The O’Donovan Rossa Rising Phoenix Society Derry held a One Ireland One Vote Information Night in the city’s Nerve Centre on Thursday 28th April. An invited audience of local republicans assembled for what proved a terrific discussion on the One Ireland One Vote campaign, with republicans young and old contributing from the floor in an excellent exchange, with food for thought all round.

Proceedings began with a reading of The Proclamation by Ronan Moyne before Sean Bresnahan, National PRO of the Societies, gave a short introduction in advance of the main presentation. Speaking on why One Ireland One Vote was important to him personally, he described how ‘history tells us Britain will not just up and leave Ireland absent pressure on her position. To that extent, the processes we set in train must force her withdrawal, rather than us await her departure. This for me is the strategic purpose of the One Ireland One Vote campaign – to force that departure.’

He went on to describe how ‘an All-Ireland Referendum offers a means to achieve this, investing in our people the enduring right to determine their own destiny – as is their democratic right. By setting out a republic to replace partition and securing a mandate to uphold that end we award our initiative a necessary legitimacy that can help realise its object. That object remains the Sovereign All-Ireland Republic. Working together we can rebuild the struggle to one day realise that end.’

Kevin Martin, National Treasurer of the 1916 Societies, then gave the main presentation, detailing British efforts to shape how self-determination could be applied in an Irish context, from partition through the Sunningdale and Anglo-Irish Agreements to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. He spoke of how this process in its entirety ‘had one key objective in mind: to give a veneer of legitimacy to the continuing British occupation of Ireland.’

One Ireland One Vote was then presented as an alternative to agreements that ensure the continued division of our country. Described as a ‘vehicle to allow the legitimate right of the Irish people to freely determine their own future’ it was set out as the pathway to secure a ‘New All-Ireland Republic that enshrines our fundamental rights to freedom and independence, placing them at the heart of new political arrangements that serve all the people of our country as a whole.’

Discussion then move to the floor, with Frankie Quiqley chairing a question and answer session that soon evolved into an open and free discussion among all in attendance. A clear theme to emerge was that republicanism going forward needs to strike the right balance between the campaign for national sovereignty and the need to make republicanism relevant again to the needs of the community. It was felt that for One Ireland One Vote to grow as required it would need to work with that in mind, with tie-in from the people in those communities if the republican project is to be successfully rebuilt. The night itself was a positive towards that end.

The Rising Phoenix Society extend thanks again to Sean and Kevin for their excellent contributions and to all who came on the night and made it a success. We look forward to expanding our campaign on the ground in the weeks and months to come and intend running another night, on the same theme, in the near future for those unable to attend or who pick up an interest in the campaign over the time ahead. We see this as the beginning of a renewed effort to restore dignity and pride in Irish republicanism and appeal for those interested in giving a hand to get in touch. Onwards to the Irish Republic.