Varadkar's 'United Ireland' rhetoric simply emboldens Sinn Fein
Leo Varadkar is playing with fire in trying to reclaim the reunification mantle for Fine Gael, writes Eilis O'Hanlon
Is there a single person in the country who's ever thought: "I'd love to vote Fine Gael, but I don't think they're strong enough in their support for a united Ireland?"
Leo Varadkar seems to think there are enough of them to make it advantageous in his fight for the party leadership to bring it up as a campaign issue, telling fellow Fine Gaelers that "we should bring back into use the term the 'United Ireland Party' as a tag line for our party".
His rival in that race, Housing Minister Simon Coveney, immediately mocked Varadkar for doing so; and little wonder. It's taken as read that mainstream Irish parties share the ultimate aspiration of a united Ireland. The rhetoric of republicanism can so easily turn toxic, however, that the wise have always treated it with the caution it deserves.