Except that it wasn't, the party's booby moment bore all the hallmarks of an ambush by political opponents and ne'er-do-wells determined to be unhelpful to the peace process: a carefully laid trip wire that would cause the party a wobble or two on its journey to a destination approved by radical revolutionaries in the mould of ... Lloyd Blankfein.
Having told the world it owned and would therefore never forget Bobby Sands, the party instead remembered "Booby" Sands in its election literature. It was such a howler - imagine Chip Guevara - that many other parties might easily have got away with an explanation that placed the blame on the dirty tricks of detractors. Calculating that nobody would seriously think the party would have made a serious faux pas regarding its foremost icon, Sinn Fein resorted to bluffing it out, describing the booby trap as the work of its opponents.
There was just one hiccup: courtesy of its leader’s serial dissembling, Sinn Fein never finds itself on terra firma when screaming "liar " at its foes. It eventually abandoned the pretence and admitted that its Booby moment was a typo of its own making.
Typos, sure, no big deal, they happen all the time ... just not to Sinn Fein. It is always somebody else hostile to the peace process or Sinn Fein’s electoral ambitions who is responsible for Sinn Fein misfortunes. Had another party in its election literature have called Sands, "Booby", there would have been howls of indignation from Sinn Fein, depicting it as an affront to a great Irish Patriot. The benefit of typo would not have been afforded them.
So far from being a booby trap laid by political opponents, it is very much an own goal. Unfortunately for Sinn Fein it came days after party members had ridiculed Fine Gael with a witty graphic of their own. Fine Gael’s gaffe was not a typo but the stuff of high politics and merits more scrutiny than Sinn Fein's errorism. A witty one liner like "we will never forget you Booby Sands" is the mote that distracts from the log and so it proved to be.
It is not actually that Sinn Fein does forget Bobby Sands even though the party has abandoned everything Sands stood for. A prolific writer who left a considerable literary trace the late hunger striker never penned anything that remotely resembles Sinn Fein positions of today and which, to the contrary, were diametrically at odds with Sinn Fein positions. Sinn Fein remembers Bobby Sands but in the way the Irish Labour Party remembers James Connolly. Somebody whose image can be waved and sold but whose substance is never followed.
Still, it is hard not to feel sympathy with the unfortunate who made the gaffe, knowing the growls and barks they would have faced afterwards. It is so easily done. Anybody who has not made a typo has never written anything. Most likely rushed and tired from electioneering the designer has probably taken the lion’s share of the abuse. But former republican prisoner Tim Brannigan hit the spot with his comment "Dear me. Booby Sands? A typo of Curb Your Enthusiasm proportions. How did no-one see this?" His point: it should have been seen. Terry Adams or Merry Lou McDonald would most certainly never have made it to the streets. The real culpability here lies with the proof reading: not with the hand who wrote it but with the eye who let it by.
Sinn Fein's vulnerability on this issue is not that it fails to remember Bobby Sands but that it fails to resemble him. The blanket is the blanket and the banquet is the banquet and never the twain shall meet.