On the Sinn Fein electoral base. Sinn Fein are not working to engage or incorporate with the protestant working class. In fact they do their best to counter, repel and antagonise. As Conor Cruise O’Brien said May 11 1996 in The Irish Times here.
"I feel that unionists are essentially besieged. They’re under a pan-nationalist siege, of which the main stimulus is being supplied by Sinn Fein. So I don’t see it as my job to get out and annoy unionists. I think they’re been annoyed quite enough."
Alex Kane explained in the News Letter here what Sinn Fein should be doing:
"It seems to me that Sinn Fein has a simple choice to make: fully committing itself to co-governing Northern Ireland and making it the best possible place for both communities: or push on with a bogus, one-sided ‘reconciliation’ project that forever widens the gulf between themselves and unionists."On Sinn Fein not being a republican party, the author of the Ulster's Doomed blog said:
"In that sense both the SDLP and Sinn Féin are actually nationalist parties, but the SDLP is a republican nationalist party, while Sinn Féin is simply a nationalist party... Sinn Féin is essentially a Catholic nationalist party... For Irish nationalism to succeed in its project – and for that project to have been worth the effort – it must be a truly republican project, and as things stand at present Sinn Féin is not... Let a new party arise – a party that unites Catholic, Protestant, dissenter, atheist and all others is a common endeavour. Let the rump of Sinn Féin co-exist, if for no other reason that to emphasise the difference. And then let the battle of ideas commence."On the religiosity of Sinn Fein, it was written in The Irish Independent here:
"In McGuinness and Gerry Adams, Sinn Féin boasts the most ostentatiously religious leadership of any mainstream political party on this island (unionist parties included). Yet the ease with which these self-styled Holy Joes resort to bluster and doublespeak when speaking about what they claim are their most fundamental beliefs is breathtaking."
Michael Martin said of Sinn Fein here:
"Sinn Fein cannot be fully committed to all-island, all-community politics if it continues to insist on its own version of history and what it means to be Irish. How can a party be truly all-island and committed to convincing unionists if it sells t-shirts and mugs emblazoned with “IRA undefeated army”?
Increasingly, SF is not only demanding respect for its tradition of militant republicanism, it is trying to promote this as the only real republicanism. In spite of the fact that the large majority of republicans on this island repeatedly rejected the campaign of the Provisionals, they demand that their party icons be accepted by the rest of society.
Recently Gerry Adams even told the Dáil that Provisional IRA members stood alongside Pearse and Connolly. Simultaneously, his party has undertaken an aggressive policy of trying to turn the commemoration of events of 1916-22 to their narrow party advantage.
In case anyone still believes that Fianna Fáil says these things about Sinn Fein because of a fear of electoral challenge, the fact is we have been saying these things for years and, they are in no way our direct competitor.
Their basic positioning is as the all-purpose, anti-everything protest party. Ours is to be a centre-ground alternative, offering responsible opposition. We never have and never will cede to them the right to define Irish republicanism."