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The 32 County Sovereignty Committee views the proposed "agreement" as fundamentally undemocratic, anti-Republican and unacceptable. The agreement runs contrary to the democratic wish of the Irish people to their sovereign independence as declared in the "Declaration of Independence" in 1919.

We believe that rather than aid or assist the goal of a genuine and just peace it will compound the problem as it does not address the fundamental cause of conflict, which is the denial by Britain of Ireland's right to Sovereign Independence.

The agreement clearly acknowledges the wish of the overwhelming majority of the people of Ireland for a United Ireland, which would be in keeping with the democratic sovereign decision taken in 1918 for an end of British rule. Yet by the manipulation and use of a minority veto, which is repeatedly enshrined in this document, it has contrived to deny this wish. British policy on the "Union" and the abuse of the "consent" principal are inextricably linked, one serves the other.

We believe Britain is mercilessly pursuing its war objectives under the banner of "peace", these objectives are the stabilisation of British state rule in Ireland and an attempt to assimilate Republican resistance into structures which neutralise any assertion of the people of Ireland to sovereignty and national self determination.

Transitional arrangements depicted by this "agreement" are for a restructured partition from direct rule to an internal Assembly. There are no transitional arrangements outlined for the restoration of Ireland's sovereignty.

The removal of articles 2 & 3 and their replacement by the proposed aspiration clauses are tantamount to the greatest attempt at national duplicity ever attempted by politicians upon the people of Ireland. The purpose behind the referendum is to transfer sovereignty to the British Cabinet. The argument put before the people that the new clauses replace people over territory falls flat on its face considering that the British claim is territorially based.

The illegality of placing such an agenda before the Irish people while part of the country is under armed occupation should have been obvious to the Irish negotiators. The British having consistently denied Ireland's sovereignty are now signing up to an agreement where the Irish are being asked by referenda to legalise an illegal occupation.

The many aspects of the agreement that undoubtedly could be hailed as progressive and helpful in relation to reconciliation of our people are designed to blind the Irish people into voting on highly complicated constitutional matters. The timetable allowed for debate is clearly inadequate when one considers the resistance of our forefathers through one hundred acts of coercion - that an Irish government is proposing that we vote to recognise British sovereignty over Irish soil within a five week period is obscene.

This committee welcomes and encourages agreement between the various differing traditions in our country, however the outrageous proposition that British sovereignty over part of Ireland is a prerequisite for this, raises the question about the meaning of the word agreement!

We note this agreement is not being sold on the basis it will bring about freedom, justice, and sovereign independence, but on the false assertion that the alternative is conflict. Painful experience has shown that past strategies, which have attempted to stabilise British rule, have in fact been no more than alternatives to the only real solution that can bring about the conditions for a genuine peace, namely British state withdrawal from Ireland.

The underhanded attempts to trade basic human rights for consent to disenfranchise a section of our people undermining the Sovereignty of the Nation must be deplored. Furthermore, we believe the vulnerable position of political hostages and their families is being exploited. It is the committee's position to campaign for release of all Republican prisoners in Ireland and throughout the world.

We believe that should Britain succeed in its aims to modernise its occupation, continue the denial of our right to national sovereignty and prolong partition, this will result in further injustice and conflict.

The 32 County Sovereignty Committee will be sending a delegation to the U.N., to lodge Ireland's Declaration of Independence and petition the U.N. to uphold our right to national sovereignty and end Britain's Denial of that right.

It is hoped the delegation will meet with numerous, concerned groups and individuals among the Irish American community.



Nature of Application


This submission is being made by the 32 County Sovereignty Committee to the United Nations to ascertain as to whether the Government of Great Britain has been in breach of the following U.N Covenants:


1. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. GA Res. 2200A(XXI), Dec 16th 1966. 21.GAOR Supp. (No 16) at 52, UN Doc. A/6316 (1966). 999 U.N. -S.171 entered into force March 23, 1976. ) Part.1 Art,1(1).


2. The International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights. GA Res. 2200A (XXI). Dec 16th 1966. Dec 16th 1966. 21 GAOR Supp. (No.16) at 49, U/N. Doc. A/6316 (1966), 993 U.N.T.:S.3. entered into force on 3rd of January 1976. Part.1. Art.1. Art 1 (1).


3. The United Nations Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. (Adopted by the UN General Assembly on 14th December 1960). GA Res. 1514/XV, Dec 14th, 1960. Article 4 and Article 6.


4. Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation Among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. G.A. Res. 2625, 25 UN GAOR Supp. No. 28 at 121, UN doc. A/8082 (1970)



Present Situation


Over the centuries, Britain has refused to recognise Ireland’s right to National Sovereignty.


In denying Ireland its’ right to National Sovereignty through its colonial policy, Britain has fostered divisions within our people through armed force, sectarianism, inequality, partition and the continued military occupation of the six north-eastern counties of our country.


On January 21st 1919 the elected representatives of all the Irish people met in national assembly known as Dail Eireann and passed our Declaration of Independence.#[1] Britain responded with war and the forced partition of Ireland.


Britain is currently attempting to copper-fasten the partition of our country through the promotion of a “peace process” built on preconditions which seek to legitimise its occupation and the fostering of a veto by a national minority.


Should Britain succeed in its aims to modernise its occupation, continue the denial of our right to national sovereignty and prolong partition, this will result in further injustice and conflict.


Therefore we believe that the United Nations should urgently investigate the matter as Britain is clearly in transgression of the Covenants and Declaration cited.


Historical Background


In outlining Britain’s role in Ireland we submit the following document which was written by the late Sean Mc Bride, an international jurist; a former U.N. High Commissioner and winner of both the Nobel and Lenin Peace Prizes.

Britain's Role in Ireland by Sean McBride:


Since I ceased to take an active part in politics in Ireland, I have systematically refrained from dealing publicly with Irish affairs when speaking outside of the country. I considered that this was the responsibility of those who were actively engaged in politics in Ireland. Furthermore, I did not wish anything that I might say to be construed as an encouragement to those who are engaged n a campaign of violence against the British in Northern Ireland. I had hoped that persuasion and common sense would ultimately persuade the British to withdraw gracefully from Ireland without inflicting more suffering on any section of Ireland or further damaging Britain’s reputation.


This apparently was an erroneous judgement on my part. I should have known from previous experience that when it comes to dealing with Ireland, the British government and establishment lose all common sense and all sense of justice.


Before dealing with hunger-strike situation, I should outline briefly the history of the Anglo-Irish relationships for those who may not be familiar with it.


For over seven centuries, Britain has sought to conquer Ireland and to treat it as a colony. Famines, amounting to genocide, confiscation of lands, executions, jails and bribery were the methods used to colonise Ireland. Because of her overwhelming strength, military and economic, Britain was able to hold on to the whole of the island of Ireland until 1921. The repression that followed the 1916 Rising unified the Irish people behind the Irish Republic.#[2] By 1921 the Irish national liberation movement, known as the Irish republican Army, was able to bring about a situation in which the British government agreed to a truce and to enter into negotiations for an Anglo-Irish Treaty that would recognise the right to self-determination.


The Truce was signed on 11 July 1921 and negotiations for an Anglo-Irish Treaty began in London on 11 October 1921. By December 1921, the British delegation in the Anglo-Irish negotiations had succeeded in dividing the Irish delegation. On 6th December 1921, the British Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, dramatically issued an ultimatum that unless the Irish delegation signed a draft treaty, which had been prepared, there would be ‘immediate and terrible war’. This Treaty#[3] and the circumstances under which it had been signed led to a deep division among the Irish people. In turn this division led to the Civil war in Ireland that began on 25 June 1921. The British Government, having succeeded in splitting the Irish Republican Movement, pressed their advantage home by urging the then provisional government to assert its authority over the Irish republican Army. Mr deValera and the Republican forces, who refused to accept the Anglo-Irish Treaty, were finally defeated after a bitter civil war which ended nominally in May 1923, but which continued sporadically for some years to follow.


Three main issues divided the country and led to the Civil War.


Firstly, the insistence of the British Government that all the elected representatives of the Irish people should swear an Oath of Allegiance to the British Crown, and that provisions to this effect should be embodied in the Irish Constitution. This requirement was embodied in the first Irish Constitution of 1922.#[4]


Secondly, provisions for the partition of Ireland into two separate states: one in the north-eastern part of the island to be known as ‘Northern Ireland’, would remain under British jurisdiction - the other which would include twenty-six of the thirty-two counties of Ireland would form part of the British Commonwealth and be styled ‘The Irish Free State’.


Thirdly, under the Treaty imposed by Britain, Ireland was to become and remain a Member-State of the British Commonwealth owing allegiance to the British Crown. Britain was also to retain some military bases in the Irish Free State.


These provisions had been accepted by a war-weary Ireland under the threat of ‘immediate and terrible war’, but in reality, they were unacceptable to the Irish people. Michael Collins, who had signed the Treaty and led the Provisional Government of the Irish Free State, did so on the basis that it was to be a ‘stepping stone’ to achieve an independent Irish Republic for the nation.


After the Civil war, Mr deValera set up a political party and became Prime Minister of the Irish Free State consisting of twenty-six of the thirty-two counties of Ireland. He promptly did away with the Oath of Allegiance to the British Crown and enacted a new Constitution on 1 July 1937,#[5] which received the overwhelming support of the Irish people. In this Constitution, he rejected the concept of a partitioned Ireland and provided by Article 1 of the Constitution that: “The National territory consists of the whole island of Ireland, its islands and territorial seas”.


Later, another Irish Government in 1949 declared the State to be the Republic of Ireland, thus terminating such links as had continued to subsist with the British Crown and the British Commonwealth.


Reluctantly, Britain had to accept the constitutional change that had been brought about by Mr deValera’s and Mr Costello’s governments. It did so with bad grace and each time announced its determination to maintain control over the six northeastern counties known as Northern Ireland.


The British argument was that the six northeastern counties now formed a separate state entitled to the exercise of self-determination. The Irish argument was that the right of national self-determination applied to the island of Ireland as a whole and not to twenty-six out of the thirty-two counties of Ireland.


In Northern Ireland itself, the ordinary laws were abrogated and a police state was installed. Because the British authorities and those who supported British rule in Northern Ireland feared that the nationalist population, which were then a minority, would increase more rapidly than the pro-British population, which was generally Protestant, a regime of wholesale discrimination was installed. The reason for installing a draconian system of discrimination, based on religious beliefs, was that by preventing Catholics from obtaining employment or housing, their numbers could be kept down. They would not be able to get married and they would not be able to obtain employment. This would force them to leave the area, thus ensuring that the Catholic population would decrease.


Because the discrimination exercised by the British authorities in Northern Ireland was based on the religion of the population, the impression was created that the conflict in Northern Ireland was a religious conflict and not a political one. While there is some foundation for these allegations, it is a foundation that is based upon the history of the British occupation of Ireland. Until the nineteenth century, British policy had been to eradicate the catholic religion from Ireland and to dispossess all Catholics of their property. To this end, vast tracts of land and property had been confiscated and given to ‘planters’ or colonists brought over to Ireland by the British who were invariably Protestant. Thus, up to catholic emancipation at the beginning of the nineteenth century Catholics were the deprived and impoverished segment of the population. While after 1829 the Catholics were allowed to own property, the Planters nevertheless continued to exercise an official ascendancy over the ordinary Irish people insofar as employment, housing and privileges were concerned. It is by reason of these historic events that the present-day divisions between Catholics and Protestants have survived until now.


The situation is best described by no less a person than the well-known Anglican Theologian, John Austin baker (now Bishop of Salisbury), who was the Chaplain to the Speaker of the British House of Commons, and who in a sermon preached in Westminster Abbey (1 December 1980) pointed out:


"No British government ought to forget that this perilous moment, like many before it, is the outworking of a history for which our country is primarily responsible. England seized Ireland for its own military benefit; it planted Protestant settlers there to make it strategically secure; it humiliated and penalised the native Irish and their Catholic faith, and then, when it could no longer hold on the whole Ireland, it kept back part to be a home for the settlers descendants, a non viable solution for which Protestants have suffered as much as anyone.


Our injustice created the situation, and by constantly repeating that we will maintain it as long as the majority wishes it, we actively inhibit Protestant and Catholic from working out a new future together. This is the root cause of the violence and the reason why the protesters think of themselves as political offenders".


The political parties, North and South, while not accepting the situation, did nothing about it. A new generation of young people however, resented the discrimination that was being implemented to their detriment. They could get neither employment nor housing. All employment and promotion within the all services were strictly reserved to non-Catholics. Notices were displayed outside factories proclaiming ‘No Catholics employed here’.

Gradually, as was inevitable, the rising generation of young people resented a situation in which they were treated as third class citizens and were precluded from obtaining employment or housing. They became dissatisfied and disillusioned with existing political parties in the North as well as in the South, and they started a perfectly legal and constitutional civil rights campaign demanding an end to the discrimination that prevailed and insisting on their civil and religious rights. They obtained the support of the majority of the nationalist population in the North, and indeed the active support and sympathy of the population in the rest of the country. Bernadette Devlin McAliskey became one of their leaders and swept aside the existing, more moderate politicians. The rise of this new Civil Rights Movement was met with violent repression by the British forces and police. This culminated in the killing of thirteen civilians at a perfectly legal public demonstration in Derry City by British soldiers on 30 January 1972, now known as Bloody Sunday.


These acts of oppression by the British forces had two results. In the first place they solidified and increased the support for the Civil Rights movement, and on the other hand, they influenced the young people to turn more and more towards the IRA and physical force. The IRA availed of this situation to become the defenders of the Catholic population against the attacks of the police and the British military forces. The methods used by the British became more and more indefensible. Prisoners were systematically tortured by means of sophisticated methods imported from England. This was fully exposed and condemned in the course of legal proceedings brought by the Irish Government before the European Commission of Human Rights in Strasbourg, and assurances that these methods would be discontinued. It is claimed by the IRA that these methods have not being discontinued, but are now being applied more secretly.


As the extent and nature of the oppression grew, so did the IRA reaction to it, and we have a constant escalation in what is now a full-blown guerrilla war, in the course of which some 628 members of the British forces have been killed and 7,496 wounded in the period 1969 - June 1981. In the same period, 1,496 civilians were killed and 16,402 wounded. The total number of persons killed in this small area over the last ten years is 2,124 and the number wounded is 23,898. There were in Northern Ireland 1,244 Republican prisoners in 1981. These are variously described by the British authorities as terrorists or criminals; by the nationalist population they are regarded as political or Republican prisoners.


Lest the account I have given be regarded as biased because of my natural sympathy with the aspirations of the Irish people for reunification of Ireland, I should like to quote from the editorial of a well-known English catholic Monthly, magazine, The New Blackfriars:


“The squalid pretence that the problems of Ulster flow from the flaring up of mysterious sectarian differences and not from the misery, anger and frustration produced by the sorry mess of the last 50 years of British rule, the white washing of the massacre of Bloody Sunday of January 1972, the arbitrariness and brutality concomitant with internment without trial, the hypocritical shunning of the Strasbourg Report of 1976, which found Britain guilty of the crime of torture and inhuman treatment in Northern Ireland, the method used to extract ‘confessions’ for the political ‘Diplock’ trials, the killing of civilians by rubber and plastic bullets and speeding ferret cars: all of these and many more are equally is not more responsible for the deaths of the hunger-strikers and all the violence and misery that followed.


So long as these beams in the English eye remain, so long does the English condemnation of hunger strikers lack moral credibility, even when it is made by those ‘speaking as English Catholics’. We have to pause and reflect on the possibility that cardinal O’Fiach and the other Northern Ireland bishops may be able to see more clearly and certainly with more compassion the complexities and subtleties of the sorry problem”.


As a result of the situation described, there were on 11 June 1981 1,244 male prisoners serving sentences in British prisons in Northern Ireland for what the British describe as terrorist type offences. In addition, there were on the same date approximately 50 women prisoners also serving sentences. It must be borne in mind that none of these prisoners were convicted after trial in due process of law. They were tried by single-judge courts without any juries. These courts are known as ‘Diplock Courts’. These are courts which follow procedures that do not conform with those applicable to normal trials under the rule of law.


Of the some 1,300 prisoners serving sentences in British jails in Northern Ireland, 328 have been receiving what the British describe as ‘special status treatment’. The balance of some 966 have been denied this ‘special status treatment’. The balance of some 966 have been denied this ‘special status treatment’. In effect, what the hunger strikers in the H-Blocks as Long Kesh demanded was that they should receive the special status treatment. This was spelled out by the hunger strikers and the other prisoners in five specific demands concerning:


1. The right to wear their own clothes at all times.

2. The prisoners requested that they should not be required to do menial prison work; they were prepared to do all the work required for the maintenance and cleaning of the portions of the prison occupied by them. They also asked that study time should be taken into account in determining the amount of work which they were required to do.


3. They requested the right to associate freely at recreation time with other political prisoners.


4. They requested the right to a weekly visit, letter or parcel, as well as the right to organise their own educational and recreational pursuits.


5. The right of remission of sentences as is normally provided for all other prisoners.


The prisoners believed that the refusal of the British authorities to grant them the ‘special category status’ which obtained in regard to other prisoners was a political decision taken in order to criminalise their status. Several hundred of them went on what was called the ‘blanket protest’ from September 1976. This protest consisted of refusing to wear prison clothes and on wearing a blanket instead. As from March 1978 they escalated the protest to a ‘no-wash protest’.


A number of them went on hunger-strike in October 1980. And the hunger-strike ended in 18 December on the basis of agreement put forwards by cardinal Tomas ‘O’Fiach and Bishop Daly. In the course of the negotiations, which took place with Cardinal O’Fiach and Bishop Daly, the British Government had agreed substantially to the demands made by the prisoners provided that they were not described ‘as acceptance of political status’. This proviso was accepted by the prisoners. However, the British Government failed to implement the recommendations made by Cardinal O’Fiach and substantially accepted by the British Government.


This caused considerable bitterness and distrust among the prisoners. They considered that they had been tricked into giving up the hunger-strike by subterfuge in which the British Government availed of the good offices of cardinal O’Fiach but then reneged on the agreement they had made with him.


Cardinal O’Fiach and Bishop Daly also considered that they had been misled by the British Government. It is in this atmosphere that the later hunger-strike was started on 1 March 1981. However, on this occasion, the prisoners started the hunger-strike with the preconceived determination that they were not going to allow the British Government to trick them again, or to use intermediaries; they insisted that they would continue the hunger-strike until death, in relays, until such time as the British Government gave categorical assurances to them concerning the future treatment of prisoners, and the granting of the five requirements which they had specified. In the meantime, a succession of well-intentioned intermediaries including a number of members of the Irish parliament, representatives of the European Commission on Human Rights, representatives of the Irish Commission on Justice and peace and representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross sought to mediate, bit the attitude of the British Government throughout had been:


“We cannot accept that mediation between the government and convicted prisoners, even by international bodies of the highest standing is the right course”.


They also refused to negotiate directly with the prisoners. In reality, the attitude of the British Government had been to avail of all the intermediaries in an effort to break the determination of the prisoners and to avoid negotiating with the prisoners, thus binding themselves to alterations in the prison rules. The prisoners accused them of playing a cynical game of brinksmanship, waiting for one prisoner after the other to reach the dying point, hoping that this would break the morale of the other prisoners. Indeed in the course of a press interview given by Michael Alison, British Minister of State for Northern Ireland in the British Embassy in Washington. He made the startling but candid admission that negotiations about the hunger strike was like:


“the efforts of authorities to keep hijackers occupied while plans are developed to subdue the. (Irish Times, 13 July 1981).


In the course of this protest ten hunger-strikers died. They were Bobby Sands MP, Francis Hughes, Raymond McCreesh, Patsy O’Hara, Joe McDonnell, Martin Hurson, Kevin Lynch, Kieran Doherty TD, Thomas McElwee and Michael Devine.


I have sought to outline as objectively as I can the elements of the drama which unfurled itself in the British prison known as H-Block in Northern Ireland.

I do not agree with the violence used by the IRA and have refused to countenance their politics. Likewise, I have refused to allow myself to be used for propaganda purposes by the H-Block Committee in Ireland. Having said this, I understand fully the reasons which prompted the H-Block prisoners to undertake this ultimate form of protest. Furthermore, I cannot remain silent in the face of the duplicity and methods used by the British in their dealings with Ireland and with the hunger-striking prisoners.


Britain’s attempts to maintain dominion over the six north-eastern counties have caused misery and suffering to the whole of Ireland for over half a century. It has been the cause of a civil war in Ireland; it has divided Irishmen all over the world; it has been responsible for thousands of deaths and untold sufferings; it has prevented the economic development of Ireland. In brief, as our last Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Charles Haughey put it, it has cast long dark shadows into every aspect of Ireland’s life for over a century. Successive Irish governments, opposed as they are to partition, have been put into the impossible position of having to jail and oppress their own young people in order to protect British rule in the north-east corner of our country. A stage has now been reached where this is no longer acceptable to the Irish people.


In their own country and in countries which they do not seek to dominate, the British are reasonable, fair-minded, and even loveable. It is otherwise in areas which they regard as their preserve. In regard to Ireland, the British government and establishment are just incapable of being objective, fair-minded or just. A typical illustration of this was provided some time ago.


The British forces in northern Ireland have been using for the last three years rubber or plastic bullets indiscriminately. They have argued that they are harmless. Over fifty people - mostly children - have been killed or permanently maimed in Northern Ireland by these plastic bullets. This was denied by the British who maintained that they were harmless. When extensive riots broke out recently in Britain, the possibility arose of using rubber or plastic bullets for crowd control. An alarmed Conservative British Home Secretary said immediately that he would oppose their use ‘in mainland Britain because they are lethal!” (Irish Times, 11 July, 1981). It is all right to use them in Ireland and to kill women and children there - not ‘on mainland Britain’.


The British Government likes to portray itself in the role of the ‘honest broker’ who is in Northern Ireland against its will ‘merely in order to protect the Protestant population’. There would be absolutely no persecution of Protestants in Ireland. The Irish Government has a good record in this sphere and would willingly agree to international supervision in this area if it was thought necessary. The Convention on Human Rights would provide the necessary safeguards.


Impoverished Britain spends fourteen hundred million pounds to subsidise and occupy Northern Ireland. This equal to approximately double the amount in U.S. Dollars, $2,800,000,000. Britain has systematically used, and continues to use, its vast military and financial resources to encourage a segment of the population of the North-East to support British rule there. With such an expenditure and army occupation it would be possible to disrupt any country. We have had examples of this external intervention all over the world.


Britain has no right or mandate to be in any part of Ireland. The overwhelming majority of the Irish people want a united Ireland, and want the British out of Ireland. It is as simple as that.


By agreeing to withdraw from Ireland and by agreeing to a United Ireland, Britain could begin to establish a normal, friendly relationship with Ireland. She could only improve her international image and put an end to a shameful part of her colonial past.


In the early stages of the last decade, Paul Johnson, one of Great Britain’s most distinguished journalists, editor of The Spectator, and one of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s most ardent supporters, wrote in The New Statesman:


“In Ireland over the centuries, we have tried every possible formula; direct rule, indirect rule, genocide, apartheid, puppet parliaments, real parliaments, martial law, civil law, colonisation, land reform, partition. Nothing has worked. The only solution we have not tried is absolute and unconditional withdrawal. Why not try it now? It will happen in any event.


Political View


The 32 County Sovereignty Committee stands to uphold Ireland's Declaration of Independence as declared by Dail Eireann on January 21st 1919.


We reject Britain's right to occupy any part of our country and to involve itself in any make, shape or form in the affairs of the Irish nation.


Down through the years Britain has denied the right of the Irish people to national sovereignty and has imposed partition by force of arms.


Whenever the Irish people have moved to express their right to sovereignty, Britain has moved to oppose that right and sought to perpetuate partition.


The pretext for partition - the wishes of a national minority to maintain British rule - holds no validity against the expressed wishes of the vast majority of the Irish people.


Partition perpetuates the British Government's denial of the Irish peoples right to self-determination. It perpetuates the cycle of oppression/domination/resistance/oppression.

In the words of the late Sean McBride, winner of the Nobel and Lenin Peace Prizes:

"Ireland's right to sovereignty, independence and unity are inalienable and indefeasible. It is for the Irish people as a whole to determine the future status of Ireland. Neither Britain nor a small minority selected by Britain has any right to partition the ancient island of Ireland, nor to determine its future as a sovereign nation."

Political/Historical Summary


From the above historical analysis we conclude:


1. The acceptance of the partition acts whether under duress or free choice can have no legal standing.


2. The Declaration of Independence 1919 was issued by Dail Eireann as the result of the Authority of the people of Ireland in the 1918 election. Therefore any fundamental change in that position could only be brought about by going back to the Irish people.


Therefore we challenge the authority of the Dail to accept a motion before it usurping the sovereign decision of the people, i.e. The Treaty of 1921. for the following reasons:


(a) Having declared the sovereign position of the people lawful, it was not within their remit to disestablish the sovereignty of the people - a fact clearly understood in their own declaration of Independence.


(b) More importantly, the members of the Dail went before the people with the specific aim of upholding the will of the people. Therefore, it defies belief that a motion to accept a treaty fostered upon the Dail at the point of a gun by a foreign parliament would be anything other than null and void.


3. The Treaty foisted upon the Irish people also includes a British insistence that a written constitution be brought into being but not put before the people. At this stage the Dail could no longer consider itself a sovereign Parliament as it was now operating under a British Act of Parliament.


4. The relevance of what way the vote went to accept the Treaty is the main flaw in the argument. That the Treaty was won by a majority of seven votes is irrelevant. The partitioned Dail had no authority to disenfranchise a section of the population into a partitioned state.


5. Authority to put before Dail Eireann the dictates of foreign power in the first instance was not within the remit of the Dail because this was not a Treaty being signed by two Governments who respected each other's sovereignty. The British had in 1920 challenged the will of the Irish people at the ballot box with introduction of the Government of Ireland Act 1920 #[6] - an update of the Act of Union #[7] However without granting any credence to the Act of Union 1800, the Government of Ireland Act 1920 was without doubt a clear breach of international law and of the British Government’s own previous acceptance that they would acquiesce to the will of the people.


6. The British Parliament up to the present day has not yet being fully brought to account in a direct legal challenge as to what authority she has to set up a state in Ireland for her colonial descendants by the International Community bearing in mind the great loss of life and human suffering that has stemmed from this denial.


7. The statement by Peter Brooke, the then British Secretary for State for Northern Ireland on November 9 1989 to the effect that Britain has no selfish or economic reason to remain in Ireland is possibly the clearest intention as to what her real intent was, for she forgot to mention that she had given a legal guarantee that the majority within the artificial state would now be her legal excuse to remain in Ireland. The British avoid recognising that Ireland has the right to sovereignty in the first instance.


8. The granting of consent to the unionist is in direct transgression to the sovereignty position. We ordain that consent to a minority to opt out within the sovereignty of a nation can only be granted by a sovereign decision of the people as otherwise it grants sections of the people the right to transgress their own sovereignty.


Our Rights in International Law


We claim that Ireland's right to sovereignty, independence and unity - the right of the Irish people, as a whole, to self-determination - is supported by universally recognised principles of international law.


In particular, the right to self determination is enshrined in the two United Nations' Covenants of 1966 - The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and The International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights.



Article 1 of each Covenant states:


"1. All peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtues of

that right they determine their economic, social and cultural development." The landmark Declaration on Principles of International law Concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation Among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations declares:


"..all people have the right freely to determine, without external influence, their political status and to pursue their economic, social and cultural development and every state has the duty to respect this right in accordance with the provisions of the Charter."


Britain's continued occupation and partition of our country contravenes these Covenants.


The repression and partition of Ireland also contravenes The United Nations Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. (Adopted by the UN General Assembly on 14th December 1960).



Article 4 states:


"All armed action or repressive measures of all kinds directed against dependent peoples shall cease in order to enable them to exercise peacefully and freely their right to complete independence, and the integrity of their national territory shall be respected".


Article 6 states:


"Any attempt aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and the territorial integrity of a country is incompatible with the purposes and principles of the charter of the United Nations."


In an attempt to modernise partition, the London and Dublin Governments are proposing to hold joint referenda on both sides of the Irish border. We reject the legitimacy of these referenda. We hold that Britain has no right to determine the future of Ireland as a sovereign nation.





The Irish people have a right to self-determination; free from outside interference; and with the territorial integrity of our country respected.


The conflict in Ireland is not an international dispute where the two claims can be argued to be equal, but a clear violation of the sovereignty of an Independent Nation. As a result of this, armed insurgency has been pursued over centuries.


We now call upon the International Community to assist us to avoid further bloodshed.


We append a letter to Mr. M. Clemenceau, #[8] at The League of Nations, Paris dated, February 22nd 1919 to show that Ireland has sought international assistance by peaceful means on every occasion.

It is this denial of the right of the Irish people to self determination and national sovereignty and Britain’s continued colonial interference that contravenes the covenants and declarations of the United Nations.

We, the 32 County Sovereignty Committee respectfully petition the United Nations to investigate these breaches of UN covenants and issue an appropriate ruling.


In the light of our claim to national sovereignty, as outlined in our Declaration Of Independence, we further petition the United Nations to uphold our right to national sovereignty and end Britain's denial of that right.



Declaration of Independence


Whereas the Irish people is by right a free people: And whereas for seven hundred years the Irish people has never ceased to repudiate and repeatedly protested in arms against foreign usurpation;

And whereas English rule in this country is, and always has been, based upon force and fraud and maintained by military occupation against the declared will of the people;

And whereas the Irish Republic was proclaimed in Dublin on Easter Monday, 1916, by the Irish Republican Army, acting on behalf of the Irish people;

And whereas the Irish people is resolved to secure and maintain its complete independence in order to secure and maintain the common weal, to re-establish justice, to provide for future defence, to ensure peace at home and good will with all nations, and to constitute a national policy based upon the peoples will, with equal rights for every citizen;

And whereas at the threshold of a new era in history the Irish electorate has in General Election of December 1918, seized the first occasion to declare by an overwhelming majority its firm allegiance to the Irish Republic;

Now therefore, we, the elected Representatives of the ancient Irish people in national Parliament assembled, do in the name of the Irish people, ratify the establishment of the Irish Republic and pledge ourselves and our people to make this declaration effective by every means at our command;

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 allegiance;

We solemnly declare foreign government in Ireland to be an invasion of our national right which we will never tolerate, and we demand the evacuation of our country by the English Garrison;

We claim for our national independence the recognition the recognition and support of every free nation in the world, and we proclaim that independence to be a condition precedent to international peace thereafter;

In the name of the Irish people we humbly commit our destiny to Almighty God Who gave our fathers the courage and determination to persevere through long centuries of ruthless tyranny, and strong in the justice of the cause which they have handed down to us, we ask his divine blessing on this last stage of the struggle we have pledged ourselves to carry through to freedom.


Dail Eireann, January 21, 1919









IRISHMEN AND IRISHWOMEN: In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom.

Having organised and trained her manhood through her secret revolutionary organisation, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and through her open military organisations, the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army, having patiently perfected her discipline, having resolutely waited for the right moment to reveal itself, she now seizes that moment, and supported by her exiled children in America and by gallant allies in Europe, but relying in the first on her own strength, she strikes in full confidence of victory.

We declare 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. The long usurpation of that right by a foreign people and government has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the Irish people. In every generation the Irish people have asserted their right to national freedom and sovereignty; six times during the past three hundred years they have asserted it in arms. Standing on that fundamental right and again asserting it in arms in the face of the world, we hereby proclaim the Irish Republic as a Sovereign Independent State, and we pledge our lives and the lives of our comrades-in-arms to the cause of its freedom, of its welfare, and of its exaltation among the nations.

The Irish Republic is entitled to, and hereby claims, the allegiance of every Irishman and Irishwoman. The Irish Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and all of its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally, and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien Government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past.

Until our arms have brought the opportune moment for the establishment of a permanent National Government, representative of the whole people of Ireland and elected by the suffrages of all her men and women, the Provisional Government, hereby constituted, will administer the civil and military affairs of the Republic in trust for the people.

We place the cause of the Irish Republic under the protection of the Most High God, Whose blessing we invoke upon our arms, and we pray that no one who serves that cause will dishonour it by cowardice, inhumanity, or rapine. In this supreme hour the Irish Nation must, by its valour and discipline and the readiness of its children to sacrifice themselves for the common good, prove itself worthy of the august destiny to which it is called.


Signed on behalf of the Provisional Government


Tomás Ó Cléirigh........Seán Mac Diarmada


Tomás Mac Donncha....Pádraig Mac Piarais


Seosamh Pluincéad.......Séamas Ó Conghaile


Eamonn Ceannt............Dublin 1916






Letter to M. Clemenceau, 1919.


The following is a letter from the Irish Republican Delegate at Paris to Premier Clemenceau and all the Peace Conference delegates, claiming for Ireland admission to the League of nations as a Constituent member:

Paris, February 22, 1919.

Sir: As the accredited envoy of the Government of the Irish Republic, I have the honour to bring to you notice the claim of my Government, in the name of the Irish nation, for international recognition of the independence of Ireland, and for the admission of Ireland as a constituent member of the League of Nations.

The Irish people seized the opportunity of the general election of December, 1918, to declare unmistakably its national will; only in 26 (out of 105) constituencies of the country was England able to find enough ‘loyalists’ to return members favourable to the union between Ireland and Great Britain; for the remaining 79 seats the electors choose as members men who believed in self-determination; of these 73, who now represent an immense majority of the people, went forward as republican candidates, and each of these republican members has pledged to assert by every means in his power the right of Ireland to complete independence which she demands, under a national republican government, free from all English interference.

On the 21st of January, 1919, those of the Republican members whom England had not yet cast into her prisons met in the Irish capital in a national assembly, to which, as the only Irish Parliament de jure, they had summoned all Irish members of Parliament; on the same day the national assembly unanimously voted the declaration of independence appended hereto and unanimously issued the message to the free peoples likewise appended.


The national assembly has also caused a detailed statement of the case of Ireland to be drawn up. That statement will demonstrate that the right of Ireland to be considered a nation admits of no denial, and, moreover, that that right is inferior in no respect to that of the new states constituted in Europe and recognised since the war; three members, Eamon de Valera, Mr. Arthur Griffith and Count Plunkett, have been delegated by the national assembly to present the statement to the Peace Conference and to the League of Nations Commission in the name of the Irish people.


Accordingly, I have the honour, sir, to beg you to be good enough to fix a date to receive the delegates above named, who are anxious for the earliest possible opportunity to establish formally and definitely before the Peace Conference and the League of Nations Commission, now assembled in Paris, Ireland’s indisputable rights to international recognition for her independence and the propriety of her claim to enter the League of Nations as one of its constituent members.


I have the honour to be, sir,

Your obedient servant,

Sean T. O’Kelly,

Delegate of the Government of the Irish Republic.


The Irish people seized the opportunity of the general election of December, 1918, to declare unmistakably its national will; only in 26 (out of 105) constituencies of the country was England able to find enough ‘loyalists’ to return members favourable to the union between Ireland and Great Britain; for the remaining 79 seats the electors choose as members men who believed in self-determination; of these 73, who now represent an immense majority of the people, went forward as republican candidates, and each of these republican members has pledged to assert by every means in his power the right of Ireland to complete independence which she demands, under a national republican government, free from all English interference.

On the 21st of January, 1919, those of the Republican members whom England had not yet cast into her prisons met in the Irish capital in a national assembly, to which, as the only Irish Parliament de jure, they had summoned all Irish members of Parliament; on the same day the national assembly unanimously voted the declaration of independence appended hereto and unanimously issued the message to the free peoples likewise appended.


The national assembly has also caused a detailed statement of the case of Ireland to be drawn up. That statement will demonstrate that the right of Ireland to be considered a nation admits of no denial, and, moreover, that that right is inferior in no respect to that of the new states constituted in Europe and recognised since the war; three members, Eamon de Valera, Mr. Arthur Griffith and Count Plunkett, have been delegated by the national assembly to present the statement to the Peace Conference and to the League of Nations Commission in the name of the Irish people.


Accordingly, I have the honour, sir, to beg you to be good enough to fix a date to receive the delegates above named, who are anxious for the earliest possible opportunity to establish formally and definitely before the Peace Conference and the League of Nations Commission, now assembled in Paris, Ireland’s indisputable rights to international recognition for her independence and the propriety of her claim to enter the League of Nations as one of its the Government of the Irish Republic.


March 2001


Submitted by the 32 COUNTY SOVEREIGNTY COMMITTEE on 30 April 1998


We hereby elaborate on the areas outlined in our initial petition (lodged with the United Nations, New York, on 30 April 1998) for scrutiny of breaches by Britain of UN Covenants (as outlined in the Nature of Application of the said petition), and requesting the United Nations to uphold Ireland’s fundamental right to national sovereignty, ending Britain's denial of that right.


In addition, we now offer an update on the process in practice following the implementation of The Belfast Agreement (which came into force in December 1999, having been lodged as the British/Irish Agreement), subsequently establishing a devolved British administration at Stormont. Furthermore, we highlight, in both legal and moral terms, the consequences of implementing this British led arrangement that was falsely sold as a settlement of the conflict between Ireland and Britain.


The Belfast Agreement, most assuredly, has not brought the peace and stability promised by those party to the said agreement - rather, there has been a steady upsurge in violence. Furthermore, the unilateral brief suspension of the ‘Legislative Assembly’ by the British Westminster Parliament, has led to growing concern from all sections of society in Ireland as a whole, varying from uneasiness and frustration to scepticism and betrayal, manifested on a daily basis.


The illumination of the more recent violations of Human Rights and Principles, supported by reference to International Covenants, precedents, informed academic research and alternative debate, presents a convincing argument to the UN to pursue an alternative route not yet tested in relation to Ireland. We therefore, strongly urge the United Nations to bring pressure upon the British Government to relinquish its De Jure claim of sovereignty over a part of Ireland, which ultimately would allow for an Enablement Act that would embrace a mechanism to secure and solidify the sovereignty of Ireland




1. The actual Belfast Agreement had to be acceptable to, and ratified by, an external political power, viz. Britain, before it was presented to the Irish people for acceptance or rejection. In effect, this external political entity had the power of veto over the sovereignty of the Irish people. The referenda, in relation to the Belfast Agreement, were not an exercise in the expression of self-determination, as the political package on offer was subordinate to Britain's approval.

2. The entire political process was restricted to the parameters laid down by The Downing Street Declaration, The Framework Document and The Mitchell Principles. The Downing Street Declaration enshrined a set of principles, which were the foundations upon which all subsequent political negotiations and possible settlement were to be based. The paramount principle espoused in this document, to which all participants in future talks had to pledge their adherence and commitment, was the so called principle of consent, which was in effect the Unionist veto over the rights of the vast majority of the Irish people in their pursuit of a unitary state. The Framework Document was the skeletal outline of the political settlement that would emerge from the talks process. It was crystal clear that the political outcome would obviously be partitionist, as any settlement was confined to the Document's parameters. Therefore, all participants to the process were committed to partition before the talks commenced, which was in effect a negation of an expression of self-determination and Irish sovereignty. This position was further underlined by the acceptance of The Mitchell Principles.


One of the clauses demanded that those adherents to the Principles pledge themselves to accept the political settlement that emerged from the talks process, which inevitably would be partitionist. In addition, the political package, which emanated from the talks, would be presented to the Irish people in separate referenda, with the Six County referendum having the power of veto over that to be held in the Twenty Six Counties. This was the completion of Tony Blair's ‘triple-lock’, which was designed to secure the constitutional position of the Six Counties as an integral part of the United Kingdom. Acceptance of a political talks process, built upon the principles enshrined in the Downing Street Declaration, confined to the parameters of the Framework Document, underlined by commitment to the Mitchell Principles, and subject to the outcome of separate referenda (of which the vote in the Six Counties was paramount), was not an exercise in self-determination, but instead, was a copper-fastening of partition. Subsequently, Tony Blair constantly heralded the fact to the Unionists and the British public that he had settled and secured the constitutional position of Northern Ireland (sic.) within the United Kingdom. Politically this assertion was accurate.

3. The Belfast Agreement is the latest instalment in a joint British/Dublin Government strategy that stretches back to 1972. The autumn of that year witnessed a fundamental change in British policy concerning the situation in the occupied Six Counties and future relations with Leinster House, the seat of government for the Twenty Six Counties. Only twelve months earlier in September 1971, British Prime Minister Edward Heath had contemptuously dismissed Jack Lynch's Government's concerns about the deteriorating situation in the North and the ill treatment of internees with the blunt assertion that what happened in an integral part of the United Kingdom (sic.) was none of the Dublin Government's business. The massive escalation of violence in the interim period led to a fundamental re-appraisal of the situation from the British Government's perspective.


In future, the Westminster Government would commit itself to a strategy of power sharing in the Six Counties between Unionist and Nationalist political representatives and recognition of the 'Irish Dimension' to the problem, which would involve a CONSULTATIVE role for the Dublin Government in the future administration of the North. This process eventually led to the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985, whereby, in return for the Anglo-Irish Inter-Governmental Conference and the Maryfield Secretariat, the Dublin Government, for the first time in its history, formally recognised the legitimacy of partition (without the authority of the Irish People). Fianna Fail, then in opposition, opposed the Anglo-Irish Agreement, yet when they were returned to power, they operated its mechanisms because they claimed they were bound by an international treaty that had been lodged at the United Nations and could only be overturned with the approval of the two sovereign governments.


The Belfast Agreement is a continuation and extension of the three-stranded approach in which the Unionist minority in Ireland and an external political power i.e. Britain, have a pivotal role in thwarting Irish sovereignty. The present North-South bodies, set up under The Belfast Agreement, are subordinate to the views of the Stormont Assembly, which has a Unionist majority, and in effect, results in the curtailment of the combined views of the elected representatives of the Twenty Six Counties and the Northern Nationalist parties, by the political representatives of a national minority. This is the inbuilt mechanism of the Unionist veto in operation again.

4. The entire process has been an exercise in modernising, updating and securing British rule in the Six Counties. Evidence of where the real political power continues to lie was provided by the suspension of the Stormont Assembly by Secretary of State Peter Mandelson in February 2000. Despite the media hype concerning the operation of the Stormont Executive, their activities are confined to the parameters of a budget allocated by the British Treasury. All major political decisions and policies are formulated by the Westminster Government and the Stormont Assembly does not have the power to implement any radical new social or economic policies. The coming weeks and months may see a further demonstration of where the real political power continues to reside, with a possible further suspension, review of the Agreement or perhaps its total eclipse.

5. The Belfast Agreement, in clause 2, under the heading Constitutional Issues, states: "the participants also note that the two Governments have accordingly undertaken in the context of this comprehensive political agreement, to propose and support changes in, respectively, the Constitution of Ireland and in British legislation relating to the constitutional status of Northern Ireland."


This was an attempt by the two Governments to present the abolition of Articles 2 and 3 of the Irish Constitution as a quid pro quo for the removal of the Government of Ireland Act 1920 (known to Irish people as the 'Partition Cut') from the Statute Book. This was a classic case of political deception on the part of Westminster and Leinster House, as it is a basic political and historical fact that, in relation to the partition of Ireland, the 1920 Government of Ireland Act had already been made redundant by subsequent legislation which superimposed it, viz. the 1949 (Ireland) Act, the 1973 Sunningdale Agreement and the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement.


Under the terms of the Government of Ireland Act, it was possible that the constitutional position of the Six Counties could have been changed by legislation at Westminster. The 1949 (Ireland) Act, however, stated that the constitutional position of Northern Ireland (sic). could not be changed without the consent of the majority of the population of Northern Ireland (sic). This in effect was the constitutional embodiment of the Unionist veto. This Act was endorsed by the 1973 Act and further amended by the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement in which for the first time the Dublin Government accepted the legitimacy of partition. The manner in which the Dublin Government, opposition parties and the Northern Nationalist parties, who supported The Belfast Agreement, presented the deletion of Articles 2 and 3 as a quid pro quo for the removal of the Government of Ireland Act of 1920, was nothing less than a confidence trick.


6. It is evident to even the most casual observer of the Irish political scene that The Belfast Agreement has failed to deliver on one of its main objectives viz. the eradication of politically motivated or sectarian violence. The ongoing orchestrated campaign of pipe-bomb attacks against the Nationalist and, indeed, the Catholic Community in the towns of Larne, Carrickfergus, Ballymoney, Ballymena, Coleraine, Lisburn and North Belfast by a loyalist paramilitary organisation i.e. the Ulster Defence Association, which purports to support The Belfast Agreement, makes a complete and total mockery of the so called 'Peace Process', as, indeed, did the vicious and murderous feud between the aforementioned group and the Ulster Volunteer Force, another loyalist paramilitary organisation which campaigned for a 'Yes' vote in the 1998 referendum.


Republican opposition to The Belfast Agreement has been met with dire warnings, from both the British and Dublin Governments, of the imminent use of draconian repressive legislation and the recent removal of political status for Republican prisoners.


Somewhat ominously, the murder of Joseph O'Connor because of his open political opposition to The Belfast Agreement, was met by a deafening silence by all those political groupings noted for their previous haste in condemning politically motivated violence viz. The Dublin Government and opposition parties, the Catholic Church, the S.D.L.P.


In 1973, when a Border Poll was held in the Six Counties, Republicans and Nationalists were urged to boycott what was seen as a ‘foregone conclusion’ because the poll was not conducted on an all-Ireland basis. Yet, in 1998, Sinn Fein campaigned for a 'Yes' vote for a partitionist Agreement. The position of that party has changed dramatically in accepting the parameters of The Framework Document, The Mitchell Principles. Furthermore, the S.D.L.P are in direct contravention to the position they took in relation to the 1973 poll, which they rejected and boycotted on the grounds that it was the product of a sectarian gerrymander and automatically partitionist. The same criteria applied to The Downing Street Declaration, and The Mitchell Principles. Once these were entered into, the outcome was obvious since all were mechanisms whereby a partitionist settlement would be cemented. The Sovereignty of Ireland was not on the political agenda. Evidence to support the overall analyses is encapsulated in Appendices I to V.




Sean Lemass, as Taoiseach in 1959, had no qualms in relation to defining Nationhood:


"…it is, indeed, the simple truth that Ireland is one nation, in its history, in its geography and in its people, entitled to have its essential unity expressed in its political institutions... Ireland is, by every test, one nation. It is on that essential unity that we found our case for political integration..." (ref: 'One Nation, Fianna Fail', Sean Lemass, Dublin , 1959, pp.4-14). The Irish Constitution as adopted in 1937, conceived Ireland as a sovereign State whose sovereignty derived from the authority of the nation and the people. Article 1 of the Irish Constitution states:


"The Irish nation hereby affirms its inalienable, indefeasible and sovereign right to choose its own form of Government, to determine its relations with other nations, and to develop its life, political, economic and cultural, in accordance with its own genius and traditions.."


Article 5 states: "Ireland is a sovereign, independent, democratic state."


Article 6 states: "1. All powers of government, legislative, executive and judicial, derive, under God, from the people, whose right it is to designate the rulers of the State and, in final appeal, to decide all questions of national policy, according to the requirements of the common good. 2. These powers of government are exercisable only by or on the authority of the organs of State established by this Constitution."


The Preamble states: "…we, the people of Eire, do hereby adopt, enact, and give to ourselves this Constitution." The significance in emphasising these Articles is that the Irish courts have relied on these and the Preamble as establishing that sovereignty is vested in the people, who act through the State (examples are in the rulings of Judges Walsh in Webb v. Ireland (1988) IR 353 and Budd in Byrne v. Ireland (1972) IR 241). While Budd stressed that it was the people who were paramount and not the State, Walsh referred to Article 5 whereby the State was not subject to any power of government save those designated by the people in the Constitution itself, and that the State was not amenable to any EXTERNAL AUTHORITY for its conduct. These rulings help to underpin the issues raised in the OVERVIEW particularly in relation to his closing sentence.


At no stage did the Government of Britain recognise Irish national sovereignty, even though references to self-determination had appeared in the Downing Street Declaration of 1993 and again in modified form in the Framework Documents of 1996. London and Dublin managed only separate statements for application to Ireland:


'The British Government recognise that it is for the people of Ireland alone, by agreement between the two parts, respectively and without external impediment, to exercise their right of self-determination on the basis of consent, freely and concurrently given, North and South, to bring about a united Ireland, if that is their wish; the Irish Government accept that the democratic right of self-determination by the people of Ireland as a whole must be achieved and exercised with and subject to the agreement and consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland.' (ref:Framework Documents, part II, para.16).


In fact, by agreement between the two parts, this underlines the Unionist Veto; it is NOT a declaration of the right of the Irish people to self-determination.


Article 1 of the Irish Constitution describes the sovereign rights of the nation as being "inalienable" and "indefeasible". Judge Kenny in Ryan v. Attorney General defined inalienable as "that which cannot be transferred or given away" (ref: 1965 IR 294).


The Supreme Court in turn observed that one of the theories underlying Articles 1-3 of the Constitution:


“…was that a nation, as distinct from a State, had rights; ...that a nation has a right to unity of territory in some form. and that the Government of Ireland Act 1920, though legally binding, was a violation of that right to national unity which was superior to positive law.” (ref: 1977 IR 129)


The British Government was slow to adopt the right of self-determination in its foreign policy (even though the 1966 ICCPR and ICESCR international covenants on human rights entered into force in 1976) although it did conditionally grant independence to 28 states between 1960 and 1982, this being invariably described by a legal adviser to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as a 'political principle'. (ref: British Yearbook of International Law, Oxford 1984, p.400)


Indeed this lack of enthusiasm for implementation of major legislation has not gone unnoticed. One observer notes that the Human Rights Act of 1998 was ‘a response to a growing sense of unease, discomfort and astonishment', referring to the contradiction noted particularly in political and legal circles, that the UK could have played such a major part, over more than half a century, in assuring fundamental rights and freedoms in other states, without having achieved the same in its dealings with Ireland. It is further argued: “Perhaps nowhere has this strange imbalance been more marked than in respect of the UK's position, internationally and internally, with regard to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.” (Cmnd 8969). The British Government was heavily involved in the drafting of the European Convention, was one of the first to sign it in 1950, and was the first to ratify it in 1951. Since 1966 the UK has also accepted the right of individuals to petition the Strasbourg authorities in respect of alleged breaches of the Convention. Yet the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the state as obligations in internal law were not, themselves, part of, or actionable within, the domestic legal system. (ref: Human Rights Act 1998: A Practitioner's Guide, Baker, London, 1998 Chp.1: 1-02).


In general terms, sovereignty has an internal and external meaning. Internally it means the right to make laws within the state frontiers to the exclusion of other authorities, and to take any necessary steps to enforce those laws. Externally, it means the right of a state to take part on a level of legal or formal equality with other members of the states-system. The possession of sovereignty distinguishes a state from other political entities such as colonies, protectorates, trusteeships or other forms of dependent territories.


Sovereignty, or the recognition of the independence of a territorial entity, has to be generally recognised by other states before that entity is accepted as a member of the states-system, and can engage in diplomacy and enter into legal contracts with other member states, and have its legal rights respected as established by international law. Given the scope and range of areas covered by this definition, the consequences of a denial of sovereignty are all too apparent. The principle was deemed so vital to humanity that it was enshrined in The Declaration of the Rights of Man. This major document was drawn up by the National Assembly, which met at the start of the French Revolution in 1789 and was to provide the basis for the Constitution. It was modelled on the American Declaration of Independence and also reflected the influence of Rousseau's ideas. The following are some prominent and essential pointers to its significance:


“Men are born and remain free and equal in rights.” (Art.1); The natural rights of man are liberty, property, security and resistance to oppression. (Art.II); The principle of ALL SOVEREIGNTY resides essentially in the nation. No body and no individual can exercise authority if it does not take its origin from the nation. (Art.III); Law is the expression of the general will. All citizens have the right to take a part personally or through their representatives in its formation. (Art.VI); The free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the most precious rights of man. (Art.XI). (ref: Political Studies, C.A. Leeds, Plymouth, 1981, pp.44-5.).

From this foundation, the law on self-determination of peoples has, in today's terms, to be compounded by referral to a variety of material sources some of which are worthy of note at this point:


United Nations Charter (1945): articles 1(2), 55; Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (1960), General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV): paragraph 2; Principles which should guide Members in determining whether or not an obligation exists to transmit the information called for under Article 73e of the Charter (1960), General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV): principles VI to IX; International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966): article 1 (1); International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966): article 1 (1); Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations (1970), General Assembly Resolution 2625 (XXV): the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples; Final Act of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, Helsinki 1975: declaration on principles guiding relations between participating states: principle VIII; Jurisprudence of the International Court of Justice - (Legal Consequences for States of the Continued Presence of South Africa in Namibia (South West Africa) notwithstanding Security Council Resolution 276 (1970), Advisory Opinion, ICJ Reports 1971, pp. 31-2; Western Sahara, Advisory Opinion, ICJ Reports 1975, pp. 31-3.


While recognising the cumbersome barriers to be overcome before gaining recognition of a right in international law, one general definition is particularly appropriate at this juncture:


“the right of cohesive national groups ("peoples") to choose for themselves a form of political organisation and their relations to other groups. The choice may be independence as a state, association with other groups in a federal state, or autonomy or assimilation in a unitary (non-federal) state.” (ref: Principles of Public International Law, I. Brownlie, Oxford , 1990, p595).


The people of the 32 counties that make up the island of Ireland have not been given the option of such decisions on a unitary basis, because of the restrictions imposed by an external power as demonstrated throughout our OVERVIEW.


In an age of growing intergovernmentalism, supranationalism in the form of interaction between states which takes place on the basis of sovereign independence, a question of principle is increasingly being posed: “Can a sovereign people bind itself, and permanently alienate some or all of its sovereignty?” (see for example A. Whelan, National Sovereignty in the European Union in Ireland's Evolving Constitution, Oxford, 1998, p. 289). Of more immediate relevance is the question of a willingness to delete, without sufficient enlightened debate, Articles 2 and 3 of the Irish Constitution. These above Articles were conceded without substantial guarantees that the structures of government mounted under The Belfast Agreement would remain in place. In essence, Britaingained on the territorial claims of a sovereign nation.

While in relation of intergovernmentalism, sovereignty is preserved through a process of unanimous decision-making that gives each state a veto, at least over matters of vital national importance, the same criteria was not applied to Ireland on a quid pro quo basis. This was most evidently demonstrated when The Belfast Agreement had to be acceptable to, and ratified by, the Parliament of Great Britain before it was presented to the Irish people for acceptance or rejection. In effect, the British Parliament retains the power of veto over the sovereignty of the Irish people. In total, the referenda on The Belfast Agreement did not give expression of true self-determination, as the political content offered was subordinate to British approval. (ref: A. Heywood, Politics, London, 1997 offers definitions of Intergovernmentalism/Supranationalism p.154). Rhetorical arguments based on exclusivity cannot eliminate a drive for that self-determination which is rooted in an experience of repression and denigration of the group to which one is attached. As a matter of perceived historical fact, this is widely recognised in global experiences. (ref: Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is very clear on this analysis)



Procedures for constitutional amendments can take many forms, one of which is by people’s referendum. An obvious use of this form of referendum in Britain was over membership of the European Community in 1975, but its workings are central to our argument in illustrating how allegations of rigging and comparisons with the 1921 Treaty of blackmail and lack of alternatives, ie. war or peace, can be paralleled with the 1998 arrangement. In 1979 the issue of devolution for Scotland was put to referendum and although 52% voted 'yes' and 48% 'no', the 'yes' votes were only 33% of the Scottish electorate and not the 40% required (ref: Leeds, op.cit.,p18.). There was a similar turnout in the Twenty Six Counties of 56.3%, with several thousand spoiled votes. (ref: The Belfast Agreement (ref: A. Morgan, The Belfast Agreement, London, 2000, p.180).


Apart from variations in political readings of returns, one drawback often cited is that particular questions of policy may lack sufficient information or are couched in such ambiguous terms that the electorate cannot form an intelligent opinion. In addition, some argue that very few political questions can be answered by a straight 'yes' or 'no' (ref: F. Randall, British Government and Politics, Suffolk, 1984). Others insist that referenda leave political decisions to those most susceptible to media and other influences and provide, at best, only a snapshot of public opinion at one point in time (ref: Heywood, op. cit., p. 208). Against the insistence that both governments attempted to ensure a fair and informed vote, counter arguments carry more weight. In addition to the fact that a unitary referendum was not conducted, or indeed one which could have included, from a Unionist perspective, the opinion of an inclusive British electorate; both parts of Ireland faced different questions. In relation to amendments to Articles 2,3 and 29 of the Irish Constitution (not in The Belfast Agreement), the question asked was: “Do you approve the proposal to amend the Constitution contained in the under mentioned Bill? Nineteenth Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1998.” However, in the Referendum in the Northern Ireland booklet, Your Time to Decide, the following was stated: “The proposed amendment must be considered in the context of the agreement reached in the Multi-Party negotiations which has annexed, to it, the text of the British/Irish Agreement, and which is being, or will soon be delivered to your home.” In the Referendum in Northern Ireland booklet, Your Time to Decide, Articles 2 and 3 are described as follows: “It constitutes a legal claim by the State ... the provisions of Article 3 do not in any way delimit or reduce the claim made in Article 2 to the entire national territory.” In the said booklet, it was stated: “The proposed new Article 2 no longer makes a claim as a legal right to the territorial area of the whole of the island of Ireland.” (p.3) (ref: cited in Morgan op. cit., p.180).


In contrast to earlier assertions by people like Sean Lemass, the constitutional changes brought about by The Belfast Agreement are characterised predominantly by the end of the Irish territorial claim to the North. It can thus be rightly argued that despite the return of the word “territory” to Article 3.1, the words “national territory” have been removed from the Constitution and there is nothing in the completely new Article 2 and much amended Article 3 to constitute a territorial claim. In fact, the Constitutional imperative has been relegated to an aspiration (ref: for a detailed analysis of this point see Morgan, Part 2 Annex B). For many people, the complexities of these aspects of The Belfast Agreement, aligned with the unravelling of the relationship between politics and law, have been self evident in public debate since 1998. In addition, the implications and awareness of the relationship between international and municipal law in both jurisdictions, has received only cursory attention






In the absence of a world legislature, international law draws on a number of sources: treaties, custom, general principles (such as respect for territorial integrity), and legal scholarship accumulated by the international courts. Traditionally, heavy emphasis was placed on international law, which was seen as a means of establishing order through respect for moral principles, thus making possible, the peaceful resolution of international conflicts.


Others have questioned the status of international law, arguing that, as it is not enforceable, it constitutes not 'law', but merely a set of moral principles (ref: Heywood, op. cit., cites the latter opinion, p.160). The Belfast Agreement is an international agreement between the UK and Irish states, which provided for devolved government in the North with additional north-south and east-west institutions within the 1920-22 partition settlement. International law is the law, not of nations, but of states. It has been pointed out by legal analysts that municipal lawyers in the North, who do not have to deal generally with international issues, are 'doubly' disadvantaged by the political use of international law. (ref: Morgan op. cit., p.15.).


An essential ingredient of the recognition of statehood in international law is a capacity to enter into relations with other states. One useful definition offers the following:


“…a state is perhaps a stable political community, supporting legal order, in a certain area. The existence of effective government with centralized administrative and legislative organs, is the best evidence of a stable political community.” (ref: Brownlie, op. cit., p.73).


In the context of international law, the 'state of Northern Ireland' could not exist as a self-sustaining entity, although the Six Counties have been recognised, by some, as an integral part of the UK since 1921. Since its perceived inception, 'the state of Northern Ireland' has appeared in academic literature, even though the negotiating powers, usually afforded to free standing sovereign states, never existed as applied in international law. It must be added that the 'statelet', bolstered by Westminster, has allowed a minority opinion within a national statehood context, to deny the Irish people’s right to sovereignty through a contrived arrangement.


The Belfast Agreement, read legally, is an international instrument, with only two parties but has, in varying degrees, been incorporated in the laws both North and South. Yet the courts, because of ambiguity, may still require interpretation of The Belfast Agreement as a treaty. As international instruments, treaties have flexibility, which is evident in the drafting stage that is not allowed in domestic (statute) law. Indeed, some hold the view that only treaties are legally binding, and that informal international instruments do not exist in comparable normative orders. (ref: J. Klabbers, The Concept of Treaty in International Law, The Hague, 1996). The Irish Supreme Court took the view that, as a matter of international law, the people have no sovereign power greater than that of their State, and that international obligations could inhibit, in some circumstances at least, the exercise of constitutional authority (ref: Crotty v. An Taoiseach (1987) IR 713, at 783). For further interpretation of The Belfast Agreement in international law, The Hague, Article 36 920 of the statute providing for inter alia the interpretation of a treaty can be consulted (ref: 1930 Hague Convention Containing Certain Questions Relating to the Conflict of Nationality Laws).


The Dublin Government has recognisably signed up to one principle in international law, that of linguistic diversity through the mechanisms of The Belfast Agreement, while in its domestic law it enshrines an entirely different principle, not because of the idea of official languages, but because Irish is deemed to be the national language and consequently, is the first official language. In contrast to political analysis, The Belfast Agreement has been interpreted legally to distinguish between: obligations on one or both contracting states; text which is not legally binding in international law (but may, once incorporated in UK and/or Irish law, bind a government or actual or potential office holder); and general principles of international law which operate upon the text to become implied in the Agreement. The actual title of The Belfast Agreement is seen as a standard feature for an international agreement between two contracting states, though it is the practice for each state to put itself first in its own version (held by the other contracting state). It is worthy to note that the practice, as regards international agreements in 1998 on the part of London and also Dublin, had changed clearly from that in 1985 (the UK of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland versus Ireland and the United Kingdom). (ref: Morgan, op. cit., p. 415; pp. 548-9).




A unitary constitution is one in which the central government is sovereign. It, alone, makes the laws and it, alone, is responsible for carrying them out. It can of course delegate its authority and in Britain, this is done frequently. Parliament is, however, the supreme legislative authority in the United Kingdom and its supremacy extends over Britain, which, as shown throughout our OVERVIEW, includes Northern Ireland (sic). In 1972, the Northern Ireland Parliament was prorogued indefinitely because of the North’s disturbed situation. From that date, until the establishment of a Stormont Assembly, the Six Counties were ruled directly from Westminster. That Government's supremacy was again demonstrated through the offices of Secretary of State Mandelson when he decided on suspension of the Executive’s institutions. Stability is not guaranteed through the delegation of power, this being witnessed to the present day.


It was delegated legislation, namely The Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1976 that enabled a system of travel controls to be imposed between Britain and the Six Counties. This Act, the effects of which are still being felt today, saw the uprooting and deportation of many Irish people from England and frequent harassment, on mere suspicion. Political analysts have stressed that increasing delegation of legislation tends to decrease the liberty of the subject (ref: Randall, op. cit. p.242). Very importantly, in relation to the Stormont Administration, it can be shown that, if delegated authority is not closely defined, there will be uncertainty as to its use. The Belfast Agreement is renowned for its ambiguous language, a failing which is used by all sides for political advantage and most definitely not for the common good and sovereign will of the Irish people.


Westminster is quite explicit in defining the role of the Secretary of State, central to which, is his right to approve and lay before the London Parliament, any Assembly legislation on reserved matters. Again, the supremacy of the legislative supremacy of parliament is outlined for Stormont in a third paragraph:


“The Westminster Parliament (whose power to make legislation for Northern Ireland would remain unaffected) will:


(a) legislate for non-devolved issues, other than where the Assembly legislates with the approval of the Secretary of State and subject to the control of Parliament;

(b) legislate as necessary to ensure the United Kingdom's international obligations are met in respect of Northern Ireland;

(c) scrutinise, including through the Northern Ireland Grand and Select Committees, the responsibilities of the Secretary of State” (ref: cited in Morgan, op. cit., pp. 241-2).


Clearly, and as demonstrated throughout this Submission, devolved government is only a rubber stamp for British rule in Ireland.





Critics of what is termed 'negative peace' have argued that, while this approach might prevent violence in the short term, it is not conducive to creating a situation where former warring groups do not contemplate violence against each other in the future (ref: Leeds, op. cit., p.327). Opposing protagonists, now Assembly members, regularly announce or infer that, if their constitutional positions are threatened or aspirations legislatively diminished, 'war' is not entirely excluded from their respective political agendas. For supporters of the constitutional path from both sides of the political divide this threat or perceived threat of violence is intolerable and does not make for stable governance. In addition, the placing of emphasis merely on freezing or stopping physical conflicts may imply legitimisation of the status quo and of the suppression, by government, of groups within stages. Unquestionably, certain groups may suffer tyranny or deprivation, either directly or indirectly, through agencies of government. The demonisation in the media and other outlets, of groups opposed to what has been presented as a remedy for all ills, is a dangerous ploy as outlined in our OVERVIEW.


Researchers and peace activists place less emphasis on merely stopping conflicts, and instead, attempt methods for ensuring a lasting end to conflict. Positive peace implies the growth of a reformed society where features of structural violence, from whatever source, have been removed, and a high degree of social justice has been created, conflict, violence and war are considered unlikely to occur. The mockery that is now being played out under the guise of The Belfast Agreement and what masquerades as ‘THE PEACE PROCESS’, is not viewed as viable to those genuinely striving for a meaningful and lasting solution to what has been, quite wrongly referred to as, “the Northern Ireland problem.”


The conflict is frequently viewed as if only two parties (Unionist and Republican/ Nationalist) were aligned against each other. Yet, in every conflict, there are a number of groups with different interests, and AN AGREEMENT at one level may not actually resolve the overall conflict. While this, most certainly, is the case in Ireland, this is not unique to Ireland alone. For example, the 1979 Egypt-Israeli Agreement did not completely solve the Middle Eastern problem, because other Arab states, including the Palestinians and the oil states, were not parties to, and did not support, the Agreement. It is important to emphasise, however, that in relation to negotiating and the implementation of The Belfast Agreement, the constitutional voice of loyalism namely The Democratic Unionist Party chose not to take part in the process on offer, while some Republicans, on matters of principle and moral grounds, refused to participate.


Accusations of ‘secret deals’, either inferred or implied, together with manipulative practices, continue to add fuel to the unravelling of the ‘Peace Strategy’. In order to give support to this strategy and keep the disillusioned on board, both the British and Dublin governments continually pump money into both Republican and Loyalist ‘community based projects’. Clientele politics play a sizeable role in the manipulative practices to keep grass roots support content. By no stretch of the imagination can PEACE be bought, nor an arrangement sustained, based on a false premise. One political commentator hits the right key in defining clientele politics: “Usually the practice commands widespread popular support as long as it involves the provision of some special service or benefit by a public official to relatives, one's ethnic group or political allies. It does not command public support if only officials seem to benefit from the practice, e.g. seeking personal power.” (ref: Leeds., op. cit.,p.353). These lessons have not been lost on some leading parties and personalities within the Stormont Executive. Major 'funding' is being channelled to keep the foot soldiers happy and the guns silent. What happens if (as appears likely) the institutions are collapsed by the major players without armed wings? Is it back to ‘war’ to resolve the conflict? Loyalists now involved in the ‘Peace Process’ have vowed to protect the Union by “…whatever means necessary...” Where does this leave the peace strategists’ arguments of demographic changes and movements in electoral mandates? Against the argument that ‘…corruption may be functional to the preservation of a system…’ (ref: S.P. Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies, Yale University Press, 1969), it can be countered that, in this case, it will not be sufficient to save the day. The continuation of violence, including murders and bombings, show that we do not have real ‘peace’ but, instead, what is regarded by the British Government as an acceptable level of violence which will not over-stretch their resources. Local press editorials are calling for vigilance, as they report that 50 pipe bomb attacks have been carried out on Catholic homes during the first six weeks of this year across the North (ref: Irish News, Feb. 26 2001).


In addition, armed militias are only too willing to put down opposition to their ‘peace strategy’, aided by repressive legislation. From the vigilantes installed to patrol Catholic/Nationalist areas after the 1969 pogroms, to the growing role of paramilitary policing in the 1970's to enforce law, the ‘peace strategy’ has been walking a tightrope. (ref: Provisional IRA statement in Andersonstown News,10 December 1977). There has been deep community division regarding the role of policing, but neither the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) nor the paramilitaries have an unchallenged mandate to enforce law and order.


Since The Belfast Agreement, there has been an upsurge in the activities of armed militias, resulting in the suppression of open political freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, obvious human rights violations. These armed personnel have been identified as clearly being aligned to political parties administering British rule within the Stormont Assembly established by the seats of government in London and Dublin. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is very clear in outlining these rights in its Articles 2,18 and 19.

It has been a constant feature of some pro-Agreement parties, to maintain an ambivalent attitude towards violence and a concerted policy has been agreed, by them, whereby, there is a refusal to explicitly condemn acts of violence. This well trodden course has been used at appropriate junctures in order to maximise electoral appeal. Indeed, as one political researcher has suggested, in a stalemate situation, where the state seems impervious to demands from a ‘constitutional’ party, it is all too tempting for political activists to switch their support to a party whose attitude towards violence is either ‘…ambivalent or outwardly supportive.’ (ref: E. M Browne in Political Violence, Belfast, 1990, p.169).


Human Rights activists have not been slow, however, in documenting and publishing accounts of abuses. Indeed at a seminar in Belfast in 1994 it was argued that people had become persuaded that Human Rights were no longer inalienable or universal, but that the only people who deserved to have their Human Rights respected were those who did not argue with the state. The speaker told her audience: that : “It does not matter what you do or who you are or where you have been, you are entitled as a minimum to the state's respect for your human rights....All of us collectively and individually are entitled to have our rights guaranteed as part of any new political .settlement.... We have to reiterate that Human Rights belong to everyone, being universal and inalienable...” (ref: Report of a Seminar held in Belfast on 10 December, 1994 sponsored by Unison NI, British Irish Rights Watch).


Scholars in recent times have highlighted the need to rethink the relationship between law and sovereignty. (ref: R. Bellamy, Constitutionalism, Democracy and Sovereignty, Hants, England, 1996, p.6). Given that the domestic laws of Britain cannot adequately accommodate the demands of a significant number of people for self-determination, we urge that the mechanisms within international law be fully utilized to secure this objective. One concise analysis is worth noting: “A sovereign state is one NOT subject to certain types of control, and its sovereignty is that area of conduct in which it is autonomous.” (ref: H.L.A. Hart, The Concept of Law, Oxford, 1961, p.217). The United Nations General Assembly meeting of October, 1998, was particularly enlightening and helpful in outlining in vivid terms the rights of peoples, a central focus of which was that of self-determination. (ref:-Official Record A/C.3/53/SR.23., p.7).



General Comment 21 of the Human Rights Committee defines the external aspect of self-determination, stating that it:


“…implies that all peoples have the right to determine freely their political status and their place in the international community based on the principle of equal rights and exemplified by the liberation of peoples from colonialism and by the prohibition to subject peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation.”


The internal aspect of the right to self-determination is characterised by General Comment 21 as:


“…the rights of all peoples to pursue freely their economic, social and cultural development without outside interference.”


In reiteration of the arguments presented herein, and with reference to relevant rights as defined in international law in both our 1998 Submission and this March 2001 Addendum, we respectfully request that the United Nations Commission On Human Rights strongly urge the Government of Britain to comply immediately and unconditionally with its international obligations and respect the democratic wishes and that most fundamental and non-negotiable right of the Irish People, the basic right to self-determination.

We, the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, submit, that a British declaration, relinquishing their sovereign claim to part of Ireland, would be the first step in establishing a permanent peace in Ireland.

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