Republicans at this time must find the space to assess together how the struggle in Ireland can move forward. At present it’s stuck in second gear, existing rather than progressing.
Part of that can involve looking and learning from independence movements ongoing in Catalonia and Scotland, searching out the positives to be gained from a referendum campaign – and perhaps more importantly the pitfalls and what we must watch out for and be careful of along the way.
Sovereignty and democracy are not outdated notions but enduring concepts that retain key value to those still on our political journey. With that in mind, an all-Ireland referendum can become a genuine tool of struggle and a credible alternative to the failed status quo. The time is now to fine-tune and roll out anew the One Ireland One Vote proposal, to the republican base and the wider Irish people, with the time ahead, the run-in to 2016, offering a unique opportunity to get stuck in, to grasp the bit between our teeth and go for it.
The times that are in it present huge difficulties for people all over Ireland, but in those same difficulties lie opportunity – opportunity to depose the failed, counter-revolutionary apparatus of state, whether North or South, that has brought our people to the brink of despair. Whether it’s water charges in the South, welfare reform in the North, housing shortages, homelessness, debts, national debt, you name it, the solution lies in the democratic Irish Republic laid out by the visionary leaders of 1916. That is the message we must take to the doorstep, that is what One Ireland One Vote must mean to those at the coalface today.
People are looking for solutions, gravitating towards republicanism as they do so, often without even realising it. The political ground is shifting. The status quo is in crisis, with seemingly nowhere to turn, and events on the ground have those in the corridors of power on the run for the first time in decades. Indeed in the South the raw energy exploding on the streets of our cities and towns is something arguably not seen in generations.
With the above in mind, we must work to make republicanism relevant to all engaged in struggle throughout Ireland. We need to open up the conversation, to demonstrate how republicanism, built as it is on the principle of mutual solidarity, offers a vehicle for everyone to band together and achieve a truly progressive society, a new democratic arrangement that wrestles power from global capital and returns sovereignty to the Irish people, offering a better life and life prospects for us all.
One Ireland One Vote can help deliver that end. It is within our grasp if we believe in it and in our ability to see it made real. The argument we have come to an end of a revolutionary cycle and must wait on events is for the optics, the events are here and now and are happening all around us, in Ireland and beyond. As republicans we must believe this is not the end but the beginning, the beginning of a new cycle in the revolution, a new phase in the struggle for freedom. Together we must work to put One Ireland One Vote at the centre of that struggle, together democracy and the will of the people shall prevail.