Monday, June 1, 2009
Organise for Irish Reunification
June 1st 09
Organise for Irish Reunification
By this time next week the election results north and south will be known. At this time Sinn Féin is set to retain our EU seat in the north. In Dublin every vote will count but people know if they want to take a seat off Fianna Fáil and tell the government that its days are numbered then the only candidate who can do that is Mary Lou MacDonald.
Mary Lou is now sitting at 15% in the polls.
In the Ireland South constituency Toiréasa Ferris is polling extremely well and has captured the support particularly of young voters. So too in the North West with Pádraig McLochlainn while in Leinster Sinn Féin’s two candidates Kathleen Funchion and Tomás Sharkey will increase our vote by around a third.
The fate of the Irish government could hang – pardon the pun – on the outcome of these contests.
The big challenge is not for the politicians. The big challenge is for the electorate. If citizens can be motivated to realise that election day is their day then the process of fightback will really have begun.
But whatever the outcome of the elections it will be back to business as usual for Sinn Féin. And that means putting the work for Irish unity up a few notches. I will be on my way to New York for the first of two Sinn Féin conferences in the USA on the theme of; ‘A United Ireland – How do we get there’ which will take place on Saturday June 13th
I will host the conferences and there will be introductory speeches by keynote speakers who have different and challenging views on the question of a United Ireland and how it can be achieved.
Among those participating will be author Pete Hamill, Professor Brendan O’Leary of the University of Pennsylvania, author and broadcaster Brian Keenan, and President of the Laborers International Union of North America Terence O’Sullivan.
Also participating in this conference will be the Presidents of many powerful Irish American organisations, including the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians, Irish Northern Aid, the Irish America Unity Conference, the Brehon Law Society and the United Irish Counties Association.
We have asked people to come to this conference not just to listen but to contribute, to share ideas, to suggest initiatives and to take action on promoting Irish reunification.
Our focus is on making Irish reunification happen.
That is our political priority as an Irish republican party; to end the partition of Ireland and the union with Britain, and to construct a new national democracy – a new republic – on the island of Ireland, including reconciliation between nationalists and unionists – between orange and green.
This is the great unfinished and historic task of building a truly free Irish national democracy. And this is the challenge which we are asking Irish Americans and the Irish diaspora across the world to join with us in completing.
The Irish diaspora has already made a real difference. Irish America especially has played and continues to play, a crucial role in the Irish peace process. It's influence in Washington is obvious.
Irish America is vast. Tens of millions of people scattered across the USA and organised through a range of Irish cultural, sporting and civic society organisations, as well as in the arts, in business, in local, state and national politics, and in the trade union movement. Many are openly supportive of a United Ireland.
So, if we are to ensure that Irish reunification is more than just a dream we have to involve the Irish diaspora, we have to reach out to it and to marshal its political strength in support of our goals.
So, it is Irish America we want to hear from. Already there is a buzz about the conferences. Rita O Hare tells me that there are people coming to the New York conference from Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and other parts of the east coast, as well as New York.
On the west coast interest is also building for the San Francisco conference on June 27th with attendance from the Bay area and well beyond.
Can these conferences make a difference? This Blog believes they can.
Irish American organisations have historically been central in helping and sustaining the struggle in Ireland.
In more modern times the Mac Bride Principles Campaign, as well as the support Irish American organisations have given to justice campaigns, to the prisoners and the hunger strikers, were all vitally important.
This is about putting Irish reunification on the political agenda in the USA. Irish America can make a significant contribution to achieving that goal.
Irish unity may make sense, politically, economically and historically. The Good Friday Agreement provides a legislative, peaceful and democratic route to achieve this. And the economic and demographic dynamics in Ireland make Irish reunification a realistic objective within a reasonable time scale.
But it won’t happen because it should or because it is the right thing, or because we want it. It can and will happen if we come together and organise and plan.