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Dr Matt Treacy: How not to beat Sinn Féin

Talleyrand is reputed to said of the Bourbon royal family – who were restored to power partly through his treachery following the downfall of Napoleon – that they had “learned nothing and forgotten nothing.”

RTÉ appears to be on the same wavelength when it comes to Sinn Féin, and pretty obvious attempts to wean the third or so of the likely electorate away from the party are becoming more frequent.

Have these people no self-awareness? Do they not recall how their ham-fisted and crude interventions across the mainstream media to stymie Sinn Féin in 2020 had the opposite effect? How Charlie Flanagan’s imbecilic embrace of the gentle Black and Tan most likely added several percentage points to the Shinner vote?

Do they not suspect that perhaps – to mangle my Napoleonic allusions – that the once dazzling robes of the Emperor of Montrose and the Diogenes of D’Olier Street appear increasingly threadbare following two years of Pandemic harangues which have deflated as quickly as the bubbles that were seriously proposed by the same person as a means to guarantee social distancing?

Sinn Féin may have gone along with all of that. They were of the Zero Covid faction when that seemed to fit with the panic. They have embraced at leadership level and among the new cohort of elected representatives and members all the superficial vacuity of the liberal bourgeoisie who people like Máirtín  Ó Cadhain and Desmond Fennell described for the deracinated rentier historical non entities that they are.

They unblushingly attack the current Irish government for housing and health and other failures that are replicated up the road where Sinn Féin has been part of the administration for the best part of twenty years. They can do so because most of their voters neither know nor care about any of that.

What they do care about is along with the pre-existing housing problems, that the health service will emerge from the Covid panic with all the mess with which it entered times three, a perception that the country is a much less safe place, that inflation appears to have made an unwelcome return.

While much of that is driven by the global economic forces to which a low tax, offshore,  multi-national convenience like Ireland is particularly vulnerable, prices increases are also driven in a large part by domestic tax. VAT for example adds 13.5% to domestic energy bills along with the other increases that are a consequence of dependence on imports given the almost total lack and of a domestic energy sector.

Carbon tax is set to increase soon from an annual average household cost of €76 to €93 – and this tax is actually a good example of how Sinn Féin operates. It supports all the nebulous ideology and virtue signalling about “climate justice” but was cute enough to oppose the tax as a direct take from people’s income.

That is what wins elections. What happened 20 or 30 or 40 years ago is irrelevant. In any event, when all of those things were taking place the Irish state and its broadcaster and the mainstream media were happy enough to go along with pretending that it was either not happening or pretending that the side they supported was the good guy.

There is also I suspect, as with Trump and Brexit and the appeal of populism in Europe, the genuine fear on the part of sections of the Dublin bourgeoisie not of Mary Lou and the banal spokespersons they trot out on various issues, but of the Irish Deplorables who seem to have opted for the Shinners as their party of choice.

It is a bad choice, but it will be only be the latest in a long series of such bad choices as evidenced by popular decisions of the past decade and more.

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