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Gosh What a Happening Place


Having returned from holidays, I find that its been all go. The IRA have gone away, not a major surprise to most but many will remain sceptical until fully verified. It seems that they got out of the way just in time to avoid being extradited from the UK for 'gloryfying terrorism' and other such acts or crimes preparatory to terror. Looks like good timing all round then once one takes the SBPs poll into account yesterday.
The results of that poll futher underline the ground that is to be made up in the event of full democratic moves by the republican movement. The numbers look good in ways but it is also clear to see a redivsion of loyalties according to the national question. For quite some time now, the national question seems to have been swept off the agenda in an effort to make do with the status quo and try to put together something which works in the south. The re-emergence of Sinn Fein in a new and fully democratic guise looks set to move the focus of Irish politics away from structural and the tentative left-right divisions of the recent past toward renewing post civil war attitudes.
The biggest gainers in a policy of playing the nationalist card is the sinners as most of the other parties look to fight out for the scraps of their fringe support and outright opposition.
While they may not be successful in any short term in moving the debate away from structural issues and toward the ideology of a united ireland (one which hasnt disappeared alongside the IRA, see here, hat tip Dick O Brien), the sinners long term goal is in effect to force the irish political agenda back to what they see as the unanswered question of irish unity.
To be fair i think they have a point. Since 1921, the issues of irish identity have been tied up in attitudes to the North and the UK. Many of the older generation defined irish identity in romantic terms crossing borders while others saw northerners as a lost cause and some as west brits. This is a festering sore in irish political mentality which has been happily left alone by the governing consesus. The sinners will attempt to force answers to a united ireland from us if and when they arrive in government. Doing so will open up a much larger pandoras box that may contain more zenophobic and violent elements.
If we wish to conduct the debate and argument with SF over the island of ireland and the broader issue of our own form of identity politics then we must be prepared in our stance and aware of our responsibilites to foster peace, trust and democracy.
The arrival of a more supportable Sinn Fein in the political arena will make life tough for all of the other players and if it pursues hard questions and difficult debates, particularly those that it feels need closure then we may actually begin to truly close the book on our recent past and become a nation comfortable with ourselves and out nationality.

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