In the formation of government, did Fianna Fáil factor in how unionists might respond to things southern? Probably some thought at least. Here’s unionist journalist/commentator Alex Kane:
“Unionists were finally able to heave a sigh of relief on Friday evening. Sinn Féin in government on both sides of the Border has been a recurring nightmare for them since February”.
That’s Sinn Féin, the DUP’s partners in government in the north. It must encourage effective team-work when you know your unionist team-mates see you as part of a nightmare.
Kane goes on to the removal – or at least postponement – of that other unionist nightmare, a. border poll:
“So unionists will be delighted this government does not include Sinn Féin. They’ll take further pleasure from knowing the Coalition will have enough on its plate … without taking on the hassle of a Border poll and unity.”
Indeed, the coalition’s document for government bears out this interpretation, that a border poll would be “a hassle”. It contains lines about a “consensus on a shared island” and “respect” and “consent”. But no mention of a border poll. “That’s good news for unionism” , Kane declares.
But even in the most sober of articles Kane includes one line that’s sure to produce the odd snort of laughter:
“The [unionist] relationship with Leo Varadkar was bad, with both the DUP and UUP describing him as particularly green.”
Varadkar was too green for them? ‘Strewth. Who knew?
But Kane manages to slip in a sentence to reminds nationalists and republicans south and north of the border of a very old threat:
“It [the Dublin coalition] is a government which wants to avoid the sort of instability and potential violence [my italics] that any rush to Irish unity might cause.”Kane doesn’t tell us what pace would not be seen as a rush. Presumably it’s the St Augustine ‘Lord, make me pure – but not yet’ pace. He also gives us that old line: try changing the way things are run, and unionists will respond with violence. Similar warnings were issued to the civil rights marchers back in the day.
If you didn’t know better, you’d swear there never had been a Good Friday Agreement with its acceptance of the majority verdict in a border poll.
Did I mention that Alex Kane is viewed in many quarters as the moderate voice of unionism?