Sir Keir Starmer in Dublin in 2022. photo.

EDITORIAL: A Return to Calmer Waters

Two European countries just voted. Nobody stormed anything and this includes France, home of the original storming.

In the British general election all was calm, even as power was transferred between two parties with sharply differing views of how to run the place.

Sir Keir Starmer is the new prime minister. Nobody has threatened to hang the man, though there was a time in not so merry old England when high office always came with the risk of a low ending outcome.

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Starmer immediately went on a tour of the "devolved" capitals, they being Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.

Change was afoot in all of them.

In Belfast, the change was especially evident. This is now the capital of a post-Paisley Northern Ireland.

Taoiseach Simon Harris, pictured this week, has congratulated Starmer on his election success. photo.

Taoiseach Simon Harris, pictured this week, has congratulated Starmer on his election success. photo.

The election results in the North were especially interesting. Sinn Féin did very well. The party boosted its overall vote tally while retaining its seven seats at Westminster - seats it still declines to actually take.

The DUP did rather badly. It now holds five constituencies, down from eight after the 2019 election. Only two of them are adjoining. Sinn Féin has a much larger swathe of adjoining constituencies in an overall map that illustrates a more polyglot outcome than five years ago.

The coming weeks and months will indeed be interesting. Starmer is a self-proclaimed believer in the union of the United Kingdom, but as a self-proclaimed supporter of the Good Friday Agreement he acknowledges the possibility that, at some point in the future, there will be a border poll in the North and it is possible that a majority of voters will decide to cast said border into the dustbin of history.

Starmer and his party also committed themselves during the election campaign to addressing the widely despised Legacy legislation which effectively puts a lid on investigations into murderous acts on the part of state actors and state-aided individuals and organizations during the dark years of the Troubles.

One of the first congratulatory calls that Starmer received was from Taoiseach Simon Harris. It is no exaggeration to say that Anglo-Irish relations were extremely troubled in recent years as a result of Brexit and a fair deal of incompetent activity in Downing Street.

As reported in these pages, both Harris and Starmer spoke of their shared determination to reset and strengthen the bilateral relationship between both countries.

The Taoiseach will travel to London on July 17 to meet Starmer. Meanwhile, Tánaiste Micheál Martin has welcomed the appointment of Hilary Benn as the new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

Calmer waters in the Irish Sea then and hopefully calmer politics in the Six Counties.

 No doubt many eyes will be on the new incumbent at Number 10. It is to be hoped that Starmer governs wisely and resists the siren call of the kind of populism that has led to the storming in recent times of not just institutions and buildings, but also of the sane and sensible norms of even handed and principled governance.

Good luck to the man. Much is expected of him.