First off we want to wish our membership, support base and fellow Irishmen and women a happy, safe and prosperous new year. We also send special greetings to Irish Republican prisoners here in Ireland and to other political prisoners around the world.
The year 2019 was a year dominated by political and constitutional uncertainty due to the political stalling and brinkmanship played out over the Brexit issue. Once again events in the Westminster Parliament had considerable implications for the people of Ireland and once again that Parliament displayed a total indifference as to how negatively those implications would impact on the future wellbeing of the Irish people.
As a result of the British General Election a degree of clarity has been brought to the political process. Such is the nature of this clarity that large sections of the body politic across the two islands are devoid of a lucid strategy on how to proceed forward. This dithering provides Irish Republicans with a real opportunity to present a coherent and pragmatic alternative to the utter failure of partition and its surrogate institutions of Stormont and Leinster House.
English nationalism now dominates the Westminster Parliament. The Scottish people have recognised this and are campaigning to secure a second referendum on Scottish Independence. Such a referendum is not to be confused or equated with a Border Poll in the Six Counties as the people of Scotland will vote as a sovereign unit.
In Ireland the response to the election result has been both craven and disingenuous. Having been duped by a Prime Minister, over whom they had political leverage, the political leadership of Unionism now face the prospect of being viewed as utterly irrelevant to shaping their own futures yet they still cling to the grotesque position of claiming loyalty to something it will never trust. This scenario represents a clear betrayal of working-class unionists as their leadership has publicly vowed to abandon them in the event of constitutional change.
Calls for a Border Poll have been weak and divided. Weak because calls for such a poll undermines Irish sovereignty and divided because Dublin has recoiled from the notion, such is its fear of the loss of its political powerbase in a sovereign Ireland.
The only credible alternative can only be in the context of a sovereign and democratic framework for the island of Ireland. British Parliamentary activity in Ireland has failed. Efforts to resuscitate Stormont or talk of Ireland entering the archaic remnants of the British Commonwealth are deeply flawed and futile.
This is the opportunity that Irish republicans must seize as we enter the new year. It is imperative that our alternative analysis is possessed of a detailed schematic of a system of governance and social policy programme that is both researched and costed. We must give the Irish people a clear choice so that they understand that their future wellbeing can only be guaranteed once their own sovereignty has equally been guaranteed.
We know that grassroots unionists are fearful of new change but what must be recognised is that change will be new for republicans also. From our standpoint we do not see the Six Counties as some form of lean to, crudely attached to the Free State and the resultant structure masquerading as a 32-county entity.
To avoid this republicans and unionists must sit down together as there is no one else on these islands who would have our interests at heart. We cannot presume of each other what our fears and proposals are for our future; we must come together and exchange these views frankly and with open minds. The constitutional and policy schematic for a new and sovereign Ireland must be developed organically from discussions within all our communities.
This is the nettle which all republicans and unionists must grasp in 2020.