Sinn Féin makes it so easy to criticise their behaviour that it might just be prudent to wonder if some Machiavellian strategy is in play.
It might be adding two and two to get 35, but could it be that the party has decided — like a rugby player happy to concede a three-point penalty to avert a seven-point try — that the kind of establishment criticism their routine mishaps, calculated or otherwise, provoke might make their party seem credible to those disenchanted by traditional politics?
Might they have decided that there is a dividend to be reaped, if they are persistently criticised by those they hope to replace in Leinster House or Stormont, by the voices who stand for democracy?
Even in the sometimes wild, smoke-and-dagger world of Irish politics, that would be a bizarre suggestion, but this is
a party that has been led unchallenged by Gerry Adams for 35 years; a party in which his and Martin McGuinness’
successors were appointed by a faceless consistory rather than elected by popular acclaim. It is the party dealing with a lengthening list of resignations, over bullying and improper treatment of grassroots members.
Yesterday, Dublin North-West councillor Noeleen Reilly became the latest to quit. She had been suspended over a bitter dispute with constituency colleague TD Dessie Ellis.
That spat gave Mr Ellis his second 15 minutes of fame in recent weeks. He had to concede that he did not observe the party’s voluntary code of taking less than half a TD’s salary. Mr Ellis has taken the full TD salary since 2011.
Personal circumstances forced that decision upon him, he said. He also said he intends to change his approach to pay.
Mr Ellis’ difficulties came just weeks after Sinn Féin MP Barry McElduff had to resign over his dreadful Kingsmill video. It is worth remembering that party leader-in-waiting (party leader-elect not), Mary Lou McDonald, initially defended his suspension, but hardened her position when public opinion showed how off-kilter her response really was.
Just weeks after McElduff’s idiocy, his colleague, Northern Ireland assembly member, former member of Northern Ireland’s policing board, and ex-IRA bomber, Gerry Kelly, the current junior minister at the office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister responsible for policing, has been reported to the police for allegedly removing a wheel clamp from his car.
Kelly was filmed on CCTV in Belfast on Friday using a bolt cutter to apparently cut off the clamp in a gym car park. Apart at all from wondering why a professional politician might have bolt cutters so easily to hand, it suggests an utter contempt for the standards we all depend on, if society is to function in even the most basic way.
These indisciplines stand in contrast to the party’s strict policy of telling its members how they may vote on the Eighth Amendment.
This party of bolt cutters, appalling video clips, abortion diktats, bullying, and succession processes more monarchical than democratic, may, as their leader of 35 years prepares to relinquish his unquestioned position, hold the balance of power after the next election.
Anyone as wily, as perceptive, as even a third-division Machiavelli should be concerned.