Sinn Fein and the ‘strategically right’ thing to do…

The Irish Times has a few interesting asides from Gerry Adams on the decision facing his party:

“He sidestepped directly answering Taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s recommendation on Tuesday night that even if Dr Paisley refused to move, that he should proceed with the ardfheis. “With respect to the Taoiseach, he is not a Sinn Féin adviser,” he said.”

Then:

“A senior Sinn Féin source said last night that Mr Adams has yet to take a final decision on the ardfheis but that he would be guided by whether it was “strategically” the right thing to do for republicanism.”

If the ard comhairle upholds its previous position at the weekend, and calls an Ard Fheis, the necessary two weeks notice will take us right down to the wire. That gives the party some time in which to compose and disseminate a decent strategy going into the election campaign.

But it also tips them directly into that campaign with a potentially divisive policy still relatively hot.

Given the the fact that the DUP has not intelligibly shifted its response, Sinn Fein may consider a passive aggressive response: so it may re-word what had reportedly been comprehensive backing of the policing and justice system.

Or they could call the whole thing off. Though that risks taking most of the blame for collapsing the Peace Process™ scrum.

On the other hand, strategically playing for a calmer space of a Stormont Assembly Sinn Fein may just swallow some pride and take the only policing deal that has been on offer for months. It would also accord with past promises to make it easy for the DUP.

Then the ball may, for once, convincingly shift in the direction of the leading unionist party. Or will it?

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty