Federal Solution Inevitable For A United Ireland.

Seán Ó Dubhláin, National PRO, Sinn Féin Poblachtach, and member of the MacCoisdealbha/Ó hÚrsain Cumann, Westmeath, with a speech on Irish Federalism he delivered on Saturday, June 11, 2016 at a meeting organised by the Éire Nua Committee, Dublin South/Central.

Éire Nua Awareness Public Meeting
St. John Bosco Community Centre, Dublin

A chairde, comrades,

I wish to thank the organisers for asking me to speak here.  

I think as far as the Éire Nua proposals are concerned we are living in very interesting times.  Even among those who rubbished the policy as “a sop to unionism” in 1982 there is the an awakening reality that some sort of a Federal Solution is inevitable for a united Ireland.

The understanding back in the early days of the Éire Nua policy was that those currently of the unionist persuasion did not and would not be ruled by a centralist Dublin led Government, this was a concern shared by and taken on board by republican revolutionaries.  

We understand this completely, certainly as someone from the mid-west of Ireland a federal structure would provide a fairer distribution of power and decision making.  And this is central to the concept of Éire Nua, the decentralisation of power and the vesting within the decision making process greater democracy and people based community opinion.

We are revolutionaries not in the singular sense of only wanting to remove the British government from Ireland, only then to live happily in a centralised capitalist economy.  Instead we are instead revolutionaries in the holistic sense in that we aim for complete political, social and economic change.  That change must come from the people, from our communities, indeed the voluntary community councils outlined in Éire Nua should be vital instruments towards bringing that about.

Éire Nua is an acknowledgement that real change cannot come about through a centralised political system.  Even if the Government is Socialist, still too much power rests in the hands of a small minority of people, i.e. a party.  Even if the Government was Socialist and made great progress on issues pertaining to workers’ rights, unions, industrial relations, issues regarding the great natural resource giveaway in our country and made efforts to undo the sale of public resources to privateers then great, but, and this but is a serious one.  As an example we have seen the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela hammered in recent times due to a similar fact.  That the party in centralised government can just be as easily replaced by another at another election, what’s not to say the Socialist government will be replaced by the bourgeois capitalist hell-bent on undoing all the great work of the Socialist government?

Such a system, such a too and froing of power is detrimental to society, an impediment to human progress, it also alienates people from politics.  We currently have this, only we have never had a Socialist government in Ireland, indeed since 1919 we have not had a true democratic government in Ireland.  

True success for a Socialist Republic in Ireland can only come about by the empowerment of communities, and Éire Nua again provides the strong bases for this.

Éire Nua would see the creation of a four province federal state.  The capital is proposed for Athlone, the central town of Ireland.  To quote from the Éire Nua policy:

This system envisions a federation of the four provinces of Ireland under the co-ordination of a national parliament, with powers devolved through regional administrative councils to local bodies, so that at all levels citizens may have an effective voice in their own governance.

After the national parliament there will be four provincial parliaments dealing with issues of importance and unique to the respective province.  The decentralisation goes even further with a checks and balance system seeing policy implemented through Regional Boards and then District Councils.  The Voluntary Communities Councils made up of by the people will have right of audience at all such District Councils.

This breakdown of power invests across society more accountability.  Once a new political system of governance is put into place and comes into action, we as a people open the road to make progress, no longer stymied by the obstruction of British interference.  

Those of a Protestant and Ulster Scots background should have no fear, in their communities they will have full control, in their province they will have a real decision making, and they can take heart that they will be full trustees of a new National Parliament that they can truly call their own National Parliament.

In the meantime, towards the realisation of this great goal, Irish republicans, revolutionaries, socialists, indeed all in society committed to seeing the real and vital change that is needed brought about must work in tandem, we cannot be many isolated minorities.

Whilst Éire Nua has from many quarters been lauded as a great document it has been noted it is a post vision of British withdrawal.  In the meantime we who aspire to creating the Éire Nua need to switch the angles from talking about Éire Nua to implementing Éire Nua, can it be done?  That is a question I ask of you here today!

In the pre-withdrawal policy document of the Republican Movement, Towards a Peaceful Ireland, penned the late Dáithí Ó Conaill, he based it upon the solid principles of revolutionary politics and laid out the course to be followed.

Towards a Peaceful Ireland calls for the establishment of a National Constituent Assembly bringing together varying aspects of Irish society to bring pressure to bear on the British Government to withdraw from Ireland.  This National Assembly would fulfil specific functions, such as writing a new 32 County Constitution to be put to the people for acceptance or rejection via national referendum.  To such an Assembly we in Republican Sinn Féin, although this cause is not and cannot be limited to us;  for our part we will submit the principles of Éire Nua to be enshrined in such a new all-Ireland Constitution towards the aim of the Irish people building for themselves a self-governed and dignified nation. 

To conclude I will say for those of us serious about real systematic change to the failure of centralised capitalism in a divided and occupied Ireland we again say that Éire Nua, the primary policy document of Republican Sinn Féin is the only long term viable option, it offers not only a credible future for the Province of Ulster but it will also will redress the East/West economic divisions witnessed in the 26 Counties.

In short Éire Nua is about people power for all, not party power for few.  It remains a growing aspiration, a living document.


  1. Eire Nua is an extremely interesting concept. If there is to be a united Ireland it would be the best option in my humble opinion. However you say, "Those of a Protestant and Ulster Scots background should have no fear" yet while you retain a private army and maintain the right to enact violence and crime on the Irish people without mandate we will fear a UI and will oppose it at every turn. Just like the PUP on my side of the fence, while you have your private army of touts and criminals you will remain on the margins of power.

  2. Some FG member very recently and no less than Eamon O'Cuiv previously I believe, the grandson of de Valera, floated the idea of Ireland rejoining the Commonwealth. May a combination of a 9 county Ulster within a federal situation like Eire Nua within the Commonwealth not be a good idea? After all most of our youth reside in the Commonwealth already. Or if the 3 border counties were disinterested in that perhaps a 6 county federal 'Ulster'within a united Ireland could work? If the notion that the Protestant/unionists must have no fear is to be more than a catch-phrase then maybe ALL options deserve consideration. Time moves on and there is no guarantee the 3 border counties would fancy a Stormont government any more than the 6 fancy a Dublin one. I was surprised to see Peter even comment on this thread. Hats off to you Peter!

  3. As Peter said, if 'Eire Nua' was to have ANY traction with Ulster Scots 'Protestants' the retaining of a private militia aligned with 'Republicanism' is the bulwark against it ever getting anywhere.

    If your argument is persuasive, no physical force should be required to push it through.

  4. Larry
    As far as I am concerned it is a no-brainer. The majority of people in both the north and the south do not want a 32 county republic, so take that off the table and decommission the private armies. I realised long ago that traditional republicanism was preventing a UI rather than making it happen. Since the end of the "war" and the removal of articles 2 and 3 relations on the island are improving greatly but while the dissos are murdering people and parading around in masks unionism will fear change. Eire Nua allows that the north not be totally ruled by Dublin, allows that Dublin is not reponsible for policing the Shankill and that the north can stay in the commonwealth. If a UI is to work some sort of federalism is required.

  5. Has Brexit not thrown all these scenarios up in the air now?

  6. I thought it very interesting that Scotland and the North voted remain in the EU referendum while England and Wales bar London voted to get out of it. A great vote for the ordinary people of England and Wales. I agree with Ferage and the BBB 'Big Bold Boris'on this score. Buonly on tactical grounds. With the absence of a voice for the working class since the New Labour Judas of a party emerged under Blair and Alaistair Campbell and the Gordon Browns of this world and since the destruction of the mining community in the 1980s and also the deliberate destruction of trade unionism in the UK so many people were left without a political outlet. Those communities that have been deliberatley and relentlessly attacked by Tory A and Tory B (labour) all down the decades have been given an oportunity to finally hit back and boy did they take it. I am DELIGHTED. As a nationalist I cannot but feel joy for the English joe soap pot getting a grip on their nation again. Class politics may once again force itself onto the politcal landscape. The referendum, had it been delayed much longer may have come too late for the English to regain control of their own nation, demographics would have prevented it. Having been in London twice recently I can attest to how difficult it is to spot an Englishman or indeed to find an English pub! I do wonder what Cameron would have made of the cheers in Belfast for the brexit from the DUP. Looking at the remain votes in Scotlanand and Norn Iron I am thinking an Eira Nua of Ireland and Scotland may be a serious contender lol. Nicola Sturgeon for Taoisteach! What will come out of this now is unclear but the corruption and disconnect utter contempt of the political elite in Westminster and of the EU has gone too far for too long. It has taken a severe kicking and I think New Labour even with Corbyn is a dead duck. The English working class looks ready for battle again. Interesting times. Bring it on, long over due! I see the Tory party are already digging in to deny the celti cfringe as they call it the same democratic referendum rights that they have just exercised in regard to the EU. Fun times ahead.

  7. Larry

    surely you can't support the rise of anti-intellectualism that's emerging not only now in the US but also here in Europe too? The loss of manufacturing and heavy industries to low-cost economies won't be resolved by either a Brexit nor the dissolution of the European Union.

    Peter & Steve

    absolutely in agreement that anyone who has any serious aspiration for Irish unity must disassociate themselves completely from the men and women in paramilitary uniforms and masks. Irish republicans, if they are to achieve their preferred outcome, must repudiate the notion that a substantial section of the population in the northeast can be coerced into a situation that they feel threatened by. Indeed Irish Republicans would do well to face the unsustainability of any argument that Unionism could ever have been coerced into such a situation without horrific consequences.

  8. Henry Joy

    The working class of Europe has been under attack by Tory and right wing fascism for decades. It was the Labour party after WW2 that created anything that was the best of British on top of those who slaved away during the indistrial revolution creating unions and workers rights. We have been endlessly forced back to Tory Victorian values with the EU being nothing but a rch man's club facilitating an expanding market and an endless pool of slave labour. Southern Europe cannot even recover from tourism around the Med' because of the single currency/euro. I am aware that Boris and Co. are the Tory fascists writ large, but for me the Labour Party created by Blair the war criminal is being put to death today. Alistair Campbell has said he was against having the referendum. Go figure. I pray this gives Greece and Spain the confidence to vote left wing. I bet the Greeks wish they had retained the cahonies now to defy Her Merkel a while back. ALSO bring on referendum No.2 in Scotland. Dismantle the Westminster dictat.

    As for private armies, what exactly was the UVF which became the RUC B-Specials and then the UDR. I find it eluminating Peter cannot countenance the notion of taigs patroling the Shankill Rd. The hypocrisy knows no bounds.

  9. For me it's now imperative that anti agreement
    republicans rethink their hole armed strategy,
    this is uncharted waters for republicanism.i
    noticed how quick sinn fein were to jump on the
    referendum bandwagon, I feel this is a opportunity
    For us to build a political movement around this
    the issue of independence, as revolutionary
    republicans we must adapt to the times we are now
    in, and be the vanguard of radical change.

  10. Larry
    I have no problem with "taigs patrolling the Shankill", sure isn't the PSNI nearly half catholic? It is the Dublin establishment that don't want the responsibility to patrol the Shankill.

  11. What divides us. Let’s focus on that for a moment, why not, we’ve only been doing it for ever and a day. It's not difficult to put guns in the hands of fearful and mistrustful tribes. Quite soon Unionists and Republicians will be pushed to put blood on the carpet again.

    Britain has voted to leave the EU. THE majority of citizens of N/Ireland voted to remain. The 1 percent and the fifth estate to put it mildly don't like the outcome and will be looking at ways to bring down the project. There wil be multiple points of attack, the financial market, jihadi terrorism rampant in Europe and here.

    English Nationalism won the day and it won't be lost on a tribe who voted out and who have for decades chewed on their lip while Britain ignored them, that Ulster and Scotland voted in. An Ulster described as scroungers by James Callaghan, and before anybody gets their hackles up working class protestants from inner cities where in the same boat as working class catholics, we were all scrounging an existence back then and we’re scroungers once again to English Nationalism.

    English Nationalism has pulled the blinkers off and they see foreigners all around them, some just over the pond. So there is more than good odds that Unionism is going to be pushed, it's easily done, who will do it though, the elites or the English Nationalists.

    I’m getting a picture here, for at that moment Catholics, Nationalists and Republicans will be caught like rabbits in the headlights waiting to see if militant Unionism has taken to the field again. If a Protestant can see where I’m coming from he can see that I share in his feeling of being cornered.

    Before we blast away again let's stand back and walk a mile in each others shoes, I can see what you mean now! and I’m looking in a mirror. Call Eire Nua what you like, I don't care, I want to sit around the table to fight for family first, fellow Ulster men of all persuasions the bigger island, across the pond and further afield. Muhammad Ali said, “if a man believes at 50 what he believed at 20 he’s wasted 30 yrs of his life” To all you that were at the sharp end of this conflict, is there another way for you’re kids

  12. Peter
    I wish that were true. The stats.

  13. Larry,

    That's just daft, plenty of Catholics have patrolled the Shankill in the psni as you would well know.

    What would give a dub gov the shits is if they were responsible for outcome of patrols in a UI. Maybe fedralism within a UI is the only workable model.

    And todays cops aren't yesterdays blacknecks.

  14. fair play to rsf, just get rid of the mi5/mi6 controlled goons u hav in the 'army' and u will beat the shit out of psf. the goons must be told to suck off, they are pathetic now. athlone is a great place for a new capital - a stones throw from royal Uisneach, a place were protestant, catholic, hare krishna, dissenter, latvians, poles and marxist-lennonists need to go and ask forgiveness of the Goddess eriu for the mess we hav made of her beautiful island. on another note, here is the greatest sportstar of all time, and im not even a soccer fan, but here is the greatest sportstar of all time, accompanied by the greatest commentary of all time. dedicated to all the lads who were murdered by a non-private army on the belgrano.

    ...gracias dios
    por el futbol, por maradona,
    por esta lagrimas,
    por este -
    argentina 2
    inglaterra o.


  15. I am fatigued with the entire carry on TBH I think prods should patrol the Shankill coz if it were me id be in the boozers lol. My favourite office. We are the only team from these islands still in Europe whatever happens today. Wales dumped the wee black north out twice already lol

  16. Two Irish teams out now, it's good night from him and it's goodnight from him. Praying for Iceland now. Massive humiliation on the cards and wouldn't the crying and gnashing of teeth on BBC/IYV be wonderful!?

  17. the english shud be allowed hav two teams now.