11 April 2016 Edition
Sinn Féin is hungry for change but not thirsty for power
Dáil machinations – Forming a Government
Sinn Féin is not afraid to compromise (as we have shown in the North) but we will not act as a crutch to parties who have perpetuated partition and widened inequality in society
THE DÁIL GENERAL ELECTION saw gains for those on the left of the Labour Party. The Right2Water movement brought tens of thousands onto the streets and politicised many. The economic crash of 2008/2009 raised the political consciousness of the people with the Establishment parties’ vote dropping as a consequence.
The Right2Water movement was supported by six trade unions, a community pillar and a number of left-leaning political parties and Independents. An attempt to organise these distinct groupings under an agreed political platform met with limited success.
The Right2Change platform failed to persuade some of those involved in the Right2Water movement such as the Anti-Austerity Alliance, the Social Democrats and a number of left-leaning Independent TDs to sign up. This was for different reasons, depending on the grouping or individual, and this needs further analysis.
Sinn Féin needs to be part of building on this work.
It is quite obvious that Sinn Féin will lead the Opposition. We do not have the numbers or the mandate to enter Government at this time. It is interesting to watch the main Establishment parties of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael desperately trying to control both the Government and the Opposition without the authority to do so. A minority Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael Government will be short-lived and is designed to allow Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael the pretence of being both in Government and Opposition at the same time.
In reality, the only long-term option for Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael is to share Government with each other or Opposition with each other.
• Labour deputy leader Alan Kelly described power as a drug – he entirely misses the point
Sinn Féin is different from the Establishment parties. We are hungry for change but not thirsty for power. Alan Kelly described power as a drug. He entirely misses the point. Entering Government must be about serving the interests of citizens and changing politics and society for the better. Any coalition Government involves compromise. Sinn Féin is not afraid to compromise (as we have shown in the North) but we will not act as a crutch to parties who have perpetuated partition and widened inequality in society. To engage in such a betrayal would be to follow in the footsteps of Labour and that is a path we are not for walking.
We do, however, want to be in Government. Sinn Féin is ready, willing and able to serve in Government. We need to continue to work with others and build a strong platform for a progressive bloc that will assist in forming a progressive Government. We need to fully commit to a process of engagement and looking outwards. In short, it must become a core political priority.
• The Right2Change movement brought tens of thousands onto the streets
We need to continue supporting the Right2Change platform and encourage new voices, including within the trade union movement, the community sector, NGOs and campaigning groups to take part.
Facing outwards and building alliances is time consuming and difficult work. But it is vital in laying the foundations for a progressive Government with Sinn Féin in the leadership. The option of taking a short-cut to Government and at some point propping up Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael as a minority party is fraught with danger and a path disastrously travelled by others.
We need to be focused, strategic and diligent in building relationships and paving the way for a future progressive Government.