Watch you don't trip over the Elephant in the corner

I see that the "Ard Chomhairle Plus" meeting has taken place in Navan following our poor performance in the Euro and local elections.

It would seem that the party are aiming to gain three seats in the next Dáil elections in order to qualify for speaking rights.

A noble and indeed sensible suggestion as the loss of the technical grouping was a hammer blow in terms of communication.

The attitude coming out of the meeting however leaves me uneasy.

"Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams rejected suggestions that the party was in difficulties in the South due to Mary Lou McDonald losing her European seat in June and Seán Crowe losing his Dáil seat in the 2007 general election.

Mr Adams said the party was not in trouble in the Republic. “Clearly as a political party we encourage creative, honest direct debate,” he told reporters."

Now I hope that was just the usual chest out, head up spiel for the media. I say that as someone who, like a lot of others within the party, recognises the very real difficulties that we have in the 26 counties.

I don't plan to rehash the same arguments as I have made my opinions clear on a number of different occasions.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said the aim was to try to increase Dáil representation from four to at least seven in the next general election.

Seats that Sinn Féin is targeting include Donegal South West and Donegal North East where our respective candidates are Pearse Doherty and Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, and Dublin Central with Mary Lou McDonald.

The party is also hoping to regain the seat that Seán Crowe lost in Dublin South West.

If a General Election was held in the morning I don't believe that we would win all those target seats, if any, in fact I suspect that we would lose a few of our current seats on a bad day.

I don't say this with any relish; in fact I pray that I am wrong. That said I am a realist and we have a great many challenges facing us both within and outside the party.

While organisational issues need to be addressed they are not the full extent of our problems, despite what many of the "pragmatist" faith may believe.

As a party we are not fit for purpose, our message needs refined as does our position within the political spectrum.

We are a Socialist Republican party (I know to many that may sound like a dirty word but check the party constitution, it's very clear on the issue) and as such our policies and actions must reflect that ideology.

Thomas Davis once said "Educate that you may be free" and so it must be with us. We need to explain to voters what we stand for, what we are going to do and how we are going to do it.

That includes all party activists being fully armed with our latest policies and action plans.

The time is ticking to the next election and as each day passes so does our chance to turn things around.

Internal debate is one thing but there is a time for talking and a time for action.

Party activists should not be leaving it to others to shape our destiny.

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