A number of high-profile Sinn Fein figures appear to be publicly backing Michelle O’Neill in her leadership challenge from John O’Dowd.
When the current party vice-president announced her intention to seek re-election on Saturday, among those who retweeted her social media post were Martina Anderson MEP, the Foyle MP Elisha McCallion and a number of MLAs including Raymond McCartney, Linda Dillon and Caoimhe Archibald.
Sinn Fein MLA for Fermanagh/South Tyrone Jemma Dolan retweeted Mr O’Dowd’s confirmation of his intentions to launch a challenge, as did Craigavon councillor Catherine Nelson.
Also responding to Mr O’Dowd on Twitter, former Sinn Fein group leader on Belfast City Council Jim McVeigh said: “I look forward to hearing what your policy platform is John? Could I suggest you begin by indicating you will advocate a reversal of the current party position on corporation tax? Corporation tax should be increased to pay for an all Ireland NHS.”
Unionist commentator Alex Kane said: “Sinn Fein tend to move collectively; so it’s genuinely interesting to see John O’Dowd challenge Michelle O’Neill. Not sure if the challenge is aimed more at Mary Lou McDonald than O’Neill, but it’s a sign, I suspect, of increasing concerns at grassroots level in NI.”
He later tweeted: “It may mean nothing at all in the great scheme of things (or in the vote) but after one day it is interesting that O’Dowd is ahead in [Twitter] ‘likes’.
“I’m also surprised by numbers across other timelines who don’t take her victory for granted.”