The History Of Sinn Fein and Irish Republicanism.
Sinn Fein is the fastest growing political party in Ireland. Organised throughout the 32 Counties of this country, we are the only National Political Party who represent all the people of Ireland equally.
We are dedicated to the reunification of our Country through political representation and through the election of our members by the people, and for the people of this Island regardless of race or creed.
Modern Irish Republicans trace their political origins to the movement of the United Irishmen (and women, lets be politicaly correct here as women fought in these battels too!)of the 1790's. The United Irishmen took their inspiration from the French Revolution and fought to break the political connection between Ireland and Britain, believing that only an independent Ireland could guarantee equality and prosperity for the Irish people.
Most leading figures of the United Irishmen were Presbyterians and a key part of their programme was unity between Irish people of all religions and none in the cause of liberty. Their rebellion in 1798 was ruthlessly suppressed but their ideas continue to inspire Irish nationalists and republicans today.
The name Sinn Fein ("We Ourselves") first emerged in the early 1900's as a federation of nationalist clubs.
The Sinn Fein Party, inspired by the Proclamation in 1916, reorganised in 1917 based on the demand for an Irish republic. It won the 1918 general election with an overwhelming majority and established Dail Eireann ("Assembly of Ireland"). Following three years of guerrilla war, led by the underground republican government, the party split in 1922 on the issue of the Treaty which partitioned Ireland.
Throughout the 1920's, following a devastating Civil War, Sinn Fein continued as the republican party. Its fortunes ebbed and flowed in the 1950's and the early 1960's with the IRAs Border Campagin, during which Sinn Fein enjoyed significant electroal success.
In the 1960's, Sinn Fein adopted a more radical stance on social and economic affairs. But differing approaches to the Civil Rights Movement and to the outbreak of the present conflict in the Six Counties led to another split.
One section of Sinn Fein was in the process of abandoning the republican demand for British withdrawal from Ireland and went through various transformations such as the Workers Party and Democratic Left before eventually merging with the 26-County Labour Party.
Sinn Fein was to evolve through the next three decades into the party we know today. Sinn Fein has been to the forefront of the resistance of the nationalist people in the Six Counties as they saw their peaceful demand for Civil Rights met with represive laws and state violence.
It was in the early 1980's that Sinn Fein really began to make an impact as a serious political force.
The re-evaluation of Sinn Fein stradegy and reorganisation resulting from the mass campagins for the republican prisoners in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh and Armagh Jail before and during the 1981 Hunger Strike (When 10 ira prisioners died) set Sinn Fein on its present day course.
How is Sinn Fein Organised?Sinn Fein is organised throughout the 32 Counties of Ireland. Anyone who lives in Ireland and is aged 16 or over can apply to be a member of the party. The Sinn Fein structure is:
CUMANN (Local Group)
The Cumann is the most important part of Sinn Fein because it is the most visible and active republican presence in any community. A Cumann must consist of no fewer than 5 people and a recommended maximum of 20. It can be organised in a workplace, College, University, Village, town or City. Members of a Cumman elect delegates to the Comhairle Ceantair, the Cuige and The partys Ard Fheis (National Delegate Conference).
Cumman members carry out a regular programme of activity on a wide range of social, economic and political issues. The core aims of Sinn Fein cumainn are to mobilise and help empower communities and build popular support for the party by articulating and implementing republican policies.
COMHAIRLE CEANTAIR (District Executive)
The Comhairle Ceantair is based on county electoral areas and provides a resource as well as direction to all Cumainn in its area. The Comhairle Ceantair overseas party organisation, fund-raising and local election campaigns and initiatives. The Chairpersons of each of the Cumainn in the district attend the Comhairle Ceantair as representatives of their Cumainn and brings back the minuets of the meeting to his or hers Cumainn.
CUIGE (Regional Executive)
Sinn Fein Cuigi are based on the five European Union electoral constituencies in Ireland. Munster, Ulster, Leinster, ConnachtUlster, Dublin and the Occupied Six Counties. It organises, publicises, develops and coordinates Sinn Fein activities in its region. Currently under the Munster Cuige Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Tipperary and Kerry are represented by their elected reps from their Cumainn / Comhairle Ceantair. It also has an elected Officer Board. All Cuigi can elected 3 reps to the Ard Chomhairle.
COISTE SEASTA (Standing Committee)
The Coiste Seasta meets every week to ten days to oversee the day to day running of Sinn Fein. It has an 8 member body nominated by the Ard Chomhairle and also includes the Chairperson of each Cuige.
ARD CHOMHAIRLE (National Executive)
The Ard Chomhairle meets at least once a month. It directs the overall implementation of Sinn Fein policy and activities of the party. The Ard Chomhairle also oversees the operation of various departments of Sinn Fein. Such as
Ogra Shinn Fein
It is made up of an Officer Board and 9 other members all of whom are elected by delegates to the Ard Fheis and 15 representing the 5 Cuige regions. The Ard Chomhairle can elect 8 members for specific posts and additional members can be elected, if necessary, to insure that at least 30 per cent of the Ard Chomhairle members are women.
ARD FHEIS (National Delegate Conference)
The Ard Fheis is the ultimate policy making body of Sinn Fein where delegates directly elected by members of Cumainn can decide on and implement policy. It is held at least once a year but the Ard Chomhairle or the membership under special circumstances can call a special Ard Fheis.
SINN FEIN CAMPAGINS ON
Irish unity and Independence
Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement
Equality and justice
Sharing the wealth
Workers rights and Industrial Relations
Health and Social Services
Education and Culture
European Union and World Trade
Building An Ireland Of Equals