St Patrick’s Day Subservience 

It is hardly surprising that many progressive people have become increasingly uneasy about the Sinn Féin leadership’s relationship with the British establishment. Party vice president and Stormont First Minister, Michelle O’Neill, was recently pictured in a close embrace with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, while only last May, along with her colleague Alex Maskey, she attended the coronation of Charles Windsor. Even more disconcerting is the party’s wholehearted endorsement of the PSNI in spite of, among other issues, that force’s well-documented foot-dragging in relation to releasing material connected to legacy inquests. 

Nevertheless, and no matter how disturbing this cosying up to London may appear, it pales in comparison with the party’s obeisance to the United States’ government and administration. Nothing highlights this degree of subservience like their recent decision, indeed determination, to participate in the St Patrick’s Day festivities along with Joe Biden and his accomplices in the White House. 

Although the Sinn Féin excursion to Washington has been analysed elsewhere, it is useful to remind ourselves of some key points. At a time when the death toll in Gaza was approaching 30,000 (including well over 10,000 children), the Biden-led US administration donated $14 billion to the Israeli war machine while vetoing United Nations resolutions demanding an immediate ceasefire. And these are only the latest actions in a long list of American collaboration with Netanyahu’s genocidal onslaught on the Palestinian people. 

Difficult to believe then that Sinn Féin’s vice president, when questioned on a recent RTÉ programme about her intention to visit the White House, informed viewers that “the US has always been a strong partner for peace”. Elsewhere, party spokespersons have used the excuse that the upcoming visit has been endorsed by the Vichy-like Palestinian Authority’s ambassador to Ireland. 

A crucial point that has to be reinforced in all of this is the fact that unlike Colum Eastwood, leader of the conservative SDLP, Mary Lou and her party have chosen to be entertained by the US administration. After all, it would have been quite easy to have met Sinn Féin’s transatlantic support base without smooching with the masters of imperialism on Capitol Hill. 

It is this aspect of the visit – that is, the engagement with the American administration – which takes us to the crux of this matter. By rejecting and ignoring every call not to attend, by ignoring the possible fallout from alienating so many in Ireland, by risking lasting reputational damage through its craven commitment to the US state machine, Sinn Féin is making a statement. When boycotting the Biden “bash” may just have halted the party’s falling ratings, its leadership is, nevertheless, making clear that it wants a relationship with the White House above all other considerations. For Sinn Féin now, it’s all the way with the USA. 

The implications of this move are stark. There is nothing cosmetic about it, because in a nutshell, Sinn Féin is accepting and endorsing the United States’ worldview. A capitalistic view of the world that sees global domination from Washington as the optimum, indeed the only acceptable system. Moreover, as so much of the world knows to its cost, in order to gain global hegemony, Uncle Sam intervenes politically and militarily across the five continents resulting in prolific bloodshed. 

When not projecting its influence by direct military action, the US deploys debilitating economic sanctions, exemplified by the 60-year long blockade of Cuba. In fact, it is this attempt to starve the Cuban revolution that exposes the utter fallacy of the Sinn Féin claim to be able to speak truth to power. With access to every US president since Bill Clinton, they have failed to persuade Washington to lift the blockade. Perhaps the issue wasn’t raised which in itself begs the question, if not why not? 

In reality, the Sinn Féin trip to join Genocide Joe for a St Patrick’s Day knees-up in the White House confirms a view expressed in an article in last month’s Socialist Voice. Sinn Féin has regrettably accepted the bourgeois consensus that takes its lead from US imperialism.