Vol. 1-No 7
Thursday April 1st 2010
2) Reflections –Easter 2010
3) The “Rebel Girl” on James Connolly
4) 'A Sort of Open Prison'
5) Speech By Denis Murphy
It is clear as daylight that the Fianna Fail/ Green Coalition in the 26 counties is a business Government dancing to the tune of the bankers and moneymen worldwide. Under pressure from international financial institutions they have decided that the peoples’ money shall go as follows,
Bank of Ireland €2.7 billion;
AIB, €7.4 billion;
Irish Nationwide, €2.7 billion;
EBS, €875 million;
At the same time the banks have been given the go ahead to increase interest rates. In the December budget the drastic measures introduced were to deal with a €24 billion deficit.
€4 billion was taken from peoples’ wages social welfare rates and public services. So essentially there will be a period of maybe 10 to 15 years when money is taken from the working people and thrown to the banks as a reward for their drastic mishandling of their businesses. That is called Capitalism. Take from the poor give to the rich.
Organised workers are faced with a shameful deal negotiated by their trade union leaders. They have agreed to a reduction in the number of public sector jobs of approximately 17,000 jobs. In the new language that is now called “transformation” and it means increased unemployment and a reduction in public services. The impact on the overall economy will be deflationary when it is clear that the economy needs, not deflation but stimulus.
The unorganized are already suffering. Cuts are already taking place in social welfare, in community projects, including inner city projects to combat poverty and deprivation. Hospital budgets are being cut and health services run down.
At the same time in the north educational services are working without knowing what their budgets are and how many teachers to make redundant. Cuts will be introduced across all public sector services.
The Irish economy North and South is in deep trouble and the main people who are, and will continue, suffering are the working people who actual create the wealth. It is time the unions instead of cosying up to both administrations organised their forces into building a mass party of the working class fighting on socialist programme.
The revelations about the President of Provisional Sinn Fein in the book “Voices from the Grave” should surprise no one. What is surprising is the failure of the rank and file in that organisation to object to a leadership that is in denial, is economical with the truth and demonises anyone who is “off message” Whatever happened to those dedicated committed and idealistic socialists who joined Sinn Fein to build a socialist republic?
Reflections –Easter 2010
Easter 2010 will see many republicans gather around the many Republican grave sites around Ireland to commemorate the 1916 Rising and pay respect to the many Republicans who fell in the struggle to establish an Irish Republic. Different factions of republicanism will march separately to gravesides to hear speeches honouring the men and women of the struggle and outlining that particular faction of republicanism’s views as to how to move the struggle forward. In some of these parades the Tricolor will take prominent position, in others the Starry Plough and in too few, the Red Flag will lead the parade. Practically all the republican factions all claim to have some socialist aspirations. That has been the position since the mid 1960’s when the then mainstream Republican Movement leadership took a unilateral decision to declare for a Socialist Republic.
The years since have seen major changes in Ireland. Both unionism and republicanism have been fractured. The Stormont monolith has gone to be replaced by a sectarian coalition and Fianna Fail’s majority rule has gone and they can only govern in coalition. Ireland has endured the “troubles”, rode the “Celtic Tiger” and suffered a major economic crisis without parallel as part of a world-wide crisis in the world economies.
It is against this background that a number of key issues face Irish Republicans in their quest for the Holy Grail of an Irish Republic. These issues include the solving of the “national question” in the 21st century, the methods for achieving the goals, the nature of Imperialism, how to relate to the “British Question in Ireland, the relationship between nationalism and republicanism and the relationship between Republicanism and Socialism. Of course over the years many have tackled these questions and will no doubt in the future.
Differing republican organisations have taken various stances particularly in relation to the Protestant Unionist Loyalist (PUL) people. In its early days of formation for example the Provisional Republican Movement under the leadership of Daithi O’Conaill and Ruari O’Bradaigh formulated the Eire Nua programme as a way of incorporating unionism into a Republic whilst retaining some element of self -determination in Dail Ulaidh.
As the Adams faction gradually gained control of the Provisional Republican Movement the Eire Nua policy was ditched. The Adams faction, like most Northern activists were influenced by Michael Farrell of Peoples’ Democracy and his advocacy of the colon theory; i.e. that the northern unionists were like the French settler class, or Colons in Algeria. This theory was a much more sophisticated political analysis of the
“Take the boat from Larne back to where they came from” argument put by some republicans falling into the sectarian mindset.
Other more idealistic Republicans thought that in the struggle for freedom unionism would be converted by the non-sectarian republican struggle. One form of that argument was advanced by the leadership of the Official Republican Movement, which quite correctly pointed out the dangers of rampant sectarianism if armed struggle continued in the seventies. However in its rejection of religious sectarianism it descended into political sectarianism. The ORM transmogrified into the Workers Party and practically ditched most of its core Republican beliefs into a vain desire to win over unionist workers. That goal may have been worthy but the methods used to achieve it were not. Their behaviour for example during the ‘81 hunger strikes was deplorable. They condemned the prisoners campaign for political status, they endorsed the police force, the RUC, and they advised the Northern Ireland Office as to how to deal with the prison protest. (Pages 422-424 The Lost Revolution –Hanley/Millar)
Following the upsurge of support that Republicanism received after the hunger strikes little time was given to the consideration of winning over support from the PUL constituency. The pursuit of the “armalite and ballot box” strategy by the provisional movement inevitably forced them into a pan nationalist strategy. Given the set up in the north and the hardening of both communities back into the “my community mindset” any electoral success has to be achieved by playing either the “green” or “orange” card
During the seventies and eighties, most republicans simply dismissed the loyalists as dupes of British Imperialism without any independent stance of their own. The large number of police agents in the ranks of the UDA and UVF only confirmed this belief for republicans. Only much later did some republicans come to recognise the malign influence of British agents within their own ranks.
The Adams leadership in the provisional movement had originally advocated a “Long War” strategy in the vain hope of eroding the British will to stay in the North. Partially due to the upsurge of loyalist violence in the late eighties (With arms brought in from South Africa with British intelligence connivance) and the subsequent drop in morale within the nationalist population the ‘Long War” strategy was dropped.
The Adams leadership decided to go down the electoral and constitutional road. To do this they ran down the Provisional IRA over a long period, stole the SDLP’s clothes and became the main nationalist party in the North. While still paying lip service to socialist ideas (to attract the youth) when in power they instead opted for the free market ideas of the British and Irish ruling classes. Of course on the road to reformism the PRM lost many militants who have since gone on to join a number of other republican political groupings including 32 County Sovereignty Movement, Republican Sinn Fein and Republican Network for Unity.
Unfortunately there also exist a number of armed groups who seemingly still adhere to a form of the long war strategy. These various IRAs’ can certainly disrupt the every day life of the North. Real or hoax bombs can tie up resources, prevent workers from getting home etc. It is a form of the war of the flea. It can bite, it can bleed, it can scratch and itch. But will it advance the goal of a united Irelan?. As a strategy and with much greater resources it failed under the Provisional IRA. It will not succeed for the armed republicans.
To its credit it is now clear that the leadership of the INLA have totally forsaken any recourse to armed struggle and seem determined to advance their politics by democratic political means.
At a time, when the working class is coming under immense pressure as cuts in the economy, designed to lower living standards, start to bite, the last thing workers need is armed actions whose only impact will be to divide workers even more. Without been over -optimistic there is a small chance that some catholic and protestant workers can be won to socialist and Marxist ideas as the recession bites even deeper.
This does not mean abandoning core republican aspirations, rather it means returning to the ideas and teachings of James Connelly.
Therein lies the key to advancing socialism in Ireland. Too focused a concentration on purely economic issues as some political sects does a disservice to the whole question of Imperialism in practice. Also too focused a concentration on democratic issues arising from republican struggles, such as repressive laws by the State or the plight of political prisoners can leave the vast majority of workers out of the loop.
Consider the following quote, defining the role of a socialist,
“-the tribune of the people, who is able to react to every manifestation of tyranny and oppression, no matter where it appears, no matter what stratum or class of the people it affects; who is able to generalise all these manifestations and produce a single picture of police violence and capitalist exploitation; who is able to take advantage of every event, however small, in order to set forth before all his socialist convictions and his democratic demands, in order to clarify for all and everyone the world-historic significance of the struggle for the emancipation of the proletariat.”
(V.I.Lenin “What Is To Be Done” http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1901/witbd/iii.htm)
That is not an easy road to take. In the North there has never been a more divided society. Catholics and Protestants feel safer living in exclusively single identity housing estates. There is undoubtedly a feeling of alienation gripping many working class protestant loyalist estates. Sectarianism has reached new heights in the Northwest.
The shock of the DUP agreeing to the devolution of Policing and Justice has created new opportunities for groups like the Traditional Voice of Unionism and the BNP to win over loyalists to their sectarian politics. Combating this from the left will not be easy. Many unionists were brought up believing that Catholics /nationalists were the enemy. So it was necessary to build the Six County State on injustice, inequality and discrimination against Catholics and Nationalists. Believing they were superior many middle class unionists ignored the social economic deprivation and the anti-democratic nature of the state or worse still tried to justify it. Their followers were lulled into a similar mindset and believed not only that they were superior but also that Catholics were lesser human beings. Hence the spread of sectarianism through out the body politic.
In 1977 Seamus Costello an outstanding Republican Socialist, wrote the following about how the workers have been used.
“In the North the Protestant working class were led to believe that the only way in which they could preserve the marginal supremacy which they held over their Catholic counterparts in jobs and housing was through supporting corrupt Unionist politicians and through them the Union with Britain.
Their genuine and well founded fears regarding the preservation of their religious and civil liberties in the context of a united and clerical dominated Ireland were also exploited by the same corrupt politicians.
At the same time the Catholic working class were conned into believing that their salvation lay in supporting green Tory politicians who, while hypocritically advocating the reunification of Ireland, as a guarantee of their ultimate salvation, completely submerged themselves in corrupt Unionist politics in exchange for favours for the class they really represented, the Northern Catholic middle class.
As history has shown, the working class, North and South, Protestant and Catholic, have been victims of the so-called solutions to the 'Irish Question' imposed by Britain and her subservient native parliaments.
Loyalism has been compared to American white-trash trailer park. In many loyalist areas there is vicious sectarianism, low educational achievement, unemployment, a huge increase in drug taking in all its forms. Nationalists however cannot be complacent. There is also sectarianism low educational attainment and heavy drug abuse in nationalist areas as well. So long as both these sections of the working class see themselves as separate from each other then the task of winning workers to a socialist position will remain extremely difficult.
We must never forget that the working class, Catholic Protestant and Dissenter is our class and without the support of that class we cannot build socialism in Ireland. Only socialism will overcome the prejudices sectarianism and bitterness that permeates northern life.
On Easter Sunday /Monday as Republican gather to celebrate the struggle perhaps they will reflect that Irish republicanism has traditionally seen itself as based on the principles of the French revolution and its rally cry of liberty equality and fraternity.
All the historic leaders of republicanisms from Wolfe Tone onwards firmly rejected sectarianism. They regarded sectarianism as a tool used by the British to divide the people.
Instead, Irish Republicanism embraced a universal view of the world. Republicans saw themselves as citizens of that world, in favour of tolerance and freedom of thought. Most of the republicans from the past who are honoured by present day republicans are generally seen as being radical, universal and on the left.
That is why there is an affinity between republicanism and socialism. Both internationalist radical universal and for the rights of mankind.
The “Rebel Girl” on James Connolly
In 1907, during the campaign to free Moyer, Haywood and Pettibone, I was invited to speak at a meeting, in Newark, New Jersey, arranged by the Socialist Labor Party. There was protest against my acceptance by the New Jersey Socialist Party, which had either not been invited to participate or had refused. I felt I should go anywhere to speak for this purpose. Our rostrum was an old wagon, set up in Washington Park. The horse was inclined to run when there was loud applause, so he was taken out of the wagon shafts. This meeting is an unforgettable event in my life because it was here I first met James Connolly, the Irish Socialist speaker, writer and labor organizer who gave his life for Irish freedom nine years later in the Easter Week Uprising of 1916 in Dublin.
At the time I refer to he worked for the Singer Sewing Machine Company of Elizabeth, New Jersey, and had a hard struggle to support his wife and six small children. He lost his job when he tried to organize a union in the plant. He was short, rather stout, a plain-looking man with a large black moustache, a very high forehead and dark sad eyes, a man who rarely smiled. A scholar and an excellent writer, his speech was marred for American audiences by his thick, North of Ireland accent, with a Scotch burr from his long residence in Glasgow. On the Washington Park occasion someone spilled a bottle of water in his hat, the only one he possessed undoubtedly, and with a wry expression on his face he shook it out and dried it, but made no complaint.
Connolly and I spoke again in 1907 at an Italian Socialist meeting early one Sunday morning. I wondered then why they arranged their meetings at such an odd hour but discovered it was a substitute for church among these rabid anticlericals, and happily did not interfere with their sacred ritual of the big spaghetti and vino dinner later on. I asked Connolly: ‘Who will speak in Italian?’ He smiled his rare smile and replied, ‘We'll see. Someone, surely.’ After we had both spoken, they took a recess and gave us coffee and cake behind the scenes, a novel but welcome experience for us. Stale water was the most we got elsewhere! Then we returned to the platform and Connolly arose. He spoke beautifully in Italian to my amazement and the delight of the audience who ‘viva'd’ loudly.
Later he moved his family to Elton Avenue in the Bronx and the younger children of our families played together. Once, Patrick Quin-lan, a family friend who had left a bookcase with a glass door at Connolly's house, was horrified to find all the books on the floor and the Flynn-Connolly children playing funeral, with one child beautifully laid out in the bookcase. ‘Who's dead?’ Connolly asked. ‘Quinlan,’ they replied serenely. Needless to say, the children did not like Quinlan.
Connolly worked for the IWW and had an office at Cooper Square. He was a splendid organizer, as his later work for the Irish Transport Workers, with James Larkin, demonstrated. Although the Socialist Labor Party had invited him here in 1902 on a lecture tour and he was elected a member of their National Executive Committee, there was obvious jealousy displayed against him by their leader, Daniel De Leon, who could brook no opposition. Connolly had been one of the founders in 1896 of the Irish Socialist Republican Party in Dublin and editor of its organ. Connolly's position that the Irish Socialist Party represented a separate nation from Britain was recognized by the International Socialist Congress in 1900, and the Irish delegates were allowed to take their seats as such.
When membership in the SLP became impossible for him here, he joined the Socialist Party and toured the country under its auspices. Connolly was the first person I ever heard use the expression, ‘Workers' Republic’; in fact, he is called by one biographer, ‘the Irish apostle of the Soviet idea,’ though none of us ever heard the word in those days. (Only later did I learn that Soviets first arose in the Russian Revolution of 1905.)
He felt keenly that not enough understanding and sympathy was shown by American Socialists for the cause of Ireland's national liberation, that the Irish workers here were too readily abandoned by the Socialists as ‘reactionaries’ and that there was not sufficient effort made to bring the message of socialism to the Irish-American workers. In 1907 George B. McClellan, Mayor of New York City, made a speech in which he said: ‘There are Russian Socialists and Jewish Socialists and German Socialists! But, thank God! there are no Irish Socialists!’ This was a challenge to Connolly, my father and a host of others with good Irish names, members of both the Socialist parties. They banded together as the Irish Socialist Club, later known as the Irish Socialist Federation. James Connolly was chairman and my sister Katherine was secretary. She was then 15 years old. Connolly was strong for encouraging ‘the young people.’
The Irish Socialist Federation caused great protest among the other existing federations. The others insisted we didn't need a federation because we weren't foreign-speaking. We wanted a banner we could fight under. The Unity Club required us to be too placating, too peaceful. The Federation was born one Sunday afternoon at our house in the Bronx. Connolly, Quinlan, O'Shaughnessy, Cooke, Cody, Daly, Ray, all the Flynns, were there; also our faithful Jewish friend, Sam Stodel, who was sympathetic to our proposal. But we excluded him as we feared ridicule if we included a Jew.
He went into the kitchen and said to my mother: ‘Have you any-thing for this bunch to eat?’ She confessed she had not, so he went around the corner and bought ham, cheese, corned beef, beer, crackers, etc., to feed the doughty Irish when their session was over. Nourished by Sam, we went forth to battle. The Federation arranged street meetings to show that Mayor McClellan was an ignoramus and a liar, especially in Irish neighborhoods where such meetings had never been held.
It had a large green and white banner, announcing who and what it was, with the Gaelic slogan, Faugh-a-Balach (Clear the Way) in big letters surrounded by harps and shamrocks. The meetings were stormy but finally accepted at many corners. A German blacksmith comrade built the Federation a sturdy platform that could not easily be upset, with iron detachable legs that could be used as ‘shillelaghs’ in an emergency. These helped to establish order at the meetings, and won a wholesome respect for the Federation.
The Federation issued a statement of its purposes (written by James Connolly):
'To assist the revolutionary working class movement in Ireland by a dissemination of its literature; to educate the working class Irish of this country into a knowledge of Socialist principles and to prepare them to cooperate with the workers of all other races, col-ors, and nationalities in the emancipation of labor.’
James Connolly wrote one book, Labour in Irish History, one play and many pamphlets. His extensive writings were spread out over many years in various workers' papers and magazines.
He published a monthly magazine, The Harp. Many poems from his own pen appeared. It was a pathetic sight to see him standing, poorly clad, at the door of Cooper Union or some other East Side hall, selling his little paper. None of the prosperous professional Irish, who shouted their admiration for him after his death, lent him a helping hand at that time. Jim Connolly was anathema to them because he was a ‘Socialist.’
He had no false pride and encouraged others to do these Jimmy Higgins tasks by setting an example. At the street meetings he persuaded those who had no experience in speaking to ‘chair the meeting’ as a method of training them. Connolly had a rare skill, born of vast knowledge, in approaching the Irish workers. He spoke the truth sharply and forcefully when necessary, as in the following from The Harp of November 1900:
‘To the average non-Socialist Irishman the idea of belonging to an international political party is unthinkable, is obnoxious, and he feels that if he did, all the roots of his Irish nature would be dug up. Of course, he generally belongs to a church – the Roman Catholic Church – which is the most international institution in existence. That does not occur to him as atrocious, in fact he is rather proud than otherwise that the Church is spread throughout the entire world, that it overleaps the barriers of civilization, penetrating into the depths of savagedom, and ignores all considerations of race, color or nationality. . . . But although he would lay down his life for a Church which he boasts of as ‘Catholic’ or universal, he turns with a shudder from an economic or political movement which has the same characteristics.’
Connolly published The Harp here as the official organ of the Irish Socialist Federation, and moved it to Dublin in 1910
(The above taken from the web site-Arguments for a Workers Republic http://www.workersrepublic.org/ is reprinted here because amid all the commemorations of the Easter Rising it is sometimes forgotten just what a towering figure James Connolly was. It gives a flavour of the man.)
From Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, The Rebel Girl, International Publishers NY, 1979
'A Sort of Open Prison'.
While on a recent visit to Turkey, the United States Secretary of Defense Robert Gates remarked that Iran's nuclear program must be opposed on the basis that,
“Iran is the only country in the region that has publicly declared its intent to destroy another country in the region.”
However, Gates completely ignores the relationship between Israel
and Palestine. Israel was founded on the historical Palestinian state through partition after a campaign of murder and intimidation of Palestinians, which concluded with the expulsion of Palestinians from cities and villages to make way for Jews arriving from Europe.
Today this would be called 'ethnic cleansing’. However the mass expulsion of Palestinian people in 1947 and 1948 is not politically expedient for Washington based lobbies to exert political pressure on politicians therefore its position has been relegated to something of a historical inconvenience as compensation for the crimes perpetuated against Jews by European Christians.
While historical Palestine was destroyed and became even smaller as a result of the Six Day War in 1967 this process is not entirely historical. Jewish settlements, backed by private security and Israeli military apparatus are continuing to extend beyond the 1967 borders. These settlements have private roads, some of which despite being built in Palestine, not a single Palestinian can use. Settlements also benefit from other modern conveniences, while Gaza remains under continued economic blockade and many Palestinian farmers separated from their land.
The United Nations reports that one third of Gaza's agricultural land lies within what is termed the 'buffer zone' between Gaza and Israel, its width varying from half a kilometre to two kilometres. With a pretext of preventing rocket attacks, access to this area is often heavily restricted or prohibited, an absolutely outrageous assertion considering that rocket attacks from Gaza have killed relatively few Israeli civilians.
Jamal al-Khudari, a Palestinian legislator has claimed that 1,000 days of siege has killed 500 Gazans. Gaza also suffers 80% unemployment, construction materials being denied entry and a severe energy crisis as a result of Israel's assault last year which cost impoverished Gaza USD 1.6 billion in damages on Gaza's economy.
A study published by the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme shows well the state of Palestinian children with 92% feeling insecure, anxious and tense, 68% having problems at school with lack of concentration, 76% showing behavioural problems like isolation, social withdrawal and aggression and 70% constantly in a bad mood, feeling frustrated and depressed. Thousands of young Palestinians have also passed through Israel's judicial system.
Israel designates 18 as the age of adulthood for its own citizens but through a military order and against international law, Israel mandates 16 as the age of adulthood for Palestinians. Additionally, Israel has special military orders to be able to arrest and judge Palestinian children as young as 12 years old.
Zahira Meshaal, a Bethlehem-based social worker specializing in the effects of trauma in children speaking on the beating and virtual abduction of a 12 year old Palestinian child remarked that physiological trauma is enacted on children and their families as a way to force Palestinians out of areas with a high concentration of settlers
, "It's a war of psychology. This is a deliberate act to make the children afraid and force people to leave so that their children can feel safer."
On a recent visit to Gaza, John Holmes, the United Nation's humanitarian chief described the area as 'a sort of open prison'. These sentiments were later backed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who recently called for an end to Israel's three-year economic blockade of Gaza.
This is situation is coupled by legal evictions of Palestinians by Israeli courts hearing cases from Zionist organisations which seek to ethnically cleanse areas such as East Jerusalem. These actions are aided by the Israeli state itself, which recently granted permission for the construction of 16,000 new homes in occupied East Jerusalem. East Jerusalem was annexed by Israel in 1967 and its occupation is not internationally recognised. This is despite a construction freeze on settlements and the Palestinian claim as Jerusalem as capital of Palestine.
Israeli leader Netanyahu in flagrant disregard for international law which regards construction in East Jerusalem as illegal, described construction there to be 'like construction in Tel Aviv' while describing the Palestinian demands for a full settlement freeze to be 'illogical and unreasonable'. He reasoned that because nearly 250,000 Jews live beyond the green line that today it was an 'integral and inextricable' part of Jerusalem.
The comments of Netanyahu summarise fully the racist and genocidal nature of the Zionist project.
Israel today occupies part of Syria and until a few years ago occupied southern Lebanon. Today southern Lebanon represents a wasteland - barren and uninhabited villages, strewn with landmines and destroyed infrastructure.
A third option proposed by Israeli political analyst Ehud Yaari suggested there be an 'all out push' for an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank where he believes the institutions necessary for self-government are in place and working well.
These suggestions, coupled with EU funding for the West Bank while Gaza suffers economic blockade are designed to fragment the various facets of the Palestinian resistance movement because while Hamas is democratically elected, the people of Gaza have made the wrong choice and must be punished accordingly while Fatah in the West Bank are promised economic and political incentives to remain inside the tent.
Robert Gates further stated that nuclear proliferation would that would “destabilize the region”; never mind the fact Israel continues to maintain its own nuclear programme. In reality this destabilization will come in the form of the destruction of the present uni-polar Middle East dominated from afar by the United States and locally by it's regional allies and the emerging of alternative centres of power around Syria, Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon. This is particularly worrisome for the United States as Iran is further building and strengthening its relations with Latin American regimes opposed to US strategy.
While pundits are now describing US-Israel relations as 'strained'. Israel nevertheless has and continues to benefit from US patronage in terms of both economic and military support. While Israel has fewer people than the US state of New Jersey and has little natural resources, it has more technological companies listed on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange than Europe, China and Japan combined.
-- Sean McGowan
EXTRACTS OF SPEECH BY DENIS MURPHY AT JOHN MORRIS UNVEILING
The death of John was a loss to his family and to the republican socialist movement. John joins a long list of republicans since 1922 gunned down by the forces of the so-called free state. We republicans have long memories. We recall the murder of Harry Boland, the executions of Mellows, Barrett, O’Connor and McKelvey, and the bitterness with which the so-called “De Valera republicans’ hunted down, murdered tortured and beat those republicans who stood by their principles in the thirties and forties.
We don’t forget that in the last round of the armed struggle against the presence of British troops in Ireland all sections of the Free state establishment rounded up republicans, banned us from the airwaves, handed our men over the border to the British Imperialists and did everything physically possible to destroy republicanism in Ireland. They did not succeed. Our presence here today to honour our fallen comrade is a testimony to the enduring power of our republicanism.
But comrades and friends it is important to stress that our republicanism is not some sterile abstract ideology, divorced from the everyday realities of peoples’ lives. John Morris and many others like him are proof that our republicanism is rooted in the everyday reality of working class life. John was a member of the INLA. While politically he saw the need for a working class party that stood for the marginalised and dispossessed he realised that the rich and powerful, the supporters of the Imperialists, could not relinquish their power without a fight hence the necessity for a cutting edge to the struggle. And in that struggle he fell.
Of course the full forces of the establishment have united to denigrate his and the sacrifices of others. Through the judiciary, the media, the Garda, and the political elites, barriers are erected to prevent the full truth coming out. The paid perjurers of the press have mocked lied and distorted the truth. Sections of the media have denigrated us a drug dealers. We are not. No member of the INLA is involved in drug dealing. No member of the IRSP is involved in drug dealing. The IRSP have challenged those journalists who have made these allegations in the past to produce the evidence. We are still waiting the evidence.
We are however aware that a small number of pseudo gangs, and former members of not only the INLA but other republican armies are engaged in extortion, racketeering and drug dealing using the name of the INLA. We know who they are for some of these gangs are operating obviously with the full approval of the so-called security forces. Those who descend into extortion and racketeering have no right to call themselves republicans for they besmirch the very name.
By repeatedly linking this movement with drug dealing, the establishment hope to belittle the sacrifices of volunteers like John. But the truth is simple. John Morris was a victim of a shoot to kill policy because he was a republican socialist. The same policy adopted by the British in the North is the same policy carried out by the Garda in the South. So long as we remember this, the crumbs from the table of the rich will not seduce us nor the slanderous lies of the media halt us.
Friends it would be easy from this platform to make an inflammatory speech about our enemies and to spew out the anger we all feel at the injustice not only of John’s murder but at all the injustices we see around us. But that would be anger misdirected. W e need to channel our energies into positively building up the self-confidence of working class communities. It is those communities who can tackle injustice. To do that, we need to redouble our political work and redouble our commitment.
Our republicanism, our republican socialism, has to become relevant to the lives of the people we come from and are part of. We recognise that there is a huge amount of work to be done. We need to make not ourselves angry but our class. We need to help arouse our class to the corruption endemic in this free state, to the poverty, to the racism, to the exploitation of the low paid, to the whittling away of what remains of Irish neutrality. We need to make our class angry that the Irish Government has invited the war mongering oil baron George Bush to our shores. Everyone here today should take to the streets when Bush comes to town. Yes the war in Iraq is important. We make no apology for calling for the defeat of the Coalition forces in Iraq. We stand today as republicans in defence of the right of the Iraqi people to self determination, just as we support the right of self determination of the whole of the people on this island to determine our own future without interference.
But we need to point out to those people who say that the issue of Iraq is the main issue that there are only 8,500 British troops in Iraq but 13,500 in the North of Ireland. Unlike some so-called leftists we oppose Imperialism both at home and abroad.
Meanwhile the façade of what passes for politics in the North continues. Do we really think that the elections will change anything? The political process that produced the Good Friday Agreement is fatally flawed. So long as the political parties, including Provisional Sinn Fein play the tribal card then no progress can be made towards the Republic we all want.
It may gain support for an internal settlement but it will not deliver the Republic.
We in the Republican Socialist Movement have made it clear time and time again that the only Republic worth fighting for is the Socialist Republic as envisaged by James Connolly. It is not part of our Republicanism to administer British rule in Ireland and say that it is a stepping-stone to the Republic. It is not. That may be what Irish nationalism is about. It is not what Irish Republicanism is about.
It is clear that there needs to be a renewal of the Republican dream- a dream based on the realities of the peoples’ lives today. We call for all republicans regardless of background to engage in this renewal. We will play our part in renewing republicanism bring into it our class analysis and our republican desire to create a state that truly encompasses not only catholic protestant and dissenter but all who have for what reason sought refugee on our shores. Our republic will be multicultural democratic inclusive and socialist.
(June 2004) (Editor’s Note. In The Red Plough Vol 1-6 we carried “A Tribute To Denis Murphy” Above we reproduce extracts from a speech delivered by Denis at the unveiling of a monument to John Morris a republican shot dead by the Gardai.
Quotes from the Past
“I believe it is wrong and immoral for any republican to turn their guns on fellow republicans. Likewise it is equally wrong and immoral to conduct campaigns of character assassination against fellow republicans.”
James Connolly Archive http://www.marxists.org/archive/connolly
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