Hmmm. Micheál Martin, leader of the discredited centre-right Fianna Fáil party, has stated at the annual Wolfe Tone Commemoration in Baile Uí Bhuadáin that the local population in the North of Ireland are citizens of the Irish state. Well, sort of. Discussing the high rates of child poverty in Belfast the Irish Times reports that Martin says on behalf of FF that:
“As a Republican Party we have to care about these issues. As long as any Irish citizen is being failed by politics, we need to take an interest and do what we can to address it.”
So, if the people of Belfast are Irish citizens, by virtue of being born and living in the city of Belfast, then surely they should be living under the jurisdiction of the state, the same as the rest of us? Surely they should be accorded the same legal and constitutional rights as other citizens of the state, even those, say, born and living in the city of Dublin? Surely they should be participating in the national legislature of the state through their elected representatives, just as we do? And surely Fianna Fáil, the “Republican Party”, should be standing for election in Belfast and elsewhere across the north-east of Ireland seeking a mandate from all the citizens of the state, not just those south of the border?
Or is all this talk of Irish citizens in the North of Ireland just another piece of Opposition rhetoric that is quickly forgotten when taking up the greasy reins of power?