Is Martin McGuinness contemplating a sideways move back to Derry?

It’s been intriguing watching Martin McGuinness and Colum Eastwood quietly jousting in the public domain recently. Martin may not be leader of his party but his the most prominent and most senior public figure for Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland.

None of it has been too serious or even that memorable, but the fact that it’s going on is interesting enough in itself. The latest came in the form of a retraction from the First Minister for remarks made in the Assembly yesterday.

Maybe it is just as one SF friend put it yesterday that Martin giving him a gentle slap to welcome him to top table.

But perhaps having relinquished his Westminster seat in Mid Ulster, Mr McGuinness is considering a much closer (and safer) encounter with the new SDLP leader by choosing to run in what has remained his home town of Derry.

SF has long since accepted it could not take on Mark Durkan for the Westminster seat, but the party needs some momentum to try and snatch one of the SDLP’s three seats in the city to become top dog there in the Assembly.

Of course a putative McGuinness move to Derry may be nothing more than overwrought whispers in the machine. But it may well be one to keep a weather eye out for…

  • chrisjones2

    it has always been odd – stupid even – that he didn’t.

    With Ramsey going and the speculation that we have passed Peak SF in the North, this might be a sensible move.

  • Jack Stone

    I find that people prefer to vote for politicians not parties. Martin McGuinness often comes off as very likable. He is also perceived as a very capable politician who genuinely acts the statesman. It has always seemed amazing to me that Martin remains teflon. While Gerry Adams fends off aligations that he was never in the IRA, no one ever challenges the contention that Martin did not order attacks on RUC members in his position in the IRA. Martin seems to avoid much of the negative blowback from Sinn Fein’s scandals. Even in the recent “welfare row”, Martin was never painted as the person trying to blow up the agreement (Gerry Adams was).

    Having met him, I was always struck at how warm, likable and believable he was. He seemed so genuine. If given the opportunity, I would be proud to vote for him, I cannot say the same about many in Sinn Fein or Northern Ireland in general, for that matter. The bar is very low for politicians in Northern Ireland. You people don’t seem to vote for people, rather, you vote against someone else. I believe the few like Martin McGuinness are the exception, not the rule.

  • hugh mccloy

    I cant see them taking him out of Mid Ulster, he is probably better liked in Mid Ulster than his home city. Molloys landslide win in by election was well down, the vote in mid uslter is not increasing for SF so to keep the 3 MLA’s SF need a big vote winner like McGuinness.

    With Molloy holding MP baton if you take McGuinness out of Mid Ulster that leaves Michelle O’Neill, Ian Milne who are not big vote winners with SF then having to find 2 more heads to run. The domestic field in Mid Ulster is full of prospective candidates but not to many that will woo the voters.

    Be more likely he will run in Mid Ulster, then be taken out to run presidential again.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Forgive me for saying this, but isn’t part of Mid Ulster already in Derry?

  • banana man

    Yes South Derry (county) makes up part of mid-Ulster, McGuinness is from Derry city which is the Foyle constituency

  • Mike Thompson

    What a load of twaddle. Yeah, the family of people like Joanne Mathers and Frank Hegarty would think a lot of our Marty, The reason why he doesn’t deny his IRA past is because he told Dublin’s Special Criminal Court that he was proud to be a member of the IRA and got 6 months, when he should have got 16 years; it would have saved a lot of subsequent deaths
    The fact is that he is a semi-literate oaf and mediocrity with a high degree of animal cunning masquerading as brains. He has had his eye wiped repeatedly in negotiations, most recently by Peter Robinson and the Tory British government.
    Surface charm he has aplenty, but so have a lot of psychopaths, and he is warm and engaging if you haven’t heard his fly fishing stories a dozen times before or his doggerel presented as poetry,
    His repeated success in Mid Ulster is an indictment of the people there who vote for him.

  • Granni Trixie

    Re-run for President? What’s in it for him to stand a second time given the last result?
    No, for SF to do better they would need a clean skin.

  • Granni Trixie

    I find that sometimes people vote on their impression and/or knowledge of an individual and sometimes because they connect to a party.

    As for Marty, well he might be nice to his Granny and charm the pants off you but to many of us he is or was a thug. None so blind…..

  • Jack Stone

    I am not saying he did not do all those things or even that those things do not matter but the fact is, he is not attacked with the same ferocity as Gerry Adams or Gerry Kelly. He comes off as much better in the press than even people like Sammy Wilson or Ruth Patterson. He receives significantly less vitriol than Mary Lou McDonald despite Martin McGuinness’ paramilitary history. Even you shaded your condemnation “but to many of us he is or was a thug.” It is just something really interesting about him.

  • Hugh Davison

    No redemption there then?

  • Hugh Davison

    I take it you’re not that bothered about democracy, then? I must remember to admonish the people of mid-Ulster on their choice of elected representative, the next time I’m there.

  • Granni Trixie

    There is always the possibility of redemption,ofcourse but only if one acknowkedges the wrong one has done, not justify it.

  • Gopher

    If PBP run it will be a near certainty that they will be the party to make a gain there. Foyle is one of those constituecies were that is more likely to an SDLP seat than SF. I expect the Greens to stand to further queer the SDLP’s pitch and I will make a prediction that Alliance and UKIP will poll over 1000 votes each.

  • Reader

    Don’t forget East Londonderry too. That lot are nearly as bad.

  • mjh

    Interesting speculation. No doubt it’s a move that must have been considered by the SF tacticians. But their calculations will probably tell them that it would be a defensive rather than an offensive move.

    The danger to the third SDLP seat comes from PBPA (perhaps more specifically from Eamonn McCann). Compared to the 2011 vote, PBPA could snatch that seat with a swing of just over 1%.

    For comparison SF would require a swing of at least 2.3% from SDLP to be in contention in the early stages of the count, and almost certainly a lot more if PBPA were not to still gain the seat on SDLP transfers.

    Even McGuinness is most unlikely to have the personal vote to achieve such an upset.

    As a defensive ploy it could be that SF might wish to restrict the risk of PBPA emerging as a longer-term threat in Derry as well as Belfast. Focusing the contest on a head-to-head between the two leaders of nationalism in Stormont would certainly deprive the PBPA candidate of attention.

    Or they might be concerned at the risk that a coherent political challenge could develop out of the dissident success in the last local elections.

    Nationalist politics in Derry is beginning to show indications that it could come to resemble West Belfast in the ’80s with increasing numbers of floating voters willing to consider alternatives to the leading nationalist party, or in this case parties.

  • Ask anyone from Foyle or Mid-Ulster and they will tell you that Martin McGuinness has always been the 7th MLA for Derry. He is always looking for investment in the city as opposed to Mid-Ulster which has seen nothing from him in all his time as a minister especially DFM (Compare the investment in East Belfast to Mid-Ulster)

    Despite being its elected MP for nearly 20 years he was rarely in the constituency. Id say he would struggle to name the main towns in the area. He will stay in MU for the foreseeable future, SF do not have the numbers for 3 seats and the definitely do not have the transfers for 3 seats either. Eamon McCann is the only candidate likely to take the 3rd SDLP seat.

  • Gopher

    I assume some form of renegade Republican will be standing as well? That would make 2 SF seats a near certainty if it was not already.

  • hugh mccloy

    The devil you know, he has already done the groundwork, its the only candidate that makes sense for SF, a new blood wont be able to cut a presidential election. McGuinness will end up down there one way or another its only a matter of time

  • Kevin Breslin

    Well they’ve lost Martina, there’s an arguement they need a “Big Hitter” now Martin’s left, Mitchell’s left, Martina’s left.

    The obvious Sinn Féin contenders if they run three (and they probably will) will be Maeve McLauglin, Gearóid Ó hEára, Raymond McCartney, which might be their final team.

  • Hugh Davison

    Ah yes. Curry my yogurt.

  • Roger

    Jack, McGuinness was rejected by the electorate in Ireland when he ran for election there. The vast majority in Ireland didn’t vote for him. He was part of the IRA, a group that murdered persons whose political views SF and IRA rejected. Certainly he is not a democrat. He isn’t interesting to me or most of the Irish electorate. The Irish can do better and did better on that occasion. Michael D. is certainly a democrat. He is a fine ambassador for Ireland. A good President, whatever criticisms could be made.

    SF could nominate someone with no direct IRA connection. I wouldn’t vote for their nominee but they’d probably do better to nominate some one who condemns murder, doesn’t make excuses for lying and seems democratic. Those are my tips for SF.

    I’m afraid Sammy Wilson or Ruth Patterson aren’t exactly household names in Ireland. They’re NI people. Mary Lou is well known. SF could try with her.

  • Gaygael

    I agree re PBP potential gain and it’s at the risk of SDLP not SF. Will be interesting to see who replaces pat Ramsey. Surely they can’t choose another man, and then run 3 men in 2016.
    What makes you think the greens will stand?

    Interestingly, at the last election, 1100 of willie hays surplus went to the SDLP. There was no other unionist in 2011, but this time there will be UUP and likely UKIP and maybe TUV/PUP.

    Alliance weren’t too far away from 1000 in Westminster, but as you say, greens may disturb that’s entail growth if the run.

  • Granni Trixie

    “Done the groundwork” …and been found wanting you ought to have added. I said at the time and I’ll say it again, that it would say something v negative about Ireland if the best they can do is vote to have themselves represented by Martin McG.

  • Granni Trixie

    Forgive me but I do not take my standards from the likes of Ruth,Sammy or McDonald.

  • Jack Stone

    Isn’t Martin McGuinness an NI person? I mean technically. Sure, he did run for office in the south but he did significantly better than you are implying (higher percentage of the vote than Sinn Fein got in the preceding election) so I wouldn’t call it a rejection.

    Didn’t Martin come in third when he ran for president and beat the Fine Gael candidate? Am I remembering that correctly?

    Also I thought the next presidential candidate was going to be Gerry Adams. I thought this was the plan, firstly, open the presidential voting to all citizens of Ireland. Use Friends of Sinn Fein in the US and Sinn Fein’s election machine in Northern Ireland to stuff ballots for Gerry Adams. Allow Gerry Adams to ride into the sunset as President of Ireland giving him a way to relinquish power without being Taoiseach.

  • Thomas Girvan

    Yes, is it not time that he and Gerry packed it in and gave us all a “fresh start”?
    Maybe that wouldn’t suit the Army Council.

  • Roger

    No doubt that McGuinness is a NI person but he’s well known in IRL too.
    McAleese was a NI person but was a fine president. They were both citizens of the requisite age so could run. Sammy and Ruth just aren’t well known. They could still give it a try. Why not. We’d get to know them.
    I don’t know who SF plan to run next time. If it’s Adams, they defo won’t win.

  • Gopher

    The number of people who voted fell from the last general election in three seats despite an increase in electorate. East Londonderry, North Antrim and Foyle. Voter apathy don’t really explain this as in North Down the home of the apathetic voter the number went up. That number went up incidently without the UUP (that should worry Mike) and in a dead contest. Variety of candidate must go some way to explain this though North Antrim had quite a rainbow despite the Greens not standing.
    It seems that there is a residue in those three seats that want to vote for a party that was not standing in the General election. Those parties and as you mention The DUP’s surplus will decide where that third SDLP seat goes in Foyle. As the DUP make quota and SDLP do not, any accidents and we could be looking at the first party leader failing to get elected. It will be interesting who the SDLP will attack.

  • Gopher

    I think we will see the number of SDLP runners in Foyle quietly reduced from 4 to 3 to help prevent such a misfortune

  • barnshee

    “The danger to the third SDLP seat comes from PBPA (perhaps more specifically from Eamonn McCann). Compared to the 2011 vote, PBPA could snatch that seat with a swing of just over 1%.”

    I am a big fan of Eamonns` politics but he needs the “gloss up spin boys” in to tidy him up a wee bit –without loss of basic message- if he is going to break thru

  • barnshee

    I think you can suggest that voting for representatives of murder gangs fails to reflect well on those electing them. I am equally unhappy with those who elect former UVF members it reflects poorly on those voters

  • barnshee

    I don`t think the blessed Gregory claims to be (or indeed has been identified as) a member of a murder gang

  • Hugh Davison

    well, someone has to vote for them, to keep them off the streets. Democracy is not great but it’s the best we have.

  • John Collins

    Mike
    Locking him for 16 years would bestow on him a level of ‘street cred’ he does not now have and it is almost certain a worse monster would have replaced him. Anyway people who voted for Paisley are not much better. After all a man of his prominence marching armed men up and down hillsides was hardly advocating a peaceful solution to anything.

  • John Collins

    Roger. I agree with you 100%