more we gather to pay homage to those who died in
the struggle for an Irish Republic. We honour all
those who since the emergence of Irish Republicanism
at the end of the 18th century fought and died in
the struggle for national independence and freedom.
We remember also with pride the many thousands, nay
hundreds of thousands of people who contributed in
many small ways to aid the struggle.
also remember that this Easter is the 88th since the
1916 Easter uprising, an uprising for national independence
against an Imperialist power fighting an imperialist
war. The failure of that uprising and the subsequent
failure of the war of independence to achieve liberation
led to, in the words of James Connolly, republican,
socialist, Marxist and a leader of the 1916 uprising,
"a carnival of reaction".
today despite a heroic struggle over the past 35 years
by Republicans we have still failed to realise the
vision of Connolly - the socialist republic. And like
in Connolly's time we have an imperialist war being
waged by the USA/Brits coalition forces in Iraq. Imperialism
is still the enemy.
as we stand here by the graves of those of our comrades
from both the IRSP and the INLA who fell in the struggle
we remember them not as heroes or martyrs but as ordinary
men and women who lived in extraordinary times and
rose to the challenge of those times. Let us be clear
about what the armed struggle was about from the perspective
of this movement it was neither to achieve equality
nor to achieve civil rights. The INLA took up arms,
and all the comrades who died on hunger strike, in
action or by assassination, took up arms to achieve
a Republic that cherished all the children of the
nation equally. We rejected living under British and
Unionist rule for that rule was unjust, discriminatory,
arbitrary despotic and Imperialistic.
times change and the strategy and tactics of republicans
have to change as well. We in the Republican Socialist
movement have accepted the need to modify our tactics
to meet the changed times we live. We have embarked
on a process of politicisation both internally and
externally to encourage people to take responsibility
for their own community. We see that as part of the
process of empowering the working class to begin to
take control of the state and begin the task of building
a socialist society.
is the challenge facing us. As political activists
we must rethink strategically, debate strategically
and decide what is best for our party, for the cause
we represent and most importantly for the people we
represent. We recognise that members of our movement
have made mistakes and our organisation has made mistakes
in the past. No doubt we will make mistakes in the
our analysis of the peace process, or as some prefer
to call it the pacification programme, and the Good
Friday Agreement has been and continues to be spot
on. Every thing that has happened since 1998 has justified
our position. Six years on from the GFA British soldiers
are on the streets, the British intelligence services
continue to cover up past killings, street clashes
continue, loyalists continue to target Catholics and
justice is denied. Dessie O¹Hare is still a political
prisoner as the Free Staters renege on their own Good
Friday Agreement. Republican Prisoners in Maghaberry
are denied recognition of their political status.
Something, which was won by the deaths of the ten
republican hunger strikers, was negotiated away by
other republicans for the price of seats in an internal
gap between rich and poor widens. Working class communities
disintegrate besieged by poor health, anti-social
behaviour, debt and despair. Homelessness has reached
crisis point. The education system is failing large
sections of our youth. Attacks on minorities are on
the increase. Did our comrades buried here today die
around us we see the inequality, the poverty, the
wrecked lives the disintegration of whole working
class communities. Where there once was solidarity,
collectivism, co-operation and community support now
there is individualism, selfishness, greed and a widespread
drug dependency culture. Consumerism is the new god
and we now have a generation growing up inculcated
with the worst values of capitalism.
one hundred wealthiest Irish people¹s combined
fortune is worth 23 billion Euros. The ten richest
people in Ireland are each sitting on an average fortune
of 800 million Euros. For most of us here it would
take us at least 30,000 years to save that if we banked
our complete wages every week.
Flood and Moriarty Tribunals have shown the extent
of the corruption of political life in the 26 counties.
Not a week passes without some new revelation about
the corrupting influence of money in Irish political
life. Leinster House is in the words of Karl Marx
"nothing but a committee for managing the common
affairs of the whole bourgeoisie".
Britain New Labour grovels to big business. Blair
and Brown no longer make any pretence to be socialist
and rarely mention inequality while they socialise
with the business classes. Lobbyists and pressure
groups push their cases for reduced taxation, regulation
or planning restrictions, while multinational firms
hardly need to make the point that if they are not
granted special terms they can take their money out
of Britain and Ireland. Even our little local farce
of a Stormont had its lobbyists cajoling influencing
and corrupting our Assembly members when they had
their little bit of power. The rich may not govern,
but they still reign both in Ireland and Britain.
The capitalist class owes its allegiance only to its
money and self-interest.
workers and activists in working class communities
north and south, are doing heroic work to try and
empower local people, to resist the worst ravages
of capitalism. But in order for the working class
to be mobilised into struggle in support of its own
class interests, class-consciousness must be raised
and the shackles imposed by capitalist must be cast
is our primary concern to mobilise the working class
towards the revolutionary transformation of society
and the sooner every one of us here today takes on
responsibility to make a difference to our society
the better. No one should stand idly by while racism
injustice poverty exploitation and sectarianism predominate.
Brits have lied, prevaricated and twisted and turned
every which way but lose. Does anyone here today seriously
believe one word of Blair's or indeed of Paul Murphy,
his local Governor? Trimble has by his appalling comments
on Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson bared naked the
racist sectarian hatred of the unionist middle classes
for nationalists. Attempts to reform the Northern
state that are based on the continuation of British
sovereignty are doomed to failure.
always was and still is a failed political entity
and we believe that the smashing of the Northern state
will be in the interests of all of the northern people
whether they describe themselves as unionist, nationalist
or other. The conflict here was not one between two
mutually hostile, sectarian communities, as the Brits
like the world to think.
who would seek to challenge the continuation of sectarianism
in the six counties need to challenge those guilty
of sectarianism, not those of us, in the republican
socialist tradition who recognise the existence of
a British working class within Ireland with a distinct
history and culture. We welcome with open arms members
of any ethnic community who share our perspective
that the class struggle and national liberation struggle
are inseparable within the Irish context. And can
we say to the ethnic minorities in Ireland that we
utterly condemn and oppose the proposed referendum
in the South of Ireland as a cynical racist ploy by
unscrupulous politicians playing the race card.
there is confusion of what constitutes "the national
liberation struggle". Our struggle for socialism
is part of an international struggle. We support all
those struggling against imperialism worldwide. We
salute the freedom fighters of Iraq and call for the
defeat of the British and American forces.
unlike some of the so-called socialists gathered around
the Eamonn McCann European Election Machine, we are
consistently anti-imperialists. We believe that there
is an Imperialist presence in Ireland and as republicans
our comrades, whom we honour here today, fought and
died opposing that Imperialism. They did not die for
a nationalist Ireland. They died for the liberation
of all the working class from reactionary ideologies
and for the establishment of a Workers Republic.
is within the context of the nation-state that the
socialist revolution will start. To achieve that revolution
we must win the support of the mass of the population.
We as the Republican Socialist Movement cannot on
our own create the Republic. It can only be done by
the support participation and enthusiasm of the majority
of people on the island. That comrades, is what the
national struggle is about.
year in a statement the leadership of the INLA said,
have encouraged our membership and supporters to
become actively involved in the day-to-day struggles
of ordinary people. Such political involvement is
following the example of our founder Seamus Costello.
A revolutionary army without a clear base of political
understanding and activity is no longer a revolutionary
that last sentence comrades - No revolutionary movement
can last without clear politics and based on a correct
appreciation of the needs of the people. Ta Power
used the phrase - the primacy of politics. That must
be our watchword today - the primacy of politics.
Our function as a movement is to give leadership and
to empower the working class to achieve its own liberation.
If that is not what we are about then we may as well
pack up and support the Good Friday Agreement, join
Sinn Fein or the Labour Party or some other party
that accepts and works the status quo.
is easy to be critical of others. But there is a responsibility
on us to make ourselves relevant both to the short
term and long term needs of the working class in Ireland.
It is not enough to turn up once a year at a commemoration,
salute dead comrades and think that is enough. It
is not, nor is turning up for demonstrations, chant
a few slogans shake clenched fists at the police and
retire to the pub thinking you have struck a blow
for the revolution. That, comrades, is frankly bullshit.
that is what any of you gathered here today are about
then walk away from the struggle now. You do neither
yourselves nor the working class any good.
followers of Connolly, Costello, Power and Gallagher
are in this struggle for the long haul. They will
be there on the picket lines, in the community halls,
at trade union meetings, where ever there is a struggle
for the rights of the ordinary man and women then
that is where the serious followers of our founders
will be. They will be at the barricade, they will
be behind the word processor, they will like today
commemorating but then the next day will be agitating,
educating leafleting and liberating. Comrades there
is no finer calling in this world than to stand shoulder
to shoulder with the victims of oppression, with the
marginalised and with the poor.
to the Republic -on to Socialism!!
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