Wednesday 18 September 2019

Mark Daly: Challenges ahead for those who seek a united Ireland free from any borders

A sign for customs and excise is seen on the motorway approaching the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, near Newry. Photo: REUTERS
A sign for customs and excise is seen on the motorway approaching the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, near Newry. Photo: REUTERS

Mark Daly

TK Whitaker was voted 'Irish Man of the 20th Century'. He wrote the policy that was followed by successive governments that laid the economic foundations of the modern Irish State.

If Whitaker's advice - on November 11, 1968, and the eve of the Troubles - had been adhered to by all those who wish to see a united Ireland, we could have had a different past.

We must look at Whitaker's advice anew and pay attention to it, to ensure a better future for all the people on this island.

In 1968, he wrote to the then-Taoiseach a 'Note on North-South Border Policy'. In it, he foresaw the Good Friday Agreement and the long-term nature of achieving a united Ireland. He felt it required the best of ourselves and a collective understanding.

"We were, therefore, left with only one choice, a policy of seeking unity in Ireland between Irishmen. Of its nature this is a long-term policy, requiring patience, understanding and forbearance, and resolute resistance to emotionalism and opportunism. It is not the less patriotic for that."

This civic nationalism articulated by Whitaker is far removed from the old nationalism of the past.

Civic nationalism seeks a brighter tomorrow for our country and all its citizens. Conscious of our troubled past, we must seek a new future of compassion, inclusion, engagement, justice, unity, and peace for all. Civic nationalism is inclusive, it appeals to universal values and equality.

This year saw the first report to a Dáil and senate committee advocating the long-term policy planning that Whitaker said was required to achieve, as described by attorney general Brady, the constitutional obligation of a united Ireland. This report, which I compiled, includes contributions by Dr Kurt Hubner, of the University of British Columbia, which showed a reunification scenario with a boost of €35.6bn over eight years to an all-island economy.

President Obama's National Security Council senior policy adviser on counter-terrorism, Michael R Ortiz, has written a paper for the report on the issue of the need to act now to prevent the threat of future paramilitary violence attempting to subvert a referendum and reunification as provided for in the Good Friday Agreement.

Ortiz was the first US diplomat focused on countering violent extremism and was appointed by Secretary of State John Kerry.

High Court Justice Richard Humphreys' book 'Countdown to Unity' is quoted from extensively in the report. Justice Humphreys' writings lay out the road map to the peaceful unity of Ireland and its people.

It outlines the various options for the future of this island, the opportunities and the obstacles that are ahead to achieve the aim of a peaceful, united Ireland.

Congressman Brendan Boyle, a member of the US House of Representatives Foreign Relations Committee, submitted a specially commissioned research paper from the United States Congressional Research Office, which is included in the report. This analyses the true nature of the income and expenditure of Northern Ireland.

I am one of up to 80pc, according to a recent opinion poll, of those in the Republic who wish to see Ireland and its people united in peace and prosperity.

We who are in favour of unity are tasked with an enormous and great challenge: we must help create, south of the Border, a country where most of the people of the north of Ireland would vote for us to come together as one.

We need to start a discussion on the issues surrounding unifying Ireland. A New Ireland Forum 2 is required, made up of experts on all the issues. We should ask our European colleagues, the Germans, what their experience was, what they would do differently if they had to do unification all over again.

The challenge for the Republic is great; we need to create a society and a country where we improve the lives of all those living on this island. We must talk about, and work towards, creating a new society, not as it is today but how we want it to be in the future. We must strive to make a better country for all the people on this island.

We must work towards ensuring that in terms of education, employment, health, housing, those in the Republic and those in the North would be better off voting for change than the status quo. Those who seek a land without borders, with only new horizons, face this enormous challenge.

  • The report 'Brexit & the Future of Ireland, Uniting Ireland and its People in Peace and Prosperity' is being launched today in Leinster House.
  • Mark Daly is a Fianna Fáil senator.

Irish Independent

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