Saturday, August 12, 2017

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'Two States – One System' Does Not A Republic Make

Writing for TPQ on what he considers an emerging shift in Sinn Féin's approach to Irish Unity, Sean Bresnahan, Chair of the Thomas Ashe Society Omagh, argues that the Agreed Ireland initiative unfolding at present aims towards a permanent British role in Ireland.

Irish republicans should view with alarm, if not necessarily surprise, the recent musings of Sinn Féin opinion-shaper and party hack Jarlath Kearney on the future trajectory of constitutional change in Ireland (Dublin government's Brexit stance no 'back of the envelope' job; Irish News, 9th August).

With those of his party's 'Northern Leader' Michelle O'Neill, speaking a day earlier in Belfast, his remarks – parroting no doubt the latest line being fed them by the 'Think Tank' – reveal just how far the 'New Sinn Féin' project has been shunted away from Irish republicanism and onto a purely constitutional footing.

Worse still, even here we find constitutionalism, as exhibited by Kearney and in which Sinn Féin is now wholly enmeshed, kowtowing not just to the notion that Ireland should arrive at independence only when the means for her doing so, according to British constitutional theory, have been satisfied but that British constitutional theory itself, with its continuing application to Ireland, should remain intact going forward 'post-Irish unity'.

The wishes of a majority in the Six Counties to remain part of the so-called United Kingdom is cast as the reason why Britain is still involved in Ireland. It is and has been the 'democratic' stick used to beat nationalists and republicans since the six-county statelet was formed, given especial merit since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Now, though, that this majority approaches redundancy, we see a new justification for Britain's presence in Ireland being fast-tracked by the likes of Kearney, O'Neill and their ilk – this being the supposed 'Britishness' of the Ulster Protestants and a need that this be guaranteed should nationalism emerge as the majority constituency in the North.

Thus has been born the notion, set forth by Kearney but no doubt dreamed up by his superiors, that 'two states – one system' should be the vision for Ireland post such a nationalist majority. Indeed, incredibly, he presents the merit of the above even in the event that a 'landslide' for unity should emerge from a border poll – the poll we were sold as the means by which Britain would leave Ireland. It seems we are now being told otherwise.

For as if this weren't bad enough, Sinn Féin seem intent on going further and are embracing, wholesale, the Unionist Veto in its fuller sense, positing that Unionism, even when no longer able to carry its majority, should retain the ability to frustrate a full all-Ireland republic. How else are we to describe it when, through their mouthpieces in the media, they have begun arguing that a nationalist majority – even be it a landslide – is no longer enough to bring forward such a republic?

For Britain, the maths are simple: Irish Unionists must be made British that her writ in Ireland, albeit in reduced capacity, be extended once demographic change lays waste to her current vice to hold the Six Counties. The Ireland she envisions, which finds symmetry in Sinn Féin's Agreed Ireland project, is one where Britain gets to stay – within the so-called 'totality of relationships' (which Sinn Féin now espouses) – while the Irish agree to it.

This is the where New Sinn Féin are headed, as their pseudo 'Agreed Ireland' shifts away from the republican notion of 'two traditions – one nation' to the British design of 'two nations – one island'. Kearney's article, which merely reflects the thinking of his party's leadership, is the ground being prepared to shift the republican base onto this footing. As the old saying would have it, 'for what died the sons of Roisin?'


philip kelly said...

Not to mention the fact that Mary Lou McDonald is now advocating coalition as a junior partner in a free state government with either FEIN GAEL OR fianna fail in other words the new LABOUR PARTY OR THE MUD GUARD FOR RIGHT WING GOVERNMENT TO CONTINUE IN THE SO CALLED REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
It is now plain to see that what Adams has built is a political party but not a republican or a socialist party, but tomorrow the 13th of August this so called republican party will will hold a major event in Ballina Co Mayo remembering the hunger strikers who died in long Kesh and the jails in England an event they have continued to use for political advantage and to give themselves and others the impression that they are the true republicans BUT LETS REMEMBER NO REPUBLICAN OF MY GENERATION AND BEFORE EVER FOUGHT FOR PERSONAL GAIN BUT FOR IRISH FREEDOM AT WHAT EVER COST INCLUDING DEATH
But just remember this in 1969 we also had people who called themselves republicans they ended up as the stickies and the workers party/democratic left/labour party

sean bres said...

Thanks for commenting Phillip and hope you are keeping well. John seen through what was happening at the end no doubt. May God rest his soul. My only hope is that more who are investing in this leadership and party, in the mistaken belief they will take us to the Republic, will come in time to realise the truth of what is really going on. They are indeed the Stickies Mk.II and are arguably much worse again.

No matter of them. Only three weeks before his death, knowing that his time was drawing near, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh expressed to his lifelong friend and comrade, Dan Hoban, that he knew in his heart another generation would rise with the Republic in their hearts and would complete the task so many had suffered and died for. If my generation is not the one to do so then the next will take forward the baton. Either way, we will get there in the end.

Henry JoY said...


thanks for drawing our attention to this. Yet, having followed your link to Jarlath's article, I feel your response is predictably caustic and alarmist. Britain's decision to leave the EU provides both challenge and opportunity for Ireland north and south.

If I may take a quote from the article:

'In particular, the Taoiseach stated: "It is important that all parts of the body politic across these islands face up to the challenges presented and are clear about what they want to - and can realistically - achieve".'

In the existing context what alternative input have you and your like-minded colleagues ... what have ye to contribute that's realistic and achievable? What have ye to offer that won't be perceived as either cohersive or threathening to Unionism and also to stability and peace (imperfect as all that is)?

What's outlined in the article is predicated by the immediacy of the situation unfolding and does on balance, or so it seems to me, present an opportunity for a peaceful nudging of things closer to a unified Ireland. Of course that possibility only exists in the long term ... the very long term. Yet its as probable as any strategy I've heard proposed. Unification, its possibility and desirbility, will have to be spoon-fed not just to Unionism but also to a significant portion of 'Nationalism' also.

Sean you probably won't agree with much of what I say but as a Northerner who has lived most of his adult life in the 26 county state I have come to witness and realise how hesitant many down here are, and will continue to be, in accepting and integrating tribal nationalism and unionism into their society ... unless its exceedingly in their self-interest to do so.
Such circumstances may currently be evolving. How ironic would it be if dissenting republicans, through their dog in the manger attitude, were to frustrate events even further?

Henry JoY.

sean bres said...

Henry Joy, I understand the point you make but stand over the central premise - however caustic or alarmist you might hold it: two states on the one island linked within the 'totality of relationships' - this a construct introduced by the Major Government to shrink the boundary of any future constitutional change - does not a republic make and is a further infringement on our right to freely determine our own affairs.

Why should I, as an Irishman, be denied yet again my right to play a full role within the affairs of my country? I am Irish - not 'Northern Irish'. When will my identity count for something and why should mine be forsaken yet again, even after the terms and strictures which were agreed upon to bring forward a 'sovereign United Ireland' have at long last been met?

The identity of the Ulster Protestant community must of course be free from discrimination in an Irish Republic but not to the point of legislating a permanent role for the British Crown and Government within our constitutional structure. From where I sit, what Kearney and his ilk seek is not to assuage the fears of unionism but to foster that same role just spoken of on behalf of others further up the food chain. The track record of the 'higher ups' concerned tells me I'm not being alarmist at all.

I contacted someone in the middle leadership of the party on this late last week and was told '50 percent plus one' is more than enough' to bring forward the Republic. Others further down at Council level, who I still talk with, agree also that it is the full Republic we really seek but suggest the approach in question is to help move unionism in the right direction. It could well be me who his wrong but I honestly feel that those concerned will in time come to see that things are unfolding not as they think and that we are slowly being led to a different place.

Anonymous said...

@ henry Joy who asked "What have ye to offer that won't be perceived as either cohersive or threathening to Unionism and also to stability and peace (imperfect as all that is)?"

If I might be so bold as to turn the question round:
"What have the DUP to offer that won't be perceived as either cohersive or threathening to Nationalists/Republicans and also to stability and peace (imperfect as all that is)?"

And here's the answer - the DUP game-plan, which undoubtedly can be perceived as coercive and threatening to others not of their persuasion!

philip kelly said...

Henry joy.
Might I point out the following, in 1918 the people off Ireland voted for full Independence for Ireland in 1921 with the help of fein gaels founding fathers our country was partitioned in favor of the unionist and 400,000 nationalist where abandoned to the B Specials (UVF IN UNIFORM) the UUP and the Orange Order
So are we now going to have a repeat of history where the wishes of the Irish people are once again to be ignored by the British and the UUP /DUP KEEPING IN MIND THAT THE MAJORITY OF THE POPULATION IN THE NORTH VOTED TO REMAIN IN THE EU
As I now read it the Adams project and the good Friday agreement will be torn up by both fein gael and fianna fail ( the parties Mary Lou McDonald wants to enter government with as a junior partner !!) who will end up supporting the British and their Brexit a hard border will be imposed and Ireland will once again be partitioned
It gives me no pleasure to write the above but I have seen at first hand the goings on within sinn fein in the south and it does not make good viewing as people undermine each other for personal gain and money Hardly the behavior of genuine republicans

Paddy Mooney said...

I think that the ageing group of Provos within Sinn Fein know that the natural path through GFA to re-unification will take too long and they want to be vindicated in their politics and deliver a version of unity before they die or are replaced. After all they have been creative with revisionism over the last 20 years why not be creative with the future too.

Henry JoY said...


I think we'll have to agree to differ on our diverging positions but a few final thoughts on this before I finish.

Unionist past performance does suggest that their initial tendency will be to trenchantly oppose any dilution of the existing Union. And as eurofree's article points out they do wield disproportionate and significant influence over the current British administration.

Traditional hardline Republicanism whilst paying lip-service to Unionist inclusion as yet has never developed a credible or attractive enough strategy to address this challenge.
Hence most reasonable people will support paying attention to evolving events and advocate for EU sponsored incremental and all-round advantageous arrangements.
The implication of not doing this is bleak.

In my opinion Jarlath's article points towards a pragmatic pan-nationalist positioning which has possibilities and positive possibilities for Unionism too.
Let's hear more imaginative thinking rather than whinging on about the vicissitudes of the past!

Henry JoY said...


here's a link which may be of interest to an opinion piece on 50% + 1 from today's Irish Times.

Steve R said...


How can you 'sell' a new Republic to everyone on the Island given the rapid growth of the middle classes?