Sometimes I find Irish politics bewildering. On the Big Question, there’s no confusion in the North… Although even as I type those words, I’m doubting their truth. Let’s check out the various parties on the BQ – i.e., a re-united Ireland.
In the North, Sinn Féin and (maybe) the SDLP favour Irish reunification, while the DUP, the TUV and the UUP are implacably opposed to it. But what about the Alliance Party? Or People Before Profit?
In the south, all political parties are pro-Irish reunification. Certainly Sinn Féin is; and Fianna Fáil is, after all, the Republican Party. What about Fine Gael? It’s hard to know. Like Fianna Fáil, they’re heavily in favour of reconciliation between North and South, as well as between orange and green in the north. But does that really mean they’re pro- a united Ireland? How about The Greens? People before Profit? I honestly don’t know if they favour Irish reunification – I don’t recall any of them speaking on the subject or laying out plans to hasten re-unification.
When the constitutional question is raised in the south, you hear mutterings of ‘orange and green divisiveness.” Well yes: it’s good to know which parties think Westminster rule is a jolly good idea, and what parties chafe under the Westminster yoke. And no, it doesn’t mean parties don’t care about other matters. Sinn Féin in the south is the obvious case in point: their core concern is for Irish unity, but during the last election and since, they’ve been vocal on the question of housing. So it is possible to whistle and pee at the same time.
Overall, though, it’s sort of crazy. Parties will come knocking on your door and will urge you to vote for them. But what are their policies? What are their goals, the main matters of concern to the party, and what steps do they plan to take and when?
Just as any border poll should come only when the clear outlines of a future Ireland are laid out, so too we shouldn’t be expected to go into an election and vote for a party, if we don’t know where they stand long-term and what they’d do short and middle-term about it.
So here’s a challenge to all parties, north and south. Provide clear and brief answers to these questions:
- Are you in favour of a border poll? What steps do you plan to take, short-term and medium term, to support your policy on the constitutional question?
- Are you happy with the present education system? Do you favour a structure that would let educationalists in the north look at and learn from education systems in the south? And vice versa.
- What’s your ambition in terms of health and social care? What steps are you taking, will you take in the short, medium and long-term for a health and social care system we can depend on?
You may well think there are additional questions or alternative questions which political parties should cough up their clear views on. The most obvious is climate crisis. Or racial prejudice. Or misogyny. Or class prejudice.
But if every party in Ireland were to lay out, within a single page, their position and plans regarding Irish reunification, education and health/social care, it’d be a start. It’d also be treating the electorate who pay politicians’ salaries the minimum respect they deserve.
Enough with the gobbledegook and evasiveness. You can’t disrespect all of the people all of the time.