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Irish Left Archive: Outline Policy on Northern Ireland – Democratic Socialist Party, 1981 December 7, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Democratic Left, Irish Left Online Document Archive.


To download the above please click on the following link. DSPNI

Please click here to go the Left Archive.

Many thanks to Bobcat for forwarding this and other documents to the Archive.

At five pages of text this is a short document and one of a series of Outline Policy documents issued by the Democratic Socialist Party. It is divided into three sections. Self-determination, Are the Unionists serious? and The Settlers.

It gives an outline of the then conflict which it describes as ‘Catholic nationalists are in conflict with Protestant unionists’. It argues that:

The DSP believes that it is time to accept the right of the Protestant unionist majority in Northern Ireland to opt out of the Irish nation-state and, corresponding, the duty of the Catholic nationalist minority to accept the democratic limits of their position as a national minority within the UK. Articles 2 and 3, which deny all this, must be repealed.

It continues:

If the movement for a united Ireland seemed capable of succeeding, and if a system of politics uniting Catholic and Protestants and expanding their freedom and prosperity seemed implicit in its success, the DSP would be energetically anti-partitionist. We believe, on the contrary, that the limit of possible success for the anti-partitionist movement is an all-Ireland sectarian cvil war, followed at most by a repartition. Ulster Protestant resistance to an all-Ireland state could not conceivably be contained or in the foreseeable future exhausted. But we believe that the IRA can be exhausted physically (by the withdrawal of active support in the Northern Catholic community) and morally (by the withdrawal of support on basic principle in the Republic – the repeal of Articles 2 and 3 in particular).

It suggests that:

…afterwards, when once the Northern Catholics come to terms with their position s a national minority in the UK they cannot easily be excluded from the UK’s class politics.

Under the section ‘Are the Unionists serious?’ is the following:

Historic attachment to Britain, opposition to the power of the Catholic Church in nationalist Ireland, and economic interests are important strands in the Protestant motivation. But most of all, the Protestants want to survive. Nationalism, they believe, threatens their survival (as unionism manifestly does not threaten the survival of Northern Catholics). Considering the Protestant community in the Republic which has fallen in the course of 60 years from 12% of the population to about 3% can that be called a bad judgement?

Under the heading of ‘The Settlers’ the piece concludes by suggesting that ‘an illusion that Ulster Protestants, despite everything they said and did, belonged to ‘the Irish nation’ has delayed the inevitable decision to come to terms with them’. And it also argues that:

Since the Ulster Protestants did not exterminate the natives in their region, their position is not now as strong physically (or, perhaps, morally?) as the position of the white Americans or Australians. Nevertheless, it is tenable. They have made an Industrial Revolution while they haven den in Ireland, and such achievements count for something. They are in Ireland to stay. The sooner this is accepted, the sooner they will modify their terms to accommodate the Catholics who live amongst them – and the sooner politics in NI will cease to hinge on a simple and arid political/religious hostility which does so much less than justice to the capacities of its people.


1. roddy - December 7, 2015

Was this the document I was promised?! Also Have to say that although I have come across many splinter groups in my time,the “RIA” seem to have escaped my notice entirely!


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