United Ireland may be the only way to minimise Brexit threat to the island - Matt Carthy MEP
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has said that if the British government’s approach to Brexit remains unchanged, a United Ireland may be the only way to minimise the political and economic devastation a crash out, no deal threatens to cause to Ireland.
The Midlands North West MEP was speaking at a commemoration for Civil War Leader Liam Lynch in the Knockmealdown Mountains today.
Carthy urged Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil Leader Mícheál Martin to face up to their political responsibilities by accepting the inevitability of a referendum on a United Ireland and to begin planning how to move forward, while ensuring the maximum amount of stability and cohesion on the island.
“For too long our government and some political parties, particularly Fianna Fáil, have dismissed calls to engage in a process of planning for reunification.
“The real prospect now of a no-deal Brexit will expose that stance as nothing short of reckless irresponsibility.
“It is past time that the likes of Leo Varadkar and Mícheál Martin faced up to their political responsibilities.
“It’s time they joined the rest of us in facing up to the inevitability of a referendum on a United Ireland and began planning how to move forward, while ensuring the maximum amount of stability and cohesion on the island.
“So, let me say very clearly here today - a United Ireland is a legitimate, eminently sensible political objective.
“It is fully in line with the Good Friday Agreement which explicitly provides for a referendum in the issue.
“If the stated direction of the British government remains unchanged it may be the only way that we can minimise the political and economic devastation which Brexit threatens to cause on our island.”Read full text of Matt Carthy’s speech below:
It is an honour and a privilege for me to address you here today in the Knockmealdown Mountains, where Liam Lynch was shot and fatally injured 96 years ago.
A fearless and dedicated republican leader, Liam Lynch was, at the time of his death in the Civil War, the IRA’s Chief of Staff.
During the Tan War he had served as Commandant of IRA Cork No. 2 Brigade and Commander of the 1st Southern Division.
In 1923 Liam and a number of his comrades were attacked here at their secret headquarters by a large force of Free State soldiers.
Hit by rifle fire and badly injured, yet knowing the value of documents they held, Liam ordered the other Volunteers to leave him behind.
Captured and taken by a stretcher made from guns, to Nugent's pub in Newcastle, at the foot of these mountains, Liam was then brought to hospital in Clonmel where died later that evening.
He was laid to rest two days later at Kilcrumper Cemetery, near Fermoy.
The Civil War was an extremely tragic and destructive period in the history of this country which saw Irish people fighting each other, rather than the British occupier.
This was the direct result of a Treaty with Britain, which did not achieve the aims for which so many people had sacrificed so much.
The Treaty was heavily backed by big business, the media of the day and the Church hierarchy.
Those who rejected the Treaty and sought to pursue the radical vision of Easter Week, of the Proclamation and of the First Dáil, by all means necessary, faced huge practical odds.
They were outgunned and lacked the financial and establishment backing available to the Treaty forces.
What they had was an enduring commitment to a fully independent, all-Ireland republic and the support of huge swathes of ordinary people across this country.
We should never forget the endurance and the sacrifices of the soldiers of ‘22 and ‘23 - the legion of the rearguard - men like Liam Lynch who stood by the Republic declared in Easter Week and who struggled bravely and selflessly to realise that objective.
Following the military suppression of the IRA, many of its members and their families suffered greatly from discrimination, exclusion and persecution with a great number forced to emigrate as counter revolution took hold.
If the Civil War was a human, political and economic tragedy - it’s longer term consequences were equally negative.
Instead of the egalitarian Republic - for which the Volunteers had fought so bravely and which was endorsed by the people in 1918 - two states were established on the island and were run along very conservative lines, at a great cost to ordinary people, North and South.
The North became a one-party, Orange State where Irish nationalists were excluded from power and denied opportunity. That power and privilege was ultimately protected by British guns.
A resumption of conflict in the North was merely postponed to later generations, when those unwilling to endure the continued denial of their civil rights and national rights took to the streets.
With peaceful demonstrators brutally suppressed by the armed militia of the Orange state, the re-emergence of the IRA was an inevitable consequence.
The effects of counter revolution also had profound effects in the South where the new Free State was marked by poverty, the marginalisation of women, the poor, political progressives and radicals of any kind.
For 80-odd years now Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have dominated politics in this State.
Both parties not only turned their backs on the people of the North, but also subjected ordinary people in the South to inequality, economic failure and mass emigration.
Those parties still operate in the interests of a minority of our people - the wealthy and the privileged.
This part of the country continues to endure a socially destructive, right-wing Government policy agenda with deep and systematic scandals in the area of housing, health and the provision of public services.
Rural Ireland is under systematic attack with the closure of post offices, Garda stations and other vital services as well as the undermining of our family farmers to the factories, the beef barons and multi-national corporations.
A strong Sinn Féin party, organised across Ireland with mass support, is the most effective vehicle to build the genuine Republic for which Liam Lynch and so many Republicans sacrificed so much.
Unlike Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin has a vision, grounded in genuine republican values.
Our aim is a United Ireland and a new republic which cherishes all our people, in all their diversity, and puts the interests of citizens first.
Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are currently in a de facto coalition. Leo Varadkar occupies the position of Taoiseach only as a result of Fianna Fáil support.
There is not one jot of difference between these parties in ideological terms and only cosmetic variance in policy.
Both are champions of cuts to the living standards of working people, the neglect of rural Ireland and the wastage of public money.
Central to Sinn Féin's objectives is to unite this island and all our people.
Brexit is creating an entirely new dynamic in the struggle for a United Ireland.
A conversation on a United Ireland has begun in earnest.
This conversation is set to intensify in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Economics, demographics and natural progress has meant that many have already been discussing what a United Ireland might look like and how it can be brought about.
Those discussions will become live debates in the event of a British crash-out of the European Union.
In the North especially, a growing number of people will see Irish unity as the only vehicle to remain part of the EU.
There is an onus on all political parties to come together to map out how we can bring about a United Ireland and make it a success for everyone who shares this island.
For too long our government and some political parties, particularly Fianna Fáil, have dismissed calls to engage in a process of planning for reunification.
The real prospect now of a no-deal Brexit will expose that stance as nothing short of reckless irresponsibility.
It is past time that the likes of Leo Varadkar and Mícheál Martin faced up to their political responsibilities.
It’s time they joined the rest of us in facing up to the inevitability of a referendum on a United Ireland and began planning how to move forward, while ensuring the maximum amount of stability and cohesion on the island.
So, let me say very clearly here today - a United Ireland is a legitimate, eminently sensible political objective.
It is fully in line with the Good Friday Agreement which explicitly provides for a referendum in the issue.
If the stated direction of the British government remains unchanged it may be the only way that we can minimise the political and economic devastation which Brexit threatens to cause on our island.
As we remember Liam Lynch today,
let us be clear - a united Ireland and a real republic is the only fitting monument to his sacrifice.
And let me be equally clear that the Sinn Féin leadership of 2019 and all of us gathered at this historic location are as determined to achieve those objectives as was Liam Lynch win 1923.
Go raibh míle maith agaibh go léir.