Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
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Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Home : Politics Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

 

 

 

IS ANY REPUBLIC GOOD ENOUGH?

On 21 February 1923, members of the Free State Army stormed the tenements of 21 Upper Dorset Street, Dublin, in pursuit of my great Aunt, Maire Cleary. Such was the young woman's recalcitrance, her teenage sister Nellie was soon 'kidnapped' also. . Seven months later, on 7 September 1923, after stints in Kilmainham and the North Dublin Union Internment Camp, Maire returned to the tenement, unrepentant about the position she’d taken on partitioned Ireland.

Kilmainham today. 

The Brits put Eamon de Valera, upstairs to the left. Grace Plunkett, widow of the executed IRB and Easter 1916 man, Joseph, was held  on the ground floor to the right of the stairs.  Her gaolers were the Free Staters.

When I met Maire and Nellie 50 years later, across the road from the tenement, I was taken by their by their resilience and their passion for the cause of Ireland. The suffering these women endured in search of a more just republic than that offered by Prime Minister John Howard’s heroes, David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill, is nothing short of inspirational. It helps place the taunts of "wrecker" and  "queen’s man" in proper perspective. 

The contempt shown to those direct electionists who opposed the phoney ARN republic, one that partitioned the people from the symbols of authority, is quite mad. If only we'd supported the partitioned republic proposed by Rupert Murdoch, Peter Costello, Steve Bracks, Kerry Packer, Bob Carr, Malcolm Fraser, his archrival Gough Whitlam, Steve Vizard, Malcolm Turnbull and the boys. If only we'd cast aside our explicit opposition to the exclusivist, partitioned republic and linked arms with the big end of town republicans. If only!

And how instructive that those, who in November 1999 accused the voters of gross ignorance for not voting how they were told by Kylie Minogue and Rupert, should now be praising 'ordinary' Australians for their creative approach to the Commonwealth Games and the circus that accompanied it.  Some even went so far as to declare that Australia was a republic in spirit already.  Might not that be the reason why the ARM's obsession was so foolish?  

The truth is that the republic on offer on 6 November 1999 mocked the very idea of participation by the people. That’s why people in the bush and outside the epicentre of power voted against it. The chorus of unconditional support from the likes of Steve Bracks and Bob Carr for the action of the police outside Crown Casino in September should serve as a chilling reminder of just how desperate the major parties are about holding on to the levers of control.

An elected president stood as a metaphor for participation and in no small way challenged the modus operandi of the new ruling class and its allies. The alternative, a model in which the same old mob would orchestrate the same old charade, wasn’t worth any self respecting Irish-Australian crossing the road to vote for.  If Ned Kelly seriously wanted a republic in the North East of Victoria, do you think he'd have settled for the parliament selecting the boss cockie?  

I've met with the ARM and am keenly interested in participating in any movement to bring about a republic.  The question is, what kind of republic do we deserve?  Is any jingoistic shell of a republic good enough?  I think not.  Do we really want to hand over the selection of a president to a parliament inhabited by men and women slavishly addicted to the party line?  One of the reasons for the establishment of the magazine Táin was the anger and frustration of Irish Australians with the anti-Irish press in Australia.  Val Noone and others decided that it was time we had a vehicle through which to articulate  Irish-Australian matters on our own terms.  So too we should want a president on our own terms.

If the political pressure is mobilised there'll be good reason for the politicians to offer us a plebiscite after which time we can have a serious discussion about the form of the republic.

 

 

 


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