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Adams is the bearded Farage and SF is now Ireland's Ukip

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SPOT THE LINK: Gerry Adams — it seems that Sinn Fein is now Ireland’s answer to Ukip

SPOT THE LINK: Gerry Adams — it seems that Sinn Fein is now Ireland’s answer to Ukip

SPOT THE LINK: Nigel Farage — it seems that Sinn Fein is now Ireland’s answer to Ukip

SPOT THE LINK: Nigel Farage — it seems that Sinn Fein is now Ireland’s answer to Ukip

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SPOT THE LINK: Gerry Adams — it seems that Sinn Fein is now Ireland’s answer to Ukip

Last Monday, Sinn Fein managed to drag itself away from calling for border polls for just long enough to allow it to issue a press release welcoming the news that Fianna Fail will shortly finalise its white paper on a reunified Ireland.

I say "welcome", but get a few lines into the statement and you soon see that Sinn Fein is anything but welcoming of this important move by Micheal Martin.

The release was put out on behalf of Matt Carthy, who, we are informed, is Sinn Fein's MEP for the Midland, North and West Euro-constituency and also chair of its United Ireland project.

Good to see that it has put this important issue in such experienced hands.

According to Carthy: "It is clear from his reported remarks that Mr Martin has closely read Sinn Fein's discussion document 'Towards a United Ireland'."

I have no idea whether Deputy Martin has already read this Sinn Fein document, but I decided that I probably should read this great tome, so I went online, downloaded the PDF and set aside a few hours to study it in all its intricate detail.

As I opened the PDF on screen, I saw that it is 60 pages long. Impressive I thought, but then I realised that the PDF contains both the Irish and English language versions, so the actual discussion document is half that size, 30 pages. Except that it isn't.

When you take out the very nice art and design work along with the contents page, seven full-title pages and assorted photos, you are left with just 11 pages of text - and that still includes two-and-a-half pages of a foreword by Adams and a conclusions section by Carthy.

The weighty and substantial policy paper on a united Ireland, prepared by the party that says it alone is committed to reunification, amounts to barely nine pages of text.

To be fair to the authors of this work, it does attempt to list a range of issues, but it then deals with them in so perfunctory and superficial a way as to barely qualify as a serious political document. The section on "inward investment" - something that has been the lifeblood of our economic growth and success - is barely 10 lines long.

The section on our critically important agriculture and the agrifood sector fares a little better as Sinn Fein manages to pad this out to 11 lines… just, only just.

The coverage and discussion in the document on these two areas is expansive when you compare it with the section on exports which merits just seven lines.

The section which you imagine would be the most crucial and important, namely the section entitled Roadmap to Unity, is barely a page in length and instead of setting out a roadmap merely reiterates its own call for a border poll. The only innovative part of the Sinn Fein roadmap is that it calls on the Oireachtas "…to bring forward a Green Paper for Unity".

So, Sinn Fein is being snarky about Fianna Fail already doing what the Shinners have failed to do themselves but have demanded that others do?

The issue with Sinn Fein's document is not its brevity, it is the lack of any substantive analysis or direction. Most of the document is full of trite statements that a united Ireland would be better. Yes, I know a united Ireland would be - but saying it over and over again to ourselves is not enough.

What is needed is to research and develop a rational economic, social and political argument for Irish reunification that seeks to convince those people on this island who are not already completely committed to the ideal. Reunification is not about unifying those of a like mind or background - it is about persuading those of a different political outlook and tradition that they can feel at home in and be an equal part of a united Ireland.

The Brexit result has surely taught us how important it is to be wary of those who call for referendums but who are not prepared for the outcomes.

Gerry Adams's repeated calls for a border poll show how devoid he is of ideas beyond an exercise in ethnic-nationalism.

Adams is the bearded Farage and the Shinners are now Ireland's Ukip.

Willie O'Dea is Fianna Fail TD for Limerick City

Sunday Independent