Put Civil War finally to bed with gesture - General election 2016

THERE is a poignant scene in Michael Collins, the 1996 Neil Jordan film, that shows Collins and Éamon de Valera standing side by side outside the GPO in Dublin in 1916 as they face defeat by the British army.

Put Civil War finally to bed with gesture - General election 2016

This never actually happened and was a bit of poetic licence on Jordan’s part but there is no doubt that both men stood shoulder to shoulder during the Easter Rising.

It is not beyond comprehension that, despite the horror of the Civil War in the aftermath of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, Dev and Collins might have reached some accommodation had the latter not been gunned down at Béal na Bláth in 1922.

As we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Rising in a general election year, is it too much to hope that Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin might, finally, send Civil War politics to the historical dustbin for the sake of an Ireland that both Dev and Collins could only dream of?

It is more almost 40 years since Fianna Fáil achieved an overall Dáil majority. Fine Gael has never done so.

Considering the latest election polls which show that Labour Party support has now dropped to eight per cent, it seems unlikely that a combination of Fine Gael and Labour will be able to form a government without support from elsewhere.

The latest Poll of Polls by Michael Marsh, emeritus professor of Trinity College Dublin, suggests the government parties are now estimated to win 70 seats, still short of a majority. His study takes into account polls conducted since the start of the month but do not include the latest Paddy Power/Red C pol which suggests a further slip in support for both Government parties.

The poll particularly will disappoint Labour as the party has dropped back from the magical 10% support it had achieved in recent weeks.

While Fine Gael which is down just one per cent, appears to be holding steady, it has not seen the surge in support it gained at the start of the 2011 general election campaign.

That means that — in the words of Joan Burton — both government parties need a reality check. If they can only manage 70 seats between them, that means Fine Gael may have to consider the unthinkable — a grand coalition. Likewise, Fianna Fáil as there is no prospect of any kind of government being formed without Fine Gael in the driving seat.

Considering the courage and resolve demonstrated by the founders of their respective parties, both Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin should, at the very least, sit down and trash out some kind of accommodation.

This might be in the form of Fianna Fail adopting a “Tallaght strategy” — a policy adopted by Fine Gael in 1987 not to oppose economic reforms proposed by the Fianna Fáil minority government in the national interest.

Better still, though, would be a grand coalition - a symbolic gesture that, 100 years on from the Rising, would finally put an end to Civil War politics.

That would be the best commemoration of all to the leaders of 1916.

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