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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Dual Presidency More Realistic


Nathan Dowds • 7 August 2006

Having given Mr Gillespie’s ideas due consideration, I am far from being seduced by the Government of Ireland Act Mk II. 2006 is hardly an ideal time for suggesting that any mature nation, let alone Ireland, should seriously consider a return to the Britannic fold through a revival of institutional links with the British monarchy.

Turning back the political clock back a generation or two ago, when George VI was both Irish Head of State and British Head of State, this idea may well have been relevant. Indeed, some of our political representatives, ranging from southern loyalists such as Henry Morgan Dockrell and Home Rulers such as Hugh Law to Nationalists such as Kevin O’Higgins, believed in the merits of a foreign monarch as Irish Head of State. But that was back then and today, the British monarchy is no longer held in high esteem by any section of the Irish population. Indeed, with the exception of the miniscule Reform Movement, the British monarchy is regarded as an anachronism. Resurrection of the dual monarchy idea by Irish politicians within the Dáil chamber is therefore a non-starter.

Considering that in independent Ireland the imperial concept of monarch/subject relationship became redundant in favour of Irish citizenship in which authority derived from Irish citizens rather than emanating theoretically from a distant monarch, any practical project for a United Ireland must be centred round republicanism. I therefore advocate a republican version of dual monarchy, which would enable Britain and Ireland to act as equal albeit separate partners under a single Presidency. At certain intervals, all-islands Presidential elections would need to be legislated for and on the occasions that a British person does secure the highest office in Ireland, the onus would be placed upon the Irish government to confer honorary citizenship upon that person, so that he/she could become a fully-fledged First Citizen of the Irish nation.

Of course, at present such a dispensation is premature at present with the enduring popularity of the monarchy in Britain under the direction of Queen Elizabeth II remaining intact. However, with the assistance of chattering class British republicans such as Tony Benn, Jon Snow and Claire Rayner, the death of the Queen may well trigger British support for a republic.

In the meantime, given the warm relations between the two countries there is nothing preventing Irish politicians formulating advocating a dual Presidency framework for some point in the future. Of course, such a dispensation would have to be both voluntary and based upon the consent principle.

Unionists would have to recognise the Irish dimension i.e. formal and institutional integration of the 32 counties under the legislative authority of both Houses of the Oireachtas.

The reverse is also true. Republicans would have to recognise the wider all-islands dimension i.e. the ceremonial and institutional link that would exist between two separate nations under a dual presidency.

In conclusion, the concept of a no-stings-attached Irish nation is as equally and increasingly anachronistic today as a fully integrated ‘British Isles’ was back in the early 20th century. If we really want to narrow the astronomical distance from a sovereign 32 counties, more efforts need to be made to respect the best of unionism from the outset. This can only achieved through initiatives which meet the needs rather than the wants of the Irish and British peoples of Ireland. The dual presidency idea is one such idea, as it will guarantee the slaughter of a few ethnic nationalist sacred cows and will provide the means of attracting the widest possible support for a United Ireland across the island as a whole. Moreover, when compared with madness of the dual monarchy alternative, pragmatists within the Provisional Sinn Fein camp are more likely to warm to its twin sister, the dual presidency idea.

Thus, both the unionist desire for a democratic British connection and the nationalist and republican desire for full 32-county legislative autonomy can realistically, only ever be satisfied under a Dual Presidency, whereby a single directly elected President would be the constitutional and ceremonial head of two separate nations, namely Britain and Ireland.



































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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



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Index: Current Articles

13 August 2006

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Poacher Turned Gamekeeper
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Criminality Figures Do Not Add Up
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The Siege of Derry
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Repeat After Me: No Gods, No Masters
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Dual Presidency More Realistic
Nathan Dowds

Federal Unionism—Early Sinn Fein: Article 2
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Santa Coming Early
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