Shell-shocked Sinn Féin faces political crisis

04/03/2005 - 07:46:17

Sinn Féin’s annual party conference opens tonight in Dublin with the shell-shocked party facing its biggest political crisis.

The party should be in the middle of its centenary celebrations and toasting cross-border electoral gains.

But instead a torrid chain of events has ostracised republicans and dragged relations with the Government to an all-time low.

Last night’s dramatic suspension of seven members in connection with the brutal murder of Robert McCartney is the latest twist in a vicious downward spiral since December’s aborted power-sharing deal.

The continuing political fallout from December’s Northern Bank robbery and last month’s IRA-linked cash-laundering racket will cast a dark shadow over the party’s three-day Ard Fheis at the RDS.

Bertie Ahern conceded yesterday that it had been a “difficult number of weeks” for Mr Adams and he didn’t wish to add to his difficulties ahead of the party conference.

The party has also seen itself frozen out of mainstream politics after it failed to endorse two unanimous Dáil motions calling for an end to all criminality and for witnesses to the McCartney murder to go forward to the PSNI.

Justice Minister Michael McDowell has been that party’s most caustic critic within the Government. He gets a mention on one of this weekend’s Ard Fheis motions.

It attacks political parties and the media for trying to criminalise the republican movement, and adds: “Margaret Thatcher’s efforts failed, as will the efforts of her heir apparent, Michael McDowell.”

Another motion from the Ard Chomhairle “reaffirms Sinn Féin’s commitment to the complete disarmament of all groups who have been involved in the conflict in Ireland”.

Among the proposals up for discussion among delegates will be the party’s campaign to get the Cabinet to publish a Green Paper on Irish unity.

In the foreword to the Ard Fheis programme, Mr Adams hails Sinn Féin as the “fastest growing political movement in Ireland, with the youngest and most active membership”.

But many observers believe the party will have to go a lot further down the road of mainstream democracy before it wins the trust and credibility of the establishment.

Details of Sinn Féin’s next moves in the North's political process will be gleaned from Mr Adams’ televised presidential address on Saturday.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?