Irish Republican News · December 17, 2009
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Dissidents ‘welcome to join Fianna Fail’
Dissidents ‘welcome to join Fianna Fail’
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Fianna Fail is ready to contest elections in the Six Counties on a ‘united Ireland’ agenda and its candidates will include republicans who have become disaffected with Sinn Fein over their political direction, according to to the chairman of Fianna Fail in Fermanagh.

He said that a number of elected representatives are set to contest Stormont Assembly elections -- due in 2011 -- under the Fianna Fail banner, but the still unnamed cadre have been derided by Sinn Fein as desperate political mercenaries.

Fermanagh-South Tyrone Independent member of the Assembly, Gerry McHugh, who quit Sinn Fein two yuears ago, has already said he will contest his seat for Fianna Fail.

Mr McHugh rejected fresh demands to stand down given that he was elected on a Sinn Fein ticket before leaving to become an Independent.

He also rejected claims that the introduction of Fianna Fail candidates in elections in the North would split the nationalist vote.

“I was elected on a republican mandate and I am still very, very committed to the republican mandate, which I was given, which was about a united Ireland. And, if Sinn Fein think they can do this faster themselves and show people they are able to do that without anyone else going in a different direction, I would be delighted to see that.”

As for vote-splitting, he submitted that, under the proportional representation system for the Assermbly elections, the nationalist vote would remain the same, “because the same number of people will get elected to nationalist parties regardless of how many candidates stand in the field”.

“I don’t think there is any risk to nationalists, certainly in the assembly or in councils. We all have the same philosophy and policies. Certainly, myself and Sinn Fein would not differ very much other than they have moved away from the idea of a united Ireland as being the most important thing that they do every day of the week.”

Meanwhile, Padraig Murphy, the Fermanagh chairman of Fianna Fail described as ‘hysterical’ Sinn Fein’s reaction to Mr McHugh joining Fianna Fail.

Sinn Fein members have accused Mr McHugh of “frantically seeking a banner to try and garner support for his beleaguered political career’.

Mr Murphy, who describes himself as a lifetime republican, said he had quit Sinn Fein in 1981, at the time of the hunger strikes, in protest at the party’s insistence on fielding candidates in the South: “I left because I was disappointed with the leadership of the republican movement who didn’t see the election of Bobby Sands as the necessary requirement to end the plight of the prisoners.

“As a campaigner for the H-Blocks, I refused to be involved in that escapade.”

He said that the approval of Fianna Fail HQ has still to be formally granted for party candidates to contest the Stormont Assembly in 2011.

“We cannot make party policy as northern members, but we will be doing our best to shape policy. Can we influence Fianna Fail policy? Yes, I believe we are the only party who are capable of support from across a broad spectrum.

“So, we will be trying to persuade our party to contest the 2011 elections because our time is now but again, we will abide by party ruling on this because Fianna Fail has a proven track record of being sound in government. After all, they have been the most successful party in Ireland and, indeed, in Europe.”

He stated that Sinn Fein and the smaller nationalist SDLP had failed to deliver: “Both are carrying too much baggage. In my opinion, Sinn Fein are not in a position to enhance the united Ireland aspect and, indeed, their vote in the South reflects this. The SDLP to me, I regret to say, would have been something close to a disgrace with their political performance. They had many big hitters and they failed to deliver.”

Mr Murphy suggested that Fianna Fail appealed to the unionist vote.

“We won’t play sectarian politics nor promote narrow-minded nationalism. We see unionists as a very rich part of the Irish embroidery and, if mindsets can be changed and closeted thinking removed, there is the vista of a united people working for and with one another on cross-island projects.”

So, with a high-profile local figure such as Gerry McHugh joining the party, did he envisage other elected representatives in Fermanagh following suit?

“Yes. I believe there are a number of incumbents who have wished for some time to come on board. The party, I hope, will address this matter in the near future. There is also a place for so-called dissidents.

“There must be a disenchantment within Sinn Fein at the number of people who have left that party, even in Fermanagh.”

© 2009 Irish Republican News