Welcome to the new, flexible mainstream Sinn Fein
A cleansed, remodelled Sinn Fein is out to capture the ground lost by Fianna Fail, writes Eamon Delaney
IN the week that Sinn Fein had its very conspicuous think-in in the Shelbourne Hotel, the Socialist Party was criticising SF's refusal to back non-payment of household tax, and join its campaign of civil disobedience against this and the impending water charges. It was a clear sign that, as we go into a new and uncertain political season, wide gaps are opening on the broad left, as the cleansed and remodelled new republican party seeks to secure the lucrative middle ground from the now vanquished and confused old republican party, known as Fianna Fail.
The entry of Martin McGuinness into the presidential race is part of this. Regardless of his unsavoury past, McGuinness is a veteran of Stormont government, imposing those right-of-centre 'establishment' cutbacks. No wonder the Socialist Party and the United Left Alliance have started suddenly questioning SF's 'radical' credentials.
This centrist trend was particularly apparent during the week with Pearse Doherty's performance on Vincent Browne's late night TV3 show, where he spoke with great knowledge and, it must be said, considerable respect for the international bond markets and the possible options facing Europe.