Sean Bresnahan writes that Irish Republicanism is going forward.
Republicanism going forward – in the context of its reduced position in the Irish body politic – can best proceed, if only for now, as an ideological vanguard. Its role in this respect would be to uphold and advance the inalienable rights of the Irish Nation — rights which exist in their own space and time, beyond and impervious to current or future constitutional realities.
It is automatic that rights as these remain intact regardless of such particulars — even where they have met with approval, in whole or in part, as is argued of Good Friday. That the same will be posited should ‘Agreed Ireland’ come to pass is a given. Such approval, however, does not impact the standing of ‘prior rights’ and is without capacity to dispose of their status. As prior rights, they are not subject to electoral whim or fortune.
With this in mind, the focus of our efforts must at all times remain the advance of the Irish Republic, conscious throughout that the Republic itself is the constitutional embodiment of the Nation. Accordingly, ‘the Republic’ and ‘the Nation’ must proceed together in the one unseparated endeavour.
In this sense, our national entitlements can only be realised upon the achievement in full of the Republic. The notion of that Republic, as both a manifest and ethereal concept, must guide and inform our every word and deed — the language we employ, the commitments we offer, the actions and initiatives that we set toward.
Why is any of this important in an Ireland where constitutional change seems anyway on the horizon? Surely with emerging demographic realities – with the weight of numbers soon to be on ‘our side’ – it is now only a matter of patience?
The virtue of such belies an emerging narrative, which speaks not of the sovereignty of the Irish Nation, inclusive of its two traditions, but of the ‘island of Ireland’ and the existence of two nations within its geographical confines. Ireland is no longer to be considered a nation but instead a mere territorial entity, devoid of a political basis. As such, it can come to house a political construct other than a republic — which is the likely intent of ‘Agreed Ireland’.
As Irish Republicans, in the face of this, we must assert the sovereignty and unity of the Republic, this even though it be usurped at this moment and that this will likely remain the case for the foreseeable future. The task, going forward, is to balance what is a point of principle with the need to build strategic power — this to entail the co-opting of the people into an effort to realise the Republic.
Guarding against being trapped by rhetoric is critical in this regard. While, yes, we must have the solid foundation which the Republican Constitution affords, we must alongside this configure a political analysis relevant to 2018 — one that finds fertile ground in the mind and consciousness of the Irish people. ‘The Irish Republic must be made a word to conjure with.’
In this regard, the onset of Brexit provides new opportunities unseen since Partition. Will Republicans get our house in order or are we already too late? Given the current state of affairs, an honest assessment would admit things don’t look promising. This can be tempered, however, by the surety it need not remain so. Where we go from here is up to ourselves — be that a newfound relevancy or complete oblivion, only time will tell.
In the challenges before us lie the prospects for change. As Brexit ruptures the constitutional fabric of the ‘dis-United Kingdom’, such is the impact on the balance of forces that normalisation has run aground. We must respond accordingly, with some form of ‘Irish Unity Initiative’ the necessary requirement. Building as much is the task before us over the months and years to come — ensuring it remains a Republican project our primary responsibility. The time to organise is now.
Sean Bresnahan blogs at An Claidheamh Soluis
Follow Sean Bresnahan on Twitter @bres79