Sinn Féin is an Irish Republican political party, but what does its name mean and what are the origins of the party?
Here’s what you need to know.
What does Sinn Fein mean?
In English his name is translated as “(We) Ourselves”.
What is Sinn Fein?
Sinn Féin is the only political party active in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
There is one overall director of Sinn Féin operating as a single organization across the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
The current President of Sinn Féin is Mary Lou McDonald, who was elected in 2018.
Previously, Gerry Adams led the party for over 30 years.
In the 2019 general election, Sinn Féin received 22.8% of the Northern Ireland vote and won seven of Northern Ireland’s 18 seats.
The party currently holds seven seats in the lower house. However, Sinn Féin MPs are refusing to take their seats because it would require them to swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen.
In the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont, Sinn Féin currently holds 27 seats out of a total of 90, with a further 105 councilors across Northern Ireland.
In the Republic of Ireland, Sinn Féin won 24.5% of the vote in the 2020 Dáil Éireann election.
What are the origins of Sinn Fein?
Arthur Griffith helped found the Sinn Fein movement in 1905.
To achieve nationalist goals, he advocated passive resistance, with Irish MPs withdrawing from Westminster and forming a national assembly in Ireland.
He pushed for the need for high protective tariffs to allow Ireland to use its internal market, develop its own resources, feed itself and end emigration.
Sinn Féin became famous for its anti-British propaganda and later, in wartime, its opposition to military recruitment.
It was widely blamed in both Britain and Ireland for the Easter Rising, although as an organization it had not taken part.
In the general election of December 1918, Sinn Féin won 73 of Ireland’s 103 seats.
Sinn Féin then formed the Dail government in Dublin in 1919 and declared Ireland an independent republic.
However, their political activities were overshadowed by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) military campaign in the Anglo-Irish War (1919-21). This was a campaign that supported but never effectively controlled Sinn Féin.
In the 1970s, Sinn Féin was divided on the issue of parliamentary abstention.
One wing of the party urged all elected representatives to take their elected seats, and another wing firmly opposed this.
The anti-abstentions split to form the official Sinn Féin, later known as Sinn Féin – The Labor Party and then simply “The Labor Party”.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Sinn Féin shifted from its military focus to greater political activity. It won over 100,000 votes in the 1983 general election, with Gerry Adams being elected MP for Belfast West in 1983.
In 1986 the party decided to end its policy of abstention in the Irish Dáil in Dublin.
When the Provisional IRA declared a ceasefire in 1994, Sinn Féin was initially allowed to participate in talks with the British government, but the decommissioning of all IRA arms was made a condition of the party’s continued involvement in the talks, initially resulting in an end to the ceasefire.
After the Labor Party was elected to government in 1997, peace talks resumed and a new ceasefire was announced.
Multiparty talks with the UK government resulted in the Good Friday Agreement.
This resulted in a permanent truce and a new devolved Northern Ireland administration known as the Northern Ireland Assembly.