your big Northern guns into the South that's
how the Shinners will stand any chance of notching
up between a dozen to 15 seats in 2007's Dail
changing their choice of nominee for Northern
Deputy First Minister from Martin McGuinness to
the 'squeaky clean' in Provo terms
Mitchel McLaughlin will surely wipe the eye of
the Paisley camp over the allegiance oath on policing.
again, if the Shinners do swear an oath to support
law and order, the cops and the Policing Board,
why not go the whole hog and take the oath of
allegiance at Westminster and take their five
problem with McGuinness as Deputy nominee is not
his skills as a Sinn Fein negotiator, but that
he was once the self-confessed second in command
of the Provos in Derry. Then there's all the as
yet unproven and unfounded allegations of the
Mid Ulster MP being a British agent like the former
and now murdered Sinn Fein Stormont
administration chief Denis Donaldson.
Unionists eyes, McLaughlin has no track records
with the IRA. In Sinn Fein eyes, where does this
senior Shinner go now that SDLP boss Mark Durkan
has firmly secured the Foyle Westminster seat
especially if the SDLP does the smart thing
and merges with Fianna Fail?
main plank in Sinn Fein's Dail '07 campaign is
that it is a truly all-island party. How does
Fianna Fail combat this reality? Simple; just
organise in the North by forming an official partnership
with the SDLP, or rather swallow up the SDLP!
been a lot of gossip especially in dissident
republican circles that South Down MLA
Caitriona Ruane another 'squeaky clean'
Shinner could also be a replacement nominee
that would leave a massive gap in South Down where
Ruane has been building a fairly impressive power
base waiting for SDLP stalwart Eddie McGrady to
MLA and former Down District Council chairwoman
Margaret Ritchie would be a hot tip to replace
Eddie on the constitutional nationalist ticket.
has already established a strong political persona
within South Down but would her personal
SDLP ticket be enough to outgun the increasingly
popular Ruane, who became a big hit with republicans
with her involvement with the Colombia Three saga?
Ritchie running on a Fianna Fail ticket
that's a combination which could take some beating,
even by Ruane's achievements.
only wild card in the scenario is tactical voting
by Unionists to keep Ruane out or even
such an finely split nationalist/republican vote,
it allows an agreed Unionist candidate the seat.
in sectarian head-count terms, these are not the
glory days of former MP Enoch Powell and his waffer-thin
Unionist majorities. In hard, number-crunching
terms are there enough pro-Union voters
to clinch the seat?
Auld Eddie hands in his political chips, the Commons
seat is in grave danger of slipping into the Shinners'
paws just as Conor Murphy snatched neighbouring
Newry and Armagh when former SDLP deputy leader
Seamus Mallon retired.
you, don't rule out the bold Conor as a dark horse
nominee for Deputy should the Sinn Fein leadership
decide to 'retire' Martin from the race to save
the St Andrews Agreement.
the last thing the Shinners want is to fight two
elections on the island next year the Dail
General Election and an Assembly election. That
would prove an enormous drain on funds.
Shinners have five Dail seats, but apart from
parachuting MEP Mary Lou McDonald into Dublin
Central, the party badly needs the use of some
Northern cannons to even pass the 10-seat mark,
let alone chalk up 15.
15 seats, the Shinners could be in a strong bargaining
position to negotiate with Taioseach Bertie Ahern
about forming a coalition government with Fianna
Fail, and persuading Bertie to dump the Progressive