With Ireland now in a position to offer others a better life – and before it’s said, ‘what about people coming here to claim and live off our dole’ – well not all the Irish who left our own country became President of America or wherever. Many ended up jobless and homeless, too proud to return home.
If you promote hate because of religion you’re also not republican. Those who say ‘all Muslims are terrorists’ have a short memory, when not long ago it was the Irish ourselves being called terrorist. Or hating someone because they are Protestant, why?
Many of the United Irishmen were Protestant and thousands of Catholic lives were saved by food from Protestant landlords, during the attempted genocide of 1845-1852. So as well as striving for a United Ireland we must also strive for an equal and fair Ireland, free from prejudice of class, age, race, creed, gender or sexuality.
We also need to look at where we stand currently. We need to come together and forget egos, because whether you’re part of a republican group or an Independent, we all as republicans want the same thing – a United Ireland, an equal Ireland. We also face the same obstacles as many who define themselves Unionist, which brings me to the first goal: showing Unionists that when we speak of an equal Ireland we include them in it. They have their traditions, some we may not like or agree with, but that’s part of equality. They could still march, for example, just not in areas where it would provoke a reaction or conflict. We might also make them aware that in a United Ireland they would likely have enough votes to help form a government.
Another obstacle would be those in the South who believe ‘we can’t afford a United Ireland’. Were a detailed financial report conducted and widely published they would see this is simply not true. Next, we should realise there isn’t what we could term meaningful pressure on either the London or Dublin governments to bring about a United Ireland, likewise to end injustices such as internment and sectarianism.
So it’s up to us as republicans to apply this pressure and let the Southern government in particular know it’s time to stop burying their heads in the sand. They are currently engaged in all manner of commemorations, to honour the men and women of 1916 and the Rising. Instead, they might honour them by creating the Ireland they envisaged, a 32-county republic. What we live in now is far from such a republic, indeed it’s not even a republic at all but controlled by external powers from abroad.
2016 will no doubt awaken a sense of national pride, even among those who normally wouldn’t care or take heed of such things. We might hopefully use this to our advantage, using the opportunity to remind them what the men and women of 1916 believed in, what they fought for and what they laid down their lives for.
Ultimately what we’re talking about here is a better life for all Irish men, women and children. That is what the Rising was about and that is where we as republicans need to be today. So for 2016 we need to make a real case for a United Ireland on that basis, not just along the lines of national identity but also with that economic analysis in place, showing the benefits that would accrue to all of us in our daily lives.