Micheál Martin’s Shared Island unit acknowledges constitutional flux but does it go far enough?

Posted By: February 03, 2021


Distributed to congress by Irish National Caucus 
 “Belfast columnist Brian Feeney continues to speak truth to power in his no-nonsense way. Members of Congress should always pay attention to him as one of the most authoritative  and reliable voices on Northern Ireland.T he attached article speaks common sense about those who are in denial about the inevitability of the Border Poll.
I would also add that pending a Border Poll, one of the most practical and effective ways people can raise their voices for unity, justice, and solidarity in Ireland is by signing the Irish National Caucus’ internet “ One Ireland Petition”: ”Ireland, too, has the right to be One Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all” —https://www.change.org/IrelandOneNation
This Petition  of today’s date has been signed by over 24,300  dedicated and peace-loving people. We launched the Petition to be a perfect response to England’s partition of Ireland one hundred years ago. The London Parliament enacted the Government of Ireland Act (commonly known as the “Partition Act”) on December 23, 1920. However, the artificial State of Northern Ireland did not come into existence until some date in 1921( historians differ on what the actual date should be).
—Fr. Sean Mc Manus

Both Arlene Foster and Micheál Martin are ignoring reality on Border Poll


Brian Feeney. Irish News. Belfast. Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The operation of the Irish Sea border since January 1 has been a cold shower of reality for Unionists. The red tape, customs duties, British firms refusing to do business with The North, some agricultural and horticultural products banned; and that’s just the beginning, a grace period. The full nine yards begin in April.

It can’t have escaped Unionists’ notice that what’s happening here mirrors exactly what’s happening at Dublin Port with protests from hauliers about strict enforcement of Border controls delaying shipments in and out. Why? That’s because like Dublin, Belfast, Larne, Warrenpoint, Derry remain in the single market and under EU customs union rules. Except that Dublin is fully in the EU while for other purposes The North remains in the UK – just. That’s why former British Chancellor George Osborne wrote last week that The North is “for all economic intents and purposes now slowly becoming part of a united Ireland.” He forecast that increased economic integration on the island will inevitably lead to further political alignment. Only two senior people in politics pretend to ignore this reality: one you’d expect, Arlene Foster, but the other, Micheál Martin, is on the wrong page.

As a Unionist you’d expect Arlene Foster to try to stall all talk of a Border Poll. That’s why she said it was “absolutely reckless”, disingenuously claiming that people were demanding one now. Also “divisive”, which is rich coming from someone who thinks celebrating dividing this island is not divisive. Arlene is whistling in the dark. As Michelle O’Neill said, “There is an unstoppable conversation under way on our constitutional future.” Foster won’t be happy that our current proconsul agreed explicitly with O’Neill that it is right to debate and discuss constitutional change, adding that “nobody should be afraid of having a conversation.”

What people like Foster who oppose a referendum, on grounds however spurious forget, is that concurrent referendums in Ireland are democratically obligations mandated in the Good Friday Agreement. It’s true that Unionists usually only support the parts of laws they like, but in this case the GFA is an international agreement carrying legally binding requirements on the UK and the Republic. Demanding a referendum is a right, not wishful thinking.

That’s why it’s astonishing that Taoiseach Micheál Martin remains silent on all these matters. The last time he addressed the question he banished talk of a referendum for five years, that is the length of this Irish government if it lasts that long. Instead, in an obvious ploy, he substituted a meaningless ‘shared island unit’ comprising four civil servants which turns out to be even less than a talking shop already rejected by Unionists. His plan was transparently to counteract Sinn Féin’s demand for a Border Poll. The result rather has been that Fianna Fáil has walked off the pitch and left it to SF.

The lifetime of the ‘shared island unit’ is coterminous with Martin’s time as taoiseach which will turn out to be two wasted years on the constitutional scene with FF, allegedly ‘the republican party’, left flat footed and silent as you’d expect Fine Gael to be. Events and thinking are moving fast, but thanks to Martin’s pathological terror of Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil is being buffeted in the slipstream. With senior Unionists talking of the need to prepare for a Border Poll and English politicians talking about the need for UK constitutional change, it’s a disgrace the Irish government hasn’t a word to say.

What hypocrisy for Irish politicians to remind the UK it’s a joint guarantor of the GFA when Irish governments sing dumb on a central component of the same GFA. Still, to an extent there’s consistency. No Irish government has given a second’s thought to any practical means of advancing what should be their constitutional imperative, uniting the country.

What is different is that Micheál Martin and the DUP leader are united in refusing to discuss a referendum.