suppose Francie Molloy can count himself lucky that
its only from Sinn Fein membership that hes
suspended and not from the end of a rope.
was accused at lunchtime on Tuesday of not only
thinking things which Sinn Fein chiefs hadnt
approved, but of expressing them within earshot
of voters. Within ninety minutes---give or take---Mitchel
McLaughlin had conducted a preliminary hearing in
his head and decided that Bobby Sands director
of elections had a prima face case to answer. So
hes been cast beyond the Pale, pending a full
helpfully explained yesterday that its his
job as general secretary to take these difficult
disciplinary decisions. This came as something of
a surprise to those of us whod been reminded
by Tuesday nights Spotlight programme
that in the wake of the killing of Robert McCartney,
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams had personally suspended
seven members of the party without, apparently,
feeling a need to consult anyone else.
President Adams and General Secretary McLaughlin
the only SF officials with this awesome power to
remove party members from the organisation at will?
Or are there others? Could Sinn Fein, please, publish
a list? It is surely not healthy to have party members
walking around not knowing whether its safe
to look sideways at Barry McElduff.
raise these matters only because no Sinn Fein member
whom I managed to consult in the pub last night
was clear about the procedures which had been followed
in the Francie suspension. None could quote the
party rule or policy decision which had conferred
these unusual powers on the President and Gen. Sec.
(and possibly on a range of others.)
have to wonder, too, whether my old friend Mitchel
isnt being a mite foolhardy in exercising
his disciplinary muscle with such evident alacrity.
Id proceed with a certain circumspection,
if I were in his defiantly unfashionable brogues.
is Sinn Fein policy not to welcome or facilitate
new investment in Northern Ireland unless the inward
investor meets a number of conditions to do with
ethical practice and workers right to trade
union membership and representation. The policy
was enthusiastically endorsed a few years back by
Sinn Feins supreme decision-making body, the
Ard Fheis, the motion having been proposed by a
Derry delegation led, if memory serves, by, er,
yet, long hours fine-tooth-combing through Mitchels
many subsequent pronouncements on economic policy
have failed to yield a single example of this particular
party policy being espoused. Indeed, many may have
formed an impression from Mitchel that theres
isnt an unbridgeable gap between Sinn Fein
policy on investment and workers rights and
the policy of the DUP---or even of New Labour.
Mitchel not running the risk of finding himself
sin-binned with Francie?
suppose hes safe enough if its only
President Adams whod have the clout to declare
him non grata. After all, Generalissimo Gerry isnt
averse to the odd solo run himself when it comes
to economic matters.
been a major kerfuffle down South in the past fortnight
about the chances of the Shinners going into government
with Fianna Fail. Bertie Ahern says he wont
hear of it, on the ground that Sinn Fein economic
policy would be fatal for the Celtic Tiger. Marxist,
the policy was described as, to the delight of those
Shinners who are chuffed to be thought of as Marxists.
enough, higher income tax, higher capital gains
tax, higher corporation tax, a 30 per cent tax on
banks, a desire to tax property and opposition to
greater European integration---the policy mix would
be bad medicine for Fianna Fails business
then I read in the Sunday papers that no less a
person than General Adams himself has been giving
private briefings to Dublin media outlets
making it clear that it's the peace process and
the equality agenda which will be make-or-break
for Sinn Fein in relation to coalition---not the
party's economic proposals, which will be "negotiable."
of a pattern here, is there not?
it comes to communal questions, issues of Orange
versus Green, party members must offer no backchat,
take their lead from the top, and stay in tune as
they all sing the same song.
on economic questions, on class issues, policy is
there only for the optics. You can say anything
you like, especially if it advances the party towards
Thus it was just days ago that Peter Hain gave an
interview to a New York newspaper explaining that
Britain now wanted to solve its Northern Ireland
problem by privatising the whole place, and the
only aspect of the interview which exercised Sinn
Fein (or the DUP) was whether we are to be sold
off on our own or as a job lot with the Republic.
At least things are bring clarified, are they not?