IRSP respond to criticism of border poll position



At the beginning of the summer, the IRSP were asked to contribute a piece to the theoretical magazine ‘An Spreach’ as part of the debate on the merits of republicans engaging with a ‘Border Poll’ on Irish Unity.

Unfortunately, due to an (albeit amicable) difference between An Spreach’s editorial policy and internal IRSP policy, our contribution was withdrawn at the eleventh hour leaving an opinion piece by Cait Trainor (which opposed republican participation in a Border Poll) unanswered from an IRSP perspective.

The IRSP now takes this opportunity to publish the original piece which was penned by party activist and Border Poll advocate Ciaran Cunningham for An Spreach magazine.

The IRSP has declared its intention to campaign proactively around any future border poll on Irish Unity, stating what we believe are the positive implications for doing so through both public meetings and within our position paper ‘Britain out of Ireland, Ireland out of the EU’, which can be freely downloaded from

The process which saw the party adopt such a position began in Winter 2016 when it was becoming glaringly obvious that demograpic shifts were occurring at a pace that could no longer be ignored by those wishing to break the chains of partition by any means necessary.

Whatever about the potential positives (which in our opinion far outweigh the drawbacks), deliberations on this course of action did present the party with several difficult questions.

During internal debate and discussion throughout 2016/17, the questions which arose most frequently were; What would we do in the event of a No result? Isn’t a border poll just a sectarian headcount? How would we deal with a Loyalist backlash? And (most pressingly) Are we compromising the principle which says that the All-Ireland republic has already been declared, established and ratified?

 The first question was easily answered and became an opening caveat of the aforementioned IRSP position paper which stated, “In the event of any failure to end partition via so called ‘constitutional’ means, Republican Socialists would be under no more compulsion to recognise the Unionist Veto than we are today”.

Seamus Costello’s declaration that he favoured “Guerrilla tactics in parliament” just as he did “in many other respects”, opened up for his party the prospect of taking or leaving the mechanisms of the state as and when it suited them, confident that they need not compromise their overall goals while doing so, “a few good men of the right calibre” is all that Seamus said was required, we believe we have that and the right women too.

As regards accusations of a ‘sectarian headcount’, such critiques were forwarded throughout decades of armed struggle, most often by Trotskyist and other anti-republican tendencies, who, (from a position of political cowardice) were more offended by positive aspirations to end partition than Loyalist aspirations to maintain it. We owe nothing to such people.

Closely related is the prospect of a Loyalist backlash in the event of a ‘Yes’ vote for Unity, a concern strongly raised from the floor at our first public meeting on the issue in Derry City on June 6th, 2018. It is our considered opinion, having consulted with elements within the Loyalist ex-prisoner base, that a peaceful transition towards Irish unity will not present a catalyst for serious Loyalist violence.  It is much more likely that renewed attempts at republican armed actions, followed by British backed strategic targeting from agents within Loyalism, could be used to scuppe a border poll from the outset.

Finally, in regard to the issue of the already declared republic, we understand the passionately held beliefs of those who find notions of voting today on Irish independence and sovereignty unpalatable, we find it unpalatable ourselves.

However, repeated research suggests that demographics are shifting with a momentum that may soon over shadow any such concerns in terms of political relevance.

When a border poll scenario arises, it will be bigger than the program of any one political party or revolutionary tendency. If significant section of the Irish working class decide to march towards a politically worthy goal in their chosen direction, then it would be nothing short of arrogance for the IRSP to stand aloof and tell them that they are wrong. To do so would risk us appearing like the Jacobite faithful of old, passionately waiting for warships that existed only in our minds.

The Democratically elected 1st Dail would not have wished for their adherents to stand many decades after their passing and evoke their title rights, certainly not while passing up on tangible opportunities to seriously weaken British rule in Ireland, if not end it.

Much more can be said and indeed will. Capitalism and the right are already attempting to monopolise momentums towards Irish reunification, for our part we intend to lobby those currently pushing for a referendum and urge them to do so but for the right reasons.

Following a successful poll, national independence without Socialism will not be independence at all, this requires a further push to get Ireland out of the European Union as a necessary step towards creating a Socialist Republic, we are the only party in Ireland saying this and we are confident in our analysis.

Time will tell, either way, we have nothing to lose.