Well now – that went rather well, didn’t it? Looking more and more like the Manchester City of Irish politics, Sinn Féin swept aside opposition in this week’s local election and will almost certainly be the party with most council seats in NEI. You could see how pleased Michelle O’Neill and Mary Lou McDonald were as they swept into Belfast City Hall surrounded by successful candidates and cheering supporters. Even Martina Anderson, who was part of the Derry SF group stood down after the poor showing in the last outing – even Martina was down at the count centre smiling, even if her teeth maybe gnashed a little. All for the good of the party.
So where from here? Stand by as Sinn Fein shows itself as being co-operative and progressive, exhibiting its flexibility and respect for unionism. We’ve now moved into the preparing-for-a-border poll phase of the struggle. They’ll doubtless wait until Sinn Féin forms a government in the south, but once they’re dominant north and south, the green light for a border poll will be shining strong and clear.
Will the Shinners have enough support to lead to a successful border poll? Hard to be sure. If you think that’s excessively cautious, remember the Scottish National Party: as Sinatra sang ‘You’re ridin’ high in April and shot down in May’. The Scottish independence movement went from hero to zero with bewildering speed. Was it dirty tricks? It’s hard to say and in ways it doesn’t matter. Each country/carved chunk must fight its own corner to escape the clutches of Mother England, and right now Sinn Féin need to keep their eye on the prize.
Because if you thought the Tories wanted to scupper the Scots Nats, think of the intensity of Micheál’s longing to get the Sinn Féin monkey off his back. He can’t come out and say he longs to be monkey-free, but it’s obvious that he identifies more with unionist ‘fears’ than he does with republican ambition.
Part of keeping the momentum going will be for all pro-reunification strands to work together. Which raises the question, what ever became of the big citizen’s group which was drawing so much admiration for its intelligent and organised demand that northern nationalists should not be left behind? Now you see them, now you don’t. The movement towards a border poll can’t afford obscure solo runs – we need to support one another, press one another to do even better, push what once appeared impossible into the entirely possible, keep the public informed.
This isn’t yet the dawning of the day, but reasons for postponing it are going down with the speed of a celebratory pint.
Very good Jude
Thank you, James…
Another great read Jude
I am enjoying the coverage of the elections on tv and radio, it was quite bizarre hearing Mark Carruthers asking John Finucane and then Michelle O’Neill if SF being so successful was good for democracy or some such nonsense. I don’t remember any other party members being asked that before and my memories go back a long long way. Our day is definitely coming.