Brian Cowen had important interactions with Sinn Féin when he was Minister for Foreign Affairs in a Bertie Ahern-led government from January 2000 until September 2004. He probably sensed that, at some future date, south of the border another phase of the ‘family row’ dating back to the foundation of the state might happen. He wasn’t unduly concerned about it because, in that utterly different world of two decades ago, Fianna Fáil had 81 Dail seats compared to Sinn Féin’s five. Instead, his focus was to encourage an outcome as the republican movement wrestled with the ramifications of committing itself…
For the wrong reasons, maybe, but the British government has provided us with an opportunity to look into a mirror and confront an important truth, rarely spoken about ourselves.