News from Celtic League
There were some significant developments in the Celtic countries in 2014, all of which highlight the distance still to travel to secure the political, cultural, social and economic freedom they need for their survival and development as distinct communities. Below are some brief observations of the more notable developments in each of the six Celtic countries that strengthen the case for independence.
The year 2014 provided a political opportunity for Alba (Scotland) in September to achieve its independence as a Nation-State, but the ‘democratic circumstances’ that we have come to live with in the United Kingdom (UK) were destined to create an alternative outcome for the people of Scotland.
In Breizh (Brittany) a once in a generation opportunity to reunify this ancient Celtic nation was once again let down by the French democratic deficit in November and December, where to be a Breton Deputy in the French Parliament was as much use as it was in 1942 under the Vichy French Government.
The Wales Act 2014 was given Royal Consent in December, granting further powers of devolution to Cymru (Wales) from the UK government, but without implementing the recommendations of the report in full.
Éire (Ireland), the politically divided Celtic country that seems no closer to unification now than it did following the passing of the Irish Free State Constitution Act 1922, but claims this year that a referendum in the north on unification are possible in the next term of the Stormont Assembly (after 2016), don’t seem as outlandish this time round as claims made previously. The controversy and the ferocity of the protests surrounding the imposition of water charges since April highlights the tense climate that austerity has brought to the people of the Republic.
In Kernow the UK government announced in April that the Cornish would be recognised as a distinct people under the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCPNM), but the Cornish are still waiting for the relevant Minister to ratify the inclusion.
In Mannin (Isle of Man) austerity bit hard in 2014, where cuts probably started sooner than in the other Celtic nations, leading some to wonder how far the austerity measures would go before people started demanding radical change.
Even though the small steps towards greater autonomy highlight the slow overall progress (and of course the disappointment for many) in achieving the goals of the Celtic League, it cannot be doubted that headway is being made. Each year brings with it new possibilities and some new hope for the future to be fought for and built on. Below are some indicators where breakthroughs could be made in 2015 and beyond.
The forthcoming year for instance will see a UK general election and with it a unique opportunity for Alba to wrestle control away from the previously dominant unionist Labour Party’s Scottish political representation in Westminster; the newly formed anti-austerity bloc comprising Plaid Cymru, Green Party and Scottish National Party (SNP) could indeed hold the balance of power in the UK government if a hung parliament is declared, creating a situation where these independence supporting parties would be in a strong bargaining position to achieve considerable movement towards their aims. With a majority of the electorate in Scotland returning SNP representatives in the 2015 (UK) and the 2016 (Scotland) elections, the Party has argued that it could simply declare independence, irrespective of the views of the UK government.
Meanwhile Welsh First Minister, Carwyn Jones AM, has stated that he expects that any new powers offered to Alba in 2015 should also be offered to Wales, making Alba a yardstick by which any devolution proposals for Cymru are measured.
With greater devolution in Alba and Cymru proposed (including in some of the English regions) it is quite possible that a greater measure of devolution passes to the north of Éire in 2015 too; aligning corporation tax on the entire Island could be a step in the right direction. Further revisions in the water charges being imposed in the Republic seem inevitable or if opposition to the charge is maintained or increased then the Irish government will have no choice but to scrap the tax.
In Breizh, the reunification goal is not going to simply go away. In fact the matter of French territorial reform has now been referred to the French Constitutional Council, who may well decide to review the issue in 2015.
Despite some concerns among nationalist politicians, the UK government is likely to ratify the FCPNM to include the Cornish in 2015, because it is widely seen in the public domain as having occurred already; for any UK government to rescind on such a promise would do more damage than good.
The Tynwald (the Manx parliament) is certainly rethinking how far they can go with their austerity proposals, as their decision in December to put their radical plans to public sector pensions on hold showed. It is hoped that in 2015 the Tynwald will engage in wide ranging consultation and negotiations with the public before embarking on further cuts.
There can be little doubt that the Celtic nations are at the forefront of the march towards self-determination and set the pace for change for other nations-without-state in Europe specifically and this situation is unlikely to change in 2015.
The Celtic League is the longest running political organisation of its type in the world, promoting the identity and culture of the six Celtic countries. Throughout 2015 the organisation will continue to produce Carn – a link between the Celtic nations – as it has done since 1973 and likewise our members will continue to campaign for independence for the Celtic nations as we have been doing since 1961, alongside all of the other work that we do. The words of James Connelly remain as true for 2015 as ever:
Our demands most moderate are, we only want the earth
Happy New Year
Bliadhna Mhath Úr
Blwyddyn Newydd Dda
Bliain Nua faoi mhaise duit/daoibh
Blydhen Nowedh Da
Blein Vie Noa
For comment or clarification on this news item in the first instance contact:
The General Secretary will determine the appropriate branch or General Council Officer to respond to your query.
ISSUED BY THE CELTIC LEAGUE INFORMATION SERVICE The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues.