The view from Dublin

Strewth – will this never end? They’re still up in Hillsborough – or is it Stormont? – locked in verbal battle. Which unfortunately encourages the simple-minded to say ‘They’re just like a bunch of children! Why can’t they get their act together?’ In fact, of course, there are those, particularly south of the border, who long for the good old days. I heard Ruairi Quinn, the former Labour Party leader in the south, who expressed fond hopes that the SDLP and the UUP would resurrect themselves and we’d get away from this sterile government-by-extremes. Mercifully, Susan McKay was part of the same in-studio debate and she disabused him of his wan notion. I sometimes think there’s a strong class element involved here, particularly with regard to Sinn Fein (it used to be something similar with the DUP – remember the ‘Decent people vote UUP’ campaign? – but they’ve imported more and more graduates into their ranks). The implicit notion is that if you leave the lower orders to organise something, they’re more likely to wind up in a fist fight, whereas if you give the job to decent, solid middle-class people, they’ll get it done and done in a reliable, civilized way. So even though the electorate have seen fit to cement Sinn Fein in power-sharing (of a sort) here, there are those in Dublin who can’t quite stop hoping that those nice doctors and lawyers and ex-teachers which the SDLP has in abundance will somehow, some way, some day make a comeback and bring things back onto a civilized plane. But then I suppose if you see any frank admission of nationalism or unionism as a form of tribalism (the RTE panel used that a lot today), you’re bound to be discontent with the way things have gone.

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