Enda Kenny’s United Ireland Comments Delusional and Dangerous
Maybe the mini-heatwave has got to him, or maybe the Irish Independent had overplayed its hand for the sake of a dramatic headline. True their screaming print edition headline “Get ready for a United Ireland” today does over-egg Mr. Kenny’s statements at the McGill Summer School in Glenties. But the headline writer cannot be accused of downright invention either.
So what did our Taoiseach say in sun-drenched Co. Donegal last night?
“The discussion and negotiations that take place over the next period [regarding Brexit] should take into account the possibility, however far out it might be, that the clause in the Good Friday Agreement might be triggered, in that if there is a clear evidence of a majority of people wishing to leave the United Kingdom and join the Republic, that should be catered for in the discussions.
“Because if that possibility were to happen, you would have Northern Ireland wishing to leave the United Kingdom, not being a member of the European Union, and joining the Republic, which will be a member of the EU.”
While the Taoiseach’s words will be music in the ears of all Sinn Feiners, and a few Fianna Failers, I think this is not merely a delusional line of thinking, but also one that could be very dangerous. Remember, the denizens of Loyalist East Belfast won’t go in much for parsing and analysing the various subordinate clauses in that statement by Mr. Kenny – I would emphasise the “however far out it might be” one in particular. All they will hear, and want to hear, is that the Taoiseach wants to hold a Border Poll as a prelude to establishing a United Ireland.
As far as I am concerned there is enough madness in the world already, from the convulsive Middle East to the spectre of The Donald in the West, and enough real political challenges for our Taoiseach in handling Brexit and steering his very shaky Minority Government vessel, to stay a million miles away from raising the spectre of a Border poll.
So what is Mr. Kenny at? It makes absolutely no sense at any practical level and could be considered fantastical. There is not a snowball’s chance in hell of a majority of people in Northern Ireland wanting to join the Republic no matter how those Brexit talks conclude.
Northern Unionists are going to remain steadfast in their opposition to a United Ireland, and not a few Nationalists “up there” might find an independent “Northern Ireland” state preferable to that elusive united Ireland. And don’t forget either Taoiseach, there is a sizeable volume of citizens of our Republic who wouldn’t want to have anything to do with Northern Ireland, especially with the inevitability of renewed violence.
In the interests of peaceful co-existence on this island, the Good Friday Agreement acknowledgement of the current constitutional arrangement in Northern Ireland (as part of the UK), which was endorsed by 94% of the electorate in the Republic in a 1998 Referendum is as good as it is likely to get for Nationalists, in both North and South, for the foreseeable future.
So why was the Taoiseach out there raising unnecessary fears at Glenties last night? Who knows, but he is being seen as increasingly error-prone. It’s only a few weeks since his solo-flight calling for an all-island response to the Brexit vote in the UK was shot down by the DUP leader, Arlene Foster. And closer to home his decision to re-appoint Dr. James Reilly as his party’s Deputy Leader triggered a mini-revolt within his own Parliamentary Party.
It’s generally agreed among the political commentariat that Enda Kenny’s days as Taoiseach are numbered. He has put his own deadline of sorts on his tenure by indicating his departure before the next General Election (which we all know could happen any time after this October’s Budget). But if he continues on his current form, there is no doubt he will be an increasing liability to his party.
With the Dail commencing its Summer Recess this Thursday, I think it would be advisable for the Taoiseach to take a good, long holiday, and well away from all media and microphones!