The Barbarians At The Gate
Each week Ciarán Quinn sends a Letter from Ireland as part of the Friends of Sinn Féin Newsletter.
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A Letter from Ireland
a Chara, Last weekend brought Sinn Féin an excellent set of poll results. In the North, with ten weeks to go to the election, the party leads the field. Michelle O’Neill is well placed to compete for the position of First Minister, the first nonunionist to hold the position since the foundation of the state. In a second poll, Sinn Féin consolidated its lead over the other parties in the South. Sinn Féin is the largest party in the Dáil. It’s President Mary Lou McDonald is the first woman and first leader of Sinn Féin to head the official opposition. Over the past ninety years, Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael have controlled both government and opposition, switching positions every couple of election cycles. They no longer control the opposition. They are in government together with the shared aim of excluding Sinn Féin and defending the status quo. While the reaction to the growth of Sinn Féin by political rivals is as expected, the reaction by some in the media has been extraordinary. Popular support for Sinn Féin means o some in the establishment that the barbarians were at the gate In the wake of the latest polls, RTE the publicity-funded state broadcaster hosted a program on why people should or should not vote for Sinn Féin. This was not to be a battle of ideas between political parties or the merits of government and opposition. It was a deliberate framing of Sinn Féin (and by extension voters) as a “threat”.
Sinn Féin President simply tweeted what we all thought about the program, "Words fail me, Good night @RTE" Those against Sinn Féin included a founding member of a rival political party that failed to win a single seat in the parliament and a self-described “accidental landlord”. The last had me wondering had he been out for a drive, skidded on ice, and landed up in a property portfolio. People in Ireland are living in the middle of the housing crisis. Rising costs and rents have left working families fearing eviction and homelessness. A generation has been priced out of the rental market. The dream of owning a home has been lost to institutional investors. By all accounts the program backfired. Damage was done to the reputation of RTE. It was entirely self-inflicted. Public service broadcasters should objectively speak the truth to power. The singling out of one party looked more like an establishment battening down the hatches and promoting an unsubstantiated fear of a future. The polls indicate that people are looking to the future with confidence in Sinn Féin. We have further to travel and with your support, we will see Sinn Féin leading governments north and south. I’ll continue to reflect on the “accidental landlord” and his unfortunate fortune. Have a great weekend.