Saturday, 7 May 2022
They Haven't Gone Away, You Know
Any affection for Sinn Féin on the part of what is now the anti-austerity Left can only be attributed to nostalgia. But you cannot make peace with no one, so Sinn Féin has always been indispensable to any Executive under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, while no other single party is.
Thus, the IRA Army Council has been exercising in the Six Counties since as long ago as 1998 its claim to sovereignty throughout the 32 County Republic of 1916. Anyone doubting that need look no further than the funeral of Bobby Storey, followed by the decision of the Police that no Covid-19 regulations has been breached.
Storey's coffin was borne to its rest by Gerry Adams, Martin Ferris, Sean Hughes, Gerry Kelly, Martin "Duckster" Lynch, and Sean "Spike" Murray. At any given time, there are seven members of the Army Council. Of the deceased and his six pallbearers, only Ferris was from the 26 Counties. There, however, Sinn Féin might have entered government if it had fielded enough candidates at the last General Election to the Dáil. It will certainly field enough next time.
Handpicked for Leadership by an Army Council that was based almost entirely in what it never called "Northern Ireland", Michelle O'Neill as First Minister will be a detail, since that Council has effectively been in charge there for 24 years, entirely regardless of how many votes its partisans, who have sometimes been its members, have obtained.
But handpicked for Leadership by an Army Council that was based almost entirely in what it never called "Northern Ireland", Mary Lou McDonald as Taoiseach of what that Council did not regard as the real Republic of Ireland would be a seismic event, effectively extending the exercise of the IRA's claim to sovereignty across the entire territory claimed, and to the means of a sovereign state's participation in international affairs.
Who would need a border poll? Why would the IRA want one? No referendum would ever endorse rule by the Army Council. Once that were established across the whole of Ireland, then the beneficiaries would never wish to give it up, and everyone else would find it practically impossible to make them. That day is now well within sight.