Northern Ireland: Sinn Fein Scores a Momentous Electoral Victory


For A 32 County United Irish Workers State!


By Laurence Humphries, 28.5.2022,




On the 5th May 2022, Sinn Fein – a petty-bourgeois nationalist party – won a momentous victory in Northern Ireland, winning all the first preference votes and becoming the largest party. The Northern Ireland election is run under proportional representation under the single transferable vote system. The Unionists have always been the dominant political voice in the North of Ireland since partition in 1922.


“Sinn Féin will be the largest party in the Northern Ireland Assembly for the first time, pushing the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) into second place. Sinn Féin has 27 seats, compared to the DUP's 25. The result means Michelle O'Neill will be entitled to become first minister - unprecedented for a nationalist. Earlier, Ms O'Neill said it had been an election of "real change" and a "defining moment for our politics and for our people". "Today ushers in a new era which I believe presents us all with an opportunity to reimagine relationships in this society on the basis of fairness, on the basis of equality and on the basis of social justice," she continued.” [1]




Partition and the Struggle for a United Ireland




A few years after the defeat of the Easter Uprising in Dublin in 1916, a bitter civil war took place between the two wings of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). The War was between the Pro-Treaty IRA and the Anti-Treaty IRA. The Free State was formed in 1922 under the Leadership of Eamon DeValera. The North of Ireland – or Ulster – became an statelet occupied by British imperialism. Protestants or extreme Loyalists argued that the North of Ireland was part of Britain and not Ireland. The IRA later split in the Official IRA and the Provisional IRA. The latter engaged in a number of bombings on the British Mainland and inside Ulster itself. The Official IRA heavily influenced by the Communist Party – a pro-Moscow Stalinist force which later became the Workers Party of Ireland. This period was referred to as the Troubles by bourgeois commentators.


The IRA was always a nationalist movement and fought the British state tooth and nail to establish a United Irish Republic using individual terror. The Unionist majority allied to the British state used Loyalist paramilitaries with their fascist outlook to carry out terrorist activity against the Catholic Minority. These Loyalist gangs had close connections with the fascist movement in Britain




The Good Friday Agreement and Power Sharing




In 1998 under the Tony Blair Labour Government after a number of meetings between Sinn Fein – the political movement of the Provisional IRA – an agreement was struck to end the fighting between the Provisional IRA and the Loyalists in the North of Ireland. The leadership of the IRA under Gerry Adams and Martin McGuiness made their peace with British imperialism and agreed to participate in a devolved system of government. Sinn Fein never advocated a Socialist United Ireland and used either the bullet or the parliamentary system. During the period of the Hunger Strikers when Bobby Sands became an important icon for many Catholics there was never a proper perspective on how to achieve liberation and a truly United Socialist Ireland. There were also governments in Scotland and Wales each with certain powers to rule their own devolved administrations. The Good Friday Agreement was different from the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales because of its political historical background with a nationalist movement which had led an armed struggle to free Ireland from the domination of British Imperialism.


The Good Friday Agreement (GFA), or Belfast Agreement, is a pair of agreements signed on 10 April 1998 that ended most of the violence of the Troubles, a political conflict in Northern Ireland that had ensued since the late 1960s. It was a major development in the Northern Ireland peace process of the 1990s. It is made up of the Multi-Party Agreement between most of Northern Ireland's political parties, and the British–Irish Agreement between the British and Irish governments. Northern Ireland's present devolved system of government is based on the agreement.


Issues relating to sovereignty, governance, discrimination military and paramilitary groups, justice and policing were central to the agreement. It restored self-government to Northern Ireland on the basis of "power-sharing" and it included acceptance of the principle of consent commitment to civil and political rights, cultural parity of esteem, police reform paramilitary disarmament and early release of paramilitary prisoners, followed by demilitarisation The agreement also created a number of institutions between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland ("North–South"), and between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom ("East–West")”. [2]


Power sharing is crucial to the Good Friday Agreement. For power sharing to work the Democratic Unionist Leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has to agree to work under Michelle O’Neill as First Minister and Donaldson as deputy First Minister. This is something the pro-imperialist Unionists will never do. The situation is complicated by the so-called Brexit Protocol agreement between Britain and European Community.




Brexit and the Protocol Agreement




The main plank of the Tory Governments Election Manifesto was Brexit when they won the 2019 General Election. The problem they encountered in relation to Northern Ireland was the so-called Protocol agreement which fixes tariffs and checks for produce crossing the Irish Sea and entering Eire. An Agreement – the Protocol agreement – was put in place where certain special arrangements were made. The DUP is opposed to the Protocol agreement as it now stands. These are some of the reasons why the DUP will not engage in the power sharing agreement and join Sinn Fein to ensure smooth running of the province. This of course is a smokescreen erected by the Unionists to prevent Sinn Fein ruling in the North of Ireland.


Sinn Fein has now replaced the Social Democratic Labour Party as the main Party who have delivered minimal reformist demands like Housing for all, campaigning on the water bill, defending the NHS and when they were in joint power with the DUP attempted to provide relief against high energy costs and inflation. It has continued to win support in Eire as the main opposition to the two bourgeois parties of Fianna Gael and Fianna Fail former combatants in the Irish Civil War.




The Tory governments attempt to ditch the Protocol Agreement




Boris Johnson and his Foreign Secretary have recently made statements that to ensure a smooth pathway to power sharing in Northern Ireland the Protocol agreement should be amended or even scrapped.


“British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday the government needed an "insurance" option to unilaterally scrap post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland, raising the risk of a trade war with the European Union. Johnson says the EU must make concessions on the rules - known as the Northern Ireland protocol - to win over the province's unionist community loyal to the United Kingdom, and has threatened action that the bloc says could start a trade war”. [3]


“Liz Truss has set the scene for a furious Brexit spat with Europe, over the Northern Ireland protocol unless the EU backs down. The foreign secretary’s warning in a phone call with European Commission vice-president Maroš Šefčovič is expected to be followed within days by the publication of emergency legislation to override key elements of the protocol, negotiated by Boris Johnson in 2019 to avoid a hard border between the Republic and the North after Brexit. Speaking after the call, Mr Šefčovič voiced “serious concern” over the impasse, warning it would be “unacceptable” for the UK to take unilateral action by walking away from the international treaty signed by Johnson”. [4]


The scene is now set for a conflict between Britain and Europe over the Protocol agreement. Of course, all this proves is that Brexit is in tatters over its approach to the North of Ireland which has never been part of Britain but is part of Ireland as Mary Lou McDonald and other republican have correctly argued. The leadership has now passed from the old guard of committed IRA Loyalists to Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill respectively, President and Vice President of Sinn Fein.


“Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald on Wednesday said Britain's proposals to override some post-Brexit trade rules in Northern Ireland were "astonishing" and yet another move by London that only serves to boost the Irish nationalist party's quest for a united Ireland. The move further inflamed relations with the EU, including neighbouring Ireland, which said the path chosen by London was of great concern. Sinn Fein, which became the largest party in British-run Northern Ireland for the first time at elections this month, added its disapproval on Wednesday.


"My first reaction is one of dismay, again, because this is just a repeat performance of the kind of bad faith, bad will approach of the British government," McDonald told Reuters in an interview in her office in the Irish parliament, where Sinn Fein is the main opposition party”. [5]




RCIT programme for a United Ireland




The RCIT has seen in the past months the crisis of imperialism reflected in the second slump of 2019 coupled with the continuing inter-imperialist rivalry in the Ukraine and other parts of the world. This has provoked social protests in Brazil, Sri Lanka and other parts of the world including the Middle East in Palestine, Iraq, Syria where the the masses are opposing imperialism and its agents. In Ireland and in Britain, the capitalist ruling class is in a terminal crisis together with its agents in the trade union bureaucracy and the Labour party who are just social-imperialist agents of the bourgeoise.


The RCIT in Britain puts forward the following programme for the struggle to overthrow imperialism in Ireland.


* For a referendum in the whole of Ireland about reunification of the island! Support the end of colonial division of Ireland. For a United Ireland which socialists advocate as a 32 County Workers Republic!


* For mass struggles on both sides of the divide to advance the struggle against colonialism and against capitalist attacks!


* Cancel the National debt!


* For armed defence guards to protect republican communities from the threat of terrorist attacks by Loyalist gangs whose role is to defend the Ulster statelet for British Imperialism!


* Nationalise the core sectors of industry, service sector and banks under workers control!






1) NI election results 2022: Sinn Féin wins most seats in historic election - BBC News


2) Good Friday Agreement - Wikipedia


3) Boris Johnson says legislative 'insurance' needed on Northern Ireland | Reuters


4) Brexit: Liz Truss tells EU she has ‘no choice’ but to act on Northern Ireland protocol (


5) Sinn Fein's McDonald says 'bad faith' UK government boosts united Ireland case | Reuters