Cumann na Saoirse Náisiúnta

National Irish Freedom Committee

"Adams Unity Campaign"

Professor O'Leary (see comments below) put his finger, however briefly, on that part of the "Good Friday Agreement" which makes it more likely than the earlier, failed "Sunningdale Agreement" to preserve the current constitutional status of those six of the divided Province of Ulster's nine counties (ten by Conradh na Gaedhilge count - they put Louth and Cú Chulainn in Ulster) known as "Northern Ireland."   It is the requirement for concurrent majorities

Concurrent majorities - That is exactly what John C. Calhoun of South Carolina proposed around 1850, that there could be no change in the Constitution of the United States (at least where the South's "peculiar institution" of Slavery was concerned) without the concurrence both of the majority of the Free States and of the majority of the Slave States; that way the South could not be out-voted by the North, no matter how many new Free States might be added to the Union.  Similarly, so long as the "Good Friday Agreement" is honored, even if the Unionist population were to shrink to less than one-tenth of what it is today, the majority (i.e., 50% +1) of that less than one-tenth of the current Unionist population could thwart any constitutional change, even if over 97% of the over-all population of "Northern Ireland" voted for the change.  This is not a formula for "Peace with Justice and Honor," as the late John=2 0Cardinal O'Connor, Archbishop of New York used to pray.  The requirement for concurrent majorities is democracy writ very, very small.  Croppies lie down.

In many ways Partition is more copper-fastened by the "Good Friday Agreement" of 1998, than it was by the so-called "Treaty" signed in December 1921.  The British pensions of the members of the government of "Northern Ireland", as well as of Irish MPs at Westminster, would seem NOT to be in jeopardy.  Vidkun Quisling never had it so good. 

Even so, there are Unionists who don't realize that "their" government (the one in London) achieved its war aims; the Republicans did not.  Some Loyalists (loyal, at least to their own perception of "King Billy") are scandalized that some Taigs are now allowed to ride near the front of the bus; but the bus, like the post boxes, is still painted red.  Is it really a kinder, gentler Stormont?

Meanwhile, there is a sovereign, independent country (not a member of the EU) which (despite having fought a civil war on really religious lines in the 19th century) now happily, and prosperously, accommodates religious differences, plus four languages (without posing any threat to its neighbors), by the judicious application of the principle of subsidiarity -- the Swiss Federation.

Given that the Provinces of Leinster, Munster and Connacht are each as unique as is the Province of Ulster - all four Provinces being equally IRISH, albeit expressed in different ways, and given that federalism has worked in Canada, despite religious, linguistic (three official languages, one aboriginal/indigenous) and other differences (without posing a threat to the "British" Empire), are there any takers for a federal Ireland (details to be worked out in an Irish constitutional convention, without foreign let or hindrance, analogous to what was accomplished at Philadelphia for the United States in 1787)?  Does no one remember the 1972 Eire Nua proposal (?), not mentioned in the below article; it could at least form a basis on which to begin serious negotiations. 

Then there was that line in 1916 about, "...right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies is sovereign and indefeasible."  Sovereign and indefeasible, look up both very carefully chosen words in a good dictionary, and then remember, "We hold there truths to be self-evident...inalienable rights..."

O'Leary's  Comments

O'Leary gave a detailed presentation on possible paths to Irish unity, touching on demographics.  He said a significant portion of unionists would have to be convinced of the benefits of a change in the constitutional status if there was to be a realistic chance of unity being achieved. 

He cited the reunification of Germany as an example of how it is not always mere financial benefits which is the greatest motivator for constitutional change.

O'Leary also said it was important that the growing minorities living in the North would also have to be convinced in the rationale for Irish unity, noting that there was a significant population of Poles living in the North who are generally Catholic and could be a significant voting block in the future.

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