Noel Whelan on the predictablity of most of the Westminster seats. He reckons that Sinn Fein has got its campaign off to a dream start, with Gerry Adams’ appeal to the IRA: “Dangling the prospect of ultimate sustainable peace in front of the electorate the party is hoping a renewed and enlarged mandate will cleanse it of the hue of criminality with which it says it has been smeared in recent months”.
But, somewhat wearily perhaps, he notes the general disengagement from the kind of real political choices that are facing electorates elsewhere:
On the UK mainland the debate on issues like taxation, immigration and the Iraq war is intensifying as polling day approaches. Stubbornly, Northern Ireland’s political parties, and their local media, are sticking to the issues which have dominated, and stagnated, their politics for decades. This election will again be a sectarian head-count between the nationalist and unionist blocs, and within those blocs it will be a battle about which of the political parties will best protect and represent their bloc’s interests in the next phase of the apparently never ending round of negotiations which may or may not emerge after the elections and after the marching season.