Constitutional referendum can only be called after north has voted for unification
Recent discussions of a united Ireland have revolved almost entirely on the likelihood of the north voting for it if a poll were to be called by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. However, re-unification also requires a majority in the south to vote for it in a referendum to amend our constitution to accommodate the north and its various communities.
Not only are the terms of that constitutional amendment as yet unclear, but a vote in favour is dependent on a majority being broadly supportive of the details contained therein. Unlike the UK we do not vote on a broad principle like Brexit, we vote for very precise changes to our constitution, the implications of which have been spelled out by an independent referendum commission.
Such a constitutional referendum can only be called after the north has voted for unification, and its precise form will be determined by the debate that has taken place in Northern Ireland prior to their vote. People in the south may well decide that the costs of reunification, the risks of violence, and the compromises contained in any re-unification proposal are simply not worth it. A recent poll has shown that a majority of the voters in the south would not accept a new flag, anthem, higher taxes, lower public services or re-joining the Commonwealth to facilitate unification.
If, as I suspect, an ultra-English nationalist UK government in economic difficulties decides one day to off-load the costs and bother of Northern Ireland onto Ireland, we are under no obligation to accept them. I suspect some very detailed negotiations between the two governments would have to take place first, setting out how the costs and risks of the transition of sovereignty are to be borne.
No doubt the UK government would take the views of loyalists into account. However, an Irish government which doesn’t take into account the views of Irish voters risks losing the referendum. There is no obligation on Irish voters to accept compromises they don’t like.
Indeed, so long as there isn’t a discussion with active unionist participation, any speculation of the exact form of re-unification is so much hot air. Why concede (say) on membership of the Commonwealth, if it turns out that unionists couldn’t care less about that, or worse, would bank that concession and then ask for more.
So we are stuck with a binary choice for the foreseeable future - a united Ireland or the status quo. Unionists have no incentive to discuss more nuanced options for a united Ireland which might only make soft unionists or the unaligned more likely to vote for it. They must retain the bogeyman of a Catholic nationalist takeover to maximise their own vote.
Of course, if there ever were a vote for a united Ireland under the Belfast (Good Friday Agreement), unionists would suddenly be all over it demanding cross-community support for any proposals and every concession they could think of to make it less likely the south would vote for re-unification – including copious threats of widespread violence.
The rational response to all of this would be to insist that re-unification will take place, if at all, on whatever basis is discussed and agreed prior to the northern poll. If unionists insist on the Catholic nationalist takeover myth and lose, that is what they should get – a unitary Irish state. If they negotiate and agree some kind of federal arrangement prior to the vote, that should be honoured.
But as usual unionists may try to have it both ways – claim that it’s all about a Catholic nationalist takeover, and then demand the right of veto over any post-unification legislative proposals.
Blessington, Co Wicklow
Give unborn a voice when you next vote
What kind of intelligent beings celebrate the wholesale termination of their children? How can aborting one human being’s life to facilitate the comfort of another be promoted as health care? Yet here we are – abortion is fanatically promoted as a boon to humanity. A moral contortion that twists innocent deaths into a ‘right’ and makes a mockery of the most fundamental of all rights – the right to life. Abortion acolytes don’t stop there, they give tacit permission for racism, sexism and now in Stormont, discrimination because of disability. Black lives matter unless you are yet to be born, women are equal until they are not wanted and the disabled are equal except they can be terminated up to birth – unlike other humans who have an arbitrary time limit applied. The pan-abortion front in the form of Alliance, SDLP and Sinn Féin lobbied Westminster for abortion and then voted down legislation that sought to end the added discrimination against disabled children. These so-called champions of rights speak fluent double standards as they glorify bias against people with impairments in one hand and on the other they will seek votes from them in the next election. These parties will also have relied on ballots from pro-life people in the past. Voters who were willing to suppress their distaste because of other issues they considered more important. Others were swayed by the way that debates were kept in the area of the harder reasons for abortions by a partial media and an aggressive pro-abort cohort. This has, as expected, been proven to be propaganda. Abortion for any reason was introduced over our heads by Westminster with the vocal blessing of the SDLP/SF anti-liberal union.
I ask that pro-life people examine their consciences and vote for those who seek to redress this.
These horrendous laws can be reversed if like-minded people stick together and work toward this end.
The pro-abortion lobby want us to believe it is hopeless and the best way to counter this is to elect pro-life candidates or spoil the chances of the pro-abortion parties. These innocent are unable to speak for themselves so please give them a voice when you
Aontú, Belfast BT11
Disappointed by Sinn Féin
As a lifelong Sinn Féin voter, I was alarmed, disgusted and I must say, very angry at Sinn Féin’s recent failure to back the bill banning the so-called ‘sport’ of fox hunting. This cruel and barbaric activity has no place in Irish, or indeed, any other society. It should be criminalised.
In Sinn Féin, many republican voters have placed their trust to carry forward their political aspirations and the aspirations of those republicans who have fought long and hard for a just society. A just society is not one that treats the abomination of fox hunting as ‘rural recreation’.
I call on Sinn Féin to amend and immediately clarify their position on this matter, a matter which should occupy a very high and important place in the conscience of every decent human being.
Newry, Co Down