Sunday 19 November 2017

De Valera's old hat no good for new north-south divide

The statue of Edward Carson in front of Stormont
The statue of Edward Carson in front of Stormont
Brendan Keenan

Brendan Keenan

ONE of life's little pleasures is watching for glimpses of my younger self in episodes of RTE's 'Reeling in the Years'. In a recent one covering 1974, I knew I would not see myself, but I knew exactly where I was.

In the press room in Stormont, watching in horror as the mile-long driveway filled with the tractors of protesting farmers. The power-sharing Executive was already on its last legs after several weeks of loyalist workers' strikes and IRA attacks, but this example of literally grassroots opposition delivered the final blow.

But opposition to what? The general opinion among the journalists in that room (and one I have seen no reason to change in the years since) was that the creation of a cross-border Council of Ireland was a bigger source of unionist ire than the sharing of government between them and the nationalists of the SDLP.

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