SF only ever saw devolution as a means to an end

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At last: unionists have woken up to the fact that Sinn Féin are not interested in devolution.

Arlene Foster’s recent statement has not come a moment too soon and she was naive if she ever thought otherwise.

Sinn Féin have an ideology based on 1916, which has nothing to do with the Good Friday Agreement or anything else.

Devolution was thought of by Sinn Féin as a possible means to an end — a means to a united Ireland, which they have realised is futile in achieving that aim.

Sinn Féin know that devolution will not yield a united Ireland, as unionists have realised Sinn Féin want them gone and British authority in Northern Ireland extinguished.

All the rhetoric from Sinn Féin about being “committed to the institutions” went right out the window with Brexit in taking Northern Ireland out of the EU bloc with the Republic.

Sinn Féin know that it will be a completely different ballgame after Brexit, so they have decided to get difficult, in addition to Dublin recanting its jurisdictional claim or aspiration over Northern Ireland, by saying it does “not believe in a border”.

So, it is back to the old politics, notwithstanding changes in the Irish constitution and the passage of the Good Friday Agreement. Devolution was always just a play-acting exercise for Sinn Féin, while unionists saw it as the best chance they had to meaningful representation in Northern Ireland in lieu of cabinet seats at Westminster. Sinn Féin had no notion of settling for devolution, nor Dublin if the opportunity arose to lobby for a united Ireland, which Brexit and the new border customs issue have provided for them.

Devolution will never work as long as Sinn Féin are in the mix — as an all-or-nothing protest party unlikely to compromise. And Dublin with its occasional push for what it always has seen as the consummation of its jurisdiction.

The irony of it all is that the Republic can barely handle what it has and yet there is this unfounded belief that Northern Ireland would be better served in a 32 county apparatus?

The Republic is a shell of a country and many of its parts remain derelict and abandoned. The Republic is a hinterland outside of Cork and Dublin. It has done nothing with its independence only drive the unconnected who are not part of its slick, elite, grapevine system out of the country to find work elsewhere. Who are Sinn Féin and a decadent Dublin-run Republic kidding?

Devolution has not worked, but Sinn Féin and Dublin still cannot see that a united Ireland may face the same difficulties or far, far, greater ones, given the myriad of problems with devolution.

This, in addition to ongoing, persistent, and indefinite terrorism from dissidents which continues to hamper peace and evacuates people out of their homes regularly for extensive periods.

There is a very long way to go before there can be any realistic talk of a united Ireland and it certainly will not happen as long as Sinn Féin and their partners for a united Ireland, the Irish government, with its arrogance and brazenness are around.

Brexit has exposed the old leather underneath the whitewash of devolution in a peace process still yielding much terrorism and division.

Brexit has also removed the varnish and veneer of British/Irish relations, showing us how easy it is for the old politics of past to return to the present.

Maurice Fitzgerald, Shanbally, Co Cork