Sir: Is it destiny or is it simply historically appropriate that it should be Fine Gail which agrees to amendments regarding claims to Northern Ireland at present contained within the Constitution of the Irish Republic?
In 1922, Michael Collins, a principal negotiator of the 1921 Treaty with Lloyd George which brought the Irish Free State into being and created the six counties of Northern Ireland, believed that any form of unity between Northern and southern Ireland had to be built upon the consent of the Northern Irish people.
He believed that, in time, ways would be found to bring the two peoples of Ireland closer together and these ways are approximately expressed in the Framework Document. In the Constitution which he created for the Free State, there were no Articles 2 and 3. Collins was shot and killed during the Civil War in 1922.
Articles 2 and 3 were introduced into the Irish Constitution in the Thirties by Eamon De Valera and Fianna Fail along with other interesting amendments which clearly defined the position of women as principally home makers and mothers and also encouraged greater involvement of Church with State. It is interesting to see, now, that the party which reflected Michael Collins' vision for Ireland and whose first leader, William Cosgrave, was Michael Collins' successor, is the party which can countenance discussion on the future of these articles within the Irish Constitution.
It is also interesting to see that the Minister for Justice, Norah Owen, TD is the grand-niece of Michael Collins himself. Perhaps we shall also see discussion regarding the position of women in southern Ireland and, significantly, the relationship of Church with State which may serve to further encourage and develop the peace process talks and reduce differences between the two nations.