On the Doors

A Letter From Ireland
Thursday, June 6, 2024

a Chara,

By the time this lands in your inbox, it will be election day.

I have been involved in election campaigns for over thirty years. The first campaign I worked on was in 1987 when Máirtín Ó Muilleoir stood to be elected to Belfast City Council. We won.

Máirtín joined a small Sinn Féin team in the council facing down discrimination, exclusion, and attack. If you ever get the chance, you should read his book about life in the council called, “Belfast’s Dome of Delight”.

At the time, British Ministers refused to meet with Sinn Féin. Unionist councillors refused their seats on committees with Sinn Féin. Our party was banned from the airways and our elected representatives, members, and offices were targeted by the British Military and their loyalist assassins.

All to face down democracy and halt the rise of Sinn Féin. They did not succeed.

That is not to say that every election has been successful. In the 1992 campaign British General election, Gerry Adams lost his seat in West Belfast. It was a lesson I would never forget, you cannot take success or people for granted. Every vote has to be fought for and won.

Every election is different. This election has been the Ring-doorbell election. It seems that every other house has a video doorbell so no sloughing as you are always on camera. One striking issue is how toxic social media has become in the lead-up and throughout the campaign with misinformation and abuse. Anyone outside of Ireland following Irish Politics on social media would think we are a society on the point of collapse.

The doorsteps tell a different story. The engagement has been good. People want to talk. They are courteous with valid concerns. They are frustrated with the lack of change and at a government that is not listening. Many are looking beyond the local and European elections to a general election and a change of government.

While no two elections are the same, one constant has been the caliber of Sinn Féin candidates. In these elections, we are fielding more candidates in more areas across the South.

The candidates in my area are inspirational. Talking with voters, listening to voters, and acting for voters. On the canvas trail, one commented that it was like having hundreds of job interviews as they moved to the next house and the next interview.

It takes a lot to put yourself forward. To put in the hard yards on the doorsteps, representing voters and dealing with hard cases of families in real need.

As one said, it is the small victories that keep you going, and the making of a difference in the lives of others.

I don’t know how the election will go. That is in the hands of the people. I believe that we will gain additional seats. I do know that once the results are declared we will begin working towards the next election and continue the work of building a new and united Ireland.

Have a great weekend.

Is mise,

Ciarán

Ciarán Quinn is the Sinn Féin Representative to North AmericaEach week he writes a letter from Ireland with news and analysis. It is featured in the weekly Friends of Sinn Féin USA Newsletter. Be sure you are subscribed to stay up to date.