Issue 2 - 2024 200dpi

29 October 1998 Edition

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Sinn Féin - party of the future

The results of the Cork South Central by-election have confirmed what has been apparent for some time - that Sinn Fein is the fastest growing political force on this island and that the party is now poised to mount a serious electoral challenge in the 26 Counties.

While Sinn Fein's mounting electoral successes in the Six Counties have received widespread attention in recent years, what has gone relatively unnoticed by the media is the party's steady growth and expansion in the 26 Counties where it has been building structures and attracting new members and support in ever increasing numbers.

The performance of Sinn Fein's candidate in Cork South Central, Henry Cremin eclipsed the vote of one the government parties -the Progressive Democrats - in a constituency where Sinn Fein had not fielded candidates since 1992. Sinn Fein exceeded its target of 1,000 votes and has built a very solid foundation towards the local authority election next June.

Those elections will provide voters in the 26 Counties with the opportunity to dramatically change the face of politics at a local level by returning Sinn Féin representatives in large numbers.

Cruiser comes full circle

Conor Cruise O'Brien has finally come full circle after a lifetime of political and ideological gymnastics. From being an anti-partition propagandist for the Dublin government in the 1940s to becoming the architect of political censorship of the Irish republican message through Section 31 of the Broadcasting Act and finally as a self-confessed Unionist and Assembly member for the UK Unionist Party, the Crusier has never failed to provide headlines.

That O'Brien now advocates a United Ireland as the best option for Unionists is to be welcomed. There is nothing new in the idea that unionists could best secure their future by negotiating a new all-Ireland arrangement with nationalist representatives - republicans have always preached this political message.

What is ridiculous is O'Brien's contention that Irish republicans would oppose, possibly even militarily, our own political raison d'etre. Such a preposterous notion simply defies all political logic and is worthy only of O'Brien at his most fanciful.

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