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Irish Sovereignty And The Political Realignment of The Left


Jeremy Corbyn reiterates support for united Ireland

Labour must ‘clarify its position on principle of consent’, says DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson

Irish Times

Asked whether he supported unification during an interview with the New Statesman current magazine, Mr Corbyn answered, “it’s an aspiration that I have always gone along with”.

Mr Corbyn has long been in favour of a united Ireland. In 1984 he invited Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams to a meeting in London and cancelled a second meeting in 1996 after coming under pressure from Labour party colleagues.

In 1985 he opposed the Anglo Irish Agreement, saying “the agreement strengthens rather than weakens the border between the six and the 26 counties, and those of us who wish to see a united Ireland oppose the agreement for that reason”.

The new Labour leader appointed John McDonnell, who said in 2003 that IRA members should be honoured for bringing the British government to the negotiating table, as shadow chancellor.

BBC apology

Mr McDonnell apologised for the remarks during an appearance last week on BBC’s Question Time.

Mr Corbyn’s support for a united Ireland has been branded “unhelpful” to the Northern Ireland peace process.

Although unsurprised at his position, unionists have on Thursday called for on Labour to clarify its position.

Democratic Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson said: “Nothing Jeremy Corbyn says about Northern Ireland is going to be helpful or is designed to be helpful.

“What we now need is for the Labour Party to clarify its position on the principle of consent, and Jeremy Corbyn needs to make clear whether he stands by the agreements made by Tony Blair which put the issue of consent at the heart of the constitutional arrangement in Northern Ireland.”

Majority consent

Under the terms of the Belfast Agreement, a united Ireland can only be brought about with the majority consent of people in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The Ulster Unionist Party said it had been assured that Labour was committed to the principles of consent when officials met shadow Northern Ireland secretary Vernon Coaker earlier this week.

Tom Elliott MP said: “He was very clear that Labour is committed to the consent principle as set out in the Belfast Agreement. Indeed he has also been unambiguous in the House of Commons that this is the position.

“What we have here is a party leader who is out of step with his own party’s position.”

The UUP has requested a meeting with Mr Corbyn.

Sinn Féin meanwhile welcomed Mr Corbyn’s comments.

A spokesman said: “Jeremy Corbyn has been a long-time friend of Ireland and of the peace process.”

The SDLP said Mr Corbyn reflected its views.

Foyle MP Mark Durkan said: “Jeremy Corbyn is stating a view held by many in the Labour Party in regards to a united Ireland, and one that reflects an aspiration of the SDLP.

“It has always been a key tenet in our party constitution and one that is based upon the principle of consent.”

Press Association

Socialist Party Criticises Corbyn Position on Irish Unity

In the seventies Britain was waging an imperialist war in Ireland with the joint support of the Tory and Labour Party leaderships. Left wing Labour party members such as Ken Livingstone and Jeremy Corbyn opposed this policy being in favour of Irish unity and independence. They were also friendly towards Sinn Féin and the Provisional IRA.

Today , September 14, 2015, the statement below is carried  on the Socialist Party Website in a piece on the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the British Labour Party.

“Supporters of Militant said at that time(70s) that many like Corbyn and Ken Livingstone had “abandoned the policy of the right in favour of a no less disastrous policy of their own.”

To describe the policy of Corbyn and Livingstone as “no less disastrous” than the policy of the British Imperial warmongers is perfectly outrageous.

The statement goes on to include the IRA, the British Army, extreme right wing  loyalist allies of the British Army, as common enemies against which workers should unite  when it advocates workers unity “against the barbarism of paramilitarism, repression and sectarianism around a socialist programme”

These are not socialist positions. They are capitulations to British imperialism at a time when a real live anti-imperalist struggle was in progress

From Socialist Party (NI)  Website  Sept 10,2015

Mistaken position

At the same time, it is a mistaken approach on Corbyn’s part to be equivocal in regard to the campaign of the IRA. He is right to point out the reactionary role played by the British state during the course of the Troubles, including the massacres at Bloody Sunday and Ballymurphy, collusion and the brutal treatment of political prisoners. However, it is important to be clear that the methods of the IRA – far from being capable of defeating British imperialism – were futile and served only to heighten sectarian division.

Corbyn was not alone in the Labour Party in developing a working relationship with Sinn Féin and the republican movement many others on the left of the party also adopted a similar position. This was, in part, a response to the disastrous policy of bipartisanship with the Tories on the question of Northern Ireland, which saw Labour governments send in British troops in 1969 and escalate repression in the 1970s. Supporters of Militant – the predecessor of the Socialist Party, which was the Marxist voice within the Labour Party – said at that time that many like Corbyn and Ken Livingstone had “abandoned the policy of the right in favour of a no less disastrous policy of their own.” The necessary response of the labour movement at this time was not act to coat-tail the republican movement or any sectarian force but to argue clearly for an independent, working class position which could act to unite protestant  and catholics against the barbarism of paramilitarism, repression and sectarianism around a socialist programme.


The Journal  on Corbyn and Irish Unity    Aaron McKenna sept 10

“Corbyn has been on the right side of history in quite a few moral arguments during his time as an MP. He was a supporter of Nelson Mandela long before it was fashionable, and was a leader in the anti-war movement in the UK that so irked Tony Blair. He was also a defender of the Guildford Four and Birmingham Six, and has long maintained a comradely relationship with Sinn Féin going back to the height of the troubles. He believes, rather interestingly for us, in Irish unification.”


See also on this blog:  What Would A Sinn Féin Led Government Do?


Posted By Paddy Healy on Blog Cedar Lounge Revolution

What would the position of a “further left” alignment be on the Irish national question? Should it be included as one of the issues?

There is a further reason why restoration of the  sovereignty of the Irish People must be a vital part of a political programme of any new left alignment in Ireland in addition to the arguments already made below this post.

Reduction in Economic and Political Sovereignty of The Irish People is set to intensify over the next  20 years. This is due to the implementation due of the Fiscal Treaty and continued sales of Irish assets to international   capitalists by quizling governments and by Irish capitalists.

The Fiscal Treaty applies to all eurozone states. Is that not equitable!

In form yes, but in content NO

When the Fiscal Treaty was ratified Germany had already met its three key provisions!!!




In summary the Treaty provides that the current budget deficit be reduced to 3% of GDP and maintained at or below that level.

After this is achieved the STRUCTURAL DEFICIT mus be eliminated. There is contention about how much further budget cutting will be required to achieve this as it depends on change in GDP.

But the EU has  quantified the budgetary position which would be required to eliminate  the Irish “structural deficit” in order to comply with the Fiscal Treaty. (EU Report on Ireland, March 2014)   The over-all deficit needs to be converted from -4.8 % of GDP in 2014  to +4.9% in 2018. Based on a GDP of 148 billion Euro in 2012, this requires a further 14 billion in cuts and tax rises unless there is significant economic growth. Growth in GDP in 2013 was +0.2% , which means total stagnation as 0.2% is less than the probable error in the estimate. (After 2015 deficit =2.7%-further 11 billion in cuts/taxes now required to remove structural deficit by 2018)

The third provision is that the government Debt to GDP ratio be reduced to 60% over the following 20 years. Irish Debt to GDP ratio is currently between 100% and 120%. This means that something of the order of 60 billion Euro must be paid off to lenders and cannot be rolled over (borrowed from a new lender to pay an existing one)

(this is a key reason that Irish Water has been set up.It enables off  balance sheet ( not through state) borrowing which the citizens must pay back directly through charges)

The Treaty has no direct adverse effect on the German Economy. Indeed it forces Programme Countries to pay back debts to German, French and other financial institutions to the benefit of the German and other EU economies .

In fact a new form of economic imperialism has been established within the Eurozone. The Programme Countries pay financial tribute to the strong economies led by Germany.

The provisions of the Fiscal Treaty remove a huge portion of control of our own economy from the Irish people. That is diminution of political sovereignty.

Any realignment of socialists and/or republicans which does not have restoration of sovereignty as a key objective will fail despite temporary political successes.

Will Sinn Féin Commit to Renouncing Fiscal Treaty  on the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising ?

Here is what their spokesperson had to say in Dáil Éireann on the Fiscal Treaty:

Sinn Féin regards the Fiscal Treaty as a fundamental renunciation of the Sovereignty of the Irish People.

  In Dáil Éireann (Irish Parliament) during the debate on the EU Fiscal Compact ( Treaty) on April 20,2012, the Sinn Féin spokesperson, Caoimhín Ó Caoláin said : “ On Easter Sunday the Taoiseach and other Cabinet Ministers, as well as Oireachtas Members, myself included, stood outside the GPO and listened to the words of the Proclamation. As I speak on the austerity treaty today, I wonder did the Cabinet Ministers hear the same words that I heard: “We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible.” The Cabinet that stood to hear those words now asks us to put before the people for approval a treaty (The Fiscal Compact) that flies in the face of the 1916 Proclamation.It is a treaty that seeks to negate the right of the Irish people to the ownership of Ireland. It is a treaty that would surrender control of Irish destinies and fetter this and future elected governments, tying them to the failed economics of austerity. The people would have expected such a surrender from the last Government.”



Original Argument

The sovereignty of the Irish People has been severely diluted in recent years

Huge debts are owed to international Banks

8 billion per year is being paid annually by government in debt servicing

But this is not all!

Almost all Irish commercial property and residential loan books are being sold off to vulture capitalists

Literally ,you cannot spend a penny in an Irish shopping centre without paying a “Cíos Dubh” to Texas Capital

The amount of money pouring out of the country from public and private sources to international capitalists is probably proportionately greater than that going to British landlords before Michael Davitts  Campaign on the land issue

We are almost solely dependent on multi-nationals for job creation and maintenance and therefore entirely enslaved.

AND AIB and PTSB is now to be sold off in accordance with advice from a top American Finance Company(Goldman Sachs). Is GS also advising the buyers.Vulture capitalist, Wilbur Ross has already walked off with 500 million of state money out of BoI

hat is the difference between MlNoonan and Dermot McMurragh!

Seamus Healy (WUA) is the only left TD who has raised these matters in the Dail in recent years! Come to think of it ,these matters have not been raised by Sinn Féin deputies either!

Why not put “Restoration of the Sovereignty of the Irish People and committment to Connollys policy of Irish Unity Independence and Socialism” in the political programme of a new left alignment?

Gewerkschaftler – January 23, 2015

All good points about the illusion of sovereignty, Paddy.

But my guess is that national sovereignty in economic matters will remain unattainable under globalised capitalism, and it’s no good pretending otherwise.

Even under democratic socialism it would be a matter of nations/regions negotiating at various levels about who provides what and who use which services, what is best produced on the local level, what is bests produced elsewhere, and how we can work together to ensure whatever efficiencies of scale and coordination are to be had.

So short answer – national/regional economic sovereignty is a concept left over from the nineteenth century and we do ourselves no favours by pretending it is attainable.

Which is not to say we shouldn’t fight the existing order, but just not in the name of something which can’t exist.

Paddy HealyJanuary 23, 2015

I completely disagree with G

It is of course true that national subordination of weaker countrie cannot be achieved under global capitalism. But it doe not follow that special demads for national freedom and sovereignty should not be raised by socialists.
Irish people like those in the programme countries and the third world are suffering a double exploitation. These are objective realities felt by people and to fail to raise these matters would damage the cause of socialism.

Unconditional support for Irish Sovereignty, Unity and independence become huge mobilisers for socialism in the modern era as socialism is the only framework in which they can be achieved.

From Roger Cole, PANA


I agree with you. PANA has focused on advocating the right of the Irish people throughout the whole of the 32 counties to have their own independent foreign policy, with positive neutrality as its key component because it was our view that the ruling cast intended to integrate the Irish Army into the EU/US/NATO military structures. This military integration only mirrors Ireland’s integration into the EU/US economic financial system.

Any “left” alliance that does not focus on advocating the termination of our military integration into the axis or our virtual total economic integration into the EU/US and placing sovereignty, unity and independence at the centre of its political analysis in my opinion is not left wing at all.


Roger Cole


Peace & Neutrality Alliance

Some brief thoughts for the New Year on…the Further Left | The Cedar Lounge Revolution//

CL – January 23, 2015

There was a time when being against imperialism was a key component of a left wing position.
Now apparently one can be leftwing and agree with the ‘imperialism is good for you’ position of Niall Ferguson, Bill Warren and other propagandists.
The populist/nationalist Sinn Fein is no longer anti-imperialist.
Which raises the question: just what type of political formation is Sinn Fein?


8. Paddy HealyJanuary 24, 2015

Gewerkschaftler says that we should not mislead people to the effect that national sovereignty of Ireland is achievable under globalised capitalism. I agree. But that does not mean that we should not raise these legitimate demands that correspond to the relief of real grievances and real injustices endured by real people. As socialists we must explain that the demands can only be met under socialism.
In these circumstances these demands can be powerful mobilisers for a socialist transformation.


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