Wednesday 17 January 2018

Maurice Hayes: The forgotten 1.5 million voters in race for Aras

It is ironic that following an inaugural address hallmarked by a generous sense of inclusivity, one of Michael D Higgins's first official engagements should have taken him to a place where not a single vote had been cast for him through the crude constitutional reality that nobody in the strongly nationalist city of Derry could vote in the election.

The point seems to have escaped Taoiseach Enda Kenny in his introductory remarks when, justifiably celebrating the fact that Michael D's candidacy had been supported by more than a million voters, he added in a rhetorical flourish, "right across this island". It was as if a million-and-a-half people in the north-eastern corner did not exist.

In part, too, this reflects a growing tendency in certain sections of the southern establishment and media to regard Northern Ireland as a place apart, and Northern nationalism in particular as an embarrassing political prehensile tail, which, if it cannot be cut off or concealed, is best dealt with by pretending that it is not there.

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