Hume's tactics questioned: Talks with Sinn Fein are causing concern in Dublin. David McKittrick reports

WITH the Irish government awaiting John Hume's return from the United States tomorrow to hear more details of his talks with the Sinn Fein leader, Gerry Adams, it has become increasingly apparent that the Social Democratic and Labour Party leader can no longer depend on the uncritical support of the Dublin media.

He still enjoys a high reputation throughout the Irish Republic, where his name remains synonymous with a search for reconciliation. Senior politicians recognise his importance as a human and political breakwater who has helped shelter the southern state from northern paramilitarism.

But the days when he was lionised by journalists in the South have passed. Praise for his efforts is now accompanied by questioning of his approach.

The most immediate complaint has centred on the way he dealt with the statement that he and Mr Adams had made considerable progress. Even Mr Hume's associates concede that the announcement was mishandled, and that his departure for the US left confusion.

This has released a flood of other criticisms. One factor was unease about Mr Hume talking to the political wing of the IRA at a time when no ceasefire had been declared. A further concern was that the Dublin government might be being drawn into negotiations with the representatives of gunmen.

Northern nationalists complain of 'a general anti-northern thing' in the South. One SDLP representative said: 'There are a lot of younger politicians and media people in the South who wish the North would go away. They feel disgraced and let down by the violence. They just want to . . . forget about us up here.'

Some southern political figures resent the widespread perception that much northern and Anglo- Irish policy is laid down by Mr Hume, a politician who is not just outside the Government but outside the state.

The criticism has been given sharp focus by a battle between newspaper columnists who have taken sides over Mr Hume. The attacks on the SDLP leader have been led by the Dublin Sunday Independent, the latest issue of which carried 14 articles centring on him, the majority of them hostile. In recent months most issues of the newspaper have carried lengthy attacks on him.

By contrast, public opinion is clearly in favour of Mr Hume's initiative: Ireland has a long tradition of watching gunmen turn into politicians. But newspapers are important in moulding opinion, and the SDLP leader can no longer rely on support from the columnists and leader-writers.

The troubles afer 25 years, page 8

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'