The upside-down topsy turvy world of Irish politics by Fra Hughes



While Irish Republicans and Nationalists commemorate the centenary of Terence James MacSwiney Lord Mayor of Cork who died on hunger strike on 25 October 1920. The playwright, author and politician had been arrested for sedition against the British military and political occupation of Ireland during the War of Independence and died after 74 days in Brixton prison England aged 41.

His funeral in Cork was attended by tens of thousands of mourners, the current Taoiseach of Ireland Michael Martin has ruled out a border poll on Irish reunification, while the former First Minister of N. Ireland Peter Robinson calls on Unionism to prepare for the vote.

An elected Irish leader whose parties founding ideology was built on national reunification eschews that very principle while the ex-leader of a unionist party built on the continuation of the link with Britain’s debates the position unionism might adopt in the event of a border poll and the present leader of the Orange Order in Ireland calls for a new N. Ireland based on continued consent to remain the UK while making plans for a year-long celebration of the State of N.Ireland which was born in violence division and discrimination 100 years ago in 1921.

A state with a bloodied and sectarian history founded on a religious headcount that turned a Unionist Protestant minority in Ireland into a regional majority in a bastardised state in a partitioned Ireland in the newly created Northern Ireland.

When a Nationalist leader in the South does not want a border poll and the pragmatic ex-leader of the North says its coming, where do these Macavelian positions leave us! 

It could be argued and probably will be by Michael Martin that now is not the time to destabilise the Good Friday Agreement by holding a border poll whose outcome may lead to a reunited nation. The fear, of Loyalist violence real or perceived, is the bogeyman against Irish reunification.

Yet a cornerstone of The GFA is the opportunity and right enshrined in the mechanism of a border poll to allow the people to decide their own future through a democratic plebiscite.

The GFA agreement was endorsed by many Nationalists and Republicans because they knew the legislation existed to allow for a peaceful transition to a reconciled united island through the consent of the democratic will of the majority.

Why would a leader of Irish Nationalism refuse to consent to the wishes of the Irish people and test the water with a referendum? 

A positive outcome to a border poll does not mean national reunification the next day but allows the time, scale, vision and structures to be put in place prior to that agreed reunification under international law.

Why would Michael Martin not desire a border poll?

It is my opinion that some of the parties currently enjoying power in the South of Ireland are happy with the status quo and have no intention of pushing for Irish reunification as it may dilute their power base leading to more coalitions and fragmented government, it would as a by-product propel Sinn Fein into power north and south as the largest single integrated party on the island.

When Peter Robinson uses his position as a political commentator and columnist to call on Unionism to prepare for a border poll which is evitable, he is only stating what we all know to be true. Britain’s continued military presence in Ireland is coming to an end.

The demographics in the north have completely changed in the last 100 years.

Now the Nationalist Republican voter base is equal and beginning to exceed the Loyalist Unionist voter base, with poll after poll showing young Nationalists and Republicans are very much in favour of reunification and intend to vote Yes in a border poll on uniting the island.

The rearguard action being proposed by Robinson, the Orange Order and others is to finally end the cold house N. Ireland PLC has been for Catholics and Nationalists for the last 100 years, to embrace and seduce middle-class Nationalists who have benefitted from the free but failing national health service which is probably the only benefit left from the link to GB since further education was privitised.

Yet the possibility exists for a transformation of the health service in the rest of Ireland as part of an agreed new island.

Recently Edwin Poots a DUP member of the Legislative Assembly in Belfast and Minister for Agriculture claimed the Covid 19 pandemic was spreading at a rate of 6-1 in Nationalist areas compared to Unionist areas which many saw as a sectarian slur, not based on any scientific fact?

It has subsequently been pointed out to Minister Poots that any higher transmission Rate is attributable to the economic conditions many working-class Nationalists areas suffer under. It is economic deprivation based on a century of Unionist discrimination and sectarian misgovernment that is the real root cause of the disparity in Covid 19 cases and its transmission.

Good luck Edwin in convincing middle-class Nationalists voters to remain in the UK regional colonial outpost that is N.Ireland.

You’ve already lost the young and will find it increasingly harder to hold onto the levers of power with your continued anti-Nationalist rhetoric?

A long hot summer could be in store in 2021 as the Loyal orders parade along the high ways and byways of N.Ireland celebrating 100 years of pro-British Unionist rule and culture while the restless natives review 100 years of inequality and partition.

Sadly those in power in the South are frightened of reunification because of narrow political self-interest.

Yet I do not think even the NHS free at the point of delivery can revive Northern Ireland as it lays on a gurney moribund eating itself from the inside out with the cancer of sectarian misgovernment.

I know what way I will be voting.

Bring it on

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