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5 November 2018

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Time for the Irish government to step up to the mark - Declan Kearney

"A wreckers’ agenda is being driven by the DUP and Tory government. They must not be allowed to destroy the democratic option for making change in the north." - Declan Kearney MLA

The publication of an open letter to An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar from over one thousand signatories in the Irish News is a powerful intervention supporting the rights of Irish citizens in the north of Ireland.

This letter reminded An Taoiseach of his statement on 8th December 2017 that Irish citizens in the north “would never again be left behind by an Irish government”.

These Irish citizens have explicitly urged Leo Varadkar to adhere to his expressed commitment from last year, “and to redouble your efforts, and the efforts of your government to ensure that our rights are protected”.

Their intervention comes at a time of deepening political crisis, and increased uncertainty and instability caused by the continued denial of citizens’ rights, and the fast approaching Brexit catastrophe.

Open letter to An Taoiseach.

This initiative indicates the frustration and anger among republicans and nationalists and other progressive minded people about the denial of rights here, and which are taken for granted elsewhere throughout these islands.

It is outrageous that the northern state remains a rights back water where language, marriage equality, women's reproductive health and legacy justice rights, as well as a Bill of Rights are blocked.

Northern nationalists are absolutely incensed with the continued denial of democracy and democratic rights.

They are not prepared to put up with their Irish identity being treated with disrespect and contempt.

Some of the signatories who have backed this highly significant intervention were active supporters of, and participants in the original Civil Rights Movement 50 years ago.

But many more are the children and grandchildren of those who campaigned and marched in support of modest civil rights reforms; and who were beaten and shot off the streets and roads in the north because the unionist state refused to deliver equality and rights.

These citizens reflect the diversity, depth, confidence and strength of those who identify as Irish citizens in the north.

They represent tens of thousands of others in the north, and from right across Ireland, who have invested in the promise and ambition of the Irish Peace Process and Good Friday Agreement (GFA). They are articulating the voice of a progressive silent majority.

However, they also personify a fundamental realignment within nationalist and progressive opinion, including some sections of civic unionism.

A new dangerous tipping point has been created in the political process due to the destructive bigotry of the DUP; the combined efforts of both the DUP and British Government to systematically undermine the GFA, and to impose Brexit; and, as a result of their toxic pact.

The GFA guaranteed the delivery of equality, rights, parity of esteem and mutual respect.

The DUP and others in political unionism have consistently opposed it from 1998.

The Goof Friday Agreement

Twenty years after the signing of the GFA it has still to be fully implemented despite its status as an internationally binding agreement which has been laid with the United Nations.

As a consequence, both the British and Irish Governments have obligations as co-guarantors to ensure its implementation.

However, the British Tory government turned its back on the GFA since it took power in 2010.

Now the DUP, British government and the most extreme elements in political unionism are engaged in a full frontal assault against the Agreement. 

Brexit is the antithesis of the GFA.

Its imposition will deepen the rights deficit in the north and will further destabilise the political process.

That reality goes to the very heart of the existing political crisis in the North, and which blocks the political institutions from being re-established.

A wreckers’ agenda is being driven by the DUP and Tory government. They must not be allowed to destroy the democratic option for making change in the north.

It is these circumstances which bring sharply into focus the Irish government's responsibilities.

The Taoiseach and the Tanaiste.

Those who courageously signed this letter to the Irish government are saying the negative position of the DUP and British government must not be tolerated.

These are citizens who want the political institutions re-established; but only on the basis of democracy and equality.

They are assertive in their resolve to see a rights based society created, which guarantees rights, respect, and parity of esteem, in a shared, inclusive future.

But they are not prepared to be treated as second-class citizens in this part of Ireland.

Those days are over.

It is time for the Irish Government to indeed redouble its efforts; to step up to the mark by absolutely opposing the imposition of Brexit, and guaranteeing equality and rights for all citizens in the north.

An Taoiseach and the Irish Government needs to reflect very carefully about the significance and timing of this intervention, respond positively; and act decisively, in cooperation with the political representatives of Irish citizens, and others in the north, to ensure that their democratic rights are delivered upon.

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Uncomfortable Conversations 

uncomfortable Conversations book2

An initiative for dialogue 

for reconciliation 

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Contributions from key figures in the churches, academia and wider civic society as well as senior republican figures


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