HOPE FROM BERLIN

On the 30th May 2015 the FOO FIGHTERS played Slane. It rained, it didn’t matter a damn, the crowd loved them. On Wednesday they played the R.D.S., it rained and who cared. Dave Grohl was in top form. I was there to show respect, embrace the man and acknowledge a great rock n’roll band. I loved every minute of it. We were in high spirits returning home. Savouring the moments. Then I checked the News. Hope from Berlin. Angela Merkel was giving Boris Johnston a thirty day window to come up with a solution to the Backstop. Finally some movement. It takes a politician of her substance to take the pragmatic view. She even described the issue as a “conundrum” in clear recognition of the difficulty it presents. Despite some support for the initiative from the French President, the Tanaiste was holding the line and whilst saying he would listen to British proposals, suggested that they would be likely to be “far inferior” to the Backstop. There is no question that our government is now going to come under enormous pressure. Clearly the Germans want to avoid a crash-out and despite Macron’s posturing I think the French are the same. This is a time for cool heads to try and find a way out of this “conundrum”. What we don’t need is intemperate language from the likes of Commissioner Phil Hogan trying to insult the British Prime Minister by calling him “unelected”. Boris Johnston was chosen by both the Tory membership and parliamentary party whilst Leo only managed the parliamentary party.

There is, of course, a political problem. The Taoiseach in particular has, as I have said before, been very strident on this issue and left himself little wriggle room. However, he must now act in the national interest. Significant damage has already been inflicted on Anglo-Irish relations. Now we need adults in the room. This brings me to Fianna Fail. Their approach to all of this has struck me as being much more nuanced. Could we be faced by the British offering proposals in some shape or form that the government found unacceptable but Fianna Fail, taking the national interest into consideration, felt were workable ?

I suggest this because I have increasing concerns about the cosy consensus in the body politic about any issue of such national importance. Night after night we have the same, and sometimes dreary, commentators rolled out talking about the Withdrawal Agreement as if it is a tablet of stone. It has failed three times to get through the House of Commons. The Prime Minister who championed it has been thrown out of office.

There is a new show in town. If there is a way out of this “conundrum” we should listen. God damn it, our side should be actively trying to help find a solution.