A concerted effort is being made since last Friday’s election to lecture us on the significant differences between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. The herculean effort to assure us of the gulf between the two is being made by politician and embedded political correspondent alike. Today’s article by Stephen Collins is a classic of the genre, relying on Jackie Healy Rae’s declaration on the difference being that;
‘Them that know don’t need to ask and them that ask will never know’
However, such argumentation of mystical or even in one case genetic divides are all clear cases of sleight of hand. Such things if true hardly form an insurmountable barrier to coalition, or even coalescence which seems to be the true fear of these party hacks and their ‘disinterested’ observers.
One doesn’t even have to leave the island to find examples showing this is the case. You merely need to point to the previous coalition governments of Fine Gael and Labour or between Fianna Fáil and the Green Party. The cultural gulfs between these parties couldn’t be lesser than that of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.
There are also examples of coalescence, with Democratic Left and Labour finding it fairly easy enough to join forces despite years of rivalry.
All the same it has to be said that the greatest example of coalition between two parties with widely differing cultures can be found just a little bit further north of Dublin in Belfast. Surely if the DUP and Sinn Féin can work together, after decades of bitter conflict, it should be childsplay for these two centre-right parties with rural and urban bases to find common ground.