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Dublin: 11 °C Friday 22 February, 2019

Could the British do business with a Sinn Féin government?

Relations between the two governments in London and Dublin have never been better, the British ambassador told us this week.


THE BRITISH AMBASSADOR to Ireland has said his government would be prepared to work with whatever parties are in power in this country after the next general election.

Dominick Chilcott spoke highly of the “very good relationship” between the governments in London and Dublin in a wide-ranging interview with this week. That extends to an “excellent relationship” between Prime Minister David Cameron and Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

But next year’s election throws up the distinct possibility of Sinn Féin entering government in the south, just as it has been in the North in recent years.

Relations between the British government and Gerry Adams’s party have softened as the peace process has continued to hold steady.

In September, Chilcott was present and spoke at the launch of a Sinn Féin book at the Mansion House – something which would have been unimaginable not so long ago.

The book, Uncomfortable Conversations for Reconciliation, is a Sinn Féin initiative and contains collection of  short essays which promote the idea of a reconciliation process in the North.

At the time, Chilcott described the collection of essays as “a revelation” having joked that he was not a regular subscriber to An Phoblacht, the official Sinn Féin newspaper.

“The reader may be surprised by how well written, astute and generous spirited the articles in this book are,” he said in September.

For all of us with an interest in promoting peace and reconciliation across these islands, this book should be required reading.

Officials at the British embassy regularly meet with Sinn Féin TDs, senators and officials at Leinster House – as they do with other parties – in a sign that relations have normalised considerably in recent years.

Chilcott told us this week that he hopes whoever is in government after the next election will want to work with Britain as closely as the current government has done:

I would hope that, as we do in Northern Ireland where Sinn Féin is in government, we would work with whosever in government down here and we’d hope to have the same productive, friendly relationship with whoever that was.

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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