Irish Republican News · January 13, 2012
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
SF ‘not interested’ in all-Ireland efforts

Both the Dublin government and the Six-County executive have been accused of turning their back on cross-border co-operation, one of the cornerstones of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

The claim was made by Andy Pollak, the director of the centre of cross-border studies, who argued that Sinn Fein “do not seem that interested” in trying to bring the two jurisdictions closer together.

He said this “turning away” from North-South co-operation could be seen in every sector, pointing to, among others, the withdrawal of the Dublin government’s promised 470 million euro in funding for the Monaghan-Derry road, its single largest financial commitment to the North; the transfer of civil servants dealing with North-South co-operation to other areas; the effective ending of the joint council between the two business confederations in the North and South; and the decline in the number of undergraduates crossing the Border to study in the other jurisdiction.

He said some of this was understandable due to the financial crisis, and that “a few Ministers such as the Taoiseach, the Tanaiste and the Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn would like to do more for North-South co-operation, but they simply don’t have the time or the capacity in present difficult circumstances.”

However, he said Sinn Fein’s disinterest was “surprising”.

“Observers say their Ministers do little to speed up the snail’s pace agenda set by the DUP at North-South ministerial council meetings.

“Maybe they are frustrated with the very limited amount of co-operation that can be agreed at such meetings, or maybe they do not want to give the [26 County] Government a cross-Border success story it can then claim as its own.”

Sinn Fein’s failure to take on the influential enterprise, trade and investment portfolio in the new Six County Executive - with its potentially important North-South dimension - “spoke volumes for their reluctance to face up to the difficult decisions confronting policymakers in Ireland, North and South, in the coming years,” Mr Pollak claimed. “They prefer to remain a left-wing protest party, snapping at Fianna Fail’s heels in Dublin and hiding behind the DUP’s leadership of the powersharing executive in Belfast.”

Meanwhile, there was concern that attention in influential circles in Dublin was turning away from the North: that both politicians and people in the South will sit back in the belief that the ‘Northern question’ has been resolved.

“The truth is more uncomfortable,” he said.

“It is that the DUP and Sinn Fein remain tribal parties who are involved in an uneasy marriage of convenience. There is little appetite in either party for engaging in the hard, long drawn out task of constructing a non-sectarian society to overcome the North’s continuing divisions.”

As yet there has been no response by cabinet ministers in Dublin or Belfast to Mr Pollak’s accusations.


Sinn Fein’s nationalist credentials have also been questioned by members of Ireland’s largest cultural organisation, Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann. Members of the group have this week protested an attempt to bring the internationally famous Fleadh Cheoil in 2013 under Derry’s ‘UK city of culture’ programme.

Although strongly supported by both Sinn Fein and the SDLP as part of normalisation efforts, Derry’s title of ‘UK city of culture’ for 2013 has sparked furious opposition in the city. The organisation’s headquarters has twice been subjected to bomb attack.

A number of Comhaltas delegates attending a meeting this week said that while they would support the all-Ireland fleadh being staged in Derry in any other year, they could not support it being held there as part of the UK City of Culture year.

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© 2012 Irish Republican News