Irish Unity – The sensible solution

For us republicans, Irish re-unification has always been preserved centre stage for everything we adhere to. The republican struggle has always been about bringing about the eventuality of a united Ireland and the benefits it would bring to all citizens within the 32 counties. To our opponents though, this central belief to the republican ideology has long been dismissed outright as just an idealistic notion, something that republicans just wish for but “sure it will never happen anyway”. However, what is evident from the seismic political events recently is that this ‘romantic vision’ is no longer just that, it has now been placed firmly on the agenda in a capacity never seen before and it’s the route the island of Ireland is heading towards for its greater good.

The big beast in the room that has catapulted Irish unity front and centre of the political sphere is quite obviously Brexit. The north of Ireland against its wishes is being dragged out of the EU. The majority of voters here voted to remain within the European Union but as a result of the ‘little Englander’ mentality of Britain we are heading towards a Tory fuelled hard Brexit (unless Labour pulls off a shock result at the general election) with little to no concern for the north. The consequences of which will no doubt be severe. A hard border looks to be unavoidable no matter what way it’s dressed up.  Any physical form of a border in the island of Ireland will not only undermine the Good Friday Agreement but will lead to great resentment across the 32 counties pushing more and more people down the route of Irish unity.  It will be catastrophic for the whole of Ireland. The loss of millions of pounds of EU funding towards peace projects and subsidies to farmers will cripple the economy of the north.  The replacement of such funds won’t be coming from the Tories after Brexit with more harsh austerity measures the only projected outcome which again will only serve to weaken and further cripple our already precarious economy and frontline services. So, with a hard right Conservative government, who in reality couldn’t give a damn about the north (evident by Theresa Mays complete lack of interest and regard) steering us over a cliff edge, Irish Unity has now took centre stage and will be the only logical outcome to the disaster we are heading towards. Scotland already is demanding another independence referendum which most likely will result in a triumph for the YES campaign. This will only serve to further aid the united Ireland campaign and result in the biggest irony of Brexit, the dissolution of the so called ‘United Kingdom’.

One of the biggest arguments thrown against a united Ireland is the misconceived notion that “sure it could never be afforded”. The harsh reality here is that partition has not only socially and culturally been a disaster for the north but also economically. It doesn’t make sense for Ireland, an island on the edge of Europe with a population of just over 6 million people to be partitioned into a 26 county state and a 6 county state with two competing economies, two competing health services, two competing education services, transport services, infrastructure services, agricultural services etc etc. The duplication of services is dodo economics and only serves to further show the idiocy of partition. The belief that outside the Westminster subvention the north couldn’t function in a United Ireland is totally misconstrued to suit a one a sided agenda. A recent study led by Dr Kurt Hübner   from the University of British Colombia in Vancouver produced a study into a united Ireland economy which concluded that a re-unified, harmonised country and economy would deliver a boon of 36 billion Euros over eight years. It stated that the norths GDP per capitia could potentially increase by 4% to 7.5%. Such a study by a non-biased professional goes someway to dismissing the long held arguments against Irish Unity surrounding the economy. No doubt the economic question will be central to the united Ireland debate but with the direction the Tory led Britain is heading with its socio-economics that normalises xenophobia and tramples on people’s quality of living, more and more citizens within the north will come to see that a united Ireland is where they are better off.

The result of the March assembly elections has further shaken the shackles of partition. The once held belief of an ever perpetual unionist majority within Stormont and the north has been rescinded to the dustbin. The unionist majority in Stormont has gone; the election was the first to highlight the drastically changed demographics within the six counties which are changing year by year. Sinn Féin secured nearly 225’000 votes, its highest ever vote in the 6 counties and just a thousand votes behind the DUP and one seat.  Those who long to cling onto the dismantled orange state have to recognise that equality and parity of esteem are the only ways forward.  In the not too distant future it’s undeniably tenable that Sinn Féin will be the largest political party overall within the 6 counties.  This should not frighten or threaten those who identify as Unionist and British. Our frontline progressive republican politics espouse and enshrine equality for everyone. We mean what we preach and what we want is a new agreed reconciled Ireland that respects all traditions but also all traditions respecting each other’s. Matt Carthy Sinn Féin MEP for Midlands North West outlined in a recent and far reaching article the “need to show to Unionism and those that identify as British that their accommodation and expression within a new, agreed united Ireland will be respected and guaranteed.” As the late Martin McGuiness said in the 2013 Sinn Féin Ard Fheis, “I am so confident in my Irishness that I have no desire to chip away at the Britishness of my neighbours.” This leads me on to my next aspect; the need for an outward looking, coherent, inclusive vision and strategy towards a united Ireland by all who advocate for it.

There is a wide ranging debate to be had in the coming years as the inevitably of a border poll looms. Sinn Féin has always led the way at the front of the united Ireland drive while others paid scamp attention to it.  However, what we do welcome are the many political parties who before brushed it off are now paying firm attention to the very real fact that Irish unity is just over the horizon. Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour and the SDLP have all joined the party and that is a good thing. All those political parties and groups within civic society who recognise the massive benefits of Irish Unity have to be on board in the upcoming debate surrounding a united Ireland. As Matt Carthy stated in his piece, the need to be imaginative in the debate ahead is a must. The place of Stormont within a united Ireland, the accommodation and equality of Unionism, the economy, the need for progressive national front line services such as health and education, a proper welfare system that cares for the most vulnerable are all key aspects in the coming debate and one which we in Sinn Féin are committed towards. We have recently produced a document outlined ‘Towards a United Ireland’. We challenge others to outline their visions of a united Ireland also. It’s also imperative that the Irish government starts the process of an Irish re-unification white paper to lay the ground for the time ahead. Our image of a united Ireland is an inclusive one which enshrines the coming together of Catholic, Protestant, Dissenter, Nationalist, Republican, Unionist, Loyalist, ethnic minorities, our LGBT community and all those various groups which make up our Irish society.

The debate has already begun; it’s in its early stages and will expand within the coming years stretching across Ireland north and south. As republicans, our long held dream of a united Ireland has never been as close. It’s there for the taking but we have to ensure that we mobilise, organise, unite and educate to ensure that re-unification is shaped on the aspirations laid out in the 1916 Proclamation!

Credit to Sean Bateson

Election Special: If you want to be heard, make sure that you have a voice!

With the deadline for the upcoming Westminster election set for the 8th of June, it is crucial that you have a vote and that your vote is counted.

Prior to the last Assembly Election it was reported that more than 60,000 people in the north were taken off the electoral register.

In the context of County Derry it was reported that in the East Derry constituency 2,651 people were taken off the electoral register, while in Mid Ulster 3,145 were reported to have been removed.

Furthermore we are also concerned that some people who are eligible to vote were not put on the register in the first place. Essentially the process is that most secondary schools across the north invite the Electoral Commission to come and register their pupils.

Worryingly many young people often miss this opportunity to be registered for various reasons.  For instance pupils who are not in school attendance on such days will not be registered. Similarly young people who attend their local regional college or go straight into the workplace at sixteen are often missed when it comes to electoral registration.

While Sinn Fein has contacted and re-registered many people we are still very much concerned with this issue.

Am I eligible to register?

Each person should register at the address where he or she is resident if they:

  • Are a resident in the North.
  • Are over 17 or will turn 17 by 30 November 2017.

How do I know if I am on the register?

Sinn Fein advises anyone who is concerned about their electoral registration to contact their local Sinn Fein office.

Once this is done our representatives can check electoral registers or get in contact with the Electoral Commission and confirm whether you are registered or not.

Alternatively citizens can check their registration through contacting the Electoral Office themselves. By simply providing their name and address they will be told whether they are registered or not.

For anyone wishing to contact the Electoral office a link to their website, address and  contact number has been provided below:

http://www.eoni.org.uk/Home

Address: 3A Portland Ave, Newtownabbey BT36 5EY

Phone: 028 9034 2263

How can I get on the register?

In order for you to be registered or re-registered you must download and complete the Electoral offices online form, which can be attained via the link provided below;

http://www.eoni.org.uk/getmedia/e5fec67d-191c-4b62-aa59-d607bc429975/Registration-Form-Website-24-10-16_2

Once the form has been completed it must be sent to the electoral office along with proof of your address and proof of your identity.

The following items are acceptable proof of address.

  • Household or Utility bill
  • Bank statement from the last 3 months (including online banking statements)

The following items are acceptable proof of identity:

  • A UK, Irish or EEA driving licence (photographic part) (provisional accepted).
  • A UK, Irish or EU passport (EU passports are not accepted at UK Parliamentary elections).
  • A specified public transport pass.

Sinn Fein understand that getting  onto the electoral register can be a frustrating process, therefore if  you require any additional information on registration or how Sinn Fein can help facilitate this then please contact your local Sinn Fein office.

When will I be added to the Register?

For anyone wishing to be registered in time for the upcoming Westminster Election it is crucial that forms are received by Electoral office on or before the 10th MAY 2017, given that  the Electoral Office website estimates that such applicants will not added until the 1st  JUNE 2017.

Again additional guidance and information can be provided by your local Sinn Fein office.

The local Sinn Fein Offices in County Derry are contained below:

Ian Milne MLA Constituency Office
79 Quarry Road
Gulladuff
Co. Derry BT45 8NT
Phone: 028 79644550
Email: southderrysinnfein@gmail.com

Caomhe Archibald Consituency Office
81 Main Street
Dungiven
Co Derry BT47 4LE
Phone: 028 77742488
Email: info.dungiven@gmail.com

Other Sinn Fein office details can be accessed via the link below:

http://www.sinnfein.ie/contact-us

Welcome Comrades

Céad Míle Fáilte.

Welcome to the Sinn Féin Republican Youth Co. Derry.

Dedicated to and named after the late Christopher O’Neill this Youth Group is aimed at advancing the Irish Republican cause throughout the County and across Ireland.

We aim to engage and inform young people of Sinn Féin policies and to also highlight events and demonstrations happening in the local area and across the country.

While we are based in Co. Derry we are  part of an all-island and a wider European Movement. Therefore our broadcasts will cover a wide range of issues ranging from Local to National and International matters.

We pride ourselves on being part of a left wing Republican party which seeks to create not just a United Ireland, but a prosperous Ireland , a shared Ireland and a new Ireland. Our vision for the future is a vision of  respect and equality and we seek to create an Ireland which “cherishes all the children of the nation equally.”

As previously mentioned we are also engaged in co-operating with like minded political movements across the world. Therefore our blogs will also consist of contributions on issues such as Basque Independence and also the struggle in Palestine to name but a few. For these reasons we would encourage people from around the world with similar ideals to follow our blog and to get in touch with us.

As a party that is passionate about the Irish Language we will also be publishing blogs in our native tongue. We also encourage Gaeilgeoirí to get in touch and give us a follow.

Finally the blog will consist of contributions from members of our Youth movement alongside special contribution from civic society.

If you are interested  in any of the many things I have mentioned then please follow our blog and keep up to date with our activity.

Bígí linn.