A nation once again, but Gerry Adams is not happy

Richard Boyd Barrett says Sinn Féin has helped bring about unity by austerity

Gerry Adams  welcomed “the emergence of the United Popular Front Against Sinn Féin, led by Micheál Martin, Joe Higgins and Richard Boyd Barrett”. Photograph: Alan Betson

Gerry Adams welcomed “the emergence of the United Popular Front Against Sinn Féin, led by Micheál Martin, Joe Higgins and Richard Boyd Barrett”. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Richard Boyd Barrett had good news for Gerry Adams. In fact, he had the very best of good news for the Sinn Féin leader, but “in a peculiar way”.

The People Before Profit TD could see it coming.

“We are going to achieve the unity of this island that we have long strived for.”

But did Gerry look happy? Not a bit of it. Misty-eyed, did he burst into a few bars of A Nation Once Again?

He did not. Which is odd. United Ireland, what’s not to like?

It couldn’t have been the “peculiar” caveat introduced by Boyd Barrett. After all, Gerry is the King of Peculiar.

And one can understand why. Whimsical musings on Twitter about bathtime and ducks and teddy bears, not to mention his recent, er, humdinger about trampolining in the nude with his dog, are a marvellous distraction from the day job.

Although yesterday’s tweet, in which the Northern notice-box featured a photograph of himself wearing the dog’s eye-mask (presumably for canine use during those naked bouncing sessions) veered towards the tasteless side of peculiar.

For some, it looked too much like a blindfold. Perhaps that was unfair. The masked Sinn Féin leader was probably just reliving the thrill of transatlantic air travel in anticipation of his next trip to the United States.

But back to RBB from PBP, who is convinced, much to Gerry’s annoyance, that we are all “on the one road”. But it isn’t the road to God knows where, even if Northmen and Southmen are on the way to unification. But “it will not be a unity achieved in prosperity: it will be a unity achieved by making ordinary working people North and South the victims of the austerity agenda”.

Austerity programme

Joe Higgins

The recent Stormont agreement “is really just Northern Ireland’s version of the troika austerity programme”, said RBB.

What is happening in the North is “directly comparable to the axe which was taken to the public service here” continued Boyd Barrett. “It’s the same level of axing.”

Adams listened to them with a little smile on his face. He had just delivered a very, very lengthy dissertation on the great work done in Northern Ireland by Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, and, if you don’t mind him saying so, Gerry Adams.

But his audience from “Down South” wasn’t prepared to give him his due.

When “you strip away the makeup applied by the parties”, sniffed Higgins, the agreement is a “savage austerity attack on the public sector in Northern Ireland”.

He said McGuinness had accused critics of the agreement of living in “fantasy land” but asked if he was the one living in fantasy land by trying to sell the deal as “anything other than a major austerity attack with serious down sides for working class people, whether Protestant or Catholic”.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the Fianna Fáil leader was peppering to get in on the act. Micheál Martin wasn’t too concerned about what Adams had said earlier about the main parties in the Dáil sticking their oar in where matters in Belfast are concerned.

If they are so interested in what takes place in Stormont, why don’t they run for election up there?

“While there is a different political jurisdiction in the North, there is no bar on Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael or the Labour Party organising there,” said Gerry.

“The fact is that there is an election on May 7th and if Micheál Martin wants to put his name forward in Newry and Armagh or in west Belfast, that would be very good and very useful. If that’s too soon, there is an Assembly election in 2016. It would be great to have Fianna Fáil people on the Executive, negotiating with the British and Irish governments on various issues.”

Micheál looked very enthusiastic. Compared with the carnage envisaged for Cork South Central next year, it might be the easier option. And the Wolfe Tones could write a song about it.

In fact, if all comes to plan, that Nation Once Again vision could come true in 2023, if only on the field of sport.

The Taoiseach speaking about blossoming co-operation between North and South, spoke about the joint bid for the Rugby World Cup.

“Which I think we will win, actually, because there is a strong national response to this.” He also threw in a reference to Rory McIlroy, because that’s always a good thing to do.

In terms of unity, this may not play to Boyd Barrett’s vicious austerity model, but he’s a rugby fan, so he might overlook the vicious prosperity this might bring to the stadiums for the duration.

Swipes

“To what degree was the Northern Ireland budget considered in the talks?” he asked, wondering if the Taoiseach had seen the recent BBC Spotlight programme about a “very significant number of fictitious front organisations receiving publicly funded rent payments from Sinn Féin, and drawing down millions of pounds in expenses over recent years”.

Gerry sat back, smiling again.

“It could be argued that if fewer fictitious front organisations were receiving publicly funded rents from Sinn Féin, there might be fewer teachers cut in the Stormont House Agreement,” said the Fianna Fáil leader.

Gerry decided not to say anything. Instead, he continued smiling and “on a lighter note” welcomed “the emergence of the United Popular Front Against Sinn Féin, led by Micheál Martin, Joe Higgins and Richard Boyd Barrett”.

Gerry much prefers the lighter notes. Funny, but in a most peculiar way.