It would be unfair to describe Michael McDowell as a failed politician. He was one of those who founded the Progressive Democrats in the 1980s; he got elected to the Dáil several times; but in the 2007 general election he led his party to near-complete wipe-out, losing his own seat as well as virtually all of his PD colleagues. He then declared he was leaving public life, but since 2016 he has been elected to the Seanad by graduates of the National University of Ireland (and no, Virginia, I did not give him my vote or even lend it to him.)
Given the abject failure of the Progressive Democrats under his leadership and his loss of his own seat, you might be tempted to think that this is a man who is not in tune with the thinking of the people of the south. But Michael has cojones of triple brass, and frequently appears in print lecturing his misguided countrymen. He was at it again in this morning’s Irish Times
His article is entitled ‘Northern census should bring some clarity to Border poll debate’ and in it he makes some interesting statements:
“There is no reason at this point to believe that it is probable that a majority of Northern voters would vote in favour of a united Ireland in a Border poll held any time in the next five or seven years.”
This despite the fact that he acknowledges there is very likely no Protestant majority in Belfast or in four of the Six Counties. But, he insists, “In political demographic terms, the Catholics will still be outnumbered by Protestants among those of voting age.” (No, Virginia, I do not know where Michael gets his information.)
What’s more, you would be “very naïve” if you thought the leaders of unionism would, over the next five to seven years, sit down to negotiate a constitution for a unitary state: “That will not happen”.
Michael doesn’t like the “binary choice” between Irish unity and continued union with Britain. Instead, Irish people should be using the GFA and the Protocol “to deliver organic prosperity and partnership rather than have political war-drums beaten in the offices of the Union secretariat in Downing Street or the backrooms of the Felons Club in West Belfast.”
I guess when politics has delivered a lethal bite to your political rear, you tend to put your faith in “prosperity and partnership.”
Anyway, there you have it. Put back those aspirations on a border poll – it would only be defeated. Forget about making political progress – for example, electing a Sinn Féin government in the south and a Sinn Féin First Minister in the north. Instead, turn your eyes along with Michael to money-making and friend-making. Sure don’t we know it well – politics only creates division, and none of us wants that.
Michael may be a failed politician but he knows about the green stuff. As a top barrister, he’s probably making around €280,000 a year, with a handy €70,000 in his back pocket for the Seanad gig.
Aren’t we lucky to have a brain as big as Michael’s to guide us away from the coarse antagonism of politics and into the gentle shade where we’re nice to each other and devote ourselves to making loadsamoney?