For­get North Korea what about end­ing the im­passe in the North of Ire­land?

The Corkman - - OPINION -

PO­LIT­I­CAL silly sea­son nor­mally ends when the Dáil re­turns from its lengthy sum­mer break but this year it ap­pears to be run­ning well into the Au­tumn. It seems ut­terly lu­di­crous but this week we find our­selves ask­ing what do Min­is­ters John Hal­li­gan, Shane Ross and Finian McGrath have in com­mon with ec­cen­tric Amer­i­can basketball star Dennis Rod­man?

Well, it would seem, the mem­bers of this un­usual quar­tet feel that they can suc­ceed where both the US and UN have failed and bring “peace in our time” to the Korean penin­sula.

For those un­fa­mil­iar with Mr Rod­man, he is a for­mer NBA player of the year and a colour­ful per­son­al­ity, to put it mildly, who has en­joyed an eclec­tic ca­reer since re­tir­ing from pro­fes­sional basketball. Among other things he has tried his hand at pro­fes­sional wrestling; dated nu­mer­ous celebri­ties; ap­peared in a va­ri­ety of very poorly re­ceived ac­tion movies and once even tried to marry him­self.

He is also idolised by North Korean despot and basketball fa­natic Kim Jong-Un whom Rod­man calls his “friend for life” and who he has vis­ited in Py­ongyang on sev­eral oc­ca­sions.

Ahead of his most re­cent North Korean trip last June, Rod­man said he hoped to help ease North Korea’s in­ter­na­tional iso­la­tion by bring­ing more in­ter­na­tional sports to the pariah state that is led by his dic­ta­to­rial friend.

He was roundly mocked at the time but, to be fair, given his close re­la­tion­ship with Kim Jong-Un it’s ar­guable that, how­ever un­usual his life­style, Rod­man could ex­ert a far more pos­i­tive in­flu­ence on Kim than most other west­ern­ers.

Quite what level of in­flu­ence Min­is­ters Hal­li­gan, Ross and McGrath think they could ex­ert on Mr Kim and his regime re­mains un­clear. How­ever, Min­is­ter Hal­li­gan is con­fi­dent that he, and his two In­de­pen­dent Al­liance col­leagues, can bring some­thing to the in­ter­na­tional ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble.

Given that Trans­port Min­is­ter Ross has, thus far, been un­will­ing to in­ter­vene in Ir­ish bus and rail dis­putes, many ques­tion why he would be suited to re­solv­ing the grow­ing Korean cri­sis.

The an­swer re­mains un­clear but, per­haps, we could be in for a sur­prise if the Min­is­te­rial visit is al­lowed go ahead – some­thing the Depart­ment of For­eign Af­fairs sug­gest is highly un­likely.

Maybe a few out­side voices are ex­actly what the world needs in or­der to re­solve nu­clear ten­sions in the Asia Pa­cific re­gion.

In Le­in­ster House the In­de­pen­dent Min­is­ters’ sug­ges­tion has been met with po­lite be­muse­ment while the gen­eral public has re­acted with a mix of hi­lar­ity and righteous in­dig­na­tion.

Why, many ask, are three Gov­ern­ment Min­is­ters fo­cussing on North Korea when North­ern Ire­land re­mains mired in po­lit­i­cal tur­moil? Surely Stor­mont not Seoul should be the pri­or­ity.

We do not doubt the three Min­is­ters’ sin­cer­ity on the North Korean is­sue but, in all hon­esty, it’s dif­fi­cult to see much merit in their pro­posed peace mis­sion.

Stepa­side Garda Sta­tion is to re­open. Could the bor­der along the 38th Par­al­lel be next?

We’ll have to wait and see.

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