The Irish Unionist Party
We hope to break the nationalist consensus in Irish politics. This is a long term project; we are realistic about what we can achieve in the short run. We want to promote a more balanced understanding of the Union on all levels of Irish life - from the classroom to the public house. Our vision is a global one, in tune with the rapid change of the times in which we live. We will build links with groups who share our aspirations across the Commonwealth and the world.
We believe in an ongoing process of reconciliation, which we hope one day may overcome all the artificial political divisions between the peoples of these islands. But whilst we have legitimate unionist aspirations, we have our feet firmly on the ground. Our focus is on what is achievable, and on what we can contribute to the shared political life of these islands, rather than on distant constitutional fantasies. It is just as legitimate to be a Dubliner of unionist disposition, as it is to be a Dubliner of nationalist disposition.
Whilst we do not exclude the possibility of contesting elections in the future, we have no immediate plans to do so, however we may stand in the local elections of 2009 in the West Cork area. We also recognise that our main task must be to change public opinion and create a new intellectual atmosphere in which positive political developments can take place. We do not believe in further fragmentation of the unionist vote. Hence we pledge not to stand candidates in Northern Ireland, whilst reserving the right to do so in constituencies in the South.
Our membership is open to anyone throughout the British Isles, and we welcome supporters from elsewhere. There is no membership fee as such, but we welcome any donation towards our cause. For a growing organisation such as ours funds are always needed, and you can rest assured your money will be used at the 'sharp end' of the debate.
Our Mission Statement
The mission of the Irish Unionist Alliance is to represent its members and to work towards a new federal relationship between the United Kingdom and the Irish Republic.
The Council of The Isles
We welcome the creation of the Council of the Isles. We wish to make the council more accountable and inclusive to the citizens of these Islands. This accountability would recognise the reality that our country is linked by close political, social, cultural and economic ties with our neighbours in the rest of the Archipelago.
We believe that the central challenge facing the politicians on these islands is that of reconciling the needs of minorities. Support is essential for minority concerns to be expressed. This should be fundamental to the island as a whole. The Irish Republic must develop a new and more inclusive attitude towards all its minorities, and allow institutional expression of minority concerns, such as that embodied in the present Good Friday Agreement.
While there have been enormous concessions to minority aspirations in Northern Ireland, the Republic has lagged behind. It would be a sign of real maturity for dissent to be actively encouraged.
Among our proposals are: -
(1) The altering of the present Constitution to reflect a new Ireland
(2) More representation in the Senate for minority sections of the population. The Taoiseach should nominate five such representatives from his senate seats.
(3) That the words of the Irish national anthem should be rewritten to reflect the heterogeneous nature of the Irish of today, rather than the narrow, violent nationalism of another time.
Languages: A Common-Sense Approach
The Reform Movement believes that English and Irish should be made equal official languages to reflect the reality of the Irish situation. Also, we question the compulsory role that Irish has been made to play in our schools which has resulted in the shameful lack of other language instruction, especially in the primary school curriculum.We need to recognise that the huge expenditure on Irish at primary school level, recently highlighted by the educationalist, Dr. Edward Walsh, gives Ireland a low ranking in education - 16th out of 20 comparisons in the 2001 competitiveness report.
The school curriculum should instead reflect the realities of Ireland's relationship with her close and distant neighbours. We believe that it is time to abandon the discriminatory policy of making proficiency in Irish a requirement for employment in State agencies, the security forces and the legal profession.
Citizenship: Equal Rights
We support the present policy of extending rights of Irish citizenship to those in Northern Ireland who want it. However, the reciprocal right of those people in the South who want British passports should be granted and we call upon both governments to see that British citizenship is extended to those in the Republic of Ireland who request it. We therefore desire a situation whereby anyone born in Ireland would have the right to be either Irish, British or both. This would reflect the diversity of culture and identity on this island.
New Opportunities : The Commonwealth
We believe that Ireland, as a republic (for now), should follow the Republics of Namibia, Fiji and South Africa in rejoining a Commonwealth that has drastically changed since John A. Costello hastily took us out over 50 years ago. There are 54 countries in the commonwealth, 33 of which are republics which fought for, or were given, independenc, and it is home to more than 30 per cent of the world's population, including some 17 million people of Irish descent. The Irish played a large role in building the Commonwealth and could act as credible conciliators today in countries like Zimbabwe.
The British monarch's role is purely titular and vestigial and in fact proved helpful in negotiations for a political settlement in South Africa. Twenty-three per cent of world trade takes place between the countries in the Commonwealth. By joining, the Irish State would find for itself a new forum for dealing with economic, legal, cultural and political matters of mutual interest. We believe the Commonwealth Games would also offer attractive new incentives to our athletes.We note with special interest that the Cameroons and Mozambique - whose histories were unconnected with the U.K. - have recently joined the Commonwealth.