One Dublin commentator said that Sinn Féin was as about as important to the political process in the Republic as the Progressive Democrats – the two TD minor player in the coalition government who are widely expected to fade from the political scene in the coming years.
This is an exaggeration but there is an uncertainty at the heart of Sinn Féin that has never been present before. The low key Ard Fheis attempted to rally the faithful under the hardly inspiring slogan of ‘Republicanism in the 21st Century’.
For a party that has had success after success, Gerry Adams’ assertion that “we are closer … to bringing about Irish reunification than at any time in the past”, no longer carries the imputation that it is imminently within their grasp.
Like the DUP, the party that once radiated confidence no longer does. Having carried the coffins of a number of leading Republicans in recent weeks, Mr. Adams will be aware that they all believed that a united Ireland would happen in their lifetimes.