| 11.8°C Belfast

Close

Premium


Alex Kane

The conversations that unionists need to have with the coalition in Dublin

Alex Kane


This is a government with which pro-Union parties can - and should - do business, writes Alex Kane

Close

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar (Niall Carson/PA)

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar (Niall Carson/PA)

Micheal Martin

Micheal Martin

PA

Leo Varadkar

Leo Varadkar

Getty Images

Eamon Ryan

Eamon Ryan

DUP leader Arlene Foster

DUP leader Arlene Foster

UUP leader Steve Aiken

UUP leader Steve Aiken

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar (Niall Carson/PA)

Monday, February 10 was not a good day for unionism in Northern Ireland. Sinn Fein had defied the odds and expectations (even its own predictions were well short of the votes and seats it won) and emerged as the largest party in the Irish election, with almost 25% and 37 seats.

Both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael had done much worse than expected and there was a possibility, albeit a slim one, that Mary Lou McDonald - who hadn't softened the rhetoric of Gerry Adams, or distanced herself from the IRA campaign - would emerge as Taoiseach.

Even if that weren't to happen, there remained a fear within unionism that Sinn Fein would be given a key role in a coalition government, with the promise of a border poll and a minister and department committed to promoting and preparing for Irish unity as the price for their support.