Irish Democracy - A framework for Unity
There exists an Anglo-Irish conflict. There exists in Ireland a prevailing politics engendered by this conflict incapable of resolving the conflict. Irish Democracy, A Framework for Unity is a political strategy for resolution of the Anglo-Irish conflict. It is a policy of democracy and for democracy. It is a policy to achieve Irish unification. As Irish republicans we pursue a separatist agenda rejecting the right or need to any British dimension in Irish politics other than those of mutual interest between two sovereign nations. The policy is predicated on the construction and practice of a new politics, democratically based, people inclusive and sovereign in expression and integrity. It is an Irish political policy.
The prevailing politics in Ireland is British politics in Ireland. This is the cause of conflict and the cause which perpetuates the conflict. British politics in Ireland, partition, is a violation of Irish sovereignty. It prohibits the Irish people to national self determination and true democratic expression. It is a colonial practice, a lingering remnant of a once world politics comprehensively rejected and reviled. Democracy is the ultimate expression of this rejection and Irish democracy must be this expression made manifest by a politics practiced from it. It is from this realisation that the politics of conflict resolution must be constructed.
Alternative politics for conflict resolution must be measured against their ability to achieve this end and not against political thinking which has already failed to do so. Republican ability must be set against the cause of conflict and not distracted by comparison to already failed strategies. The alternative to not seeking sovereign independence is to seek sovereign independence by constructing political strategies predicated on this objective. Irish Democracy, A Framework for Unity is such a political strategy.
As with any political strategy the 32 County Sovereignty Movement’s must be formatted on the basis of its just political foundation, its clearly outlined objective and its mechanism to pursue its realisation. It must address political reality if it wishes to secure fundamental change to it. As a policy, and as a strategy, the relationship between our political objective and our political strategies to achieve it must be underpinned by a clarity of purpose so as one cannot be undermined by the other. Throughout Irish history there were/are many advocates of the separatist position who ultimately sought popular endorsement to justify their abandonment of it. In more concise terms advocacy of the separatist position must be synonymous with its pursuit. The clarity of purpose in the Irish instance is sovereign democracy wherein any political initiative purporting to act in pursuit of the separatist ideal cannot in any way undermine the integrity of our right to that sovereign democracy. All politics on the island must be held accountable to this criterion.
Irish Democracy, A Framework for Unity is thus drafted under three principle headings;
1. Political Foundation.
2. Definition of Objective.
3. Political Strategies.
From these evolves the broader strategy as it relates to our perception of the conflict and the perceptions of others which confront us. Its principle tool is democratic scrutiny. The policy holds that democracy is the most potent panacea for conflict resolution and no less so for the Anglo-Irish conflict. The relationship between Irish sovereign integrity and Irish democracy is indivisible. A derogation of either imparts a derogation of the other.
We define Irish democracy as an expression of its people’s will, inclusive, accountable and unhindered by any external impediment. We reject the notion of it being a statistical headcount or a numerical mechanism by which the violation of its sovereign basis can in someway be legitimised. The British violation of Irish sovereignty is the cause of the Anglo-Irish conflict.
The Irish people are a sovereign people. The island of Ireland is the sovereign territory of the Irish people. These are historical and indisputable facts. They form the bedrock of the republican demand for Irish independence. Ireland, like many other small nations, was subject to colonisation and its history was primarily authored by its people’s resistance to it. Ireland was never a willing colony. The drive behind this resistance was the Irish people’s innate sense of our separate identity. This was conceded by the colonising power as it was this separate identity which marked us out for widespread coercion and discrimination.
The history of British colonialism in Ireland is one of repression, appeasement and coercion. The objective of British politics in Ireland is to remain in Ireland. The imperial concept of divide and conquer continues to be the principle mechanism by which the British maintains its presence. This policy, not unique to Ireland, involved the imposition of colonial settlers coupled with the implementation of draconian laws so that their minority status was given majority status authority. The Penal Laws of the 17th century represented a systematic attempt to eradicate the concept of Irishness as a separate identity and to replace it with an Anglo- Protestant ethos in which the minority garrison settlers were to be assured social, political, economical and religious dominance.
The political and economic systems which these laws created where systems in which political and social violence prevailed. Ireland was governed by imperial appointees, unrepresentative sectarian assemblies and flawed constitutions. It had disastrous consequences for the Irish people. Endemic poverty, famine, mass emigration and violence were the hallmarks of British colonialism in Ireland. In 1798 Theobald Wolfe Tone, the founder of Irish republican separatism, initiated an armed rebellion declaring the right of Ireland to complete independence and that such independence was the only course which could resolve the artificial differences fostered amongst the Irish people. The British responded with savage repression and introduced the Act of Union in 1801 declaring Ireland to be an integral part of the United Kingdom. In the century which followed Ireland witnessed a cycle of rebellion, constitutional agitation, famine amounting to genocide and land wars. The British pursued repression, appeasement and coercion in attempting to pacify its occupation. Ireland could not be pacified.
Although a clear political cohesion did not always exist in the politics which fought British colonialism this was to change in 1916 when the separatist position was defined in terms of the sovereignty of the Irish people. At the outset of rebellion the President of the Provisional Government of the Irish people, P.H Pearse, read out a Proclamation which declared that;
…the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible.’
In so doing Pearse defined what the British had no right to trespass on or which no Irish representative had any right to deviate from. In response the British Government executed the Provisional Government of the Irish people.
In revulsion at this act the Irish people overwhelmingly endorsed, by popular ballot in the general election of 1918, separatist candidates who had pledged in manifesto to uphold that which was declared in the 1916 Proclamation and to convene an Irish parliament, Dail Eireann, to legislate for the Irish people. In 1919 Dail Eireann issued A Declaration Of Independence declaring,
‘Whereas the Irish people are by right a free people;’
Upon this premise, and by their status as the elected representatives of all the Irish people, enacted it the same declaration,
‘We ordain that the elected Representatives of the Irish People alone have power to make laws binding on the people of Ireland, and that the Irish Parliament is the only Parliament to which that people will give their allegiance’
The British declared Dail Eireann illegal and war ensued. The War of Independence, between the Irish Republican Army and the British occupation forces concluded with the signing of a treaty in 1922 by which the island of Ireland was partitioned. Twenty six counties were given limited Home Rule and the remaining six, in which a national minority held numerical majority, were allowed secede. Dail Eireann, by entertaining a treaty which subverted the sovereignty of the people, usurped its own authority and voted, under threat of ‘immediate and terrible war’, in favour of the treaty. A Civil war ensued wherein pro-treaty forces received British military and political assistance.
Partition and most notably its abject failure has dominated Irish political life ever since. Ireland remains as a failed colonial remnant with the violent consequences which that automatically entails. It is the political position of the 32CSM that the resolution of the Anglo-Irish conflict must commence from the explicit recognition of the sovereignty of the Irish people and our inalienable right to exercise self determination with the integrity of our sovereignty unimpeded.
We practice a politics which is unequivocal on this fundamental right and reject as flawed, subverting and inadequate any political premise purporting to act in national interests which derogates from this right. The Declaration of Independence did not mark the achievement of Irish freedom but represented its lawful expression, mandating the Irish people with the right to defend it. Irish independence, Irish sovereignty and our right to defend them can never be viewed as anachronistic.
Irish independence is a democratic right and is also the democratic solution to the Anglo-Irish conflict. In consequence Irish democratic politics, in its advocacy and practice, must place our independence both as its central objective and its central political strategy. All politics must be accountable to democracy and democracy must be accountable to sovereign integrity. The 32CSM holds that the Irish people are a sovereign people fully entitled to national self determination. It is the British contention that we are not a sovereign people and it is the British demand that the Irish people should practice a politics which recognises this. Politics based on the pre acceptance of any form of legitimacy afforded to partition is British politics in Ireland. We reject such politics.
Definition of Objective
The objective of the 32CSM, the republican separatist objective, is the restoration of Irish sovereignty by the immediate end to the British violation of it. We seek a sovereign Irish democracy for the Irish people.
Our objective is also our strategy. The politics of Irish freedom must be free from any politics which would subvert it. We seek of others, as we do ourselves, the practicing of the politics of Irish freedom.
Our objective is the realisation of our Declaration of Independence. Our objective is the objective of Wolfe Tone, of Robert Emmet, of Fintan Lalor, of Charles Kickham, of Padraig Pearse, of Liam Lynch, of Sean McCaughey, of Sean South and of Francis Hughes. Our objective is the historical objective of Irish republicanism.
Our strategy is conflict resolution through democracy. It is an engagement with our political opponents at national and international level. It is the development of an Irish Democracy Process to secure a sovereign foundation for national self determination.
A ‘peace process’ is primarily driven by the emotiveness of its language and the electoral constraints of its participants desperate to avoid the perception of being viewed as anti peace. The political decision making process is reduced to party political considerations and electioneering. It cannot form the basis of conflict resolution because the issue of national sovereignty transcends party politics. National matters require national thinking.
Peace is not the absence of war and the politics of peace is not a process to avoid the breakdown of a ceasefire. A democracy process contains the necessary criteria to address the causes of conflict and to secure a political framework that can allow peace and justice to prevail. There are different parties to the Anglo-Irish conflict each reflecting their own interpretations of it and answerable to their own constituencies as to how they interact with it. The flaw in current thinking holds that the resolution to the conflict is to be found in harmonising these diverse political stances rather than holding them to account as they relate to the cause of that conflict. All parties have a role in the conflict resolution process and each party must address any democratic deficiency which their position entails and it is the strategy of the 32CSM to ensure that they do. Identifying these deficiencies requires a critical analysis set against a definition of democracy based on sovereign integrity, inclusiveness and accountability. The 32CSM submit that an Irish Democratic Framework meets this definition. An Irish Democratic Framework represents a just mechanism to resolve the conflict and the ensuing conflicts engendered thereof.
In outline this framework offers;
1. A sovereign democratic expression for the Irish people.
2. Maximum inclusiveness in the democratic process.
3. Real accountability to and from government.
4. Real influence in forming government.
5. Constitutional and sovereign stability.
It is against this backdrop that peace can be secured by challenging the standing of existing positions as they relate to these fundamental democratic necessities.
The British Government
The British government is the occupying power. The British government is not democratically accountable to any section of the Irish people. It is for the British government to defend this position and explain how it is tenable in an international context. The 32CSM has already issued that challenge through the auspices of the United Nations by legally challenging the British claim to sovereignty in Ireland. Clearly a duty exists on all democratic parties to challenge blatant undemocratic practices. It is the strategy of the 32CSM to ensure these parties take up this challenge.
In as much as there is this singular onus on the British government to address the issue of Irish sovereignty to secure a final settlement there exists other responsibilities for them also. As the claimed sovereign authority a neutral stance on its political intentions in Ireland is unacceptable. The nature, strategies and longevity of the Anglo-Irish conflict has created deep suspicion and fear amongst sections of the Irish people. The British government must comprehensively and definitively address these real concerns. In consequence the 32CSM calls on the British government, and for the other parties to do likewise, to clearly spell out their long term political intentions towards Ireland. The political intentions of the British government impact on all parties concerned thus creating an imperative for these parties to seek out what these intentions may be.
The Irish Government
A government calling itself the Irish government has a duty to defend Irish rights and interests. On national matters it has a duty to bring an Irish political perspective to bear. It alone, without external influence, must define Irish sovereignty and act accordingly. It must accept or reject the validity of the Declaration of Independence. The Irish government represents the foremost Irish political power on the island which affords it access to political corridors prohibitive to other parties. This places options at its disposal to address the conflict at national and international level. These include political, diplomatic, legal and economic forums in which Irish claims can be pursued and pressure can be brought to bear on other parties to engage on the issue of Irish sovereignty. The 32CSM calls on the Irish Government to take the lead in supporting the United Nations challenge to British claims of sovereignty in Ireland and to fully utilise all options open to it for this end. It must equally be held accountable as to why, and if, such options are not availed of and fully explored.
As with the British government the Irish government has an equal responsibility in addressing suspicion and uncertainty amongst the Irish people on future political direction. As with the British government a neutral stance on behalf of the Irish government is also unacceptable. The Irish government has stated that it favours Irish unity by ‘consent’ but what is its political programme to achieve this ‘consent’. How does it envisage that Irish unity will be brought to pass? The 32CSM will hold the Irish government to task on its stated position and will pressure other parties to do likewise. Irish government intentions also have a bearing on all involved which adds an imperative on parties to engage with government to discern what these political intentions may be.
The Irish government has no option but to engage on the concept of an Irish Democratic Framework as the principle political mechanism for resolving differences between sections of the Irish people. In its pursuit of unionist ‘consent’ the Irish government must outline its vision of an inclusive Irish democracy for them and detail the sovereign basis upon which it is justifiably founded.
The unionist people are Irish people. Unionism is an Irish political tradition. Since their arrival in Ireland in the 17th century those who formed the unionist persuasion have calibrated their political identity against an Irish measure and not a British one. Unionists have sought domination both as a minority on the island and as a majority within part of it. In its professed loyalty to Britain unionists have never sought equality within the democratic structure of Britain but sought veto over its decision making process as it effected the unionist tradition. Equally this veto was employed to ensure unionist insulation from the democratic wishes of the people on the island of Ireland. The veto is in effect a mechanism for unionists to secede from democratic structures which could render them a numerical minority. In tandem with this scenario is the enforced minority status afforded Irish nationalists in the artificial six county region whose sole purpose was to give economic credibility to the gerrymandered entity. Peace cannot be secured or consolidated by giving credence or constitutional protection to blatant anti democratic arrangements. It is the role of the 32CSM to challenge any political participant in such an arrangement to justify themselves and to explain on what democratic basis such arrangements are undertaken.
The hallmark of the relationship between unionists and the British government is one of profound and perennial mistrust. It is a grotesque scenario which serves only to reinforce a deep scepticism in the political and democratic process in Ireland. This mistrust is the hallmark of the historical relationship between the colonising power and the settler garrison. The proven antidote for this mistrust has been for those settlers to forge a democratic relationship with the indigenous population to help build a new and free nation. This is the strategic approach of the 32CSM to our fellow Irish people. Unionists face an imperative to address the deceit inherent in the British colonial mindset and to make preparation for their place in a democratic sovereign Irish nation. In consequence the 32CSM extends the hand of dialogue to unionists in full recognition that the fabric of a new democratic society cannot be tailored without their significant input. The future we both face into is a dependence on each other. The future of the unionist people is in Ireland.
Irish constitutional nationalism, (ICN) in its historical and contemporary outlook, views a British dimension to Irish politics as intrinsic to its practice. One of the great fallacies in Irish political history is to interpret the difference between constitutional nationalism and republican separatism as one of methodology in pursuit of objectives. Nothing is so further removed from the truth. Indeed it has long been an established strategy for ICN to promote this fallacy only to be exposed when it came to dealing with the issue of national sovereignty. At its heart ICN views the political landscape from a British/establishment perspective and explicitly recognises a legitimacy in British claims of sovereignty in Ireland. The Good Friday Accord is a product of this perspective. The GFA is a mechanism to prolong a ceasefire, nothing more. That prolongation is necessary for Irish constitutional nationalism to harmonise the British presence in Ireland. The question that must be addressed by ICN, and which is posed by the 32CSM, is whether or not it accepts that the Irish people are a sovereign people thus entitled to national self determination?
Irish constitutional nationalism, no more than republican separatism, is not defined by the methods it employs but by the products and provenance of its political practices. The GFA addressed only political methods as witnessed in the pre-conditional acceptance of the Mitchell Principles for entry to negotiations. Once Irish politics defers to a British insistence on how our national rights can be pursued and defended Irish rights are automatically demeaned. This stance is one which the British would not countenance concerning its own peoples rights. As a negotiations position it is an unmitigated disaster from the Irish perspective. The 32CSM seeks to realign ICN to a position of defending Irish national rights as resolutely as the British defend theirs.
The political analysis of the 32CSM is a correct one but will remain impotent unless dialogue is pursued with the other political parties to the conflict. Because we are correct they will not voluntarily come to us but will seek to marginalise and demonise our republican stance. This is part of their failed agenda. The issue of national sovereignty, national self determination and Irish democracy cannot be avoided indefinitely. Irish Democracy, A Framework for Unity is a strategy which allows those parties to engage on these fundamental issues with republicans by first and foremost asking them to address the veracity of their own positions.
An Irish Democratic Framework offers an original and unprecedented political opportunity to resolve the deep divisions amongst the Irish people engendered by the Anglo-Irish conflict. It is not an imposed structure but one which needs the active input of all our people to construct and in so doing the process of dialogue, understanding and peace building can commence.
The 32 County Sovereignty Movement remains deeply committed to our objective of restoring our national sovereignty and the creation of an inclusive Irish democracy for all the people of Ireland. We thus initiate The Irish Democracy Process.