Sinn Fein at the West Belfast Feile - the bureaucratic spin machine


When it comes to ‘spin’, ‘bling’ and ‘mantra’ Sinn Fein are masters in disguise and a mouthpiece of New Labour......
During this year’s West Belfast Feile Talk Back we were once again greeted with the sight of Deputy First Minister Martin McGuiness in a dazzling, articulate performance that left the unionist opposition in a limbo and would make former Labour spin doctor Alistair Darling proud. Beneath the hollow words from the platform on the need to ‘work together’, ‘building an Ireland of equals’ or ‘we face many challenges’ lies a much more sinister side based on cut-throat Thatcherite capitalism that Sinn Fein and all the other political rulers seek to promote and impose.

We were also treated with a planted question from the audience asking 'can Sinn Fein’s political strategy deliver a United Ireland', amidst a backdrop of growing disillusionment and disaffection amongst grassroots republicans and wider working-class communities. In the words of the most recent resignation Eamann Mac Manais former Stormont press officer of SF,
“I have left the party and the press office as I feel that the current programme for government of the Stormont administration will put working-class communities under increased pressure at a time when the current global credit crunch is already hurting this vulnerable group in society.”

A bit too late in the day perhaps but one should give credit when it is due! In a show of hands barely half of the audience believed SF could deliver a united Ireland by 2016 which left the DUP MLA bemused. For what it’s worth, I certainly would not want to live in a SF United Ireland based on their current record in power never mind my firm anarchist belief that only we as workers, including the unemployed have the power and ability to change our lives and the world for the better and not by electing some token donkey into power. The substance behind the style of ‘building an Ireland of equals’ can mean anything from denying women’s right to choose, facing the bayonets of the private militia (note that they now have official thugs in uniform called the PSNI to do their dirty work for daring to question the power of the autocracy in communities), to opening the floodgates to multi-national corporation to loot us dry such as pushing for a cut in the corporation tax to scabbing on the classroom assistants strike and imposing water charges and privatisation in a time when the rest of us are facing economic recession........

Recently, I also had the unpleasant experience of being on the receiving end of the low waged economy, the casualisation and ‘flexibility’ in which we are expected to bend over for the bosses. An economy which all the political parties were so keen to promote when they laid out the red carpet during the recent visit for their commander in chief. My experience is merely a snapshot faced by many fellow workers, after working for American multi-national company Northgate for 3 weeks I was promised work to the end of September. I received a phone call on the Friday evening from my agency to don’t bother coming in on Monday due to lack of work I was told. I was even more surprised considering the company did not give me any indication of this during my brief stay.

As recent leaks have highlighted we might not even have a proper efficient ambulance service in time of need! All this is hardly the image of ‘tranquillity’ and ‘stability’ of supposedly a concerned Stormont Executive which barely meets to discuss outstanding issues never mind claiming to understand our needs and desires.

The question is how we remain blinded by the rhetoric of a party and an Executive that follows ‘if you say something so many times people start to believe it’. Or a party that constantly attempts to gloss over their reactionary attacks on workers’ rights and conditions by exerting their radical working-class roots and providing them with a platform to conjure a previous ‘radical image’ that has passed its sell by date such as the public meeting during the W.Belfast Feile on Palestine.

Are we up for the task in terms of thwarting their neo-liberal ambitions in the here and now such as the incoming water charges, in building a mass non-payment campaign that cuts across sectarian boundaries and wipes the smile and the smirks from the faces of the chuckle brothers? It’s time we show them who is boss and let them know what it means to live on pittance from the welfare state, or shitty wages against a backdrop of a rise in energy prices, rise in the cost of living and other allowances.

In Belfast the forthcoming anarchist Bookfair on Saturday September 6th provides us with an essential forum and opportunity to discuss, reflect, analyse and strategise in were we can affect change in our workplaces’ and communities.
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