Do you know how many children Mary Lou McDonald has? Have you ever seen a picture of Gerry Adams with his son? Or Martin McGuinness with his children? No, me neither. So why is that? Footballers do it. Other politicians do it. John F and Bobby Kennedy brought it to a fine art. Why not Sinn Féin?
Well, one of the reasons might be their family’s safety. There are nutters out there who would be capable of inflicting harm on anyone, if they thought it’d be a way of getting to the Sinn Féin leadership. Another reason might be that they figure they’re politicians and they want to be judged by the criteria applied to politicians, not by their public ability to dandle a youngster on their knee. Because all of this look-at-my-cute-kid has echoes of the ‘trophy wife/arm candy’ – the babe whose presence shows how powerful (and attractive) this otherwise nondescript Mr Moneybags is.
But that’s a wife/partner. We’re talking children here. Is it that bringing the child along will provide some sort of link across time? That in years to come, in the child’s maturity, s/he can look back and feel part of history? Or is it some half-assed notion that showing yourself with your child will reassure the electorate that you’re not a heartless womaniser out on the razzle every spare moment from politicking, that you represent good solid family values, and that cute little tot on your knee will somehow transfer her cuteness to you and get you more votes?
If that’s the case, pass the bucket, would you? Using other people is an approach to life that’s generally concerned low-quality conduct. Using your own children to further your political ambitions verges, in a non-sexual sense, on child-abuse.