Sinn Fein got plenty of exposure in the Dáil last night. They were first of the list when it came to the Taoiseach’s speech in a motion of confidence in the government last night (which only squeaked through by votes).
He was followed by Micheal Martin who as ever probably had the sharpest account of how what has already happened above the border had the potential to be repeated south of it:
The question before us is not how do we get justice for Maurice McCabe and others – it is should we collapse the government and Dáil in order to have a general election in the next few weeks?
The sole motivation behind putting this question is party politics. As we have seen recently in the North, at every given moment Sinn Fein’s primary concern is promoting the interests of the Provisionals’ movement.
When they come across an issue they look for ways to exploit it rather than to address it.
In the case of the Assembly, they took an undoubted scandal about an out of control scheme which they had known about for a year and which had been made worse by their now Northern leader’s active promotion – and instead of securing an immediate inquiry, they collapsed the Assembly.
Indeed they actively opposed an inquiry until they were left with no option but to support one.
Ironically, given the rhetoric we are hearing from them tonight, Sinn Féin had the opportunity to vote no confidence in Arlene Foster for her handling of this scandal. Did we hear impassioned speeches of outrage and demands for accountability? No, we didn’t.
Sinn Féin abstained in that vote.
As a result, the people of Northern Ireland will have to vote relying on political charges rather than a definitive and independent review. The people of Northern Ireland must also go without a voice in critical Brexit discussions and without action on the hospitals crisis which is their number one concern.
I caught the beginning of the debate, but towards the end it seems to have deteriorated into some chaos. By the very end the Dáil divided: Tá, 57; Staon, 44; Níl, 52. Fianna Fail’s determination to abstain saved the government by just five seats.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty