Wednesday 29 July 2009

Irish Times - Newton Emerson

NEWTON'S OPTIC: IT IS with deep sadness that I announce my resignation from the Sinn Féin group (Mad Dog Murphy Cumann) on West Kerry One-County Council.

I joined Sinn Féin as an idealistic youth of 35, believing it would address the many injustices which still caused me to live with my mother.

However, in recent years I have become increasingly disillusioned with the direction of the party.

The leadership promised a “peace strategy” to deliver a united Ireland through the exclusively political institutions of the Belfast Agreement.

It is now painfully obvious that when they made this promise, they actually meant it.

I cannot overstate the mounting sense of betrayal at this realisation among genuine community activists such as myself.

Of course, we all nodded along through all those interminable meetings at all the fine talk of engagement. But it was always understood that we were only doing this to confuse the Brits and antagonise the Prods.

Republicans of principle and integrity truly believed that the lying, cheating and stealing would continue.

I distinctly recall a senior party figure winking right at me from the platform while proposing recognition of the PSNI.

This is the kind of clarity that the movement has lost as we have been drawn into finally doing what we said we would do.

Many genuine community activists such as myself are now asking what Sinn Féin really stands for, other than what it publicly stands for, which I would never have knowingly stood for.

Much of the blame for this confusion must lie with the Northern leadership, which does not understand that the South does not understand the North.

Long-standing members here in the 26-county transitional jurisdiction are dismayed to hear colleagues from Belfast refer to the unionists as almost normal.

Our core belief that the unionists are baby-eating occupiers must remain at the very heart of what Sinn Féin is all about.

Remember the passion, the self-confidence, the enthusiasm with which we hated the Prods back when many of us joined?

We need to recapture that wonderful feeling.

But that does not mean we should overlook vital economic issues like jobs and stuff. Sinn Féin has become largely irrelevant to working people by not saying “neo-liberal” enough.

True republicans would never hesitate to blame bankers and developers for the unacceptable state of this unacceptable state, unless they are republican bankers and developers, in which case they must have been set up by the neo-liberals. Or the Prods. Whatever.

Like dozens before me, I have come to the conclusion that the battle for the soul of Sinn Féin is not as thrillingly dodgy as it used to be. For that reason, as a genuine community activist, I will now be focusing on genuine community activism.

I will be genuinely active in the community. My activities will be genuine and community-based.

Community, community, community.

Tiocfiadh ar Communalann!

It would obviously be hypocritical of me to hand over my seat to a party I no longer believe in.

Just moments ago, I officially believed that all seats belonged to that party by virtue of the first Dáil, but the hypocrisy of that is far less obvious.

The people of West Kerry can rest assured that I will continue to represent them as an independent republican idiot.

This article appears in the print edition of the Irish Times