The recent strike by BBC journalists over the ‘REAL LIVES’ programme and the dispute at RTE over the interview with NORAID representative MARTIN GALVIN have focused world attention on Sinn Fein once again .MICHAEL KELLY spoke to Sinn Fein president GERRY ADAMS at interviews in Dublin and Belfast , conducted over the course of the past month .
From ‘IN DUBLIN’ magazine, August 1985 .

MICHAEL KELLY (‘IN DUBLIN’ magazine) : ” The so-called ‘northern question’ is one of the main planks of Sinn Fein’s policies . But do you think , Gerry , that people in the twenty-six counties either know anything about it or , more importantly , care about it ? ”

GERRY ADAMS (politician) : ” Well , it depends on what part of the country you’re in , but there’s absolutely no resentment towards us . I have canvassed extensively in Dublin and found no antagonism against Sinn Fein at all . There are people who disagree with us – but with only two exceptions , I haven’t come across any rudeness . For example , we were getting a good response in Dun Laoghaire, which is a traditionally Fine Gael area . The point that I’ve been making is that people think we have two heads and when they discover we haven’t it comes as a pleasant surprise . Now that doesn’t mean they become enthusiastic republicans but it does mean that there’s no problem in Sinn Fein coming along and saying – ‘Yeah , we support the IRA’ . I think we have come to the stage where there is no abhorrence , but neither is there wild enthusiasm . ”

From ‘MAGILL’ magazine, August 1983 .

Martin McGuinness, elected (abstentionist) Sinn Fein Assembly member for Derry , had earlier escorted Mrs Gilmour to a seat which afforded a relatively central view of her son , whom she had not seen for twelve months . Everybody else including her other son and three daughters was herded into a section against the wall , well to the blind side of , and behind , the witness box . The RUC had been posted one to each end of the vacant rows , in the other section , like recalcitrant theatre-goers refusing to let people pass once the show has started . McGuinness and Mrs. Gilmour , though excepted , were immediately marooned in a sea of green uniforms . (‘1169…’ Comment – …..and , once again , McGuinness finds himself ‘marooned’ with the RUC for company . But this time he’s on their side .)

Mrs. Gilmour rose now as her son spoke , stepped past McGuinness , past the RUC , out into the ailse , down the stairs and then turned left to the exit door . Her son was gazing at a spot below the magistrate’s bench . She was gazing at the door , their backs to each other . ” Raymond , ” she called softly over her shoulder , but not looking over her shoulder , ” Raymond , son , you know I’m here . I can’t listen anymore to you saying them things about your friends . ” Her head drooped , but even as it drooped and the door opened before her , he was on his feet , on his way out without a backward glance , out by his own ‘special door’ , which had also opened , accompanied by his two Special Branch minders , the three of them moving in perfect stepped unison , like men who had practised barracks ‘square drilling’ , and Raymond Gilmour was gone from the courtroom in perfect timed tandem with his mother , though in an opposite direction .

The British magistrate sat as unregarded as any priest on the altar who has watched the congregation walk out before he had given ‘permission’ . But then Raymond Gilmour’s sister stood up and broke that silence…….

Sinn Fein’s recent election success in the North of Ireland have focussed attention on the Provisionals’ new turn to political activity at local level . There have been parallel developments in the organisation in the 26 counties .
‘GRALTON’ magazine spoke to Paddy Bolger , Ard Comhairle member and National Organiser for Sinn Fein ,with special responsibility for Dublin , about the changed perspective .
From ‘GRALTON’ magazine , August/September 1983 .

‘GRALTON’ magazine : ” You referred earlier to the need to take steps to prevent the rapid influx of people with political expectations you couldn’t meet , perhaps looking for some instant success (? ? ?) . Has Sinn Fein had a problem with the turnover of members since those periods , notably during the hunger strike, when it was the focus for young people in Dublin who were looking for action ? Are you now consciously looking for a different kind of recruit ? “

PADDY BOLGER : ” Particularly after Francis Hughes died on hunger strike (….even in death the British RUC/PSNI would not let the man rest) there was a lot of young people , particularly from the poorer districts of Dublin , coming on to the demonstrations . Most of them accepted the republican position about keeping the demonstrations peaceful , about keeping militancy controlled . Most of them then went away again when the hunger strike ended . It wasn’t all that different from the North , except that up there we have been able to give that support a political focus – because of our dominance in so many areas , to turn it into the beginning of a mass political movement .

The problem in the South is that we haven’t been able to provide that focus . A lot of young people who did join the campaign as activists , and not just for the demonstrations , were driven away by the police . We suffer greatly from police harassment. Most of the people we have now as activists are essential activists , the same people as we had in 1977 who weren’t scared away by the repression under the Coalition Leinster House administration. Many of the H-Block action groups which might have developed into Sinn Fein cumainn – and that would have been a natural progression – were broken up by police action . Since the successes in the North and since the realisation that we might become a serious political force down here , some of the best of those people have started to come back .

We are quite convinced that if we could make ourselves credible electorally – well , at least initially , electorally – a lot of the support the hunger strike had in Dublin would come to us . The next local government elections are our immediate targets in that regard . “

About 11sixtynine

A mother of three (and a Granny!) and a political activist , living in Dublin , Ireland.
This entry was posted in History/Politics.. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.