Not wise for president to rubber stamp creation of Northern Ireland
It would infuriate republican-nationalists beyond measure if our president was to attend a Church event next month in Armagh to mark Northern Ireland’s centenary and Ireland’s partition.
Church leaders who have organised the event may have got the idea that the centenary is an opportunity to heal the past and show solidarity between the faiths. However, it would not be wise for the Irish president to rubber stamp the creation of Northern Ireland, as it would put republicans into a state of great anger and contempt.
To mark its centenary would endorse a partitioned Island and this is where the logic of non-attending probably is. It would be a very big deal indeed if the Irish head of state was to specifically salute a specific part of the Union.
A part which has caused so much controversy. For the Irish president to attend, would to the minds of republican-nationalists, endorse Northern Ireland’s permanency and rule out a border poll which was asked for by those who want to end partition.
It is quite ambitious if not audacious to expect the Irish president to be flexible enough to just simply attend without having a long hard think about how it would look. It would be treated as a slap in the face and an insult.
Victims of the Troubles would be quick to remind Michael D Higgins of the bloody past and the British government’s misrule as admitted by Westminster. They would remind him of what they claim was a shoot-to-kill policy and military rule and would condemn him for attending. They would also remind him of the Civil Rights movement for equality and ignored calls for inquiries and justice to be done currently.
To attend would endorse just about everything which went on in Northern Ireland, throughout its very troubled history and currently with walls and garrisons dividing communities. Did Church organisers from the Catholic, Church of Ireland, Presbyterian, Methodist and Council of Churches of Ireland really think the Irish president would really attend the creation of one of the controversial parts of the United Kingdom, which is still disputed by hard-line republicans or, did they just send out an invitation because they were sending it out to everyone else? It is probably the latter, one would think.
Let’s be realistic and not usher or entreat the Irish president to attend. His decision not to is mature in not potentially provoking what would be a very bad reaction from republican-nationalists.
Shanbally, Co Cork
Partition should not be celebrated
The decision by the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, not to attend the religious service in Armagh next month to mark the establishment of ‘Northern Ireland’ was the correct one. And he has clearly set down the reason why he could not and should not attend.
The media frenzy that now surrounds his decision is as predictable as bad weather in winter. The slave mentality of the Irish media, such as RTÉ and the Irish Times, simply know no bounds, while the reaction of unionist politicians is equally predictable.
The dregs of the political shoneen establishment, such as the former taoiseach John Bruton, can be relied upon to be dragged out for comment. In his single transferable speech he attacked any expression of national self-respect – we should appease and tug the forelock to imperialism at every opportunity.
The president was right in his decision and in his reasons, that he is President of Ireland, not of ‘the Republic of Ireland’. It reflects the long and deeply held belief that the partitioning of Ireland was an act of aggression against our people by British imperialism in its efforts to stem and thwart the rising struggle for national independence, that partition was an anti-democratic act to bolster Britain’s weakening control and declining influence a century ago.
Britain partitioned Ireland to suit its own strategic, political, economic and military goals – it was not an act to support ‘self-determination’ for unionists. Unionism was and is a political construct for a section of the population loyal to those strategic goals.
We know from history that unionism has overseen mass repression, discrimination, and entrenched bigotry as well as a form of cultural apartheid.
We should not acknowledge or celebrate partition but rather expose why it took place and in whose interests. We need to redouble our efforts to undo the great wrong inflicted on the people of Ireland by partition and continue to work towards national unity and the establishment of an all-Ireland independent sovereign state.
No lectures in language
President Michael D Higgins is also a poet with a substantial body of work to his credit. Language is his forte and he certainly requires no lectures from political malingerers like the DUP regarding its use. He is known all over the world and to the organisers of the centenary event as the President of Ireland, but not to the DUP, existing in a different time warp.
Would that this exceptional man reconsider his decision not to attend the centenary and remember his own words: “In the journey to the light the dark moments should not threaten. Belief requires that you hold steady. Bend, if you will, with the wind.”
The president recalls being moved by Austin Clarke’s poem on the funeral of Ireland’s first president Douglas Hyde, with its accusatory lines that excoriated those hidden round the corner of a presidential funeral service: “Tall hat in hand, dreading ‘Our Father’ in English. Better not hear that ‘which’ for ‘who’ and risk eternal doom.” Come to the centenary, Mr President and help to lay bare ignorance, intolerance: above all the irony of polite images that mask a vicious if unconscious hate or moral cowardice.
If the DUP withdraws from the Executive, Stormont might not necessarily collapse. The present arrangement whereby the posts of First Minister and Deputy First Minister are filled by members of the largest parties on each side of the political divide was made subsequent to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement (GFA) and is not in accordance with the GFA rules for making such appointments (Strand One, clauses 15 & 16).
Was this change made in accordance with the GFA rule for making such a ‘key decision’ change? (Strand One, clause 5(d)(i)).
If not, the present arrangement may be invalid, as it may have been prior to the previous collapse of Stormont. Consequently, all legislation signed by a FM and DFM subsequent to the change may be invalid.
That being so, Stormont must immediately appoint a new First Minister and Deputy First Minister in accordance with clauses 5(d)(i), 15 and 16 of Strand One of the GFA, and retrospectively validate all invalid legislation, with or without the participation of the DUP.
Strabane, Co Tyrone