The Irish senators that spoke out for Scottish independence
IN A DRAMATIC SHIFT since 2014, Irish politicians are now publicly backing independence for Scotland.
Following First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s address to the Irish Seanad, various politicians expressed solidarity with the cause of self-determination for Scotland from across the chamber’s various political groups.
The issue of Brexit – where the Irish trade and the peace process is threatened by Tory plans – has made the Scottish Government a useful ally for Ireland, and has led to a re-evaluation of the language used in public regarding political cooperation and independence.
Senator Catherine Ardagh, Seanad leader for Fianna Fáil
The leader of Fianna Fáil in the Seanad, Senator Catherine Ardagh, was the first to support the independence movement.
“Ireland has always had a great affinity with Scotland, most likely because of our shared and common history and the independence our countries sought and fought for,” she said.
“I admired Ms Sturgeon's determination for independence in the 2014 referendum and her continuing passion for independence. While it was not to be her day in 2014, Scotland's day will come and I know she will succeed in the future.”
Senator Michael McDowell, independent, former government minister and ex-Tánaiste
McDowell, a former government minister, dedicated the majority of his speech to endorsing independence – and its benefits for Ireland and Scotland.
“On my behalf and that of most members here, if not on behalf of everyone, I wholly and unambiguously support Scotland's movement for national independence represented by Ms Sturgeon's party,” he said.
“I salute her, as first minister, her predecessor, Mr. Alex Salmond MP and her party on their great achievement in bringing the issue centre and front in the affairs of these islands.
“Nationalism and the idea of an independent nation state are sometimes regarded as ideologically suspect or wrong by some people. Dealing with the point Ms Sturgeon made about fairness in the face of global finance and the inexorable workings of capitalism, the nation state is often the bulwark to which ordinary women and men can turn in order to defend their interests and articulate their need for protection from what would, otherwise, be overwhelming forces.
“The words Ms Sturgeon spoke about the partnership of independent states in the EU echo the feelings of most Irish people towards the EU. It is not a super state but a partnership of individual states. I hope the day comes when Scotland plays it part as a full member state of the EU, however challenging the prospect might seem at this stage.”
He added: “In the past, many people have queried the value of independence. For this country, independence has been a remarkably transforming phenomenon. I have no doubt but that the genius of the Scottish people, once released through full independence, will achieve the same for Scotland.”
Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, Irish Labour spokesperson and government minister 2014-16
Irish Labour is the sister party of the UK party of the same name. Yet Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin was more outspoken on independence than his British equivalents, saying that following independence Ireland will be “the closest of allies” to Scotland.
“As the inevitable reaches its conclusion and Scotland takes its place among the nations of the world and its self-determination becomes a reality, it should know that in these Houses and this country it will have the closest of allies, not just on the basis of national self-determination but also because of what we must give to the world, namely, our belief systems and values,” he said.
“At this historic juncture, what people in Ireland and Scotland believe in is more important than ever before.”
Senator Mark Daly, Fianna Fáil Seanad Deputy Group Leader and spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Irish Overseas and the Diaspora
Daly, following the warmth of his party leader Micheal Martin to independence, asked Sturgeon how Ireland could support the movement for self-determination.
“One hundred years ago Ireland was continuing on its long road to independence following the 1916 Rising,” he said. “I hope Scotland's journey to independence will not take 100 years. The nationalism espoused by Vladimir Putin, Marine Le Pen and Donald Trump is corrosive, but the civic nationalism espoused by the Scottish First Minister – fairness, progressive democracy and social justice – is positive.
“What can Ireland do to help Scotland to achieve its full potential and independence? How can we be of assistance to it?”
Senator Frances Black, independent
Senator Black was succinct in her solidarity to the campaign for Scottish independence.
“I welcome the First Minister. She is an inspiration and I wish her all the best in fighting for independence for her country,” she told the chamber.
The comments on independence were complimented by statements supporting Scotland’s claim to remain within the European Union.
Senator James Reilly, Fine Gael deputy leader, said: “We are very much heartened by the fact that Scotland voted to stay in the EU. We would be very supportive of ensuring that Scotland's voice is heard during the UK negotiations, as well as the voices of our fellow Celts north of the Border, who also voted to stay within the EU.”
Sinn Féin Senator and Seanad leader Rose Conway-Walsh added: “There is absolutely no denying, however, that the unilateral decision being taken at this time by the British Government to withdraw from membership of the Union and to drag Scotland and the North of Ireland with it, without our consent, is disastrous and profoundly undemocratic. I welcome the First Minister's statement that she will support unequivocally the open Border.
“Ireland must also support Scotland's democratic right to retain its natural position within the EU through a differentiated relationship with the EU,” she said.
Fine Gael Seanad leader Jerry Buttimer said the event was “about joining together to ensure that Scotland and Ireland, collectively, play a powerful role within the European Union in a post-Brexit era, but also that we play a role together in working to attain and achieve human rights across the world.”
Picture courtesy of First Minister of Scotland
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