“But he can’t skipper the republican ship forever.”

The Sinn Féin “significant activist meeting” today has been presaged by a series of media interviews with the still party President Gerry Adams, MP, MLA – even the Sunday Tribune got a quote. Whilst denying a North/South split within the party elsewhere, in that interview Adams acknowleged his Northern [Ireland] problem.

“I think there is an issue that I do not stand for election in the south and I have a constituency in another jurisdiction. That is why we have been building a southern leg of our national leadership.”

He also confirmed that the party’s Vice-President, the unelected Mary-Lou McDonald, is “the [party’s] leader in the south.”

But perhaps the most interesting commentary comes from the Irish Times’ Gerry Moriarty.

But despite probing about the issue, he doesn’t fully address Ferris’s concerns that in the South there is a northern turn-off factor for Sinn Féin. The Navan meeting is important [in] charting the way ahead. He’s 60 now but says he is in good health and has plenty of energy, interest and commitment to remain at the helm. But he can’t skipper the republican ship forever.

Implicitly he asks who is there at the moment who could replace the Adams-Martin McGuinness leadership. And that again is a fair point. Mary Lou McDonald hasn’t delivered and the other great hope, Pearse Doherty, has yet to make his mark. It’s just too early to talk of replacing the Northern leadership, he feels, and anyway there are no vacancies.

“trapped by circumstances that are arguably of his own making”?

Adds Adams was also on the phone at the end of Talkback today, following a Suzanne Breen piece which included a list of hypocritical positions the party has found itself in. Adams’ response to the charges – “I’m not here to address Suzanne’s agenda.”

And when David Dunseith pointed out the impossibility of Adams’ recollection of singing Monty Python’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” whilst in Long Kesh pre-1979 [Life of Brian wasn’t released until August 1979], Adams stuttered, then laughed at length, before saying “Well, I don’t know about that”. And then he repeated the tale again..

Update As Rusty points out, it’s not simply a case of Adams mis-remembering.