In re the election, there is a further point worth making. This refers to Sinn Féin Nua’s economic policy. Readers will recall that the Provos went into the election campaign with two signature policies, to raise corporation tax 5% to 17.5%, and to introduce a wealth tax on the super-rich. These policies, endorsed by the last Ard Fheis, were then summarily dumped by the party leadership under sustained assault from RTÉ’s Seán O’Rourke. This then contributed even further to the Provos’ lack of economic credibility by blowing a huge hole in the costings for all the wonderful social programmes they wanted. This is a problem, because, while in the North the Provos can gain votes simply by being the Catholic party, in the South they need at least a few policies.
Skip forward to Dermot Ahern’s argument that PSF did badly because the young people of Ireland had rejected socialist and Marxist policies. Whether this is an accurate description of the Grizzly Manifesto the reader may decide for herself, but Dermot was not simply having a cheap dig. He was also issuing an invitation – fully embrace the neoliberal agenda, and you’ll be fit partners for government.
This view is shared by Provo press baron Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, who reckons the Shinners need to be more business-friendly if they want to succeed. Máirtín, of course, is Grizzly’s most adept apprentice, and the Andytown News is frequently used to float policies that the republican base isn’t quite ready for. Amongst other things, Máirtín’s organ has spearheaded the campaign to get a 12.5% corporation tax rate introduced in the North, something the entire Assembly is currently petitioning El Gordo to agree to.
Máirtín, you’re fired.
Rud eile: It has been amusing to watch the unionist reaction to the southern election, most cogently put by the News Letter. In a nutshell, this can be summarised as “Yo!” I was especially touched to hear Ian Óg Paisley personally congratulate Fianna Fáil for defeating the Provo hordes. These are your partners in government, by the way.