Property of the People

The Property of the People

We will reform parliament, they say! Abolish the Senate, bring in a list system, change to single-seat constituencies, re-write the constitution or write a new one, create the Second Republic. All slogans floating about on hot air before they settle onto shifting sand, destined to disappear before the existing order can be upset or even overturned.

We live in what we are told is a republic, and it seems that most citizens prefer the notion of a republic to any other form of government. But if, according to Cicero’s description, the republic is the property of the people, then how is it that the citizens have been rendered powerless to alter events and decisions that led the ‘Republic’ of Ireland to cede national sovereignty to foreign institutions, both private and public, and to beggar the people in the process? And how is it that most citizens, with all of their natural tendencies towards fairness and justice and decency intact, have been unable to shape a fair and just and decent State in what they believe to be a republic?

It is reasonable to assume the following about a majority of Irish citizens. That they would happily settle for a republic to which citizens would pledge their allegiance in exchange for: guarantees on civil and religious liberty; equal rights and equal opportunities; the State’s commitment to seeking happiness and prosperity for all citizens and to cherishing them all equally; a commitment to maintain the independent and sovereign ownership of the territory and of its resources for the benefit of the people of Ireland; and that the people will exercise sovereign control over the destiny of the nation.

If the central assumption is correct, that citizens would enter into that contract with the State, then surely this should be the basis for proceeding with the creation of a ‘Second Republic’?

But why create a ‘Second Republic’ when these conditions and this contract with the citizens already exist in the Proclamation of the Irish Republic of the 24th April 1916? That Irish Republic has never been extinguished or un-proclaimed since it could not be, but simply covered with layers of constitutions, laws and regulations designed to frustrate the creation of the conditions of a true post-Enlightenment republic, and denying the citizens their rightful control of the republic.

The Proclamation contains within it all of the first principles of any new constitution, and the Irish Republic must be the centre of all discussion and debate if there is to be meaningful reform of the political system and the State itself – and there must be.

The progressive Irish Republic stands as a rebuke to regressive politics and 90 years of failure. It is for all of the citizens to rally to the cause of working for the Irish Republic so that it can work for all – that at last we will have, not a plutarchy that only works for the benefit of an ‘elite’, but instead a republic that is the property of the people.

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About Tom Stokes

Tom Stokes is a writer and journalist, and has taught media and journalism at foundation and under-grad levels. He holds a BA in Communications and Cultural Studies and an MA in Journalism from Dublin City University. He is a grandson of John Stokes, a striking tram driver in the 1913 Lockout and a Volunteer in Boland’s Mill in the 1916 revolution. He is an organiser of the Citizens’ Initiative to establish a new national day in Ireland on April 24th, to be known as Republic Day, and is co-organiser with Marie Mulholland of the campaign to have Ireland's new children's hospital dedicated to the memory of Dr Kathleen Lynn, to be named The Kathleen Lynn National Children's Hospital. View all posts by Tom Stokes

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