While a changed circumstance, born of Brexit and demographic change, suggests some form of United Ireland may well be in the offing, for Irish Republicans a key consideration lies in what kind of Ireland is intended toward. Here we might remember that Ireland has been united before, under British rule, and so that concept, of itself, is not a panacea.
Irish Republicanism sets toward a national democracy mounted on the 1916 Proclamation — a separate endeavour to the supposed United Ireland that can be formed out of the Good Friday Agreement. If the writ of the British in Ireland is to be ended, Republicans must take note. For there is no viable route to the Republic through the provisions of the Good Friday process.
That process is set, instead, toward John Hume’s ‘agreed new Ireland’ — a revisionist construct whose intent and design is to reconcile Ireland to Britain, ensuring thus, should a United Ireland emerge, the retention of British domain. Other avenues need considered if the Republican object is to be realised.
Our response to the challenge this presents, rather than to retreat into mere ‘rejectionism’, must be to build support for the 32-County Republic set out under the Proclamation. Engaging our people on its merit is the work now before us. Failing as much, the more limited design of constitutional nationalism will only be further emboldened.
No matter how outward appearances may present, this design, were it to proceed, would be a further set back. For the ‘agreed new Ireland’ of Varadkar and co intends not on the Irish Republic but on a continuum of the Good Friday Agreement, to be entered into as a revised compromise with the British state on an all-Ireland basis.
Irish Republicans must focus accordingly, to ensure things do not end up so. Building struggle from below at a grassroots level, engaging ordinary people on a positive basis through political campaigning and initiative, is the journey that now must begin. Any hope that remains for the Irish Republic depends on it.