now face new challenges not only in the South but also in the North where the party needs to ensure we remain relevant to the people.
At the 1998 Árd Fheis, I listened to Thenjiwe Mtintso of the ANC who spoke of the need of every few years reflecting on your journey and drawing a line from where you can progress. I believe that Toiréasa’s article is an opportunity for that to happen.
If Sinn Féin is to remain a movement for republican change then we cannot allow it develop into another typical political party that chases every vote at any cost. We must earn every vote by taking our core message out into the communities and by bringing the worth of our republican principles into everyone’s lives.
That is the challenge that we face today in continuing the struggle and achieving the new Ireland we all desire.

FAIR PLAY to Toiréasa Ferris for having the courage in questioning where our movement is going. As an activist for the past ten years I too remember the passion, the self- confidence, the enthusiasm there was in Sinn Féin.
The party is like a lame duck at the moment, not able to capitalise on the Government’s unpopularity.
I believe it’s time we stop ticking all the boxes when it comes to the electorate and lay out our platform. We are a Left party and Left is were we should stay. I also believe our leadership has become very tame over the last couple of years and lack a bit of energy. We need leadership with energy; we need our leadership to inspire people.
Where is the fight gone?
One more lame election for this party could be fatal, and I for one will give it my all to prevent this.
I’m up for the fight – are you? 
County Offaly

Left alliances and voting pacts

The call by the party leadership for a left alliance is the strategically correct position to take. However, there seemed to be some confusion in the run-up to the recent elections as to what is required for such an alliance.
Some influential members were, for example, advocating that Sinn Féin voters give their Number 2 to Labour, without any agreement from that party to openly call on their supporters to give their second-preferences to Sinn Féin.
Labour candidates and canvassers seized the opportunity. They sought and received Sinn Féin preferences on the basis of the statements of our senior party members.
The problem, of course, was that there were no senior Labour people advocating a quid pro quo. In actual fact, most of their canvassers stuck the boot into Sinn Féin at every opportunity. And the result can be seen very clearly in areas where Labour is strong, such as Dublin.
So let’s be clear: encouraging our voters to give Number 2s to Labour in the absence of an agreed voting pact and clear statements from that party’s leadership prevailing on their voters to do likewise is disastrous. Such a pact needs the agreement of both parties and to be publicly and simultaneously espoused by the Sinn Féin and Labour leaderships.
By the way, I would welcome such an alliance and an agreed voting pact with parties of the Left. But the reality is that, for all their left-wing rhetoric, Eamon Gilmore and his fair-weather pals are preparing to form a government with Fine Gael, a party that has taken large strides to the Right.

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