Wednesday 22 November 2017

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

Leo Varadkar
Leo Varadkar

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.

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