I'm gonna stick my neck out an make a prediction. I've a feeling that the PDs are going to become a bigger and more successful party under McDowell. I'm not saying that McDowell is brilliant in every way, he has flaws, but I do think he is good leadership material. He has plenty of fresh ideas and energy and is not afraid to go for it. There's always risks with an enfant terrible but I think he has enough skills and intelligence to pull off success. Winning ugly at times no doubt!
The PDs should always have been destined to make a big impact. They made a promising start in the mid 1980s. I know they were a reactionary to the Dessie versus Charlie fallout which filled a gap but they then lost their momentum eventually. I think Mary Harney was and is a great worker who gets things done. Excellent in Environment (smog free Dublin!) and Industry, doing her best in Health (tough job). Also a great people person. I'm not convinced she was an expansion type leader for the PDs. But the good thing is that the PDs under Harney did manage to punch way above their weight. Considering their size they are doing very well.
McDowell has the potential to bring the PDs to another level. The neat thing about a small party is flexibility and freshness. McDowell is the leader who can make or break them. I'm betting on the former.