The Politics of Sinn Fein: Rhetoric and Reality


  • Kieran Allen


A recent opinion poll indicated that Sinn Fein is now neck and neck with Fine Gael to be the majority party in the South. In Dublin, it is already the largest party, commanding 26 percent of the vote. This transformation is remarkable. In the early nineties, Sinn Fein was almost a pariah party in the South. Its members were visited regularly by the Special Branch, their voices were banned from RTE and its activists were vilified by the wider media. The overwhelming message of official Ireland was that they - rather than the British army or its loyalist allies - were responsible for a war that had cost over 4,000 lives. Despite dropping their traditional policy of abstentionism, Sinn Fein could make no headway at the ballot box. In the 1992 election, they achieved less than 2 percent of the vote.