Hard Stance On Hard Border, Empty Rhetoric On Partition

Former Vice-President of Sinn Féin and current MP Pat Doherty recently laid bare his fears of a hard border to a parliamentary committee. The West Tyrone MP strongly criticised British government intentions stating that;

“Britain has only permanent interests, not permanent friends…We should not be naive about the intention of the british government. They are going to have a hard border and do not care in any meaningful way about it’s impact on Ireland.”

The rhetoric expressed here by Mr. Doherty summarises Sinn Féin’s need to make partition workable. Stating that “Ireland has a huge job to convince Europe of the depth of the problem”. Nationalists in Ireland following the brexit vote will do their utmost to seek “special circumstances”, so that the border can be presented as an issue without urgency. The calls for a border poll by various nationalist parties on both sides of the partition line are by and large aesthetic. However the views expressed by Mr. Doherty highlight that the issue, or more precisely, the physical reminder and hinderance of the border makes for a much more immediate problem for constitutional nationalists.

The reunification of Ireland is, based on the numerous polls carried out on the issue, gaining increased support, an encouraging trend being the growth of support among younger people, countries with large Irish diaspora also show that reunification is a popular constitutional arrangement. The difficulty for Irish republicans is that many view reunification as a long term goal. A poll carried out in 2014 by LucidTalk highlights that the numbers favouring a united Ireland are five times larger when in the context of a two decade time frame as opposed to an immediate vote. This lack of urgency allows for these proponents of irish unity to be placated with mere calls for a border poll. Should separatist feelings increase the pressure from the public would leave many of the current nationalist parties in an awkward position, making their positions as nationalists dependent on and working within partitionist governmental structures, depending on the severity of the demand, difficult or even untenable.

It is the danger to the status quo rather than partition itself which will result in strong opposition to the possibility of a hard border. Destabilisation rather than national division is the enemy that border poll nationalists recognise. Britain indeed has her permanent interests and while we should not be naive to those, nor must we be naive to the interests of career politicians. Particularly those that can carry out British austerity despite this supposed disgust at the poverty it creates, that inflame sectarianism to secure votes despite statements and speeches, posters and slogans calling for its end, that welcome British royalty, Israeli war criminals and American warmongers.

Republican Network for Unity maintain the position that the partition of Ireland is illegitimate, conflicting with our people’s right to self-determination, the border imposed under the threat of war has economically stunted Ireland as a whole and the border counties particularly. Imperialist intervention has prevented organic national growth; social, economic and political and despite two decades of a normailsation process, the division of the Ireland has obstructed the development towards a peaceful and prosperous society. The border poll strategy is utterly flawed, it is a tool of placation, its desired effect to silence the once radical and progressive demands of Irish republicans for self determination, a republic based on the ideals espoused in the 1916 proclamation. RNU will continue to argue for and campaign for a 32 county sovereign and socialist republic, there can be no reforming or dilution of the demand of this absolute right.