Anthony McIntyre reflects on the public displays of approval for British symbolism and institutions from Liadh Ní Riada.
There have been better weeks than the past one in the political career of Liadh Ní Riada, the Sinn Fein presidential no hoper. Trailing Michael D Higgins by light years - a massive 62% difference in the latest opinion poll - in the presidential race, she has shown none of the political surefootedness that is an essential ingredient of a successful campaign. Her willingness to wear the British bloody poppy if she assumed the office of presidency – as much chance of her arriving in Mars by the end of next week as there is of her reaching the Aras – has caused uneasiness in her own usually deferential support base.
While some have taken to deluding themselves that a difficult but obvious question is an ambush by RTE eager to hobble her chances others have focussed on the problem rather than deflect it. Prominent party activist Daithi Doolan on Facebook expressed the discomfort her position had caused him. It was a sentiment reflected by many others.
Despite her trip to the North to stand alongside the Stepford wives of Sinn Fein, her indifference to or ignorance of the working class nationalist experience there was encapsulated in her enthusiasm for the bloody poppy. Hard to imagine her swanning comfortably through the streets of Derry or Ballymurphy sporting her blood red flower. Speaking fluent Irish in an Oxbridge accent is not going to wash away the blood of the slaughtered.
Although not essentially all that different from banquet man Martin McGuinness in her eagerness to become respectable in the eyes of the British establishment, with not the slightest semblance of a republican history to lend ballast to her authenticity, the going was always going to be tough. Her stance has been explained away as an attempt to reach out to unionists. Which leaves us to wonder what her answer would have been had she been asked if Bobby Sands was a criminal.
It is clear now that Michael D Higgins claim has caused considerable anger within the PSNI ... Michael D. Higgins must make a public statement on this matter immediately. This is very serious. He must come clean.
Who is the more accurate of the two, Higgins or the PSNI, it is impossible to tell. But given the PSNI penchant for lying the safe money has to be backing the president. Moreover, causing anger within the PSNI is what her own party should be doing given the force's atrocious and tendentious record on the past. But then the past is something she knows very little about, her own past never having been republican.