Arlene Foster is best recruiter Sinn Féin has
Posted By: February 22, 2017
Storms of financial scandal, corruption and incompetence may batter the outside of the DUP bubble but inside the only sound that disturbs the silence is the mesmeric muttering of the Gerry Adams mantra
Brian Feeney. Irish News. Belfast. Wednesday, Februeary 22, 2017
He has never knowingly given a straight answer in the Dáil to a question on The North. Today he’s due to tell his parliamentary party his plans for retirement and the predictions suggest they won’t like it, for he plans to string it out until the summer if he can get away with it. He’ll be no loss to people here since no one will notice he’s gone.
What is unfortunate is that the next couple of months of instability in the Republic while Fine Gael sort themselves out couldn’t happen at a worse time for The North since they coincide with the beginning of negotiations between Sinn Féin and the DUP, not about setting up an Executive but about finding how to compel the DUP to behave themselves in an honorable and civilized fashion towards their only available partners in administration, Sinn Féin.
Arlene Foster’s fiasco of a manifesto launch on Monday when she refused to take questions (you wonder why), shows just how unlikely any progress is. Ignoring the platitudes in the thin manifesto about jobs, investment, health etc., she demonstrated that her only policy is Gerry Adams, Sinn Féin, Gerry Adams, Sinn Féin, Sinn Féin, Gerry Adams, Sinn Féin Gerry Adams, Gerry Adams… . The assembled hacks amused themselves by counting how many times she mentioned Gerry Adams Sinn Féin in various orders of priority.
Gerry Adams was repeatedly mentioned during Arlene Foster’s speech as she launched the DUP’s manifesto yesterday
To paraphrase Rupert Murdoch, Arlene Foster obviously believes that she’ll never lose any votes by underestimating the stupidity and gullibility of the DUP voter. Contrary to what she claimed about polls showing Sinn Féin running neck and neck with the DUP—which if true would be a wonder of mathematical psephology to behold—what private DUP polls really show is that the DUP has been hit by her handling of RHI which of course she took care not to mention.
Like Paisley’s, Foster’s campaign will not take a vote from Sinn Féin, nor is it designed to. Her resurrection of Gerry Adams, who’s not even a candidate, as a bogey man is intended, as it was last May, to inflict maximum damage on her tribal enemy the UUP.
Sheer numbers don’t matter any more. Only Arlene seems not to realize she’s not going to be First Minister again and may well have been the last Unionist First Minister. Michelle O’Neill means it when she says there’ll be no return to the status quo and that means no Executive.
Sinn Féin have finally copped on that the DUP can veto any concession by the British government towards Nationalists and that has been the case since Cameron went into coalition in 2010.
That’s why a strong Irish government is vital. Our present proconsul [NI Secretary of State] is so obviously biased in favour of the DUP that even the Alliance party has noticed. Let’s hope Sinn Féin hold the line and refuse to allow him to Chair negotiations after they collapse at the end of March.
Sadly by that stage there’ll be a lame duck Taoiseach and a lame duck Minister of Foreign Affairs counting the days until a new Irish cabinet is appointed.
Enda Kenny committed last year to stepping down as Taoiseach before the next election
With no strong steady Irish government minister to act as a strong co-Chair of talks which has been the case since 2013, Sinn Féin would be mad to agree to anything in the short term. Indeed there’s a strong argument for hanging on until the next general election in the Republic scheduled for 2018.
There’s another reason apart from putting a halt to the DUP’s gallop, and that’s Brexit negotiations which begin in April. Sinn Féin can’t be sucked into any agreed UK position in a purely northern context which our proconsul and the DUP want.
It’s essential Sinn Féin align themselves with the Irish position.