It is clear from his appearance on TV today that Martin McGuinness is not a well man. And the first human reaction has to be one of sympathy.
How this sympathy manifests in any upcoming election is hard to judge. The related point is that Sinn Féin keyboard warriors have been pushing the line that Sinn Féin has a strategy and actually knows what it is doing…yet will go into any election pushing the exact opposite.
The nationalist electorate will be asked to support Sinn Féin on the basis that Sinn Féin’s list of humiliations that it has suffered at the hands of the DUP is actually humiliation for the entire nationalist community…and the only way for nationalists is to deal with the humiliation is to ….er re-elect the people who facilitated the humiliation in the first place.
Sinn Féin are a political party who wanted Arlene Foster to stand aside for an inquiry. They did not demand her resignation and a full public inquiry. They failed…even with a proposal designed to get DUP and SF off the hook.
In the crazy world of Norn Iron politics, it might just work.
And while the entire crisis is down to DUP arrogance (and SF failure to address it), going into an election as the Party that humiliated Sinn Féin will not damage DUP too much.
The most likely outcome of any election is that DUP and SF will remain the biggest parties, taking some damage. There will be a campaign to boycott the election and turn out will be low. The boycott will more likely damage the good guys (in this context SDLP and UUP) than the bad guys (DUP and Sinn Féin).
Whether the NIO and its invisible and anonymous Secretary of State sanctions an election is one thing. How James Brokenshire reacts to (say) a turn-out of 45% is another thing.
Direct Rule…..or do we just go to an appointed Commission to run Norn Iron. The ultimate Quango….the Quisling Quango.