The Red Plough
Vol. 1-No 8
April 8th 2010
2) Official Republican Movement Easter Statement
3) Republican Network for Unity
4) Easter Statement from the Leadership RSF/CIRA
5) IRSP Easter Commemoration 2010
6) éirígí Easter Statement
7) The 32 County Sovereignty Movement
8) The Workers’ Party Easter Statement
9) Sinn Fein(Provisional) Easter Commemoration
This edition of the Red Plough is devoted entirely to the Easter Statements of the various groupings in Ireland that call themselves Republican or see themselves as part of an historic republican tradition. All have roots in the Republican Movement that existed before 1969.
It is not the business of the Red Plough to say who are the “real” or “true” Republicans or the “real” or “true” Republican Socialists. Within these statements there is a wide variety of views. Some are pro-Good Friday Agreement, many are against sectarianism, some are for socialism and some think the border is the only issue. Some are for armed struggle. Some are not. Some are repetitive, some succinct. Readers can make up their own minds.
But clearly Irish Republicanism is well fractured. Deep divisions exist, even hatreds! Eight separate organisations all with their own histories and traditions and rarely in discussion with each other. Is that the way to end partition and build socialism? We think not.
Clearly regardless of what anyone else thinks armed resistance will continue to be carried out. There will always be republicans who regardless of the prevailing conditions will continue to assert in arms the right of the Irish people to self-determination. That will be the context in which those of us who wish to see a socialist Ireland will have to work. The wringing of hands, the uttering of condemnation, the demonizing of armed fighters will simply not do.
The task of socialists is to show a better way, a way that works. Are we up to the task?
Official Republican Movement Easter Statement
Comrades, friends and respected guests, welcome to the 2010 Official Republican Movement Easter Commemorations.
We are here today to remember and pay tribute to our comrades whose lives were taken in the struggle to create an Ireland that puts into practice the commitments set down in the Easter Proclamation of 1916.
“guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally”.
Our comrades died fighting against injustice, intolerance and oppression. They stood up against sectarianism and tribal
blood-letting and they battled against the scourges of poverty and inequality.
We will never abandon that struggle. We will not allow their commitment, their courage and their sacrifice to have been in vain.
Comrades and friends Official Republicanism seeks to bring people together, regardless of national identity, religious belief, ethnic origin or cultural background, the modern day equivalent of the United Irish call for the “Unity of Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter”.
These ideals form the very foundation of what it is to be a republican and it is our task as Official Republicans to re-kindle the Republican project as opposed to a Nationalist crusade.
To do that we must expose the narrow thinking behind Irish Nationalism and show its inherent sectarian ethos, an ideology diametrically opposed to the non-sectarian and equalitarian message of Irish Republicanism.
Judging by the latest statements from many of the Sinn Fein leadership they are content with the political status quo for the foreseeable future. The majority of adherents to the last phase of Nationalist rebellion have at last admitted their aim was the “smashing of the Orange State” with an add on of some sort of unspecified united Ireland sometime in the future.
While agreeing with their lack of urgency on the National Question, we pose the question,
“is there an alternative form of Irish Republicanism to Tone’s unity of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter?”
All those throughout Ireland who voted for the Good Friday Agreement realise there is not. There is no quick fix nationalist route to a “New Ireland”.
A united Ireland is not something to threaten Unionist political opponents with, or to infer that it will happen “whether you like it or not”. Because it won’t happen like that, the vast majority of the Irish people will not agree to it without a coming together of the two traditions in agreement about future political constructs on this island.
It is these discussions and dialogues about the agreed future political form and content of the governance of this island that the representatives of the various strands of Unionism must contribute to. New conversations regarding Irish and British identities and their acceptance of sharing the land of this island in peace and prosperity will be vital to future understandings and agreements.
Is it not time for all political parties to openly admit to this fact of life and encourage the acceptance and growth of a more realistic non tribal political rationale?
The Official Republican Movement welcomes the recent series of decommissioning. It seems that at last the clearly expressed wish of the vast majority of the people, North and South, has been acknowledged and acted upon by the mainstream paramilitary groups.
Of course the so-called dissident groups are continuing to ignore the expressed wish of the majority of people on this island and are hell-bent on re-living the 1970s when we found ourselves staring into a sectarian abyss.
Official Republicans were the first to realize that armed conflict was counterproductive and that it was inevitably leading into a futile and bloody sectarian cul-de-sac that was driving communities further and further apart. As Liam Mc Millen said at Bodenstown in June 1973,
“We stand not on the brink of victory, but on the brink of sectarian disaster”.
Official republicans were right in the 1970s, the Provisionals finally got it right in the 1990s but unfortunately continuing violence is evidence that some are still stubbornly getting it wrong.
If the past forty years have taught this society any lessons then surely the most striking lesson of all must be that there is nothing to be gained through killing and bombing. Despite all the set-backs and the party political brinkmanship of the last 15 years the benefits of dialogue and debate are clear, even to the most reluctant observer.
The political systems that are now in place, though far from perfect and hardly the finished product, have demonstrated that, given the will, politics can work.
However, we as a society cannot afford just to leave it all to politicians. We know only too well that for politicians of all colours, party and electoral survival are the main items that still dominate the political agenda. If sectarianism and tribalism serve to keep these parties in power, they have no reason to acknowledge its destructiveness and move to politics that serve the whole of society.
The pressure must be kept on the politicians and political parties to use the opportunities that they have been given by the people who elected them to deliver real and tangible results.
The focus must be on the issues and conditions that are causing hardship for many, and which are sustaining growing poverty and inequality. Politics should not be about out-manoeuvring the other side but about improving the quality of life of all who live and work here.
As republicans we have a duty to put pressure on them to stop the two-tribe approach to politics and focus on the economic and social issues that are impacting on people in their everyday lives.
We must help convince people that their best interests are not served by voting for sectarian parties here in the north or by voting for various forms of Conservatism in the South.
It is time the political parties, continually at loggerheads over the supremacy of national identities, realized that the daily struggle to feed, clothe, and provide shelter and heat for their families is far more important to people than the sterile battle of flags and emblems.
For our part we will continue to work across the communities and encourage democracy to develop from within the community and in a new direction that delivers real benefits for all people.
Democracy is not only about casting a vote. Just as important is the necessary work of reaching across the divisions of national identity, ethnicity, culture, religion, and gender, to inform and engage in democratic debate. To unite with others in the common struggle for a society which has the moral courage to defend and support the weak and the vulnerable, a society, which stands its ground, and confronts greed and corruption. To build and struggle for a society that has the moral and political courage to call to account the disastrous excesses of the wolverines who masqueraded as the untouchable lords of finance in the world.
A society which refuses to reward corruption and incompetence, a society that protects the citizen from the obscenely wealthy parasites who put profit before people and who through their insatiable greed have caused misery and degradation to 100’s of millions of people around the world.
The economic crisis that has convulsed the world, due to the inherent contradictions of a rampant unchecked capitalism, the criminal activity and the ineptitude of bankers and financers, raises some fundamental questions for Socialists today.
This current crisis in Capitalism is being compared to the crash of 1929. That particular crisis helped create a generation of people in capitalist societies who questioned the very basis of how and for whom society and the world economy were being organised and governed. This time around the reaction has so far been entirely different.
Today in this era of mass education in the industrial countries, the age of the internet, with masses of facts at our fingertips and a venue for instant international debate, what are the main questions that are constantly being asked?
“How can we get those who brought society to the brink, to manage it better, not be too greedy, and to do better next time”?
They already mock us with their arrogance new bonuses. They have an iron grip on society, kid gloved by a cowardly media and craven, complicit politicians. They believe they have convinced all that their position is impregnable and they cannot be dispensed with.
They believe, and have trumpeted around the world, that they have “buried Marxism and destroyed socialism” and have now begun an all out attack to discredit and dislodge Social Democracy, a system Capitalism was content to use and co-exist with when it existed in a bi-polar political world.
Now sovereign states, themselves, who over generations, developed forms of state ownership and accountability in health, education, industry, job creation and welfare provision to their citizens, are under constant attack. The mantra of the new elite is to
“roll back the pernicious influence of the State”.
Except of course when they demand of the States in question that they and their citizens bail them out!
As one Scottish socialist recently said in relation to this
“privatise the profit, nationalise the debt”.
The proponents of the “New World Order” and their global economic policies perpetuate growing third world poverty and pan global inequality. Those of us pointing the finger of blame are portrayed as dangerous cranks and economic anarchists who would destabilise society and create chaos!
It is time for left parties and groups to examine the current realities of the vicious system controlling the world. Left certainties and ancient truths must be re-examined and a new debate begun, with political sectarianism set aside.
We will continue to play our part in this work; we will strengthen the links that have been made with other groups and organisations as part of building greater co-operation for a greater good.
This will not be an easy or short journey. Sectarianism, enmity and suspicion are deeply ingrained in our society and there will be set-backs and disappointments along the way.
Comrades, the future for ourselves and for our children will depend on our resolve and on our resilience when times get difficult to remember all those who died on this small island through the futility and waste of sectarian violence, and never forget our comrades who died in pursuit of a society that all our people could call home.
The REPUBLICAN NETWORK for UNITY
We extends Easter greetings to our activists and supporters within the thirty-two counties of Ireland and abroad, especially those in America, to all organizations or independent Republicans who have worked with us through the Irish Republican Forum for Unity initiative, and to all Republicans who today remain faithful to the sovereign and indefeasible right to national freedom enshrined in the 1916 Easter Proclamation.
We particularly wish to remember all Irish Republican political prisoners, whether in Maghaberry or Portlaoise or beyond and their families from whom they are separated today.
On this day when we honour Ireland’s patriot dead, we remember all of those who gave their lives, and remember especially that they made the supreme sacrifice in a struggle to end British rule not to serve its administration. Young men and women stood together against the British onslaught and went to war with courage and determination and the belief in achieving and United Ireland, free of foreign rule and interference. We pledge that the full meaning of their sacrifices will remain a living inspiration to all true Republicans
The message of Irish republicanism is as vital to Ireland today as it ever was; as the failed tactic of compromise once again delivers the inevitable fruits of British rule; sectarianism, poverty, repression and the continued partition of our nation. RNU do not accept that such a settlement as good enough for our people.
Three years ago, concerned Republican veterans, most of whom were ex-prisoners -of –war, joined together to campaign against the RUC-PSNI, against British law and rule which this re-named crown constabulary imposed, and against the violence and injustice it inflicted. We recognized that the crown was conspiring to hijack Republicanism, by manoeuvring some Republicans into token places within a British Stormont administration, then deploying them to affirm British law and rule, to recruit for its constabulary, to rubberstamp repression at constabulary board and partnership meetings and to condemn and criminalize those Republicans who would not follow them.
RNU was forged from that campaign.
We pledged to continue this political fight to reclaim Republicanism from those who were being used to masquerade a British regime at Stormont .Our means were to present a Republican alternative political analysis and to establish channels of communication or a network of cooperation with other like-minded organizations and individuals.
Events continue to prove us, in RNU, right.
Only a few weeks ago, Sinn Fein, coupled with the scandal weakened DUP, agreed a compromised ministry for crown courts and constabulary. This was heralded as somehow being a major transition away from British rule, worth the price of new arrangements, which the DUP and Orange Order believe, will ease the way for Orange feet trampling down nationalist roads.
Meanwhile their handpicked nominee to head this ministry, “pointless” David Ford, rubbished the Saville Inquiry as a pointless waste of money and insulted the Bloody Sunday families and their long battle for truth about the murder of innocent civil rights marchers.
Ford’s ignorance and insensitivity about one of the worst injustices inflicted by the British during the conflict showed him unfit for even a compromised crown justice ministry. He should have been repudiated. Instead Sinn Fein hastily arranged a meeting with some families and pronounced Ford rehabilitated.
Will not the British see the haste to rescue Ford and calculate that they have little to fear if what emerges from an MI-5 censored report is not the truth, which the families deserve, but a watered-down Widgery?
In nationalist areas, Section 44 searches, that have been declared illegal by European Court of Human Rights, are wielded at will to repress Republicans and intimidate their wives and children. Only last week, RNU’s Vice Chairman, Tony Catney, along with Paul Duffy, were arrested in publicized raids clearly intended to disrupt and undermine our commemoration of Easter 1916 and Ireland’s patriot dead.
Diplock Courts, set-up as a plank in a policy of criminalization, are extended again, now coupled with 28 day internment without charge and internment by remand.
MI-5, responsible for so much injustice is given free reign again and again. Meanwhile, in the crown courts, Colin Duffy is held without bail on discredited DNA framework, which would not be entertained outside a Diplock Court. Gerry McGeough continues trial on stated charges that he joined the IRA in the 1970s and was involved in an IRA attack on crown forces in 1981, while the real charge is retaliation for campaigning in an election against the RUC-PSNI.
Terry McCafferty had his license revoked without serious protest at any constabulary meetings. He is now free only because a crown appointed investigator admitted last week that the secret evidence used to jail him amounted to nothing.
The family of John Brady, a veteran Republican who died in the hands of the RUC-PSNI must wait and wonder will they receive any thing more than a whitewash or cover-up
The crown constabulary boards and partnership meetings have become charades used by the British to give stage-managed acceptance to RUC-PSNI repression and providing accomplices rather than accountability.
The British have not succeeded and will not succeed! Today there are growing numbers of Irish people who are awakening to the reality. In the past year RNU has been in the forefront of efforts along side others to protest at constabulary partnership meetings and deny them legitimacy. RNU have stood behind residents whose areas are invaded by sectarian Orange marches, highlighted cases of crown repression and injustice, organized historic forums on issues like the 1981 Hunger Strike striven to provide a Republican alternative analysis to Stormont and stood at commemorations like those today challenging any attempt to place a mantle of Republicanism over a British dead-end at Stormont.
RNU exists to provide space for any individual, serious about establishing freedom and socialism in Ireland, to utilise their talents in the pursuit of that goal. A young and developing movement (yet with roots set firmly in the struggle for Irish freedom), RNU organise in a democratic and comradely manner, ignoring all internal divisions of the past and instead putting only our end goal to the top of our agenda.
RNU repeats publicly today, as we have done in the past, our readiness to co-operate with other republicans on issues that affect our communities, with the possibly of working together to create an eventual Republican Congress.
We pledge ourselves as Republicans to the goal of peace and justice, based upon freedom for every county in Ireland, and say that Irish National Reunification is the only solution.
Standing by our maxim, “ what matters is not where you are coming from but where you are going to”, and the dedication of our members, RNU is determined to chart a way out of this chaos and towards the only solution fit for a free people… national sovereignty and economic equality.
In conclusion, RNU would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for supporting us here today to remember the men and women of Ireland who died for Irish freedom and we look forward to your continued support in our future campaigns.
Slan agus beir bua
Easter Statement from the Leadership of the Republican Movement(RSF/CIRA)
On the occasion of the 94th anniversary of the historic Easter Rising of 1916, the Leadership of the Republican Movement sends greetings to all who are gathered in commemoration at the graves of the Republican Dead of every generation and at monuments erected to their memory.
In the past year it has been stated that policing will be transferred from Westminster to Stormont. However, political policing will continue and will remain guided from London. Under the St Andrews Agreement, amended by the Hillsborough Agreement, “security intelligence” in the Six Occupied Counties will be the responsibility of the MI5 Security Service with the RUC/PSNI in a support role.
The MI5 will not be accountable to the Stormont Policing Board for security-related matters but it will be available to brief the Board in secret on what it considers “appropriate”.
This is not the devolution of policing and justice powers. London will remain in control.
For their part, the Republican youth has given the RUC/PSNI their response on the streets of many towns in the occupied area. We appreciate their actions.
In the 26 Counties, the flag of occupation – the Union Jack – is displayed with increasing frequency at festivals and on other public occasions. Similarly British military uniforms are flaunted in public, although the wearing of them was banned south of the Border for decades after 1922.
All of this is a build-up to a state visit by the Queen of England to the 26 Counties. The crowned head which claims sovereignty in Ireland has not visited for a full century. It is essential that such a visit be opposed. If it is not, then that is an acceptance of her “royal style and title” as “Queen of Northern Ireland” so-called. As Republicans we cannot, we must not, and we will not, tolerate such a situation without a meaningful protest.
This Easter we renew our support for the Shell to Sea campaign in their protest against the exploitation of Irish natural resources by a multinational company and the consequent endangerment of local inhabitants in the Ros Dumhach (“Ros Doo-ach”) Gaeltacht area. We salute the stand taken against the hired private armies of security men by local fisherman Pat O’Donnell, now serving time in prison for his opposition to oppression.
Once more we denounce the description of faithful Republicans as “traitors” by a person who gave a commitment in 1986 that the war of national liberation would “never, never, never” end until the freedom of Ireland was achieved. On the same occasion he pledged on behalf of his associates never to go to Westminster or Stormont.
Now they administer British rule in Ireland from Stormont. They have offices in Westminster and draw expenses annually from the English government of many hundreds of thousands pounds sterling. Others have recently followed their example and at the behest of the British government have destroyed weapons and munitions given for the independence of Ireland.
On the other hand we note the continued resistance by Volunteers of the Continuity IRA to the British forces of occupation, the unremitting work of Republican Sinn Féin members for national unity and independence and the defiant stand of the Republican prisoners North and South in the face of their jailors. The struggle continues.
Republicans are not dismayed by the threats of further repression from sources in the 26-County Administration. As in the past they will stand up and meet them unflinchingly. Week after week the tabloid gutter press seeks by its falsehoods and fabrication to sow confusion in the ranks regarding the Republican position. The faithful are loyal to the All-Ireland Republic under one authority. That position has been vindicated again and again as the only basis on which to proceed.
We send greetings to our prisoners in Maghaberry, Co Antrim and Portlaoise jails. Their stand day after day is an example to us all. We undertake once more to support their dependants during the period of incarceration.
A cháirde, the countdown to 2016, the centenary of the momentous Easter Rising, has begun. Just five more Easters have to pass and the Great Day will be upon us. We need to commence preparations now to ensure that the occasion is not snatched from us, by those who have ignored the annual Easter 1916 Commemorations since the 50th – in 1966.
Advance then, loyal and true, and rally a younger generation to the imperishable Cause which, in 1916, opened a century of anti-colonial and anti-imperialist struggle for the greater good of all humankind! An Phoblacht Abú!
ft that differs slightly from the final speech that was delivered today.)
IRSP Easter Commemoration 2010
Friends and comrades,
It is my utmost honour to be speaking here today at the 94th anniversary of the 1916 Easter uprising and to remember not only those who fell on Easter week and those who were later executed but also the members of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement who made similar sacrifices since the foundation of the movement. Many modern day republican socialists take as their inspiration the events in Dublin during Easter week. Whilst remembering our comrades is important and should not be neglected we must not lose sight of what they died for. We must not give up on their political aspirations, there is absolutely no point in turning up once a year at Easter to take part in this commemoration if for the other 364 days you are not involved in the political struggles of our class.
James Connolly and the other leaders of the Rising went out and faced down the biggest imperialist empire on the planet in the full knowledge that defeating the British was not going to be an easy task. They chose the more difficult road but one that, if victory was achieved, could mean so much for all the people of Ireland. Connolly’s ideas of uniting the national question and the class question are as relevant today as they were at the beginning of the 20th century. This is the most basic and fundamental position of the IRSP and stands us apart from all other republican and socialist organisations.
There is absolutely no point in uniting Ireland tomorrow if we are still ruled by the very same capitalist class that rules over us now and exploits working class people. This is not freedom comrades. True freedom is the freedom that Connolly envisaged, economic freedom and freedom from that exploitation and discrimination and sadly we are no nearer that goal almost a century later.
Within republicanism Easter is a time for reflection, to remember all those who have died in the struggle to build the republic. But we must also use this occasion to look to the future, to put ideas to our membership and the wider working class and to further our goals. As revolutionaries we must continually analyse the political situation and attempt to adapt our politics to the prevailing conditions.
Presently and in general terms republicanism is fragmented and working class people are looking for political leadership. We believe that the Republican Socialist Movement can be to the forefront of that leadership. There are many aspects to our movement that other republican or socialist groups do not possess, aspects that stand us apart. We have the history of our organisation, a proud history of struggle, sacrifice and perseverance, we have the inspiration of great leaders, among them Costello, McGlinchey, O’Hara, Power and Gallagher, we have the experience of enduring so many murderous attacks and coming out the other side and we have our revolutionary republican socialist politics to guide us. I’ll repeat it comrades, no other trend within either republicanism or socialism on this island can claim what we have. We have to remain totally proud of what went before but always mindful that we have a hell of a lot to live up to if we are to achieve anything worthwhile for our class. We cannot rest on our laurels but aspire to be like those leaders who I have just mentioned.
You are all aware of the major developments within the IRSM during the past few months. The INLA took a very brave and courageous decision back in February and that move to unilaterally disarm has presented the Irish Republican Socialist Party with new possibilities. The leadership of the IRSP believe that the decision was pragmatic as well as affording the IRSP the chance to grow into new areas both physically and politically. The INLA have shown leadership and that this has clearly been backed by the membership of the entire movement. The decision was endorsed by all sections of the movement publicly. We believe that we can now move forward with the confidence that our revolutionary politics have not been watered down in any way. This move was made in order to reinforce the primacy of politics within the Republican Socialist Movement and the work that has gone on behind the scenes since the announcement bears that out.
Not only do we intend to recruit and to build this party but we also intend to reach out to other republicans and socialists in an effort to build alliances that can ultimately progress the politics of republican socialism. On a wider political level we can proudly declare that our politics haven’t changed one iota. We remain committed republican socialists and revolutionaries. We remain implacably opposed to the British government having any say over the lives of any Irish man or woman. We continue to fight for the republic and agitate and advocate for the destruction of partition and all the institutions that prop it up north and south.
We have to fight against the partitionist mindset that continues to hold the people of Ireland back and prevents the people from reaching their full economic and social potential. The partition of Ireland is the biggest block in the way of achieving true economic freedom. This island is simply too small to support 2 health care systems, two transport systems, two education systems etc etc. The problems with these systems are starting to make themselves more apparent as cutbacks become the order of the day. Both regimes in Ireland, Stormont and Leinster House have begun implementing massive cuts on services that will be directly affecting you, your family and your community. Only direct, strong and focused action can prevent these cuts from happening. Stand up and become leaders within your communities and fight for your class, the working class. We urge you to take your lead from the likes of James Connolly and Seamus Costello who both worked tirelessly for the people.
Our party is working on a political program that will give members of our party and potential members and supporters a blueprint for the way forward. It will lay out in clear and concise terms what our party believes are solutions to all the major issues of the day.
In terms of the IRSP becoming more active politically we have already started this work. In Derry the party are integral part of the Communities Against the Cuts, which is an alliance of political and community organisations opposing cuts in vital services. In Dublin the party in the last year was involved in many alliances in support of working class communities and our party has stood with our Palestinian brothers and sisters who were under sustained attack by Israel. In Belfast our party worked diligently on the issue of the Bog Meadow Babies and helped bring that issue to a successful conclusion, the party carried out protests in support of Green Isle workers and in Wexford our members are at the forefront in opposing the closing of the accident and emergency department in Wexford General Hospital, our youth movement, the RSYM, has been raising awareness across Ireland of the homeless issue and their “House the homeless” campaign was imaginative and thought provoking. Teach Na Failte, our ex-prisoners organisation, has been doing great work within working class loyalist areas in bringing republican socialist ideas to those who for historical and cultural reasons have not been given the opportunity to hear these ideas before. We are entirely proud of our recent achievements and of our work for working class communities.
This is all great work but it must be multiplied a thousand times over if we are to make any meaningful impact for our class. Our task when leaving here today must be that we revitalise Republican Socialism within our communities. There are many problems facing working class areas and if implemented correctly the solutions are to be found within republican socialist ideas. Simply standing shoulder to shoulder with beleaguered communities can sometimes be enough to empower the people to make the decisions and to take action that directly benefits their lives provided that we are able to impart upon them the ideas of republican socialism and what these ideas mean for their struggle then the ultimate winners will be our class and the struggle for socialism.
Members of the IRSP should be active in all areas where we can help achieve victories for our class. The trades unions and the local trades councils are areas where we can influence and change and promote our ideas. Whilst we understand the limitations we would ask all of you here today to consider becoming members of the unions and to use these collectives in order to progress the politics of republican socialism. We must fight within these groups so that the working class gets back to the top of the agenda.
In order to build this party and bring it to it’s potential we need all our activists to stand together and put our collective shoulders to the wheel. We need to recruit and spread the ideas of Connolly and Tone, we must reach out to the working class and help them understand what we mean by Republican Socialism and how it can change the lives of every single working class person in Ireland. We have to build this party, that means we must recruit new members throughout Ireland, establish Cumainn in areas where presently there are none and make our party relevant, visible and viable. But we must be realistic in understanding what we can achieve.
Seamus Costello declared that his allegiance was to the working class. That is the slogan that best exemplifies what Seamus stood for and the politics he espoused. This is the IRSP’s view and our ideology but our task is to turn that idea into practical action within communities. We need each and every one of you here today to turn your pride and love for our fallen comrades into hard work within our communities and it is only then that their legacy will be realised and we can build the republic for which they died.
Go raibh mile maith agat.
(Gerard Murray Milltown Cemetery Belfast)
éirígí Easter Statement
Ninety-four years ago, on Easter Monday, April 24 1916, Irish republicans and socialists took armed control of Dublin City and proclaimed the Irish Republic. In doing so, these brave men and women changed the course of history.
As always, the British government reacted to this assertion of social and national rights with a brutal display of force – in the killing of civilians on the streets of Dublin, in the execution of the leadership of the Rising and in the attempted crushing of Irish demands for self-determination. But the risen people who followed in the footsteps of the men and women of Easter Week proved, yet again, that no one can break the will of a people to be free.
This Easter, éirígí, and all Irish republicans and socialists, remember with pride the sacrifice of those who struck that historic blow in 1916 and all those who have given their lives for freedom in the decades since. éirígí extends solidarity to the families of all those who have lost their lives because of their devotion to the republican cause.
The Ireland of today is not the one that was envisaged by the leaders of the Easter Rising when they drafted the Proclamation of the Irish Republic. It is not the one that was envisaged by all those who have given so much in the long years of struggle before and since 1916.
Today, more than half a million people are unemployed in Ireland; tens of thousands more are emigrating. The financial wealth of the Irish people is being used to prop up private banks, while their natural resources are being given away to multinational corporations. The living conditions, wages, rights and entitlements of workers are being attacked daily in an effort to shore up the profits of the business class. Working class communities are deprived of amenities and left to the ravages of poverty and all that flows from it. Partition remains in place and the occupation of the Six Counties is maintained by the armed forces of the British government.
These are the glaring injustices that provide the incentive for unceasing struggle in modern Ireland. In doing so, éirigí is provided with the inspiring example of the revolutionaries of Easter Week, who knew that freedom and rights are never returned willingly by oppressors, but must be taken back forcefully by the oppressed. The task that lies before Irish revolutionaries in 2010 is the same as that which faced the revolutionaries of 1916 – noting less than the complete removal of Britain from Ireland’s affairs and the radical reordering of the social and economic system.
What began on Easter Monday 1916 was a decolonisation process – Britain’s days in Ireland have been numbered ever since.
To complete this process, another uprising is needed – an uprising of the working people and all those who are exploited and oppressed. It may not happen today or tomorrow or next year, but happen it must and the preparatory work for that rising must begin today.
Four years after its foundation éirígí remains wholeheartedly committed to the struggle for Irish national, social, economic and cultural freedom. This Easter, we encourage republicans and socialists to join us as we honour Ireland’s dead and recommit ourselves to the ideals for which they died. Ar aghaidh linn le chéile.
32County Sovereignty Movement Easter Oration
A chairde, let me commence by extending all our best wishes to Terry McCafferty who was recently released by his British gaolers. Terry was re-imprisoned because he holds republican beliefs. He was re-imprisoned so that the British Direct ruler could demonstrate his authority on behalf of Westminster, an authority they will not dilute with devolution. That steely determination to retain this authority over part of our country will inevitably mean that there are, and will be, more Terry McCaffertys.
We extend our hearty congratulations to all those republican activists, from various republican organisations that campaigned long and hard for this outcome. You have shown the way. More of our fellow country people remain incarcerated because the root cause of the conflict has not been addressed in the so-called peace process.
Home Rule is not the issue that needs to be resolved. Pearse told us this in 1916. Devolution of limited powers to micro ministers is not the answer either. The 32 County Sovereignty Movement tells us this today. We do well to avoid clichés but the parallels of then and now are as stark as ever.
In 1916 the Home Rulers, led by Redmond, were telling the Irish people that their blood was needed on the battlefields of Europe to secure Home Rule. Today Mary McAleese, styling herself the President Of Ireland, is in Gallipoli telling us that those who died in that carnage should be equally remembered as those we remember for 1916. She is wrong in both her title and her assertion. She is not the President of Ireland. Ireland does not stop at the border, as her constitution makes clear. And she is wrong to say that those who fought for the British Empire and those who fought against it deserve equal recognition in our memories. That Empire still exists in Ireland and only when that reality ends can we begin to address the historical legacy. History is only in the past when history is resolved.
We salute those who fought the British Empire in 1916. We salute those who fight that empire today. The Centenary of Easter Week is fast approaching. All sides of the conflict know the significance of this date. The revisionists are working hard to ensure that Partition and the Proclamation can in some way be harmonised. We know they can’t, but that is not enough. We too must prepare and because our resources are not as great as theirs we must prepare in Fenian fashion.
Our intellectual objections to this deliberate misinterpretation of our history must be matched with action on the ground that leaves our people in no doubt that 1916 is unfinished business. But we cannot wait until then.
What’s happening in the Six Counties today is part of this revisionist trend. Criminalisation of republicans is its violent expression just as it was with the executions of the Seven Signatories. There is no great analysis required to discern this. The British jackboot, British Gaols and quislings denouncing us as traitors on their behalf is the old familiar chorus.
The so called devolution of policing and justice to her majesty’s minions in Stormont reinforces the British strategy of allowing her loyal Irish give the veneer of normality to her occupation. But just as Westminster duped the Irish on the Somme concerning Home Rule the same deception applies concerning the PSNI and a route to a United Ireland. Lions cannot be led by donkeys no more than republicans can be led by quislings.
We must turn to our communities to seek and provide solutions. Our republicanism cannot speak over their heads or on their behalf without us engaging with them. The reclamation of our sovereignty can only begin with community actions because the people are the nation. We need to build a new interface between our people and republicanism so that both can act independently of the British state.
The 32CSM has long contended that the relevance of the border to British interests is best exposed by political actions, which force the British to defend it. Organised communities can provoke such actions so long as they act as Pearse and Connolly acted, as representatives and defenders of Irish sovereignty. This was the great flaw in the so-called peace process as espoused by those who championed it as a means to engage with the British. It did not defend our sovereignty. Republican opposition to this process was primarily based on this salient point. We are not anti peace, we are not anti politics but we are against any process, which seeks to violate our sovereignty as a quick fix to the conflict in our country.
We will talk to the British about one issue only, Irish National Sovereignty and Britain’s violation of it. We will seek the UN’s intervention as guarantor for the integrity of such talks so that Perfidious Albion can be left outside of the room. Our door remains open, our resolve remains fixed.
To our unionist brothers and sisters we say this; let us build a new Ireland together. Let us start with a blank canvass without veto or pre condition. Let us all recognise that our fears and concerns are subordinate to Westminster’s interests and used and abused accordingly.
Ireland needs a new beginning. It needs a new dynamic in nationhood, a new dynamic in economic development, a new dynamic in expressions of culture and faith. We need a new democratic order that can look back on our history and say assuredly that we have found the way forward.
Partition is squalid. It is the product of division and exclusion. It is a throw back to a world that gave us nothing but imperial slaughter. It has to end. And it will end. The Free State has descended into a melting pot of corruption and political stagnation. Its actions have declared itself unfit for existence. It is so far removed from the ethos of the Proclamation that only the wealthy developers and bankers are cherished equally. It is proof positive that partition is squalid on both sides of it. Dublin has finally lain to rest the flawed notion that a united Ireland is nothing more than subsuming the Six Counties into the Free State. It cannot advance the cause of Irish unity. Using partition to end partition cannot work either. We need to come out from the apparatus of partition and act decisively against it. Merely standing there is not an option.
We remember the heroes of Easter Week because they acted on their beliefs. They acted on their history, their culture, their ideological discourse and above all they acted in unison. They knew the imperfect day would come. They knew that their preparations would themselves be imperfect. But they grasped the reality that in revolution participation is an essential part of that preparation. Belief becomes redundant when it is not acted upon.
Republicans today are at this crossroads also. Our imperfect day is here. We have talked long on belief, on history, on culture and on ideology. We are as prepared as we can ever be. We need to act in unison. The 32 County Sovereignty Movement is now acting on this unity. We urge all republicans to act with us, as themselves, but we are not prepared to wait any longer for you. The patriots of 1916 deserve no less of us.
(Marion Price –Derry)
The Workers’ Party Easter Commemoration
Comrades, Once again we have gathered in this place to commemorate the lives and the vision of those people who, over many generations, have fought and, in many cases, died to achieve an Irish Republic. The ideal of the republic is not something mystical or religious, and our adherence to the concept of the Republic is not something ritualistic.
It is only through a republic that we can achieve our vision of a socialist, secular, unitary state on this island. The Irish Times, that long established bastion of the establishment, has over the last number of weeks been running a series of articles under the generic headline “Renewing the Republic”. It is a very fine headline but it begs the question. Did we ever have a republic to begin with?
If we understand republic in its most narrow construction as a state without a monarch, then the 26 county state was a republic. But this narrow understanding is to demean the concept of Republic. As succinctly stated by Des O’Hagan in his major lecture “The Concept of Republicanism”:
“Republican ideology was more than a critique of the ancien régime. At the same time it located the citizen at the centre of political discourse. Political institutions were no longer to be the playthings of a privileged aristocracy.”
When we look at the Irish state over the last 90 years, but most especially over the last two decades, we see that it has failed this most basic test of republicanism. The citizen was not the centre of political discourse. The citizen was roughly pushed to one side while a new aristocracy, a new autocracy, took charge of the levers of power and shared amongst themselves the spoils of plunder. Capitalism and neo-liberal economic policies were rampant and, as is inevitable with capitalism, the bigger the boom the bigger the bust.
When we see the sheer gangsterism, naked greed, and blatant carpet-bagging that went on in our banking, building and land speculation sectors it beggars public belief. Yet we, the Workers’ Party, have been attempting to highlight this reality for over thirty years. For more years than we care to remember we have pointed to the vast fortunes that were being made by a select few through land rezoning and site hoarding. We pointed out that land, with a base agricultural value of maybe €25,000 per acre was suddenly worth several million Euro if it was rezoned as residential.
The system bred corruption and, as well as a coterie of speculators and bankers, significant figures in Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael were part of the golden circle. However even we were astounded at the scale of the corruption and the scale of the black hole which this corruption has burned in our national finances.
The bank bailout in the South alone is now penciled in as costing €30 billion minimum. Can anyone imagine this amount of money? Can we visualise what thirty thousand million Euros actually means or may look like? It is the same amount as the total income tax and VAT that the Irish state will collect this year.
Can we imagine that the actions of a mere few hundred people have been pivotal to this economic melt-down which in interest alone will cost the tax-payer at least a billion Euro each year for two generations. Could we really say we had a Republic when so much economic life was dominated by this elite, these merchant princes, these banking princes. This elite amassed, and still controls, vast riches. And, as Henry Joy McCracken stated so correctly two centuries ago
“The rich will always betray the poor”.
The poor have been betrayed. Neither the Celtic Tiger, nor the British Economic Miracle delivered for the working class or indeed for the vast majority of people described by the media as middle class.
Basic infrastructure throughout this island is falling apart. North and South, schools, hospitals, childcare services, care centres for the elderly are inadequate, antiquated, or missing altogether. Budgets are being slashed and the numbers of nurses, doctors, teachers, care workers are being slashed. The lives of pensioners and the unemployed are being made unbearable. All of this is happening so that capitalism can be rescued and the obscene profits and lifestyles of a tiny elite safeguarded. When we stand here, and think of the people and the idealism we commemorate here, then the full obscenity of what is happening comes home to us.
In this little island we have had to contend with more than just the merchant princes. We have had to contend with the power and control of the hierarchy – the Princes of the Church. We do not here have to repeat the horrors revealed in the Murphy Report, the Ryan Report, the Ferns Report. These reports, and others, merely reveal the horrors of a blatant abuse of power.
What we, as republicans have to ask is how this elite had managed to usurp this power from the citizen. Why were 95% of our schools and our correctional institutes for young people handed over to an elite whose first and overwhelming loyalty was to an organization and leader completely outside this state? Why is it that the vast majority of our so called public hospitals – although fully funded by the state – are controlled by the same elite?
We know that the political establishment will not challenge the power of this elite. Yes, every time another damning report is published they will huff and puff and wring their hands in dismay. But not one member of Fianna Fail or Fine Gael will challenge the power of the church. And neither, for that matter, will any of the parties in the Northern Ireland Executive. It is an example of the perversion of ideology that some people who call themselves republican, and who waged a war on the people of this island for thirty years to achieve their objectives, fought a vicious campaign to ensure that the hierarchy maintained and strengthened their control of education within the nationalist population in Northern Ireland.
People who claim to walk in the footsteps of Wolfe Tone fought a vicious physical and ideological campaign to maintain segregated education, to maintain and strengthen faith schools, to segregate teacher training colleges. In short they fought to Balkanise education and ensure that future generations of children in Northern Ireland grow up and attend schools in parallel but separate systems. This campaign ensured that virtually every child from a Roman Catholic background would, for ten years of the most vulnerable years of their lives, be in an environment dominated by the hierarchy. What credibility do these people now have when they rattle their chains of office and call on this or that bishop to resign because of a child abuse scandal?
Just last month came the announcement in Northern Ireland that Ian Paisley is to finally retire from public life. Ian Paisley has been central to the misfortune and misery with which the people of Northern Ireland have had to endure for the whole of his political career. For it was he who was responsible for fanning the flames of sectarianism, for exploiting for his own political and religious ends the fears, real and unfounded of many Protestant people. It was Paisley who brought onto the streets Unionist extremists who violently opposed the legitimate and democratic demands of the Civil Rights movement. Such demands were in the interests of all of the people of Northern Ireland, irrespective of religon. They were demands that were designed to create a modern, democratic and anti sectarian state.
How many people have died needlessly because of his dangerous and destructive rhetoric?How many young people, not least from the Protestant paramilitary organisations themselves, found themselves in prison for the most heinous crimes, prompted by the words and stirrings of this man?
How much sooner could a political settlement been achieved were it not for his destructive acts? Unfortunately there were many on both sides of the sectarian divide who were, wittingly or unwittingly, dancing to his sectarian tune. The end result has been 40 or more wasted years and a continuing legacy of sectarian division, mistrust and bitterness.
This is also the 50th anniversary of the staging of “Over the Bridge”, a stage drama depicting sectarianism in Northern Ireland. Regrettably 50 years later, and as it plays once again to Belfast audiences, we have to say that in terms of sectarianism nothing much has changed. In housing and education in particular, segregation remains the order of the day. And just as the play caused a stir among the respectable classes then, sectarianism remains at the very centre of respectability in Northern Ireland today – the government itself.
It is long past time that those features of the Good Friday Agreement, which many of us identified at the time as instruments for the perpetuation of sectarianism in Northern Ireland society are removed. Whatever arguments were advanced then about these measures being necessary to safeguard against discrimination and the abuse of power no longer carry any credibility. Those who, after receiving a democratic mandate at the ballot box, can put together a democratic majority in any future Stormont Assembly, must be allowed to do so. The present artificial Executive system is a recipe for continuing sectarian division and political paralysis.
The future choice is clear. Either we continue with the tribal politics of unionism and nationalism or we embrace the democratic politics of citizenship espoused by the Civil Rights Movement. It is a choice between the DUP/Sinn Fein coalition at Stormont and all that that represents, or the humane and democratic values espoused by Sam Thompson and those like him who were behind the formation of the movement for reform and renewal in Northern Ireland, NICRA.
For us in the Workers Party we have no hesitation in stating where we stand. We stand in the tradition of Tone and Connolly, for the re-conquest of Ireland and the unity of its people. Our anti-sectarian demand for the unity of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter remains central to our programme.
Comrades our struggle is not over, in many important ways it is only just beginning. Years of sectarian state and paramilitary violence have certainly set back our cause greatly. Many of our members, friends and supporters died and others suffered greatly because they refused to bend the knee to reaction and outright fascism in those dark days. But the struggle ahead will be no less difficult. As in the past we require the determination and strength of character shown by our members to see us through. Tone’s ideal of the unity of Protestant, Catholic, and Dissenter has still not been achieved. As Connolly warned the working class remain under the yoke of economic oppression, regardless of the colour of the flag or symbols of nationalism which their political masters choose to flaunt.
Before we leave here we must return to the present crisis of capitalism, which is often deliberately misnamed an economic crisis or a national crisis. This crisis shows very clearly the limits of the “profits at all costs” mentality which has dominated the EU and US for the past generation. It destroys the myth of the efficient private sector and totally destroys the nonsense of the infallibility of the market.
The laws of capitalism are supposed to be simple. You make an investment and if it is successful you can bask in the glory and live the high life but if it is a failure you suffer the loss and that is that. Well we now find that the laws of capitalism have been changed. The winner still takes all but the loser loses nothing. Profits are still private but losses are socialized – in other words you and I and every other worker and every social welfare recipient picks up the tab. Right across the western capitalist world the same formula is being put in place by the ruling class, and social democracy – as it has always done – is standing side by side with the bosses.
Workers, and in particular public sector workers, are being blamed for the crisis and are being landed with the bill to fix capitalism. Wages are being slashed; conditions being worsened; rights and privileges won over many generations are being withdrawn. Let us be frank – we want a modern efficient public service. But modernity and efficiency is not the same as understaffed, badly paid, and semi-privatised. In order to “lead us on the path of recovery” the very people who have practically destroyed the economies of Ireland, Britain and the US are now going to be given huge chunks of the public service and public utilities as their latest plaything.
We must do now what those people we honour here did in the past – provide hope, provide leadership, provide the alternative to capitalism, which this country and the working class needs and deserves. When we do that we can stand in this place and hold our heads high.
Comradaithe, Slán agus go raibh míle maith agaibh.
(Mary Diskin-Milltown Cemetry Belfast)
Provisional Sinn Fein
Republicans across Ireland will gather today as we have here in Carrickmore to remember and to pay tribute to those who have paid the ultimate price in the pursuit of Irish Freedom.
We do so because this is a time for us to reflect on where our struggle is at, to look back on where we have come from but most importantly to map out where we want to go in the coming period.
We remember with pride the inspiration republican men and women of 1916 and their comrades in the IRA in the years since then.
In the most recent phase of armed action, County Tyrone republicans in unity with republicans from Crossmaglen to Derry, from Dunloy to Monaghan and throughout Ireland were once again in the vanguard of the struggle. This came at a heavy price. Many of the people gathered here served in the ranks of the IRA. Many here today spent long years in prisons both at home and abroad. And I pay tribute to all of you for the role you have played in bringing our struggle to this point. You can be rightly proud of the fact that there are now more Irish Republicans in the north than at any time in our history.
I also want to make special mention of the families of those brave patriots from this county who made the ultimate sacrifice in the course of the last four decades. They were ordinary men and women volunteers who in extraordinary and difficult circumstances found the inner strength, determination and courage to stand against injustice and oppression, and to demand the rights and entitlements of the Irish people. They had the vision to see beyond the conflict, beyond the centuries of occupation, and to embrace the republican spirit of Tone, of Emmet and Connolly, and to stand up for justice, equality and freedom.
I also want to salute their families and to particularly welcome those who are with us here today. You hold a special place within this struggle. We as a republican community owe you a great debt. We have a massive responsibility to ensure that the families of our Patriot dead are treated with respect and equality that they deserve.
We will also resist absolutely ongoing efforts by revisionists in the media and elsewhere to retrospectively criminalise the IRA, its dead Volunteers and the proud communities from which it came. And we should be under no illusions that that is what is now underway. Long time opponents of Irish Republicanism are seeking to damage the struggle and sully the memory of our patriot dead through a vile onslaught of negative propaganda. They do this not for monetary gain but also out of hatred for what we have achieved. Unfortunately a tiny number of former activists who should know better have allowed themselves to be used in this effort. But just as the revisionists in the past sought to demonise the men and women of 1916 and failed, the Irish people will reject the modern day revisionists also. Let me be clear - we are unapologetic about the right of the Irish people to be free. It is what we are about. It is not negotiable. It is not a bargaining chip. It is a live political project to which we have dedicated our lives. Our struggle is about Irish Freedom – not about positions, or egos, or personalities, or militarism. Republicans and the leadership of the IRA in particular did not take the difficult strategic decisions that they have over the course of the last 15 years to please or curry favour. Difficult decisions were taken with one objective in mind – the reunification of our country and the establishment of a 32 county Irish Republic on the island for the first time.
Tom Paulin, the well known northern poet wrote a poem called ‘of a Difference it makes’. This poem is based on the fact that since Partition, in fifty years of unionist dominated rule at Stormont, the only piece of legislation nationalist representatives were able to get passed was ‘The Wild Birds Act’. Our generation of Irish republicans have brought that domination to an end. I am in government with four other Sinn Féin Ministers with decision making powers over a budget of billions of pounds and many other matters. This is beyond the wildest nightmares of the then unionist leaders who had more regard for the welfare of animals than the rights of northern republicans and republicans.
The world as they knew it has changed. And that change continues.
The recent negotiations at Hillsborough saw the leader of the DUP, Peter Robinson face down the TUV, the Ulster Unionists and those within his own party, all of whom were attempting to put the brakes on an agenda for change based on partnership and equality. This represents real progress. On partnership and equality there can be no compromise! And it is disappointing that there are still those unionist political leaders who disagree with Mid-Ulster Nobel Laureate, Seamus Heaney when he wrote that ‘it is neither stupid nor insulting to ask unionists to consider consenting to some political adjustments that would give nationalists equally undisputed rights to the grounds of their Irish identity’.
Likewise we too we must continue to stand up and demonstrate to those in our community the absolute folly of opposing change which has the overwhelming support of republicans and of the people of Ireland.
We now find ourselves in the leadership of the power sharing institutions here in the north linked to all-Ireland Ministerial institutions. Irish politicians taking decisions about Irish affairs in this part of Ireland! But welcome as this is it is not the end game for us. Of course it brings better government. Of course it gives us an effective say in our everyday lives.
But it is not a settlement as we see it.
As a republican leadership we have mapped out a strategy which has the potential to deliver Irish unity. But a united Ireland will not happen simply because there is a strategy in place to deliver it. It will only happen if we as republicans make it happen.
If we continue to build political strength and use it!
If we continue to make our message relevant!
If we continue to republicanise Irish society!
That is our job.
And the strategy of steady political change is working.
The Orange State is gone and along with it, second class citizenship, the UDR, the RIR and the RUC confined to history. All-Ireland political institutions in place and more powers shifting from London to Ireland all the time! Unionism is in a place where people said it would never be. This was achieved because you made it happen. You drive the process of change. And in the coming weeks you will have the opportunity to once again play your part in the ongoing republicanisation of the north by again electing three Sinn Féin MPs in County Tyrone.
That is why it is important that all republicans keep pulling in the right direction. Otherwise we risk giving our opponents and the opponents of Irish freedom a leg up. Republicans don’t have to agree on everything. But we have more that unites us than anything else. All genuine republicans want a united Ireland and an end to British government involvement in Irish affairs.
We should all be able to agree on the reality that armed struggle was never, throughout our history, a republican principle. It was a republican tactic. From Tone, through Pearse and Connolly and onto the present generation of activists it was republican politics which bound us together.
When offered a peaceful path to Irish unity and independence it is my view that we have an obligation to our children and grandchildren to press ahead along that road. We must continue to move forward. We must continue to take risks. We must continue to grow and develop our struggle and ultimately if we bring together the sum parts of our individual efforts we will build a national movement for freedom which will become unstoppable.
In the last election here in the north our party, an Irish Republican party became the largest political party.
That this has happened for the first time in the north sends a very powerful message that change is continuing.
That there are increasingly more and more people who believe as we do that Irish Republicans have the right not just to govern, but to be free.
Let us leave Carrickmore today inspired by those who struggled with us, let us leave here in the knowledge that unity is our strength and in the absolute belief in ourselves and our abilities to achieve the republic to which we have dedicated and will continue to dedicate our lives.
(Martin McGuinness Carrickmore)
James Connolly Archive http://www.marxists.org/archive/connolly <http://www.marxists.org/archive/connolly>
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