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'The Future of Northern Ireland', by William Craig (n.d; 1972?)



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Text: William Craig ... Page Compiled: Fionnuala McKenna

The following pamphlet was written by William Craig. The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the members of the CAIN Project. If anyone knows who currently holds copyright for this pamphlet please contact the CAIN Project. The CAIN Project would welcome other material which meets our guidelines for contributions.
book cover The Future of Northern Ireland
by William Craig (n.d; 1972?)
Paperback 10pp Out of Print

 

CAIN is attempting to establish contact with the copyright holder(s) of this booklet. If anyone knows who currently holds copyright for this booklet please contact the CAIN Project.



The
future
of
Northern
Ireland

A statement by The Rt. Hon. Wm. Craig on behalf of the United Loyalist Council representing Ulster Vanguard, The Loyalist Association of Workers, The Ulster Defence Association and Loyalist Defence Volunteers.


The United Kingdom Government’s Green Paper entitled ‘The Future of Northern Ireland’ further confirms the worst fears of Ulster Loyalists who cherish and seek to maintain their British Heritage. Gently, but with great clarity, the United Kingdom Government has declared that it has no interest in maintaining the Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and would favour the unification of Ireland as an independent Republic if the Ulster people would or could be prevailed upon to give their consent. The policies favoured in the document appear to be more concerned with weakening the political power of the loyalist majority and sapping their will to resist.

ULSTER FOR SALE

The United Kingdom Government’s commitment to Ulster as part of the Union and Her Majesty’s territories may be measured by the statement in paragraph 77, page 33 of the Green Paper — "No United Kingdom Government for many years has had any wish to impede the realisation of Irish unity, if it were to come about by genuine and freely given mutual agreement and on conditions acceptable to the distinctive communities" or by paragraph 42 (b) "a ‘neutral’ declaration . . . which has, indeed, already from the United Kingdom Government been made in substance by United Kingdom Ministers". It may be measured yet again by the pathetic reasoning for refusing ‘total integration’ within the United Kingdom Parliament, refused primarily because local municipal government in the process of being re-organised was now reduced to the status of parish pump council, with overall powers vested in a Parliament of Northern Ireland. A change opposed by virtually all in local government and never endorsed by the electorate. In any event, is an unsatisfactory form of central government to be instituted because local government must not be disturbed? What of the other reasons? The majority of parties are against it. It would represent a complete reversal of the traditions of half a century but isn’t the Green Paper really about the abolition of the constitutional practices and procedures of the last 50 years, about the abolition of the Parliament of Northern Ireland even though the vast majority of the people are against it. It would impose a substantial new legislative burden on the Westminster Parliament. Certainly an added burden but if it is an unreasonable burden from a Region of 1½ million people sharing common policies on most major aspects of Government then the real overriding urgency is to restructure Parliamentary Government in Great Britain not to be avoided by refusing Parliamentary integration.

The last reason given — the REAL REASON - it would be UNACCEPTABLE to the REPUBLIC OF IRELAND. Why would it be unacceptable to the Republic of Ireland’?

Only because anything that might conceivably strengthen ‘the Union’ and lessen the possibility of an all Ireland Republic is to be prevented.

THE GREEN PAPER SAYS CLEARLY THAT THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT DOES NOT STAND IN THE WAY OF THE UNIFICATION OF IRELAND. IT IS ONLY THE LOYALISTS OF NORTHERN IRELAND WHO DO. THE GREEN PAPER ALSO SAYS THAT THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT IS NOT GOING TO HELP THE LOYALISTS OF NORTHERN IRELAND TO MAINTAIN THE UNION OR THEIR BRITISH HERITAGE AND THE MOST THE LOYALISTS CAN EXPECT IS THAT THE GOVERNMENT "BOUND BY STATUTE AND BY CLEAR AND REPEATED PLEDGES" WILL HONOUR ITS COMMITMENTS FROM A POSITION OF NEUTRALITY WITH A BIAS IN FAVOUR OF THE IRISH REPUBLIC.

THE PLEDGE

Not withstanding the British Government’s declared position of neutrality on the maintenance of the Union Ulster Loyalists are asked to have confidence in the pledge given by the United Kingdom Government and Parliament on the occasion of the Irish Republic severing its connections with the Crown and Commonwealth. Pledges that have been repeated and are still binding.

(a)

The Prime Minister on 28th October, 1948: -

   

‘The view of H.M. Government has always been that no change should be made in the constitutional status of Northern Ireland without Northern Ireland’s free agreement’. - Reiterated 25th November 1948 in identical words.

     
 

WHAT WAS MEANT BY NORTHERN IRELAND’S FREE AGREEMENT?

   

WAS IT AN UNMENTIONED PLEBISCITE, A PROCEDURE ALIEN TO AND UNRECOGNISED BY AND UNPROVIDED FOR IN THE BRITISH CONSTITUTION?

WITHOUT A SHADOW OF DOUBT NORTHERN IRELAND’S FREE AGREEMENT WAS TO BE OBTAINED THROUGH THE DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED GOVERNMENT AND PARLIAMENT OF NORTHERN IRELAND - THE UNITED KINGDOM GOVERNMENT SAID SO - SEE DEBATE ON THE IRELAND ACT, 1949.

THE CONSTITUTIONAL STATUS HAS ALREADY CHANGED (albeit only temporarily) by the suspension of the Parliament and Government of Northern Ireland AND NORTHERN IRELAND’S AGREEMENT WAS NOT SOUGHT AND COULD NOT HAVE BEEN OBTAINED. Temporary or not, and no one believes it is temporary, the PLEDGE HAS BEEN BROKEN.

     

(b)

The Ireland Act, 1949 (Section 1(2)

   

‘It is hereby declared that Northern Ireland remains part of His Majesty’s Dominions and of the United Kingdom and it is hereby affirmed that in no event will Northern Ireland or any part thereof cease to be a part of His Majesty’s dominions and of the United Kingdom without the consent of the Parliament of Northern Ireland.’

 

The Green Paper paragraph 41 reads: -

   

‘In announcing Direct Rule the Prime Minister stated that in the future periodic plebiscites would be held to allow the people of Northern Ireland to declare their views on the Border issue. Within the context of this general decision, specific decisions will have to be made as to how frequent the plebiscites are to be; what should be asked; and what procedures are to be followed in the event of a majority vote at a future plebiscite in favour of constitutional change’.

 

THE PLEDGE IS NOT BEING HONOURED IN THE GREEN PAPER.

     

(c)

Cmd. 4154 of 1969 The Downing Street Declaration:

 

(1)

‘The United Kingdom Government reaffirm that nothing which happened in recent weeks in Northern Ireland derogates from the clear pledges made by successive United Kingdom Governments that Northern Ireland should not cease to be a part of the United Kingdom without the consent of the people of Northern Ireland or from the provision of Section 1 of the Ireland Act 1949, that in no event will Northern Ireland or any part thereof cease to be part of the United Kingdom without the consent of the Parliament of Northern Ireland. The Border is not an issue.

 

(2)

The United Kingdom Government again affirm that responsibility for affairs in Northern Ireland is entirely a matter of domestic jurisdiction. (i.e. the Northern Ireland Parliament). The United Kingdom Government will take full responsibility for asserting this principle in all international relationships’

   

THE PLEDGE CANNOT BE HONOURED UNLESS THE PARLIAMENT OF NORTHERN IRELAND EXISTS.

THE PARLIAMENT WITHIN THE CONTEMPLATION OF THE PLEDGE WAS THE ONE DEFINED BY THE 1920 ACT, AND NO OTHER.

THE PLEDGE PRECLUDES ANY TAMPERING WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF THAT PARLIAMENT.

THE PLEDGES ARE THE CONSTITUTION

The pledges given by successive United Kingdom Governments were no more than the rights provided under the British Constitution written and unwritten. The pledges given were no more than required by the acceptable behaviour in a democracy and no more than the required conduct in dealings between honourable men.

Within days of imposing ‘direct rule’ Mr. Heath had no fault to find with the Northern Ireland Government. He praised it, he said he supported it all the way. No one can say or has said with justification that the Northern Ireland Parliament or Government exceeded, misused or abused its powers. Successive United Kingdom Governments have agreed that this is a correct statement.

THE PRESENT UNITED KINGDOM GOVERNMENT HAS NOT ONLY BROKEN THE PLEDGE IN CHANGING THE CONSTITUTIONAL STATUS OF NORTHERN IRELAND BY SUSPENDING THE WHOLE CONSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS OF 1920, PREPARATORY TO FURTHER INROADS UPON IT, BUT IT HAS ACTED UNCONSTITUTIONALLY, UNDEMOCRATICALLY AND UNILATERALLY SET ASIDE A SOLEMN AGREEMENT.

 

AN EXERCISE IN SPECIAL PLEADING

Of necessity we must linger over the historic section because it is here an attempt is made to underpin the ultimate object the United Kingdom Government has in view. Even the most blatant attempt to minimise the achievements of fifty years cannot prevent grudging acknowledgments of ‘significant contribution towards the betterment of life in the Povince.’

Part I entitled ‘Historical Background’ and Part III entitled ‘Towards a Settlement’ can only be regarded as the statement of a case designed to support a point of view rather than to discover truth. The so-called Historical Background is certainly slanted by being incomplete, inaccurate and distorted.

We do not accept the analysis of events in the Green Paper upon which the United Kingdom Government’s policy and attitudes rest. In sum, the facts are that allegations were made by the minority — or rather by agitators of the minority — of deliberate and widespread malpractices of various kinds against them by the Northern Ireland Government and other public authorities. But allegations are not proof. Paragraph 18 of the Green Paper states that redress was not sought through the Courts, where, of course, allegations have to be proved. If malpractices were as intolerable and as widespread as alleged, it is surprising that over 50 years complaints were not directed to any forum where proper standards of proof are required. It is also noteworthy that no specific law or Act passed by the Northern Ireland Parliament has been named in the Green Paper of the objectionable kind which is supposed to abound in the statute book.

Paragraph 17 of the Green Paper asserts that the Cameron Commission has put on record an account of the malpractices. We cannot accept that allegations made privately and not under oath to the Commission, which the procedures adopted by the Commission made impossible of refutation, have been fairly established. Nor has the evidence put before the Commission ever been published for open scrutiny. No matter how eminent or impartial the Commission is supposed to have been, it was not infallible; but its procedures were fallible and not such as to command, or deserve to command, unlimited confidence in its findings. It is also noteworthy that the corrective machinery of Ombudsman and Commissioner of Complaints since set up has not confirmed the existence of malpractices, as alleged. On the contrary it has pointed to the very opposite conclusion.

The Commission attempted to establish by statistical means what it did not substantiate in any exemplifying instances. In no particular case did it investigate and find that any precise and specific allegation was justified. Instead, by means of generalisations it preferred to indict a whole community — a method of indictment unknown to British law or any civilised system of justice. Yet paragraph 16 of the Green Paper relies on this manner of proceedings when it says that ‘some of these complaints were undoubtedly justified;’ but it does not specify which, nor does it cite any single judical finding in support.

Paragraph 19 of the Green Paper refers to the ‘declared aim’ of the Civil Rights movement to use non-violent means. It is naive not to make a distinction between a declared aim and the real aim of such an organisation. Only those determined to be taken in can have any doubts that the ulterior objective was to initiate trouble and violence by "non-violent" means. Yet, the confirmation of predicted trouble by the course of events has failed to secure recognition by the United Kingdom Government that the appraisal of the Cameron Commission was faulty as indeed subsequent events have shown the conclusions of the Scarman Tribunal to be faulty.

The Historical record studiously ignores the plans and preparations of the violent republican minority to overthrow the constitution which became evident in 1967 and reached such a stage in July 1968 that the Northern Ireland House of Commons was told that there was reason to be alarmed about the preparations by the I.R.A. and associates to launch a new violent campaign, see Northern Ireland Hansard Vol. 70 col. 922. Nor is there any mention of a report from the British Ambassador in Dublin advising that if trouble broke out the Government of the Irish Republic could not be trusted. The reality is ignored of a minority prepared to use force of arms to overthrow the constitution simply because it is British regardless of political social or economic conditions. It is strange that when the campaign got well under way no mention is made of the increasing support from all shades of the anti-British elements.

The participation of the Republic’s Foreign Service in an intensive anti-British anti-Ulster propaganda campaign on a world wide scale. The increasing involvement of the Dublin Government as the campaign begins to succeed, their part and that of their party in the formation and equipment of the Provisional I.R.A., the subversive operation of Eire Army Officers within the boundaries of Northern Ireland, the stockpiling of weapons for use by insurgent elements in Northern Ireland. All so very relevant, rendering the so-called reform programmes, political initiatives and political solutions not only irrelevant but dangerous.

There is not a complete account of United Kingdom Government Policies since they assumed full responsibility for internal security, law and order in 1969 nor a full statement of the circumstances in which control was taken. It is not true as stated in paragraph 20 that the law and order resources of the Government of Northern Ireland were stretched to breaking point. The Ulster Special Constabulary was not committed to aid the regular police because the United Kingdom Government’s attitude inhibited the weak Northern Ireland Government from doing so. It is true that the Northern Ireland Government requested that the Army come to the aid of the civil authority as it was constitutionally entitled to do. That right was denied unless conditions involving the re-organisation and disarming of the police and the disbanding of the Special Constabulary were accepted in a secret understanding. A foolish weak Northern Ireland Government agreed behind the backs of its Parliament and people, trusting in the assurances of the Downing Street Declaration.

The political directives accompanying the Army did not permit it to come to the aid of the Civil Authority or to restore law and order. The Army’s role was more that of a peace keeping force between the forces of law and order and the illegal forces of rebellion. The police were pushed to one side in the riot torn areas, and not permitted to function and negotiations with Republican leaders led to the formal recognition of the no-go areas to be controlled de facto by the I.R.A.

The Army spent as much time spying on the police as it did on the I.R.A. The police in due course were sacrificed by way of another reform to meet Republican demands. The war heated up and the United Kingdom Government after 2 years of escalation decided to hit back and though it was late in the day aggressive military action and internment had the I.R.A. on the retreat by 1972. It was not however Government policy to win, the Parliament of Northern Ireland was surrendered and internment abandoned. Within a few weeks the terrorist campaign intensified out of all recognition — the United Kingdom Government was on the run, I.R.A. victory was in sight. The so called Heath initiative multiplied many times death and destruction. The Ulster loyalists rallied behind new organisations in a most massive way. The Ulster Loyalists scenes of 1912 were being repeated but the United Kingdom Government chooses not to see but looks to political parties with little or no meaningful support. The unreported record of events damn the Green Paper as a recipe for civil war undiluted by plebiscites on questions that have already been answered.

Part three entitled ‘Towards a Settlement’ is certainly not in search of the truth and would have been better sub-titled some of the facts. Paragraph 67 attempts to bolster up a bogus financial contention that Northern Ireland can only survive if it is in receipt of subsidies and special payments from the United Kingdom Treasury. Loans upon which we pay interest and are obliged to repay are strangely added in to the total as if some special favour accrues, overlooking the fact that by our constitution we are not only limited in the amount we can borrow but we must as a Government of Northern Ireland borrow only from the United Kingdom even though better terms may be obtained elsewhere. Farm subsidies are something we are supposed to be grateful for even though it is the United Kingdom Government that prevents our farmers getting the market price for their produce. The benefits of the United Kingdom are to be counted but not the burdens. We must buy British coal even though it can be purchased cheaper elsewhere. The United Kingdom Government has been more generous to the local authorities in other parts of the United Kingdom in paying block grants calculated on a basis of need compared to the controlled parity allocations to the Government of Northern Ireland. It is common practise in every nation that there is a measure of harmonisation between the well off and the less well off even when the constitution is of a federal character.

We have no doubt that there is a place for interdependence. We have never accepted a Sinn Fein attitude. But interdependence does not involve servile dependence. Ulstermen wish to play their historic role in the free world. They believe this can best be done within the United Kingdom. But they are ready to do it without the United Kingdom if Westminster so wills it.

The dependence of Great Britain, even within the European context — upon Northern Ireland is as important as Northern Ireland’s dependence upon Great Britain. The hidden subsidies to the Eire economy are as great as the exaggerated subsidies to Northern Ireland’s economy. Certainly if it is argued that the Republic is prospering with almost twice the population and half the gross product then Ulster’s case is not as hopeless as faint hearts would presume.

If the United Kingdom Government believes that Northern Ireland can be coerced by financial considerations into accepting a settlement that opens the way to eventual incorporation of Northern Ireland into an Irish Republic, they should be undeceived. The United Kingdom should remember that the 1920 Act never held out any prospect of financial help to Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom Exchequer. It was not financial considerations that weighed with Northern Ireland in 1920 any more than in 19 14. No more do they weigh decisively to-day. Paragraph 69 referring to the use of Northern Ireland Security Forces is totally rejected and whilst the Northern Ireland Government must be held responsible for its failure the culpability of the United Kingdom Government is no less if not greater.

We appreciate the contribution of the Armed Forces referred to in paragraph 68 and sympathise with the casualties and the cost but the scale and cost of the commitment is due to the blundering political policies of the United Kingdom Governments. The cost to Northern Ireland in human and economic terms is far greater and will bear heavily on generations to come and is by no means capable of being fully compensated for by United Kingdom special payments.

Paragraph 72 is insulting nonsense. Northern Ireland has the right to self determination and if she is driven out of the United Kingdom in her independence she will make her own participation in wider associations and communities with a better chance of external investment and trade than remaining within the United Kingdom in a weak unstable position. Northern Ireland is one of Britain’s biggest customers spending more than £600 million per annum. Outside the Common Market with the right economic policies Northern Ireland could be a very attractive business base for other outsiders interested in European markets.

 

THE ULSTER DECISION

Paragraph 78

declares that it remains the view of the United Kingdom Government that it is for the people of Northern Ireland to decide what should be their relationship to the United Kingdom and to the Republic of Ireland.
We shall decide but would prefer to do it constitutionally.

 

 

Paragraph 1

declares that the Government of Ireland Act 1920 remains today the basic constitutional document for Northern Ireland. It provides the constitutional machinery to decide.
Give us back our constitutional rights.

Mr. Clement Attlee, speaking on the second reading, Ireland Bill 1949, 464 Hansard, Col. 1857: I have heard criticism of the words used here, "The Parliament of Northern Ireland". It has been suggested that this is in some sense an amplification of the words which I used in November. I really cannot agree to that. We recognise the authority of the Parliament of Eire, now the Republic of Ireland, to act on behalf of the people of Eire in carrying out their decision to leave the Commonwealth, and we do not look behind that. We recognise equally the right of the Parliament of Northern Ireland to decide on behalf of the people of Northern Ireland to stay on or leave the United Kingdom and Commonwealth.’

THE FULL WEIGHT OF THIS COUNCIL WILL BE THROWN AGAINST ANY SETTLEMENT NOT APPROVED BY THE PARLIAMENT OF NORTHERN IRELAND: AND THE PEOPLE NOW STAND AT THE READY.

Our British Heritage we will preserve. We are opposed to joining an all Ireland Republic and we demand that the power and resources of the State shall be deployed against all efforts to bring about the unification of Ireland. We would prefer to maintain the Union but the desire must be reciprocated and pledges must be accompanied by a powerful Parliament in Northern Ireland to resist all attacks and to defeat the inevitable recurring terrorists onslaughts virtually guaranteed to take place by the success of the present attack. If there is not to be this strength in the United Kingdom we would prefer to be outside the United Kingdom seeking no special treatment but expecting at least the same consideration as the anti-British South when it opted out of the 1920 Constitution. In their own interest the majority community must now demand some safeguard against the visible tendency of the sovereign power under Republican stress to treat Northern Ireland as a disposable asset rather than as an inviolable and integral part of the United Kingdom. Their only safeguard against the neutrality of the sovereign power must be a shift of power from London to Belfast so as to give the majority the legal and physical power to resist attack or betrayal. The United Kingdom Government must understand that they have squandered the unconditional loyalty and trust they had. Northern Ireland gave these in the belief that they were reciprocal. Now that the United Kingdom Government discloses that it is no longer so, the internal distribution of powers requires to be adjusted accordingly.

Sovereignty in the British tradition does not simply imply lordship. Magna Charter and the Bill of Rights through such sovereignty guarantees rights of citizenship to the people including protection of person and property. It is precisely these rights which were not maintained by successive Governments. The final betrayal in March 1972 set aside not only those citizens rights but also the rights of Her Majesty’s representative — The Governor. Not since Cromwell’s time has the army of the realm had such say in current affairs and centuries have passed since a British Minister had such control over Monarchy, Executive and Parliament.

The loyalty of British people is not to a government as such, but to our traditions enshrined in the monarchy. This is precisely what Ulster loyalists will maintain — should all others seek to betray them.

The United Kingdom Parliament cannot have it both ways. They cannot refuse complete integrated citizenship of the United Kingdom and at the same time demand unequivocal acceptance of their terms. As British citizens we have a right to all the provisions and protection of any other part of the realm. It is because we have no guarantee of these that the Ulster Loyalist demands his own Parliament with powers to maintain the Union. If Westminster does not want the Union then Northern Ireland has a moral right to opt for terms which will maintain its heritage.


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