Dr Richard Haass was in Dublin this week briefing the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny about the progress he was making on talks here.
Responding the TUV leader, Jim Allister questioned why the Irish government were even involved in these talks. He said
How do people believe that discussions with a foreign government will help to ease Loyalist fears about their identity and sovereignty and why have the DUP and UUP agreed to such a process?
I don’t actually dislike Jim Allister. I find him to be one of the most able of our MLAs. But when I hear a person with these abilities take such a narrow view of this province and its place on the island, I literally despair. When Haass visited Kenny this week in Dublin, I did not realise that any constitutional questions were on the agenda, nor has from what I have seen, the Irish government taken a particularly controversial stance over these talks. This is what I particularly want to focus on.
For years Jim Allister has complained about the Irish government having any involvement in the affairs of Northern Ireland. Yet it seems to have escaped his attention that in power at the moment has to be one of the most disinterested Irish governments in Northern Ireland that we have had over the last twenty years. I have regularly written about the decline of North-South projects and the apparent lack of interest that the current Irish government has in this province.
All of this should be music to Allister’s ears. Instead of criticising Kenny’s approach to Northern affairs, he should be praising it. The current Irish government is a devout Unionists dream. Little interest in us combined with no new thinking in North-South relations. Mr Allister, you don’t realise when you’ve got a good thing.
Update-Lord Kilclooney jumps on the bandwagon today and gives a rather different take on the Irish governments involvement in the Good Friday Agreement negotiations.
David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs