Éire Nua (New Ireland) an Irish solution
The recent press coverage in the Cincinnati media regarding Martin Mc Guinness’ visit to that city, failed to educate and inform the public regarding the conflict in Ireland. It was not comprehensive journalism, as one would expect. Rather it provided a one-sided analysis to events that have transpired over the last thirty plus years.
Mr Mc Guinness is most comfortable in stage-managed discussions about the British arranged Good Friday Agreement (GFA) of 1998. Mr. McGuinness is best in a discussion on the Peace Process. However, history tells a much different story. The Good Friday Agreement promises democratic institutions in the North, North/South ministerial counsel, British/Irish Council, and British-Irish Intergovernmental Bodies. Substitute those new terms with Stormont and Council of Ireland; you then have the Sunningdale Agreement of 1974. At the time of the Sunningdale Agreement, Mr Mc Guinness’s close ally and friend, Gerry Adams, was not screaming from every rooftop in West Belfast that Republicans should sign on. Why was he silent on the matter? A contrast and comparison between the two agreements shows no significant distinction separating the two documents. This only begs to ask several questions: If the Sunningdale Agreement was unacceptable in 1974, then why is the Good Friday Agreement any more acceptable? If the terms of the Good Friday Agreement were good enough in 1998, why then was Sunningdale rejected by Mr(s). Adams and McGuinness?
One must be reminded that twenty years of armed conflict separated Sunningdale and the Good Friday Agreements (GFA). In that time, hundreds of innocent civilians were killed or maimed, ten hunger strikers went to their death, the British government instituted a “shoot to kill” policy, and orchestrated collusion between loyalist paramilitaries and British Military intelligence. These are the type of questions that should be put to Mr. McGuinness. He must be held accountable for his actions.
It must be remembered that Ireland’s recent struggle for independence (1916 to the present) is not solely the story of armed conflict, as it is often portrayed. Irish Republicans want peace as much as anyone. The Republican movement has had in place a policy for the peaceful transition from partition and occupation to unity and self-governance. That policy has been know as Eire Nua, translated, New Ireland.
Many lives could have been saved since 1972 when Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, President of Sinn Féin, co-author of the non-sectarian Éire Nua program, proposed a federation of Ireland’s four provinces with equal justice for all under an all Ireland constitution. This was in the context of a declaration of intent by the British to withdraw from Ireland in an orderly fashion.
Unfortunately, the US government has not permitted Mr Ó Brádaigh to visit the US to speak of Éire Nua since 1974, leaving the impression that there is not an Irish alternative to the GFA, which supports the ongoing British occupation of Ireland.
The GFA fails to acknowledge the root cause of the conflict, that being the partition of Ireland, which was the basis tenet of the Government of Ireland Act of 1920 and the subsequent Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921. The centerpiece of the GFA, the power-sharing executive is merely a compilation of earlier failed agreements.
So why now? The answer is quite simple. Mr. McGuinness, Mr. Adams, Mr. Doherty and the other current members of Provisional Sinn Féin had not achieved their own personal goals of status and power in 1974. It was not until the Sinn Féin presidency was occupied by Gerry Adams in 1983 did we see a change in policy. Starting in 1983, Provisional Sinn Féin began to transform itself from a Republican ideological political party to that of a constitutional one. Provisional Sinn Féin of today is with few exceptions, an updated, highly polished version of the Social Democratic Labor Party (SDLP).
Despite glowing official praise for the GFA, an increasing number of published reports indicate that the level of violence, ethnic cleansing, sectarian dividing walls and community mistrust has risen to the highest level since 1975. In the last century the Irish people have suffered the dire consequences of numerous failed British political initiatives including Sunningdale, Hillsborough and now the GFA. The Irish people have not been given the opportunity to vote as a 32-county unit since the general election of 1918 when they voted for a slate of candidates advocating an independent united Ireland. The British reacted to the voice of the people by unleashing a reign of terror.
There is an alternative. It resides in the Éire Nua policy of Republican Sinn Féin. It offers all the vital components of conflict resolution. In eight hundred years, the British have made numerous attempts to impose a British solution on an Irish population. The problem requires an Irish solution based on democratic principles as enshrined in Éire Nua. To quote George Santayana, “Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”