Sinn Fein’s performance in the South’s presidential election – third place with just 8 per cent of the vote, according to early forecasts – has to be a huge disappointment for the party and its new leader Mary Lou McDonald.
Eight per cent is well below the party’s standing in the most recent general election-style opinion polls and its most recent performances in actual polls. It is, decidely, a setback for SF and a discouraging beginning for the party’s new leadership.
A couple of difficult questions now face Mary Lou and her advisers. Was the vote a comment on Sinn Fein under Mary Lou’s stewardship, i.e. not under Gerry Adams’? Or was the choice of candidate – Liadh na Riada – a particularly unimpressive one? And what does that choice say about Mary Lou’s judgement?
Na Riada could be seen as the anti-McGuinness candidate, free of the whiff of the battlefield that the former IRA Northern Commander/Chief of Staff, exuded. Her suggestion that she would happily wear a poppy was something McGuinness might have hesitated before endorsing.
But McGuinness, admittedly a better known runner, did appreciably better than na Riada – 13.7% compared to eight (The Guardian was suggesting last night that her final result could be as low as 7.4 per cent). What does that say about the oft-touted wisdom that the IRA is a weight that drags the party down?
Given the low turnout and Michael D’s easy triumph, perhaps Mary Lou would have been wiser giving this election a miss. As it has turned out the result has raised uncomfortable questions about her stewardship of the party that Gerry made.
Was MLMcD bringing up the idea of Ireland rejoining the Commonwealth a few months ago, albeit in a kite-flying kind of way? Between that and the poppy subject, you risk alienating those whose votes you covet, never mind your base…
To me, Higgins was always going to be the winner as he was personable/inoffensive enough for an apathetic public.
It’s funny seeing the unionist commentators jumping to the conclusion that the South do not support SF. Whereas I suspect the following issues were more responsible:
– Na Riada is an unknown entity.
– Her comments about wearing a poppy.
– Her expenses.
– The campaign itself seemed half arsed, compared to the McGuinness campaign.
Which all suggest that ML screwed up……..
Indeed. But I wonder what role Adams had in all of this?
It was a surprisingly poor result, given that journalism generally supports the normalisation of SF. While questions were asked about the IRA past, it was treated as past and the one question of direct relevance to the presidency – as it has been developed in recent decades – was conspicuously NOT asked. Here you go: https://colummccaffery.wordpress.com/2018/10/17/the-presidents-power-to-normalise-and-the-question-that-hasnt-been-asked/