This year’s G8 conference in Fermanagh has boosted the peace process in Ireland by lending more weight to the drive for a so-called ‘shared future’, but as the current economic situation stands, Ireland will always play second fiddle to the United Kingdom as long as the former remains in the European Union.
Many republican purists, such as the late Ruairi O Bradaigh of Republican Sinn Fein, the political party closely aligned to the Continuity IRA, see their ideology linked to the 1916 Proclamation and the First Dail Eireann of January 1919.
National Republicanism would seek to restore the island’s national sovereignty. The Celtic Tiger had the 26 Counties on a virtually equal footing financial as the UK. But with that Tiger’s collapse, the South has now deteriorated to the status of a third-rate banana republic, where its greatest export is its people.
The EU was once the Republic’s ‘golden cow’ and it was able to milk that particular Union for millions of European grants, especially to develop its roads infrastructure across the South.
But substantial European grants have turned into a humiliating multi-million euro bailout, and with more former Soviet bloc nations joining the EU, Ireland will soon be forced to become a giver of European funding rather than a receiver. The EU gravy train has been derailed and it’s time to leave the EU for the sake of the quality of life of Irish citizens.
For decades since Ireland joined the EU, the South was a receiver of European aid. But as more former Soviet bloc nations seek EU membership, it is only a matter of time before the Republic is forced to become an EU funding giver. Add in the euro bailout, and Ireland’s national independent sovereignty is a joke, and a myth.Ireland is nothing more than the EU’s little lapdog, no better off than Greece.
Already there are rumours that some shops along the Irish border with the North have abandoned the crisis-ridden euro and have introduced the coveted punt as a first step towards bringing back sterling as Ireland’s stable currency.
Equally, while Ireland recognises that the only viable way forward to being a stable standard of living back to its citizens is to leave the EU and abandon the Eurozone, the key question is – which power bloc does Ireland join to regain its national independence and pride in its sovereignty?
National Republicanism recognises the clear shifts in the balances of power in early 21st century Europe. National Republicanism will not simply take Ireland out of the EU, disband the Eurozone grip on the Irish economy and reintroduce an Irish pound on a par with sterling, crucially it will take Ireland into the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
This is not a betrayal of republican principles; merely ensuring the future of an independent Irish nation is secured. Given the modern technology which the UK, US and Russian secret service, the FSB, demonstrated at the Fermanagh G8 conference, an armed struggle against British rule in the North is a non-starter.
The O Bradaigh mentality died with him. There is no way a sustained terrorist campaign with either force the British Government to abandon Northern Ireland, unless dissident republicans plan to eradicate every pro-Union human being on the island. Does the dissident republican movement seriously believe it can mount a terror campaign of ethnic cleansing against the entire pro-Union community in Ireland in the same way as the Provisionals operated a similar ethnic cleansing campaign against Border Protestant families?
By rejoining the CPA. Ireland will be an equal partner with the UK. It is not British rule by the back door. The 26 Counties back in the CPA may even be a persuader to coax Northern Unionists to join an all-island structure in which they have a greater role in the running of all 32 counties instead of limiting their influence to six Northern Ireland counties.
The clear choice for republicans to address is – do they want Ireland to be a wee fish in the meaningless EU ocean, or a major fish in the influential CPA pond? National Republicanism will ensure Ireland becomes the latter.
National Republicanism at this time must take into consideration the impact of the looming vote on independence in Scotland. While republicans hope for a vote in favour of full independence as wanted by the Scottish National Party, the reality is that barring any last minute hiccups, there will be a narrow victory for the pro-Union camp, which in turn will force Westminster to grant concessions for the Scottish Parliament in terms of even more devolving of powers – commonly known as the ‘Devo Max’ outcome.
National Republicans are working on the ‘Indo Max’ syndrome, aiming to gain the maximum amount of political independence for the island. National Republicanism recognises the reality that both the economic Celtic Tiger and the post Treaty parties of the Dail have failed the people of Ireland.
The financial disaster of the collapse of the Celtic Tiger has become the economic equivalent of the potato famine which blighted the island in the 19th century. It is a tremendous shame that Ireland’s greatest export is its people, and many become part of the Irish Brain Drain – well educated Irish people leaving for foreign shores, but never returning to integrate their education, skills, experience and expertise back into their homeland.
National Republicanism would scrap the outdated policy of abstentionism for all parliaments. While Irish Republican play their full parts by taking their seats in the Dail, Stormont, and Europe, they still need to make a full impact at Westminster in the Commons and House of Lords.
Sinn Fein like to push the falsehood that its MPs can achieve more around the corridors of Westminster than in the Parliamentary Chamber of the Commons. This is nothing more than a clever piece of political spin.
Republicans must never forget the impact of Bernadette McAliskey, when she was Bernadette Devlin, winning the Mid Ulster Commons seat in the by-election of 1969. She took her Commons seat, ignoring the supposedly enshrined philosophy of absentionism and made a huge impact from the floor of the Chamber, rather than ranting in the corridors of power. She held her seat in the 1970 Westminster General Election, and lost out to the Vanguard Unionist runner John Dunlop in the February 1974 General Election when the SDLP split the nationalist vote.
Given her four-year stint in the Commons, we can only speculate in what direction democratic republicanism would have gone had she retained her seat. It should also be noted the impact which Scottish and Welsh Nationalist MPs as well as pro-Republican and anti-Monarchist British Labour MPs have had at Westminster because they took their Commons seats.
National Republicanism will follow the McAliskey model and take seats in the Commons and Lords, rather than the now traditional and outdated abstentionist policy of Provisional Sinn Fein. National Republicanism differentiates between working the system and being sucked into the system.
In the Dail under the leadership of Sinn Fein President and Louth TD Gerry Adams – the former West Belfast Commons MP – the party has become a very credible rallying point against the established parties’ austerity cuts in a desperate bid to halt the spiralling economic decline. In Northern Ireland, in spite of more than 30 years of Provisional terror, Sinn Fein is now a well-cemented part of the partitionist Stormont Government.
Look again at the achievements of Sinn Fein MEPs in Europe, especially Martina Anderson and her predecessor Bairbre de Brun in Northern Ireland. Many in Sinn Fein as elected representatives have made the transition from terrorist to democratic politician.
In this respect, National Republicans would take as their icon the late Menachem Begin, the former Irgun terrorist strategist who fought British colonial rule in Palestine to become Israel’s first Right-wing Prime Minister when he founded the Lukid party. He was awarded the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, and died in 1992.
National Republicanism will seek to refocus republicanism and heal the rifts which still exist in Ireland since partition and the Irish Civil War in the 1920s. National Republicanism as well as combating the ‘brain drain’ by encouraging as many young people to either remain in Ireland, or return once they have gained their time abroad.
Ireland must not become the ethnic dumping ground of Europe and families particularly from EU new comers Romania and Bulgaria flood into the island because of Ireland’s very slack immigration laws. Many of these immigrants have no cultural interest in Ireland and are merely interested in milking the economic system so that cash earned can be sent back to their countries of ethnic origin.
As a leading nation within the CPA, Ireland will be able to impose very strict border controls. National Republicanism is about implementing measures to inject pride into Irish citizenship, not an easy ticket for benefits. These include:
- The learning of the Irish language from nursery school to the age of 18;
- A compulsory two-year National Service with the Irish Defence Forces, or with Irish regiments within the British Army;
- Ireland to join NATO and play a full role,in defending the West against global terrorism;
- The Irish passport will become a document of pride, not a lottery ticket;
- Any citizen not either born in Ireland or cannot trace legitimate Irish roots for at least three generations will have to sit the mandatory Irish Citizenship Test;
- G8 nations will be encouraged to invest in Ireland, especially in the Irish Defence Forces; part-time local militias similar to the North’s Special Constabulary Association, which existed from 1920-70, will be established to allow people to develop a pride for their localities by having a direct say in the protection of those regions.
- Special forces, similar to the British SAS and police E4A units, will be developed as rapid response units to combat any threats to national security from terrorism, or domestic security from criminal gangs
- All members of the Garda Siochana will be armed
- A draconian judicial system will be introduced with heavy fines or lengthy jail terms for convicted offenders·
- The return of capital punishment for murder, and corporal punishment in schools. There will be a zero tolerance to crime, and the ethos of discipline will be instilled in schools.
For republicanism worried about a link with the CPA, it should be remembered that Ireland was a founder and influential member of the original predecessor of the CPA, the Empire Parliamentary Association in 1911.
The modern CPA represents more than 50 regional and national parliaments from around the globe, some of whom had never been in the old British Empire.
The CPA move is predominantly about restoring national identity, pride and sovereignty. National Republicanism will seek to get those who see themselves as republicans to confront the issue – are they genuinely interested in putting the welfare of their citizens first, or following an outdated series of rhetoric and slogans which died with many Irish Volunteers in the failed Easter Rising of 1916.
Out of the EU and in the CPA, National Republicanism will have a political freedom to pursue the ideal of Putting People First, Putting Patients First, Putting Pupils First, Putting Pride First, Putting Policing First, and Putting Pensioners First.
In the next chapter of An Saise Glas, I will develop how National Republicanism will expand within the current 26 Counties, and why as an ideology it will either lead to the formation of a new party – the Democratic Republican Party – or will act as a Republican Vanguard pressure group to influence the members of existing established parties, such as Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Irish Labour and Sinn Fein.