Nearly Joined Sinn Féin…True Story

It was just over ten years ago.

I had been voting Sinn Féin from 1993.

I went along to a Sinn Féin meeting with the intention of signing up.

During the meeting, there was an announcement of a coach trip to an annual commemoration at a memorial to some IRA volunteers. I thought…hmmm this is post-Good Friday Agreement? Isnt this “new” Sinn Féin? I cant be arsed with coach trips.

But it surprisingly difficult to join Sinn Féin. Or at least it was difficult that night.

It was not a matter of simply signing up and handing over a £10 note.

The Secretary gave me a sealed envelope. A message from Gerry Adams apparently. And if I still wanted to sign up then I could go back.

I am not sure which was worse, the thought of a coach trip with some Shinners. Or the thought that I somehow needed the permission of Gerry Adams to join Sinn Féin.

I don’t know what the message was. It might have been the third secret of Fatima. I burned the envelope without opening it.

And the next time I voted….it was for Alban Magennis (SDLP) in the 2009 European Election.

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2 Responses to Nearly Joined Sinn Féin…True Story

  1. benmadigan says:

    some reasons for SF’s drop in local and EU elections.
    I don’t know if any tie in with your “envelope” story

    • I think its a lot of things.
      A few weeks ago, one of our neighbours was complaining about his rates bill and how “then they come round wanting you to vote”. I took it as a view on politicians in general.
      But during the week, he came up to me just to say that it was good to see Sinn Féin “getting what they deserved”. Its the only political thing he has ever said to me.
      Our DEA is maybe different. Five councillors and unionists lost a seat to nationalists and SDLP actually gained a seat so its SDLP2 and SF 1 in our DEA.
      SF have had a bad year locally, losing a councillor to Aontú and last year they did not do well when there was bad weather in the next DEA to us.
      Certainly a lot of people were saying that it was “never again” for SF but I just took that as something that would last a few months.
      There is a whiteboard in Dolores Kellys office thanking the voters in Upper Bann who voted SDLP last month. I cant remember the total but it is certainly a seat SDLP wont worry about holding.
      There is maybe a pattern in most (but not all places…eg Ards Peninsula where there are two SF votes for every SDLP vote but I don’t think there is much room for SF to make more inroads into SDLP votes….its fairly static.
      I don’t think ordinary voters think too deeply about leadership or even big ticket issues like Irish Language Act. There are just some people who wont vote SF and not all of them are at deaths door.
      Whatever SF keyboard warriors say on message boards, there will be real vitriol in local SF branches. Success tends to make things “lovey dovey” but Failure is different.
      I think SF voters got a kick out of seeing their MLAs and TDs putting on suits and sitting in the Assembly or an Dáil but now they look like they have become settled and complacent.
      Other people …younger people…are wearing Tshirts and jeans.
      SF attemps to be “inclusive” look like they have faltered. I was in Dublin on Wednesday and along the LUAS line to Tallaght, there were FF, Social Democrats posters for candidates who were probably born abroad. And a Green candidate at Ranelagh.

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