Will the McGuinness candidacy be an audacious use of Sinn Fein’s kitchen sink?

So who says the cutest hoors in Ireland are all from Dublin? We have one or two of our own in Belfast [And Carrigart? – Ed]. On Friday, Eamonn Mallie asked on Twitter why Martin McGuinness’ nascent bid to run for Irish President hadn’t got a mention on the Late Late Show made no mention of the only story in Belfast town.

Instead Tubridy and Co were focused on the Norris confession that he’s thinking about re-entry, in the context of the alleged collapse of confidence within Fianna Fail (whose pugnacious instincts are second only to those of northern Sinn Fein).

It’s clear that many commentators in the Republic still regard any residual interest in Sinn Fein as a peculiarly northern obsession. When you look at the figures, you can see why. The party barely registered 9% 10% in the popular vote in February.

In the case of Fianna Fail (one of several intended victims in this election) they’ve so far failed to show up for a fight where you can expect Sinn Fein to try their infamous ‘lend us’ your vote strategy with which they shucked SDLP of its political leadership within Northern Irish Nationalism.

A tense meeting is expected today in Leinster House… Will they turn on sixpence and belatedly take to the water? They may not have much to win, but they may have much more to lose…

The comparison with the SDLP is tempting, but it’s also misleading. For one thing, there’s the pre McGuinness announcement poll… Fianna Fail is already down by 7% points on February’s disasterous showing. Sinn Fein is up 1%. That puts FF on a mere 10%.

The truth is that Fianna Fail is not Sinn Fein’s only target. As the Irish Independent notes today:

…there is one candidate who is probably quite pleased by yesterday’s news. Fine Gael’s presidential candidate, the pugnacious Gay Mitchell, was always going to struggle against Labour’s Michael D Higgins.

He stands a much better chance now that Mr McGuinness is set to announce his candidacy. Nothing is more guaranteed to motivate the Fine Gael grassroots to get out and support Mr Mitchell than the prospect of a McGuinness presidency.

Mr Mitchell, whose campaign had been foundering, will now be able to tap into deep tribal loyalties. Suddenly his emphasis on Fine Gael’s traditional values has been transformed from a liability into an asset.

Throw in the Independents, Labour sceptics, and what’s left of the Fianna Fail republican base, and this could be, the party hopes, a transformative moment for Sinn Fein’s progress south of the border. But, even if as noted previously on Slugger, the opposition are not that far ahead, it still looks like a play, rather than a realizable goal.

As McGuinness steps down from his office as Deputy First Minister this morning, the criticism from the Unionist benches is likely to be muted. The leave of absence principle for political purposes was first induced by David Trimble and latterly by Peter Robinson.

Whilst I cannot see a downside for Sinn Fein (a win, although unlikely, would be a nice transition mechanism for a new leadership in Northern Ireland), Maurice Hayes is more sceptical:

No doubt Sinn Fein see this as an opportunity to establish themselves as the only all-Ireland party — which is fine as far as it goes. The sober truth is that electors show little interest at present in all-Ireland politics. A marked effect of recession and economic and fiscal crisis has been to drive people, North and South, into their fox-holes in the hope of mere survival.

To build a 32 county democracy, you first must build a single polis. For now, Sinn Fein’s cause of uniting the two parts of the island is shared only by a tiny minority in the south and polarises opinion in Northern Ireland such that the project is siloed into a tribal base.

McGuinness’s exposure south of the border will certainly be good for the party. Whether you believe that’s also good for the cause of Irish unity, is a matter of beleif (as Hayes hints above, there’s little evidence that’s why southerners vote for Sinn Fein).

Mr McGuinness’ ruthless past (‘Ah, death, certainly’) may make this dirty campaign, dirtier still. But, possibly, the more damaging may be Sinn Fein’s apparent inability to get anything done after four years in office (think students fees, think RPA, think education reform, think corporation tax) in the Northern Ireland Executive…

In the end, it is an audacious move, even if (having examined all the alternatives) Mr McGuinness constitutes the party’s proverbial kitchen sink.

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  • PaulT

    “Sinn Fein’s apparent inability to get anything done after four years in office (think students fees, think RPA, think education reform, think corporation tax) in the Norther Ireland Executive…”

    Don’t think you understand what the Pres does in Ireland Mick, its not the USA style. Probably the only politics that comes into play, is his role in the IRA and more importantly for many his part in the peace process.

    Similiarly, all he can be is a Pres with a desire for a UI, which as you’ve pointed out people (even if they want a UI) have more urgent issues to be dealt with, that happens in the Dail so maybe they’ll think in the Aras is the right place.

    And to point out the Pres for the past decade has had a fairly all Ireland outlook and its drawn little criticism.

    Politics.ie have several great threads on this topic, I’m beginning to get a trend for McGuinness as Michael Collins and what might have been, off course this is helped with the prospect of Dev og running, a great post on it came from a FG senior activist and well worth reading (if not posting here)

  • Mick Fealty

    Gotta link Paul? Don’t worry, this seems to be it.

  • HeinzGuderian

    It was either him or Gerry,and Gerry,not being the sharpest tool in the box,Marty was the only alternative !!

    Personally I think this move will backfire on the shinners big time.
    As eluded to above,the Southern Ireland voters have little or no interest in a ui. The shinner vote in the last election,being nothing more than a protest vote against the previous Government.

    They will fail,and fail dismally. But,after all,they should be well used to that !! 😉

  • Mick Fealty

    That’s a whole lot of futuring there Heinz, without a lot of working out…

  • Alanbrooke

    The presidency bid plays to SF’s comfort zone of being against things, in this case the RoI establishment. They’ll probably do well as a result, as opposing is their main skill.

    However they are a bit like Gordon Brown once they get power they don’t know what to do with it.

    On a lighter note if MMG does get elected, maybe the Unionists need to field a candidate next time as the only parties that can stop SF. lol

  • Alanbrooke

    Paul T

    MMG as Michael Collins that’s great. I look forward to him repeating Mick’s famous quote:

    “Who would visit Belfast or Lisburn or Lurgan to see the Irish people at home?”

    should keep the DUP happy.

  • Heinz, Martin is playing the Peoples President card. SF isn’t in power in Ireland and it also opposed some of the EU treaties so he may be able to play that to his advantage. I’d imagine that he hopes FF will stay out of the race and that he can mop up a significant amount of the historical FF vote.

  • HeinzGuderian

    It doesn’t take a genius to work out shinner strategy Mick.
    A one trick pony,that the good people of Southern Ireland will see through right away !
    Gerry was cringeworthy in every interview he had. Just wait until they get a load of Marty’s accent.
    I can’t remember looking forward to a foreign election with so much relish !!! 😉

  • Mick says that SF’s share of the vote is “paltry”. Well, it is, sort of. But I wouldn’t use that particular word since 9 or 10% isn’t insignificant. It represents their share since they started taking seats and remained there, even in N.I., until violence was eschewed. Like PaulT i have noticed that recently he seems to be regarded as a Collins type figure. If he polls even 15% in the Presidential vote, it will greatly encourage the core SF voters. I wouldn’t rule that out (in the absence of an opinion poll).

  • Taoiseach

    If Martin’s Michael Collins, does that make Gerry Adams De Valera?

    Think he’ll do quite well in the vote – not sure he could win but the electorate have no idea what they want at the moment.

  • Mick Fealty

    Joe, can you re-write? And try to stay on topic (empty chatter about accents is a form of distraction and man playing silliness).

  • Henry94

    Norris was a guest on the Late Late Show. None of the other candidate got a mention. The show is about the guests not about politics. The McGuinness candidacy is a huge story in the south both in the media and in everyday conversation.

    Regarding FG having a better chance with McGuinness in I don’t buy it. The section of FG that hate SF are already supporting Mitchell. The votes he is losing are those of the liberal wing. They abandoned Austin Currie for Mary Robinson in 1990 and they are supporting Michael D Higgins and David Norris now.

    The big question is what happens to the Norris support if he can’t get on the ballot and where Fianna Fail’s votes will go. Throw in the undecideds and there is a lot of votes to fight for yet.

  • keano10

    Barely registered 10 per cent of the poll might have been more accurate of you to say Mick seeing as they actually polled 9.9 per cent.

    Also your overall analysis of that result is possibly a little harsh Mick. Their percentage vote was up 3 per cent from 2007 however it resulted in an increase in Dail seats to 14 from 5. The significance of that was the noteable increase in transfers that they had never had before. Cork being a good example. If you are saying that the party’s ultimate aim of unity was not a factor for most of those votes (and i agree) then why are you making such an issue of it now?

    There may also be reasons behind this move. The roles of FM and DFM are incredibly demanding and time consuming (no matter what the cynics may say on here). McGuinness has had several tough years in that role and performed very well. This could well be a double-edged sword. An opportunity to get new young blood in to the top available position in The North, while allowing McGuinness to leave that position without all the hoo ha that would normally accompany such a move.

    By the way. I stood virtually alone in predicting that SF would nominate a high ranking Northerner for the presidency so I will say here and now that i genuinely believe that McGuinness can actually win this. To be fair to you Mick, you have acknowledged the effect of McGuinness persona and ‘charm’ in his DFM role and I believe he will make a significant impact on voters throughout the campaign.

  • Mick Fealty

    Fair comment Henry. That’s why they are allowed a commercial sponsor, since they are not supposed to be doing current affairs. But it did seem to me that Dublin generally was slow to respond.

    The actual size of that lost FF vote is hard to determine. But that 7% you would think must go somewhere. Mitchell was a very poor defensive move on the part of the FG party.

    Pat Cox would have probably had them in a safe spot now.

  • Rory Carr


    While it is all very well and good you letting us have your wish list it really doesn’t add very much to the analysis.

    It may not take a genius to work out Sinn Féin strategy but remarks about ‘one-trick ponies’, your views on the ‘cringeworthiness’ of Gerry Adams and speculation as to how Martin McGuiness’s accent will be received advance us not one inch.

    Not an inch, Heinz. Truly.

    Leaving aside the ‘one-trick pony’ nonsense, which is merely smart-alecky meaningless, we might note that Adams proved so ‘cringeworthy’ on his first foray into Southern politics that he topped the poll in Louth and that Martin McGuiness’s accent is hardly a novelty to Southern electors who must surely have watched him on television countless times over the years and marvelled at the charm with which he finessed British and American politicians but more notably old die-hard adversaries such as Paisley and his present colleague in the OFMDFM.

    I am interested however in your prediction that, “Personally I think this move will backfire on the shinners big time” and wonder if you would care to expand on that statement and tell us just how you see this backfire working out. What will happen, do you think? What will be the effect on the party, on its leadership and on its future prospects?

    And, given that you believe such a backfire is the most likely outcome, are you not then thrilled at the prospect and delighted that Sinn Féin have made such a tactical blunder that can only but result in disaster for them?

  • galloglaigh

    They will fail,and fail dismally. But,after all,they should be well used to that

    If electoral success is failure in your eyes, then you will eat your words!

    The biggest mistake that unionism ever made, in terms of the South, is that they cut themselves off. Thus disconnecting from the unionist people left on that side of the border.

    Looking back now: What they should have done, was to build on unionism within the twenty-six counties, thus giving them a strong grass roots activism to block such a move. Now the relatives of the people left behind, such as a few friends of mine, are Fine Gael, Fianna Fail or Sinn Fein supporters and voters.

    Martin McGuinness’ candidacy can only be good for all the people of Ireland. He’s one of the “true great leaders of modern times”. Michael Collins would be proud of this.

  • Mick Fealty


    Have amended.

  • PaulT

    Mick, Found the actual post!

    “From a personal point of view – Im a FG member now of about 10 years standing – a member of the voluntary officer corp and aveteran of 7 electoral campaigns now – I’ll be stepping down from my last official party position in the near future as I’ve done my piece for party and country for the moment and I’ve more important things going on in my personal life at this moment and into the forseeable future – I have to say that on a personal and theoretical level – I would have no problem with Martin McGuinness being the next president – he would do the job aswell as any of the other candidates in the field. I have met him twice before – we spent a noteworthy afternoon drinking tea and discussing the world in a hotel lobby in Donegal a few years back and I came away quietly impressed and found him very likable,charming,good humoured and ,most importantly a realist who is no prisoner of his beliefs, has no self inflated ideas of his own self-importance ( a very rare attribute in a politician, both in SF and politics in general) and has a very down to earth view on things, who did what he did for what he believed in at the time and for the good of his community and was not afraid to change tactics and direction when the facts on the ground changed ….a very interesting man.

    As regards the “terrorist” stuff – well – I come from good terrorist bloodstock myself – My great-grandfather was born in the West of Ireland to moderately wealthy Catholic farmers in the 1870s – he was an intelligent lad and excelled in school and was lucky enough to have the brains and means to go toDublin and then onto London to study medicine – while there – from what we can piece together from his diaries and writings he became involved and was inducted into the IRB – the Irish Republican brotherhood – the secretive successor organisation to the Fenians and young Irelanders who believed that only a violent uprising (not social revolution – mind you) was the only way to free Ireland. He returned to Ireland around the turn of the century as fully qualified surgeon and GP, but not to the West of Ireland as one might have thought – but to the South-East where I was born and brought up. We always wondered growing up why he ended up down here -there was not great geographical mobility in Ireland at the time – especially if you had land – normally it was to the boat and out of here – no relations whatsover in the era – now we know that he was sent by the IRB to be an activist and organiser for the south east. he settled in well as the GP – married into a well established family in the era – lived well – first man in the south of the county to have a motor car , a boat on the river and yacht in Dunmore East, servants,nice house to all outward appearances -a pillar of the established community – in his other guise tho he started to organise the IRB and republican movement in Kilkenny, Carlow and Wexford from the moment he arrived – I always wonder what would have happened if Ireland had gained home-rule in the 1890s or in 1912 – had got the same dominon status as Canada,Australia and New Zealand – if the unionists hadn’t given the IRB and similar movements a massive shot in the arm by their actions- chances are 1916 would never have happened and everything proceeding from then the same – and my grandfather and his movement ( the total sum of whom wouldn’t have filled a bingo hall on Tory Island if the truth were known) would have just been a small footnote in Irish history and Ireland would probably one legal juristiction with some sort of connection with the rest of the UK.

    But it didnt – he went to meet the Asgard and smuggled the guns for the Carlow and Kilkenny volunteers out of Dublin in the coal box of the Waterford train – being in the country he didnt take part in the 1916 rising as the rural IRB and volunteers had been stood down – he decided to get married on that fateful easter-monday and was taken off the train and arrested in Kilkenny on his way west on Honeymoon – sent to Kilmainham gaol, onwards to Dartmoor and then was one of the last to leave Frongoch arriving back in Ireland in early 1918. Whats hits me reading his diaries and writings and reading generally – is how few were actually involved in the fighting of the War of independence afterwards – so few – even taking all the disparate groups that formed a temporary alliance of convenience under the Sinn Fein banner for the struggle – they were so few in number – even at this late stage if the British authorities had some a modicum of commonsense and didnt overreact the way they did – it would have fizzled out.

    My GGF – as far as we can tell so far – was directly involved in the killing of at least 15 individuals -and indirectly gave orders for the elimination of twice that – RIC, judges, British army among them – but the majority were Irish,collaborators,double agents and informers – shot to the head, strangulation, poisoning were among the preferred methods of dispatch – tho there was an interesting episode where they locked one fella in a coffin and buried him alive for a day – but had second thoughts and dug him up and he was still hangin on – lucky chap – wonder whatever happened to him – would he be a relation of anybody on here? – point is – he was a pretty ruthless individual who did whatever it took and whatever orders came from the chief (Collins).

    He sided with Collins over the Treaty that they had achieved all they were going to achieve by armed force at that point in time – being one of commanders in the field as opposed to the dreamers – he knew exactly what could or could not be done and what their condition and state was military vis a vis their opponents – so he fought for the Pro-treaty side – lay down his guns in late 1922 -left law and order to the new Free state security forces and resumed his life as the local GP and was actively involved in local politics and starting industry and commerce in the county for the rest of his life – he ran 3 times for Fine Gael for the Dail – possibly would have made it the second time had the party not parachuted a certain Desmond Fitzgerald into the constituency after losing his seat in Dublin!

    After going off on that enormous tangent – When I look and listen to Martin McGuinness – I see a lot of my Great Grandfather and Michael Collins in him – those of you making the analogy with DeValera are barking up the wrong tree completely – DeValera was an intellectual,a dreamer, a nit-picker and more importantly was clueless militarily and couldn’t hit a barn door with a banjo and it was with a great sigh of relief of all that he was sent packing off to America for the duration of the conflict where his talents as the 1916 totem, spinning yarns and great dreams could be used more effectively in the collection of dollars for the cause – back here he was a serious hinderance and a pain in the ass for the fighters. If you want a modern equivalent of DeValera in modern day SF – then Gerry Adams would be a far more suitable candidate – another waffler and mangler of the english language, another symbolist, Pr man and a faux-intellectual (far inferior to Dev it must be said) – from what I can see McGuinness was the brains and brawn behind the Provos – he was one who called time on the armed campaign when he saw that its time was over and far more could achieved through politics.

    I know I’ll be called an apologist for this but f^ck it – but a lot of folks on here totally underestimate the climate and state that McGuinness grew up in – As the South became a catholic state for a catholic people – the North became a protestant state for a protestant people – a tragedy for both communities and it is only know that we unravelling the disasterous ties between religion,tribe and identity. No man voluntarily takes up arms and commits the type of military campaign against the state unless he is driven to it ( unless he is deranged or mentally ill – McGuinness is most assuredly neither – but there is always one) – being a catholic in Northern Ireland up to very recently was no bed of roses to put it politely – it is hard to argue against the fact that it took the IRA campaign to finally get the Unionists to the table and start talking in a meaningful way – sure it was nasty,brutish and a horror show at times and Im sure that McGuinness would do a lot of things differently in retrospect, as would all the combatants -but war is war and in a guerrilla war -the rules of engagment go out the window – it has ended – it took the meeting and agreement of the two most militantly entrenched sides to put a cap on it – McGuinness was shrewd and realistic enough to know when to leave the table with a good deal when he was ahead –

    Much like Collins in 1921 – SF took the best deal that was possible at the time – that had possibilities for the future and with their communities tired of war – are implementing the peace and ,like all insurgent parties,llike CnaG (FG), like FF,and countless others are making their way to the centre ground of politics – they will lose, as they have already lost, the true believers , the purists ,those who cant accept compromise, who cant stretch out the hand and for whom only total victory is acceptable – but they are few – but there will be a constant dribble of them over the next while aswell – but they will be more than replaced by those for whom SF are now acceptable and there will be more as SF move into the mainstream over the next while – they have every chance of replacing FF – in fact , their whole game plan at the moment could have been lifted page for page from Sean lemasses electoral strategy for FF circa 1927-1932 – auld gems like reducing politicans pay, increasing welfare payments, cutting the rich down to size,nationalising industry and starting new state enterprises, nationalising imaginary natural resources, withdrawing from supranational organisations etc etc etc – FF promised all this and more during their move from paramilitary outsiders to mainstream acceptance in their rise to power between 1927 and 1932 – also against a government battling world economic recession and balancing the books! – I’d say my Great Grandfather, wherever he is now – is laughing his ass off at similarity of it all – and you can bet your last euro,dollar,punt or bar of gold that when Sinn Fein eventually win an election – they will do exactly as FF did when they took over in 1932 – as Dev himself said -“they left it to us just perfect”- ie when the weighty reality of having to government for all the people hits them and the reality of power as opposed to freedom of opposition hits them – they will tinker around the edges and do precisely 90% of what previous government did anyway – and become part of the establishment themselves in no time – thats what FF did – thats what SF will do too – SF=FFnua – we can just hope that the corruption bug stays away a bit longer on them than it did with FF

    the move to the centre is well underway in Sinn Fein – both north and south – if anything – the southern boys are a bit behind the times – McGuinness is actually showing the way.I watched a fair bit of the SF conference on the net and I was struck by the number of ambitious pretty young things saying very moderate things , very realistic things and the lack of the usual republican imagery. It strikes me that SF is in the midst of a very serious transformation – with very little dissent it would appear – amazing what success can do – if anything Adams speech was totally out of kilter with much of the atmosphere, spirit and tone of the rest of the conference – it was kind of like a last hurrah for the Frankie Pantangellis of the SF organisation ( in the Godfather II – Frankie Pantangelli was one of old boys looking for things to go back to the good old days when Michael Corelone was modernising the family business) – trying to keep them on board with a bit of verbal red meat and nostalgia for their loyal service to the cause – but knowing that their days of influence are coming to an end as ambitious young guns are coming on board with new ideas and the whole organisation is undergoing a serious retrofit as they seek to outshine FFs diminishing white dwarf.

    I wonder if McGuinness – in running for the presidency – kinda knows that his time is nearly over and its getting near time to retire to Donegal and grow his spuds and cabbages on a piece of scenic hillside and let the next generation take over? – I wonder – Adams , again like Dev , doesnt know when to quit and that could hold SF back for a while.

    I’d have no problem with a McGuinness presidency – he would do the job aswell as any others in the race and confirm SFs growing moderation and their drift towards the establishment, like all revolutionary organisations before them.

    It will be a long shot tho – I just dont think the numbers are there for him – its just a tad too soon – another 2-3 years down the line with more solid achievement in government in the North behind him and he would be in with serious shot.”

  • PaulT

    Apologies for the lenght (as the bishop said to the …)

    Here’s the actual discussion


  • wee buns

    At last – the vacuum has been broken by this cat amongst pigeons, and although probably not winnable, I can’t see how it does SF harm to present themselves as respectable presidential material. If Marty ‘the sniper’s eye’ Mc Guinness conducts himself with dignity and stays clear of slagging matches throughout the campaign – that in itself will do much to ‘normalize’ perception of SF in the south.

  • Henry94


    That’s the 7% that vote FF now but there are also the 30% that used to vote for them. A lot of that vote would have gone to FG in the election but would not have FG DNA and won’t rally to Mitchell for fear of the Shinners. The FG core vote is the 24% they got during the bubble when FF were riding high. At 17% Mitchell has accounted for most of them already.

    Of course we are all flying blind until the list of candidates is established and we have a credible poll. But I think for Sinn Fein the ideal result might be to lose narrowly to MDH on the final count. That would mean they had done very well but could hold on to Martin McGuinness.

  • Lionel Hutz

    the only problem I can see with Martin McGuinness is that while in most ways he’s a shrewd politician, he is likely to get very prickly on his past. Ironically enough, I think Sinn Fein would have better to parachute McGuinness to Louth and into leadership debates. His grasp for detail would have impressed as much as Gerry Adams embarrassed. Gerry on the other hand would been a better Presidential Candidate, can lie better, can swat away the questions on his past with more ease. Gerry gets round it by saying “it wasn’t me”. Martin has admitted that to an extent “it was me, but I can’t tell you all I did”. I just don’t know if “pleading the fifth” will do for a presidential candidate.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Latest poll has SF on 11%, up one, however it also shows a drop of 7% in the FF vote which means few of their former voters are swinging SF’s way.
    Mary Robinson won with 39% first preference, to Lenihan’s 44%, taking most of Curries tranfers, so the initial bar was quite high. (McAleese had 45% and a shoe in as the rest were split).
    It will be a bigger field this time (depending on Norris too) so a lower first preference is needed, but 30% has to be the practical target, can Marty realistically triple the vote? That is an extremely big ask, yes he has a high profile, which adds votes, but he has a murky pass shall we say, which loses votes, do they cancel each other out? if they do that leaves him back in the 10-15% category, will stick my neck out and say he will probably hit the 15-20%, depending on events likely the lower end of that, is that a victory for such a high profile character?

  • amateuranthropology

    I didn’t get past the first line of this blog before asking myself three questions. What is a “hoor”, is the blog author calling Mallie and/or McGuinness one, and depending on the answers to the first two questions, is this playing the man and not the ball?

  • Mick Fealty

    It was supposed to be a humorous allusion to the cuteness of the move: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/cute_hoor

  • Cute hoor: From the Urban Dictionary:

    phrase used in Ireland to describe a slippery customer, a rogue, a charlatan, someone who seems upstanding or innocent and mild but who never misses an opportunity to screw you over, scam you, rip you off or hide their farcical f**k ups, blame everyone else for the s**t they cause and generally lure you into their Machiavellian trap… unsurprisingly generally applied to cowboy politicians, corrupt rich tax evaders and their ilk

  • Skeg oneill

    I am not a SF supporter. The reason is I am of an age that cannot disassociate them from murder and I regard the leader as a liar. I was going to say “bare faced” but of course he is not.

    However, I do find Martin likeable and engaging but are these qualities enough. Would it be appropriate for an Irish president in 2011 to have been personally involved in killings or to have authorised killings in his role in the IRA?

    I never did nothing guv and all the nasty killing stuff was done by someone else but not me is not good enough. Some years ago, post good friday agreement, Martin was interviewed on BBC “Hard Talk”. It was the only time I have seen Martin under visible pressure in an interview. He initially stated that he never did nothing guv in the IRA but when the interviewer (Bashir?) reminded him of a newspaper boast in which he had claimed the killing of numerous soldiers he had to do a lot of back pedalling on his boasts.

    I think it is a reasonable question to put to the presidential candidate; Were you ever involved in the killing of others or have you directed the killing of others? And to be absolutely fair ask each candidate the same question.


  • Henry94

    Apparently Dana is declaring this afternoon. No word on how she intends to get nominated but it would be considered bad for Gay Mitchell who would have had a lock on the pro-life vote.

  • Skeg,

    A tad disingenuous. We all know that he either murdered or ordered murder. The question is whether or not he is now truly committed to political means only to try to achieve SF’s aim. I think he is.

  • sonofstrongbow

    As a unionist I find Commandant Martin’s attempt to become the President of the Irish Republic very interesting.

    His ‘success’ either in winning or in bringing in a sizable vote will explode the myth that the electorate in the Republic have any qualms about republican terrorism.

    An IRA commander in Phoenix Park is simply the logical outworking of the South’s history since 1969. From arming the Provos, a colluding military and police, a justice obstructing judiciary and a political class more concerned with lambasting the British than the Republicans’ sectarian murder campaign.

    Btw even I feel a little sorry for Gerry. He gets Louth and Martin gets the Viceregal Lodge. Perhaps it’s a beard thing.

  • Limerick

    These continual references to McGuinness being the ‘new Michael Collins’ are a bit daft are they not? Collins accepted the treaty and went to war with the IRA. McGuinness’s Provos were the bastard children, many times removed, of the anti treaty IRA. The very people who shot Collins dead.

    In fairness though the comparison is not quite as laughable as the Nelson Mandela one that he likes to conjur up himself.

    I also noted in other threads that references were made to the fact that he would be the honest candidate amongst the largely dishonest pack. Let us examine OC Ireland’s honesty.

    Martin McGuinness 1973:

    ‘We have fought against the killing of our people… I am a member of Óglaigh na hÉireann and very, very proud of it’.

    Martin McGuinness 1993:

    “I have never been in the IRA. I don’t have any sway over the IRA”.

    Will the real Presidential candidate please stand up and try to be very, very honest many, many times.

  • Mick Fealty


    As an aside, the fact that that 7% is not showing in the SF column means one of two things (and probably both).

    – One is the freeze effect whereby people are reluctant to state that they intend to vote SF. For that reason, every poll bar Red C is worth treating with caution.

    – Two SF is still having problems getting seen as a mainstream alternative to the big parties. Thus Martin, and the kitchen sink.


    Your views are as welcome here as anyone else’s, but there is nothing more tedious than hysterical/ahistorical histrionics.

    Please try harder!

  • It certainly makes the Election more interesting. Sinn Féin needs someone……and McGuinness is clearly their best candidate available……in the Election.
    Ironically Pearse Doherty might actually get more votes than McGuinness but he is not toxic.
    If a “toxic” name gets 12% of the vote, as against 10% in February then thats significant……..15% would be excellent.
    It would also show SF (even those with a paramilitary past) is not as toxic as its critics would like. Essentially SF is in the same mode as FF was in the 1930s. Reviled by some…..indeed they still are.
    But the fact is that SF has already reached beyond its base with Ming Flanagan and Michael Healy Rae. This indicates that they MIGHT be able to connect with the people on the margins of politics and in the Fianna Fáil “gene pool”.
    Clearly SF is helped by the disarray in FF. A lot of disenchanted people might conclude that FF has sold out the nation……and they wont look to FG for redemption.
    The disarray in the Independent-David Norris camp….despite RTE in Dublin4s best efforts…..suggests that Norris is even more toxic to the Electorate than Martin McGuinness.
    Labour………have a much loved but essentially harmless old buffer in the race.

    Mr Fealty is right. The kitchen sink WILL be thrown but as much AT Sinn Féin as BY Sinn Féin. Garda McCabes widow will I am sure take to the Joe Duffy programme again……..and SFs potential vote will be talked up or down as required by its critics…….and indeed SF will manage expectations.
    And whatever Martins vote it will be spun as not as good as SF had hoped…….or better than expected.
    We have been here before.

  • Henry94


    That is what is going to be fascinating about this election. Don’t discount economic policy as a reason for not voting Sinn Fein. That won’t be a factor this time so to my mind it will give a better indication of where people are emotionally in relation to SF.

    I wouldn’t argue with Drumlin Rock’s earlier estimate of 15-20%. Over 20 being a great result and under 15 being a disappointing one.

  • Mick Fealty


    I would just say in the press’s defence, what’s good enough for Senator Norris, will be… etc.. It is their job to scrutinise those who would hold patronage and/or power…

    The one thing Martin can be sure of is that his campaign team will not cowpe at the first sign of trouble (which would be right about now, if your prediction is correct)…

  • Joe Bloggs

    Would a healthy vote for McGuinness provide retrospective justifiation for Loyalist attacks in the Republic of Ireland during The Troubles?

    If it turns out a large amount of Irish people had no problem with the sectarian slaughter of Ulster protestants then surely bombs in Dublin, Monaghan, etc were attacks on IRA supporters?

    Or does retrospective justification only work for the bhoys in green??

  • The more I think about it, I have come to believe that SF does not want MMG to win. He has been very successful in the position of DFM, even gaining the respect of some unionists. As President he will have to be apolitical and unable to promote SF’s agenda. I have also thought for quite a while that he, not GA, is the real leader of SF. All of us can be replaced, of course, and will be, sooner or later, but I think MMG is too important to be effectively sidelined just yet. SF just hope to have a good showing.

  • granni trixie

    I was just thinking to myself (as you do) that “what does it say for the South if the best they can do for Presential possibilities are Norris or McG”.
    So I am happy for them if Dana has put her hat in the ring. I can see her doing the job and doing it well.
    I think people tend to underestimate Dana (probably because of her ahem pop-y past,singing for the Pope etc).When talking politics however to me she comes across as v. intelligent. And despite her churchy/religious orientation (which tends to be a no-no to me) I also find her more nonjudgemental and modern than her co-religionists.

  • HeinzGuderian


    You don’t like my ‘backfire’ analysis,huh ?

    Wait until Marty is in a presidential debate,and the tough questions start coming across. Wait until you see the mask begin to slip. Wait until you see the face begin to redden. The voice begin to get higher. The loss of temper.

    You ask if I am delighted that the shinners have shot themselves,so blatantly in the foot,again ? Oooh ayeee !! ‘-)

  • iluvni

    skeg ONeill,

    I imagine it was this one you were thinking of, where the deceitful McGuinness was taken apart by Stephen Sackur..


  • Alas Stephen Sackur doesnt have a vote.
    Nor for that matter does Martin McGuinness.
    Im not a big fan of the Late Late Show and I dont like to see Politics mix with show biz……but it would certainly appear to me that notwithstanding Tubridys impeccable Fianna Fáil family connexions……..getting David Norris on the show was an attempt by Dublin 4 to boost the credibility of a man who is hailed as a genius by them and a bit of a clown by a lot of people outside Dublin 4.

    As for the Press scrutinising Martin. Theres certainly a lot to scrutinise. But some of them seem rather more enthusiastic about scrutinising him than is strictly necessary and rather less keen on scrutinising others.

  • Henry94. Marty must be thrilled that his fellow Derrry wan Dana, is trying again, as she’ll split the anti Marty vote. Will she never learn?

  • Henry94


    If all the hats get into the ring the anti-everybody vote will be split. It’s even hard to see how a coherent debate could be organised.

  • I’ll make a rash prediction that Marty will run away with the title. The rest are devoid of personality. The voters put a Belfast woman in the Aras, then voted to keep her there so there can’t be that much anti-north sentiment as is claimed. Derry gets the next one.

  • sonofstrongbow


    My views are “welcome……but”. Like it.

    The South did supply weaponry to the Provos, arms dumps, weapons’ testing sites and training grounds went ‘undetected’, judges refused to extradite terrorists and the Dublin government were more exercised about British policy than republican mass murder.

    Alleged British government and UK police and army collusion with loyalist terrorists is daily currency on Slugger. Did I miss you citing that as “hysterical/ahistorical histrionics”?

    You’re itching to give out another red card aren’t you? Go on! You know you want to!

  • sherdy

    Heinz – You seem to be salivating at the prospect of Marty falling flat on his face. Maybe you should be careful what you wish for. Pres Marty might visit Stormont at some future date!. Titter ye not>

  • Limerick

    “Wait until Marty is in a presidential debate,and the tough questions start coming across. Wait until you see the mask begin to slip. Wait until you see the face begin to redden. The voice begin to get higher. The loss of temper.”


    If this morning’s interview on Radio Ulster was anything to go by then you are absolutely correct.

    In summary:

    Marty: “But what about the unionists hey?”

    Carruthers: “They aren’t standing for president.”

    Followed by loss of temper and the phone conveniently cutting off.

  • If Marty has some Fab SPADs is nothing impossible for treatment of the unacceptable.

    Marty’s bound to have spooky friends planning operations too, into parallel missions in future derivative ventures.

    A Loughside AI Program or Classic Cloud Configuration for Truly Wanton Interest and All Passionate Desires.:-)

    You don’t really know what goes on inside Holywood Palace Barracks, do you?

  • Skeg oneill


    Thank you for reminding me that it was Stephen Sakur on Hardtalk. However, it was an earlier interview in June 2006 that I remembered for the interchange about Martin’s killing claims.
    It was discussed on Slugger at the time.
    The December 2010 interview was not in the same category.

    I’m sure Martin must be mightily pleased that the 2006 version is no longer available on i player because it would rubbish todays claims by him.

  • foyle observer

    You have to laugh at the Unionists & Loyalists of Slugger getting so worked up about the Presidential election campaign in the Free State.

    The 26 counties suddenly of great interest to you is it?

  • Limerick


    OC Ireland certainly is.

  • foyle observer

    Limerick, OC?

    But anyway, you’re British are you not? Why would this campaign interest you? Is there not something in England or Wales going on that you could go to some forum and offer your opinions on?

  • Mick Fealty

    Son of…


  • Republic of Connaught

    Son of Strongbow,

    I have said previously that Loyalists like you should not start crawling out of the woodwork giving your poisonous opinions to Irish voters about who we should vote for as our President. It’s a matter for the nationalist Irish people across Ireland’s 32 counties who our President is, not the minority of Loyalists in Greater Belfast whose pathetic and weird hatred and poison for the majority of people on their own small island is never far from the surface.

  • HeinzGuderian

    It doesn’t take much for Our Wee Marty to lose his cool,Limerick.
    He better get used to it. The questions he will get from Southern Irish journalists will make Noel Thompson look like Andy Pandy.
    Did the shinner strategists not think this through properly ?
    Did they think Marty would be carried,shoulder high,unchallenged,unquestioned,into presidential office ?
    They better think again.

    fo……..As a British Minister,Marty’s campaign is of interest to us British.
    You offer opinions on matters British every day on here. 😉

  • HeinzGuderian

    Actually roc,it’s a 26 county,foreign event,and your love of your fellow islanders,in that weird,poisonous,hate laden diatribe,comes shining through !!(??) 😉

  • Republic of Connaught


    You’re a troll and little else.

  • Limerick

    “It’s a matter for the nationalist Irish people across Ireland’s 32 counties who our President is,”

    Well the outreach was nice while it lasted.

  • Mick Fealty


    Stop feeding him then!

  • Republic of Connaught


    What outreach? The Queen of England, as all Americans call her, is the Unionist peoples’ head of state. Fair enough. The Irish President is thus none of your business. Leave it to the locals, eh.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Fair enough Mick.

    But McGuinness hasn’t got a vote yet and the Loyalist vitriol towards the South is coming out. It’s tiresome in this day and age.

  • Limerick

    “The Irish President is thus none of your business. Leave it to the locals, eh.”

    I welcome your partitionist attitude.

  • Mick Fealty

    Look this is not easy for anyone. All I am asking for is a bit of bluntness combined with a modicum of civility. I will uphold proper criticism, but not barefaced flaming!

    But I’ve bounced three people off Slugger in the last 24 hours. And there’s a few more on my list. If individuals don’t want to engage, I’m sure there are many others who would in their absence!

    if you see other people making eejits of themselves there is no need to join in!,

  • granni trixie

    Mick: I genuinely do not know what it is you are referring to – be clear. Personally, I want to represent the POV that MMG would be ridiculous as a President,mainly because he is/was a terrorist despite his change of heart and Ireland should be able to do better.

  • Mick Fealty

    Ref the confrontation above.

  • Joe Bloggs

    I could live with Martin McGuinness as President of the foreign country next door if he was honest about his IRA involvement (leaving in 1974? – get real), offered a sincere apology to the tens of thousands of IRA victims and admitted the PIRA campaign was a futile waste of life which gained nothing and should never be repeated.

    Instead we get shifty eyes, bare-faced lies and the ‘Who? Me?’ shrug of the shoulders – as if he’s never harmed the hair on another’s head.

    The people of the Republic of Ireland need to think long and hard about the message they are sending to the Unionist community in Northern Ireland by voting for Martin McGuinness in a Presidential election.

  • Limerick

    The Sinners imagine they are smart, but in fact they are incredibly stupid and self defeating. The ROI has come along in leaps and bounds in the past twenty years, and despite their financial bankruptcy, they have slain many of the dragons of old.

    The RC church for instance is no longer the proxy government, and they have made genuine leaps forward in their attempts to befriend unionists. Not least via the office of their President.

    It is not beyond the realms of possibility that some day in the future unionists might come to view the ROI as a friend rather than a threat. They might even come to see a day where their future might be better as a part of that ROI.

    Then along come the clodhopping Sinners who quite happily put forward the man who many unionists regard as having been responsible for the crap that they endured for thirty five years from republican terrorists.

    Already they know that a large chunk of their neighbours are perfectly happy to support and vote for the people who provided, at best, political cover for the murderers who stalked them.

    Now the Sinners think it will push forward a united Ireland agenda if they manage to demonstrate that a large chunk of the ROI’s community feels the same way.

    The result of this election will be fascinating, but in terms of unionist outreach the best thing the electorate of the ROI can do is deliver McGuinness a humiliating wipeout.

  • You know that thingy where an analysis is done on an article and the results show the frequency of words used by the size of the font? It would be interesting to do that with the MMG threads if anyone knows how to do it.

  • Diomedes
  • Mike the First

    I see candidate Martin is already doing the whole having-your-cake-and-eating-it doublethink thing.

    Interviewed on his return from NY, he talked about how he didn’t think “the people of Ireland” would be influenced by media treatment of his past, and how if selected by “the people of Ireland” he would meet any Head of State.

    There was me thinking SF criticised the use of “Ireland” to refer to “the 26 counties”…

  • Mike the First

    Further to my last post above, I also noticed McGuinness twice referring, in an interview on Newslines last night, to running to be “president of my country”.

    Would he actually see the Republic of Ireland (“the 26 counties”) as “his country”?

  • Greenflag

    Under ‘normal circumstances ‘ an SF candidate for the Irish Presidential election in particular one from Northern Ireland would have as much chance as a Mongolian from Ulan Bator .

    Bu these are not ‘normal circumstances . The political climate has changed -there is widespread understated revulsion at how the establishment politicians of the three main parties had their collective political intelligence up their rear ends for the past decade . The FG/Labour coalition know that they are in government not because of their efforts or policies in opposition but simply because the electorate wanted FF out . The FG/Lab position is by default but already some of their Ministers have forgotten that fact. This coming Presidential election will give voters a perfect opportunity to remind FG/Lab that they too are on probation .

    By focusing on MMcG ‘s pre political past they run a huge risk of that ploy failing miserably and even backfiring in the SF candidate’s favour . Even though the office of President is above political parties , this election will be party political much more so than others in the past .

    McGuinness has been in ‘politics’ since 1969 or thereabouts and has dealt directly or indirectly with every British prime Minister since James Callaghan . He has been photo oped with USA Presidents and European Commissioners and has even been accused of being a chuckie brother to Ian Paisley and then there is his DFM position in the NI Assembly which he has kept going despite setbacks . He’s certainly not a political lightweight which is a charge that could be levelled against most of his fellow candidates.

    The problem for those who for the sake of convenience I’ll call the anti SF factions under all circumstances bar none and in particular those with a personal vent against McGuinness is that they have no option but to attack his pre political record for to attack SF economic and social policies given the current performance by the Republic’s government parties and the FF former government’s would be to invite retaliation with interest as the electorate are more sympathethic to the SF view of what has happened to the economy these past few years than to the ‘establishment view’ that it was all just a big ‘error ‘ that was’nt their fault anyway but the fault of ‘foreigners’ especially their banks . Nobody buys that line -not that they ever did -well not entirely anyway .

    Ironically or maybe not so this looks like an election in which the establishment parties have almost check mated themselves into losing before the election even takes off . At this stage and I don’t know if he’ll yet make an entry Senator Norris appears to be the only one who could sting the SF tail as the All Ireland bird poises to take off .

  • Greenflag

    Mike the First ,

    McGuinness would probably reply that he sees Ireland in the same way as the GAA and the Rugby union and not in the IFA/FAI manner . I doubt if he’d be so crude as to point out the consistent and relative success of the GAA and the IRFU with t the somewhat ‘spasmodic ‘ efforts of the FAI to achieve notable success on anything more frequent than a once or twice every 20 years basis and the even less frequent successes of the IFA.

  • “MMcG ‘s pre political past … McGuinness has been in ‘politics’ since 1969”

    Greenflag, you’re tripping over yourself 🙂

    Martin is not a politician in the conventional meaning of that word. As a senior member of the PRM, he’s a parapolitician taking orders from the PRM’s Army Council. At this moment in time he might or might not be taking orders from, amongst others, himself. The PRM has declared a cessation of certain activities such as murder and destruction but the organised crime and civic justice wings have not been disbanded.

    As I stated on another thread gossip from a range of sources indicates that pressure was brought to bear on someone who might have brought a prosecution against a candidate Martin canvassed for. It remains to be seen whether or not a Sunday paper will continue to hold back on that story or whether SF itself will take disciplinary action.

  • Mike the First


    “McGuinness would probably reply that he sees Ireland in the same way as the GAA and the Rugby union and not in the IFA/FAI manner”

    Which is his prerogative. But there is no President of that Ireland.

    Indeed to pretend there is runs counter to the Good Friday Agreement.

  • Greenflag

    MTF ,

    ‘But there is no President of that Ireland.’

    True .You and I know that as do those who are knowledgeable re the details . however if MMcG is elected SF voters among others will see him as their President much as they saw Mary McAleese . As always the fine legal printwork and constitutional black and whiteness while it has it’s place among the erudite and the bookshelves and amongst the legal eagles etc -somehow doesn’t get translated into the vernacular of vox populi . To the world at large he’ll be seen as President of Ireland just as Mary McAleese and Mary Robinson were . Wherever I’ve been around the world I’ve never heard either McAleese or Robinson being referred to other than as President of Ireland . It’s a point of contention with unionists I understand but they might as well try to get England to start calling itself Eastern Wales -its a no win situation no matter what they do . Ditto for Norris , Davis or Mitchell or anybody else who may get elected.

  • Greenflag

    Nevin ,

    ‘Martin is not a politician in the conventional meaning of that word.’

    I never stated he was and not to be labour the point we are not in ‘conventional ‘ times .If MMcG gets to be President it will be by the votes and second and third and maybe even fourth or more preference votes of the electorate . If elected he’ll take his instructions from the government of the day and if he doesn’t he’ll be forced into resignation or end up doing a Cathal O Dalaigh ‘thundering disgrace ‘ encore.

    Somehow I can’t see M McG cornering himself into a point of no return in any fracas with the FG/Lab government but I can imagine that he’ll be bored out of his mind after the first couple of years into a seven year term . Probably not the best sinecure for ex combatants until they reach their mid or late seventies .

  • Greenflag

    ‘So who says the cutest hoors in Ireland are all from Dublin’

    Doesn’t need saying . Ask any Kerryman since Sunday’s champion Jacks accounted for the mountainy men of the Kingdom

    Notes absence of any Ulster GAA comments on slugger blogs -perhaps the success of the rugby world cup win used up any reservoirs of sporting bloggery 😉

  • Henry94

    Liveline just ran a ten minute text poll and got 20,000 responses. McGuinness won and Norris, who won’t be running, came second.

  • JR

    Surely even if MMG wins, will it not be just transfering a talented politician from a roll in which he has some power to one in which he has none. Any symbolism which can be gained from a President from the North has been achieved by Mary McAlese. If martin can convince the electorate that he can bring Mary’s North-South Bridge building work a stage further then yes he can achieve somthing. If not then What is the point?

    Also if he wins I suspect the vote will be for MMG the man and the peace maker not Sinn Fein. I don’t see Mary Lue being able to count on any percentage of the vote which MMG can secure the next time she goes to the Ballot.

  • Henry,

    Such a poll has no value whatsoever. For starters, the responders self identify which means that the committed are more likely to “vote”. Then the pool is limited to those who are at home and listening to the radio. Many will be stay at home mothers and the unemployed.

  • Diomedes,

    Thanks for the link. But I am reliably informed that it involves much work and, as I am inclined to idleness, I have decided not to do it.