Belfast Telegraph

If Adams goes, Fine Gael will be singing 'Hello Mary Lou'

Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald
Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald

By Anthony McIntyre

The kites began flying in Thursday's Irish Times. Mary Lou McDonald floated the idea that Sinn Fein will consider another volte face and enter coalition government in Dublin as the junior partner. Gerry Adams, on Friday, duly followed in the same paper with a suggestion that a party ard fheis could easily overturn past policy on the issue.

Past policy, as McDonald had previously insisted, was: "We have said until we are blue in the face that we will not... be propping up any large, conservative party."

Like much else said by Sinn Fein as part of its "bottom line is no bottom line" mode of doing business, such sentiment has been decommissioned. Sinn Fein's willingness to jettison all previous promises in pursuit of office can shock no one. What might surprise is Taoiseach Enda Kenny's aversion to slamming the door closed, instead allowing his own party to catch a glimpse of Sinn Fein at the portal. More importantly, the person he wants Fine Gael to see there is McDonald.

Although some feel that Adams, reminded of his own mortality by the illness of Martin McGuinness, is desperate to end his political career in a plush, ministerial setting and is removing archaic obstacles such as principle, it is more likely that McDonald is being seriously primed to take over from him as party leader.

The semaphore from Sinn Fein to Fine Gael will be transmitting the message that McGuinness standing down as leader of Stormont Sinn Fein heralds an end to the hegemony of martial politicians. If McDonald really believes that serving as junior will allow Sinn Fein to make "tough decisions that reach up into the upper echelons of society", even if no one else does, then she must know it will only happen when Adams is put out to graze.

Fine Gael will not have him on their ranch.

Dr Anthony McIntyre is a former IRA prisoner, journalist and co-founder of The Blanket, an online magazine that critically analysed the peace process. He blogs at:

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