Malachi O’Doherty believes the real dilemma facing Northern Irish Nationalists is not whether to vote Sinn Fein or not but rather if not them, then who else?
We may be fortunate enough to escape a resumption of violence though we can’t be sure of that either. But if it is true that the IRA has amassed hundreds of millions of pounds, has built up a substate Stasi which is spying on us and if government and business are getting nervous of people from Catholic areas who might be IRA sleepers or agents, then maybe the children would have a better chance abroad.
Besides, if the IRA is a criminal empire operating in secret, who knows what hidden dangers there are? This [notional nationalist] family will have voted for Sinn Fein because it believed the Provisional movement had leadership which wanted to stabilise life here and make it secure and prosperous.
John Hume first told them that Gerry Adams was a man they could do business with. Now they very much doubt that. If that is a fair analysis of why votes shifted from the SDLP to Sinn Fein then the logic of it is that many of those votes will now desert Sinn Fein.
But where will they go? The SDLP would like to have them back but the SDLP is still committed to the failed Hume project and arguing for the inclusion of Sinn Fein in a devolved assembly and on the Policing Board.