Do dreams come true? I had one last night. I was standing at the edge of a crater about 10-foot deep, with a group of people peering down into it and occasionally stopping to pump the air and shout “We are the people!” When I gazed down myself I realized there was a man down there with a small mechanical digger. It was a wonderfully labour-saving device, because the man seated on it was able to pull a lever and the digger’s shovel was scooping great chunks of earth and flinging them clear of the crater. I wasn’t standing watching for more than a minute or two, but in that time the man and the digger had deepened the crater by at least another 5 feet. Then the sound of the crowd cheering and the grating sound of the digger faded and I awoke.
So I did my usual thing of scanning the newspapers online over breakfast this morning, and my eye was caught by Sammy Wilson. (Yes indeed, Virginia, Sammy has that eye-catching quality). The DUP MP has been very upset by Simon Coveneny, who appeared on the Andrew Marr TV show yesterday:
“The fact is that the border issues can all be dealt with by technology but Coveney and co have stuck their heads in the sand refusing to even consider this solution because it doesn’t suit his aggressive Republican agenda instead he tried to flog his pig in a poke solution to the EU negotiators and force it down the throat of the UK government.”
When I picked myself up from the floor at hearing that Simon Coveney has an “aggressive Republican agenda”, I thought back to the Andrew Marr interview and tried to figure out which part of Coveney’s speech showed this. Maybe it was the bit where he said he wasn’t at all flexible about the back-stop position which the British prime minister had put in writing: that come what may, there would be no interference with the present border arrangements in Ireland.
Simon Coveney is a polite, almost mild-mannered man. The fact that he thinks it important to hold the British prime minister to her word doesn’t mean that he has a Republican agenda or that he’s engaged in Brit-bashing or that he has a pig in a poke. (That’s where paddies put their pig when it’s not in the parlour, I expect.) All he’s doing is protecting Irish interests north and south.
I expect there are some nationalists and republicans who will have been upset by Sammy’s harsh words. My advice: don’t. Because I’ve just realized: that dream I had of a man in a hole, using a mechanical digger to make it ever deeper had – yes, I can see you follow my drift, Virginia – that man had a small moustache and a ruddy complexion.
Even unionist commentators are saying that the union with Britain is doomed unless unionists get a sizeable number of nationalists to buy into and feel content with the present north-eastern state. Thanks to the sterling efforts of Sammy and his chums, the chances of that happening grow more remote by the day.
Keep digging, Sammy – but however arduous the work, do keep your shirt on. And other garments too, of course.