Republican Youth Magazine
We are pleased to announce on behalf of The Connolly Society - Students of Queen's University Belfast, that our republican youth magazine Spirit of Freedom, has been finally published and is now available in the major university campuses throughout the 32 Counties and at various republican outlets in Belfast, Derry and Dublin. We would ask anyone interested in selling the magazine to contact us at the address below, as building up a strong distribution and wider republican youth organisational network is a still ongoing exercise.
We would like to thank the staff at AP/RN, Fr Des Wilson, Anthony MacIntyre, Jim Daly, Aidan Donaldson and An Cumann Poblachtach - QUB, for their own respective contributions to the first edition of the magazine.
We hope that the magazine will be welcomed, within the Republican Movement, as a new dimension to republican political activity and as a long awaited and worthwhile platform for young republicans to articulate their views and to deepen their collective understanding of the issues which remain central to the national liberation struggle through a mutual exchange of ideas and analysis. Anyone wishing to correspond with the Editors of Spirit of Freedom can do so by writing to Editor of Spirit of Freedom, 147 Andersonstown Road, Belfast BT11.
Editors of `Spiorad na Saoirse'.
Peace Strategy debate
The common weakness of the arguments of `No Other Law' and `Riddle of the Sands' is that they seem to confuse the wanton destruction of the peace process (Mark 1) with a perceived failure of Sinn Féin's peace strategy. They argue that we have allied ourselves to (or have been suckered by) the wrong people - ie `constitutional' nationalists and Irish America - and that the demand for a true 32 County Irish democracy has been watered down.
There is absolutely no evidence to suggest any diminution of the core republican objective of establishing re-unification as determined by the people of Ireland without British interference. What has been acknowledged is that any transition to unification is complicated by a) a sizeable pro-British population in the north east and b) significant numbers of nationalists throughout the 32 Counties who don't' share our analysis.
Both groups need to be convinced that a republic based upon the principles of the 1916 Proclamation holds the most progressive and equitable future for the people of Ireland. As realists, we have acknowledged that we need to be in a position to effectively put across our vision. As Mícháel MacDonncha outlined in his recent article (An Phoblacht 13 February), prior to the developments in policy in 1992, republicans were facing enormous difficulties in communicating this vision. Míchaél went on to summarise the tangible gains made by republicans in the past five years.
One of those gains, which should address the concerns of critics of the peace strategy, is that republicans have been able to communicate, via increased exposure, with the people of Ireland and beyond, effectively by-passing the other political parties. Fianna Fáil's current stance should be seen as a reaction to this as grass roots feelings filter through.
By working with other political parties - the so-called nationalist consensus and Irish America - republicans are seeking to maximise the pressure on the British/Unionist establishment axis. It is realpolitik to have the strongest possible team in the face of negotiations. Would republicans be swamped in such a team? Providing our analysis is effectively put directly to the people than the answer is no. Sinn Féin is able to articulate the aspirations of people throughout the 32 Counties like no other party and the strong Six County representation would act as a buttress against any temptation for 26 County politicians to settle for less than a fundamental change in the constitutional position - the core issue.
It is untrue to suggest that working with `constitutional' politicians on the peace process has adversely affected Sinn Féin's socio-economic policy. The recent `Putting People First' paper is a restatement that there is a radical people control republican position. It is important that republicanism remains radical and anti-capitalist and much of what `No Other Law' advocates in terms of building alliances with progressive unionists should be a central objective.
Keeping activists involved in shaping and advocating policy is necessary and the debate in these pages is important in that regard.
Majority rejects veto
I would like to comment on the remarks of John Bruton at the (selective) Youth Conference on the North of Ireland which took place on 22 February. Mr Bruton states that his own ``strong belief'' is that the Republican Movement must sooner or later ``accept the principle of consent'' which states that there can be no change in the constitutional position of the Six Counties without the agreement of a majority of people there.
Mr Bruton is living in cloud cuckoo land if he thinks that the Republican Movement is ever going to accept this Unionist veto on the reunification of Ireland. The Unionist veto is not accepted by a majority on this island so I do not see why Sinn Féin should accept it. If John Bruton thought that a majority of people in the 26 Counties accepted the Unionist veto, then he would not have shown his reluctance to carry on Dr Garret Fitzgerald's constitutional crusade to delete Articles 2 and 3 of the Irish Constitution for fear that it might be defeated in a Referendum.
I believe that any party that accepts that there can be no change in the status of the Six Counties within the UK without the agreement of a (false) majority is technically a Unionist Party as this is the foundation on which modern Unionism is built and without that guarantee from Britain, Unionism is finished.
I would like to remind Mr Bruton that Unionists and Britain never accepted majority opinion in Ireland and their answer to true Democracy on this island was always through the barrel of a gun and threats of mass slaughter. It would be more in Mr Bruton's line to ask the British government to withdraw their guarantee to the Unionists so that we would all then have to sit down around the table to try and work out how we can all live in peace on this beautiful island.
After the recent Spotlight programme about the future of the monarchy, one must ask what agenda is being pursued by the BBC in the Six Counties?
As a republican democrat I found the programme insulting, sectarian and downright inflamatory. Once again the Orange Order were portrayed as concerned citizens who fear for their culture, whilst in reality they portrayed a disturbing sectarian mindset, where the bottom line is one faith, one queen.
This ideology (a term I use lightly) must not be allowed to block the peace process nor should NIO psyops/dirty tricks deflect us from a just, peaceful settlement.
I have written before urging republicans to hold our nerve, let's also show the rest of the world that we will show unionism in its true light.