It's a bit like buses. You keep waiting and waiting, stepping off the pavement to peer up the road to see if the damned thing will ever come. Only when you've abandoned all hope do not one but two come chugging along. As for buses, so for worthwhile political articles in the mainstream media. I've been squinting up the road for ages, and here today two arrive, one from each side of the border.
Nick Garbutt whom I remember well from his time as editor of the VO ( that doesn't make him a bad person, or at least not necessarily)...Where was I? Oh yes. In today's Belfast News Letter, Nick has an article which says two things: (i) somebody should bang the heads in the Orange Order together and tell them to wise up, and (ii) that the economic argument for a united Ireland should be examined. Since he's addressing a unionist readership, Garbutt implies that there is no economic case. Maybe he's right. Maybe he's wrong. But the case does need to be assembled, in solid facts and figures, and then the discussion can proceed. Until that happens economic arguers are wasting their time and ours. Hats off to Nick.
Right now, though, focus is not on the economics of Irish unification but the case (not the race - please - can you see Michael D Higgins running?) for presidential candidates. A couple of days ago we had Fintan 'High Dudgeon' O'Toole with an article in The Irish Times explaining to us why Martin McGuinness was top-drawer for northern Executive work but totally unacceptable for southern non-executive work. Today in the same paper an article by Davy Adams, former UDA man, provides a balance to the highly-strung O'Toole, and long may such balance continue. In his article, Adams gives McGuinness an unequivocal thumbs-up. He notes McGuinness's equal ease in the company of world leaders and working (or more likely not-working) men and women, and how he has put into practice the rhetoric of reaching out to traditional opponents. But the point Adams really slams home is the hypocrisy of southern commentators who never tire of urging those in the north to draw a line under the past; then they're faced with someone who might up-end their cosy cartel and the past is the only thing they can talk about. Odd, isn't it, that men (and women) who were active participants in armed conflict are capable of an honesty and acceptance beyond those who condemned them as psychopaths?
Anyway, it's becoming clearer that those bent on destroying McGuinness as candidate through references to his distant past (as distinct from his annoyingly-positive more recent past) are running out of breath. Stand by, then, for that line of attack being abandoned and other, let's hope more rational arguments being raised. Naturally none of this applies to that failed politician from a failed party, the recently-resurrected Michael McDowell. He, I promise you, will be on a TV screen near you. Not once, not twice, but again and again and again. Maybe they could get him on with Nick Garbutt so he could explain how, with robust Fianna Fail aid, he helped bankrupt the southern state. Still, think positive. We pesky northerners aren't paying an RTÉ licence fee to look at him.