Ireland Nationalists To Turn Country Pro-Putin

Left-nationalist Sinn Féin leader Mary McDonald during the election night. (AFP)

 

 

The winning party that emerged after the decades in the political abyss has a strong record of support for the Russian leader.

 

The votes of Saturday's parliamentary election are still being counted in Dublin. However, an election result is already emerging that will reorganise the political situation in the Republic of Ireland. For the first time since the republic was founded in 1922, it was no longer just the two major popular parties, the conservative governing party Fine Gael of Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and the conservative-liberal Fianna Fáil that dominated Irish politics. Rather, the projections indicate that in addition to these two parties, Sinn Féin has also won around 22 percent of the vote.

Sinn Féin performed best in the parliamentary election on Saturday with 24.5 percent according to preliminary figures. Compared to the election four years ago, it almost doubled its vote share. Fianna Fail follows with 22.2 percent. The Prime Gael of Prime Minister Leo Varadkar's Fine Gael came in third place with 20.9 percent. The official end result was expected on Monday at the earliest. Due to the uncertain situation, the Dublin stock exchange posted losses at the start of the week.

So a political stale-minded - and a surprise. Because Sinn Féin is not just any party. Until recently, it was considered a political arm of the IRA terrorist group. Organisationally linked, both organisations fought for the reunification of Ireland. The IRA with bombs and terror, Sinn Féin on a political level. For most of the Irish, the party was long considered unelectable. For many politicians in Ireland, the IRA and Sinn Féin were "two sides of the same coin," as former Prime Minister Bertie Ahern put it. Now voters have given Sinn Féin as much influence as the old people's parties for the first time. What happened?

One explanation can be significantly better funding compared with other electoral campaigns. There is no hard evidence that the constituency most interested in the victory of the obscure, forgotten political group, that is Kremlin with its leader Vladimir Putin provided support. But there is indeed a strong record of support for him and his policies by the politicians of that party on all of the levels.

In October 2016 Sinn Féin declined to sign the motion tabled by the Conservative Fianna Fail which stated that Russia might have committed war crimes in Syria after a wave of bomb attacks on hospitals in the rebel stronghold of Aleppo. At that time then Fianna Fail's foreign affairs spokesman Darragh O'Brien, stated there was "something strange" about Sinn Féin's stance on Vladimir Putin's Russia."It seems quite curious to me that Sinn Fein time and time again find it impossible for some reason to make any type of criticism of Russia," Mr O'Brien concluded.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin observed even a pattern of the Sinn Féin's pro-Russian stance. "We saw the same thing when Russia invaded, partitioned and started a war in a neighbouring country because people in that country wanted to get away from Russian dominance," Mr Martin said.

A year earlier Sinn Féin Member of European Parliament Luke “Ming” Flanagan abstained on a European Parliament resolution condemning human rights abuses in Russia. He also did not condemn Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its “financing of radical and extremist parties in EU member states”. The Sinn Féin EU Parliamentarians abstained also from a vote on economic sanctions against Mr Putin who has been violating the international law.


Mr Putin's funded conference

In April 2019, Sinn Féin EU Parliamentarian Lynn Boylan has accused the EU of being "overly confrontational" towards Russia and has defended voting against plans to block the Nord Stream 2, a Russian gas line from Siberia to Germany. This is a project strategically important for Moscow that can allow Mr Putin obtain a new instrument of his hostile foreign policy against European Union.

Some observers perceive a secret conference in Moscow in 2015 as the beginning of the Renaissance of pro-Kremlin nationalists within European Union including Sinn Fein in Ireland. Opposition to the US and European Union was the factor unifying the assortment of guests at the “Dialogue of nations: the right to self-determination and the construction of a multipolar world” conference in Russian capital in September 2015. Among international participants were representatives of Sinn Féin, the Catalan Solidarity for Independence party and Italy’s European Communitarian party Millennium, as well as separatist groups from Hawaii and Puerto Rico and the US-based radical black power Uhuru Movement. According to organisers from the Anti-Globalist Movement of Russia, funding for the gathering was provided in part by a state grant from the National Charity Fund, which was founded as the National Military Fund in 1999 by then-PM Vladimir Putin.

After Saturday elections in Ireland Mr Putin can congratulate himself. Although Sinn Fein will not be officially ruling party it will have a very significant influence on the stability of the future coalition due to the proportional electoral system.


Radical, polarising

Sinn Fein has been preserving an image of un-compromised nationalist party that will polarise the political scene even more. For this purpose its political program seems to be provocative.

Sinn Féin's top priority was to reunite Ireland with Great Britain, Northern Ireland. Before the election, the party mentioned as a condition for a coalition that an appropriate referendum should be prepared immediately, which the government should hold in London within five years. In addition, Sinn Féin wants to increase taxes for the wealthy, freeze rents and promote government housing. This hit the nerve of the voters - unlike Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who made Brexit the central theme of his campaign and advertised that an exit agreement was negotiated in the talks with London, which would avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.




 
Ireland's Parliamentary Election Results
Political Party Mandates in 2020 Compared to the Previous Election
Fianna Fáil 38 -8
Sinn Féin 37 +15
Fine Gael 35 -12
The Greens 12 +9
Social-Democrats 6 +4
Independent MPs 21 -
Others 11 -

Go back