You can't dance on the eye of a needle forever

I see that the DUP and the SDLP have decided to put pressure on Sinn Fein by introducing an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill relating to Abortion.

The amendment which is sponsored by Alban McGuinness of the SDLP and Paul Givan of the DUP would stop Abortions being carried out by private clinics and would only allow them in NHS facilities in exceptional circumstances.

This bill has attracted the support of the Catholic Church as well as well known and respected GAA manager Mickey Harte.

On the face of it Sinn Fein should not be opposed to this amendment as it is wholly consistent with their current position as mandated by previous Ard Fheiseanna.

For anyone who still isn't clear about Sinn Fein's position on Abortion it is thus, Sinn Fein opposes the introduction of the British 1967 Abortion Act. Martin McGuinness articulated the position well

"We believe that in circumstances where there is a risk to a woman's life, a risk to a woman's mental health and the grave dangers associated with that, in the final analysis a woman has to make her own decision."

So what can we garner from this position. Sinn Fein is opposed to abortion on demand and even where there is a risk to a woman’s life or her mental health there is no position taken by the party only that the final decision must rest with the woman.

You may have asked if this is the case why would Sinn Fein be opposed to the amendment if it is in line with current party policy.

Sinn Fein is a broad church in many ways; it is a mixture of hardcore Socialists, hardcore Conservative Catholic Republicans and every mixture in between.

On most issues there isn't a conflict but with certain elements of the party adopting more and more liberal stances in the South it may start to become an issue and vague policy positions will no longer cut it.

That was exemplified by the recent push by Sinn Fein in the Dail to legislate for the X Case and the refusal of Sinn Fein TD Peadar Toibin to support such an approach.

I can understand to some extent the reason why Sinn Fein are adopting a more liberal approach in the 26 counties, they are aggressively attacking Labours flank and believe this to be the best course but caution should be observed.

Across large sections of rural Ireland and indeed amongst a great many of their supporters and members in the North there is no appetite for this new found Liberal agenda. I also find it dishonest to try and keep the liberal and conservative social wings happy with vague sounding policy papers and positions.

In the long run you can't appease both masters and political opponents will always try and attack you when you are vulnerable.


CaoimhinMGM said...

Sinn Féin need to be careful that the aggressively liberal doctrinaires (such as Ruane) don't alienate that portion of the party which is comprised of rural, conservative republicans. In the longer term, as memories of the war fade and as Fianna Fáil attempt to puff up their republican credentials, this support could easily leak to the Soldiers of Destiny. This Sinn Féin voter would certainly be at least tempted if Fianna Fáil were not organised on a partitionist basis.

Chris Gaskin said...

I don't think they can afford to take the voters or indeed supporters for granted any longer. As the party moves into a more normal political footing it will find that loyalty that was once there is not still to the same extent any longer.