November 5

Putting your foot in it.

At the least one republican has taken umbrage at the comment by Neil James here pointing out the weaknesses in the Irish republican system.

As that republican, one Lewis Holden, heads the New Zealand republican movement and was writing on a page closely associated with the Australian Republican Movement, he presumably speaks with some authority.

This confirms a suspicion I have long had about the republican movement since the departure of Malcolm Turnbull.  It has   lost its memory.  The current leadership tends to shoot from the hip rather than checking whether its founders and leaders had in fact taken a considered position in relation to some matter.

One of their writers recently suggested that I am their best asset.  As I was National Convener during the referendum, and more recently during the collapse of  support for just about any republic, I hope that I can go on improving my asset value to the Australian Republican Movement

…Gerry Adams….

The most amusing in recent years was their attack on me when I referred to the IRA leader Gerry Adams appearing in Australia in the referendum campaign to call on Australians to vote yes.  We had in 1999 unsuccessfully called on the ARM to distance itself from such support particularly given the  murder of two young Australians by the IRA in the Netherlands. The IRA murderers, who live in Ireland today and have never been prosecuted,  presumably assumed they were British soldiers – they were young, had short hair and spoke English. They were gunned down in front of their horrified girlfriends. The IRA never handed the murderers over.

When I mentioned Adams intervention in our referendum last year,  the ARM’s then media chief and Deputy President David Donovan sent  this email to me:

"When did Gerry Adams come to Australia in 1999 and when did he ask Australians to vote yes to the referendum? No one seems to be able to find any record of either event.

Are you quite mad, a habitual liar or just an idiot? "

In  “Winning new ARM approach,” 14 September, 2010, The Australian commented:

It took us two seconds to discover Adams visited Australia for eight days in February 1999; we used the internet.

"As for the other matter, here's a snippet from The Sun-Herald at the time:

"Mr Adams also urged Australians to vote yes in December's republic referendum. 'I believe in the republic as the democratic form of society,' he said. 'I don't have time for monarchies of any kind.'

"We hope that helps”. 

…. and the ARM declared its strong opposition  in the nineties to  the Irish model…

But back to the Irish model.  You see,  had the young Turk who is involved in the New Zealand and Australian Republican movements checked the record he would have found that Australia's leading republicans have a similar disdain to ours for the Irish Republic as a suitable model .

In fact,  in the years leading up to the referendum, the Australian republican establishment was completely opposed to the adoption of the Irish model. It was a very carefully considered position.

Paul Keating's Republic Advisory Committee, chaired by Malcolm Turnbull , commissioned an expert  paper on the Irish Republic, one of six overseas studies which were commissioned. 

The commentators were specifically requested to look at presidential appointment and removal, presidential powers, the effect of the absence of an equivalent position at the state level, practical transitional issues relating to moving from a monarchy to a republic, and any other matter which the commentators thought relevant to this trend and situation. 

These were published as appendices in a very substantial second volume of the report Of the Republic Advisory Committee.

This paper by Jim Duffy concluded that the Irish presidency is "an inherently unsatisfactory office which presidents in general have found frustrating and ill-defined….Successive presidents have found themselves treated largely with indifference by the public and by Irish politicians"

It was also pointed out that since Irish presidents were directly elected, this has politicised the process of selection.

Accordingly, whenever some neophyte referred to the Irish model, the republican leaders went to great lengths to point out the reasons why this would be an unsatisfactory model for Australia. 

May I suggest the ARM look at its old files before it rushes into print.


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