Éire Nua, : Unionism’s Last Hope?

Finnian O Domhnaill  advises unionism to embrace Eire Nua before the opportunity is lost. Finnian O Domhnaill is a political writer from Donegal, currently living in Derry. He is the creator of the political page No Bones About It.

Some say it will come in ten years, some say twenty, others say one hundred, while doubters say never!! but it cannot be denied anymore that a united Ireland is coming and for Unionism, it must weigh up its options.

There seems to be two strands of unionism from those in the unionist parties. One looks into the eyes of their voters or down the barrel of a camera lens and tells them that the union, that is ‘"our guiding star", is safe and so long as unionism remains the majority, "Northern Ireland" will remain part of the United Kingdom. Then there is a second strand, where backstage, the cameras are off and the voters are gone, the trembling, Fenian fearing unionists come out of TV Lala land and are slammed back into the reality that Irish unity is growing and growing fast.

Unionism knows that a united Ireland is coming but they also know that they cannot in any way bow to that fact or concede to it because their voters would chastise them if there was any mention to openness towards a united Ireland. Unionism seems trapped on the other side as well. If they don’t engage in dialogue with the ever increasing majority of those seeking Irish Unity, they will have no place at the table and less, say, in shaping Ireland’s future: therefore no say in shaping theirs.

Unionism today is the ghost busters staring up at Vigo the Carpathian saying "we ain’t afraid of no votes" with a big "gulp". As the unionist majority has slipped from their finger tips in the north, Brexit looming, more Tory cuts coming, businesses already venturing down south and more on the way, a rising surge of Sinn Fein both North and South, Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, SDLP all upping their support for unity, a possible Corbyn-led Labour government in the coming years, Indy red 2 for Scotland, unionism should be afraid, very afraid or should they?

In my view, there is one option that could be the best deal for unionism in a united Ireland. A proposal offered by Ruari O Bradaigh in the early 70’s that was cast aside by Gerry Adams and sent to the echelons of republicanism. That proposal was of course Éire Nua.

This new Federal Ireland will encompass a parliament in the Ulster province, giving unionists a self governing body that will manage, this time. the whole of Ulster instead of the majority protestant unionist six county statelet. Orange, loyalist, protestant and unionist culture can be protected and recognised by the central parliament of Ireland. Their affinity to the English Queen and deep relationship with Britain can and should never be stamped out of society by anyone, as expressing ones opinion, tradition, religion or culture is something that lays in the heart of socialism and republicanism.

What this idea of a federal Ireland gives is not a compromise by either side as one may think but a broadening and expansion of both unionism as well as nationalism. Republican nationalists will have a new Ireland, an Ireland where they can do away with the old system that was brought in by the British government and never recognised fully as a republic by republicans of Sinn Fein. Unionism will finally have all of Ulster back in its hands to manage and shape it’s future of 2 million Ulster men and women with its new provincial parliament.

The link between unionists and Great Britain can never be severed regardless of partition or unity for it is the Ulster People themselves, not the land around them that holds the link with Ulster and Britain. That is something that can never be taken away. The tall tale of isolation, feeling of abandonment, cultural, social and religious oppression and economic catastrophe can all be put in the archives where they belong as these issues are old, outdated and are no longer the case in a modern more inclusive world and is only used as tactics to stir up the centuries old fear that has resonated through generations since plantation by those who profited and still wish to keep their profit from partition going.

In my opinion, these myths must be dispelled not just by nationalist socialist republicans but by members of the unionists communities as well. The Éire Nua, idea should also be discussed within the unionist communities, debated and shared out and challenged by unionists. It should be noted that at the height of the IRA’s bombing campaign, Ruari O Bradaigh gave this proposal to prominent unionists, should a united Ireland come about and said it would be the most appealing option. Even then, Éire Nua, was seen as the best idea for unionism.

I believe that part of the healing process of the conflict and all that came with it and all that came before it, involves uniting the island as ending one chapter and starting another. For Irish unity in my eyes is not the end goal but only the beginning. Only then can we all start to drift from the past and grow and build on that healing. I believe that Éire Nua, gives us that chance, that chance through the democratic process and as stated previous, without compromise by either side. So let us all go forward and seek out this new way of living using the ideas of the past.

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Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh. Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher.

11 comments to ''Éire Nua, : Unionism’s Last Hope?"

  1. I think you should not use the term "national socialist" Republicans. As an Irish Republican I do not want to be associated with Hitlers Germany, and from the rest of the article I don't think you do either.

  2. My mistake my friend. A typing error. was suppose to read nationalist/socialist/republican. Apologies for that.

  3. It should be pointed out that that while a number of academics could not see any flaw in the Eire Nua document of Daithi O'Connell in 1970, who even purportedly held discussions with the then leadership of the UVF and while they remained skeptical gave it credence while favoring a 2 state federal arrangement. The constitutional parties of the time that is the SDLP led by John hume and the southern parties not to mention the british all rubbished Eire Nua as being naive,ill thought out and unworkable and John Hume prevented any debate on it while on a tour in the USA. It would seem federalism is the elephant in the room, I believe that Eire Nua should be built upon and expanded to a 6 state federal arrangement, ulster, munster connacht, leinster, Dublin, and a province of exiles.

    Lastly As in unionism there could be considered 3 strand of republicanism, constitutional republican ism who believe in a political solution through expansion of the GFA and the bringing together of capitalistic institutions on an all Ireland basis a kin to the common market , through a referendum, they may even countenance rejoining the commonwealth in the hope of allying unionist fears. nationalist republicans who believe in the traditional ideology of 1916 and lastly progressive republicans who view the GFA as being top down solution supporting capitalist interests and seek to galvanize the working class loyalist and republican to break down the capitalist monopoly on resources of production

  4. This concept of needing to be within a countries borders to maintain a cultural link seems outdated with modern movements of people. Imagine those parts of Ireland are returned,the parts of Ulster with overtly British character could become quirky additions to the national tapestry, like China Town districts in Western nations. The British needent be threatened at all.

  5. I appreciate Finnian's sincere offer to Unionists. My thoughts on the actual offer come from a similar respectful sincerity. When Unionists are outvoted by Nationalists in NI, and when the latter choose to opt for a UI, I can see no point in Federalism. If Ireland is too small to warrant two states and/or we are all Irish (both of which I deny), let's get on with a single government conducting State matters and local councils handling the day-to-day stuff.

    Federalism would not appeal to me as a protector of Ulster Protestant rights, for the majority of a 9-County Ulster would include many of the people who agreed to their murder a generation or so before. We could hardly expect worse from the people of the other three provinces.

    An Ulster parliament would also remind Unionists that they are not like the rest of Ireland, and would more likely nuture simmering resentment at our subjection to the Irish. A fall between two stools. If our future is Irish or leave, that is the clear and least troublesome choice.

  6. wolfbane
    totally disagree with you. An ulster parliament does not mean ulster will stand outside of Ireland. A federal Ireland Brings more than accommodating to unionism as well.

  7. All of this depends on few things coming first.

    1, The Unionist Politicians who have maneuvered themselves into considerable strategic position within Westminster somehow acquiesce to a poll to kick themselves out of a well paid job.

    2,Equally, for some reason they decide to become the small fish in a big pond compared to the present 'big fish in a bigger pond.'

    3, The UK government deciding that a border poll is currently in the National Interest.

    4, The Dublin government wanting the absolute headache of a million bewildered prods and troublesome catholics in the North to deal with.

    5, Consent both in the North and South, as AM pointed out on another thread, a UI never even comes up in conversation.

    People fear change. While I as a 'PUL' am happier than most of my community to understand and talk about an Eire Nua, many across the North are either ignorant of it or can't see it's benefits.

    I really can't see a catalyst for it. Brexit doesn't really change anything and is most likely to be a fudge anyway (there's no way Capitalists would let the People stand in the way of their profit, the nerve! Democracy, Pah!)

    Enjoyed the article though Finn!

  8. Steve,

    "People fear change."

    personally, I've for a long time now generally favoured the idea that people fear the loss of the familiar more so than any intrinsic fear of change ... a subtle but nonetheless significant distinction.

  9. And what would the difference be Henry Joy?

  10. Doesnt that mean the same? Losing the familiar will only happen when their is change. they are connected are they not?

    I look forward to you reading my next piece Henry. keep a look out.

  11. There are occasions when our fears are rational and motivate us to informed courses of action. At other times we can experience an emotional hijack and we behave unreasonably. In such circumstances we are liable to make very poor choices. An example would be where an inexperienced swimmer or sailor attempting to make passage from one shore to another makes it 3/4 way and gets freaked for whatever and rather than completing the intended journey (shortest distance and most rational choice) s/he turns for the familiar shore s/he departed from.


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