Hell’s A Comin’

Unionists should jump on any plan to given Northern politicians seats in the Republic’s Parliament in Leinster House. In his latest Fearless Flying Column, controversial political commentator, Dr John Coulter, maintains that such a move could be part of a cunning plan to integrate the ‘Occupied 26 Counties’ back into the Union.

When is a Union not a Union? Sounds like a daft question, but the time has now come – like Unionist unity – for Unionists to embrace the idea of an all-island identity on the geographical island of Ireland.

This is not about the Unionist family admitting to surrender, compromise, concessions or betrayal, but simply recognising that in preparing for Brexit in 2019, Northern Unionists need to be ready with a cunning plan to integrate the ‘Occupied 26 Counties’ back into a Union with the United Kingdom.

Yes, for fear of being accused of a grammatical error, let me reiterate the central core of my ideology of Revolutionary Unionism – I did write ‘Occupied TWENTY-SIX Counties.’ The ideology of Revolutionary Unionism takes its ethos from the Glorious Revolution of the 1690s, which saw the Protestant Ascendancy rule all of Ireland.

The current Irish Republic’s political elite and economic gurus can crow all they want about the rebirth of the Celtic Tiger following the disastrous collapse, prompting a European Union bailout.

Such elite and gurus can boast as much as they like that the Southern economy is growing at a faster rate than the Northern Ireland economy given the political stagnation at Stormont.

But to quote one famous fundamentalist maxim – ‘Hell’s a comin’!’ And the name of that economic Hell is called Brexit.

No bobbing and weaving, ducking and diving will protect the South from the isolation that Brexit will heap on the 26 Counties. To survive, the Republic must be prepared to sell its soul – and that means a new Union between Britain and Ireland.

As a Unionist, the message is simple – your experiment known as ‘the republic’ will fail again, and we want those precious 26 counties back!

Indeed, the stage is set for this new political marriage, namely the opportunity for Northern politicians to take seats in Dublin. Ironically, this was a Sinn Fein notion, but one which if Unionists play their cards cleverly, will backfire badly on the republican movement.

Let’s have a reality check. The House of the Oireachtas, the National Parliament of the Irish Republic, is no longer the political House of Horrors to Unionism – thanks to the impressive range of cross-border institutions spawned by the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Gone are the days when Unionist politicians would be severely disciplined if they dared to cross the Irish border to carry of their civic duties.

This was due in part to the Dail Eireann, the House of Representatives, or the main Dublin Parliament, failing to adopt a ‘gloves off’ policy towards republican terrorists from the Provisional IRA and INLA using the Republic as a springboard for attacks on the Northern Unionist community and security forces.

But thanks to closer cross-border co-operation between the Dail and Westminster, with Stormont in the middle, Northern and Southern security forces are implementing a realistic policy which is adopting zero tolerance towards dissident republican terrorists bitterly opposed to the Irish peace process.

Cross-border co-operation is at its strongest, not just since the signing of the Belfast Agreement in 1998, the St Andrews Agreement in 2006, or even the Hillsborough Castle Deal a few years later.

Indeed, among Northern Unionists, the 30th Dail – or lower house – which was constituted following the May 2007 General Election, was perhaps the most constructive and popular since the Dail moved to its present home in Dublin’s Leinster House in 1922.

1999 was a key year in cementing Dail/Stormont relations. That was when Articles Two and Three of the Irish Constitution were amended to take account of the consent of the Northern Ireland people if they wanted to join the Republic.

Previously, these contentious articles had laid claim that the six counties which comprised Northern Ireland – and a part of the United Kingdom – were part of a whole island which formed one national territory.

Central to this vital cog in the Irish peace process was then Southern Prime Minister, or Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, a veteran centre-Right Fianna Fail leader. In May 2008, Cowen succeeded Bertie Ahern as Irish PM and FF leader, himself one of the key architects in developing a stable, devolved Stormont administration.

Later, the Stormont Assembly gained the necessary cross-community votes to secure the transfer of policing and justice powers back to a Northern administration; the first time since the early 1970s.

The seeds of this process were sown by Cowen during his years as Irish Foreign Minister and deputy Irish PM.

That Dail could also provide some parliamentary lessons for the Stormont Assembly. The Dail has 166 members representing 26 Irish counties, compared to the North’s 90 Assembly members representing six counties. The original Stormont Parliament axed in 1972 had only just over 50 MPs.

The Dail has mastered the art of coalition government. Cowen’s Fianna Fail had 77 TDs, or Deputies. He headed the largest party, but not enough to form a government.

This was achieved with a coalition with one of the minority parties, the Greens. But what has strengthened that Dail’s relations with Stormont has been the range of successful cross-border institutions.

These include: the North South Ministerial Council; the six North South Implementation Bodies, and the British Irish Inter-Governmental Conference set up in 1999.

Ironically, the current global economic crisis will see the need for the Dail and Stormont to work even closer, but we need Stormont up and running again if this is to be practically achieved.

The Dail prided itself on developing a strong economy within the European Union. It became known as the Celtic Tiger.

The world-wide banking fiasco saw the roaring Celtic Tiger deteriorate into the strangled yelps of a dying pussy cat.

The Republic benefited considerably from its EU membership, but with the South still set to become mainly a giver of European funding rather than a receiver, it took the then Fianna Fail coalition government two attempts to secure a Yes vote for the Lisbon Treaty.

However, the success of the Northern peace process and growth of cross-border institutions was not be enough to convince Southern voters that Cowen’s Fianna Fail should continue to run the Republic.

The 31st Dail became a rare political concoction of the Right-wing Fine Gael, the socialist Irish Labour Party, and the centre-Left Greens and Progressive Democrats, plus a gentle smattering of Independent TDs.

Sinn Fein may be the junior power-sharing Executive partner in the North, but in the Republic, the party is still viewed with suspicion as a hardline Marxist movement pretending to be a nationalist movement for Irish unity.

As the Southern Protestant population begins to grow again after decades of decline, the new political partnership which the Dail has cemented with Stormont has taken a new twist with some sections of the Unionist community, much to the delight of a Revolutionary Unionist like myself.

Just as the Dail was the key player in convincing Unionists to embrace a power-sharing Executive, so too, some Unionists want the Dail to embrace a new relationship with the Commonwealth, and especially the increasingly influential Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

The CPA represents more than 50 national and regional parliaments, and not all of them were part of the former British Empire. The phrase “united strength of the colonial network” is becoming a new political buzz term I want whispered discreetly in Leinster House.

Political jungle drums are sounding a steady beat of the success of Royal visits to the Republic. Many Unionists see this as a potential springboard to get the Republic to have a closer bond with the CPA, of which the Northern Assembly is already a member.

Maybe if the CPA is still a step too far for the Dail, Northern politicians could be given seats in Leinster House. This certainly would be the thin edge of the wedge of Unionists having a say once more in the running of the ‘Occupied 26 Counties.’

Then again, what was seen as a Sinn Fein stunt could well be ripped out of the republican movement’s manifesto if Unionist politicians pile into Leinster House. Let the revolution begin!

  • Follow John Coulter on Twitter @JohnAHCoulter

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Anthony McIntyre

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

3 comments to ''Hell’s A Comin’"

  1. Brilliant article john. really enjoyed reading it. Im wondering what your views are how unionism would feels about a federal Ireland (eire nua)?

  2. Unfortunately the DUP remain entrenched in their siege mentality. As John points out, it would be far from a stupid move to at least discuss greater co-operation with Fine Gael perhaps.


    A lot of Unionists are not really aware of Eire Nua, though in my opinion and I think of one of the other Unionists on here it is something we are prepared to discuss. Selling it may be more difficult though. Brexit has left everything up in the air at the minute.

  3. While I don't agree with much you say, Mr Coulter, I always find your posts entertaining and worth reading - good to get diverse perspectives - Now as I reflect on this post, I am afraid you may not be all that off base with this one, after all there are many politicians in the south (in FG particularly) both now and in the past that have always seemed overtly or covertly to be closer to Unionism that Nationalism.

    If Unionists did pop up in Leinster House there might be a few defections to them from the FG benches or even vice versa - could be quite the parallel universe - and an awful one at that.


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