A CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY: THE FIRST STEP TOWARDS A NEW IRELAND
The Treaty of 1921 that partitioned Ireland into two sectarian statelets was, at worst, a betrayal of Irish aspirations and, at best, a temporary solution to avoid an all-out war, as claimed by its signatories and supporters. After nearly a century of political and economic chaos, it is obvious that the Treaty was flawed, and is in fact the root cause of the ongoing war. Therefore, it is now time to repeal the Treaty and replace it with a new agreement wherein the British would concede Irish sovereignty, thus clearing the way for the Irish people of both traditions to unite in one free and independent nation.
To this end, Éire Nua is proposing the establishment of a Constituent Assembly as the first step in the process. The proposed Assembly would draft a new 32-county all-Ireland Constitution that would:
- establish political and popular sovereignty for the protection of human rights and social justice;
- establish a new government structure based on a federation of the four historic provinces of Ireland, and
- establish an independent judiciary.
The convening of a Constituent Assembly is a logical first step in a process designed to bring peace, unity, and prosperity to Ireland. It offers the prospect of a permanent solution, as opposed to the failed Sunningdale, Hillsdale, GFA and St. Andrews initiatives put forward by the British and Dublin governments. The proposal is not new, nor is it radical. It is, in fact, similar in many respects to the 1787 Constitutional Convention convened in Philadelphia to draft a new federal constitution for the emerging United States of America.
Since that time, many other emerging nations came into existence through a similar process. A prime present-day example is South Africa, a country where the vast majority of its people have been enslaved by a descendant colonist minority. Many felt this situation would never change, but South Africa today is a country in transition.
The road towards a peaceful Ireland is fraught with obstacles, inherent and protected in the political and economic status quo. In this climate, any proposal guaranteeing equal rights and opportunity to all the people of Ireland is not welcome. The initiatives put forward by the British and Dublin governments are minor revisions to the Treaty of 1921, primarily intended to perpetuate the status quo, and therefore destined to end in failure.
The proposed Constituent Assembly would be representative of the whole people of Ireland and would be elected by the suffrage of the adult population. The Assembly’s sole function would be to draft a new Constitution. The draft Constitution would then be submitted to the people in referendum for acceptance or rejection. This open democratic process would be more meaningful to the Irish people today than the closed-door meetings held between the same politicians who have failed the people so often in the past. All elements of Irish society would be free to contest the election for the Assembly. This approach would ensure that the relations of the Irish people with each other and with the world at large would be determined through free an open debate.
In order for this process to succeed all politicians and political parties, expressing an interest in or concern for Ireland’s future must put aside their differences and participate for the common good. In addition, all those individuals and political parties now excluded must be included in the process and allowed access to the media. If for no other reason, the Irish people deserve the opportunity to participate in such a process.