UK Imperialism and Irish Nationalism - Response to Michael Keaney

D OC donaloc at
Thu Feb 20 05:20:44 MST 2003

Michael, a chara,

As per usual your posting were thought-provoking. I'm sorry I didn't have
the time to get around to them yesterday.

In particular, you wrote:

>As far as Ireland is concerned, part of the "British" left's task in
dismantling the British state is to assist that process by insisting upon
withdrawal from Northern Ireland. The GFA makes that task harder because,
for the first time since partition, there is a semblance of parity in the
political arrangements, but it is no less necessary.

I think that this needs to be conditioned with a realistic appraisal of
where things *actually are* right now. For a start, the whole Northern
edifice is in crisis. The Assembly and Executive are both suspended. The
all-Ireland Implementation bodies are being run by the two Govts - much to
the dismay of Unionism. The semblance of equality is precisely that - we
don't even have democracy right now. The argument for British withdrawal is
growing with time. The reality is that the GFA far from 'copperfastening'
partition as many thought has unravelled everything - the mainstream parties
on which it was built are in crisis and the whole basis of the 6 Co Statelet
is coming under fire. That in short is all the result of the dialectic and
in particular, SF's ability to not become institutionalised.

>The GFA also poses an interesting constitutional conundrum for Ireland as a
>whole. Assuming reunification does take place, the political institutions
>supportive of regional autonomy that have been set up will have
>institutionalised devolution in such a way as to act as a source of tension
>within any united Ireland governed directly from Dublin. As with the
>Scottish parliament and Westminster, the practice of bourgeois democracy
>will enhance the development of a localised perspective that will resent
>many of the intrusions of the centre. Apologies if these questions have
>been considered in much greater detail by Irish comrades, but has there
>been any effort to envisage the potential political crisis ensuing in the
>Republic should Ireland ever re-unite?

Points are well made but they are somewhat 'off the mark'. I personally
don't forsee things remaining static as they are just now until we enter a
United Ireland. Rather, it is likely that as a result of current
negotiations or those after the next election some institutions will be
re-established (otherwise, Unionism will have to accept joint-authority -
highly unlikely). In those circumstances and against the backdrop of SF
being the largest voice of Irish Nationalism, we will see further
development of (this time meaningful) cross-border implementation bodies. It
is in these elements, which are still in operation that SF sees the seed of
a future United Ireland. Of course, the opponents of socially progressive
forms will promote 'bourgeois' tools for an all-Ireland structure - in
particular, the Strategic Investment Body (which is being promoted both
sides of the border and which will assume full control of managing PFI both
sides). Instead, the task for SF is to propose radical and progressive
all-Ireland structures.

Personally, if the Executive was given full powers over domestic spending,
the British army was out, the reform of the Policing and Judiciary was
appropriate (including significant community policing and community
restorative justice programmes) and devolved back to the six counties, then
I would consider that close to British withdrawal. We would then be in a
situation where Irish people are self-governing without external inpediment.
The Brits would guarantee the nationality of the Unionist population and we
would wait for more genuine unification. In the meantime, we would be
talking about persuading Unionists of the need for unity.

As for the potential political crisis facing the Free State pending
reunification, SF is currently advocating the production of a 'Green Paper'
on the subject in the 26 Co 'parliament'. It will be quite a shock to their
system and probably would need significant support from the EU in the short-
to medium-term.

Is mise,

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