Wednesday 26 November 2014

Spectre of murder is spoiling Shinners' party

The prospect of Mary Lou breaking through the glass ceiling is seriously compromised.

Published 04/05/2014 | 02:30

Mary Lou McDonald TD. Picture: Tom Burke
Mary Lou McDonald TD. Picture: Tom Burke

POLITICAL discourse has, alas, become a little more refined since Shelley, in the The Masque of Anarchy, wrote of Viscount Castlereagh – who, in passing, engineered the Irish Act of Union – that "I met Murder on the way, He had a mask like Castlereagh, very smooth he looked, yet grim; Seven bloodhounds followed him''.

When it comes to our accelerating masque of political anarchy, whilst our very smooth 'but grim' Gerry Adams has been seen in the company of a fair few bloodhounds in his day, it might represent a bit of a leap from there to Viscount Castlereagh.

But, astonishingly just as one would think the Irish political system had run out of indignities to visit upon the electorate, the questioning of Adams, and Sinn Fein's response to it, has put the issue of murder at the heart of our election campaign.

Of course, when it comes to Adams's current status as the spectre at the Sinn Fein feast this is now starting to become a bit of a habit.

This latest occurrence must have cut more deeply than most for the new, brighter-than-white Sinn Fein with the Euro lovely ladies, Matt Carthy and Mary Lou Superquinn Mum who were in the middle of the perfect European surge.

In a world where Sinn Fein's ancestral Fianna Fail and Fine Gael rivals are looking increasingly ramshackle and Labour are wrapped in a 'Fianna Fail circa 2008 style' fugue of despair, for one brief shining moment in its embattled experience Sinn Fein must have wondered what on earth could possibly go wrong?

Irish politics is, of course, when it comes to ethical dilemmas and political infighting a less than many-splendoured thing, and last week certainly provided us with a perfect example of that.

Ironically, the main casualty in this affair, as has so often been the case in the political career of Adams, has not been the SF leader-for-life. Instead the main political bruises were visited on Mary Lou McDonald who has emerged as the most substantial female politician in Irish politics since Fianna Fail's lost leader, Maire Geoghegan Quinn.

The list of disastrous Irish political interviews, from Gerry Collins and "don't burst up the party, Albert" to Brian Cowen in Galway and Brian Lenihan's "mature recollection" debacle , is long and woeful. Few will, however, may prove to be as devastating as Mary Lou's status as the political tethered goat of her absent leader last week. Though McDonald was last week's prime political victim, ultimately Adams may be in even greater trouble. The greatest moment of danger for any leader of a 'democratic' party occurs when you are seen to be a source of difficulty for future leaders.

Mary Lou and all the lovely Sinn Fein Euro-ladies, Cinderella girls and concerned mothers can ask Ireland to believe it is safe to come dancing with a Sinn Fein party that is as safe and bland as the rest of the Irish political range. But, the prospect of Mary Lou or Sinn Fein breaking through the political glass ceiling is being fatally compromised by the ever waiting image of Provos in balaclavas.

And at some point, like the famous Godfather line about how just when you think you have escaped, they suck you back, the younger brigade will surely tire of the scenario of Gerry eternally lurking in the shadows, waiting to reach out a skeletal arm to act as a political choke-chain on their special project.

Sunday Independent

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