Babies on board as Sinn Fein grows its numbers
SINN Fein is a party that thinks long term, so it has devised a cunning new strategy to become the largest party in the State -- the members are just going to keep having babies until they outnumber Fine Gael. (With a ballot-box in one hand and a nappy in the other).
There was much baby-talk at the party's ard fheis in Killarney over the weekend.
Pearse Doherty had to abandon his televised speech on Saturday morning and leg it home to Donegal when his wife Roisin went into labour with their fourth child (she gave birth to their fourth boy, Micheal Eoghan, later that evening).
Meath West's Peadar Toibin arrived down to the gathering more or less straight from the Coombe, where his wife Deirdre gave birth on Thursday to their second son, Eoghan.
Kerry councillor Toireasa Ferris had gone one better -- she brought her newborn son Seadhna to the INEC centre in Killarney, Co Kerry, and happily showed him off to Mary Lou McDonald as they milled about in the blistering sunshine.
Indeed, given the blazing summer weather, it was no mean feat for the party to persuade more than 1,000 delegates to forego the blue skies for the gloomy interior of the hall.
Unsurprisingly, the mood of the ard fheis was as upbeat as could be expected from a party that really doesn't do levity.
Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness happily posed for the photographers while eating a couple of ice creams. (They wisely stuck to Cornettos as brandishing Magnums would only have invited the headline-writers to come and have a go).
But the ard fheis was mostly serious business; there were motions to vote upon, ranging from the sensible to the eccentric -- from proposing to make abortion available in Ireland to deploring "the absence of the fada in many official publications".
But at least the delegates got to escape quickly into the sunshine, as Gerry Adams delivered the leader's speech at the early hour of 5.30pm instead of the traditional slot of 8.30pm.
Nobody would've thanked him for breaking into live coverage of the Eurovision.
And the stopwatches were on high alert to record the precise time he devoted in his address to urging a No vote, in order to allow the Taoiseach the same time the following evening to make his pitch for Yes. (He gave it just under four minutes).
If he had been really mischievous, the Sinn Fein leader would've just roared "Vote No" and plunged the Government side into a right old pickle. But maybe a sense of humour, like peace, only comes dropping slow.