New City, New York – 6/29/2016– The Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) In the wake of the historic vote by the citizens of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, the Ancient Order of Hibernians calls for a vote, as provided for in the Good Friday Agreement, to allow the citizens of Northern Ireland to decide if they wish to leave the United Kingdom and to reunify with the Irish Republic and the European Union.
Per National President Brendan Moore: “For those who seek a reunification of Ireland and the return of sovereignty to the Irish people, the recent ‘Brexit’ vote and the mandate for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union is not without its ironies. We note that a widely circulated photo of a pro-Leave banner stated: ‘Vote Leave … and honor those who died for our freedom from foreign rule.’ Certainly, Irish Republicans from Wolfe Tone to Bobby Sands would understand those sentiments. In that spirit, the Ancient Order of Hibernians believe that the people of Northern Ireland should have the same opportunity to vote to ‘Leave’ the United Kingdom as the people of England were given to leave United Europe.”
A more dangerous irony of the Brexit vote is a re-emergence of what has been the true curse of Irish History, not sectarianism, but the “double standard”; that in an alleged “United Kingdom” there is one rule for England and another for Ireland. The poster child for this duplicity is Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers. Ms. Villiers has been an unabashed cheerleader for the Leave Campaign, her activities taking priority over her more mundane duties such as seeking justice for the victims of Loughlinlsland and other incidents of state colluded murder. While celebrating the Brexit vote, Ms. Villiers is simultaneously dismissing calls for a border poll on Irish reunification on the grounds that, per Ms. Villiers, “none of the polls indicate there is support for a United Ireland.” We point out that the most recent “poll” of the people of Northern Ireland, Ms. Villiers’ beloved Brexit vote, indicates otherwise. In the Brexit vote, over 55.8% of the people of Northern Ireland indicated that they wish to remain in the European Union, an opportunity that a united Ireland would afford them. For Ms. Villiers to publicly defend a “Leave” vote on a margin of 4% as a mandate to reshape the map of Europe while claiming that the 11% margin indicating the people of Northern Ireland wish to remain in Europe is insufficient to allow the people of Northern Ireland an opportunity to fulfill their will through a vote on Irish reunification would appear to indicate that Ms. Villiers is mathematically and logically challenged.
The AOH calls on more prudent heads in Westminster, Stormont and Dublin to ensure that the principles of the Good Friday Agreement are honored and its dividends of peace not squandered by Ms. Villiers and her continued duplicitous policies in Northern Ireland. Let us not let Ms. Villiers, through political machinations and equivocations, lose the opportunity for peace in Ireland in the 21st century as Asquith did in the 20th. Let us not have another Irish generation lose faith in the process of peaceful legislative change to achieve their aspirations for their country because British politicians redefine agreed commitments on a whim to suit their political agenda and appease their handlers in Westminster. Let us continue to work to take down the oxymoronic “peace walls” in Belfast and Derry, not create new Brexit-inspired walls on the borders of Armagh, Tyrone, Fermanagh and Derry. Let us not risk a return to the bullet and the bayonet only because, for self-serving political motives, Ms. Villiers fears the ballot. Let us accord the people of Northern Ireland the same right to choose their future association with the United Kingdom in the same way the citizens of the United Kingdom were allowed to speak on their association with a United Europe. Let us have a vote on Irish reunification now.