Sinn Fein has lost momentum. Its performance in the Republic’s election fell short of what the party and media pundits had predicted.
The message for Foyle is that Sinn Fein won’t take a third seat. People Before Profit stands on the brink of entering the Assembly with two or possibly three seats - Foyle, West Belfast and North Belfast. In that event, we will give the place the sort of shaking it richly deserves but has never experienced.
If I’m in the Assembly, the Executive parties – not just Sinn Fein – will be confronted at every turn with their abject failure to deliver for Derry. They have let Derry down on the university, housing provision, jobs, the toxic dump at Campsie, transport planning and much else.
Just a while ago, Sinn Fein had a front organisation called “Stand Up For Derry”, which has now been stood down.
No party on the island is more dependent on continuous momentum than Sinn Fein. Having abandoned the idea of putting a united Ireland above everything else, they have to show rapid progress towards their new objective - a share of office in each jurisdiction. But the election didn’t mark the major step towards that aspiration which many had anticipated.
One of the reasons Sinn Fein faltered was that it moved steadily to the right as the campaign progressed. It had tried to brand itself as left-wing. But as the prospect of office appeared to come closer, they began inching into the centre. In the end, they were neither fish, flesh nor fowl.
On the eve of the poll, spokespersons were arguing that Sinn Fein’s spending plans were more in line with the wishes of the Central Bank and the Department of Finance than the policies of any other party.
Once it was said that the reason Sinn Fein came across as more Left-wing in the South than in the North is that spending limits in the North were set by the British Treasury. But that can’t account for the shift to the right in the Republic.
The party’s key consideration has been whatever it believes will bring them closer to office.