Don’t mention the north!!! Actually, mention it as much as you can!

10262227_1152202581458824_9135873135625383263_nThis year being the centenary of the 1916 Rising there is a certain amount of discussion of what the 26-county state looks like.  Many commentators have pointed out that it falls far short of the vision of the 1916 leaders in terms of equality.

What isn’t discussed much, however, is that it also falls far short in terms of population and territory.  Indeed, one thing that seems off the discussion table is ‘the north’.

It’s safe enough to talk about socio-economic inequality in the south, but the carving out of part of Ireland and its continuing occupation by the British state, including British troops, is to be avoided in ‘polite’ society.  We are simply supposed to forget that Ireland is all 32 counties, all of all four provinces and that you can’t build socialism in a neo-colony.

Let’s bring the north into the discussion.  And not as an add-on, but as a central talking point.  As Connolly noted when partition was being mooted before WW1, such an outcome would be the worst possible option as it would put the most reactionary forces in power on both sides of the border and create a ‘carnival of reaction’.  Connolly also suggested that labour in the north should resist partition, by arms if necessary.

Today, the connection between partition and the abysmal nature of the political and economic realities in the six- and twenty-six county states has been obscured by the establishment and also by those sections of the left who want to separate the national and class question and basically deny that the first is still a question at all.

Trying to erase the six counties is a pernicious form of censorship.  It’s particularly effective because it’s not a repressive law; it’s a kind of political and social norm which has been foisted on people.

But an Irish revolution worthy of the name, and worthy of struggling for, is an all-Ireland revolution creating an all-Ireland workers’ republic.


Posted on March 24, 2016, in 21st century republicanism and socialism, éirígí, Democratic rights - general, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Irish politics today, Partition, Political education and theory, Unionism, loyalism, sectarianism. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. The island of Ireland is divided between two states, but there is nothing that entitles it automatically to one state -Hispaniola, Tierra del Fuego, Borneo, New Guinea and St Martin are also cases of islands under divided sovereignty. Does republican talking about the “artificial” nature of the northern state mean that there is something “natural” about an all Ireland state? Republican Sinn Fein organised a campaign last year on “Derry is an Irish City” – “Derry is as Irish as Cork, Dublin or Belfast”. (We must prove ourselves worthy of the historic title deeds of nationality, Saoirse, September 2013).

    In a geographical sense Doire is an Irish city, however there is nothing anomalous with Londonderry being constitutionally part of the United Kingdom. The reconcilation of southern Irish nationalist identities with the 26 Counties state rather than a 32 Counties one should also be emphasized. In the early 1960s, Eamon de Valera commented that ‘France was France without Alsace and Lorraine, Ireland is Ireland without the north.’ (quoted in : John M. Regan (2007), Southern Irish Nationalism as a Historical Problem, The Historical Journal, 50 :1, 218).

    Republicans have not paid sufficient attention to the issue of a growing proportion of people seeing the Irish nation as co-extensive with the 26 Counties. In 1988 Danny Morrison declared:

    People of the 26 Counties that don’t want the 6 Counties, let us know. If they’re telling us to fuck off, telling us they’re happy with the state they’ve got and fuck 1916, then tell us … If they think the’ve got an Irish nation inside the 26 counties they should build a wall and lock us out. » (quoted in : Henry Patterson, The Politics of Illusion : Republicanism and Socialism in Modern Ireland, London : Hutchinson Radius, 1989, 206).

    ‘Tell us’ and ‘let us know’ got its answer in 1998 when the people of the 26 counties voted 94.4% in favour of the Nineteenth Amendment of the Constitution Bill, partition if not embraced was recognised.

    If 26 counties voters have effectively ‘built a wall’ and ‘locked out’ the six counties, it is also worth noting that the republican struggle in the north was much more a case of “ghetto corporatism” (Henry Patterson, op.cit., 207) and specific northern phenomenon than a national project. In 1989, Danny Morrison was arguing that:

    the IRA doesn’t claim to be representing the people in the 26 Counties … the IRA isn’t killing people in the name of the people of Limerick or Dublin.

    In 1993 Morrison wrote from prison that ‘no one I know in this jail has lifted a gun or planted a bomb in the name of the people of the 26 Counties.’ (quoted in : Brian Hanley, Attitudes to the IRA in the Irish Republic since 1969, Irish Historical Studies, 38 :151, May 2013, 455). With re-unification now a low-intensity aspiration in the 6 Counties and the reconciliation of a sufficient proportion of nationalists to its state institutions, partitionist identities have never been stronger. The difference between nation and state has not lead to a legitimacy crisis for state institutions either north or south of the border.

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