Sinn Fein’s rise to dominance in Northern Ireland has been anything but quiet. In the Republic however Sam Smyth reckons the Labour Party has quietly removed a psychological barrier between Sinn Fein and the other Dail parties:
Sinn Fein’s new status as a born-again political party follows the voting pact between the Labour Party and Sinn Fein that secured a seat in the Seanad for both parties. Labour’s Alex White and Sinn Fein’s Pearse Doherty are now elected to the Seanad. The Shinners also helped elect other Labour Party senators. Few members of the public have any interest in the Seanad but the shrewd ones would have noticed the rehabilitation of Sinn Fein.
Given the Greens were able to land two and a half ministerial posts with just six TDs, small parties like Sinn Fein may not have to wait too long before acquiring considerable strategic value in the horsetrading that seems to inevitably follow general elections these days.
Party strategists will now be applying themselves to how regain the forward momentum that takes them out of their current base camp position. No doubt the increased profile for the highly personable Gaoth Dobhair man will undoubtedly be an asset in that task.
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