Does The Constitution Really Matter?

Naomi Long in a T.V. interview said that there were no flags on her election literature, and denied she is a Unionist stating that there are Protestants, Catholics, Unionists Nationalists and Republicans in the Alliance party and the door of the party stand open for all. Since all are welcome so must Fascists Marxists Anarchists and Nihilists be welcome in Alliance. As for the Catholics and Protestants in the party it is to be hoped that these are of the tame friendly kind not the feral vicious kind as can be found in the D. U. P. and Sinn Fein. Since there are Unionists Nationalists and Republicans in the party it must be that in Alliance each member can adopt any constitutional stance that takes the member’s fancy so Alliance is constitutionally weird and wonderful.

But while Naomi denies it she is in her behaviour a practicing Unionist. She has taken a seat at Westminster and in doing so she recognises the Union Jack as the U.K. flag. She has taken an oath of allegiance and recognises the Queen as Head of State of the U.K. so she is clearly a Unionist despite her denials on T.V. So in the muddle –headed Alliance Party constitutional skulduggery abounds. But the Alliance Party isn’t alone in that.

Officially the S.D.L.P. is a constitutional Nationalist party. That constitution is the U.K. constitution and thus the S. D. L.P. should display all emblems and symbols associated with the U.K. constitution but the party doesn’t. According to the writing of Mark Durkan the S.D.L.P. is the party of true Republicans striding towards an all Ireland Republic in which there is a place for Unionists. Alasdair Mc Donald says exactly the same thing. So how are Unionists with a contradictory conflicting U.K. constitution to be incorporated into an All Ireland Republic? The Mind Boggles! Such a united Ireland would be in the same sorry constitutional sectarian mess as N. Ireland is currently in. The constitutional chicanery of the S. D. L. P. is unbelievable.

Sinn Fein rejects U.K. constitution and is consistent in refraining to sit at Westminster but there the consistency ends. They sit in a U.K. constituted assembly at Stormont and are now crypto-unionists propping up a Right wing Union Jack Unionist assembly They are Republicans in theory only in that Sinn Fein has the tricolour but haven’t a constitution to go with it. De Valera’s 1937 constitution could have been a possible constitution for Sinn Fein but with the withdrawal of Articles 2and3 leaves Sinn Fein without a constitutional leg to stand on. The British pulled a fast one on the Irish in the withdrawal of these articles because to fly a Tricolour as the National Flag of Ireland in Northern Ireland is as meaningless and foolish as would the flying of a pair of knickers tied to a stick as the National Flag of Ireland in Northern Ireland. Sinn Fein should leave the Assembly but they won’t do that, as they are more interested in their wallets than in any constitution. Their constitutional shenanigans are shameless.

The D.U.P. accepts and supports U.K. constitution Bu t the party conveniently ignores that a constitution must have the overwhelming support of the people if the state is to be stable. There is only marginal majority support for the constitution in Northern Ireland so it is imposed on a significant section of the population who reject it. David Cameron claims the constitutional issue in Northern Ireland is now settled; this is conservative theory but if David visits the Falls and the Shankill and the Sandy Row and the Bogside and the Fountain and the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone he will find the integrity of the constitutional quarrel continues and is unresolved. In this the constitutional skulduggery of unionism is shameless.

I have worked on the Irish problem for some time in pragmatic published writing. The thesis of this work is that the Irish problem is a constitutional problem and to arrive at a stable non-sectarian Ireland U. K. constitution should be changed to The Federal Kingdom of The Sovereign Nation of Ireland and Great Britain or vice versa. This constitution would give Ireland a Reformed Crown as Head of State, one flag the Royal flag of Ireland, one Irish anthem, one Irish passport giving an Irish Identity along with a restructured police force for all Ireland and a restructured armed service for the Isles of the North Atlantic. There are no shenanigans in any of this but an honest attempt is made to shed new light on an old historic problem. But in a Northern Ireland where constitutional skulduggery chicanery and deception is the order of the day instability and violence will be endemic in the state.

Michael Gillespie


  • coconnor

    Constitutional nationalism obviously doesn’t mean to follow the UK constitution, so your little screed about the SDLP makes no sense whatsoever.

  • coconnor

    I should say, subscribe to the UK constitution.

  • PrivateBob

    So to paraphrase your article: the solution of ‘The Irish Problem’ is a return to the Act of Union of 1801?

    A few more specific problems:

    How can Ireland be sovereign if it is part of the UK, with a monarch as head of state, even if that monarch is vaguely ‘Reformed’? What happens to the Irish President, the Irish flag, Irish neutrality?

    Your use of ‘constitution’ is somewhat haphazard. The constitution of the UK is notoriously vague. As it isn’t (yet) codified, it consists of all legislation ever passed and all of the conventions that have built up over a few hundred years. Although the SDLP are classed as a constitutional nationalist party, this refers not to their adherence to the laws of the UK, but rather to their use of political means rather than violent means.

    I also think that the terms ‘Unionist’ and ‘Nationalist’ refer not to whether people sit in parliament but rather to their broad aims with regard to Northern Ireland. Unionists want to maintain the union and Nationalists want a united, independent, and sovereign Ireland consisting of this entire island.

    Although I agree with your broad take on Alliance being closet unionists, your reasons for this belief seem to be somewhat flawed. Furthermore, while you may have worked on ‘The Irish Problem’ for some time, I think your solution requires a bit more thought before it would ever be accepted by anyone.

  • Alias

    If unionists such as Mr Gillespie argue that a constitution doesn’t matter then what possible objection could they have to disposing of the UK constitution? It seems the only constitution that doesn’t matter to them is one that declares in its first article that “The Irish nation hereby affirms its inalienable, indefeasible, and sovereign right to choose its own form of Government, to determine its relations with other nations, and to develop its life, political, economic and cultural, in accordance with its own genius and traditions.” It doesn’t mention anything about a foreign nation having a veto over that right to self-determination.

  • lover not a fighter

    As Alex Ferguson is reputed to have said about Dennis Wise; ” He would start an argument in an empty room ”

    A man/woman would not be lonely for an argument in your company.

    Fair play to you at least your doing some thinking and even though you may not be always thinking the right thing (who is ?) you are still right to be thinking.

    Do we not have some federal institutions in the UK now; Scottish, Welsh, and NI parliaments.

    The English have been neglected of course but this is largely of their own choosing. One wonders do the English in one of their quiet moments muse as to whether their ” partners” with their demands and desires are too high maintainance for this “less wealthy” United Kingdom.

  • abucs

    I don’t think SF or the SDLP are being duplicious. In the same way Plaid Cymru and the Scottish Nationalists are not duplicious in sitting at Westminster or the ‘Unionist Parties of Great Britain” are not duplcious in sitting in a Scottish assembly.

    I don’t see anything wrong with the Alliance position either. They are simply saying that the partition issue is not a priority for them and they want to concentrate on other political matters under the present constitutional agreement of Westminster and the NI assembly.

    If there is support for those constitutional arrangements to change in the short term then Alliance may take a position on them. Alternatively, they may leave any vote as one of conscience and stay out of it altogether. Since any moves for a short term change in the constitutonal arrangements are not in the forseeable future, then Alliance probably feel they do not have to exert time, energy and arguement to this question. Presumably if 70% of the Northern Ireland electorate wanted to join with, say France, the Alliance Party would then assess the situation on its merits.

  • dwatch

    Michael Gillespie, I take it you assume if there was a referendum in the near future for a 32 county Ireland, all Alliance party members, and their supporters will just abstain?

  • Lionel Hutz

    Basically what Michael is arguing is that there is a contradiction in wishing to change something from the inside. So if for example, the Tories want to remove power from The EU, they should abstain. If you advance socialist ideologies you shouldn’t sit in Westminster as it isn’t socialist.

    Absolute non-sense article. There is no contradiction in acting in accordance with the will of the people and at the same time trying to change that will

  • Granni Trixie

    First of all, Michael, I have a different impression of what Naomi said on telly which is not that she “denied she was a unionist” but rather to explain that in campaigning she had not tried to appeal to voters on the basis of a unionist aspect to her identity. Rather she referred to value for ‘sharing’ as something dear to her heart, compatible with one of the themes in Alliances election, ‘solution focused’. In NI you could spend morning,noon and night debating identity and some do, but presently there is more of an appetite for bread and butter. People are moving on, which Naomi’s win symbolises.

    Think on this too: to sustain a party with cross community support for 40 years takes some doing and would not be the case if anybody was closet anything or muddle headed (the easy labels above).

    Also, I think your analysis is simplistic not least as it ignores a cultural aspect to the problem – that people need to change, particularly in view of the legacy of the troubles.
    Much necessary structural and legal change has happened,but I would argue, in intimate interaction with cultural change. I also prefer a model of the problem of NI as consisting of a serious of revolving spheres and that whatever you do to solve one probem has potential to exasserbate the others.(in Eddie Moxon Browne, in “Nation Class and Creed”, in 80s).

  • Battle of the Bogside

    A bit of reading is required. Opinion is not fact. Start by learning the term of constitutional Nationalism by reading up on Daniel O’Connell and the Repeal of the Union movement.

    The problem is that the British along with loyalism, not militant, have moved away from the fact that the people of this island are Irish first, if they choose British second. This has been the historical position since ‘Grattan’s Parliament’ was sold by the Ascendency for an iron grip on the inferior Catholic population of the island of Ireland!

  • Granni Trixie

    oops, sorry, that ought to have been, series, not seious.

  • Henry94

    If only everybody would agree to my plan everything would be fine? That’s pretty much true of any plan. There is no shortage of plans but the problem was lack of Agreement.

    In the GFA we found the maximum level of agreement and almost everybody votes for parties who support that agreement. We could tear it up and start from scratch but in the end we’d be in the same ballpark. That is the reality we all have to face up to.

  • Michael Gillespie

    Is The S.D.LP. Constitutional Nationalist or Republican?

    To answer that question one should look at the historic root of Constitutional Nationalism. Daniel O’Connell was the first constitutional Nationalist. In a speech on the repeal of the union he said this: –
    “ Let’s have a government beside the statue of King William at College Green where we will be obedient to the Queen joined to England by the golden link of the Crown” that was the original vision of O’ Connell in the 19th century and that vision would have been shared by Butt Parnell and Redmond.

    To step into the 21st century we find the stalwarts in the S.D.L.P. of Mark Durkan and Alasdair Mc Donald telling us that the party is the true Republicans. But if it is why do the S.D.L.P. sit a t Westminster recognising the Union Jack as the union flag and in taking an oath of allegiance to the Crown as Head Of State of the U.K. endorse O’ Connell’s golden Link. The truth the S,D.L.P, are a bunch of hypocrites. If they are true Republicans they should merge with Sinn Fein and adopt Gerry Adam’s as their leader and stay away from Westminster. By vanishing from the political scene they would do Ireland favour.A

  • joeCanuck

    Oaths are fairly meaningless these days except perhaps if you’re a child being made to swear one by an imposing adult in a uniform.

  • Michael Gillespie

    My writing interest is the Irish Problem but Republicans might say the Irish Problem is a British problem but I won’ t go into that. My writing concern is the socio- constitutional sectarian divisions of the Island. I don’t write for conservative Republicans whose minds are shut tight to every thing save Republicanism nor do I write for conservative Union Jack Unionists whose minds are shut to all things except Union Jack Unionism. I write for persons of a moderate disposition whose minds are open to new ideas that are forward looking and can think for themselves. In response to my article —Does the constitution really matter— there is a plethora of stock conservative replies but no on e makes an original proposal to end the sectarianism that so disfigures this country.

    I t is the thesis of my writing that Nationalism and Unionism can be synthesised in the National Government of Ireland Act to give an all Ireland constitution as acceptable to the Catholics of Kerry as to the Protestants of Derry. Republicanism divides the people and doesn’t unite them for this reason. As a pragmatist one can observe that there exists in Ireland a protestant population who are loyal to the Crown in varying degrees of intensity. I t is the inalienable right of loyalists to express loyalty to the Crown. Republicanism crushed Loyalist Ireland out of existence in the26 county statlet. In our times the Provisionals attempted to crush out Loyalist Ireland in a 30-year reign of terror in Northern Ireland. Loyalist Ireland knows full well what fate awaits them in an all Ireland Republic so they live constitutionally apart in a corner of the island free to express their inalienable right of loyalty to the Crown Despite that the loyalist people of Ireland are here to stay so the Crown will have to come into any constitutional settlement on the Island. Ireland needs a constitutional settlement not an acceptance by conservatives of the status quo sectarian divisions that sully the country. Such a constitutional settlement is possible feasible and doable in the National Government of Ireland Act.

    It is alleged I haven’t thought the matter through. I reckon I have. MY complete thinking on the National Government o f Ireland Act can be found in the novel—THE WAY IRELAND OUGHT TO BE— Published by Authorhouse and is available from Amazon Books A further examination of the Irish Problem can b e found in —THE RAPE O F VIRGIN MUNCHINDUN—published by Authorhouse and is available from Amazon Books Further work is underway on the Act in the novel—SIZE MATTERS—which should be out this summer.

    I stress I don’t write for conservatives of any kind but for ordinary moderate people who can think for themselves and I find it disappointing the conservative responses in Slugger don’t fit that bill. A spark of originality would help.

    Michael Gillespie

  • Granni Trixie

    Well Michel I’m disappointed in the fact that you seem so distainful of the rest of us.I dont want to discourage you but would like you to try to genuinely engage with a more open mind yourself.

  • midulsterunionist

    The Alliance are the most hardline party in the UK everyone knows that… they are too nice… smiling all the way until one day David forde is holding a sawn off shotgun to your head and naiomi is rifling through your pockets for protection money lol

  • Granni Trixie

    MUU: what you say might be funny were it not in the context of NI where believe it or not some people actually .did shoot people and are into extortion.

  • midulsterunionist

    Sorry i didn’t realise the comedy police were patrolling slugger o toole

  • Granni Trixie

    MUU; forget the comedy police, sure dont you know that there are even off topic police here!.