Bright shiny object
Sinn Fein's United Ireland plaything
24 November 2020
In late November 2020 Pearse O'Doherty of Sinn Fein launched a new document: "The Economic Benefits of a United Ireland". The document was a dull and humdrum rehash of old academic arguments. A United Ireland would be economically more efficient and would resolve the Brexit issue. The British subvention is overstated and, in any case, they would surely compensate for pension payments and so on.
The document appears to be aimed at unionists and its tone resembles the tone of Mrs Doyle in the TV comedy Father Ted offering a cup of tea:
"Ah, go on go on, sure you will you will!"
But that is only seeming. In reality the effort, running alongside campaigns for a border poll, is aimed at the party's base, reassuring them that they are on course for a United Ireland.
Increasingly supporters have to close their eyes and put their fingers in their ears to buy this stuff. There is no built-in border poll in the Good Friday Agreement. The British steadfastly refuse to consider one. They now refer to "four nations" in referring to the six-county area and the response is silence. Many in the Catholic middle class are happy with the status quo and the Irish government is desperate to bury republicanism.
What's changed is the level of contradiction between Sinn Fein happy talk and the real world. Throughout the progress of Covid-19 transmission in Ireland there has been a simple countermeasure advocated by leading epidemiologists. That is synchronisation of policy North and South and common policy at ports and airports. This is a thousand miles short of a United Ireland and would save lives. It's not on the table. Sinn Fein are unable to confront the Democratic Unionist party on this issue. In fact, the DUP are revolting against any comprehensive measures and have used a sectarian veto twice to block progress and have been met with Sinn Fein acceptance.
Sinn Fein aren't on the road to a United Ireland. They are not even on track to have equal control of the local administration. DUP willingness to pull the settlement down trumps their fervent desire to keep their bums in parliament.
This policy of smoke and mirrors is not new. In 1948 Fianna Fail leader De Valera launched an international anti-partition campaign. Fianna Fail had settled down to rule in a 26-county state and would savagely repress republicanism. They needed a shiny object to distract their supporters and that is what the campaign achieved.
Sinn Fein are not building a real movement. They are on the Fianna Fail road. Today they are waving shiny objects. In reality they are approaching where Micheál Martin is today, rejecting a full Irish democracy for a "shared island".