Leading article

Significant day for Ireland's Future

By any standards, the Ireland's Future conference in Dublin at the weekend, which attracted an estimated 5,000 people to hear contributions from ten different political parties, was an event of considerable significance.

The organisers set out to promote a comprehensive discussion involving a range of different voices about possible new constitutional arrangements, and it is fair to conclude that on the day they more than achieved their objective.

It is a debate which remains at an early stage, and still needs to fully explore key questions over the economy, social justice, health and education, but the indications are that events are taking us in a particular direction.

A total of 34 speakers, including Leo Varadkar of Fine Gael, who is due to become taoiseach in December, Mary Lou McDonald of Sinn Féin, Jim O'Callaghan of Fianna Fáil, and Colum Eastwood of the SDLP, as well as actors James Nesbitt and Colm Meaney, took to the stage at the 3Arena complex.

They offered different visions for their priorities in the years ahead but there was an emerging view overall that the agenda is moving forward and historic change by purely constitutional means is increasingly becoming a realistic prospect.

The lack of a functioning Stormont executive has had a major impact, whilesuccessive Westminster governments have effectively been in disarray since the Brexit catastrophe of 2016 and the accompanying rise of English nationalism

It is generally agreed that the arrival of Liz Truss in Downing Street has been a disaster at all levels and an important survey revealed in the sober and respected columns of The Financial Times last week sent out an unmistakeable message.

According to the FT, regular assessments by hundreds of political scientists on the fiscal policies of political parties around the world had previously rated the British Conservatives as what was described as a relatively normal centre right group on a scale somewhere between Emmanuel Macron's French administration and the more hardline US republicans.

The FT calculated that Ms Truss had immediately put herself into the most aggressively right wing position of 275 groups in 61 countries, going even beyond the reviled Bolsonaro regime in Brazil and leading to fears that the UK economy is facing imminent collapse.

A date for an Irish border poll remains in the distance, but the issues surrounding it are rising to the top of the political agenda.