The Irish president, Michael Higgins, has above all harmed himself in his Northern Ireland centenary snub

News Letter editorial of Saturday September 18 2021:

By Editorial
Saturday, 18th September 2021, 12:44 pm
Updated Saturday, 18th September 2021, 10:15 pm
News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

There have been glimmers of hope with regard to North-South relations in recent months, after a bad five years.

The Fine Gael government of Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney, which came into office in Dublin in the aftermath of the 2016 Brexit vote, was one of the most unfriendly governments towards the UK of recent decades.

They would say that they never voted for the rupture caused by the British departure from the EU, but even so, it became more widespread than that — in the long suspension of Stormont caused by Sinn Fein, for example, both Mr Varadkar and Mr Coveney made clear that they supported the republican Irish language demand.

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Ironically, a Fianna Fail Taoiseach, Micheal Martin has toned down the rhetoric. But yesterday even Mr Coveney seemed to distance himself from the Irish president Michael D Higgins’ snub of the Northern Ireland centenary service that will be held in Armagh, attended by the Queen.

Mr Higgins then seemed to have been confused as to who it was who wrongly addressed him as president of the Republic of Ireland — a deeply embarrassing mistake given that he cited the supposedly erroneous use of his title as a reason for not attending.

Relations between London or unionists and Dublin have been cool of late but Mr Higgins has if anything warmed them up a bit.

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