As the run up to the Irish General election expected somewhere in February or March begins, we have had two stories develop before Christmas. First the formation of the United Left Alliance, a grouping of a few of the smaller parties of the Left from the Republic and the news that Gerry Adams, President of Sinn Fein, will be running for the Dail.
This sudden departure from the Politics of Northern Ireland to contest elections in the South has raised a few question marks and I hope to put forward a few possibilities as to why I think he may be departing.
1) Leading the Charge - Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland has established itself as the Second party. With just about 25% of the seats in the Assembly and being able to maintain 5 MPs despite the threat of Unionist Unity Sinn Fein has established itself a nice Stronghold. Now with the Political upheaval as the support for Fianna Fail Collapse in opinion polls as they push through severe austerity measures, Sinn Fein hope to be able to do damage. The current Sinn Fein Dail Group however lacks any of the strength of their brethren to the North so they need someone with the standing of Gerry Adams to help secure as many seats as possible.
2) He's the Boss - As the Leader of Sinn Fein he, though hopefully not by choice, weakens the authority of Martin McGuinness, The Deputy First Minister, by sitting behind him in the Assembly. This is an issue as Sinn Fein hope to become the Largest Party in Northern Ireland due to the possible Unionist civil war that might be brewing in the lead up to the 2011 Assembly election, so Gerry Adams departure helps remove the idea Martin McGuinness being a Puppet First Minister.
3) The TUV - It is likely based on their electoral performances that the TUV will win a seat if not seats in the coming election. As they are wholly anti-power sharing and refer to Sinn Fein as Sinn Fein/IRA as easily as breathing, Gerry Adam's departure shrinks the target at which any incoming TUV MLAs can take aim at.
4) A Last Hoorah - Gerry Adams is 72, so it is likely that his Career is in it's final stage. Rather than simply fade away in the backbenches of Stormont, he has decided to take on the Dail and hopefully bring success to Sinn Fein to help them be established as a
What effect Adams' Departure will have on the Politics of Northern and the Republic of Ireland is anyones guess, but needless to say 2011 will be an interesting year.