New Dublin-centric government sets a low bar

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The composition of the new 26-County cabinet is being criticised for contining the ongoing marginalisation of both the north and the west of Ireland.

Sinn Féin’s northern leader Michelle O’Neill accused the new coalition government of “ignoring the people of the north” in one of its first actions.

No northerners were among 11 new nominees to the upper chamber under the control of the new three-party Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael/Green Party coalition.

Ms O’Neill expressed her “deep disappointment” that no unionist voices were included in the nominees to the Seanad.

She said the upper house had a reputation as an “inclusive institution” representative of the “people of the nation” and that should continue with the inclusion of a unionist.

There was also surprise that there was no place for Derry woman Emma DeSouza, who made a significant contribution to the implementation of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement in her campaign on citizenship rights.

She expressed her disappointment on Twitter, saying, “the row-back on a Northern nomination immediately undercuts the concept of a shared island and will reignite fears that we in the North will be left behind, again.”

Northerners have expressed growing concern at the overall direction of the new government, which has called for a “shared island” in its Programme for Government, rather than address calls for a border poll on a united Ireland. The document outlined plans for a new unit within the office of the Taoiseach to work towards only “a consensus on a shared island”.

In addition, there was consternation that the entire western seaboard from Donegal to Limerick will be without representation at the cabinet table, while six of the 15 ministers are Dublin based.

And in an official snub to the Gaeltacht and Irish speakers, ministerial responsibility for the region has been downgraded to one of six areas of responsibility given to Green minister Catherine Martin.

Republican Sinn Féin described the incoming 26-County administration as “simply the same stale old wine in new bottles”.

“The type of radical, creative and innovative thinking and action that is required will never come from parties that are wedded to the status quo,” they said.

“The Ireland envisaged in the 1916 Proclamation and the Democratic Programme of the First Dáil will never emerge from Leinster House. Sinn Féin Poblachtach is proud to put Éire Nua forward as a credible alternative to a system that has delivered nothing but failure and betrayal to the Irish people for 100 years.”

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