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?
If Fianna Fail and Mr Martin are guilty of hypocrisy, surely Sinn Fein are equally guilty. They make much play of being an all-Ireland Party, indeed the only all-Ireland Party, yet they seem quite happy to sit in a Northern Ireland Assembly and serve as ministers in what is effectively a U.K. executive, funded by U.K. taxpayers. Surely they should refuse to sit in such an Assembly and demand entry to the Dail. But, of course, the truth is they have long since lost their Republican purity and learned to deal with reality rather than fantasy.
Mr Martin was simply indulging in a bit of harmless Bodenstown fantasy, a ritual nod to Fianna Fail as “the Republican Party.” The hard-eyed Sinn Feiners and their D.U.P. partners will have to deal with poverty in Belfast, aided by the U.K. exchequer, no doubt much to the relief of hard-pressed taxpayers in the South.
Interesting Comment, Willie.
Well they are not the only all-Ireland political party as such. The Green Party, Workers Party and a handful of others are also all-Ireland in make-up though some with separate organisational set-ups. And Fianna Fáil now has several recognised or official cumainn (branches) in the north-east of the country. But I understand what you mean.
On the “UK” aspects of the interim post-Agreement settlement in the North, many, like myself, would view it as a necessary stepping-stone to a Reunited Ireland. As I have pointed out here, echoing others, a Reunited Ireland will simply be the Belfast Agreement in reverse. Minus the option for a British Unionist majority in the north-east region to vote themselves out of it once in. I regard the Stormont compromise as a necessary reality well within the broader Republican agenda. And one that must be pursued to its logical conclusion.
See here for some related views.