What next for Northern Ireland?

Alex Walker on what could happen following Sinn Féin's election success

Alex Walker
17th February 2020
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Finna Fáil has ruled out forming a coalition with Sinn Féin, blocking their path to power, but the election result still marks a continued transformation in Irish politics.

The former political wing of the IRA remains the largest party in the Irish Parliament, and have a larger presence than ever before in the Northern Irish Assembly. Something Irish Republicans have been predicting for years seems to have come true: Ireland has no popular left-wing parties other than Sinn Féin. Young Irish people don’t feel as closely tied to conservative, Catholic values as their parents and grandparents, as seen in the 66% 'yes' vote for the legalisation of abortion in 2018.

Sinn Féin's constituency office in North Belfast
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Young people both in Britain and Ireland also value the concept of the Union far less than they did a few years ago. Those raised in Northern Ireland after the Good Friday Agreement have seen the Brexit referendum pass without their support, making British identity less attractive than it used to be.

The wins Sinn Féin are seeing across the Republic of Ireland hint at a growing unity and anti-British tendency, the intensity of which hasn’t been seen since the 90s. Brexit is not popular on either side of the border, and the majority of both peoples want to be European citizens. The Brexit question threatens to overwhelm the divides in Ireland, and we might see - one day very soon - a united Ireland.

While religion is still important in defining attitudes in Ireland, it's not as powerful as it used to be

Perhaps this as it should be. If the Union is no longer as important as it used to be to the young people in Ireland, why would they want it to remain? Religion, while not as powerful as it used to be, is still important, but being Protestant doesn’t necessarily mean being British.

Will Sinn Féin’s rise continue? Will the party one day see their dream of a united Ireland? As a Brit, I can only say one thing: I hope so.

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AUTHOR: Alex Walker
An English Literature student, who enjoys playing devils advocate. Interested in sharing my vacuous opinion on Film, TV, Music, Sports, and Political history. Find me on Facebook if you want write a piece together, or just want to tell me my articles are rubbish somewhere Zuckerberg can hear. Twitter, @TheAlexJLWalker

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