Letter urges Taoiseach to defend rights of Irish citizens in North

Posted By: February 19, 2018

Distributed by Irish National Caucus

Hundred prominent signatories [in Southern Ireland] ‘shocked at the level of permanent inequality’ in North

“The Taoiseach has been urged to defend the legal, human and language rights of Irish citizens in the North in a letter signed by 100 prominent people in the arts, law, sport, academia and civil society.
The letter, and delivered to Leo Varadkar’s office last Friday, mirrors a similar letter sent to him by 100 representatives of civic nationalism in the North before Christmas.”—Pat Leahy, Irish Times. Dublin. Monday, February 19, 2018
A Thaoisigh

We, the undersigned, are concerned Irish Citizens who note with grave apprehension the continued denial of rights afforded to our fellow citizens in the North of Ireland, rights that are enjoyed in this State and throughout Britain

We note further the civic initiative before Christmas whereby many northern nationalists, from across the civic spectrum, corresponded with you to record their dissatisfaction and disquiet over the equality vacuum that persists in the North.

Frankly, as fellow Irish citizens, we are shocked at the level of permanent inequality in respect of access to basic rights that people in the North are expected to endure. In summary, these are:

  • Marriage Equality
  • Language Equality
  • Access to Justice before a court of

The majority of parties and MLA’s support marriage equality yet, this has been blocked by a minority led by the DUP. Instead of facing down this denial of rights, the new British Secretary of State Karen Bradley has stated that it was not for her to impose marriage equality.

We, as a people, are proud of our leading role in legislating for Marriage Equality and are rightly championed around the world, most recently in Australia, as bold and determined advocates for tolerance and equality.

How can we, as citizens, in Donegal or Louth, sit idly by, when rights enjoyed by us are denied to our neighbors, families, and friends, in Derry or Armagh?

Is é an Ghaeilge an teanga oifigiúil den Stát seo. The Irish language is a central aspect of our heritage and culture. It is safeguarded constitutionally in Bunreacht na hÉireann as the first official language of this State and is enshrined in law by the Official Languages Act 2003.

Parity of esteem is a central commitment within the Good Friday Agreement. The Irish and British Government signed up to an Irish Language Act as part of the St. Andrews Agreement, which led to the re-establishment of the political institutions created by the Good Friday Agreement. And yet, there has been nothing but refusal and obstruction when it comes to honoring this pledge.

Our language sits as a national treasure, with our indigenous Gaelic sports, traditional dance, and music. It is an intrinsic part of our identity, and yet our fellow citizens in the North must endure contemptuous insults and the continued undermining of limited measures to promote Irish.

This lack of respect and denial of parity of esteem for the Irish Identity and refusal to honor the agreements to legislate to safeguard the Irish language by a minority is unacceptable and an insult to all those who voted for the Good Friday Agreement.

A basic tenet of the legal system is access to, and equality before the law. Yet, families of those affected by the conflict in the North, cannot gain access to justice in court. The most senior law officer in the jurisdiction, who is charged with ensuring compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights, has made a request for funds, for court resources, and this has been denied to him as a matter of political policy.

Healing the hurt of the past requires a new approach. A new approach and the much needed legal architecture was agreed as part of the Stormont House and Fresh Start Agreements. These have not been implemented because the British Government has attempted to negotiate for themselves a secrecy veto in the interests of National Security and more recently an effective amnesty for their forces involved in actions such as the Dublin and Monaghan bombings and others.

We are also concerned about the pernicious and pervasive effect of Brexit.

The majority of people in the North voted against Brexit. They did so because it is in their best interests politically and economically. That democratic mandate has been ignored.

The imposition of an EU Frontier across Ireland belies the approach of the British government to Ireland, our economy, our rights and our agreements.

The North of Ireland being forced to leave the EU against the expressed wishes of its people will represent a major set- back for the overall political process and directly challenge the integrity of the Good Friday Agreement. As a co- guarantor of that agreement, the Irish Government must realize the devastating consequences for the human rights protections contained within it.

We urge you and your Government to ensure that equality, human rights and the respect afforded to Irish citizens in the South are enshrined as inalienable rights in the North.

Our Proclamation of Independence asserts that the Irish Republic is entitled to and claims the allegiance of every Irishman and Irishwoman. It states further that our Republic “guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all itscitizens.”

We submit that these express intentions were never more relevant to all the citizens of the whole nation than now. We appeal to you urgently to ensure that the noble guarantees of our Proclamation and Constitution are enacted, that our agreements are implemented and the rights of all protected.

Is sinne le mór mheas


Séamas Ó Tuathail Law
Seán Ó Coisdealbha An Ghaeilge
Sean Walsh Arts
Shane Cullen Arts
Sinead Murray-Lynch Community
Stevie Fitzpatrick Labour movement
Terry Ferguson Sports
Terry McMahon Arts
Tim Pat Coogan Author
Tom Clonan Business
Tom Murray Community
Tommy Guilfoyle Community
Tommy Smith Community


Peter Coonan Arts
Peter Fitzpatrick Community
Peter Sheridan Arts
PJ Gallagher Arts
Póilín Uí Ghallachóir Arts
Proinsias Ó Maolchalain Law
Richard Corrigan Business
Risteard Ó Fuarain An Ghaeilge
Robert Ballagh Arts
Rossa Ó Snodaigh Arts
Ruadhan Mac Aodhán Law
Ruairi Creaney Labour movement
Ruan O’Donnell Academia

Anne Lynskey– Community
Aoife McAnespie–Sports
Betty Purcell– Media
Billy Wall Labour –movement
Breandán De Gallaí– Arts
Brendan Murray –Arts
Brian Forbes –Community
Brian MacSuibhne –Community
Brian Ó Ghallachóir –Arts
Bríd Ní Sheighin —Community
Caroline Grace-Cassidy– Arts
Christy Moore– Musician
Ciara McAnespie –ports
Ciarán MacGonigal –Arts
Collette Ruadh– Community
Colm Farrell –Community
Colm McGeehan –Law
Con Casey –Community
Conor Ferguson –Sports
Conor Ruadh –Community
Daltún Ó Ceallaigh –Community
Damien Dempsey –Musician
Dave Guiney –Sports
Dean Scurry –Arts
Dermot O’Leary –Community
Des Ferguson –Sports
Dominic Mac Giolla –Bhríde An Ghaeilge
Don Baker –Arts
Donal Fallon– Academia
Donal O’Kelly– Arts
Donie O’Sullivan –Sports
Dr. Neil Comer –Academia
Eamonn MacAoidh –Sports
Eddie Barrett –Community
Eimear McAnespie –Sports
Frances Black –Musician
Frank Connolly –Labour movement
Frank Twomey –Arts
Frankie Gaffney –Arts
Gary Daly –Law
Ger Lynch –Sports
Gerald Roarty –Community
Gerard Humphries –Law
Gerry McCormack –Labour movement
Gerry Quinn –Community
Glen Hansard –Musician
Glenn Fitzpatrick– Labour movement
Glenna Lynch –Community
Grace Dyas –Arts
Greg Ennis –Labour movement
James Connolly –Heron Arts
Jim Fitzpatrick –Arts
Jim Sheridan –Arts
Jo Spain –Author
John Connors –Arts
Karen Casey –Arts
Leanne Fleming –Community
Liam Ó Dubháin –Arts
Liam Scollan –Community
Lorcan Collins –Arts
Louise Nic Dhaibhid –Arts
Máiread Ní Mhaonaigh –Musician
Mark Fitzpatrick –Community
Martin Hayes –Arts
Mary Horgan –Community
Michael Farrell –Law
Michael Finucane –Law
Michael Scott –Arts
Mícheál Ó Doibhlin –Arts
Michelle Forde –Community
Myles Gaffney –Arts
Niall Vallely –Arts
Paddy Cullivan –Media
Paddy Prendiville –Media
Pat Guilfoyle –Community
Patrick Daly– Law
Patrick O’Sullivan –Community
Paul Allen –Media
Paul Clifford –Community
Peadar Ó Riada– Musician