By Saoradh Ard Mhacha
In light of the latest census figures, constitutional nationalists have been jumping for joy, receiving this news as vindication of their strategy. Likewise reactionary unionists have been apoplectic with anger and fear, understanding this news as evidence of impending Rome Rule.
Both of these camps are totally wrong. The Good Friday Agreement saved unionism for a generation, and has left nationalism in general and the provisional movement in particular politically impotent in their quest to achieve their ostensible aspirations.
It is an often repeated, and seldom challenged lie that the Good Friday Agreement brought a democratic route to a border poll, this is objectively false. There already existed a mechanism for a border poll, one that was utilised in 1973. This border poll was boycotted at the time by nationalist parties, quite rightly as it proffered legitimacy to the unionist veto, but the mechanism existed never the less, and at this rate there will have been more border polls in the 25 years preceding the Good Friday Agreement than the 25 years after it!
The Provisional movement wasted decades, centuries even, of struggle by the Irish people to achieve a reiteration of British government policy, and new attaches to the border poll mechanism, to secure the unionist veto and enshrine it in law, all with the enthusiastic support of a supposed revolutionary movement!
A similar wave of euphoria was witnessed among former republicans when Provisional Sinn Féin performed better than expected in the free state elections, it was never acknowledged by the great and the good among the media and political commentariat that Provisional Sinn Féin could have won every single seat in Leinster House, and it would not have resulted in a border poll, as the Good Friday Agreement, and subsequent agreements completely internalised the issue to within the 6 counties.
Similarly these same former republicans were overcome with joy when they became the largest party in the colonial assembly, proclaiming a border poll was imminent, this was lapped up by the media, and when the British government SOS told them in no uncertain terms that it was not happening, this went barely reported in the media.
For those who do not know, there are a number of prerequisites before a border poll can be called; the British Government SOS has the sole authority to call it, they can only do so if it looks like it will likely be a yes vote, and even then there is a fairly significant body of legal opinion that says that it will require the support of the colonial Stormont assembly, in other words the unionist turkeys will have to vote for fenian Christmas.
The British government have known for centuries that in order to maintain their occupation of Ireland they needed the following prerequisites; a pacified native population, a normalised functioning of British rule, and submission to the unionist veto. Rather than signalling imminent constitutional change, the census results further evidence the strategic myopia of Provisional Sinn Féin and their cohorts, all they have achieved is delivering the Brits long term aspirations to them on a plate, through a combination of ignorance, arrogance and the sinister hand of British intelligence they have secured the union for years to come, “they are traitors to the island of Ireland”.