Sinn Féin are fighting the British general election on the basis of absolute opposition to the Democratic Unionist Party, and their corrupt ways. You would imagine that it might have been two other parties who had been in coalition in the Stormont Executive since 2007. And that it will be two other parties entirely who will re-enter such an arrangement once the dust of the elections dies down.
Not only were Sinn Féin in coalition with the DUP for the guts of a decade, but for most of that time they effectively operated as an adjunct of the Tory government in London. Which included implementing the dreaded “austerity” measures that are so disliked in Dublin. Until the Shinners get to implement them most likely.
It is ironic indeed that having made ten years of “difficult decisions,” including cuts to public service pay, schools, hospitals, not to mention advocating lowering corporation tax, that Sinn Féin’s bottom line issues now are to do with the Irish language and “legacy issues.” All of which were fudged in the Stormont House Agreement.
There is also the canard that they will be able to institute a Border poll and that they will win it. Neither is likely. A border poll is not in the gift of Stormont even if Sinn Féin were to become the biggest party. Election results for the past 20 years also indicate little or no change in the balance between pro Union parties and those putatively in favour of a united Ireland. There is not a mission that an internal border poll would be in favour of unity.
So, all the talk of being on the verge of a united Ireland is just a smokescreen. Republican voters to be sure were getting frustrated and annoyed with the meaninglessness of Sinn Féin being in “power.” That forced them to pull out, against the wishes of the apparat, in January.
In February 2004, An Phoblacht published a long article by Laura Friel bemoaning the fact that West Belfast, on a whole range of indicators, was the “most deprived constituency” in the United Kingdom. Of course that was all the fault of the Brits and so on.
In 2013, a survey found that West Belfast was the second worst constituency regarding a whole range of deprivation indices across 650 Westminster constituencies . A 2015 Northern Assembly report showed that West Belfast was by far the most deprived part of the six counties.
Now, while in 2004 it might have been vaguely plausible to blame all of this on the Brits, we are talking about a place where you couldn’t fart for the last 40 years without republican approval. Where the only jobs are either in the “community sector” or with various gombeen low wage employers who are invariably “well connected.”
If any constituency in the 26 counties had such an appalling demographic and the place had been controlled by the same party for 40 years, including having ministers, the shinners would be up in arms about it. No wonder the Trotskyist People Before Profit won and retained an Assembly seat there, despite considerable “community pressure,” ahem. Many people are sick of the pretence and the Orwellian lies.
Once the dust settles, Sinn Féin will face the option of either re-entering coalition with the dreaded DUP, or refusing to. In either case, they will be accepting the internal partitionist parameters of the Good Friday Agreement, which make it quite clear what the procedures for any move towards a united Ireland are. These people negotiated it. They know very well what it means, despite all the electoral hysteria.
At the moment they are on a bit of a high and there are no shortage of eijits who believe the hype. The real fun will begin once the votes are counted in any possible Stormont election, or if there is an agreement on the basis of the last one.
Oh, more “difficult decisions,” no doubt…