This Westminster election is leaving me colder than most have done in the past. And that is some feat I can tell you, as I am a die in the wool abstentionist with a pretty sceptical view of London’s interest in Ireland.
Not that I don’t appreciate its relevance. Any government of the country that has occupied my country for 800+ years and gives a nod to democracy every five years, or less if politically convenient, and who is a co-guarantor to the local peace agreement is of course relevant. It is just that as an overall election, despite the relevance of Britain and its policies to us, we mean less than nothing to them. Any of them.
The leaders’ non-debate tells us everything we need to know. Jeremy Corbyn was under attack for a full week about his conversations with republicans in the 1980s and 1990s. His response focussed on his contribution to the peace process and the need to talk to those one disagrees with. Not once did he expand to mention the current Tory government overseeing the collapse of the northern executive and lack of progress in subsequent negotiations. Nor was he asked about it.
In the same debate, Brexit and negotiation by Britain was Theresa May’s full focus. Not once did she mention the need to protect the Good Friday Agreement or the need to ensure that there is no reintroduction of the hard border in Ireland. Nor was she asked about it.
Can you imagine if there was no Scottish or Welsh Assemblyin place and that negotiations on the matter of their re-establishment were torpedoed by the unilateral and unnecessary calling of a general election by the Theresa May. Would there be zero mention of it in any political commentary? Eh, no.
Nope we are an afterthought, an outpost of colonial stubbornness and little else, to the Tories, to Labour or to any of the non-Irish parties sitting in Westminster.
Compare and contrast this to the EU and to the southern government collective approaches. Ireland is mentioned in the first paragraph of all EU and Commissioner Barnier’s statements on Brexit. Enda Kenny, for all his government’s faults, is hammering the matters of a border and the threat to our peace agreement at every opportunity.
Our future lies in Ireland and in Europe and the body language of all concerned tell us that. This election surely tells that tale even more explicitly than ever before.
So if that is my view will I be voting? You bet. Not just because good women died for my right to vote. Although, that is reason enough. No I want to see a pro-Irish unity and pro-EU voice to continue to hold electoral equality. A vote which does not appropriately reflect that would be milked unendingly.
In March nationalists made history by voting to end unionist majoritarianism. Negotiations to re-establish the institutions, which must be re-established, will begin immediately after this election. There must be a strong vote that says the pro-British union, anti-EU voice is not the majority voice. Astrong progressive vote will enable progressive voices to establish a new assembly that will maximise protections and potentials in the coming uncertainties. Demographics and percentages will matter as much as seats. So yeah, I will be voting with purpose.