Updated: 13/01/17 : 05:10:33
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North may have to face two quick elections

By Eugene McGloin
Political Editor

TWO ELECTIONS in the same year is not unknown in Irish politics.

Ninety years exactly we had two inside the space of three months in the south, in 1927.

On paper it could read like the same result but the two outcomes, judged in History, were chalk and cheese.

Now we might yet see history repeat itself (again) in the north in 2017.

Friday morning's lead story in The Irish Times makes it clear that Sinn Féin does not want any deal to avoid an election now. So be it. 

An optional parsing of potential London decisions if, as very possible, the poll does not resolve the current impasse, is to call a second poll.

A continued impasse at that second stage would see a prolonged proroguing of the parliament at Stormont and direct rule from London.

Higher Ambition

The current Sinn Féin is only ever baby steps away from that bald reality.

Their delegate conventions, posters and literature are all already prepared for the 2017 poll have a higher ambition than that.

Exactly 100 years ago Sinn Fein scored two surprise election victories which hastened the end of British rule in the south.

In 1917 Count Plunkett won North Roscommon and Joe McGuinness (McGuinness!) won South Longford.

Within the year Sinn Féin swept the boards in a general election.

We all lived happily ever after here in our island flowing with milk and honey, saints and scholars.

Hmm. A stranger reading our national media for the past week could be forgiven for including another McGuinness among those ordained 'saints.'

Hmm indeed. Sinn Féin stands in an historic place all right this January morning.

Deed, Omission

The Shinners could, both by deed and omission, hand part of Ireland to be directly ruled by London.

Their current colleagues in cabinet will vote, daily, with the Government in Westminster, especially on 'Brexit' issues.

They have already licked their lips in public at such prospects.

Sinn Féin will be where? Out the back barking at the moon if they are not wary.

Of course any such ideas are not even given a second hearing in the presence of a Shinner.

They will be fighting this (first) 2017 election on equality and minority rights. Oh, and legacy issues.

Maybe they need to be somewhat circumspect what they wish for on the latter.

For example, the later months of 2017 will be dominated by the State papers to come next December from Dublin, London and Belfast.

These will be dominated by events in and around the bombing in Enniskillen.

Before that though expect to see a stronger spine in Shinners demands that  Dublin and London do their duty as guarantors, godparents, of the Good Friday Agreement.

One outcome of the 2017 election(s) in the north is that we could have a review/revisiting of that Agreement. 

Any actual revision of it remains to be seen. Obviously the biggest party emerging from the 2017 election(s) would have their say on that notion.

As the Chinese wished: May you live in interesting times.