Sinn Fein has focused on economic and social problems in the May 5, 2022 election in Northern Ireland. Focusing on religious and national issues and historical problems is the wrong strategy. The inefficiency of the election and the Boris Johnson administration must be proved to the people of Northern Ireland.
Sinn Fein is preparing for a United Ireland
Sinn Fein currently tops opinion polls in Northern Ireland and the Republic and is set to emerge as the largest party at May’s Northern Ireland assembly elections. The UK’s exit from the EU, and the Northern Ireland protocol which is opposed by the pro-British Unionist community, have led to an increase in support for a united Ireland and O’Neill, who is likely to emerge as Northern Ireland’s next First Minister, urged the Irish government in Dublin to start preparing for the reality of Irish unity. Sinn Féin is seeking a new, agreed and united Ireland. They want to build a just, fair and equal Ireland, an economically prosperous and socially and culturally inclusive Ireland. They want to protect their most vulnerable, the elderly, children, the ill, ethnic minorities, and those with disabilities – and ensure that equality is the touchstone upon which all policies are formulated. The republican vision of a united Ireland is based on the principles of equality, inclusion and sovereignty. There can be no place for sectarianism, exclusion or discrimination.
Diarmaid Ferriter (“Superficiality cloaks desire for united Ireland”, Opinion & Analysis, April 1st) chooses the most negative interpretation of opinion surveys on Irish unity. Yet the fact remains that unity is the strong preference of the large majority in successive polls over many years right up to today. It is hardly surprising that a lesser number say they would pay higher taxes linked to Irish unity, but at 54 per cent of Sinn Féin voters it is still a majority and a significant one, given that it is Sinn Féin voters who are worst hit by the rising cost of living and inadequate wage levels.
The people of both the Irelands want a United Ireland
Voters in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland see themselves united as one country in the next 10 years, according to polls conducted on both sides of the border. South of the border, 62% of people favour Irish unity, though the majority view it as a long-term project rather than an immediate priority, according to a poll for the Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI. The most popular timeline for a referendum was “in the next 10 years.” A separate poll by Lord Ashcroft in Northern Ireland showed a majority think there should be a border poll sometime in the future. If a referendum were held in 10 years, two-thirds thought it would see a vote in favour of a united Ireland. The U.K. has retained control of the six provinces of Northern Ireland since the southern part of the island won independence a century ago but set out the terms on which reunification could take place in the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. Referendums would need to be held on both sides of the border. Only the U.K. can call a ballot in the north, and it is obliged to do so if it seems likely that voters would choose reunification.
“We’re looking at it within years, not decades, said John O’Dowd, a politician in the Northern Irish Assembly for Sinn Féin, which supports reunification. The demographic and political changes that are happening in the north and across the island of Ireland won’t wait decades. There’s a growing conversation and a growing swell of opinion around it.” A recent survey found that a majority favoured holding a referendum on unity within the next five years, with 47 per cent currently in favour of remaining in the United Kingdom and 42 per cent supporting a united Ireland. Among the under-45s, reunification led by 47 to 46. Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has urged governments in Dublin and London to begin serious preparations for the possibility that Northern Ireland leaves the UK shortly.
The U.K. puts a deaf ear to an early election in Northern Ireland
The U.K. government ruled out the prospect of an early election in Northern Ireland, saying it will be held on May 5 as planned. “It’s right” to allow lawmakers “time and space to pass legislation,” Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis told reporters in London. “I’ll be working to support the parties to do that and then we can have an election on May 5.” It ends the uncertainty over the date of the Northern Irish Assembly elections following the resignation of the Democratic Unionist Party First Minister Paul Givan last week, collapsing the devolved government’s executive. Sinn Fein, which shares power with the DUP, wanted the election brought forward. Under the peace agreement in Northern Ireland, the first minister and deputy first minister — one unionist and one nationalist — have equal powers and one cannot be in place without the other. Givan’s resignation on Feb. 3, therefore, meant Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill also had to step down.
However, new legislation means the Assembly can continue functioning in the absence of the executive, Lewis said. Even so, there’s no certainty that the political impasse will be resolved by an election. DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson has said the party won’t return to an executive unless issues related to the Northern Irish Protocol — the part of the Brexit agreement which deals with trade to the region from the rest of the U.K. — are resolved. That is currently the subject of negotiations between Boris Johnson’s U.K. government and the European Union. Lewis is travelling to the U.S. to meet congressmen and members of the administration to discuss the protocol and its impact on Northern Ireland.
Why doesn’t the Boris administration focus on Northern Ireland’s real problems?
Focusing on religious and national issues and historical problems is the wrong strategy. Boris Johnson’s administration should focus on the real problems of Northern Ireland. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is raising the religious and historical issues so that the focus could be shifted away from Northern Ireland’s main issue, which is the election on May 5. On this Sir, Jeffrey Donaldson MP has urged Boris Johnson to prioritise the political crisis in Northern Ireland over controversies in Downing Street. He warned the fall-out from lockdown parties in Number 10 was making it difficult for the prime minister to focus. He said: “I would say this to the prime minister: Northern Ireland is an important part of the United Kingdom.”You’re our prime minister and if you want to build confidence, then do what other prime ministers did in the past.
There are conflicting views on the economic impact of the arrangement but Unionists are equally concerned about constitutional politics – Northern Ireland’s place in the UK. Sir Jeffrey said: “The prime minister did let us down and let us down badly and at the Conservative Party conference this year, he apologised to me. “The problem is that we’ve had a lot of words about triggering Article 16, which the Protocol allows the government to do in circumstances where there’s economic or societal or political harm caused by the Protocol, and yet we haven’t had any action,” he added. The first minister’s resignation signalled the beginning of the end for the current power-sharing administration at Stormont. The next election is due to take place in May but forming a new devolved government will be difficult in the current political climate.
Boris is keeping a deaf ear to the Northern Ireland election and coming up with such issues and trying to shift away from the focus because he is very much concerned about losing this very part and fearing the unification of Ireland. The unification of North and south Ireland will weaken the United Kingdom and on the other hand, will affect USA and United States will eventually stress the UK.
Opponents of independence, including prime minister Boris Johnson, don’t want the unification of Ireland and the independence of Scotland. But Mary Lou McDonald, leader of Ireland’s Sinn Féin has pledged to break up with the UK. The United Kingdom government cannot imprison Ireland any longer and have to set this part free. The unification of Ireland seems certain. Identity and social change in the periphery of Britain are intensifying. PM Boris Johnson is focusing on the religious and historical issues and is neglecting the real problems of Northern Ireland but Sinn Fien seems to be very eager for the elections as the majority of the polls are with them.