Well one of the things that’s certain to become clear shortly is who is going to run for President for Sinn Fein. Niall O’Dowd’s tip is Mary Lou McDonald, whereas Fionnan Sheahan reports that Michelle Gildernew, the Fermanagh South Tyrone MP and the former Agriculture Minister is becoming the favourite.
I don’t think any of us can say we really know until the announcement, possibly even including the candidate her or himself. The party’s internal centralism has some critical advantages over rivals.
Mary Lou certainly has name recognition with the southern electorate, but this is not necessarily an election the party can win. But giving one of their more personable northern representatives a run in front of a southern audience is more powerful way of asserting the party’s 32 county political identity to those Republic voters they are keen to tease permanently away from Fianna Fail.
And a woman would afford them them an easy differentiator over the two grey heads from Labour (Michael D Higgins) and Fine Gael (Gay Mitchell). Unlike Niall and Fionnan however, we’re unlikely to speculate on the identity of the actual candidate ahead of the party’s official announcement…