Republican News · Thursday 9 April 1998

[An Phoblacht]

INC campaign gathers steam

By Michael Pierse

On Wednesday in the Royal Dublin Hotel the Irish National Congress kick-started a campaign to defend Articles 2 and 3. Chairperson Robert Ballagh starkly conveyed the nature of the proposed referendum in his opening speech to a packed hall: ``I am being asked to give my consent to a constitutional change which would evict northern nationalists from Ireland.''

Dr Anne McCluskey of Derry INC articulated the sense of betrayal felt by northern nationalists:''now we are witnessing the unkindest cut of all, because it will be inflicted not by the British, but by the Irish people.'' Damien Kiberd, editor of The Sunday Business Post said citizens of the 26 counties were being asked ``to close their eyes and accept this palpable untruth - what a piece of monumental stupidity.''

Clare INC delegate Donnacha Vaughan addressed in particular the ambivalent and often ludicrous implications which alterations to the Articles could have. Any dilution of the Articles, it transpired, would most likely cause inconsistencies with Articles one, nine, 51 and 63. Also, there would be the entirely farcical situation whereby ``everyone in northern Ireland will be Irish citizens but will not be living in Ireland.'' Also, if Ireland was to be declared as merely a body of people rather than a geographical unit, what of the personal property held by Irish individuals - can one own part of a land which does not constitutionally exist?

Demographic circumstances within the Six Counties were also discussed. Belfast solicitor Barra McGrory asked: ``Where four of the six counties...have a substantial nationalist majority, isn't it amazing that the Irish government has chosen this time to sell out Irish nationhood?'' He also noted that The Amsterdam Treaty contains a legal requirement to respect the national territories of each member state, which could well conflict with the amendments to the Articles.

Dara Uí Coigligh of Sinn Féin commented that Fianna Fáil had ``got away with selling passports to millionaire foreigners but will not get away with selling 700,000 Irish passports to the British government.''

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