| 3.8°C Dublin


Revolution at the ballot box has risks - such as ministries you can't give to SF

Kevin Doyle


Close

Past: Dessie Ellis was convicted of making bombs. Photo: Tom Burke

Past: Dessie Ellis was convicted of making bombs. Photo: Tom Burke

Past: Dessie Ellis was convicted of making bombs. Photo: Tom Burke

The economic crash was a painful experience for this country - but unlike Greece and other countries, we dealt with the situation pragmatically rather than with panic.

Ireland knuckled down. Those of us who were lucky enough to keep a job paid our extra taxes while others sadly followed a well-worn path to Australia, Canada and America. But this election has raised a pertinent question: "Was it worth it?"

Having endured so much hardship, surely we should be reaping the benefits of this latest boom in equal measure?

Yet our housing system is still broken. Record money is being pumped into health but it's still a mix of the same old stories and new scandals.

Then there is the rising cost of childcare, the mind-numbing commute faced by many workers every day and a general sense that while we have more money it's spent before it hits our bank accounts.

Sinn Féin has tapped into a yearning for "change". People want and expect better.

Its rise in popularity is partly to do with the fact its two most effective representatives hold the housing and health portfolios. Eoin Ó Broin and Louise O'Reilly are extremely articulate and totally across their briefs. It would be easy to see them as ministers in any government.

Close

Dublin Mid-West TD Eoin O Broin

Dublin Mid-West TD Eoin O Broin

Dublin Mid-West TD Eoin O Broin

Likewise, Pearse Doherty has done an outstanding job holding rip-off insurers to account as part of his work in finance.

But today is about electing a government and there are a string of ministries for which Sinn Féin could not qualify.

Justice and Defence

The most basic reason why everyone should be worried about handing the Department of Justice to Sinn Féin is a 2015 assessment that the Provisional IRA Army Council oversees both the party and the remaining structures of the terror organisation with an "over-arching strategy". The PSNI still believes this assessment to be relevant.

But even without that report there are reasons to question how Sinn Féin would handle criminality and its relationship with An Garda Síochána and the courts.

When Gerry Adams was arrested by the PSNI in connection with the abduction, murder and disappearance of Jean McConville, Mary Lou McDonald claimed it was "politically contrived".

More recently, when Drew Harris was appointed as the first outsider to be Garda Commissioner, she accused him of being "part of a culture that has denied people the truth".

Then there are relatives of IRA victims who believe Sinn Féin representatives have helped deny them justice.

Breege Quinn's description of how her husband spends every day visiting their murdered son Paul in the graveyard should give us all pause for thought. Her story is not something from history and attempts by Sinn Féin representatives to smear his memory are deplorable.

Others such as Austin Stack continue to seek answers.

Finally, Sinn Féin has routinely campaigned to do away with the non-jury Special Criminal Court that has been used to jail terrorists and gangland henchmen.

Ms McDonald took particular exception to its use for Thomas 'Slab' Murphy who is believed to have been the former chief of staff of the IRA. The man she calls a "good republican" was convicted of tax evasion in 2015.

Foreign Affairs and Brexit

Handing responsibility for the Irish approach on Brexit to Sinn Féin would be on a par with Theresa May's reliance with the DUP in Westminster.

Aside from the fact it would further strain Anglo-Irish relations, Sinn Féin has a long history of being anti-EU. That stance has softened in recent times and representatives now describe themselves as 'Euro-critical'. There's no harm in being critical - but the evidence shows they were against every EU referendum in this country since we joined.

Foreign affairs would also hand them control over policy on Northern Ireland. No doubt this would push forward the debate on a united Ireland that would be no harm but they are unlikely to do so in a way that brings nationalist and unionist communities together. An emboldened Sinn Féin is unlikely to tone down the 'tiocfaidh ár lá' rhetoric.

Enterprise

Many of the big promises in Sinn Féin's manifesto are based on the proviso they can tax business.

There is a very strong argument for making large corporations pay more tax - but the Sinn Féin plan is rather blunt.

Multinationals will be on the line for an extra €722m. Employers who pay salaries over €100,000 will also have to pay a new 15.75pc rate of PRSI. But the Sinn Féin policy assumes they will all stay and continue to create more jobs.

Education and Culture

Many in Sinn Féin have a very defined view of history that leaves little space for nuance or inclusion. Without doubt, Fine Gael made a mess of the RIC commemorations, but one wonders where Sinn Féin's view of 'The Troubles' as simply a war would fit?

Children and Youth Affairs

Close

Mairia Cahill. Picture: Tom Burke

Mairia Cahill. Picture: Tom Burke

Mairia Cahill. Picture: Tom Burke

The reaction of many within Sinn Féin to the stories of sex abuse victims Paudie McGahon and Máiría Cahill was not sympathy but an attempt to distract and undermine. Its child safety policies have been reviewed - but there are still denials about how badly they handled both cases.

And what about Dessie Ellis?

The appointment of McDonald as leader was an effort to move away from the past. Gerry Adams is retiring, as is Martin Ferris who collected the killers of Detective Jerry McCabe on their release from prison.

But some of the 'old boys' remain including convicted bomb-maker Dessie Ellis in Dublin North West. He probably wouldn't expect a Cabinet post but his long service could see him made a junior minister - but for what?

Irish Independent