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'The Way Ireland Ought to Be'

Federal Unionist Early Sinn Fein


Michael Gillespie • 19 March 2006

It is beyond dispute that there is a problem in N. Ireland. There is something rotten in state. What the exact nature of the decay is, is hard to detect but something smells. I t is the thesis of this article that the problem is due to the unwritten nature of N. Ireland's constitution which is now in an advanced state of decay.

It is widely held here since the people have the vote N Ireland is a democracy. To hold that is insufficient. For a state to be a democracy in the true sense the state must also have a constitution, preferably written, which has the overwhelming support of the people. The EU is not a democracy despite the vote because it does have a constitution which is accepted by all. This is true of Iraq and it could be when a constitution is agreed, Iraq could be a theocracy not a democracy.

If one looks around in N.Ireland one can observe the nature of the constitutional problem. There are two heads of state involved, two flags being flown, two anthems being sung, two passports being held with two conflicting identities. and two governments involved. Ian Paisley and his followers see the state as our home and our country, — the grandest wee country in the world — Gerry Adams and his followers see the state as despicable, a statelet to be got rid of. A state thus constituted will be unstable, prone to street violence, and is ungovernable. In its un written British constitution that will remain the plight of N. Ireland

Since British constitution is imposed by military means and is maintained by one section of the population in public posturing — the waving of flags, marching, sloganizing (This we will maintain, Ulster is British), in this posturing to maintain an unwritten constitution intercommunal strife and street violence is the outcome. The maintenance of an unwritten constitution in this way is kicked against by an opposing Republican mass.

As noted, unwritten British constitution is imposed military, not democratically. The recent campaign of violence by the IRA was an attempt to overthrow the constitution by counter military means. This attempt has failed miserably and is now hopefully over It has been replaced by the so called politics of Late Sinn Fein which now promotes the idea that British constitution can be disposed of by political stealth, subterfuge and deals. In the meantime Late Sinn is willing to enter into an unholy coalition with Right Wing Union Jack Unionism, carve up power into sectarian blocks at Stormont and in so doing prop up a Right Wing Union Jack Unionist state with an undemocratic unwritten British constitution.

It is the contention of this article that British Constitution can and should be replaced by a written democratic United Kingdom Constitution which is acceptable to all, .which is maintained rationally and is interpreted by the use of intelligence not on the streets. If N Ireland had such a constitution devoid of public posturing, street violence should wither away.

The question remains how is this to be done? It is the contention of this article, a written constitution for N, Ireland can be found in — The National Government of Ireland Act., a written constitution which should be acceptable to all. This Act would have to be initiated in N Ireland, but it would have to be drawn up on an All Ireland basis.

In doing this what is missing in the state is the absence of a constitutional centre in N Ireland There is a centre but it is fragmented and is in decline, .The state in N Ireland is now polarized between two constitutional extremes, namely the violent Republicanism of Late Sinn Fein and the violence of Right Wing Union Jack Unionism. There is nothing new in this. It is traceable far Irish history.

This constitution polarization can be observed, firstly, in 18th century Ireland. At that time there was a Parliament in Ireland which was constitutionally moderate and central. The moderate Patriots pressed for the Irish Parliament to be separate from, but co-equal to Westminster under the Crown. This is the first and best concept of Irish nationhood, If this moderate concept had been worked down the generations Ireland would be a Sovereign Nation under the Crown — a nation like Canada. That was not to be. The constitutional extremists the Republican United Irishmen attempted to overthrow the constitution by violence. This abortive uprising was opposed and defeated by the Right Wing — the protestant yeomanry. In this period of obscene violence the moderate Patriots were swept aside trampled underfoot and lost in history. In this way the constitutional moderate centre was lost in Ireland in the late18th century,

In reaction to this violent uprising by extremists — the United Irishmen — the moderate Parliament of the Patriots was done away with by the use of political chicanery and a right wing British Constitution imposed in 1801 without reference to the democratic feelings of the Irish people. Ireland was then under the control of a Right Wing Union Jack Unionist protestant elite which was ante-Irish ante-Catholic and oppressive.

In this set up a moderate centre emerged in the persons of Butt and Parnell in Home Rule. It is the view of this article both of these men would have been happy with a government for Ireland under the Crown. That was not to be. Home Rule was frustrated and put down by Right Wing Union Jack Unionism. Again the constitutional centre was lost.

In the 20th century a moderate centre emerged in the person of Griffiths and Early Sinn Fein. In his idea of a dual monarchy Griffiths was toying with the idea of a federal UK. However this moderate central constitutional stance was swept aside and trampled underfoot by the violent catholic sectarian uprising of 1916. This was an attempt to overthrow the constitution and set up a Republic. In the 1917 Ard Fheis Griffiths was ousted from the leadership of Sinn Fein and replaced by the Republican extremist — De Valera. That is violent Late Sinn Fein. In the ensuing brouhaha in Ireland the island was partitioned into a 26 county statelet with a catholic parliament for a catholic people in Dublin and a 6 county statelet with protestant parliament for a protestant people in Belfast. Thus in Sinn Fein history there are two Sinn Feins, one Early, the other Late. Early Sinn Fein is peaceful and democratic and is constitutionally moderate and central. Late Sinn Fein is violent, undemocratic and constitutionally extreme. This distinction is central to this article.

In the 70ties Conor Cruise O Brien came to the fore with his theory of the two nations. This article accepts that there are two possible nations for Ireland but Right Wing Union Jack Unionism is not one of them. That unionism and that Ireland has passed its sell by date and should be replaced by a new reformed unionism with a written UK constitution. The two possible nations for Ireland are best seen in the two Sinn Feins Early and Late. One Ireland, the Ireland of Early Sinn Fein and of the Patriots could be a Sovereign Nation of Ireland under the Crown. The other Ireland is a Republic of Ireland whose origins are steeped in violence and blood and brutality. Such an Ireland wounds the cultural psyche of protestant Ireland.

I n the north there is an attempt at the moment to form a kind of coalition between the extreme wings of the constitution, namely — Late Sinn Fein and Right Wing Union Jack Unionism — in joint rule. Such a coalition is a constitutional absurdity and is doomed to failure. Such an idea is as absurd as the idea of forming a coalition at Westminster between the National Front and the extreme Republican wing of the Labour Party. Such an idea would be seen as a joke by the people of Great Britain, yet a similar idea is being pressed forward by the British and Irish governments for N. Ireland

If a government at Stormont is to be formed whose aim is to draw up a written constitution for N. Ireland in the National Government of Ireland Act. - a coalition of the centre would have to be formed, composed of the UUP, SDLP, and Alliance. Such a coalition is not an absurdity but should be feasible possible and doable. However such a central coalition would have to take as its banner — Federal Unionism Early Sinn Fein. It is the function of a constitutional centre in a democracy to oppose and defeat constitutional extremists, not to talk to them.

The Act should define the United Kingdom, as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and the Sovereign Nation of Ireland. That should be the basis of the Act but the Act would require much, much more than that.

With the Act drawn up at Stormont , after discussion with interested parties, a referendum on the Act should be held throughout the whole island giving the people two options.

Do you wish Ireland to be:

(a) A Sovereign Nation within the UK under the Crown with the National Government of Ireland Act as its constitution?
(b) A Republic with the 1937 constitution as its constitution?

The Act should specify that the referendum be counted separately in the 26 and 6 counties.

This will give rise to three outcomes.

(1) If option (a) carries a significant majority in both territories then Ireland is united as a Sovereign Nation within the UK under the Crown.
(2) If option (b) carries a significant majority in both territories then Ireland is united as a Republic.
(3) If option (a) carries a significant majority in the 6 counties and option (b) carries a significant majority in the 26 counties then the island remains partitioned.

In the case of (3) the written constitution for N. Ireland would be the National Government of Ireland Act. And would give N. Ireland:

One Head of State, the Crown.
One flag, a redesign of the Irish tricolour. This new flag would be defined in the Act as the national flag of Ireland and a symbol of the UK in Ireland. (This would be a detail in the Act. The Act would require much, much more than this.)
One anthem — neither God Save the Queen nor A Soldier's Song.
One government, elected by the people.
One passport with an Irish identity which recognises the Crown as Head of State.

N. Ireland thus constituted with a written constitution, should be stable peaceful and governable.

In conclusion, the old constitutional dispute about the way Ireland ought to be, should the island be under the Crown or a Republic can and should be settled for good in the 21st century It is the thrust of this article that Irish unity can only be found in a UK context. It is the thrust of this article that Republicanism in Ireland has been sectarian dividing not uniting the communities and has brought untold, unnecessary suffering to Ireland. It is said 1916 changed the course of Irish history. It did but the change was for the worse not for the better. It is the thrust of this article the whole island should be under the Crown, not a bit of it but all of it. That way and only that way lies a united Ireland.







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