Gamechanging moments: Sinn Fein will top the poll by an Irish mile…

They’ve kept their counsel on the likely result the whole way through campaign, but it looks like McGuinness’s post Massereene statement on dissident Republican paramilitaries bought him a huge chunk of the Nationalist electorate… Nationalist gamechanging moment number 1. The SDLP on the other hand are back on a familiar knife edge: if the numbers from verification move slightly in their favour (DUP down 2, them up 1 is possible given the provisional nature of these early tallies), they could get the break their activists have been working day and night for; or they will get nothing, and must ask themselves how when Nationalism is at it’s height, they get just under half of the political equity. That would be 1999 all over again. After 8 years, Mark Durkan will have questions to answer. That could be Nationalist gamechanging moment number 2. The party bust a gut this election and in places like South Belfast they were well organised and had some inspirational leadership in the constituency from a hard working MP and good organisation. Other areas like Foyle may prove to add that extra point or two that gives Alban his bus ride home. But that gaping void between themselves and Sinn Fein must prompt the biggest question they need to ask themselves. What, in this post agreement days, is the SDLP for?

As for Sinn Fein, this Tweet from Gerry Adams in Dublin says it all:

Eating nuts and raisins in the car. Makes it harder to loudhail, but… Me predicts a good turnout. Gerry Adams

Today’s news may have fortify him against more unwelcome news on Monday in Dublin (Mary Lou is in a fight to the death with FF’s Eoin Ryan, amongst others) and North and West… The good news in the south though will certainly come in South with a good performance from Toireasa Ferris and the chance will soon present itself to blood the capable and personable Senator Pearse Doherty in the by election for Pat the Cope’s seat, if as seems likely, he takes the MEP’s for FF…

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