Anthony McIntyre discusses a question posed by Gerry Adams in the Dail earlier this week.
The only surprise about Gerry Adams raising a question for Eoghan Murphy in the Dail this week regarding the anticipated referendum on eligibility to vote in the Irish presidential election, was that he never pushed someone else out in front of him to do it. Usually he pretends to have no interest in these matters, or maintains a faux elder statesman detachment and lets someone else take the flak if it goes awry. That fool Hartley acting off his own bat again type thing.
Perhaps the poor electoral showing by Sinn Fein caused a bit of nervousness and he sought some sort of reassurance that his long political career might still have a future. I have long thought the eye of Adams has been on Áras an Uachtaráin. The chips just never fell at the right moment. 2025, with him aged 77, it is likely the last chance he has to cash in on all the dissembling and his bogus history of being the IRA's peace advisor.
On the surface the recent election might seem to some to have augured poorly for his hopes. Sinn Fein performed dismally. But he knows which constituency to target for the presidency and that ultimately his chances do not reside in the electorate of the Republic. He understands that the vote he would pull in the South would never be enough to get him across the portal of the Aras. Nor is it enough to have voting rights extended merely to the North. Many nationalists would vote for him but the unionists would be just as likely to come out as a bloc to vote against him, seeing an opportunity to put the final nail in the Master’s coffin. The target audience is the Irish diaspora in the United States. Niall O'Dowd gets this and is understandably worried about Patrick Radden Keefe traducing the reputation of the former IRA chief of staff from New York to Los Angelos. If they are daft enough in New York to make St Patrick's Day Gerry Adams Day, the Big Lad must be thinking Frank Dane had it spot on: Get all the fools on your side and you can be elected to anything.
Of course it all depends on how widely among the diaspora the franchise is extended. All else being equal, in 2025 he will not be up against a sitting incumbent. He would have stood no chance against Michael D last time around and wisely shoved Liadh Ni Riada out in front. She might not have been a Happy Poppy when the people had spoken, the bastards, but he was. It opened the door wider for himself. Had Ni Riada improved on the vote recorded by Martin McGuinness in 2011 that would have generated a considerable groundswell of opinion within Sinn Fein that she might prove a formidable challenger next time out. No chance of him allowing her to steal his thunder.
Adams might also calculate that Bertie Ahern could run for Fianna Fail. His hope there will be that the more recent stench of corruption is more overwhelming than the older stench of decomposition and that in a two horse race he will emerge as the crooked man best able to walk the crooked mile.