Feeney on FF/SDLP

Newshound today carries an Irish News article by Brian Feeney arguing that an SDLP-Fianna Fail merger won’t and shouldn’t happen.

It’s a well argued piece, but I’m not entirely convinced by it for several reasons.

If the SDLP is too far gone to survive in its present form then the advantages of John Hume’s strategy of not intervening in southern politics become irrelevant.

A Fine Gael/Labour coalition would present as many problems for Sinn Fein as for a northern branch of Fianna Fail. And of course, some would argue the scenario of inter-party conflict damaging the nationalist cause within the peace process is already here

There’s also the fact that Labour itself has begun tentative moves to enter the north, partly in order to head off a FF/SDLP merger. That competitive dynamic could prove significant.

Both Labour and Fianna Fail now accept members in the north, and that may accelerate after the Westminster elections.

Where Feeney may be right is in suggesting that Fianna Fail will not formally merge with the SDLP organisation but may move into the north independently.






3 responses to “Feeney on FF/SDLP”

  1. Diarmid Logan avatar

    The SDLP are finished as a political party. Ahern is smart enough to realise that fact even if Durkan is not.

  2. Stewart Cullen avatar
    Stewart Cullen

    FF blocked attempts to organise in NI by their grassroots for 76 years until the 2002 Ard Fheis. FF wouldn’t initiate such a change unless they were contemplating moving forward.
    Feeney is right in two respects.
    1. There won’t be a FF/SDLP merger. Should FF organise its NI membership a mass defection will happen overnight. Take this statement from PJ Bradley on the SDLP website!:
    “I stated that in the context of peaceful developments towards and into a united Ireland, I could envisage major political realignments which might include a Fianna Fail/SDLP axis at some point; that I had grown up in a tradition in which De Valera and the principles of Fianna Fail were held in great esteem, and I would not have a problem with such a hypothetical realignment in ten years or so.”
    FFers don’t want to inherit Liberal/Left SDLP activists in Derry & Belfast. FF will provide a home for rural Catholic Nationalists such a PJ Bradley, Patsy McGlone & Joe Byrne.
    2. FF won’t stand at Westminster elections. FF at present has a HQ member of staff whose sole job is NI recruitment. Initially when FF organises it will poach a sizable portion of SDLP & independent cllrs along with a few MLAs. Some cllrs will go on to be FF assembly candidates while new candidates can be drawn from amongst the middle class on a centre right Republican agenda as opposed to SF’s centre left Republicanism. FF will not take seats at Westminster. Its position is the same as SF’s.
    It can imitatate the Old Nationalist Party stance as regards Westminster and back joint abstentionist candidates.
    As for the remainder of the SDLP I assume it will merge into the joint British/Irish Labour organisation that is being established in NI.
    The SDLP as we know it is finished

  3. Young Irelander avatar

    De Valera secured a Westminster seat.He abstained.

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