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Wishful thinking July 6, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Here’s an odd little tale. Anthony Coughlan is quoted in the Independent as follows:

Anthony Coughlan, a retired associate professor of social policy at Trinity College Dublin, said he was handing out pro-Brexit leaflets in Belfast when he was told by a Sinn Féin activist that the party president had been making such comments.

Mr Coughlan claimed that the TD for Louth “had been saying privately to Sinn Féin people that if the UK voted to leave the EU, you would advocate that the Irish State should do the same”.

Adams has denied that he said any such thing:

Mr Adams said that this was not his position – and that he made no such statements in advance of the UK referendum.

“I know Anthony for a very, very long time. I admire his spirit. I agree with him on many, many positions,” he said.

“I share his criticism of the European Union – but for us it was a straightforward position of trying to ensure that one part of the island wasn’t in the European Union and the other part outside the European Union,” he added.

“I’ve written back to Anthony [to] point out the position he asserts. He says somebody told him this. That certainly isn’t my position,” Mr Adams said.

In a way this reminds me of the charge that SF is attempting to divert attention from its ‘Remain’ stance during the referendum. That would make sense only if one forgot the overwhelming majority for Remain in this state and the majority (which was indicated by polling for months in advance) in the North at the referendum itself. For SF to push away from that is bizarre. Anything but. It offers them some extra leverage in terms of pushing for a border poll (whether they think it likely to be delivered – few would think so at this point) as well as allowing them to make common cause with Scotland and to emphasise all-island links and the necessity for increasing them in the wake of the vote.

One merely need look at the way in which commentators whose interest in matters CTA, and border related, has been minimal previously have suddenly woken up to the fact that this is an island in the last week or so. Certainly the vote has been a shot in the arm to a sense of that across a range of actors including the Irish government too. And that is going to have implications in the future too.

Why Adams would say any such thing to SF members in advance of the vote is puzzling in light of all that. None of which is to deny that SF has a euro-critical stance – but that’s rather different from a pro-Brexit stance. What’s odd too is that Coughlan would place such weight on a single anecdote and one that doesn’t jibe with the broader context. But then his analysis in the following is curious indeed:

He claims that Sinn Féin was throwing away an opportunity to establish links with Northern Unionists and that the party had instead aligned itself “with the central policy drive of the British government and with the Goldman Sachses, David Camerons, Peter Sutherlands, Enda Kennys”.

Except that that ‘central policy drive’ isn’t actually the central policy drive of the current and future British government. And given the potential for a Brexit win in advance of the referendum was likely to be anyhow. Moerover the idea that this would establish links with Northern Unionists (themselves divided on the issue with the UUP taking a different line) is an argument that some might suggest places hope over experience.

Talking to SF members myself on the issue for months now it has been clear that they were clearly pro-Remain while being EU critical and for the same reasons they articulated before during and after the referendum. I wonder if Coughlan was misinformed.

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