Gerry Adams’ announcement that he will stand again for Uachtaran of Sinn Fein would appear to indicate continuity with the past. However his leadership has been characterised by sharp turns and there are indications that a new turn is the offing.
Over the past few months, there have been strong signs that Sinn Féin is trying to position itself closer to the centre ground in the South.
It has opposed legislation to legalise cannabis for medical use at a Dáil Committee.
It refused to support the citizens’ assembly recommendation on the Repeal of the Eight Amendment because it is too radical. The Sinn Fein TD Peadar Toibín has claimed that the only party in the Dáil that supports the recommendations are PBP-Solidarity.
The party has also refused to call for the immediate rescinding of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act. This legislation allows the government to change the incremental wage scales of public sector workers at the stroke of a pen. Sinn Fein supports an ‘orderly unwinding’
The main reason for the new shift is that Sinn Fein wants to get into government – even if that means being a minority partner with either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael.
This, however, would be a disastrous move as the experience of the Labour Party has demonstrated.
Once a party adopts this stance, its election commitments must be looked on with some scepticism as it will claim – like Labour – that in government it had to compromise.
Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael want to develop a tax haven model of Irish capitalism. Any radical party which joins them it will be forced to embrace that project and with it comes deepening inequality and a run-down of public services.
People Before Profit is urging Sinn Fein to pull back from this strategy before it is too late.
In the meantime, it will work with its allies in Solidarity to develop a genuine left that is committed to a full challenge to the political establishment North and South.