Fianna Fail TDs willing to speak to Sinn Féin:
Jim O’Callaghan/Barry Cowen/John Lahart/Joe Flaherty/James Browne James Lawless/Marc MacSharry/Paul McAuliffe/James O’Connor/Willie O’DeaPadraig O’Sullivan/Niamh Smyth/Robert Troy/Cathal Crowe/John McGuinness
I would commend the Fianna Fail Fifteen for declaring their willingness to exploring the possibility of FF engaging with SF in talks about the formation of a future government. That is surely a more democratic approach than refusing to talk to Sinn Fein on the basis of some spurious belief that they are all puppets. The people voted in huge numbers for change and in a democracy that is what matters.
It has always been my view that FF had much more in common with SF than they have with FG. I know there are some in the party who do not agree but I think as we go forward and discover FG’s lack of commitment to Irish reunification they will become a small minority out of touch with the strong desire of the people for change.
I hope that their recent declaration of intent to explore this option will increase the support within the FF party for such a course of action in the future.
Nationalists/republicans in the north-eastern 6 counties who voted in favour of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 want to see a new and agreed Ireland coming about within the next 5- 10 years. It should not be put on the long finger. A lot of work needs to be done to prepare for a Border referendum and a new constitution. I think the best way to achieve that is by some form of coalition between FF and SF at the next election. Those unionists who were always unhappy with Brexit, are already talking in terms of some form of new political arrangement with the rest of Ireland. These Unionists realise that their future and the future of their young people would be more secure in an all-Ireland situation than it has been for some time within the UK.
For some unionists it would make more economic sense to be part of an all-island economy with the EU while also doing business with the UK. They would then have the best of both worlds. Such an arrangement would inevitably lead to a new political alignment on the island of Ireland which would be to the benefit of all the citizens of this island. A new political alignment on the island of Ireland would be the best hope of ending the crude sectarian politics we have had since Partition. The big challenge for all concerned about a just and lasting settlement on this island is to make a new political and constitutional settlement an attractive and workable alternative to the present totally unsatisfactory arrangement.
It is with that goal in sight that I applaud the moves within Fianna Fail to explore the possibility of working with SF after the next election. I see a great future for Ireland and all the citizens on this island if the FF party is prepared to go along with the plan proposed by the FF Fifteen.