Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Local politicians Smile for the Camera with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in the North of Ireland – Don’t mention the Elephant in the Room – Brexit

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John Hurson brought this parody real picture to our attention. He chose a very appropriate James Connolly quotation to describe the scene.

“Yes, ruling by fooling, is a great British art with great Irish fools to practice on.”
James Connolly

“Yes, ruling by fooling, is a great British art with great Irish fools to practice on.”

James Connolly

John Hurson hits the nail on the head – this gaggle of politicians cannot agree a formula to restore Stormont. The reason is Brexit, which is opposed by a large majority of people living in Ireland.

In the photo with Sunak (pro Brexit): wannabe Stormont First Minister Michelle O’Neill (Sinn Féin Deputy Leader, anti-Brexit); Jeffrey Donaldson MP (far-right DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson, pro-Brexit); a collection of elected representatives from other parties. Meanwhile Sunak’s government is driving ahead with DUP-friendly legislation which aims to wreck a Brexit protocol currently applying to Northern Ireland.

A recent very credible opinion poll shows that Sunak’s Perfidious Albion is pushing a reactionary Brexit policy rejected by most people in Ireland :

A clear majority of voters in Northern Ireland are in favour of rejoining the European Union, with almost four in 10 saying that the prospect of EU membership makes them “more likely to support Irish unity”.

Northern voters favour EU membership by a 2-1 majority, (54 per cent to 27 per cent), with 19 per cent saying they don’t know.

Voters from a Catholic background overwhelmingly back EU membership (75 per cent to 10 per cent) but the majority of Protestant-background voters favour remaining outside the EU (43 per cent to 36 per cent, with 21 per cent saying they don’t know).

The prospect of EU membership would make 37 per cent of all voters in the North more likely to support Irish unity, with 48 per cent saying it would make no difference.

Among Protestant-background voters, 15 per cent say EU membership would make them more likely to support Irish unity, with 10 per cent saying it would make them less likely to support unity, and two-thirds – 66 per cent – saying it would make no difference.

Protocol split

Voters in the North are evenly split on the Northern Ireland protocol. But the most popular way forward is for a negotiated solution that would retain the agreement but make changes in order to ease its implementation, according to new research.

Voters in the Republic are overwhelmingly in favour of the protocol and say it should be implemented as agreed.

Irish Times, December 12 2022

As this Sunak-Donaldson Brexit proceeds, we on the left need to absorb another James Connolly quotation – and apply it in the 21st Century.

And now that the progress of democracy elsewhere has somewhat muzzled the dogs of aristocratic power, now that in England as well as in Ireland the forces of labour are stirring and making for freedom and light, this same gang of well-fed plunderers of the people, secure in Union held upon their own dupes, seek by threats of force to arrest the march of idea and stifle the light of civilisation and liberty. And, lo and behold, the trusted guardians of the people, the vaunted saviours of the Irish race, agree in front of the enemy and in face of the world to sacrifice to the bigoted enemy the unity of the nation and along with it the lives, liberties and hopes of that portion of the nation which in the midst of the most hostile surroundings have fought to keep the faith in things national and progressive.

Such a scheme as that agreed to by Redmond and Devlin, the betrayal of the national democracy of industrial Ulster would mean a carnival of reaction both North and South, would set back the wheels of progress, would destroy the oncoming unity of the Irish Labour movement and paralyse all advanced movements whilst it endured. To it Labour should give the bitterest opposition, against it Labour in Ulster should fight even to the death, if necessary, as our fathers fought before us.

Hold a binding Brexit referendum in all of Ireland – simultaneously on both sides of the border, answering exactly the same question – begin the end of a carnival of reaction caused by the partition of Ireland.

John Meehan December 16 2022

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