A great day in Irish History. It reminds me of those big days in the French Revolution. We seem to have started in 2016 with reminding ourselves about the Easter Rising Proclamation, progressed thru the two Referendums and the Irish people decided to take the revolution one step further by prioritising housing and health.
Arguably the process began earlier with cutting the Catholic Church down to size.
Only a few were bothered about BREXIT.
Sinn Féin underestimated the change. They are reluctant revolutionries who would have preferred gradual change, even handing seats to political rivals.
We can be proud of our Democracy, a success story. There are only 22 total democracies (Ireland ranks sixth behind some Scandanavians and New Zealand). We do this well.
Voting and standing for election are patriotic acts. In the North, it can be a treasonable act and I enjoy that also.
Taking out an incomplete registrar, apathy and people (criminals etc who have their own selfish agenda), then the rest of the Irish population seem to be divided into four or five groups….Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Sinn Féin and assorted lefties and rural based Independents.
For a northern nationalist, it is impossible to make a choice. I am at heart “Fianna Labour Féin” but how would I vote in Roscommon or Dublin South West or Kerry? No idea.
Likewise I hope I would vote SNP in Inverness, Labour in Salford, Plaid Cymru in Rhyl and I hope Id be a Democrat in USA. But nature and nurture makes me a West Belfast nationalist/republican/lefty.
Of course Sinn Féin would claim to be an all-Ireland party but its only partly true. The northern and southern SFs are more nuanced.
So we get to look at these politicians for decades on RTE. Party doesn’t seem to matter. “I like her”. “I don’t like him” so that among those departing at this election, I am genuinely elated to see the back of some of them. And genuinely saddened to see others go down.
They are flawed. The parties are flawed. Too much influence from bankers, alumni from the fee paying schools, the developers, unconvincing middle class lefties and in the case of Sinn Féin…well ya know.
But at best, they are all patriots. And I accept them all as such. They have different visions. That’s all. Fractured nation? I would say diverse. They give allegiance…as do I… to the Republic of Ireland. That is the unifying factor. And a contrast with Irish citizens who owe nothing at all to Norn Iron or Britain.
So I think Irish citizens north, south or worldwide can look on it as a good day. Those who are not citizens or indifferent might think different. It is their entitlement but really none of their business.
What happens next?
Well everyone talks about a stable government while doing their best to avoid it.
Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael as a grand coalition does not really reflect the mood for change. Isolating Sinn Féin on “moral” grounds is the same as unionism circa 1998. Respecting SF’s vote and their voters is not a genuine stance if the public representatives are not respected.
Some might say that Sinn Féin are toxic. Indeed circa 1980, in Glasthule, County Dublin the mother of a friend (going thru a “lefty” phase) was very tweedy woman who thought Fianna Fáil were still toxic.
In victory, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael could play the “under no circumstances” card whether it was about SF being “immoral” or having an “incompatible” programme for government. But when SF actually win the election, that’s a hard case to make. A FF-FG coalition does not seem representative of the people of Ireland in 2020. And SF voters (and quite a lot of non-SF voters) would shout “establishment cover up”.
Of course SF might well rescue themselves from being in government with their own red line about a coalition of the left. Do they really want it or will they prefer to scream that they have been stitched up.
I don’t like to hear that a newly elected TD shouted “Up the ‘Ra”. It feeds republican haters who still consider Sinn Féin to be unworthy of being in government. On the other hand, I can live with victorious Sinn Féiners singing “Come Out You Black and Tans”. Indeed I would probably have joined in as it was a clear rebuke to the conflict resolutionists rehabilitating the old RIC.
But they Sinn Féin choir got it right in Kerry. It does feel like “we are on the one road”. Hmmm “maybe the wrong road”? I don’t think so.
But it does seem odd that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael consider Sinn Féin unworthy partners in government. After all, just last month they were supporting Sinn Féin in government in the north. And northern Sinn Féin is certainly more toxic than the southern brand.
But a Sinn Féin Taoiseach? A Sinn Féin Defence Minister? Finance? …Justice? Ah Justice. They and SDLP are vetoed by unionists taking that ministry in the North.
Where is Naomi Long when you need her? Another paragraph in her already impressive CV of being a MLA/Minister, ex MP and ex-MEP. …and another pension.
I hope Mick Fealty is ok.