“Any electoral damage that might ensue would affect only southerners.”

Having just voted against a motion rejecting a possible coalition with either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael, it’s a bit odd for Martin McGuinness to be ruling out a coalition with one of those parties. Probably wiser to wait until you’re asked… and in a numerical position to join a coalition. And isn’t it up to “the membership of Sinn Féin”, “alone”, to decide? Still, it matches the contradictory statements made ahead of the vote. Interestingly, those speaking in favour of the rejected motion included the chairman of the troubled Dublin Sinn Féin constituency party, Eoin O’Broin, who reportedly argued that “participation in government with a “right-wing” party would entrench partition and damage Sinn Féin”. Odder still, then, is the unelected Mary Lou McDonald’s claim that the dysfunctional mandatory coalition that is the Northern Ireland Executive [any right-wing parties there? – Ed], which they’d been threatening to collapse, is evidence of Sinn Féin’s “ability to deliver” in government an administration. As Brian Feeney noted earlier in the week in the Irish News.

In Sinn Féin’s case the ard fheis motions opposing coalitions are all from southern cumainn while it is clear the northerners desperately want to get into government so they can have ministers on both sides of the border sitting across the table from each other in the North-South Ministerial Council. Any electoral damage that might ensue would affect only southerners. Indeed the northerners would benefit electorally. How to square that circle?

They haven’t bothered trying, Brian. [Partitionist! – Ed] Indeed.