De Brun is a forceful and convincing advocate and she stands on solid ground when espousing the virtues of voting before an American audience. She is less willing to engage on the issue of the IRA’s current motivations and future intentions, but her assertion that the election would have been scrubbed no matter what the IRA said about its future plans is certain to be received sympathetically by more than just Sinn Fein supporters.
De Brun, who was the minister for health in the now suspended executive, was to travel to Washington on Wednesday to meet with Irish-American members of Congress, all of whom are likely to share her view that the decision to indefinitely delay the North vote was, at the very least, a mistake. Before returning to Ireland, de Brun is due to meet with the New York Times editorial board, an especially influential grouping that will doubtless be hearing an opposing argument at some point from a British government representative, perhaps Northern Ireland Secretary of State Paul Murphy, who also happens to be in the U.S. this week.
It’s progress of a sort when the debate over what happens next in Northern Ireland comes down to an argument over the merits and timing of an election. But it’s anything but progress when the various parties to the peace process become so fixed in their positions that the election is seen as a political hostage rather than a political imperative. It would be desirable indeed if the parties to the argument sit down again with each other rather than behave like ships in the night. De Brun is correct in the view that damage has been done. Further uncertainly over the fate of electoral politics in Northern Ireland will only make matters worse.