A grand coalition in Dublin is no bad thing from NI perspective

Morning View
Morning View

The splintered Irish election result is in line with the electoral volatility that has affected countries across the western world.

In the US Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have become serious presidential contenders, with the latter still in with a chance of the Oval Office.

Australia has had a succession of prime ministers.

Greece rejected dire warnings and elected Syriza into power, and then re-elected them.

Even Britain, which has remained reasonably stable, now has its most left wing Labour leader elected for generations.

Scotland came close to leaving the UK. Britain might be out of the EU within months.

Northern Ireland has been less affected by these electoral revolutions than other countries, but the entrenched tribal divide makes many voters reluctant to cast protest ballots.

But now we have seen an extraordinary outcome south of the border in the Dail elections.

From a northern unionist perspective it might not seem too important. But the possibility of a joint Fine Gael and Fianna Fail coalition is intriguing. Fine Gael has traditionally been more sympathetic to unionists.

But Fianna Fail, a party that was deeply distrusted by unionists from its inception, has been witheringly critical of Sinn Fein under its present leader Micheal Martin. He long ago dismissed the notion of sharing power with the bloc of TDs led by Gerry Adams.

Almost a century after the civil war there is little between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail ideologically. A deal might be the catalyst for a needed realignment of Republic politics.

If it keeps Sinn Fein from power, that will make life easier for unionists. SF have been awkward enough to deal with, such as the way they scuppered the Stormont House Agreement on welfare, without being emboldened by governing on both sides of the border.