I have been a keen follower of politics and current affairs for many years but I have to say that the article in last Tuesday’s Derry Journal by Pol Callaghan is without doubt the best case of delusional thinking I have seen since Comical Ali claimed victory in Baghdad.
Mr Callaghan tells us that the election results in the south “bodes well for the SDLP”. The SDLP have been inextricably linked to Fianna Fail for years, even to the point of contemplating merging not that long ago. In recent elections in the North we have been tripping over Fianna Fail ministers and politicians canvassing for the SDLP while every SDLP election leaflet that fell through our doors had the obligatory photo with Brian Cowen or Bertie Ahern. It wasn’t that long ago that Pol Callaghan was boasting that Brian Cowen congratulated him on his co-option to the Assembly.
The irony of this article is that Margaret Ritchie, leader of the SDLP, has said recently that the “SDLP doesn’t interfere in IRISH politics”. Yet we have Pol Callaghan claiming victory and attempting to align the SDLP to Fine Gael and Labour, the parties that have just announced water charges, 25,000 public sector job cuts and privatisation of state assets - to name a few.
The reality is Pol Callaghan is a a member of minority party which has been declining in size, relevance and status for some time and which will look for any opportunity for self publicity. Just look at the launch of the election campaign in the North, siding with the Tories in the UUP to oppose the budget. Opportunism and self-protection is no replacement for healthy opposition.
Finally I am not in the business of predicting election results and will await the 6th of May with interest but if I were Pol Callaghan and his colleagues in the SDLP I would be cautious in looking for green shoots of recovery on the backs of the Irish Coalition for Cuts.