Lesson for SNP from Sinn Fein’s Irish election result isn’t what some seem to think – Kenny MacAskill

Sinn Fein did well in Ireland’s election not because of constitutional issues but economic and social ones, writes Kenny MacAskill.

Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald joins a strike over pensions in Dublin (Picture: Brian Lawless/PA Wire)

There was a buzz in nationalist circles in Scotland, as there was surprise in British ones, at the Irish election result.

Sinn Fein polled better than many had ever imagined even if the demise of Fine Gael shouldn’t have come as such a shock.

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It does mean that a United Ireland is drawing ever closer, but the lesson for the SNP isn’t in the constitution but the issues that delivered the outcome.

For it was social and economic factors that saw voters desert the big two civil war beasts.

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It was the desire for decent health and housing, not the dream of a United Ireland, that brought it about.

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his Foreign Minister Simon Conveny had performed with aplomb on Brexit but it didn’t matter a jot.

It was their failure on bread-and-butter issues that saw the electorate turn against Fine Gael and the wealthy “posh boys” albeit with an Irish twang.

Equally, Sinn Fein would do well to realise that it was poverty, not unitification, that delivered for them.

Push too hard and too soon on the border and they’ll lose at home and abroad.

The EU has been a staunch ally in defending Ireland against Brexit but will object to being used against Britain.

Likewise, many Irish people voted for them despite the spectre of the past and for economic not constitutional reasons.

The lesson for SNP is therefore concentrate on social and economic issues and then constitutional change will follow.