We All Will Need a Holiday
A Letter from Ireland
In politics, August is often called, “the Silly Season”. Most political institutions are in recess and political leaders are on holiday. Ireland thankfully follows the European tradition of at least a two-week break.
There has been plenty of noise generated by the Tory party leadership contest in Britain between Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak. Both represent more of the same politics of Boris Johnson. Truss, the clear front runner, styles herself as a new Margaret Thatcher, never a good omen. The winner will be declared on September 5th and will become the next British Prime Minister.
On Wednesday of this week, the Assembly was reconvened in Stormont to elect a Speaker and establish a government in the North of Ireland.
It is now ninety days on from the election that returned Sinn Féin as the largest party and Sinn Féin Vice President Michelle O’Neill as First Minister (elect).
Since the election, the Democratic Unionist Party has been living in denial of the election result and is blocking the establishment of the Assembly and Government.
All parties except the DUP want the institutions up and running. We are in the middle of a cost of living crisis that will tighten as families prepare for schools to return and post-holiday bills mount up.
The DUP is now claiming that there is no need to convene a government or set a budget. We are indeed living in the Silly Season.
Partition and the construct of the North of Ireland was a Unionist project. The party that constantly stated that Nationalists didn’t want the North of Ireland to work is now determined to show that the North does not indeed work!
If a government is not formed by October 24th, then we are into an election. Maybe that is the plan for the DUP, trying to reverse the election result of May.
So we could have a reincarnation of Margaret Thatcher in Downing Street and in an election before Christmas. Meanwhile, the issues of the legacy of the conflict will remain unresolved and justice denied to victims. Brexit will continue to fester and Britain will be exposed to the international stage as an untrustworthy partner.
I think we will all need a holiday to prepare for the challenges ahead. Take a break where you can get one and have a great weekend.
Ciarán Quinn is the Sinn Féin Representative to North America. Each week he writes a letter from Ireland with news and analysis. It is featured in the weekly Friends of Sinn Féin USA Newsletter. Be sure you are subscribed to stay up to date.