The New Politics of Sinn Féin

The New Politics of Sinn Féin

The New Politics of Sinn Féin

The New Politics of Sinn Féin


They moved through Washington as smoothly as sharks in warm water…
Whatever they were, or had been, they were politicians to their fngertips,
wholly at ease in their surroundings.

Where British cultural symbols are involved in public life, equivalent
Irish cultural symbols should be given equal prominence. Statues of Irish
Republican icons placed at Stormont will make it more welcoming for nation

From Loughgall to Stormont

On 10 May 2007, the Sinn Féin weekly newspaper An Phoblacht carried a front page photograph of a smiling Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness at the swearing-in of Northern Ireland’s new devolved executive. Tucked away at the top of the same page was the strapline: ‘Huge Crowds Pay Tribute to Loughgall Martyrs’, referring to a Republican commemoration for eight IRA volunteers killed by the SAS in May 1987. The juxtaposition of the two events was commented on by supporters and critics of the Provisionals as symbolizing the distance that the Provisional movement had travelled in the last twenty years. To the Provisionals’ unrepentant Republican opponents, the new devolved executive ‘solidified English rule’ and was a betrayal of the cause for which the Loughgall volunteers had died. For Martin McGuinness, the distance between Loughgall and the assembly at Stormont was not just a question of time. Speaking at the commemoration, he argued that the journey undertaken ‘by the Republican struggle … [had opened] up … a democratic and peaceful path towards Irish unity and independence’.

1 Former British Ambassador to the USA Sir Christopher Meyer describing Provisional leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness in Washington, DC. See Meyer, 2005, 113.

2 Sinn Féin Assemblyman Paul Butler, quoted in ‘SF calls for equality at Stormont’,10 May 2007.

3 ‘Paisley and Adams join to solidify English rule’, Saoirse, April 2007.

4 Martin McGuinness quoted in P. Whelan, ‘Huge crowds pay tribute to Loughgall Martyrs’, An Phoblacht, 10 May 2007.

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