A Quasi Post-Mortem – SF and recent elections

Why did SF do so badly in recent elections?

Many people have different explanations.

Take your pick from what’s below

Oddly enough, several  overlap with reasons Marisa Mc Glinchey

identifies as motivating “Dissident” or “Radical Republicans” in

Here we go with what’s doing the rounds

Risultati immagini per helter skelter deviantart

1) No USP?

SF was bred from the Troubles.

Under Gerry Adams it fought against British rule

Its big achievements were the ceasefires, the GFA & doing a deal with the DUP.

That’s all history now . . .

Risultati immagini per all history now deviant art

SF  had its day in ‘war time’

It is out of place now.

Remember: “The Moving Finger writes; and,

                        having writ, Moves on.”

The hand of time leaves the past ever more behind.
There was a demand then for action

Comment: BUT  now ?

 SF don’t know where to go next.

They don’t  articulate positive vision and are  unclear on policies

They change  policy according to public opinion.

They have lost the support pf traditional republicans

especially on issues like the poppy and

participation in events commemorating members of the British Army.

They have sold out on so much of what they used to stand for.


2) Changes in leadership?

Gerry and Marty were successful leaders

who commanded personal loyalty.

They were completely different to anything that other parties could offer.

Gerry Adams got votes, no matter what the media said.

Their loss  must have  impacted on SF voters.

Mary Lou on the other hand just blends in with background

Although an excellent opposition TD, she has no personal USP.

She is like so many other middle-class politicians (and so is Liadh O Riada)

Both of them could well fit  into most other parties.

Queries: After these results, will Mary Lou’s leadership be in question?

And what about Michelle O’Neill?

Is there a disconnect between SF and their voters north and south?


3)Targeting the wrong voter pool?

Risultati immagini per wrong pool

Comment:  Martina  and Lynn 

SF grew out of a community that was fuelled by the ideals of a socialist republic

due to poverty, gerry-mandering, discrimination, sectarianism, B-Specials,

the Special Powers Act, internment i.e. imprisonment without trial etc.

In recent elections SF lost a lot of  the Dublin working class protest vote.

Many of the working class  are homeless, live in over-crowded accommodation,

suffer due to  crises in the health service and/ or are strangled by high rents.

Yet their voters refused to come out  for SF or went to other left-wing candidates.

Much of the conservative rural SF vote switched to FF.

SF were the largest party in Dublin City Council for the last 5 years

In that time homelessness has gone up and up.

SF seemed to think it was someone else’s problem

Comments: People aren’t impressed with SF

They feel they’ve become too comfortable and Establishment, simply by getting so big.

They court the Dublin Establishment in the hope of getting support  for the unity project.

They started caring about what the Irish Times, RTE, and FG/FF  think of them.

Remember : a)

b) SF fiscal policies won’t get them traction in middle class areas, so they are in a bind.

c) Professional, ambitious people want out of the Troubles mindset

(or were never in it), so SF are losing those votes too.

Comment: There is really no way to ride both those horses

Warning: SF has neglected its core voters.

If they dont’t reconnect with them, low turn-out will be the least of their worries


4) Competition from the Left, Greens and Independents?

Risultati immagini per competition from others

SF is suffering from the crowded left.

Many independents and protest parties  attracted younger voters and ate into SF’s core vote
SF was outflanked

  1. on the left  by  parties such as People before Profit
  2.  on environmental issues by the Greens.
  3. by feminists, socialists and diverse independents (some former SF councillors) who  creamed off votes

Risultati immagini per ageing hipster

Query: Does SF  look a bit middle-aged?


5) SF are just not competent?

SF’s rise was built on a reputation for local politics and constituency work.

They are now suffering massive losses across councils in cities and rural areas

after only one  term in office.

Presumably,  they have not  resolved local issues as was expected.

For whatever reason

Comment: You can only be a protest party for so long

Eventually, sooner or later,  you have to deliver “something”


6) SF have an attitude?

He's got a gun and an edgy attitude. by JackHates

  1. Whipping on the 8th amendment
  2. The hard line taken with Peadar Toibin which led to the emergence of Aontu
  3. Alienation of traditional voters who were anti-abortion  and loyal to the Catholic Church
  4. Lack of  internal debate  and unwillingness to question the party line
  5. Unwillingness to take constructive criticism
  6. The resignation / sacking of 20% of sitting councillors  (some of whom were re-elected as Independents in the local elections)
  7. Councillor lossses were due to: a) allegations of bullying with no effective intervention from central office and           b) internal discord between old, established  members and “newbies”

Comment: if all the above are true (and some are)  SF seem to have become arrogant and detached with a patronising “Only we know what’s good for you” mentality. 

7) What of Republicanism?


The SF message is now tied to  Europe and Equality,

Factor in  Brexit, the Stormont shut-down,

and the changes Irish society has undergone (is undergoing) in the post-recovery Republic

Comment: SF has always been  pro-Unity. That was its USP

BUT . . .

A united Ireland is now a topic of mainstream discussion (thanks to SF)

It is no longer  marginal  in the national consciousness (thanks to SF)

Sinn Féin’s electoral losses will encourage Unionists to feel

we’ve nothing to fear”

Risultati immagini per I'm OK mate

Even Though  . . . . 

an election day poll  indicated that 65% of Irish voters favour reunification.

Comment: Therefore, the issue is bigger than Sinn Féin’s base.

Query: Are SF the right people to carry the Re-Unification project forward?

They are detested by the DUP, UUP, Loyalists and the Unionist community in general.

For the first time ever,  FG and FF are starting to  focus north

Because of Brexit, and its potential impact on Ireland’s economy,

they are  thinking about the benefits of a United 32-County Republic.

They are not thinking about a 32-County  (Democratic / Socialist) Republic

So  SF is not needed (and maybe even not wanted) to  drive that issue forward

Query: Should  the Government of the Republic  take Re-Unification forward together with NI non-Unionists?


Conclusion: All of this can’t be good for  the future of SF 

BUT . . . .







Fintan Warfield - Give Us The Night




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