Spring expected to add impetus to Ulster talks

THE APPOINTMENT last night of Dick Spring, the Irish Labour leader, as Minister for Foreign Affairs is expected to lead to greater emphasis in Dublin on Anglo- Irish relations and, in particular, early moves to reopen the talks on Northern Ireland.

The Fianna Fail leader, Albert Reynolds, who in November led his party to its worst defeat in 65 years, was yesterday re-elected Taoiseach with the aid of Mr Spring's much-enlarged party.

While Mr Reynolds will head the new Fianna Fail-Labour coalition, the latter will hold six of the 15 cabinet seats, including key ministries such as employment, health and education. The party has dictated much of the new administration's programme.

Mr Reynolds, who was re- elected by 102 votes to 60, will be hoping that concessions of such magnitude will ensure a stable government. He broke up the last coalition by calling an election in the hope of re-establishing a single-party government. But his disastrous showing has forced him into yet another coalition with even fewer seats. His political skin was saved by the Labour decision not to enter a 'rainbow coalition' with two other parties.

After the lack of success in the last round of Northern Ireland talks his administration was criticised in some quarters for not being more conciliatory towards Unionist negotiators. Mr Spring, by contrast, is more enthusiastic about the talks process. His influence has already been seen in the programme agreed between Fianna Fail and Labour. This declared: 'We will seek an urgent resumption of political dialogue to address comprehensively all of the relationships involved in an open and innovative spirit, ready to discuss every issue and to incorporate all agreed changes.'

The British government will thus be hoping that the new Fianna Fail-Labour team will lend new impetus to the talks, though one logistical obstacle to be surmounted is the holding of the Northern Ireland local council elections, which are due in May.

Domestically, the complexion of the new government is one which few voters foresaw. In his campaign Mr Spring made the call for change his keynote, flaying Fianna Fail as lacking integrity and ethical standards.

The proposition which he has successfully sold to his party is that in the new government Labour will be able to control and indeed change those aspects of Fianna Fail which it dislikes. This may not be as difficult as it appears.

Fianna Fail is the chameleon of Irish politics, noted for pragmatism, but its most natural position is on the centre-left. This means its economic approach is not far removed from that of Labour.

Leading article, page 20

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer

£30 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software / Web Developer (PHP / MYSQL) i...

Guru Careers: Account Executive

£18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive is needed to join one...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Software Engineer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software Developer / Software Engineer i...

Day In a Page

Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada
Birthplace of Arab Spring in turmoil as angry Tunisians stage massive sit-in over lack of development

They shall not be moved: jobless protesters bring Tunisia to a halt

A former North African boom town is wasting away while its unemployed citizens stick steadfastly to their sit-in
David Hasselhoff's new show 'Hoff the Record': What's it like working with a superstar?

Hanging with the Hoff

Working with David Hasselhoff on his new TV series was an education for Ella Smith
Can Dubai's Design District 'hipster village' attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?

Hipsters of Arabia

Can Dubai’s ‘creative village’ attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?
The cult of Roger Federer: What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?

The cult of Roger Federer

What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?
Kuala Lumpur's street food: Not a 'scene', more a way of life

Malaysian munchies

With new flights, the amazing street food of Kuala Lumpur just got more accessible
10 best festival beauty

Mud guards: 10 best festival beauty

Whether you're off to the Isle of Wight, Glastonbury or a local music event, we've found the products to help you
Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe

A Different League

Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe, says Pete Jenson
Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey - Steve Bunce

Steve Bunce on Boxing

Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf