David McWilliams: ‘I’m all right Jack’ politics has fuelled the rise of Sinn Féin

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil helped create Mary Lou McDonald’s electoral juggernaut

Mary Lou McDonald at a Sinn Féin rally at Liberty Hall, Dublin.  Photograph: Tom Honan for The Irish Times

Mary Lou McDonald at a Sinn Féin rally at Liberty Hall, Dublin. Photograph: Tom Honan for The Irish Times

The excoriation of Sinn Féin in recent days seems to be directed from the top, with the intention of softening the ground for a Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael coalition. ABS (“Anyone But Shinners”) certainly gives cover to both leaders, allowing them to ask their followers to hold their noses and do the deed with each other, based on having no alternative.

A battle is raging right now for the soul of both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. Political parties are a bit like golf clubs: rules and sacraments that matter enormously to members seem silly from the outside. Members of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are agonising about purity rather than policy.

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