The unification of Ireland seems like something that is a task we must make happen and at this point in time is facing delays, obstacles and obstructions. The question forces around the Ireland are asking themselves is what a unified Ireland will look like, what mechanisms will deliver democratic process, how will resources be distributed and other questions. Another very pertinent question is what role will young people play in the formulation of a unified Ireland? Young people born in the 1990s/2000s post peace process and reared throughout the ‘celtic tiger’ period have been the primary victims of ruthless austerity in the 26 counties and 6 counties alike. It goes without saying that a unified Ireland cannot have two constitutions, two jurisdictions and two parallel systems so the question we must address is how a 32 county legal and political system will look.
Naturally, the 1937 Constitution of the 26 county administration and the legal system of the UK cannot be reconciled and in effect a contradiction arises. What is the resolution of this contradiction and how do we go about creating such a resolution that is agreeable to a majority of the population, north and south of the border?
To facilitate a smooth transition that does not invoke sectarian tit for tat inter-community disputes, one view, as advocated in this paper would suggest that a part of the unification process should also include a constitutional assembly, drawn from all communities around the island that would examine, formulate and draw up a new constitution befitting to all the people of a new, united Ireland. This is a curious thought and oft unspoken, but to reconcile the irreconcilable contradictions that the British border has created we must be creative, inclusive and far seeing. A new constitution could deliver to all communities and all of the people, particularly taking into consideration the aforementioned austerity programmes and even creating avenues of resolving them, such as enshrining the right to housing.
In fact let me be perfectly clear, what we are talking about is the pursuing of a Second Republic, uniquely distinct to the first one proclaimed in 1937 and carrying with it the characteristics of the 1919 Dail Programme and the 1916 Declaration of Independence. It would be my view, that communities around Ireland are aware of the fact that the political parties in administration, either in Dublin or Westminster have completely and totally abandoned them. Notably, communities identifying as British, Unionist and Loyalist have suffered many of the austerity policies that Nationalist, Republican and Irish communities have suffered. More importantly, communities south of the border that, despite not affiliating either way have also been hammered with austerity policies.
Part of advocating for a united Ireland is also in outlining the exploitative nature of a capitalist 6 counties and a capitalist 26 counties. It is therefore our duty and responsibility to not simply call for an end to partition, but also the bread and butter issues destroying the working class. A united Ireland that can socialize resources and empower communities to use them for instance would strike a stake in the heart of the DUP, a political party that relies on bribing communities for electoral loyalty. A united Ireland that can democratize institutions, rather than maintaining the archaic and decrepit functions that consistently fail to represent.
A united Ireland must be a new Ireland and a new Ireland should deliver what the old Ireland failed to do. A united Ireland should embody and contain within itself the aspirations for an Ireland where the people had not simply a ballot box token vote but control over the functions that create wealth, distribute it and exchange it. What would that mean on a practical level one might ask? Well it would mean that irrespective of what community you came from, what altar you chose to worship at or what flag you flew you would no longer be under the thumb of an exploiting class that benefits from the labour and suffering of the multitudes of working people.
Irish unification must take away the power of the multinationals, the employers and the landlords and invest the people of Ireland, the dispossessed with the wealth of the island. They tell us that we have great concentrations of wealth, well we say that it is time that said wealth is equitably distributed and used to provide for much needed services and a new Republic, alongside a new constitution could guarantee that.
We should be thinking not only of redrawing borders, but of the substance of the new Ireland and whether the issues of exploitation, poverty, suicide, emigration and a lack of opportunities are issues we want to take with us, or leave behind us, in the old Ireland.