It was with much interest that I read the Irish News interview with El Presidente last week. The interview concerned the 10th anniversary of the GFA.
In the interview Adams admitted that the conflict, in military terms at least, was "over done and dusted". Adams has often side stepped demands to make such a statement. I have heard his justification for this and it is valid. He said that by him making such a statement others would go out to try and prove him wrong.
However it was another point in the interview that really got me thinking. Adams said that when he goes as leader he believes that the next SF president should be "a southern politician".
He stated of how when he assumed the mantle of power in SF he was reluctant to do so. Furthermore he said that his reluctance was due to his belief that the SF presidency should always be filled by someone from the 26 counties.
This is where Gerry and I differ.
Not to adopt a partitionist mentality, but I must admit that I am a staunch advocate of having the presidency reside with someone from the 6 counties.
I can see the merits in Gerry’s view. We got decimated in the last Southern elections, showing a need to develop a competent and capable leadership down there. We simply were not ready to go into government and we had jumped the gun! We came up against parties that had been playing the politics of governmental power for the last 80 to 90 years, when in reality we have only been at it for about 10 or 15 years.
I agree with Adams that there are several realistic candidates in the 26 counties. Pearse Doherty has all the attributes of a leader and Martin Ferris is another republican I hold in high regard. However I believe the cons out weigh the pros on this issue.
My belief is ground in the empirical evidence that other ‘republican’ (and I use the term loosely) parties have gone into free fall after abdicating control to 26 county leaderships. The Sticks are nothing short of raving gangsters and lunatics, whilst the IRSP has shown more than ample evidence of what happens when control is stipulated by those in Dublin. The so called RSF and 32 CSC have not even been a blimp on the local politics scene since their inception. What have they done for their community? The problem lies in removing control over a struggle (albeit a political one now) from those in the firing line. These people voted against removing abstentionism and the GFA, whilst a lot of them were not in the firing line and returned home to Limerick or Wicklow or Dublin. Many of those who voted in favour had to go back to the firing line in areas like Ardoyne and the Short Strand.
It is my belief that the next SF leader should be from the 6 Counties. I would also like the leader to be a former military person. In this way the party can keep their radical, revolutionary cutting edge. Many have evinced a belief that SF are starting to lose this element. Installing a leader from the 26 Counties would indubitably further erode this. I would love to see someone like Conor Murphy or indeed Gerry Kelly as the next SF president. I believe that it is people of this ilk that have the ability to bring our freedom struggle to a victorious conclusion.