In The Guardian, Henry McDonald points out that the Economy, not unity, is Irish priority
There is a great unspoken paradox about the current politico-fiscal crisis gripping the Republic of Ireland. The Irish people’s anger and disillusionment may have thrown a lifeline to Sinn Féin and rescued the party from total irrelevance in the Republic but its united Ireland project is more unrealisable than ever.
Of course, as the Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, was telling us, and The Guardian, last July
The single most important issue facing the people of Ireland and Britain is the achievement of Irish unity and the construction of a new relationship between Ireland and Britain based on equality. Economic crises, however severe, will come and go. Governments will come and go, but for more centuries than any of us care to contemplate Britain’s involvement in Ireland has been the source of conflict; partition, discord and division; and great hurt between the people of these islands. [added emphasis]
Until, that is, his priorities changed
…the Sinn Féin president was keen to paint the move as his duty “in this time of crisis in our country“. Or, as Martin McGuinness would have us believe, “to play a central role in the battle for Ireland’s economic recovery”.
And Henry McDonald also has some words of caution for more delusional excitable commentators
Some commentators on both sides of the Irish Sea have been hyperventilating over Sinn Féin’s fortunes and the possibility that the party could soon be sitting in power on both sides of the border.
Their reductionist thinking concludes that we could, within the next few months, have Martin McGuinness as deputy first minister in Belfast and Adams as a minister is some new “rainbow coalition” in Dublin. No doubt the party would seek to portray such a benign scenario as the first phase in the drive for Irish unity, casting their members as the only people serious about driving forward political and economic fusion on the island.
Even if you set aside the fact that the main opposition party, Fine Gael, will not take Sinn Féin into an alternative government coalition, the above theory is entirely fanciful. And even if you ignore the historic opposition of unionists to a United Ireland, the idea that the north and the south are on an inevitable path towards unity is counterfactual.
Indeed. As Mick noted earlier last month
But in the absence of conflict and death from Northern Ireland the south has simply presumed all is well and settled and has moved on to its own, more immediate preoccupations. Even the leadership of the largest “Republican” party on the island [has] recast the relationship between the two parts of the island in striking terms.
Brian Cowen saying earlier this year what I suspect Margaret Ritchie meant to say on The Politics Show this week:
“The genius of all of these agreements is that we are all on a common journey together where we have not decided on the destination. The problem with our ideologies in the past was that we had this idea about where we were going but we had no idea how anyone was going to come with us on the journey.
“We have now all decided: let’s go on a journey and forget about the destination – the destination isn’t really important in that respect. We can all work for what it is we would like ideally to see, but this is not something that can be forced or imposed upon people on either side of the island.”
And he was only following the lead of the boul Bertie before him:
“That can only happen in the long term future. How long that will be I don’t know. If it is done by any means of coercion, or divisiveness, or threats, it will never happen. We’ll stay at a very peaceful Ireland and I think time will be the healer providing people, in a dedicated way, work for the better good of everyone on the island. If it doesn’t prove possible, then it stays the way it is under the Good Friday Agreement, and people will just have to be tolerant of that if it’s not possible to bring it any further.”