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Sinn Féin becomes UCD society

After two years without official recognition, buy cialis Sinn Féin UCD has once again become a society.

The college branch, sale which has remained active during its hiatus from the Freshers’ Tent, will be hoping to significantly increase its membership come September. That hope can hardly be described as misplaced; Sinn Féin is currently undergoing levels of public support in the Republic not seen since before Eamon De Valera founded Fianna Fáil in 1926.

Last year’s general election saw the party increase  win an additional ten seats in Dáil Éireann, bringing them to fourteen, and the most recent Sunday Times “Behaviour & Attitudes” opinion poll gives them 25% support among decided voters; making them the second most popular party in the country after Fine Gael.

The UCD branch’s renewal seems to be indicative of what’s happening to Sinn Féin nationally. This begs the question; why has a party that has a recent history steeped in controversy, that failed to win any seats for decades, and that could not even continue a society branch in UCD two years ago, suddenly become so popular?

Sinn Féin returned a record number of TDs to the thirty-first Dáil, but so did Fine Gael and The Labour Party. No major new party emerged to fill the vacuum left by the implosion of the Fianna Fáil/Green coalition so Sinn Féin was set to benefit almost by default. Yet this theory alone cannot account for the party’s 250% increase in the number of seats it holds.

The party has aggressively campaigned to change the once popular notion that it is somehow not serious alternative government material. The two heavyweights of the party in Northern Ireland, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, have run for the Dáil and Presidency respectively in the last year. McGuinness was unsuccessful, but Adams was elected on the first count in Louth and consistently polls as the most popular party leader in the country.

The extent of the contribution that Adams’ mere presence has made to the party’s popularity can perhaps be inferred from voters’ unwavering satisfaction with him despite what some describe as his consistently underwhelming performances in the Dáil chamber.

Gerry Adams, remember, is the man President George W. Bush and Senator Edward Kennedy refused to meet because of his connections with the Provisional IRA. He has been the leader of Sinn Féin since 1983, when the party could not win a seat in the South and when the IRA were being bankrolled by Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya. Now he is the most popular party leader in Ireland.

Despite all of this being true, could it be said that the Troubles are a part of history, that they no longer shade the electorate’s view of Sinn Féin politicians? Those of us young enough to be undergraduates are not old enough to remember the killings. The electorate has not forgotten about Ireland’s troubled past, but perhaps it is voting with the economy as the major issue.

To further its support, Sinn Féin is selling itself as the only party that occupies the top rungs of the moral ladder of Irish politics. This is a dangerous game; they are politicians, after all.

Twice already they have fallen far short of the higher standard which they set themselves; many taxpayers were annoyed to discover that they are paying Sinn Féin TDs a full salary and not just the average industrial wage as they believed they had been promised.

Then there was ‘Inkgate’ whereby Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh was discovered to have used €50,000 worth of ink cartridges over two years at  the taxpayers’ expense.

The UCD branch receiving society status is perhaps not the party’s greatest achievement of the last 12 months, but it will undoubtedly have a role to play in the continued growth of Sinn Féin.

Colin O’Shaughnessy

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