Up the poll

Half-way through the south’s election,  Leo Varadkar looks to be  on the back foot. He   comes breathless and sweatily triumphant from the Brexit negotiations, having handled Boris Johnston and all the  Brit pressure involved. So there he is with  the cheers still ringing in his ears,  and now he finds that that Fine Gael is on the slide.  The electorate, the ungrateful curs, tell pollsters they’re sick and tired of the same old same old. 

While  he’s digesting that bit of political ingratitude, economist  Colin McCarthy  announces that the election promises of Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Sinn Féin are “utterly insane.”  The two big parties are into ‘Auction politics’  – who can offer the highest level of spending, and so attract the voters. But if Fine Gael and Fianna Fail are a bit mad, so too are the electorate.

They want change, but how are you going to get change if you vote in the same people as last time?  Fine Gael may have been in government but they were propped up throughout by Fianna Fail. So Fianna Fail is taking on a tough task when it denounces the state of things in the south,  all the while knowing that they themselves have been a key component in creating the present state of things. 

Meanwhile, both FF and FG have made it clear they will not enter into coalition with Sinn Fein.  Why not?. Well, um, they’re not like a normal political party. Something like that.

If you look at the FF logo, you’ll see it proudly announces itself as “Fianna Fail – the Republican Party’.  EH? Like, what republic do the FFers have in mind?  Is it the present twenty-six counties? Or do they feel that a real Irish republic would need to include the six northern  counties? Again, the why-not is unclear.

It’s a safe bet the signatories of the Easter Proclamation had in mind a 32-county republic. So here are two questions that  Fianna Fail and Fine Gael should be asked again and again until they break down and spit up an answer:

1. Do  you agree with the vision of the men and women of 1916?

2.Do you believe in the terms of the Good Friday Agreement?

If the answer to both questions is ‘Yes’ , then both parties should be telling us what progress they have made in setting up a forum or citizens’ assembly to construct a model of what a real Irish republic might look like.

“Oh but you must involve unionists in such talks!” we are told. Well yes;  but you can’t coerce them into involvement either. Besides, to avoid the pig’s-dinner that was Brexit, unionists need to know what kind of reunited Ireland they’d be rejecting. Or accepting.

One thing’s certain: it’s time we stopped using unionist displeasure as a reason for inaction.  If Arlene Foster’s ire is to control whether or not we get down to thinking what a new Ireland would look like,  then  you may be sure Arlene and Co will sit on their hands and  we’ll never get to work on reunification planning.

 So are FF and FG happy that  20% of the Irish people should decide on the shape not just of the northern state but of any new Ireland, combining north and south? 

Doesn’t sound too democratic to me.

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