The following is the address to the recent Ard Fheis of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, given by national chairperson Francis Mackey.
Fellow comrades, on behalf of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement we send from this Ard Fheis revolutionary and solidarity greetings to all people’s struggling for their national sovereignty and the inherent human rights which that entails. We extend solidarity to all political prisoners who are incarcerated for such rights and we call for the immediate end to internment.
In these politically volatile times we do well to remember the prescient words of George Bernard Shaw: “All great truths begin as blasphemies.” The Proclamation of 1916 recognised this in that it spoke of all our people, Irishmen and Irish women, as essential to the totality of Irish national sovereignty. It sought the blessing of God, not a religion, on the veracity of that fundamental principle.
It was blasphemy in the sense that it deviated from the established belief that the so called ‘Irish Question’ could only be resolved by a solution which involved Ireland as a revised member of the British Empire.
In the midst of the imperial slaughter of World War 1 our pragmatic patriots recognised that the truth of the goal of seeking the freedom of small nations did not reside in the mentality of empire but in the reasoning of sovereignty, genuinely republican, and grounded in the rights of our people’s wisdom of choosing who should govern them and how such governance should function.
And in that true Presbyterian spirit of the republicanism of Wolfe Tone, Irishmen and Irishwomen must seek to secure an understanding amongst ourselves that national sovereignty is not concerned with the dominance of numbers but the utilising of culture, genius and identity as the true expression of national self-determination.
Such a process of dialogue can only hope to achieve fruition if there exists a presence of honesty and an absence of outside interference. Partition facilitated the rise of division. It ensured the development of sectarian mindsets on both sides of the border, the manipulation of which was the guarantor of its continued existence.
And this is why, as republicans, we must recognise that the ending of partition must not be seen as a simple remedy to failure, but as a solution to the future of the combined wellbeing of all the people of this island.
Those who fought in 1916 were dissidents. They were condemned, imprisoned and executed, not for their actions alone, but for what they recognised as the true basis upon which war against British Parliamentary activity in Ireland should be waged.
We are not dissidents simply because we agree with them. You can only dissent with alternative ideas. And those ideas must be grounded in the pragmatic expectation that the sovereign rights of the Irish people can be realistically advanced.
Clarity in our position is key. And its important for all members of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement to realise that we are not right merely because we say it, but rather that we pursue it, with objective arguments that resonate with a contemporary relevance. There is no place in Irish republicanism for group tourism.
The war is not over. The fundamental reasons for its perennial cause still pertain. The violation of Irish national sovereignty is an act of war against the Irish people. But we may have reached a point where waging war is detrimental to our national objectives. We must never allow the occupier to dictate our strategic responses to them or feel in anyway coerced to pursue a given path.
Constitutional change may well come from political circumstances beyond our control and unlike some unionist leaders the option of leaving is not open to the vast majority of citizens. In such circumstances Irish republicans must possess more than a war strategy if a just accommodation is to be reached with those Irish people who view their identity and culture as separate to ours.
We have no desire to force any section of the Irish people into a given constitutional arrangement, but we certainly will not accept the vast majority of the people of the island being forced out of one by the actions of a foreign parliament.
And this is the inherent danger with the concept of a British referendum to seek constitutional change. Accepting the very premise of such a referendum negates utterly our core position that Irish sovereignty is inalienable and indefeasible. Further still, and for their own strategic reasons, both Dublin and London could submit proposals that would trade so called unity in return for admission to the British Commonwealth or some other form of constitutional relationship with the United Kingdom.
The real politik of the occupation of our country is that only sovereignty, and not some Home Rule contrivance, can end that occupation. The politics of the Good Friday Agreement is firmly rooted in compromise for change and what that change has brought so far is the complete dominance of the British claim to sovereignty over part of our island.
Equally any such referendum may well come under the direct influence of the Brexit negotiations, or any deal reached, for even more horse trading of Irish sovereignty. It is incumbent on all our members, and indeed all republicans, to firmly recognise that a socialist republic will not be built from such a political mindset.
Our message to the unionist community is this: explain to us the merits of the union? Explain to us that political stability on this island can ever be achieved so long as perfidious albion dominates your thinking?
From a republican perspective we need you to address what we see as the fundamental contradiction of your position: how to reconcile your loyalty to an establishment that you will never trust?
Over ten years ago the 32 County Sovereignty Movement sent a submission to Unionist leaders concerning the probability of future constitutional change on the island. This submission was ignored because in pre-Brexit times unionists were content with their majority rule position. But now this has fundamentally changed. But the questions we posed to you are even more salient. And I now speak to working class unionists with an appeal to engage with us to ensure that whatever change comes the people of no property are not marginalised again.
Your political leadership has vowed to abandon you. Your democratic voice has been silenced by the electorate in a different country. It is therefore incumbent upon you to define a political position which involves an accommodation of your identity within a sovereign Ireland.
We want to help you to define that position because as republicans we too need your help to define such a position recognising the different cultural expressions that exist in Ireland. And that can only come about through direct dialogue between us.
Recently Leo Varadkar uttered statements that if Border Posts are to be erected, they will be blown up. This is a case of political expediency and an attempt to use republicanism as a political stick to incite fear to promote his own agenda. He does not speak for Irish republicans nor is he privy to our political thinking.
There may well come a point where Unionist and British politicians will misrepresent the intentions of loyalists for similar ends and it is imperative that conflict does not arise from those circumstances.
We are Irish republicans. We, along with others, are building a social schematic of our vision for a sovereign Ireland. As we approach the centenary of the establishment of the First Dail it is imperative that this generation of Irish republicans present to our people a pragmatic vision of what a sovereign Ireland can deliver for all our people.