The common objective of all Irish republicans is to restore Irish sovereignty and with it the All-Ireland Republic – building from there a progressive society where the wealth and wealth-producing processes of the nation are subordinate to the public interest.
Towards that purpose what is now required in Ireland, with the Overseas Diaspora in support, is a broad-based initiative that set towards a Constituent Assembly. There, new constitutional arrangements for the whole of Ireland can be agreed by the representatives of the people, in turn to be put to their number by National Plebiscite for popular approval.
The exceptional republican thinker Daithi Ó Conaill, shortly before his untimely death, envisaged such a process in ‘Towards A Peaceful Ireland’, issued by Republican Sinn Féin in 1991. The issue for republicans, now as then, is how such an Assembly can be constituted in the face of the existing order.
The current political order is subservient to partition and concedes in full its legitimacy, holding likewise that it should remain in place while a majority in the North support that position – denying thus the national rights of Ireland and her people.
Dáil Éireann was the National Assembly of the Irish people whose usurp was effected by the Government of Ireland Act and the subsequent Treaty of Surrender. The Treaty bowed to the legitimacy of the Act – at the expense of the Declaration of Independence – when, to ratify its terms, its proponents assembled the Southern House of Commons (which the people had already rejected at the 1921 Election in favour of the Republican Dáil).
It is from here – that being British constitutional theory – that the current political order proceeds and not from the Republican Constitution, which is rooted in the 1916 Proclamation and the revolution that followed in its wake, culminating in the historic Declaration of Irish Independence on 21st January 1919.
The struggle in Ireland at this time then is to restore the democratic / constitutional process – and with it the All-Ireland Republic. It is there within that Republic, of itself and as a lawfully-constituted entity, that the rights of the Irish people to national freedom and sovereignty set out under the Proclamation reside.
The election of a Third All-Ireland Dáil, to sit in Constituent Assembly – where the form and particulars of a new constitutional order would in turn be determined – would give effect to those rights. But absent a means to constitute such a process, while a worthy idea it remains just that: no more than a good idea.
To bridge that gap an All-Ireland Referendum could provide a mandate direct from the people, in recognition that constitutional authority resides within their rank, overcoming thus the restraints imposed by the partition system – whose governing purpose is to subvert that authority at the behest of external agencies. The referendum would serve to restore the Republic, mandating in turn the required transition to a new constitutional order.
A referendum as that imagined will neither come from or be beholden to the partition system of itself but instead will proceed from the people – of their rightful position as the font of constitutional authority and of their demand to be free to determine their own affairs. It would effect the renewal of the democratic process, giving rise in turn to a Second All-Ireland Republic – a lineal successor to that usurped by the Treaty at Britain’s behest.
Ireland’s rights to freedom and sovereignty are inalienable and not subject to a vote among this or any other generation of her people. They have been set out in the Proclamation as indefeasible tenets which exist in their own space and right. But this does not preclude that a referendum can determine the views and wishes of the people, affording the position that they choose to endorse the imprimatur of their number.
At a time when the republican argument has been marginalised to the point of despair, facing off with the brick wall of partition, the process above offers viable means to reconnect the Republic with its people, affording them opportunity to endorse its renewal and to bring to an end its usurp. Onwards to the Republic – An Phoblacht Abú.