It was lack of southern Protestants ‘wot lost it’…

Tongue firmly in cheek, Newton Emerson reckons that Sinn Fein ‘bombed’ simply because there weren’t enough Protestants in the Republic to wind up their supporters… (subs needed)

Newton’s Optic: Sinn Féin has blamed “a serious shortage of Protestants in the 26 counties” for its poor showing in last week’s election.

“Sinn Féin draws its core support from people who can’t be relied on to vote,” explained Dr Pat Answer, Professor of Advanced Shinnerology at Dublin Sunday Business College.

“They might be too drunk or hung-over on election day, or have a court appearance or a meeting with their parole officer.

“They might have injured themselves by climbing through a kitchen window while carrying a wide-screen television. Or they might simply have lost track of the date because they never go to work.

“Whatever the reason, Sinn Féin voters need to be provoked to the polls and there simply aren’t enough Protestants in the Republic to cause the necessary level of antagonism.”

The situation is very different in Northern Ireland, where the daily sight of Protestants cutting their perfect hedges, driving their sensible cars and going to church in elaborate hats wedged tightly onto their pointy little heads ensures that Sinn Féin voters are always angry enough to cast a ballot.

Attempts to widen the party’s southern appeal beyond its traditional sectarian base may only have made matters worse.

“According to our research, many Sinn Féin voters thought that Mary Lou McDonald was a Protestant,” Dr Answer said. “She certainly has that smug look about her. Or at least she certainly did.”

Dublin Sunday Business College has defended the wider sociological methodology behind its research, which overestimated Sinn Féin’s final tally by a statistically acceptable 300 per cent.

“We were right about the number of people dumb enough to vote for Sinn Féin,” Dr Answer said.

“We just forgot that they were lazy as well.”

For party activists the question now is where they go from here.

“Well, we can’t go back up North,” Sinn Féin community outreach negotiator Anne Phoblacht said. “It’s full of Protestants.”

Developing a separate southern strategy could also prove problematic.

“We warned people on the doorsteps to vote for us or the Protestants would get in,” Ms Phoblacht said. “But everyone just laughed because they thought we meant Trevor Sargent.”

The Irish Times understands that senior party figures have already discussed the possibility of bringing more Protestants into the Republic. Martin Ferris has agreed to charter a boat and Aengus Ó Snodaigh has offered the use of a van.

“We’re mainly interested in people from Nigeria,” Ms Phoblacht said. “You can have any Protestants you like as long as they’re black.”

Experts agree that this is Sinn Féin’s only hope for an electoral breakthrough.

“There’s no point being sectarian when there aren’t any Protestants and no point pretending to be non-sectarian when there aren’t any Protestants,” Dr Answer explained.

“There’s also no point talking about equality when you’ve no Protestants to be equal to and no point talking about rights when you can’t claim that Protestants are infringing your rights.

“So really it’s all the Protestants’ fault. No wonder people hate those hedge-cutting freaks.”

But it’s not all bad news for Sinn Féin. The party polled quite well in Border counties due to Northern Ireland’s provocative proximity.

“If there had still been some Protestant farmers in the area we might even have won a few seats,” Ms Phoblacht said.

“What a pity we killed them.”

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

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