The Real Irish Question

By McCREARY, Alf | The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), June 11, 1997 | Go to article overview

The Real Irish Question


McCREARY, Alf, The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland)


The outcome of the Irish general election is as predicted, with the spectacle of yet another Irish Prime Minister-elect indulging in horse- trading with the minor parties and independents to achieve power.

The Irish system seems to produce more cliff-hangers than most, and there is an inevitable delay until all the deals are done, and a puff of green smoke announces the evolution of the new Prime Minister.

There is much speculation as to how Bertie Ahern will react to the Unionists while they are cock-a-hoop at the downfall of the former Deputy Prime Minister Dick Spring. There seems little point in such personality-pondering, as if the answer to the Irish question depended on the emergence of a super-being who could help to heal ancient wounds overnight.

We could all do with such a figure, but in the real world we have to depend on our flawed and human politicians on all sides to try to bring chaos out of disorder. Mr Ahern may resurrect his old leader Albert Reynolds as a kind of Northern Irish peace-broker, but he, too, is just another politician with no magical powers of persuasion, even though he does deserve some credit for his part in bringing about the original IRA ceasefire.

The hard truth is that whoever is in power (and now it is Blair, Mowlam and presumably, Ahern) the real problem facing every administration and all of us is how to solve the Irish-Ulster question without allowing violence to gain the upper hand. So far, it has been on a knife-edge, and the upsurge in publicity and votes for Sinn Fein may encourage the IRA to conclude that the Republicans are winning on the twin-track approach of violence and the ballot box.

Personally I am sorry to see the demise of John Bruton, a dignified and good man who as Irish Prime Minister had the measure of the Republican movement. …

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