Worse still, the British government will have little psychic space for dealing with the troublesome province during the Brexit processby Ruth Dudley Edwards / March 6, 2017 / Leave a comment
Last Thursday’s election to the Northern Ireland Assembly was a triumph for Sinn Fein, which achieved its best result ever. It was a near-disaster for unionism. Sinn Fein’s share of the vote went up by 3.9 per cent as the Democratic Unionist Party’s (DUP’s) went down by 1.1 per cent.
The BBC kept telling us that the election was called as a Sinn Fein protest against the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scandal. That was misleading. The real cause was amyloidosis, the serious illness that forced the resignation of deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.
Although as hard a man as his comrade-in arms Gerry Adams, with whom he ran the IRA for many years, McGuinness is cleverer, wiser and never lets his ego get in the way of doing his job. Adams, who has been president of Sinn Fein for 34 years, resigned as MP for West Belfast in 2010 and successfully stood for election to Dail Eireann where he took over leadership of his parliamentary party. He is cordially loathed for his vanity and self-righteousness by almost all politicians outside his own subservient ranks.
It was McGuinness’s diplomatic skills that enabled him in 2007—when the Northern Ireland Executive was restored after a suspension of five years—to form a good working relationship with First Minister the Reverend Ian Paisley, the rabble-rousing Protestant bigot whose critics had for decades described him as the IRA’s best recruiting sergeant. His DUP had displaced the moderate Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) just as Sinn Fein had displaced the moderate nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP).