Following on from yesterday’s piece on Fianna Fáil that Mick flagged up, today the Irish Times continued with Paul Cullen looking at the Opposition with a brief analysis of Sinn Féin’s performance to date (in one of two pieces on the IT website, for more see below). It suggests that:
On numbers alone, a much diminished Fianna Fáil can still claim to lead the Opposition – but in terms of noise and output, Sinn Féin has proved more effective.
The party has five fewer deputies than Fianna Fáil but its overall input into Dáil proceedings is often more telling and media-savvy.
The strength of its leadership derives from its mix of old and young and the fact that, for the first time, the party has its leader in the chamber.
While it is suggested that Gerry Adams performance has improved over the year, it picks out a number of TDs, including Mary Lou McDonald, Peadar Tóibín, Sandra McLellan and Jonathan O’Brien as among Sinn Féin’s most effective as well as Sinn Féin’s finance spokesman, Pearse Doherty who it considers as:
… the party’s star turn since the election, speaking with a fluency and confidence that belies his 34 years. Less austere in person than his public persona would indicate, Doherty sometimes seems stuck permanently in angry mode. His mastery of a complex brief is assured, but the challenge for him in the next year will be to develop the party’s economic policies in a way that will attract broader support.
Cullen doesn’t really speculate on how or where Sinn Féin may seek to develope it’s vote over the life of the 31st Dáil. There is the recurring suggestion that it is simply looking to fill the space where Fianna Fáil used to lie (as Mick mentioned yesterday). But the other option for the party is to expand its reach by complementing its visible activism at a local level on social issues with other approaches, such as increasing it’s on-line presence at local level to circumvent the regional press that often remains aloof to all but FG/FF (even for Labour), making it’s organisation of Ógra groupings at third level colleges more consistent and trying to grow a vote and political dynamic independently of simply becoming a Fianna Fáil nua.
In the longer article, Cullen makes the same general point, although in cruder terms:
The party now has the talent, State funding and research capability to meet these challenges, but it also has to come out of the ghetto.