Sean Dolan Society’s Frankie Quiqley Interviewed By Derry Journal

The following interview is reproduced from the website of the 1916 Societies. In a recent article carried in the Derry Journal newspaper, Frankie Quiqley – Chairman of the Sean Dolan Society in Derry City – gives his thoughts and opinions on the 1916 Societies, the existing political situation in Ireland and the future of the independence struggle in our country.
* * *

DJ: Who are the 1916 Societies?

FQ: The 1916 Societies are an all-Ireland organisation founded on the principles of the 1916 Proclamation and are dedicated to their promotion. We are an independent organisation. Among our objectives we seek to encourage, facilitate and organise debate on republicanism past, present and future. We seek to promote the education of our young people in relation to republican history and encourage Irish sport, language and culture. Furthermore, we place great importance in remembering our patriot dead and the sacrifice that they have made. To this end we organise and promote commemorations, lectures, debates, murals and other modes of tribute.

(DJ): Why did you feel it necessary to set up a Derry 1916 Society?

(FQ): We believe that there is a pressing need to organise the republican base in the city so that we can foster and encourage a credible alternative to the status quo which exists in Stormont.

(DJ): Is this not just another anti-Good Friday Agreement organisation?

(FQ): We do not see ourselves as a competing organisation with those already founded and who advocate opposition to British rule in Ireland. On the contrary, we offer a vehicle to unify republicans and believe that we will play a vital role in providing practical and principled solutions capable of attracting the support we need to impact on the political process and force change.

(DJ): What is the make up of the membership of the Derry 1916 Society?

(FQ): We are made of local people who are active citizens in our town. Our membership espouses the principles of republicanism and seeks to promote social justice and change in our community. There is a strong representation of family members of fallen Volunteers, ex-prisoners and longstanding republican activists among the make up of our Society.  We are in our infancy but have courage and ambition. We encourage local citizens to become actively involved in our work. We believe that there is a wealth of talent within our community which can be harnessed to force change.

(DJ): Is membership of the 1916 Societies open to anyone?

(FQ): Membership is open to any person regardless of race, age, gender, ability, sexual orientation, religion or belief, except those who endorse British rule or accept British Crown Forces as a legitimate authority in Ireland. We welcome anyone who seeks to organise and promote the Irish Republic as envisaged in the Proclamation

(DJ): In short what is your view of the Good Friday Agreement?

(FQ): We view the Agreement as a barrier to Irish Unity. It imposes a triple lock which acts as a rigid barrier to constitutional change. Those who support the Agreement, including those who market themselves as republican, have, in our view, bought into the British policy of ‘surrender and re-grant’. This has led them to abandon republicanism in favour of positions in a British administration at Stormont built on the politics of partition and which institutionalises sectarianism.

(DJ): What do you mean by the ‘Triple Lock’?

(FQ): Any proposed border poll under the existing 1998 ‘Northern Ireland’ Act would be subject to a British/Unionist ‘Triple Lock’. Firstly it would require the consent/opinion of the British Secretary of State. It would then require the consent of the British Government at Westminster and finally the consent of Unionists in the six-counties.  This triple lock is in clear breach of UN Resolution 1514 and is incompatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.  In simple terms it is an affront to democracy.

(DJ): How do you view a border poll as advocated by mainstream republicanism?

(FQ): Those who advocate a border poll have departed from the principles of republicanism. In doing so they allow the British establishment to dictate the parameters of a referendum and submit it to their authority. In any border poll the Unionist gerrymandering of the island of Ireland is secured. The British government alone, through the Secretary of State, may or may not call a border poll. They claim the right to decide who and who will not have the right to vote and decide on the wording of the poll. Furthermore they will only call one when they are satisfied as to its outcome.

The 1916 Societies have no interest in a border poll. We believe it is the people of Ireland who have the absolute and sovereign right to decide the future of this island. It is for them alone, free from external impediment, to choose their own destiny. It will be the people who will call an all-Ireland referendum.

(DJ): What do you propose instead?

(FQ): We propose ‘One Ireland-One Vote’. There is nothing to stop the Irish people organising something of an extralegal nature fully under their own control that does not invade our sovereignty or put it in any way at risk. As such an all-Ireland referendum is a tool of struggle. We believe that national self-determination expressed through an all-Ireland referendum will give every Irish citizen the equal right to vote on the issue of the partition of Ireland and the formation of a sovereign, independent, unitary state.

(DJ): Is the ‘One Ireland-One Vote’ campaign not wholly unrealistic given the outcome of the Good Friday Agreement which was overwhelmingly endorsed by the people of Ireland on both sides of the border and enshrined in law?

(FQ): Firstly it is important to recognise that the Good Friday Agreement and the proposed referendums under the 1998 Act did and does not constitute national self-determination.

The Good Friday Agreement is not set in stone. The Agreement was designed to be all things to all people. It has already been rewritten and morphed since its inception. There is a vast difference between the GFA which was in essence discussion papers and what was then legislated for under ‘The Northern Ireland Act 1998’. The GFA has also been varied over time which can be evidenced by the 490-plus subsequent amendments made to the GFA by the unelected British House of Lords to what was actually agreed in all-party talks. So let’s not fool ourselves that the Good Friday Agreement cannot be surmounted.

Our ‘One Ireland-One Vote’ campaign is therefore not straight-jacketed by the Good Friday Agreement, nor would we allow that to be the case. It is a realistic campaign in which we hope to build political support for Irish Unity while exposing the fundamentally undemocratic nature of British partitionist rule in Ireland.

(DJ): What do you say to some republicans who believe that a referendum on Irish Unity is not needed as the republic was already declared in 1916?

(FQ): I agree with them. The republic has already been established, this is about achieving British withdrawal and an end to occupation. Nowhere though does republicanism exclude the use of a democratic, referendum-type campaign to oust the British from our country. It’s the national right of our people to have their voice heard and this can be a means of giving expression to that voice, no matter if it has been ignored time-and-again in the past.

(DJ): Are the 1916 Societies a nationalistic organisation and do you believe that this limits your appeal to the community as we become ever more multi cultural?

(FQ): The Derry 1916 Societies adopt in full the principles of the 1916 Proclamation. This document clearly sets out our vision for an Irish Republic. The republic it sets out is underpinned by socialist values. We believe in the national liberation of our country and of the working people (regardless of race, belief, ethnicity, gender, ability and sexuality) oppressed by the interests of the few in both artificially created jurisdictions. We believe that this message resonates with the working class people of Ireland and those who seek social justice. We actively support the rights of migrants and foreign nationals and actively oppose all forms of discrimination and fascism. I do not believe that our message or the organisation can be defined as nationalistic.

(DJ): Given the current economic crisis and impending welfare cuts is your organisation relevant to the daily lives of citizens in Derry?

(FQ): The people of this city are experiencing unnecessary and disproportionate hardship.  This hardship has been caused by the greedy recklessness of bankers and financiers who lost gamble is being paid for by the working class and the vulnerable.
The political class have again failed the ordinary people of this city. We hear protestations of opposition to ‘Tory Cuts’ but they are dishonest. The same parties who profess this opposition have already administered a huge swathe of these same Tory cuts. The system of government to which they belong ensures that they will continue to attack the working poor and vulnerable. That is the nature of the beast. Our message is therefore very relevant in these challenging times. We advocate regime change. We advocate a republic built on fairness. We foreshadow social and economic change in which a New Ireland will safeguard and guarantee the welfare of all its citizens. We offer a message of hope.

1 comment:

  1. "so that we can foster and encourage a credible alternative to the status quo which exists in Stormont."

    What kind of a credible alternative? And credible to whom?

    The Societies also...
    "believe that we will play a vital role in providing practical and principled solutions capable of attracting the support we need to impact on the political process and force change."

    Let's just for a moment imagine that the 1916 Societies are indeed powerful agents for positive change ... what will the people of Derry be pleased to notice?

    What shape and form will the first small changes take that citizens warmly welcome?