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12 March 1998 Edition

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Support campaign to defend Articles 2 and 3

Articles 2 and 3 of the Irish Constitution are statements of fact about the definition of what the Irish nation is and about the geographic extent of the territory of Ireland. Every nation must have a definition of its territory.

The Articles are not, nor should the Dublin government be under illusions about this, bartering chips to be given away as a quid pro quo for some sham agreement arrived at with the British government.

Any deal, based on such a premise, will not deliver a long term solution to the conflict. Indeed such a bartered agreement can only in the long term ensure more conflict as it will not, by its very nature, have ended partition or removed the unionist veto over political movement.

The only effect will be that northern nationalists will have become stateless in their own country.

The Irish National Congress was correct when it said this week: ``The notion, current in Government circles, that changes in the British claim of sovereignty are an equal quid pro quo for changes in the Irish constitution, is dangerously misleading. The British constitutional claim is no more than an assertion of territorial rights of conquest whereas the Irish constitutional definition of Ireland is legitimate because it represents the democratic wishes of the Irish nation. British amendments to their Government of Ireland Act 1920 will leave intact the Act of Union 1800 and the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973.''

Thus it is encumbent on the Dublin government and Bertie Ahern, who has made much of his Fianna Fail/Republican Party credentials, to allay the fears of nationalists by declaring his support for Articles 2 and 3 and standing by the Irish nation of which the unionists are a part.

Surrendering Articles 2 and 3 would be the final abandonment of northern Nationalists and would be a disaster. As campaigns to defend Articles 2 and 3 get underway, they should be supported in every possible way.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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