Couple of items which strain the credence of the casual reader…

Eh? Couple of odd things coming up today and yesterday. One is the startling revelation that Jim Shannon is an Irish speaker. (We’ve sent the Slugger verification bots off to check the truth or otherwise of that one).

What the Gaeilgeoir Strangford MP actually has to say on the subject is less surprising:

Strangford candidate Jim Shannon, who himself is an Irish speaker, said he did not see the need for a cultural language act, adding that both Ulster-Scots and the Irish language are “thriving just fine” without legislation.

In other news, Sinn Fein has announced one of their by now routine changes to the historical record with their “leader in the north” announcing:

“When the Westminster election campaign was announced I took the initiative to invite other party leaders to explore the possibilities of a progressive pact to maximise the anti-Brexit, anti Tory vote and pro-rights and pro-equality vote.

“Other parties were unable to take up this offer.

And she’s not alone. John O’Dowd is reported in An Phoblacht:

He said that Sinn Féin had opened up the discussion for a progressive alliance “but the SDLP came up with nothing reasonable”.

So is Eastwood the ‘de facto’ leader of Sinn Fein now? Or it was such a good idea that Sinn Fein had to nick it and make it their own? Or was it really them who had it first?

Looking back through our archives it’s not clear who had the idea first, but Eastwood was certainly first to run with it in public. Indeed, he’d already got a refusal from Naomi, and an understanding from Steven by the time Sinn Fein began to move.

It didn’t last, of course. The idea of being in a coalition with Sinn Fein was too much for the blood of other would-be partners. But, as I noted at the time, retaining ownership of that narrative was always going to be a problem for the SDLP:

What he (Colum) will struggle with this is exactly this kind of spoiler counter-narrative and the media’s overwhelming focus on the DUP and SF (the Irish News managed to omit Colum from their picture on this story in favour of Michelle and John O’Dowd).

And two weeks later the struggle continues…