Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Editor's Viewpoint: Sinn Fein's win was simply protest vote

The Sinn Fein victory in the Donegal by-election is impressive, but not altogether surprising.

Given the severity of the proposed cuts announced in Dublin, there is no way that a member of the Government party would win the confidence of voters.

The Irish politicians still have to pass the harsh budget, which has been outlined as part of a tough four-year plan, and despite the current brinkmanship, it is likely that the bailout requested from the IMF and the European Union will concentrate Irish minds considerably on realities.

Sinn Fein had a good candidate in Pearse Doherty, but this was essentially a protest vote rather than a bright new dawn for Gerry Adams and his colleagues.

Political observers have been divided about Adam's latest foray into Ireland's political scene. Some believe that this was due to his political redundancy at Stormont, while others see the move as an astute tactic by a high-profile political heavyweight.

At the moment, the headlines are good for Sinn Fein, but on closer examination it is doubtful how widespread its political appeal will be in the Republic-apart from the Donegal voters who wanted to give the ruling coalition a bloody nose.

It is one thing to campaign on a platform rejecting an IMF and European bail-out as the wrong way to solve Ireland's financial ills. However this is very much like the tired old Sinn Fein slogan "Ourselves alone." Many voters, and politicians, will query the details of the bailout, and the harsh measures required to stop the financial rot, but hardly anyone apart from Sinn Fein and the hard Left seriously believes that Ireland in her hour of need can indeed "go it alone."

Sinn Fein will continue to bask in the glow of the Donegal victory, but a grim day of reckoning is coming sooner rather than later. In the upcoming general election, though to be taking place early next year, the voters will have the final say. Sinn Fein and its supporters may then wake up to political and financial reality.

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