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Sinn Fein aligning with Greek radicals a real gamble

By Liam Clarke

"In Athens it's called Syriza, in Spain it's called Podemos, in Ireland it's called Sinn Fein," Martina Anderson, the Sinn Fein MEP, said.

The Londonderry woman was identifying her party with the radical Left-wing movements demanding release from the strict bailout conditions imposed by Europe on debt-ridden countries in return for loans.

This is a gamble at a time when Syriza stands accused of selling out for saying it wants to become "a respectable member of the European Union" and agreed to an extension of the bailout it had earlier rejected.

It is also criticised for allegedly becoming less Left wing in government.

Nobody mentioned that sort of thing at the Ard Fheis. Syriza has previously said that the greatest gift they could get from Ireland is for Sinn Fein to do well in 2016, when the Dail and Stormont Assembly elections are due.

Euclid Tsakalotos, Syriza's new deputy finance minister and chief economist, was there to drive the point home.

"Syriza and Sinn Fein as well as Podemos are part of a great realignment in European politics," the former economics professor said, apologising of his English accent. "By a mitigating factor, I married a Celt," he said.

Mr Tsakalotos got two standing ovations and was embraced by Gerry Adams. So is that what we can expect from Sinn Fein if it controlled a government - Syriza with an Irish Language Act?

The idea enthused delegates, as did the centenary of the Easter rising next year. It seems like a date with destiny. Getting into government on both sides of the border and operate the cross-border institutions from both sides. That could be presented as a step towards Irish unity.

Sinn Fein's is riding high in the polls. Its ambitions can't be written off, but there are significant challenges ahead.

For instance, Gerry Adams recently admitted that business backers in the US had questioned Sinn Fein's economic policy. That is what happens in politics and these people may not be so pleased to find that the republican party they supported isn't quite like US Republicans - in fact it is Syriza dressed in shamrock.

Doing all this isn't as easy as saying it. When Sinn Fein discovered that when they tried to fight welfare reform here and got a loan - but not a gift. That is also what Syriza have had to settle for so far.

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