Irish Unity-Does the Bomb and Bullet still exist in Irish Politics?

Irish Unity-Does the Bomb and Bullet still exist in Irish Politics?

It has been 11 years ago now since the INLA finalised the end to their armed campaign, explaining they are now pursuing their objectives through exclusively peaceful and political means. That announcement in 2009 meant the 2 main Republican armed groups engaged in the conflict had called time on the armed struggle to achieve political objectives.

Similarly, Loyalist armed groups all made announcements within that same time period which in turn has dawned in an era of relative and welcomed peace. 

These announcements and subsequent acts of decommissioning were hailed across the political world as a closing chapter of the bomb and bullet in Irish politics.

Since that event in 2009, there has been a remarkable rise in support for Irish Unity, pushed on by an ever energetic and younger generation wanting to see meaningful change in Ireland. 

This same generation have already managed to force seismic change in Ireland via Marriage Equality in the south and Repeal the 8th campaigns, while also loosening the Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil political grip on Irish politics.

Agree with either or not, it has a striking similarity with the civil rights movement of the late 1960s, and for many, Irish Unity and the ending of partition is the final civil rights battle in Ireland.

Unfortunately when we compare positives to the past, the ugly head of the negatives soon follow, and in terms of the growing momentum towards Irish Unity we are being thrown back into the dark ages with subtle perceptions of potential Unionist violence or at least threats of violence should Irish Unity be more than likely.

Partition was created under such acts and perceptions. The threat of violence outgunned democracy creating this unworkable, socio-economic and political disaster which is the 6 Counties nearly a century ago. 

Today we must ask ourselves are we allowing ourselves to follow that very same fate? 

The political establishment both north and south are already beginning to make quiet public assessments that we must tread carefully as we don’t want to upset or alarm Unionists. We are being told that 50+1 isn’t enough and unionists must agree to any post partition settlement before the national majority.

What is fuelling these assessments? Why are the political establishment willing to undermine the very core fabric of democracy to appease what would be a national minority? Is it fear of a violent unionist backlash?

I for one fully agree that considerable resources would need utilised to put Unionists at ease in a post partition Ireland. Their culture and identity will be protected, as will their fundamental right to religious and political expression. And more importantly, the unionist working class must feel the socio-economic positives of what a 32 County Republic can offer.

That being said, under no circumstances can violence or a threat of violence be used to direct our path. Democracy must be at the absolute core of a new 32 County Republic, we simply cannot allow it to be undermined like it was 100 years ago and kick these fundamental failures down the road for our grandchildren to deal with. 

Now is the time, where we learn and prove to ourselves and the world that the bomb and bullet has truly vanished from Irish politics.

Joe Matthews, Yes For Unity


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