What is there left to say? Fianna Fail and Fine Gael ran over 80 election candidates, Sinn Féin ran 42 candidates. Final result: Fianna Fail 38, Sinn Fén 37, Fine Gael 35.
Eyes dim with grief, the anti-Shinner propagandists lob any old piece of scrap at the Sinn Féin party: the Quinn case, David Cullinane saying “Up the ‘RA!”, claims that Sinn Féin’s policies will have the southern state in the poor house.
The stark fact is still unavoidable: Sinn Féin, who show real zest and expertise in matters like housing and finance, who have as a core objective a reunited Ireland, are now the biggest party in the south. As the old song says “It’s been a long time coming but I know/A change is gonna come”.
When and if Mary Lou becomes Taoiseach, one of the first moves of her government should be to set up a citizens’ assembly to ponder the notion of a new Ireland in which everyone, including Arlene Foster, will feel happy and at home. That’s not a reprehensible objective, any more than a decent housing situation or a decent health service are reprehensible.
You can already hear Fine Gael and Fianna Fail voices urging Sinn Féin to go ahead and try, they’ll find government is a lot harder than happy opposition. Well done, guys. You urge Sinn Féin to leave the past behind and join in democratic peaceful politics. But only if they agree to fail when they engage in the democratic peaceful politics.
As Jim Molyneux said a long time ago, peace is the biggest challenge that unionism – and the establishment south of the border – has ever faced.
Despite all the distractions – and they’ll be more, believe me – the sun has risen. It may be snowing outside but it’s a bright new day.