One SF member I spoke to when trying to ascertain whether Martin McGuinness was going to run for the Irish Presidency, dismissed it honestly by suggesting it would ‘send the wrong message’. I’m not sure if the message picked up by Malachi O’Doherty was the one he had in mind, but for once it concerns what it means for Northern Ireland rather than the south:
McGuinness comes back looking either like a failed candidate who would rather be somewhere else, or like a party apparatchik who can still be called away by Gerry Adams to boost party airmiles.
And neither account of his recent adventure makes him look like a sound partner for unionism, or a focused spokesperson for nationalists. All of that might be worth something to republicans if their standing in the south has been improved. But, in spite of all the publicity and the new support, the core debate around Sinn Fein now is about whether they still have too much blood on their hands.