Monday 16 July 2018

No one in their right mind would ever envy Mary Lou

Gerry Adams has left his chosen successor a horrendous collection of problems, writes Ruth Dudley Edwards

Office politics: Mary Lou McDonald faces a tough task. Photo: PA
Office politics: Mary Lou McDonald faces a tough task. Photo: PA
Ruth Dudley Edwards

Ruth Dudley Edwards

In normal political parties almost everyone wants to be leader. But how many senior people in Sinn Fein truly envy Mary Lou McDonald as - in theory at least - she takes control of the morass that is the island-wide party? The presidential chalice may be shiny but the contents are toxic.

Obvious rivals like Pearse Doherty and Matt Carthy don't seem to have put up any resistance to her being crowned unchallenged by Gerry Adams. Still, she is clever, articulate, tenacious and ruthless and has been the heir apparent since she was unopposed for the deputy leadership in 2009, so they must have known her getting the job was inevitable.

She's been Adams's protegee since she jumped ship from Fianna Fail in 1998. He saw the arrival of a clever, articulate, well-educated, middle-class Dubliner with no IRA baggage for the gift she was, and gave her every chance to shine. In exchange, she gave him unquestioning fealty and has passed loyalty tests that would have revolted most people. Did she ever think of refusing when in 2003 she was told to make a speech alongside IRA army council mass murderer Brian Keenan in honour of Sean Russell, IRA chief of staff and Nazi ally, who died on a U-boat in 1940?

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