“Northern Ireland is a virtually irrelevant question in the Republic these days”

As Henry McDonald, in the Belfast Telegraph, notes of the Irish general election

Rancour, too, is the order of the day in the secondary battle of this election – the one between Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein to see who comes in third place.

The Soldiers of Destiny have turned their firepower on Sinn Fein, raising Gerry Adams’ IRA past, the Northern Bank robbery and the disappearance and murder of Jean McConville. Adams, meanwhile, made a huge gaffe on radio when he described a new tax as a “gross act of terrorism” against the Irish people.

Even if he weathers the storm and, as seems likely, takes a seat in Louth, and even if his party trebles its representation in the Dail, it does not mark any significant milestone in its strategy towards building a United Ireland.

Why? Because the question of Northern Ireland did not make it onto the agenda of any major debate in this election. Northern Ireland is a virtually irrelevant question in the Republic these days. [aded emphasis]

For the overwhelming number of voters in the south, the key question is the economy and how to save Ireland from financial ruin. Then come the interconnected issues of public spending, cuts in the health service, thousands emigrating, the state of the country’s schools and so on.

In a time when the country faces bankruptcy and when the state and its services are reliant on foreign largesse, no one bar a few are talking about the road to reunification.

As everyone seemed to agree in December last year, it’s all about the economy, stupid.

And Northern Ireland was an irrelevant question in the Republic even before the scale of that economic crisis became known.

Still, maybe we’ll be treated to another laughable World Tour…

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