Mary Lou McDonald
DOGGED, strident and with a hectoring tone to rival Joan Burton's, Mary Lou McDonald's success is due more to her plodding deliberation than ideological brilliance. Like or loathe her politics, you have to admire how, in the Dail, she just doesn't give up, ploughing stolidly through macho barracking from the benches to press a point. She has said she regards the Dail as a "boys' club", but she's well able for it. She knows how to put a man down with a bit of self-righteous finger-wagging.
Mary Lou has had good training in taking on intransigent men stuck in their outmoded ways. This Trinity graduate, who switched allegiance from Fianna Fail to Sinn Fein, had to prove her political worth to the IRA to get ahead -- refusing to condemn its atrocities, and attending high-profile republican events.
She did so from under the wing of Gerry Adams, who spotted her potential and sent her forth as the respectable face of Sinn Fein. She is now deputy leader.
Given her worthy image, it's good to know that she's not above a bit of girly shoe envy. One Dail Sketch writer overheard Mary Lou admiring a female TD's footwear as the men roared in the chamber.