Border poll will be won by nationalists

Brexit risks all of the progress that has been made and also risks the potential change that the Good Friday Agreement promised in terms of a society based on equality and parity of esteem – ie rights – and a pathway to a new independent Ireland.

FOR centuries the rights and interests of the people of this country, nationalists and unionists, have been subject to the interests of the British government, irrespective of the collateral damaged caused to the people here.

The Good Friday Agreement (GFA) was supposed to be the beginning of a new era where both the North of Ireland was the shared responsibility of the Irish and British governments and free of the malign and prejudiced influence of the British government. The GFA promised all-Ireland institutions with expanding horizons and equality and parity of esteem between the people of the North. Much has changed since the introduction of the GFA and Ireland has changed for the better on many fronts.

But Brexit risks all of the progress that has been made and also risks the potential change that the GFA promised in terms of a society based on equality and parity of esteem – ie rights – and a pathway to a new independent Ireland. Brexit has introduced, through the front door, a double veto over that promised by the GFA, the dead hand of the DUP in collaboration with the Tories and fanatical Brexiteers, in the ERG. Due to the Brexit needs of the British government, the DUP – which is a minority voice – has had its status and influence elevated to the point where it is effectively running the British government’s Brexit policy.

Before Brexit, the DUP had effectively blocked the full implementation of the GFA and created an immovable unionist veto inside the North’s institutions – immovable because of the failure of the British government, to act. The North’s institutions were doomed long before the heating scandal (RHI) led to their collapse. Since the collapse of the institutions the situation has deteriorated to the point where the DUP’s influence, through Brexit, is set to damage, not just northern society in terms of its economy and people’s rights, but the economy of the rest of this country. Northern nationalists – ever mindful of the limitions placed on their national and cultural rights by the confines of a unionist dominated state – have moved to achieve their rights beyond the six counties and are now begaining to shape a new political framework, within an all-Island setting, with the Irish government the principal focus and with the primary objective being reunification.

That is what ‘Ireland’s Future’ conference in Waterfront Hall publicly signalled. The context of the shift was the realisation by northern nationalists, after 10 years of government, that the DUP was opposed to power-sharing and fully working, to their maximum, the all-Ireland institutions of the GFA. In fact, the DUP was using the institutions to block progress, including the modernisation of northern society on human rights issues such as access to the truth for grieving relatives, marriage equality, abortion reform, an Irish language act, Irish citizenship and a Bill of Rights.

The shift was also influenced by a new and younger nationalist middle class who had experienced the war years; had been politicised by their experience, we’re confident and assertive and seeking, not a reformed north, but a new independent Ireland, where a reformed north could have an institutional place in a transitional arrangement. The first signs of the shift were the north’s nationalist electorate turning its back on Westminster and voting for Sinn Féin abstentionist MPs. The other element, in my view, the most crucial in the shift is the reality that nationalists will be a voting majority in the not too distant future and under the terms of the GFA could vote for a United Ireland in a border poll.

But shifts are not confined to the nationalist population. Brexit is impacting on the broad unionist community as well. We saw that in 2016 when a section of unionists voted with nationalists to Remain in the EU and a few months later stayed at home resulting in the unionist parties losing their majority in the north’s assembly for the first time in 100 yeas.

Add into this fast-evolving situation the possibility of a Jeremy Corbyn-led government in Downing Street after the next election and we have the ingredients for a transition to a new independent Ireland triggered by Corbyn implementing the GFA in all its parts, including a provision for a unity/border poll.

With many thanks to: Jim Gibney and The Irish News for the original posting.

International Treaties and the Royal Prerogative

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Select Committee on Constitution Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by Mr A Dakers

International Treaties and the Royal Prerogative

Ministers of the Crown have, from time to time entered into treaties on behalf of the UK. It should be noted that the Ministers concerned must seek authority from the Crown by the Royal Prerogative before signing. Because the Monarch is constitutionally bound to respect the provisions of the common law, which were recognised in Magna Carta and declared in the Bill of Rights, such Royal Prerogative has the following restrictions. (The term “prerogative” means a right or privilege exclusive to an individual or class).

(a)  Prerogative cannot be used in an innovatory way. If this were not so, the executive could dispense with Parliament and Judiciary and become an unlimited tyranny. Any future Attorney General could claim that an edict was part of a treaty and it would become unquestionable.

(b)  The use of Prerogative power may not be subversive of the rights and liberties of the subject. (The case of Nichols v. Nichols stated “Prerogative is created for the benefit of the people and cannot be exercised to their prejudice”.)

Royal Prerogative may not be used to suspend or offend against Statutes in Force. This comes from the Bill of Rights and the Coronation Oath Act which specifies the following form of words; “Archbishop: Will you solemnly promise and swear to govern the peoples of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland . . . according to their respective laws and usages.” Prospective Monarch: “I solemnly promise so to do.” Note the similarity to the Judicial Oath. This is because the Courts dispense justice on behalf of the Crown.

The Limitations of Royal Prerogative are clear:

“No prerogative may be recognised that is contrary to Magna Carta or any other statute, or that interferes with the liberties of the subject. The courts have jurisdiction therefore, to enquire into the existence of any prerogative, it being a maxim of the common law that the King ought to be under no man, but under God and the law, because the law makes the King. If any prerogative is disputed, the Courts must decide the question of whether or not it exists in the same way as they decide any other question of law. If a prerogative is clearly established, they must take the same judicial notice of it as they take of any other rule of law.”

Bowles v Bank of England (1913) confirmed that, “the Bill of Rights still remains unrepealed, and practice of custom, however prolonged, or however acquiesced in on the part of the subject can not be relied on by the Crown as justifying any infringement of its provisions”.

The Bill of Rights 1688 is a declaration of the common law. It is also an operative Statute. It contains the Oath of Allegiance, which is required by Magna Carta to be taken by all Crown servants including members of the Armed Forces, MP’s, and the Judiciary. They are required not to “take into consequence or example anything to the detriment of the subjects liberties”.

The Oath required of Crown servants includes “I will be faithful and bear true Allegiance . . . “The qualification “true” confirms that allegiance is not required to a Monarch whose actions are unlawful.

It can be shown that we have recently had a coup-d’etat in this country. This was accomplished when the Government took control over the armed forces to use them for political purposes.

The Bill of Rights allows the Crown a standing army in peace time and who’s members swear allegiance to defend Her “in person Crown and dignity against all enemies”. No one else (except the Duke of Argyll), is allowed an army.

The Armed Forces Act 1996 purports to allow the Crown to set aside the requirement for annual army acts. It states that the Crown may authorise the armed forces by “Order in Council“. This provision would permit the Government to use the Armed Forces even if Parliament was suspended, and is contrary to the intent of the Bill of Rights.

Various defence reviews have resulted in the Government issuing mission statements that claims that the forces role in future is to defend the Realm and “to implement Government policy, in particular foreign policy”. This is from documents published by the MOD and available from them and on the Web. It means that the Government is now claiming that it can use the Army for its own purposes where the safety of the Realm is not threatened. Serving members of the Forces have been invited to sign new contracts agreeing to this new arrangement. Recent recruiting adverts for the Forces reflect this. A recent cinema advert for the RAF depicts a foreign “peace keeping” operation and has the slogan “Their country needs you”.

This is a equivalent to a coup.

13 August 2005

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