Higgins's victory was kick to the Shins
Martin McGuinness was foolish to believe his bloody IRA past could be left behind at the Border, writes Ronan Fanning
Published 06/11/2011 | 05:00
'Elections are won by men and women chiefly because most people vote against somebody rather than for somebody." Not only the presidential election but also the referendum votes are classic examples of what Franklin P Adams, an American journalist and humourist, wrote as long ago as 1944.
Was I happy with the new President, I was asked in a local shop. Less unhappy than I would have been with any other candidate, I replied. For this was an election in which who won was less important than who lost. The most significant and welcome aspect is that it was a vote against Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness. More importantly, it was also a vote against the monstrous proposition that the island of Ireland is a single political entity and that there is no distinction between the still democratically dysfunctional polity of Northern Ireland and the independent Irish State, a state with a proud and uninterrupted tradition of democracy stretching back to 1922.
It is too early to judge whether Sinn Fein's choice of McGuinness as their candidate was misguided. In terms of ability, personality, presence and charisma, they could not have fielded a stronger candidate. But he could never escape the burden of his damnosa hereditas: the blood spilt by the IRA throughout their 30-year war in Northern Ireland with which he was, and will forever remain, indelibly identified.