Republicans from across Ireland gathered at Sallins, County Kildare for the annual commemorative parade to the grave of Theobald Wolfe Tone on June 10th. A full report will be in the July issue of SAOIRSE. The main oration was delivered by Republican Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle member, John Joe McCusker.
“If we were to come here today and speak in the negative of the cause of Ireland. If we were to reconcile the position of those supporting the maintenance of the union with Britain as it is and remains pressed upon the Irish people. Even if our land were but reduced to a void mass of rock and soil and rendered as a “void space of ground” and then if we were to allow the most ruthless and strongest of beings to seize, plunder and enslave all those of its inhabitants and we not raise a hand to defend them, then at all times in our lives we would have to turn the body from the soul and die.
Yet we are here today to defend the Irish Republic proclaimed in Dublin 1916. We are here to decry those who support the undemocratic and illegal union of our country and Britain and we are here to declare the rights of our ancient and proud land of Ireland. Irish Republicanism is a living breathing body and soul and I salute and welcome you all to the holiest place on Irish soil. Bodenstown Graveyard.
Theobald Wolfe Tone Dublin, was the leader of the United Irishmen, Henry Joy McCracken, Belfast and Thomas Russell, Cork (the man from God knows where). are also well-remembered leaders. These men believed in the Republican philosophy which was spreading across the world at this time, where the people of the nation state would cast off the old colonial system which brutalised the indigenous and the downtrodden peoples of society.
Republicanism created a new platform whereupon the people set aside their religious and or ethnic background and pursued the growth of pluralism and individual freedom and equality. This emphasising the core principles of the Christian faith, “that all ‘men’ are created equal” and should have the equal right to pursue his or her career without state impediment. Naturally it goes without saying therefore that the people of another state or country should have no right or design with malign intent or otherwise, upon the governance of another people and their country.
When Arlene Foster stated that Unionism transcended the narrowness of Nationalism and that Unionism was pluralist in outlook she was absolutely wrong. I stated in Bundoran many years ago that Republicanism transcends the narrowness of Nationalism and invited the people of the Protestant community in the Six Occupied Counties to join with us in establishing the 32-County All-Ireland Republic. Republicanism has pluralism as its foundation stone. This was the thinking in the minds of Theobald Wolfe Tone, Henry Joy McCracken and Thomas Russell (incidentally all these men came from the Protestant Christian faiths) when they ventured forth all those years ago. That a sometimes narrow nationalism has become a fellow-traveller and imposed upon the principles of Republicanism is unfortunate. The Republican Movement stands full square with the principles of Wolfe Tone and the United Irishmen of 1798.
In this regard Prof J C Beckett points out, “..that the struggle of 1798 was largely a struggle of Irishmen against Irishmen. The Yeomanry and the Militia, both Irish, with the largely Catholic Militia responsible for crushing the United Irishmen Rising of 1798. Politics, idealism, religion, property and family loyalty were all issues that cut across one another and were liable to set a Catholic Militia man, skilled in the use of a bayonet against a Protestant Republican who had hasty training with a pike.” (p201 Ireland History of a Nation).
The Unionism which Arlene Foster speaks of refers to a union governed by a Constitutional Monarchy and this, at present, deems that the Monarch must be of one particular faith. This at the very core of this Unionism is not pluralism. Might I say that as far as we are concerned, if this system is working perfectly well for the English people then there is nothing wrong with this and this is their business. Again, we would say to the Unionist people in the north of our country: look at Republicanism. Ask why these men, Wolfe Tone, Henry Joy McCracken and Thomas Russell sought to unite Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter and to cast off the influence of a foreign power. Speak to your Republican neighbours and ask us how we can accommodate you in a new All-Ireland Republic.
There is much ado about Brexit and what is going to happen. Perhaps I should say much ado about nothing, however, to go that far would be to question my own sense of what is happening, for there is indeed a lot at stake in the outplaying of the future of power politics and trading relationships across Western Europe.
I shall focus our interest upon how all is proceeding and what the likely outcome is to be for the people of Ireland.
The level of calm and the lack of political hysteria, emanating from all of the Unionist political parties and organisations in the north, is evidence that the so called “backstop” is not concerning them. It is evident also that there isn’t going to be a separate solution for the Six Occupied Counties in the short-term at any rate. On Thursday, June 7 British proposals were released and reported that Britain and the Six Counties would maintain alignment to the customs union up to, and it was expected time-limited, to the end of 2021. Should this be agreed to by the EU then effectively, as far as trade and commerce is concerned, Britain are out of the EU in March 2019 without any significant change in trading arrangements. There may be some compensatory payoff regarding this, however the path shall be clear to grow divergence, commodity by commodity over a period of many years. Should any of these commodities affect trading across borders between Britain and the EU and consequently across our country then checks will be introduced to monitor the commodity. Should over time the number of commodities attracting tariffs, duties, quotas, surveillance licences or drawbacks, extend to where it is unmanageable and given ongoing and developing regulatory divergence then this would be expected to happen over a period of four to six years then visible customs checks will be inevitable. Resulting in a “Hard Border”.
There has been much talk about a border down the Irish Sea. Well regardless of Unionist worries it is certain that given the current partitioned state of our country that there shall be a “border of suspicion” around all of our country and all exports from here; this suspicion shall be held by Britain’s Customs & Excise and also the European Union’s Revenue and Customs and traffic from our country shall attract much customs scrutiny from all sides Britain and at the main European landmass.
It would be naïve for anyone to conceive that the calm and lack of reporting in the media means that negotiations are proceeding at a very slow pace. One has to countenance, with so much at stake, that debate is ongoing at a frantic pace involving quite a lot of bombast and rhetoric and one feels that brinkmanship shall take the whole process right down to the wire.
I am not certain how serious the rift in the English Conservative Party is. There is a feeling with me, that it may be more cosmetic and being used as a fulcrum to lever within the negotiations with the EU. Indeed, I would be inclined to believe that the British Establishment including the opposition has closed ranks to enable an eventual good deal for Britain.
On the evidence so far it appears that the British are not getting a “sweetheart deal” but rather they are endeavouring to impose a “sweetheart deal” on the EU by stealth and delay. What the British are proposing may work in the short-term and carry the break-up into clearer and more defined trading arrangements. However regulatory divergence and the consequent customs implications will in the longer-term cause friction which will strengthen the case for a hard border. Despite the fact that Mr Barnier, for the EU, has poured cold water on the British proposal, which would effectively extend acceptance of EU rules for Britain and our six counties to the end of 2021. Mr Barnier’s position being that the “backstop” option only affords cover to our Six Counties. Nevertheless, it is highly likely that the British proposal at least in terms of the extension may eventually be accepted.
That the British, in the final analysis, “want their cake and eat it” is exactly correct and all of the “hard-balling” and brinkmanship may very well secure this. This eventual scenario would mean that there would be two senior and equal trading partners adapting “best fit” regulatory arrangements on an ad hoc basis. This allowing Britain to develop their own trading relationships with other nations across the world.
The difficulty here of course is that this will create an unfair advantage for one or other of the trading partners in terms of, differing import duties, tariffs and especially for products where inward processing is involved. So this model is clearly not going to be simple in terms of book management.
Currently the G7 are holding trade talks. There is cause to believe that these major trade talks shall be extended and that they shall overarch the European trading dilemma between Britain and the EU. Stemming from these talks there could flow the eventual shape of the ongoing arrangements within the European economic sphere.
I do see the Americans very much in the British corner.
I believe that the British are at a high stakes table, however from their perspective the table which they have left was no more favourable, and so they have little to lose that they would not also have lost, had they remained at the table. Whichever way they play it there is danger in the gamble.
In all of this of course, is Ireland, tossed about like a boat in a stormy sea. It is natural for the Free State administration to want a good deal for Britain for this would mean that the status quo might prevail and that trade would not be affected adversely.
From the perspective of the European Union leaders, they would need to take stock of the dangers presented by Britain’s withdrawal. They should attend to the elements which brought the European Economic Community together in the first instance and abandon any deepening of a sovereign base. As was the want of the marauding dinosaurs of the colonial past.
The RUC/PSNI has delayed plans to sell disused stations at Aughnacloy and Castlederg as well as Warrenpoint which may have a future customs or security role, alongside some in County Fermanagh which may also be used to facilitate a “hard border”. The Fermanagh Herald this week quoted Cllr John Coyle SDLP, who had this to say, “We are the most westerly point of the ‘UK’ and stations in Co Fermanagh may be earmarked for extra resources. While Kesh is closed, both it and Lisnaskea are first-class bases that are being well-maintained and perfectly placed to facilitate whatever plans may be in the pipeline.” Where does the SDLP find these people? Perhaps he could become a militia man and help the British police the undemocratic partition of our country.
The chief of the RUC/PSNI has called for an additional 400 paramilitary police to assist with security along the border and the Garda have prepared armed units to assist them to secure the Hard Border should this come into existence.
The days, weeks and months ahead shall decide many serious issues on the proposed way forward for our country. Partition has not served as a solution to the difficulties of Ireland indeed it remains the source and well spring of our woes. Chief of these is the perpetuation and kindling of sectarian hatred.
Regarding the status of the Six Occupied Counties the Good Friday [Stormont] Agreement goes no further than what was stated back in 1949. When the British passed the Ireland Act accepting the Independence of the Free State and they included that the Six Counties would not cease to remain part of His Majesty’s dominions and of the “UK” without the consent of the Parliament of the ‘six counties’ (sic).
We have been treated with arrogance and disdain by our English overlords. They know that the odds were always stacked against the people of Ireland and that democracy could be set aside at any juncture in history. Such was the case with the collapse of Grattan’s Parliament. The continuing disenfranchisement of the Catholic/nationalist population for a further one hundred and thirty years.
The stalling of the Home Rule legislation. The partition of our country despite the majority voting for the separatist party Sinn Féin which underpinned the declaration of the Irish Republic at the GPO in 1916. The gerrymander of the north (our Six Counties) forcing countless tens of thousands to leave our shores thereby affording the British a sectarian majority with which to hold our country. The disenfranchising of the landless class throughout the first fifty years of the corrupt state.
With jobs, housing and one man one vote, the demographics of the north would long ago have secured a vote for unity. Not indeed that this bar is necessary in the constitution upheld by Irish Republicans, but nevertheless, from a malign perspective, these are the chains which bind us and I must relate them as they are. This then remains the bar which Irish Nationalists and Republicans and indeed the Protestant and Dissenter must ascend, in order to secure the peaceful residence of our own country.
Now finding that Nationalist Ireland has moved to this new ground in the interests of peace we see that the sands are shifting again. The Stormont Agreement is now not fit for purpose. For Irish Republicans who were too awake for the cunning of the English, it was never fit for purpose. However, as an example to modern Ireland it becomes demonstrably clear that all agreements with the Brits are exercises in stealth management. Suddenly with the possible advent of a Nationalist/”Republican” majority the halls of Stormont Castle are no longer the attractive bastion that the British desire – and they paying for it all. Their intent in this regard, as with Brexit, is to stall for time and produce more obstacles, develop new strategies. Listen at the door, blackmail, bribery and coercion.
One way or another Irish Republicans will not have too long to wait to witness the intent in the outplaying of these events.
The intent of Irish Republicans is to abolish the border and secure the 32-County All-Ireland Republic.
Long live the Irish Republic
An Phoblacht Abú!
Ranganna:Chuimhneacháin / Commemorative