17 April 2006

Easter statement of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement

Seven Stars Republican Socialist News

Easter 1916- Easter 2006: 90 Years on and the struggle not yet over

(delivered by Willie Gallagher)

Comrades and friends,

Let us first remember why every year we gather, as thousands do all over this island, at grave -yards and memorials. We stand here to pay homage to and remember all those who died in the struggle for
national independence.

Since the first stirrings of the separatist movement in the latter part of the 18th century, many men and women have lost their lives in the pursuit of Irish freedom. In the 18th, 19th 20th and 21st century Irish republicans have died in the struggle for freedom.

We honour them all, regardless of which republican organisation they belonged to. No one holds the rights and deeds to the legacy of those who died. No one can claim that they can interpret the thoughts of the dead or claim that they and they alone are the sole heirs and followers of the republican dead.

Of course on this special occasion we as members or supporters of the Republican Socialist Movement and family representatives of dead volunteers remember in particular our own dead comrades and friends who devoted their lives to republican socialism. The reading out of their names on our roll of honour cannot do full justice to the lives they led nor ease the pain of their families. No one knows what they would have become or what they could have achieved if born in a different time and place.

Unfortunately, they grew up in a country partitioned and with its nearest neighbour claiming jurisdiction over part of this island. That neighbour, Britain, was and is an imperialist power.

Some might find the use of that word, imperialist, archaic, outdated, or old fashioned. After all, we live in a world of instant communications and where shopping in super and hypermarkets is the new religion. Celebrities and fashion dominate the main news. There is a rising standard of living for many of us in the European Union. Those who denigrate the Easter Rising and revise history to suit their current political direction, these revisionists and reformists, say "move on, look at the bigger picture. Forget 1916 it was a mistake anyway."

Well here is the bigger picture. Britain and the USA, two major imperialist powers, one junior and one senior, are bogged down in an imperialist war in Iraq. They threaten Iran, refuse to recognise the democratic mandate of Hamas in the occupied Palestine land, try to undermine the Bolivarian revolution taking place in Venezuela. They gave aid and arms to the King of Nepal to suppress a popular uprising. They torture political prisoners; force-feed hunger strikers and support corrupt dictators in Africa. They turn a blind eye to multi national companies using goons and murder squads to assassinate trade union leaders. They have blockaded Cuba for over forty years, and are destroying the very planet we live in.

That is imperialism and that is the enemy. Our enemy is not the British working class. Our enemy is not the protestant or loyalist or unionist working class. Our enemy is most certainly not other republicans. No comrades and friends, never, never, never fall into the trap that so many on the left fall into, of seeing those closest to us in outlook as being our main rivals and therefore our main enemy. Of course, we have differences with others. That is why we exist. We place our movement firmly within the working class and have a socialist analysis. We categorically state no socialism without national liberation and no national liberation without socialism.

But our differences we must be able to state, without rancour, without bitterness, in an open honest fashion and treating those, with whom we disagree, with respect. That is the republican socialist way. Those who lie, slander, spread gossip as fact, back bite, bitch, and try to turn republican against republican, socialist against socialist, are objectively the agents of Imperialism.

In recent times, there has been a sustained campaign to undermine and subvert Irish Republicanism by linking Republicanism with criminality. That same tactic was used 25 years. The deaths of ten hunger strikers put paid to that fallacy. No republican is involved in criminality, for no republican joined the struggle to make money.

However, an intelligence led media black operation has tried to link our own movement and in particular key members of our movement with criminality. This has allowed the PSNI to carry out a range of raids on republican socialists in an attempt to blacken denigrate and slander this movement. We utterly refute those allegations. Maggie Thatcher tried to foster the badge of criminality 25 years ago on us and failed. Republicans stood firm and united then. We are steadfast today against any effort to criminalise our struggle.

The current political impasse in the North confirms our original analysis of the Good Friday Agreement. Eight years on and the Good Friday Agreement has still not been implemented. All that has happened has been some tinkering with the system. Sadly a small return for years of struggle sacrifice and death. Some republicans now must bitterly regret going down that road-a road that increased sectarianism, solidified partition and legitimised British interference in Irish affairs.

Currently we now have far more direct British rule than we have ever had. As the British overlords prepare to introduce a wide range of punitive charges on us, privatise public companies and assets and reward the RIR with millions they must have a strong sense of satisfaction with a job well done. British right to rule in the North is now recognised internationally. Articles 2 and 3 are gone. The armed struggle is over, complete, gone.

And a good thing to. Let us be honest. In the current local national and international context, the continuation of armed struggle is not merely futile but is counter-productive to the aims and objectives that republicans seek. To those republicans who sincerely believe that armed struggle is the only way forward at this time we say; look at the meagre gains that the struggle from 69 to 98 achieved, when it had the full backing of many working class nationalists. Do you really think that you can achieve more especially without the support of working class nationalists?

It is time for republicans and socialists to sit down together without grandstanding and chart a new way forward for radical democratic republicanism. We don't care who convenes such talks or where they are, or if its in a forum, a federation, a congress, a seminar, a conference, a workshop or a summer school. We are prepared to play our part in a politically non-sectarian way without pre-conditions.

For friends and comrades be in no doubt there is a growing sense of frustration especially among young people at the direction mainstream politics is going. There is still a place for those who still have beliefs, not interests, integrity not opportunism, principles not pragmatism.

We must reach out to channel that frustration into positives politics. In the language of the business world there is a market out there for republican politics but only if we adapt.

For Irish Republicanism itself is in crisis notwithstanding the electoral gains of Sinn Fein. If anyone doubts that then ask yourself how many organisations now exist claiming to be republican and how closer to the republican ideal have those organisations brought us? We say this not in bitterness but in a spirit of realism. Claiming to be the true, the real inheritors of 1916 and carrying on as if nothing has changed from say 1916, or 1969, or 1974, or 1986, or 1997 is plainly not on. It ignores not only reality but also shows some contempt for the mass of the Irish people.

If that is the case then it is unfortunate for it is the mass of the people who we need to win over to the struggle for our Republic. And comrades and friends that mass of people include those brought up to consider themselves British or Unionist.

If republicanism is to be relevant, it has to renew itself and adapt to the times that are changing. And in changed times we also change. If republicans are not involved in the everyday struggles of the people, in the struggles of the tenants, of the trade unionists of the political prisoners of the migrant population, of the low paid exploited worker, of the old, of the sick, of oppressed women and oppressed gays and don¹t fight for the dignity and liberty of all, then republicans are irrelevant to our society.

We are republican socialists. We see the relevance of the class struggle and the importance of taking an internationalist perspective on issues. Daily Irish neutrality is whittled away while USA planes use Irish airspace to move weapons of war and tortured prisoners around the world. Meanwhile the EU continues to move towards a centralised bureaucracy, undemocratic in reality while on the face of
it answerable to the people. It is the bureaucrats who rule and who push forward economic liberalism that will see the selling off ofnational and publicly owned assets to the private sector.

1916 kick started the struggle for national independence and sovereignty. In 2006 90 years on we see that independence, limited as it is, and that sovereignty, limited as it is, handed lock stock and barrel over to the bureaucrats of Brussels who act not in the interests of the people but in the interests of the multinationals or corporate world.

Was it for this that the greatest of the men and women of 1916 James Connolly gave his life?

We abhor and condemn attempts by mainstream political parties to use the names of the hunger strikers for strictly party political purposes. They did not die for political parties. They died for political status; for the right to be regarded as political combatants and not criminals. No one but no one had the right to bargain away gains made by their deaths. We call on all republicans no matter from which organisation to support the continuing struggle for political status.

It is sometimes argued that Republicans are obsessed with the North and ignore what goes on in the 26 counties. If that is so then that attitude is wrong. Republican and socialists should be actively involved in the many struggles going on. Not because it will win kudos for republicanism but because it is right.

It is right to stand with the migrant workers exploited in both fields and factories by the modern day gombeen men who pay low wages and treat migrants as no better than slaves.

It is right to expose and highlight the brutality, lies and corruption that are part of the culture of the Garda. They needed no lessons from the RUC. We need to channel the resentment of working class youth towards the Garda into a positive political direction.

It is right to campaign against partnership deals with employers that tie the vast majority of trade unionists to relatively low wage increases, while profits continue to rise.

In short, it is right to stand with the weak against the strong with the protester against the multinationals, and with all those who strive to save our planet from destruction.

In honouring the men and women of 1916, we must remember they had no mandate. Wolfe Tone had no mandate. Robert Emmet had no mandate. Liam Mellows had no mandate. Seamus Costello had no mandate when he helped set up our own organisation.

However, what they all had was a burning sense of indignation against injustice and oppression. And friends they acted on it. Their actions covered the full gambit of political action from the party meeting; the committee room.; the picket line; the handing out of leaflets; the mass meetings; the political discussion to convince ; and ultimately the taking up of arms when no other alternative was available to them.

Today friends and comrades we are building the alternative. Over the last 10 years, this movement has gone from strength to strength. Our politics have matured, our membership has increased and our commitment is as strong today as when Seamus Costello founded this movement. Republican socialism is on the up and although much work has still to be done, we walk away today firm in the belief that each and everyone of us will renew our commitment to the revolutionary struggle for the socialist republic. Down with Imperialism. Up the Republic.

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