Where Republican Sinn Féin stands
Republican Sinn Féin is the only national organisation in Ireland committed to the re-establishment of the Sovereign All-Ireland Republic proclaimed in 1916, which was endorsed by the majority of the people of Ireland, acting as a unit, in the All-Ireland general election of 1918, the last such election throughout the 32 counties.
Republican Sinn Féin is also the only organised body of political thought which still upholds the Declaration of Independence proclaimed in National Parliament, Dáil Éireann on January 21, 1919 and heroically defended in arms by succeeding generations of Republicans.
We uphold the right of the Irish people to use whatever degree of controlled and disciplined force that is required in resisting British aggression and bringing about a British withdrawal from our country.
The above sets out the primary differences between Republican Sinn Féin and the other political organisations in Ireland. Today one of the most important differences in the light of the dire straits in which Ireland is in politically and economically is the fact that Republican Sinn Féin is the only organised body which has brought and is bringing fresh and radical thinking to finding an All-Ireland solution to these many problems.
Unlike the other political organisations in Ireland who seek only to change the personnel who operate a failed political system Republican Sinn Féin presents a clear alternative to both failed political entities. Republican Sinn Féin is committed to the empowerment of the Irish people in both political and economic terms.
But before such a vision of a New Ireland can be implemented the present political deadlock in the Six-Counties will have to be broken and Republican Sinn Féin believes that in our proposals Towards a Peaceful Ireland lies the key to achieving this. The proposals are in summary:
The mechanism as outlined would involve all the people of Ireland in deciding their future.
- The establishment of a Constituent Assembly for the 32-Counties elected by the people of All-Ireland to draft a constitution within a six-month period. The agreed constitution would then be submitted to the people of Ireland in a referendum.
- Prior to the setting up of the Assembly the British government would have to give a declaration of intent to withdraw all its forces within twelve months of the adoption of a new constitution by the people of Ireland.
- Finally, an amnesty for all political prisoners and all those on the wanted list. All political prisoners must be released one month prior to the election of the Constituent Assembly.
Given the acceptance of these three proposals, which incorporates the three basic demands of the Republican Movement, there would be no necessity for the continuance of armed struggle and all armed elements should cease action immediately.
JUST AND LASTING
Republican Sinn Féin believes that drafting a new 32-County Constitution would be more democratic, just and lasting than amending an existing 26-County document. An open democratic forum such as a Constituent Assembly would be more meaningful to the Irish people than meetings behind closed doors between politicians who have failed the people so often.
Republican Sinn Féin has prepared detailed proposals for a New Ireland to be discussed at such an Assembly. ÉIRE NUA, updated in 1991, is aimed at bringing true political democracy to the Irish people. It proposes a radical change of the governmental system established by the British North and South. Instead, a federation of the four historic provinces of Ireland is proposed with maximum decentralisation of power and decision-making from provincial to regional down to local level, providing for both the majority and minority in a post British-withdrawal situation.
Unlike a Six Counties/26 Counties confederation a four-province federation means the end of the unnatural and artificial entity of the Six Counties which is clearly unworkable. A nine-county Ulster with its own parliament would ensure the rights and civil liberties of all sections of the community would be protected.
ÉIRE NUA also proposes that a Charter of Rights be included in any 32-County Constitution and that the European Convention on Human Rights be made part of the internal domestic law of the New Ireland.
SAOL NUA, A New Way of Life, Republican Sinn Féin’s Social and Economic programme is based on Socialist, Republican and Ecological principles and is designed towards introducing economic democracy to Ireland – this means in effect the promotion of small locally-based worker/producer owned co-operatives. Local economic autonomy and self-sufficiency would be encouraged with people organising themselves and running their own affairs without recourse to big cities or politicians. SAOL NUA is also about introducing a new set of values in which human beings and human development is set before the interests of finance and the maximisation of profits, in short, people-centred economics. Meanwhile since 1986 and their decision to subvert the Constitution of Sinn Féin by voting to recognise and take seats in the 26-County parliament another organisation has continued to masquerade under the historic name Sinn Féin.
Since then they have travelled far down the road of political compromise and expediency, a road already travelled by their political predecessors in the present Fine Gael party in 1922/23, Fianna Fáil in 1926/27 and the present Workers’ Party and Democratic Left in 1969/70. The steps they have taken away from the all-Ireland Republic since 1986 are very clear:
- Acceptance of the 26-County State and its institutions at the Ard-Fheis of 1986;
- Registration at Leinster House as a Free State political party in 1987;
- Applying to the 26-County police for permission to sell Easter Lilies in 1988 (which met with refusal);
- Asking the British Crown for permission to march to the graves of Irish men and women whom the same Crown Forces had killed;
- Making submission (defined as "referring deferentially to arbitration") to the British government and the Dublin administration in their review of the workings of the Hillsborough deal;
- Instructing Irish political prisoners in English jails to cease demanding repatriation to the Six Counties ie return to their own country, and ask instead for re-allocation within the so-called United Kingdom;
- Taking political test oaths and declarations thereby making a mockery of political morality and dishonouring the memory of those who died rather than accept such oaths to a foreign power.
Finally, they have ceased over the last number of years to put forward the three basic demands of the Irish people as already outlined and their primary goal today is simply to be given a place at the "talks" on restructuring the failed political system in the Six Counties and the possible instituting of a Stormont Mark II. They can no longer be regarded as a National Liberation Movement and are simply another Free State political party.
Republican Sinn Féin will continue in its struggle to restore to the Irish Nation true Democracy, Justice, Freedom and Peace. It is now clearer than ever that the political and economic systems in the two states of Ireland have failed and we feel it is our duty to present an alternative, as already outlined, the only organised body of political thought to do so.
Republican Sinn Féin believes that the Irish people of all traditions are more than capable of fashioning a New Ireland, the only essential being that Britain recognise the Irish people’s right to self-determination – Britain’s only role is to withdraw its civil and military forces to enable that to happen.
We believe that implementation of our policies in a free and United Ireland would bring to Ireland and the Irish people a reign of true political and economic democracy in a Federal Democratic Socialist Republic.