Citizen, or not?

President McGuinness?

While the decision by Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness to stand in the presidential election will dominate the headlines (just how much derision will he face about his past?), an important issue will hopefully come to the fore. That is, the position of Irish citizens in the north.

Through the years it feels like we’ve just about had lip-service paid to the Irish citizens in the north, but generally speaking, citizens in the north were and continue to be viewed as peripheral, sometimes completely irrelevant.

“This is a time of great challenge for all the people of Ireland. We need positive but authentic leadership. It will be a great honour for me to propose Martin McGuinness to contest this election on a broad, republican, citizen-centred platform,” 

– Gerry Adams

The “republican, citizen-centred platform” Adams speaks of will almost certainly include the role of Irish citizens in the north along with the diaspora, as it has long been a crucial point raised by Sinn Féin. Conor Murphy recently called for a change in the constitution, claiming Irish citizens are being “disenfranchised” by being excluded from the decision.

Indeed. People in the north can say they’re Irish, but they’re often viewed as anything but.

2 Responses so far.

  1. Alex says:

    Your last statement says it all. For all their political preferences might differ, the fact remains that residents of the Shankill and the Falls have more in common with one another than they do with their cousins in the South.

    Personally, I think McGuinness standing could leave SF badly exposed. The extent to which their policies differ North and South will come in for greater scrutiny than ever. I find it laughable that the party tries to present itself as a leftist alternative in the Republic.

  2. Ryan Kelly says:

    Alex, regional differences occur in every country, so of course residents of the north have more in common than they do with residents in the south – and that’s not even taking into account the fact that the north was a warzone.

    Take your point Alex, however, all parties tend to be pragmatic, so I would argue that the policy differences are to be expected, the two states having different circumstances after all.

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