I was watching the RTÉ news earlier this eveing and An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern made a comment which struck me. While asked about the appropriateness of a military parade to commemorate 1916 and whether it was an attempt to boost support for Fianna Fáil, Bertie replied that "Fianna Fáil don't need to prove their Republicanism to anyone. Everybody knows that Fianna Fáil are Republican."
Now Fianna Fáil may attach the word Republican to their election posters, but in realty, once elected do they really live up to their billing. Can Fianna Fáil really claim to be Republican, when they refuse to organise and take part in elections in all 32 counties of this island?
If Fianna Fáil are truely Republican, why do they refuse to take a more active role as persuaders for Irish unity? Why do they refuse to support Dáil motions calling for a United Ireland. Why is Sunday's parade the first of its kind for years? Why did the state stop commemorating 1916? Why did FF back down over its plans to invite representatives from all 32 counties to sit in the Dáil when, with FF support, the majority of the Dáil would have been in favour? Why does Fianna Fáil's Republicanism seem to stop at the border?
Personally I am delighted when any Irish party embraces the mantle of Republicanism, but Republicanism has to be more than a slogan or catchphrase. To be a Repubican, you have to be involved in Republicanism. Definitions of what Republicanism means may differ, and this can be a positive thing. But what is for certain is that you cannot claim to be a Republican if you ignore the quest for the Republic.