Posted By: May 27, 2014

Fiannuala O’ Connor. Irish News ( Belfast). Tuesday, May 27, 2014

WELL before the last recount ends,  elections repel people who are not nerds or
political columnists. There is no hiding, though, from the implications. The big
story is the move in the Republic, in particular in old-establishment Dublin, to
come to terms with Sinn Fein's rise in their midst. (In the north the big story
became a smaller, slower tale of unionist fractures, moderate Nationalism failing,
Republicanism evolving with, mostly, army-like discipline. Time enough to come back
to that.)

The Republic has been a long time adjusting to the "new dispensation", as a younger,
fresher Gerry Adams jubilantly sloganised it in the North's 2001 election count. The
very sound of 'Jarry' Adams has been especially trying for some. His move from West
Belfast to Louth came as an affront, sharpened by the fact that Louth voters
promptly put him top of the poll. The albatross of his own denials will always hang
round him, like the horror of Jean McConville's disappearance - except for the
thousands who go on telling pollsters that he is one of the most competent party

Sinn Fein has gone from strength to dominance, at least in total vote terms, in the
North. But according to leading Dublin voices they could never be acceptable in
government while the IRA-bred old guard still presides, meaning Adams. In the end, 
media coverage has scrambled to keep up as the SF leadership embraced the
possibility of government. Possibly, even probably,  as a minority coalition
partner, despite everything they've said about the cautionary tale of minority
partners, like now-crushed Labor.

Remember when Adams and leader-inwaiting Mary-lou McDonald said the very idea was
beyond the bounds? Over the weekend it was as if they couldn't remember that. This
weekend , the 1916 Centenary with SF in government North and South became a golden
shimmer on the horizon. The new line is that if the country calls them - make that
if the state calls them, or the voters - they stand ready.

Mary-Lou does this stuff better than Gerry. Authority becomes her. A slightly
gravelly voice adorns a female broadcaster, let me tell you. Since naturally lower
male voices, no matter how little they say or how badly they say it, have been heard
and interpreted through the ages as inherently authoritative. Except for Adams,
whose tones to some stubbornly convey menace, the rattle of IRA guns. The sinister
godfather out of place and out of his depth in the Republic's legislature is on
course now by some readings to be Tanaiste ([ Deputy Prime Minister], even in some
excitable accounts Taoiseach. Unless, of course, Republicans tweak their line-up
some more.

Becoming kingpin in Dublin Council means that updated Southern Republicanism won
middle-class votes, a step too far for most opinion-makers to contemplate until now,
and who knows, perhaps a blip, a whim, no more than a mid-term swipe at Enda Kenny
and Eamon Gilmore. Whatever becomes of SF participation in a Dublin government the
northern end of the party is bound to change over time, presumably broadening its
appeal in the process. That will also affect an SDLP increasingly lost for where to

Most people watch or follow politics, if at all, in bites from radio, glimpses on
television. They may have noticed the bright-eyed NI21 lad who got elected as his
party combusted, fizzing with his own victory but phrasing it as belief in his
fellow campaigners.

Or the graceless Peter Robinson telling Naomi long to pack her bags now. If they
were unlucky, viewers at random will also have seen SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell
grumping his way through the television coverage, reinterpreting another decline as
something he more or less intended, or at least managed. An un-pretty sight, but
equalled by the pointless clash of the party's north Belfast MLA,  Alban Maginness,
with the visiting Adams, doing a guest spot in the City Hall. How dare Adams say he
had no confidence in the SDLP, Alban seethed. Why would he have, snorted Adams,
hasn't he a party of his own. Hah, said Maginness, you're resiling from your
argument. Resiling? A barrister's word, useful to tame a witness in court but surely
not outside one, even in a TV studio. The SDLP man came across as pinstriped,
stuffy. Adams was among cheerful supporters but still gave off brusqueness. If 2016
comes good for them SF will want Gerry in place for symbolic value and to annoy the
begrudgers. But he might need to adjust too, or finally make way for the mellow