United Ireland citizens should not have to declare loyalty to new state, says FF TD

Jim O’Callaghan, viewed as a future Fianna Fáil leadership candidate, is to outline his blueprint for a United Ireland in a speech on Saturday

Citizens in Northern Ireland who are loyal to the British crown should not be forced to declare their loyalty to a new United Ireland, under a blueprint for reunification due to be unveiled by Fianna Fáil TD Jim O’Callaghan.

Mr O’Callaghan, who is regarded by some within Fianna Fáil as a future leadership candidate, will detail his vision for a United Ireland in a speech at the Ireland’s Future conference taking place at the 3 Arena on Saturday. He says the establishment of a United Ireland should be based on seven principles.

Mr O’Callaghan will say that in a new Ireland people of all religions and ethnicities, and none, would be treated equally before the law.

“Irish history both before and after partition is littered with examples of discrimination against religions. A United Ireland will guarantee that all religions would be respected, and the practice or non-practice of religion would be vindicated by the State.”


Under the second protection or principle, he says the cultural identity of different groups on the island would be defended.

“A loyalist flute band and the Kilfenora Céilí Band would be equally valued as expressions of the different cultural richness that exists on the island. A United Ireland will guarantee that the Ulster Scots and British heritage of people living on the island will be equally as valued and protected as the Gaelic and Old Irish heritage.”

Under the third principle, the people of Northern Ireland “would not become politically submerged under the control of the new State”.

“Consequently, a United Ireland will guarantee that Stormont — whether under a federal system or a bicameral system — will be a house of legislature that will continue to make laws.”

Under the fourth proposal, a United Ireland would be a member of the European Union and “consequently, a United Ireland will guarantee that for the first 20 years of its existence foreign direct investment shall be equally shared between both former jurisdictions”.

Mr O’Callaghan also says that although states frequently demand the loyalty of their citizens, many people in Northern Ireland will remain loyal to the British crown even if there is constitutional change.

“They cannot and should not be forced to change that loyalty. Consequently, a United Ireland will guarantee that it will not demand the loyalty of all persons living on the island. A new Ireland must earn, not demand, the loyalty of its citizens.”

Mr O’Callaghan will also propose that the British-Irish Council and the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference established under the Belfast Agreement will continue. Under the seventh principle, those who advocate Irish reunification would guarantee that at no stage will they engage in or support violence to promote their desired political objective and to achieve constitutional change.

“If those who advocate a new Ireland can guarantee core principles such as those outlined here, there will be an opportunity for those who oppose Irish reunification to appreciate that even if the majority of people of Northern Ireland vote for a unitary State, the rights, privileges and culture of minorities within that new Ireland, and the distinctive circumstances of Northern Ireland, will be unambiguously protected and cherished,” Mr O’Callaghan will say in his speech.

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times