Strong words but short memory

Ógra Shinn Féin’s vitriolic attack today on unionist unity candidate for Fermanagh South Tyrone Rodney Connor revealed a three-month sea change of opinion from Sinn Féin.

Barry McColgan of Dermot Crowley Ógra Shinn Féin opens the latest blog post with the following.

“In the upcoming Westminster General Election in Fermanagh/South Tyrone, a single neo liberal, pro imperialist, sectarian, Tory bigot will stand against a progressive, inclusive, Republican Candidate.”

Mr Connor stepped down from his role as Chief Executive of Fermanagh District Council recently after signalling his intention to retire in January. However the Castlederg native has been launched into the middle of a political maelstrom by accepting the nomination as a single Unionist candidate to oust sitting MP Sinn Fein’s Michelle Gildernew.

This is a very aggressive attack from Ógra, considering when you take a look back to the words of his Fermanagh Sinn Féin colleague Cllr Thomas O’Reilly in January.

On the occasion of Mr Connor’s retirement, Cllr O’Reilly paid the following tribute, as reported in the Fermanagh Herald;

“We have been lucky that we have had a chief executive whose heart has been here who has always looked after the interests of Fermanagh.” He added that, thanks to Mr Connor, “Fermanagh has always been up there whenever something positive is realised.

I know his task has not been an easy one”, he said, ” but, as chief executive, people always had a hot-line to his office on all manner of issues. He always has done his best and everyone got a fair share when it came to getting their needs met. I wish him well in the future”.

I wonder if the  councillor has retracted these sentiments since? Sinn Fein’s accusations of sectarianism also appear questionable given that Gerry Adams only this week sought a meeting with Margaret Ritchie to discuss a possible nationalist pact in FST and South Belfast.

The Ógra Shinn Féin blog post has also attracted the ire of republicans opposed to the Sinn Fein strategy by connecting the 2010 campaign with the death of hunger striker Bobby Sands in 1981:

“It is reminiscent of 1981, when in a similar electoral battle, the good people of Fermanagh and South Tyrone came out in their droves to elect Hunger striker Bobby Sands MP.”

Sands won the 1981 Fermanagh South Tyrone by-election on the Anti H-Block ticket establishing Sinn Fein’s ‘armalite and ballot box’ strategy which eventually saw the provisionals adopt a purely political path. But the issue of Sinn Fein connecting themselves with the memory of dead republicans has already caused considerable consternation in East Tyrone, causing a split between the Tyrone National Graves Association and the Sinn Fein movement.

Sinn Fein may pick up some additional nationalist votes this year in FST from those who see Gildernew as the only way to stop a unionist taking back the seat, but hoping for some sort of a repeat of 1981 where Sands stood unopposed is certainly wishful thinking from the Sinn Fein camp.

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About AldousDuke
Mid Tyrone journalist, not so freelance any more.

3 Responses to Strong words but short memory

  1. alex says:

    The SDLP would rather have a Tory elected than a young Irish Republican mother to the FST seat.
    They are a disgrace to the word nationalist.

  2. aldousduke says:

    Well Alex, Cllr O’Reilly eschews a belief that Mr Connor has a record of serving all members of the community.

    What I can’t understand is why Sinn Fein want to fight so hard for seats they’ll never use. What is Doherty’s record in Westminster? The work he does is simply that of an MLA save for media appearances and salary.

    Gildernew is a minister in a geographically large constituency. I’m surprised she can balance being a young mother, MLA, minister and MP all at once. I don’t agree with double jobbing, regardless of who it is.

    The SDLP could also point out that one day SF talk about sectarian pacts and the next day seek the same. Saying that I do believe the SDLP will go over the cliff and take their political principles with them.

    Sinn Fein seem increasingly obsessed with political power over political ideals. Just an honest criticism, that is not to say nationalist/republican voters won’t be attracted by that concept.

    • alex says:

      Yes in his role as chief executive of a council which is a bit different. Don’t forget it was the Orange Order, who are a sectarian political body with an anti-catholic ethos at their core that promoted him, which also makes it different from SF’s offer of a pact to the SDLP, there is nothing sectarian about being nationalistic or Republican.

      Doherty’s record in the British Parliament is Zero. He stands on an abstentionist ticket therefore he is fulfilling his pledge to the electorate by not taking his seat in a foreign parliament,whilst others make pledges to foreign Queens.

      Those who do believe in taking their seats at Westminster hardly fair any better with their abysmyl attendance records,I believe Allister Mc Donalds to be 5%.
      This argument that you have to attend Westminster to use your political power is a myth.

      SF Mp’s do the work of an MP and more.
      Power is coming here from Westminster eg policing and Justice so let’s nail that myth I talked of earlier.

      SF elected full time reps take an industrial wage which works out around £350 a week net and SF are against double jobbing and have championed the ending of it.

      You say that SF are ‘obsessed’ with political power over political ideals.Politics is about just that, power.
      In order for SF to implement their ideals they first need to build their powerbase which they are trying to bring about by increasing their political mandate.

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