A political vacuum in Northern Ireland commemorates the Good Friday Agreement. With Jeffrey Donaldson’s DUP throwing a snot over the British Government/EU movement of goods arrangement Stormont remains empty in a ghostly commemoration of the Good Friday agreement. Despite the eminent arrival of US President Joe Biden to participate in the 25th Good Friday anniversary commemoration, the Stormont vacuum remains. Despite the media hype, especially RTE talking up the Good Friday Agreement to storm proportions, 25 years on there’s a hollow echo in the empty chambers of Stormont. While the absence of political progress is a sad reflection of the agreement, the peace dividend remains with the absence of widespread violence and the tragic loss of life. The political vacuum is a small price to pay for this. Nothing will change the present impasse because the Good Friday agreement despite its very welcome peaceful dividend, it is a political failure based on limited thinking and political expediency.
With changing demographics and the increased nationalist vote changing the political landscape of Northern Ireland a considerable number of Unionists are feeling as besieged as ever. This is especially the case with Sinn Fein talking up a united Ireland without making any effort to accommodate Unionism. There remains an undertone of volatility and fissure cracks with a potential of a spill over into renewed violence. Sinn Fein’s self-serving version of a Cuban style united Ireland with their ‘Brits Out and everybody else in’ globalist policy remains a constant threat to Unionists without offering any benefits to Nationalists.
Lack of Vision
Sinn Fein’s version of a united Ireland is a globalist nightmare and a non-starter for all concerned. They have no vision of a united Ireland that would, could and must accommodate Unionist concerns. If they think Unionists will just roll over and accept their empty vision of a united Ireland they are living in cuckoo land.
An entirely new vision of a not so united Ireland that can and will accommodate the history, the ethos and the political desires of both communities may seem like an impossibility, an oxymoron, but it isn’t. The empty and unsustainable hot air ‘parity of esteem’ platitudes coming from the Good Friday agreement rhetoric most certainly won’t accommodate that. That’s the elephant in the room with the potential to become a bull in the china shop that potentially is Northern Ireland which everybody is thinking about, but no one dares to talk about.
The Swiss Model
The Swiss model offers a solution to the Irish problem or British Irish problem with its unique form of direct democracy. This can accommodate the needs of both Unionists and Nationalists without compromising either. Both sides can live in a confederation of peace and harmony without giving up or conceding their political ethos and values. Switzerland consists of a confederation of 26 independent states or republics working in harmony. Each has its own parliament and constitution protecting the ethnicity, the values, the language, the religion and the ethos of its divergent peoples. Consequently, the diversity and unity of its people makes Switzerland both prosperous and unique.
The Swiss Federal Constitution declares each Cantons to be sovereign and not limited to or by centralised federal law. Switzerland’s 26 cantons consist of German: Kanton, French: Canton, Italian: Cantone, and Romansh: Chantun that constitute the diversity of the Swiss Confederation. Each Canton has its own ethnic, religious and linguistic independence protecting its people’s uniqueness with their own government and constitution. In such an Ireland Unionists would have a true and permanent guarantee of independent self-government guaranteeing its ethos with the power to make its own international treaties. That would enable them to copper fasten their desire for a continued special connection to and relationship with the United Kingdom. Each Cantons constitution independently determines the internal organisation and external relations of that Canton. A number of municipalities within the cantons even have their own police forces.
A Confederation of Diversity
This model in an Irish context would allow us all to nurture our differences within an Irish Confederation rather than being in conflict with or trying to subsume one another. That is the ideal solution for an agreed Ireland. This is a model of unity through diversity that is worthy of our attention in whole and in its constituent parts. All of those who are presently expressed aspirations for Irish unity are rich in rhetoric and empty in substance that lends them to even greater disunity and potential conflict. No wonder that such a concept poses a nightmare scenario for Unionists.
When considering a workable model for a future Ireland, a 32 County Irish Confederation of independent states with the politicians, the banks and the judiciary answerable through a ‘direct democracy’ process directly to the people both individually and collectively provides us with the best possible model. Swiss citizens are citizens of their municipality or their place of origin and their Canton of origin. Cantons set their own requirements for the granting of citizenship. That procedure is typically undertaken at a municipal level and is subject to federal law. Switzerland provides a model that has much to offer to us in our divided Ireland. For a fuller version of this, see “A New Ireland Blueprint” serialised in the Irish People Newspaper. irishpeople.ie