The international media has been captivated by the campaigns underway in the United States for the White House in 2024. Much of this attention has centred on Donald Trump’s bid to regain the presidency, with some lesser attention being paid to his Republican rivals like Ron DeSantis. Many Irish people have also been captured by the American election cycle, which is notably long. You never seem to catch a break with the biennial midterms sandwiched in between.

However, we have our own elections to deal with in seven months’ time. The Local and European elections are scheduled for June 2024. There’s certainly little excitement for the contest from the government of the day which has declined even further in popularity since the general election of 2020. This can be seen in the announcements by Frances FitzGerald and Deirdre Clune of Fine Gael that neither will be candidates to hold their MEP seats. In addition to determining the profile of local government authorities and our nation’s representation in the European Parliament, they will also serve as dry run for a general election (that is, if a general election is not called before then). Most importantly, next year’s elections provide nationalists with an opportunity to reach the electorate through activism, canvassing, and postering.

Many commentators have predicted that we are likely to see a substantial rise in support for Sinn Féin. It’s never wise to make specific predictions as to the outcome of elections. Nobody can say how many seats will be gained or lost nationally, how many councils will be ‘flipped’, how many government MEPs will end up in Brussels, and so on. At this point there is simply not enough information to make an educated guess, and even if there was the erratic nature of elections and the large margins of error can catch us out just as they have caught us out many times before at home and abroad.

The highly centralised nature of the Irish political system means that even if Sinn Féin scores a large victory in the local elections, they will not wield much significant executive power. But it would likely put wind in the sails of the party ahead of a general election. It would also have an impact on the make-up of the Seanad post-general election. Such a victory would show that Sinn Féin’s strong performance in 2020 was not a fluke, and that the party has maintained enthusiasm and momentum.

Undoubtedly, if Sinn Féin comes to power in the next few years we will see a government even more openly hostile towards nationalist and those with misgivings about the impact of mass-immigration. This is not to absolve the current Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael/Green government of the so called ‘progressive centre’ of its already hostile attitude.

Whether it comes in the form of an absolute Sinn Féin majority or a ‘vote left, transfer left’ coalition, we must be ready to deal with whatever attacks the regime will launch against nationalist sentiment and ourselves as individuals. In spite of these physical and psychological attacks on ourselves and our colleagues, we have remained steadfast in our pursuit of an Ireland that is not free merely, but Gaelic as well; not Gaelic merely, but free as well. That is the mantra that guides our conscience. It is our duty to pursue what is right, not what is popular.

‘Populism’ is a term that has emerged relatively recently in political discourse, often describing the right-leaning movements which have gained support from the impact of the migrant crisis. Other localised factors like corruption scandals and disaffection with the “establishment” have also provided the catalyst for the growth of this mould party. Populism has been defined as “a political doctrine or philosophy that proposes that the rights and powers of ordinary people are exploited by a privileged elite, and supports their struggle to overcome this.” This is an attractive definition, but it is deceptive. The vacuousness of the definition of populism could give populism more interpretations than a book on Biblical exegesis!

“Populist” was one of the first media scare words to arise from the Trump and Brexit era. The National Party has been described on numerous occasions as populist in a derogatory sense. Such descriptions should not hinder us from protecting the national idea, but we should be defending the idea for what it is in essence and not simply the words behind it or attached to it.

When analysing the statement at face value it appears to be correct, ordinary Irish people collectively have been treated less sympathetically than a leper colony. The rights to life, liberty, private property, etc. have been destroyed partially or entirely. Whatever is remaining is soon to be disposed of. The ‘ordinary people’ of Ireland in roughly 25 years will have a less grim future, not because of any tangible changes in policy, but because in a change of who the ‘ordinary people’ are. In 25 years, assuming the current trends are uncorrected, we will find ourselves in a scenario where the average person in Ireland isn’t Irish. A protected category of people without any roots in Ireland will, on current trends, form a majority. They will be the beneficiaries of the rights and privileges of which the native Irish were dispossessed.

The problem of populism becomes clearer. It takes only the nominal into account with no regard for the virtues of Irish nationality and tradition. It is a form of electoral materialism that solicits cheap and easy solutions and rhetoric to tackle complex and fundamental issues. It taps into righteous indignation at this immense betrayal by manipulating this energy and turning it into a red-herring crusade designed to give people a false sense of power. If telling people what they want to hear is how to achieve electoral success, then clearly the National Party cannot fit into this definition of populism. The National Party speaks truth to power. Its ideas are not always “popular”, but they are necessary.

In an Irish context, Gaelic nationalism should always trump populism. Populism is just another newfangled idea with no grounding. Gaelic nationalism is grounded on millennia of mythos and customs. It is innately present in the blood and spirit of our people and it has proven to be an unconquerable force in the face of tyranny and struggle. Even when we may have lost a battle or a war, we were down but never out. It was not populist to go against the popular Home Rule Party and be a Fenian, but true Irish nationalists have never chosen the easy option.

Any notion of populism being somehow “right-wing” or something which is on “our side” should be discarded. Its inherent vagueness could serve as an invitation for entryists to manipulate its message into yet another expression of Marxist class theory. Populism’s weakness means that even good-faith actors with exceptionally broad understandings could transform a dynamic organisation into a flailing “big tent movement”. The dangers of such movements are perfectly described in a December 2021 article “Holding the Line: The Winning or Losing of the Anti-Lockdown Movement”.

Sinn Féin governance stands on fragile ground not only because they are just wrong, but because they’ve chosen to seize the chance of capitalising on mere populism. There is no qualitative difference between Sinn Féin and the FF/FG/GP coalition, only a quantitative one. If you were to feed a collection of Sinn Féin party statements or interviews through a machine learning program and asked it to spit out a new policy, what you would find in 90% of cases is that you take a government spending figure, multiply the euro amount by three and sprinkle in some “hope” and “the will to change”. There is simply no ideological basis behind the rise of Sinn Féin, The Irish voter doesn’t know what Sinn Féin is. They may not understand that the far-left, hypermodern Sinn Féin of today is not the Sinn Féin of Arthur Griffith, but more basically – they literally don’t know what Sinn Féin believes on any issue in general. But they operate based on how Sinn Féin makes them feel or what they project onto it.

Sinn Féin’s populism has been adopted for strategic reasons. Everyone knows Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are discredited options and their promises of “change” are entirely hollow. In steps Sinn Féin, to fill the void after the inevitable departure of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. But fundamentally, this change of faces and game of musical chairs will do nothing to challenge the root problems of Irish economic and social life caused by parasitic international finance capitalism.

In due course, the old question of “What’s the difference between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael?” will be replaced by “What’s the difference between Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael?” The moment that question is asked is the moment genuine alternatives will be sought by a mass of the people. That is the moment we need to be prepared for.

“For the National Party to improve its reach to the wider public, the public must become familiar with the National Party and the radical social, economic, and political program of the National Party…and for such public familiarity with the party to become a reality, they must see the National Party in the workplace, they must see the National Party in their local communities up and down this country. The National Party must be known in homes throughout the country. We must see the National Party everywhere!” – James Reynolds, Ard Fheis 2021

Going into future elections, health and housing will likely remain the key issues. Unless there is a critical change in the global markets, issues of employment and general economics will remain relatively insignificant to the general public.

Immigration was not an expressed point of concern in 2020, something that was gloated over by multiculturalism fanatics. At this point in time, it’s not apparent as to how much the recent events in direct provision and the housing of “refugees” will shape that. However, in October 2023 an opinion poll showed that 18% of voters now rank immigration as their top concern. Establishing immigration as a root causal factor in Ireland’s problems in the minds of Irish voters and highlighting the refusal of other parties to acknowledge that will play a big role in furthering the acceptance of the National Party platform and the national idea as a whole.

It is also incredibly important that local communities recognise our candidates as a voice for themselves, their families, and their friends when they have been ignored and trodden on by a cruelly disinterested government. National Party activities inside and outside of election season have been successful in creating trust and support for local representatives and for the party. We are a minor party after all, we can not throw names on the ballot and hope that we’ll magically win seats without serious effort and long-term activism. In the cumann phase we had to be patient; it’s very tempting and very easy to overextend beyond your capabilities. Our patience has paid off; we have organic cumann structures that draw envy from the bigger parties with much greater magnitudes of funding. The NP is well known for its activism – it isn’t simply an online phenomenon.

Maintaining this mentality of on-the-ground activism as we move into the election phase is paramount. Impatience and greediness will not bring us any charm. It is our short-term actions that determine our long-term future, and a future that’s worth living is what we want. That is why we say Bua nó Bás, that is why we say Ar Dheis ar Aghaidh!


This article was submitted by a member of Óige Náisiúnach, the youth wing of the National Party. To get involved or to submit an article for consideration contact us at [email protected].