Gerry Adams Terrorist or Not
Gerry Adams, long time president of the legal Republican political party Sinn Fein, has suffered many trials in his life. Not the least of these were two internments, one for a period of months beginning in 1972, one beginning in 1973. Although he became a sentenced prisoner during his second detention, his charge came not as a result of successful prosecution of “terrorist offenses,” but rather as a result of failed attempts to escape from his imprisonment without trial.
Notwithstanding British efforts to brand him as a criminal and a member of the IRA, Adams has never been convicted of any “terrorist” crime, nor has he been proven to share with the IRA anything but a desire for the unification of Ireland. One positive and remarkable thing did result from his unjust incarceration, however: Cage Eleven, a collection of short stories smuggled out of Long Kesh between 1975 and 1977, in which Adams writes about his experiences as a political prisoner.
Truly, what resulted from his imprisonment was extraordinary, for Adams paints for the reader a side of Irish life—as well as a side of himself— unseen by most people, particularly foreigners who are often lead to believe by the BBC that Republicans in general and IRA members in particular are inhuman monsters, senseless killing machines devoid of any emotion. The roots of this smear campaign can be traced to arrival of the British Army in the Six Counties.
Liz Curtis argues that before that moment some elements of the British press were sympathetic to the demands of the CRA, even praising nationalist activists like Bernadette Devlin-McAliskey, MP. Of her, on 23 April, 1969 in an article entitled “Miss Devlin enthrals [sic] packed House with straight-from-heart speech,” The Times wrote “She’s a bonny fighter,” echoing the comments of the 19 April Daily Express article that trumpeted “She’s Bernadette, she’s 21, she’s an MP, she’s swinging” (qtd.
in Curtis 1998:24). This viewpoint would radically change subsequent to the arrival of the Army in August 1969, after which the young MP would now be said to be heading a “sinister army” of “revolutionary extremists” by an 11 September article in the Daily Mail. In this fashion, the press—co-opted by the Army in a new state of war—attempted to link in the public mind civil rights groups like the CRA with paramilitary groups like the IRA. Adams himself still faces a similar problem.
Many British and Unionist press organs use only the compound term “Sinn Fein/ IRA” whenever covering the former (again, it must be emphasized, legal political) party. Richard Francis, the Controller of BBC Northern Ireland in 1977 classified Sinn Fein as a paramilitary group, and required his underlings to treat it members as such (in Francis’ words, “as hostile witnesses”) when reporting their activities or interviewing their representatives (Curtis, 1998: 183).
The directive was adhered to with glee by the BBC, as is exemplified by an interview with Adams on a November 1982 episode of the BBC news program Panorama. As Liz Curtis reports, the “interview” was “like a cross between an inquisition and a battle, “and was prompted by the previous month’s Assembly election, but reporter Fred Emery showed little interest in exploring why Adams had topped the poll in West Belfast. Instead, his overriding concern was to undermine Adams’ new status and to establish that Adams was a member of the IRA…
A more enlightened approach would have been to ask why a man who was associated—rightly or wrongly – in the public mind with the IRA, had won such widespread support among nationalist electors… The interview in the end elicited little about Adams save his determination to stand his ground, and the programme as a whole threw no light on why nearly 10,000 people had voted for him; Emery’s approach ruled out the possibility of a sympathetic examination of nationalist attitudes (Curtis 1998:184-5).
Despite the counter-productivity of this journalistic style in creating anything but pro-British propaganda, it was not seen to be effective enough by Margaret Thatcher. Under her urging (after ministers had talked her out of even more repressive measures) in 1988 Home Secretary Douglas Hurd introduced a broadcasting ban based on clause 14(4) of the BBC’s License and Agreement, and section 29(3) of the Broadcasting Act of 1981. These laws were designed for use in wartime and gave the Home Secretary the power to prevent the broadcasting of any material s/he deems unfit.
Under Hurd’s plan, eleven Irish organizations were censored: neither the words of their representatives, nor words spoken in support of the censored organizations could be broadcast. Although Sinn Fein was a legal political party it fell under this ban, the language of which was initially interpreted in its broadest sense and used to exclude Republicans from appearing on television completely. However, eventually the total media blackout was modified to the strictest literal interpretation of the legislation with Republican politicians allowed to appear, but with their own voices replaced either by subtitles or voiceovers.
In some cases, actual events were reconstructed in totality, using actors (Curtis 1998: 290). While this at first glance may only seem absurd, the propaganda effect of having a Sinn Fein representative’s voiceover being done by an actor with a sinister voice should not be dismissed. In addition, in the simple act of censoring an organization the British government hopes to cast doubt upon its legitimacy. In reality, the legitimacy of an organization can only be determined when its representatives are allowed to speak freely, unfettered by restrictions.
It is for this reason that Adams should be studied not as a terrorist connected to IRA, but as a politician and activist. Gerry Adams, Sinn Fein and Equality “Equality is the most important word in the republican vocabulary. ” This priority, articulated by party President Gerry Adams at the 2003 Ard Fheis, could be seen as a departure for a politician and activist that was, for decades, focused on the national question and reunification which constituted the main dynamics behind Sinn Fein’s struggle.
Although these objectives were linked, in republican rhetoric, to the achievement of a just and equal society, the mechanisms by which they would be attained were, for years, not thoroughly spelt out or thought through. But in the twenty-first century Sinn Fein’s focus has been altered, and the party strives to be seen as a truly socialist organization. Republicans contend that inequalities persist in the Republic of Ireland, in spite of the recent economic boom that was baptized the Celtic Tiger.
They attribute the main cause of this to the economic model that underlies the prosperity, one which is thought to be unsustainable. Justin Moran, parliamentary assistant to Sinn Fein’s Dublin South West TD Sean Crowe, considers that “the type of jobs that are being created by multinational corporations, who will leave when the situation is no longer profitable, are not unionized” (Ellis, 29). Gerry Adams sharply criticizes the failure of successive governments, be they Fianna Fail- or Fine Gael-led, and with or without the collaboration of the Labor Party, to make the fight against poverty and destitution a priority.
Gerry Adams goes even further, estimating that inequalities have worsened since the newly achieved prosperity of the nation (Ellis, 31). Its policy document, “No Right Turn: Sinn Fein’s Call to Action Against the Thatcherisation of Ireland”, identifies this trend in Ireland as “an agenda [which] represents a very negative development in Irish politics and will exacerbate the problems of gross inequality and injustice that exist in the State already” (Sinn Fein, No Right Turn, 2003:3).
The economic indicators that placed Ireland at the top of the league of EU countries at the end of the millennium are not sufficient evidence, according to Gerry Adams’ analysis, of the economic success of the country. On the contrary, the fact that in spite of the spectacular growth rates which have been achieved over the last decade of the twentieth century, the gap between rich and poor has increased, poverty is rampant and the number of children living beneath the poverty line has also increased, is ascribed to the missed opportunities on the part of successive governments to correct injustices.
When launching his party’s electoral manifesto for the 2002 general election, Adams enumerated what he viewed as the main social problems in Ireland. Those were: a quarter of children and one-fifth of adults living in households with half the average income; the crisis in the healthcare system; the most unequal distribution of wealth of all industrialized states outside the USA, and the over-representation of women among those on minimum wage and part-time work (Adams, 2003:4).
One of the party’s objectives is to ‘eliminate poverty’, which is analyzed as a “persistent condition associated with unfettered market economies. It also arises out of the failure of the state structures to plan development” (Sinn Fein, Eliminating Poverty: A 21st Century Goal, 2004:2). The recommendations listed in this policy document include more spending on social inclusion, higher powers given to the Equality Commission and a human rights approach to the combat against poverty.
Sinn Fein’s analysis is totally incompatible with that of the Progressive Democrats, one of the parties in the Fianna Fail-led government elected in 2002: Minister for Justice Michael McDowell contended, on the contrary, that ‘A dynamic economy like ours demands flexibility and inequality in some respects to function’, adding that such inequality ‘provides incentives’ (Irish Times, 28 May 2004). Gerry Adams points to the state of the public sector, and particularly that of the health services, as proof of the failure of the state to tackle issues that affect, primarily, the most vulnerable sections of society.
Indeed, state investments in the newly achieved prosperity have been sparse. A study of the Celtic Tiger points to the fact that Ireland was the only state in the EU whose public expenditures were less than 40 per cent of the GDP, and concludes that ‘successive administrations in Dublin drew away from providing public services and public welfare in the 1990s in favor of providing tax breaks that favoured the richer segments of Irish society’ (Coulter and Coleman, 2003:48).
In Adams’ view, only a complete overhaul of the economic and social structures will lead the country forward on its road to equality. This means opposing all attempts at privatizing public services such as transport or health. The proposals of the party in this regard are quite straightforward: massive state investment in essential public services to make them accessible to all; free healthcare, free education and a better distribution of wealth through an overhaul of the current taxation system.
This, obviously, is at odds with the policies of the Irish government, which has maintained tax cuts and low expenditure as the key to economic success. It is thus not surprising that leaders such as Progressive Democrat Mary Harney sharply criticize these proposals: calling Sinn Fein’s economic proposals ‘extremely left-wing policies that have been abandoned by others’, she forecast that ‘their economic policies would destroy the country and the economy and create huge unemployment again. They are very anti-foreign investment; they want huge corporate taxes’ (McGarry and O’Leary, 2002:9).
Sinn Fein’s General Secretary Robbie Smyth replies that his party has “no problem with foreign investment, but there needs to be more interaction with the host communities, and the investors need to be made aware of their responsibilities” (McGarry and O’Leary, 2002:12). Gerry Adams criticizes its main rival on the left, the Labor Party, for what it perceives as its increasing shift to more liberal policies: “in a move to capture working-class votes, Labour has ceased to be a campaigning party.
In the last election, as it had a realistic opportunity to overtake Fine Gael, it moved to the right. In this process, it has lost votes and even seats to Sinn Fein in many working-class areas” (Adams 2003:42-43). The type of socialism that is advocated by Sinn Fein does not belong to any particular school, the main reference being to James Connolly and to a native historical line that goes back to the 1916 Proclamation. In some way, socialism is presented as being synonymous with republicanism, and therefore there is no perceived need to theorize or to have any external references.
But if the avowed aim of Sinn Fein has been, since the early 1960s, the establishment of a thirty-two-county socialist republic, the party’s relationship with that particular ideology has been, over the past forty years, somewhat ambivalent. There were several reasons why socialism was not, per se, the ideology that best suited the nationalist struggle waged by republicans. First and foremost, any analysis of the northern conflict in terms of class struggle was seen as divisive, and could in itself jeopardize the ultimate aim of reunification.
This is precisely what most divided Officials and Provisionals in the 1969 split. Early-day Provisionals considered sectarianism to be the main divisive factor and saw little merit in the Official objective of uniting the working class. This type of rhetoric was even deemed counterproductive as it was seen as comforting the partitionist analysis. To some extent, the type of socialism advocated by those who sought to unite the working class beyond the sectarian divide was seen almost as revisionist and counter-revolutionary, since it proposed to correct inequalities through the state and its institutions.
Furthermore, socialism was far from being a consensual ideology in a movement which brought together people from very different cultural, social and economic backgrounds. In an interview with the magazine “Hibernian” in 1979, Gerry Adams was careful to point to the fact that Sinn Fein was not a Marxist organization, although he recognized the same year that ‘we must ensure that the cause of Ireland becomes the cause of Labor, a cause neglected since Connolly’s time (Associated Press, 23 June 1979).
Finally, there was a fear among republicans that socialism would jeopardize the military option by taking first place in the republican objectives. This was based on the numerous experiences within the movement which had seen the IRA cast aside when the socialist analysis prevailed, particularly in the 1960s, when the Officials identified one of the main factors which prevented the ultimate objective of unifying the proletariat as being, precisely, armed struggle.
Reliance on IRA campaigns, however, led to a neglect of politics, making Sinn Fein come across as an apolitical grouping whose focus was mainly, if not exclusively, on direct action. Although the objective of the Provisionals was the establishment of a thirty-two-county socialist republic, socialism was not a term that was used frequently in the 1970s and 1980s. Former chief-of-staff Sean MacStiofain’s vision of socialism was quite blunt: “Certainly as revolutionaries we were automatically anti-capitalists.
But we refused to have anything to do with any communist organization in Ireland; on the basis of their ineffectiveness, their reactionary foot-dragging on the national question and their opposition to armed struggle. We opposed the extreme socialism of the revisionists (Officials) because we believed that its aim was a Marxist dictatorship, which would be no more acceptable to us than British imperialism or Free State capitalism” (MacStiofain, 1975:135).
MacStiofain could have been considered more reactionary than other fellow travelers such as Ruairi O Bradaigh and Daithi O Conaill who were undoubtedly more forthcoming in their espousal of socialism. Nevertheless, the analysis of the 1980s still prioritized the national question and positioned socialism in the background. Tom Hartley, then General Secretary, was pragmatic in his approach, stating that “you limit your appeal if you base it on socialism. You have to priorities what is required to get rid of partition. We want to bring the struggle to a conclusion. Will you do that on a socialist basis or on a broader basis?
” (White, 1996:115). Gerry Adams had already answered that question in 1986: “I don’t think that socialism is on the agenda at this stage, except for political activists of the left. What’s on the agenda is an end to partition. You won’t get near socialism until you have national independence. It’s a prerequisite” (Irish Times, 10 December 1986). Gerry Adams: Beyond the IRA When Bairbre de Brun, then Sinn Fein Minister for Health in the Northern Ireland executive, was interviewed by an Irish Times journalist in May 2002, she seemed slightly irritated to be asked about decommissioning when she obviously wanted to talk about health.
“I knew I would not get to the end of an interview without somebody plucking the word out of nowhere” (Irish Times, 2 May 2002), she said. Yet the word was not plucked out of nowhere. However tedious or difficult it might be for republican leaders to be constantly asked about when the IRA will disarm, and when it will eventually disband, this question is central to the understanding not only of the peace process but of the future role that Gerry Adams might play on both sides of the border. Sinn Fein has many well-rehearsed answers to questions relating to decommissioning.
It asserts that it possesses no weapons, that the process of putting arms beyond use has been effectively started, that time is needed to gain the confidence of the broad republican constituency in order to avoid splits. All these arguments undoubtedly have their merits. However, they have so far failed to convince the majority of political parties on both sides of the border. These parties still regard Sinn Fein as an organization whose democratic credentials are not fully established, as its attitude towards paramilitary-style activities is seen as ambivalent.
As long as this perceived contradiction within republicanism is not resolved, Sinn Fein will continue to be partly shunned by other parties who still regard republicans, at least publicly, as unacceptable potential government partners. Indeed, their policies and standpoints are at times dismissed as lacking credibility because the party still allegedly has links with the IRA. But Sinn Fein does have a political and social vision, no matter how strongly one agrees or disagrees with it.
Nevertheless, the lines between Sinn Fein’s leader Gerry Adams and the IRA have been blurred for so many decades that it is difficult to extricate one or the other from their common historical, cultural and political roots. There is no doubt that Sinn Fein has become far more than the political wing of the IRA, in many different ways. Nevertheless, the IRA is an integral part of republican culture. The commemorations that are regularly held, the speeches made at the Ard Fheis, the mythology surrounding some of the past leaders or volunteers, all show how deeply rooted the IRA is within republican identity.
Doing away with that component is not an easy task. Indeed, weapons can, and have been, put beyond use. And with sufficient political skill, Gerry Adams could potentially turn this difficulty into a strong negotiating card. He is very adept at cultivating a discourse in which the IRA is presented as having played a positive part in the peace process, contributing to carrying it forward and doing more on the decommissioning issue than other organizations. But this does not hold much sway with the main political formations of the island, which simply see the continued existence of the IRA as unacceptable.
The unionists are not the only ones to castigate Gerry Adams on its association with the IRA and to question its democratic credentials. The criticism of Gerry Adams’ relationship to the IRA emanating from other political parties such as the SDLP or Fianna Fail, which is also that of the British government, can be quite scathing. The position of the Republican Movement is seen as not wholly consistent, since it is considered impossible to reconcile a peace strategy with continued paramilitary activities. Republicans are seen as living in a culture that is complacent towards paramilitary operations.
Despite the difficulties involved in disbanding an organization that commands such respect within republican circles (a point on which most parties are ready to concede) both the SDLP and the UUP point to the fact that there is the need for some time scale on which to hinge the process of disarmament. “You can’t have a period of transition for 30 years. Wars end. Armies go home” (McFerran, 1997:74). In his view, if the IRA continues to operate, Gerry Adams should simply disown it and let the police deal with the criminal activities in which its members are allegedly involved.
Fergus Finlay (Labour Party) mentions the vigilantism-type operations that take place in Dublin and in other parts of the country which, combined with a party structure which he sees as rigid and military-like, cast a shadow over Gerry Adams’ democratic credentials. In fact, he goes further by denying republicans the title of socialist. “You can’t be a socialist if you’re not democratic. Their relation to violence is too recent, they are too unwilling to repudiate it. You can mouth all the platitudes you want about equality, but these are not convincing if you’re not prepared to condemn vigilantism” (Aughey, 2005: 78).
In some respect, neither the SDLP nor the Labor Party sees the quantity of arms that the IRA possesses as the issue, as much as the capacity of republicans to keep to their commitments on decommissioning. If republicans were to announce a time frame within which decommissioning would happen, and stick to it, then progress would be considered substantial, and arms would no longer be seen as being used as a bargaining tool. What, indeed, are the options for the IRA? One, which is favored by most political parties, is that the organization disbands, be legalized and become an old comrades association.
However, there is little doubt that this is a difficult route to take for a number of republicans. Most seem to believe that the direction taken by their leadership is, globally speaking, the correct one. But some think that this same leadership has betrayed their movement and destroyed the struggle. Nevertheless, those disgruntled members concede that it is too late to turn back, and that there would be no point in taking up the struggle anew. The other option for the IRA is to remain as it is at present.
This implies that Gerry Adams maintains the perceived ambiguity that exists between the two organizations and obtains some political gains in return. This ambiguity is very much fuelled by the media, which speculate regularly on the identity of the men (or women) who sit on the commanding body of the IRA, the Army Council. Journalist Vincent Browne asked Adams whether he was P. O’Neill, the trademark signature of all IRA statements since the early 1970s. Indeed, a number of statements from the IRA contain striking similarities with the language used by the Sinn Fein press releases.
Adams has constantly denied ever having been a member of the IRA, and continues to do so. But whether the identity of P. O’Neill is revealed or not, the more profound question is whether Gerry Adams is prepared to become totally free of the IRA, or indeed, if it is willing to do so. As long as it does not do so, speculations about the future intentions of the Republican Movement will continue to abound. Some observers have therefore talked of a strategy that borrows from the long war experience and translates it into a lengthy negotiation process.
In such a scenario, republican intransigence is met by unionist intransigence, but it is the Ulster Unionist Party which gets the blame and ultimately stands to lose, as was shown by the November 2003 electoral results. Indeed, republicans have been quite adept at presenting their party as being the one that makes concessions and sacrifices, and unionism as rigid and unyielding in its stance. This rhetoric is, according to David Ervine, what explains Gerry Adams’ successes in the November 2003 elections (qtd in Aughey, 2005:30).
Other observers point to the repeated messages emanating from Gerry Adams that express his willingness to work within the institutions and to operate as a political leader within a devolved assembly and government as a sign that he and party are indeed prepared to put their own past, one where the party and the IRA were historically linked, behind. But Fergus Finlay remarks that there is no need for the IRA to disband for Sinn Fein to play a full political role, as it has sat in government without prior decommissioning.
More importantly perhaps, the IRA is, in Finlay’s words, “an undefeated army”, something which republicans are also keen to insist on (qtd in McFerran, 1997:78). In Joe Cahill’s words, they have “won the war” (qtd in McFerran, 1997:78). What they need to do to “win the peace” is in great part predicated, however, on their capacity to retain the balance they have struck between their electoral successes and their radical edge. One of Sinn Fein’s greatest assets is undoubtedly the fact that it is, first and foremost, a party of activists.
For this reason, it emphasizes what it describes as the bottom-up organization of its decision-making process and of its structures. However, it is also a party driven strongly by its leadership. It relies, principally, on a handful of personalities who seem to have the trust of the overwhelming majority of its members. But relying on charismatic figures such as Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness or Alex Maskey could be one of the party’s weaknesses in the longer term.
The party has yet to find a voice that would speak for the southern part of the country. Although it has five elected representatives in the Dail, none of these have succeeded in attaining the stature of their northern colleagues. Sinn Fein is an all-Ireland party; therefore the fact that its leadership seems to be based principally in the north is obviously problematic. Furthermore, the difficulties experienced by the SDLP might carry a lesson for Sinn Fein.
Although its current leaders see themselves as the victims of a governmental strategy that has focused strongly on the ‘problem parties’, leaving them on the margins of the decision-making process, the loss of John Hume or Seamus Mallon, whose names had been closely identified with moderate nationalism in the north, undoubtedly contributed to the party’s crisis of identity. Sinn Fein is aware that relying on its present leadership could pose a problem if no alternative personalities come forward who could carry the party into the future, when Adams or McGuinness step down.
This is being addressed, according to Sinn Fein’s Director of Publicity Dawn Doyle, not only by ensuring that more individual representatives are given greater prominence and a higher public profile, but also by making sure that there is a dedicated and solid base. “The key thing that the ANC drilled into us is that when people come in, they have to be grounded in the policy, that they know the full extent of why they’re coming in” (Aughey, 2005:106). Sinn Fein’s highly efficient organizational machine has contributed to the party’s recent electoral successes, particularly since the start of the millennium.
Unlike other parties in the island, Sinn Fein fights elections on both sides of the border, a fact that implies a strain on its financial and human resources. Between 2001 and 2004, it have fought two general elections (one in the south and one in the north), one local, one European, and one for the assembly of Northern Ireland. The danger of becoming too focused on electioneering cannot be ignored, as this would run contrary to what Gerry Adams professes to fundamentally believe in: street politics, activism and involvement in local politics and campaigns.
As the party’s national organizer, Pat Treanor, reminded the readers of An Phoblacht in January 2004, electoralism is a permanent site of struggle and we must maximise support for our party next June, but we also need to develop in a radical way all the other sites of struggle. There are other watersheds. As activists of a radical movement, we should ask ourselves regularly some questions that challenge us. Are each of the party’s organizational structures as strong as we will need them to be, to achieve our objectives? (Associated Press, 8 January 2004) Republicans still emphasize the importance of their work outside of the institutions.
“One of the crucial things is not to privilege electoral representatives”, says North Belfast councilor Eoin O Broin (Elliott, 2002:29). Being an electioneering party while not becoming institutionalized is therefore another challenge that the party will face in the years to come. The very word ‘institutionalization’ conjures up a series of negative precedents, since it is perceived as the root cause of major splits which have fragmented and, ultimately, weakened the movement. More fundamentally, institutionalization also means a loss of identity.
Yet is it possible, in the longer term, to keep wining elections and parliamentary seats and to retain its identity as an activist-led, radical organization? According to O Broin, “the examples of Clann na Phoblachta or the Workers’ Party as former abstentionist Sinn Fein parties entering the mainstream and losing their edge are frequently quoted. Their short-lived experiences have taught present-day republicans that ‘when they went into government, they moved away from the organization and ideological culture that got them to where they were. Their great mistake was to have actively broken that link’ (Elliott, 2002:31).
Republicans therefore see it as fundamental that they succeed in remaining as true to their radical roots as possible while not confining themselves to the margins. How this is done is undoubtedly problematic, because if the party does increase its share of the vote, it may be necessary to start compromising on some issues. Striking a balance between being a successful electoral party while retaining its identity and not becoming ‘neutralised by the state’, as O Broin puts it, is one of the main tasks that will face republicans in the years to come.
For the time being, Sinn Fein has to manage the strains that the recent growth in activity has implied. The structures of the party have been slightly amended to adapt them to the ‘equality agenda’ with which the party wants to be identified, with the appointment of regional equality officers, the organization of in-house training, internal conferences and so on. The policies of the party on some issues remain outdated and therefore unconvincing in some respects.
This could impact on whether the electorate is willing to trust Sinn Fein with its social and economic vision of Ireland. Gerry Adams claims that one way of measuring Sinn Fein’s successes is not only in electoral terms, but also in terms of the impact that it will have made, in a few years time, on society (Aughey, 2005:71). On some issues at least, republicans still have some way to go before they can demonstrate convincingly that they are the bearers of a social vision that can translate into the governing of a country.
However, a lot of work needs to be carried out on issues that have been identified as key areas, such as education, the fight against racism, or gender. The concrete measures and the rethinking of policies in the latter area seem to indicate that the party is genuinely committed to the aim of being a gender-balanced party. In the shorter term, Gerry Adams has set more pragmatic objectives, such as building on its electoral strength.
In some way, the next general election in the Republic will be seen as a critical indicator for its future prospects, in the sense that it will reveal whether the 2002 results represented a breakthrough or simply the result of good local policies. It will also reveal whether the support for Sinn Fein has reached a ceiling. Avoiding such a ceiling will require that Sinn Fein overcome some of its existing difficulties, such as its poor performance when it comes to transfer of votes and its weak incursion into the middle clSample Essay of EduBirdie.com