The Irish General Election

In the wake of the economic collapse in Ireland, the Fianna Fail-led coalition government headed by prime minister Brian Cowen has crumbled amid allegations of widespread lying and corruption in Irish political life. A general election will be held within weeks.

Gerry Adams Action Hero

Gerry Adams has quit his West Belfast seat to stand in Louth, and if elected will lead Sinn Fein in the Dail, the Irish parliament. Many observers believe Sinn Fein could do well, possibly well enough to become a partner in the next government. In the coming election the dishonesty of politicians and the extent to which their words and promises can be believed, will be major issues in voters’ minds. Here are some extracts from reports and interviews dealing with the central issue in Adams’ political life, the achievement of a united Ireland via the peace process. No comment from me is necessary.

BBC, 14th January 2000

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has predicted there could be a united Ireland in 16 years time.

Mr Adams made the comment to rousing applause at a rally for party supporters in New York on Thursday night.

He said the logic of the peace process would lead to unification – perhaps by the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, which was seen a turning point for Irish nationalism.

“If we want to make progress then there is no reason whatsoever, from someone who has dealt with the unionists close up, who has dealt with the British close up, no reason why we cannot celebrate the 1916 Rising in the year 2016, in a free and united Ireland.”

Irish Independent, 18th November 2003

A UNITED Ireland by 2016 is on the cards, Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness  predicted last night.

With nine days left to the North’s Assembly Election, the Mid Ulster MP said at his party’s manifesto launch republicans could attain their goal by the centenary of the 1916 Rising.

“As we develop the north-south implementation bodies and people co-operate and work together, I think people will see more and more the logic of that,” Mr McGuinness said.

“Certainly it is our view that it can be accomplished over a short period. Gerry Adams has said 2016 and I think that is achievable.”

Guardian, 15th September 2007 — Gerry Adams interviewed by Nick Stadlen,

NS: You said that a united Ireland could be achievable by 2016, the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising …

GA: Well I didn’t quite say that. A colleague of mine said that and then when I was asked the question I said: “But if we don’t get it, don’t blame us”. Because it will not happen inevitably, it will only happen if we continue to pursue proper strategies, and if we’re able to develop the political strength and the political support … if we’re able to create the political conditions to bring that about, and I think that we have got the ability to create those conditions, but I wouldn’t be precious about it’s going to happen at such and such a date.

University Times (paper of Trinity College, Dublin), 26th January 2011 — Gerry Adams interviewed by Eugene Reavey

Q – It now seems that the party’s goal of achieving Irish unity by 2016 will not come to fruition. Are you still hopeful of achieving unity in your lifetime, or do you feel the political will amongst the other parties no longer exists?

A – The party’s primary political objective is to attain Irish reunification. I believe that it is a doable and achievable project. I want it to happen sooner rather than later.

The party never had a position of achieving this by 2016. It will happen when sufficient political and public support has been attained. Bear in mind that under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement the Government of Ireland Act was scrapped and replaced with a new constitutional arrangement. The British government is now committed to legislating for a United Ireland if a majority of citizens in the north want it.

That places a huge challenge before all of us who want Irish unity. We have to win support for it. We have to especially reach out to unionists. But we also need to make the border irrelevant by building on the all-Ireland dimensions of the Good Friday Agreement and harmonising relations between north and south.

2 responses to “The Irish General Election

  1. It wouldn’t surprise me if it happened – even by 2016.

    A united Ireland would, on the face of it, be financially and managerially preferable for the British government, which would therefore be inclined to help rather than hinder the process. Sinn Fein may not be the only all-Ireland party, but they are the strongest. Their support is growing, while most other parties, north and south, have missed their chances in various ways.

    A large percentage of Northern Irish voters have experience of voting for Sinn Fein, due to a bizarre situation several years ago, when NI voters were obliged to vote for the two extreme parties to maintain the peace process. I believe this has dissolved a psychological barrier, thus extending SF’s potential support in more normal elections. (And, conversely, that of the DUP – but they lack even a foothold south of the border).

    A major challenge for Sinn Fein will be to convince voters of their even-handedness. People will need to believe that, in a position of overall power, the party will adhere to a progressive equality agenda detached from history and bitterness. I believe the best way to do this is not via the “parity of esteem” promoted during the NI peace process, but by a radical redistribution of wealth, firmly pursued through taxation. A clear signal that all Irish citizens are equal.

    Can Sinn Fein get the marketing strategy right? And can they adhere to it?

    An egalitarian Ireland could be a flagship for Europe. An Ireland where all, regardless of education or class, or whether their name is Timothy, Pat, Billy, Changming or Sujata, are welcome on the mat.

    This might upset a few people. But it could head off the danger of a rampant Green triumphalism to rival any Orangemen’s march.

    Perhaps the biggest hurdle for nationalists will be to befriend the Orange Order. Many people would laugh at the very idea. Yet how much of what has happened in the last few decades would, before the event, have been ridiculed by the same people? Nothing is impossible.

    If it does happen, can we please do it with friendship and fun, fiddle and flute?

  2. Gerry Adams has given interesting interview to Jason O’Toole of the Irish Daily Mail :

    http://cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2011/02/19/interview-in-the-mail-with-gerry-adams/

    Issues that just will not go away

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