MEP Mary Lou McDonald is the best person to replace
King Gerry as the Shinners' top cat.
spite of vehement denials from the Shinners' spin
doctors, Unionists are equally adamant the Sinn
Fein President is preparing to step aside in a
Tony Blair-style departure later this year.
this just wishful thinking on the part of Unionists,
or did someone let something slip during one of
the special 'lines of communication' meetings
between the Shinners and Unionist representatives?
spin or just stirring the pot in advance of the
26 March deadline it may be, but the reality is
like Ian Paisley in the DUP Gerry
cannot go on forever.
Blair, who is facing an ever-growing campaign
to push him out of office, Adams has the luxury
of deciding when and how he'll quit the top republican
post and that's as President of Sinn Fein,
not Chief of Staff of the Provos' Army Council
is case there's any misunderstanding!
best tactic would be to quit on the Twelfth. By
that time, a power-sharing Executive would be
established at Stormont, and the Shinners would
have probably more than doubled their present
five-seat tally in the Dail elections.
legacy would be to have restored Sinn Fein as
a movement back to its iconic all-Ireland status
of 1918 when it dominated the republican vote
across the island.
could then bog off on a fund-raising lecture tour
of Irish America, charging ten thousand dollars
a plate for the privilege of Irish stew and listening
to Gerry's jottings.
in a Nobel Peace Prize like John Hume and Davy
Trimble, and the former republican internee is
perfectly placed for either the Irish Presidency
or a top seat in the United Nations.
on the Twelfth would certainly be one way of throwing
cold water on the Orange celebrations but
it still would not solve the key question; who
is the best woman to succeed him?
I did stress woman, as it seems the 'cool trend'
in Northern politics is to replace male leaders
with women. Could it be the auld maxim working
its way into political life behind every
good man lies a better woman?
Dawn Purvis replaced the late Davy Ervine as PUP
boss, and Anne Dickson succeeded former Northern
Premier Brian Faulkner in 1976 as chief of the
short-lived pro-power sharing Unionist Party of
then there was the Coven, sorry, that should be
the Women's Coalition under Queen Monica
and don't forget Alliance's Eileen Bell was the
Assembly's highly competent outgoing Speaker.
may have discretely warmed to Adams because of
his decision to attend Ervine's funeral in the
heartland of loyalist east Belfast last month.
the future of the peace process and a power-sharing
Executive could rest on which female the Shinners
select to 'do the business' with Unionism.
there are four selections on the political menu,
the favoured dish is still Mary Lou. For Unionists,
she's a so-called 'squeaky clean' no links
to Provo death squads.
Unionists did not fail to notice her role in heavily
supporting the pro-PSNI stance of the SF leadership
in the run-up to the historic ard fheis.
also likely she'll take a Dail seat in Bertie
Ahern's Dublin constituency, so Unionists will
have a Shinner TD they can talk business with.
for the other runners, there's South Down MLA
Caitriona Ruane; Northern MEP Bairbre de Brun,
and Fermanagh/South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew.
All of them are non runners in Unionists eyes.
especially with Ruane, her close connections with
the Colombia Three campaign would probably spark
a UUP-style walkout of the Northern Executive
and the collapse of the Stormont Assembly. Ruane
would be a real red flag to the Unionist bull.
for de Brun, or Babs as she is unaffectionately
dubbed in Unionism, she cooked her goose when
she started plastering the Irish language on every
document imaginable during her stint as Northern
health minister on Trimble's watch as First Minister.
was always the suspicion in Unionist minds she
allegedly abused her ministerial role to send
a larger dose of health services into republican
West Belfast compared to the other 17 constituencies,
and especially Protestant areas of the North.
Unionists, Gildernew is the lightweight of the
Shinner coven. Given dissident republican support
in the border regions against SF's PSNI stance,
it is only a matter of time before an agreed Unionist
candidate wins back the Westminster seat.
its only a matter of months before Unionists sing
the lines from that famous Country and Western
ballad Oh Mary Lou, I'm so in love with
again, could the DUP hit back by setting up their
leadership team of political Bond girls
Iris Robinson and Diane Dodds? As for the UUP's
sexy dream team, well, let's just leave that debate
for another day!