Northern Ireland: on tenterhooks ahead of local elections
Local elections take place in the UK on Thursday. Northern Ireland will also elect a new regional parliament on the same day. Polls put the nationalist Sinn Féin party, which already won the elections in the Republic of Ireland in 2020, in the lead. Is the reunification of Northern Ireland and the Republic in sight?
No major changes - and Ireland will remain divided
Despite the prospect of a victory for Sinn Féin, the party's power should not be overestimated, says The Daily Telegraph:
“The media commentary will be about how a border poll is now imminent and a United Ireland inevitable. All of which is baloney. First, Sinn Féin's victory will be pyrrhic: it is profiting from the fact that the firm unionist vote is split more evenly than usual between the DUP, the Ulster Unionist party and the Traditional Unionist Voice party. Second, the First Minister can't order a paperclip without the agreement of his or her deputy [who according to the Good Friday Agreement must be a member of the opposing political camp].”
Triumphalism would be counterproductive
The Irish Independent warns Sinn Féin:
“A united Ireland is a legitimate aspiration. But it has to be a shared and agreed one. In the immediate term, trust and inclusion need attention. ... The vast majority of the people of the North just want to be able to enjoy peace, prosperity and stability. Flags, banners and labels have been used to divide and conquer for generations. ....Nationalists in the North can rightly claim they have spent generations struggling to gain power. They therefore know too well what it is to be in the margins. Should they emerge as big winners, their first major test will be to demonstrate a preparedness to serve all communities fairly, and not give in to shallow triumphalism.”