Michelle O’Neill’s admission of her party’s wholesale transgression against Covid rules is interesting not for the usual Connelly House strangulation of the English language (to avoid anyone interpreting it as an actual apology), but how it shows a party stranded on the outside asking to come in again.
That’s healthy in a number of ways. One, the penny seems to have dropped with the old guard who still plainly call all the big shots in Northern Ireland at least, that trying to play the opposition whilst supposedly in government is not going down well with their voters (the only thing party cares about).
Two, actually doing the right thing (even if it makes life harder for ordinary people) is actually working for those taking the tougher and less popular decisions. Covid has generated a whole stack of problems that are going to need short, medium, and long term solutions.
We have travelled a very long way since December when the party began to accept their boycott of Stormont was not only not working, but actually impairing their electoral chances in the Republic. It’s probably significant that this interview was done with RTÉ and not UTV, BBC or Sky in that respect.
The mangled prose of her HQ written statement gilded over a fair amount of cracks…
“It wasn’t my intention this would happen, but it did, I accept this and I regret this is the case.
“I accept that we have not been able to deliver clear messaging in the format that was the practice before this controversy.”
“This” was is the fact that “Stormont’s public health messaging capacity had been undermined by the row”. Indeed, it has been all. All over Northern Ireland youngster’s have been following Sinn Féin’s ‘let it be’ attitude to the health crisis, with post A level parties kicking off all over Northern Ireland.
Otherwise the messaging has been relatively clear and consistent from the other four member parties of the Executive. But none of them are in the mood for a fight over a misdeamour most likely forced upon the dFM by her party’s autocratic internal leadership.
Arlene Foster was generous in her acknowledgement of Mrs O’Neill’s statement [or non apology – Ed], and switched the focus onto the wider responsibility that both of them now owe to the wider public of Northern Ireland…
— DUP (@duponline) September 10, 2020
As David said on U105 this morning, in practical terms, this is probably enough to get the joint ministerial show back on the road again, but it is no guarantee for how long it will stay there for.
“Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald and Vice President Michelle O’Neill” by “Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald and Vice President Michelle O’Neill” is licensed under “Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald and Vice President Michelle O’Neill“
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty