THERE was more than enough farce and ill-conceived opportunism in last week’s British election to justify a rejuvenation of Yes Minister, that wonderfully sharp foil to the faux pomp and vainglory driving some political ambition.
Despite that, and even at this modest remove in time and geography, the sorry slapstick raises many questions for this small, vulnerable Republic. It also offers lessons, the most pertinent of which may be the tragic disconnect of Sinn Féin from the world they actually live in. That party’s refusal to take its seats in the House of Commons might have made sense in 1922 but at a moment when that haughty policy surrenders the field to the regressive fundamentalists of the Democratic Unionist Party and the hinge-eyed Brexit wing of Theresa May’s Conservative party, it is a betrayal.
That party’s delusion was highlighted by its deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, who said partition has reached its endgame despite the fact that those viscerally opposed to a united Ireland — the DUP — were never in a more powerful position.
Brexit is the dominant issue today and its consequences may shape this economy in profound ways. A hard Brexit might ruin it. Sinn Féin are in a position to at least neutralise the May/Foster axis. If they don’t take that opportunity they will betray not just their Northern voters but everyone on this island. That they won’t shows once again where their skewered priorities lie. By their acts shall ye know them…
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