We Are Ready!

From the beginning, the National Party was a vehicle for an Idea with a plan. The plan was never as important as the vehicle, and the vehicle was never as important as the Idea. The Idea, the National Idea, is summed up most eloquently by the declaration of “Ireland not free merely, but Gaelic as well, not Gaelic merely but free as well”. The National Idea as such was never far from our minds in all our deliberations, and this unsurprisingly is the case today. We are of course not the only people who believe in this, but we are alone, we think, in raising it to the status of the single motivating Idea. Notwithstanding the importance of the Nine Principles, we are and remain a single-issue Party, and the issue is Ireland.

Not one of the Nine Principles exists except as an expression of the National Idea, and the Party itself exists only as the vehicle for its expression, and in time its enactment. But of course, nothing happens without action, and action casts blindly around without a plan. Through the centuries this Idea has been upheld by the great and valiant in success or failure, through many vehicles more or less worthy, and many plans more or less sensible. They were formulae for their time and existed as such within their time.

This is our time.

There are those who think that the National Party was founded in November of 2016, because that’s what they read in a newspaper. It was not. It was already the product of consultations with persons of one, or at least very close, mind, as to what was needed to secure Ireland’s survival into the next generation, and her freedom and prosperity too. By November we existed, so it was amusing that our enemies declared they would prevent our existence by forcing the cancellation of what was only an announcement.

From that time onwards too, we have perpetually confounded by proceeding in ways not expected, and certainly not as every new political party before us in recent times, right or left, the names of which are in the dust now. But in confounding the enemies of Ireland in this our early stages, we have naturally ended up confusing some of our own members and supporters too, insofar as they have not always had it explained to them exactly what we are doing, and why we are doing it the way we are. It is a measure of their trust and commitment that the Party has continued to grow steadily, despite disparaging comments from lesser minds. There is a time and a place for everything in the plan, and too soon is as too soon, as too late is too late.

A particularly puzzling question has been “Why is the National Party not registered yet?”. The answer is at once simple and yet makes for an easy target. We are not registered because we have had no need to be, and the measure of a political party’s progress is most definitely not inclusion on the list of the Clerk of the Dáil. A brief glance at this list will show how many parties are on it which have been practically moribund for years, or even decades.

Being a “registered political party” as opposed to not registered, or more precisely not registered yet, has precise effects. Candidates for a registered party, have the name of their party and their party logo included on the ballot paper. Otherwise with their name they are described as “non-party” and cannot have a logo included. And they can skip either the collection of nominations for a particular election or the payment of a deposit. That is it. Nothing else at all differentiates a registered from a non-registered political party. It does not of itself make the party more or less real, or more or less popular.

There are of course a number of requirements, the most important of which, and the one to be addressed here, is that the party must satisfy the Clerk of the Dáil that it meets the requirement of the Electoral Acts to have more than 300 registered members over the age of 18 and more than 150 of those must be registered to vote. The National Party had the means by which to meet this within three months of November of 2016, but not the desire.

We stated very clearly that it was not our intention to run candidates for the Party until we deemed the timing to be right, and in particular we came in for some criticism for declaring that we would not be bounced into a General Election in late 2017 (which subsequently never took place) because quite simply we were not ready, in terms of candidates, financing etc. Other parties, smaller than us, declared their enthusiastic intention, and we really do wonder what would have happened if they had to front up as much as talk up. We were resolved not to run in any elections prior to 2019, at the earliest, and so “election fever” came and went without causing too much ado about nothing, at least for us.

We were bounced somewhat unready into the Abortion Referendum in 2018 and did our very best on limited resources and against an almost complete media shutdown. But we did our duty as such, and fought as we were able to fight. We lost because, among other things, we were not ready and could not be ready, but could not either choose the time, place and terms of confrontation.

However, it is 2019 now, and an election cycle is upon us. Local and European elections are set for May of this year and a General Election is almost certain to follow in 2020. So, party registration so utterly useless in 2016, 2017 and 2018 is a matter of some importance. It is decisive even as to whether or how we approach these. There is plenty of time as such for technicalities, while we took care of the real work of politics in previous years, building a membership, and organisational structure and at least a rudimentary ability to raise finances within the terms of the Standards in Public Office Commission rules.

We expected no favours from the authorities of the State in helping us register, and have had none advanced. The Registrar has required that, in accordance with his maximum powers under the Electoral Acts that the National Party supply certification by a Public Auditor of our statement that we have more than 300 members and more than 150 registered to vote. It wasn’t necessary that he do so, but he has, so there we are with the practicalities of the matter. Thankfully, we have many times the number required, so that certification process is the only detail.

However, the process is complicated by data protection laws, in particular, the European Union imposed GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). Specifically, we require the explicit consent of each individual member of the Party to share the details of their membership with a third party, in this case our Public Auditor, for the purposes or conducting the audit required for certification. This means supplying at least 300 names and details, a number of which will be randomly checked by our Auditor to verify their accuracy. Because the National Party now has considerably in excess of 1,000 members, this means that we need the express consent of only a fraction of our actual numbers, but need it we do, and we need it as soon as possible. Only a fraction of the names supplied will be checked, but as this is a random process, we need to be very precise and accurate.

The question is put then. Do the members of the National Party want candidates to stand in the coming elections in the Party’s name and bearing on the ballot paper the Party’s logo? If they do, then more than 300 must put their names forward explicitly for the purposes of the Audit. Those who do can be assured that such details will be used for no other purpose by our Auditor, and he will keep no record of their details after the process is completed. Some of them, by no means all, or even a majority, will be contacted by the Auditor to verify that they are in fact members of the Party, but each and every one of those contacted must be willing and able to give an affirmative reply, and as soon as possible.

The certification can then be completed, and the other requirements of the Clerk can be completed by the National Party ourselves as they relate to internal questions of Constitution, election of Office holders, etc. We will become that glorious thing to behold, a registered political party, recognised by the authorities of the State. And, yes, we are being deliberately facetious, since we have endured some reproach for not being this supposedly “holy” thing.

While it is true that not every member is required to volunteer their explicit consent since we only need a fraction of our total number to meet the official necessities, we would nonetheless appeal strongly to every member not to leave it to someone else. To be a member of the National Party, to be among those to uphold the National Idea in these most perilous times is an honour and a privilege, especially to be among the first. To be among the 300 is a great deal less sacrifice than to block the gap of Thermopylae, indeed no sacrifice at all, but one can’t help but think of the words of the song: “When boyhood’s fire was in my blood I read of ancient free men, for Greece and Rome there bravely stood 300 men and 3 men”.

The National Party is asking you to take the opportunity to say for Ireland “Yes, I will!”


Justin Barrett
Ceannaire an Pháirtí Náisiúnta