SINN FÉIN may not be doing itself any favours in Opposition Benches.
Yet, party members must be very happy with recent political opinion polls that
have SF leading the rest a merry dance.
Joy and positivity will be the lot of those who hope to see The Shinners leading the next Government.
But if SF’s time in Opposition is to be judged as a trial run for a spell in charge of the country, then there is remedial work to be done.
A good dollop of passion and zip would not go astray.
Followers were no doubt expecting fireworks from SF in Opposition. Fighting spirit the party has displayed at times.
No doubt the pandemic will be offered as the reason for what may sometimes seem to be one big happy Dáil family.
Yes, there are reasons why SF may lead the next Government, most likely with a back-up of God only knows what group (eeny, meeny, miny, moe).
Voters are obviously placing their trust in the party, particularly young people who may see it as a saviour as they give the thumbs down to FG and FF in particular.
The latter may be a reasonably solid foundation.
It has to be an advantage as the possibility of historic Government beckons.
But as with so many nooks and crannies of politics, it comes with a health warning.
CAN BE A DIRTY GAME
Politics can be a dirty game of high stakes, akin to the danger of tip-toeing through a minefield, swimming in shark-infested waters.
While SF’s proverbial mile lead in successive opinion polls is important, maybe even more interesting is the continued slithering down the ladder of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.
Blundering, bungling and what we might term three-card-tricking by the latter pair has seen them lose the respect of big numbers of people.
The notion has to be that a country in which so many are pining for change could catapult a rising SF to power with the help of own goal misfits FG and FF.
However, SF supporters will have heard the saying ‘on a wing and a prayer’ and that is exactly where it now finds itself.
Polls can be party pleasers but it has happened that they can also herald a false dawn.
Like most shrewd political pundits, SF planners and analysts should know that people can be fickle and a particular event or series of happenings could see a political pendulum swing any way.
Much will depend on when the next General Election is held.
IF DÁIL CAT WERE TO CAUSE HAVOC
If Government manages to wobble through its full term then SF will have to fight to hold on to its high profile perch for up to four years as the next General Election is scheduled for early 2025.
But, if the Dáil Cat were ever to cause havoc amongst the pigeons, then SF would, we assume, hope for that to happen sooner rather than later.
SF has a very able, intelligent and charismatic leader in Mary Lou McDonald, something neither FF nor FG can boast of.
Shinners also have extra special TDs, including Pearse Doherty, David Cullinane and Eoin O’Broin.
Our own Kathleen Funchion is flying the flag proudly and is proving to be an astute vote getter.
For decades, SF has endured incessant insults about its past, the main theme being its one-time association with the IRA.
To be fair to SF, the party has held its head and as a result the continuous mud-slinging by FG and FF may have been counter-productive.
But, the impression amongst some, including Facebook warriors, is that SF may be resting on its laurels and perhaps adopting a ‘leave well enough alone’ policy for fear of rocking a boat.
A HISTORIC BREAKTHROUGH
That could also be construed as apathetic or even arrogant. Copying any FF/FG policy of throwing stones across the Dáil Chamber for the sake of hurtling rocks would be foolish.
With FF and FG dithering, panicking even, SF, provided it can keep its ever growing battalions happy, can make a historic breakthrough.
At this time, FF, FG and the Greens would appear to have one foot in the grave and the other on a banana skin.
Ridiculous promises and giveaways have already begun, pledges of tax cuts, shaving electricity bills and better times for pensioners who are due a miserly €5 pension hike in January.
Sinn Féin will also know that men and women in dark rooms will be working on scaring voters away from the new kids on the block.
Some newspaper columnists will sharpen their pencils and get the knives out to try to muddy the waters that could otherwise provide a smooth passage to power for the Good Ship SF.
That one time bitter enemies, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, buried the hatchet and joined forces to keep SF from getting into Government after the last General Election tells its own story.
IN CONTROL OF PURSE STRINGS
The latter highlights just how much being in control of the purse strings means to the desperate pair that has played with power for donkeys’ years.
A betting man or women might just, at this stage, put his or her money on SF to get sweet revenge for having the rug pulled from under it following a dynamic swing to the party at the last General Election.
The ball is in SF’s court.
No amount of mud-slinging by any opponents should be enough to halt a march that is Manna from Heaven for so many thousands of enthusiasts who want change.
Prospects of a Sinn Féin Government will stick in the gut of FG and FF, now right wing buddies who just may now be rejected by the working sons and daughters of Mother Ireland.
Tiocfaidh Ár Lá is often mocked by others but the sentiment could well be the cry of delight if or perhaps when SF finally rules the Kildare Street roost.
If Sinn Féin doesn’t win the next General Election showdown, it will have itself only to blame.
The party is ahead of the field in the Grand National of Irish politics.
But the best of horses have met their Waterloo at Beechers Brook.
Sinn Féin, no doubt, regards itself as a champion horse rather than a lame duck.