The much heralded Constitutional Convention is finally on the horizon after many a false dawn. According to the Irish Times:

“The Taoiseach and the Tánaiste are to brief Opposition leaders Micheál Martin and Gerry Adams as well as the Dáil’s Technical Group this evening on the Government’s plans for the proposed Constitutional Convention.

Mr Kenny and Mr Gilmore will meet with Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin leaders tonight.

Independent TD for Kildare North Catherine Murphy, who will attend on behalf of the Technical Group at Government Buildings, said she was preparing a “menu” of options with her colleagues.

The Cabinet formally agreed last week to establish the Convention and a spokesman said at the time that the Government would be holding consultations with the Opposition.”

I’ve highlighted my fears for the Irish speaking community of Ireland in relation to this convention, especially one convened by a coalition government dominated by the anti-Irish factions in Fine Gael and Labour, but it’s interesting to see at least one party’s main concerns. According to Slugger O’Toole the press briefing from Sinn Féin focuses on:

“• Acknowledge and take account of the relevant prior commitments under the Good Friday Agreement.

• It should be able to consider recommending a new constitution for the 21st century which is inclusive, reflects the desire for Irish unity that is shared by the majority of citizens on this island and which protects the rights of citizens, including our unionist neighbours.

• The Convention’s Terms of Reference must also ensure that the outcome does not prejudice any future process of agreeing an all-Ireland constitution – post a referendum on unity as set out in the Good Friday Agreement.

• It should involve the economically disadvantaged, citizens from all provinces including northern citizens; ordinary unionists and their official representatives; citizens in the diaspora; and our newest citizens – in addition to the political parties, civil society representatives and those with relevant academic and legal expertise – and ensuring the equal representation of women on the Convention.

• The Convention’s process must also be fully public, transparent and accountable, from discussion of terms of reference to appointments, and from the debates to conclusion of recommendations.

• There must be clarity in the Terms of Reference about the conventions final report and how it is put to the people in a referendum.

• It must be able to examine the need for guarantees of economic and social rights, the extension of voting rights for northern citizens and citizens in the diaspora, and the architecture necessary to establish a more robustly inclusive, fully representative and accountable democracy.

• It must contain all the modern equality and human rights protections that reflect the full spectrum of our international obligations and any others that are necessary to establish a rights-based society.

• Including the equivalence of human rights protections north and south.

• The Convention must in its work consider and make a complementary contribution towards an All-Ireland Charter of Rights.”

What? No Charter of Irish Language Rights, no Irish Bill 101? No guarantees to protect, or indeed to enlarge, the position of the Irish language in the Constitution of Ireland? No demands to incorporate aspects of the Official Languages Act of 2003 into the constitution?

Sinn Féin, a progressive nationalist party?

Tell that to Plaid Cymru, Convergència i Unió or Parti Québécois!

2 comments on “What About Our Irish Rights?

  1. Aontaím leat maidir le príomhphointe d’ailt ach ní dóigh liom gur féidir a rá gur ‘progressive nationalist party’ iad CiU sa Chatalóin?

    CiU may be pro-Catalan but they’re hardly progressive. I’d say La Cup are the most progressive political entity in the Catalan Countries at the minute –


    • Progressive in the sense of recognising the primacy of the Catalan language and culture in the broader nationalist struggle. The old CDC component tends to be more centre-left and nationalist than the UDC wing, though at the moment CiU as a whole remains fairly conservative on socio-economic matters. It does however work closely with the ERC on some issues, which is a positive 😉


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