An open letter from four Irish students challenging the thinking of the main political parties in Ireland on the question of national reunification. Or rather the lack of thinking despite the changing demographic nature of the UK-administered Six Counties and the challenge posed to both island nations by the issue of Brexit.
To the Nationalist and Republican Parties of Ireland
Dear Sir / Madam,
My friends and I, in light of the recent publication by Queens University Belfast (QUB), ‘Northern Ireland and the UK’s Exit from the EU, what do the people think’, published 21/05/2018 have been reflecting on the polled results. May we communicate our disappointment at these results, specifically in respect of the low appetite for a United Ireland (see Page 44 Figure 7.), but we feel it has allowed time for honest reflection and for us to personally dig down and ask genuine questions; hence this email to the main Nationalist and Republican parties of Ireland.
We feel the outcome of the QUB research has shattered any presumptions that a United Ireland border poll is remotely winnable at present or in the near future. Circumstances have advanced the United Ireland debate, but not far enough. There is genuine feeling from among us that there is too much reliance on the circumstances surrounding Brexit and not enough practical measures being taken to pursue, promote and advance further the case for Irish unity and specifically so from within the traditionally held ‘fertile ground’ that is the Catholic, Nationalist and Republican communities in the North.
We feel there needs to be a more joined up approach across all the Nationalist parties on the island to create and publish a vision of the ‘New Ireland’. Why isn’t this happening? Why isn’t your political party calling on other political organisations to establish an agreed Nationalist consensus on a United Ireland – a consensus that explains the broad vision of what unity means; detailing the cold hard economic numbers, including all the envisioned economic positives and negatives? Demonstrating that the vision is progressive, inclusive and signifies a willingness to build a shared society for all on this island- a vision that the people of Ireland want to embrace and be part of?
None of the undersigned have ever been asked by any political party what our view is on a United Ireland. No political representative has ever knocked our door to canvass our opinion on how we would vote on this issue. No political party has ever asked us what our hopes and fears are in relation to a United Ireland. No one has asked us what we would like to see in a United Ireland. Why is this?
The burden you must bear as the Nationalist and Republican political class, is to persuade! We level at you today that you are failing.
It is our feeling the biggest mistake that political Nationalism faces is that it’s a victim of its own misconceptions. Why aren’t foundations for a United Ireland being built amongst the nationalist community first? The QUB poll shows that some Catholics (who we perceive to be nationalists) aren’t supportive of a United Ireland? Why is this? Are these questions being asked? What are the responses and what are the parties doing to challenge this?
We believe a United Ireland for the people by the people, has to have the input of the people! And so we would humbly suggest that the four parties, in an official capacity as one body, make a public pledge to begin time-sensitive initiatives across the communities to build momentum toward a United Ireland, to commit to engaging with the people across the island and seek their views, ideas and visions of a United Ireland. We would hope that this combined effort would begin with door-to-door canvassing, building consensus, getting the debate moving, hearing and challenging views, helping foster views, generate and listen to ideas.
May we also suggest as part of this initiative you formally write to the UK Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Karen Bradley MP, requesting her to clarify the circumstances that will trigger a border poll! This will help greatly in preparing for the vote, as both sides will be aware and thus not shocked when the day arrives.
It is our assessment presently that collective Nationalism across the island is doing nothing to prepare for and lead the people into a United Ireland; at present there is no plan, there is no strategy, there is no time frame. We ask: why?
Calls for a border poll need to be backed with facts and figures, a vision, a blueprint and a roadmap – all of these are absent yet we, as a nationalist community, are keen to call the British government out on allowing for a border poll – should we not call the British government out by having the said information in place? To challenge them, to challenge the electorate – you, as the political representatives of nationalism hold a key responsibility – not only can you build momentum, you can progress momentum and allow momentum to be transferred into practical political realities. A United Ireland can be achieved – we need to start with the conversations. We need to convince and sell the project. This needs to start now. We implore you to begin….
Thank you in anticipation and we look forward to your reply.
Kieran Maxwell (Citizen of Ireland)
David Maxwell (Citizen of Ireland)
Seán Molloy (Citizen of Ireland)
Michael O’Doherty (Citizen of Ireland)
Need I say that I very much suspect that if those of us over in Britain were asked to part with NI, the answer would mostly be along the lines of “We’ll deliver your package for free, and would you like it gift-wrapped, Sir?”
On one condition though – Arlene Foster and her pals don’t get to live in Scotland.
Oh we must have one or two places where they preserve rare breeds. Folk would likely pay to see them. Cruel? Never, they love to make an exhibition of themselves, do it all the time …
Alas the political parties are too busy with their mouths in the trough to doing anything meaningful addressed by the above signatories. Paying lipservice to irish unification is what it’s called.
I’m not sure SF would escape an electoral squeeze too. Conceivably they could be the fourth biggest party after a unionist bloc. There is no guarantee that an all-island polity would continue to give SF the same vote in all-island numbers as they have now in the partitioned island, if FF and FG were also competing for former northern voters.