15 May 2006

Gerry Adams unveils mural in memory of James Connolly

Sinn Féin

Published: 14 May, 2006

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP today unveiled a mural in memory of James Connolly, the last of the leaders of the Easter 1916 Rising who was executed by the British on May 12th 1916.

Gerry Adams described James Connolly as 'the foremost Irish political thinker of his time, whose teachings are as relevant to Ireland in 2006 as they were in 1916.'

The mural dedicated to Connolly is in Rockmount Street only a short distance from where the Connolly family lived on the Falls Road at the time of the Easter Rising. A small plaque was unveiled by Bridie Crossan aged 92, a local resident who still lives in the same house she was born in and who was there when the Connolly's lived on the Falls.

Mr Adams recalled that James Connolly left the family home on the Falls Road and journeyed to Dublin where he took command of the Dublin Division of the Irish Republican Army.

Gerry Adams said:

"Connolly was the last of the leaders to be executed after the Rising. He had been badly wounded during the fighting but the Irish Independent newspaper campaigned for his execution. It described the Rising as criminal. 'Let the worst of the ringleaders be singled out and dealt with as they deserve.'

The Independent was owned by William Martin Murphy, Chairman of the Employers Federation which had tried to crush workers and their organisation, the ITGWU during the great Dublin lockout in 1913. The Citizens Army emerged from that particularly brutal period, to defend workers against the police and other thugs hired by the Employers Federation.

The Citizens Army was founded by James Connolly. It was a highly disciplined workers army, open to men and women on the basis of equality. The Citizens Army played a pivotal role in the Rising. Connolly was also very active here in Belfast. He came here from the USA where he spent seven years of activism in the workers movement.

In 1911 he was Belfast organiser of the ITGWU. He helped organise the mill workers. Or the slaves of slaves as he called them. 'Many Belfast Mills are slaughter houses for the women and penitentiaries for the children.'

Connolly was also active with the dockers and other sections of Belfast workers. He was anti-sectarian. He understood how sectarianism was and is used to divide working people

Connolly was an avowed internationalist and a socialist who saw the two sides of the Irish struggle ˆ the struggle for freedom from Britain and the creation of a socialist republic ˆ as two sides of the one coin.

In his own words; 'The struggle for Irish freedom has two aspects it is national and it is social.'

As a social theorist Connolly was both innovative and far sighted. His Labour in Irish History should be read by all Irish republicans, and anyone concerned with the cause of labour and the cause of working people.

Connolly understood the need for core values and clear objectives and the necessity of developing organisational and strategic programmes to achieve these.

Invariably parties of the left, particularly in Ireland, loose their way because of opportunism by leaderships or short-termism, as with the Irish Labour Party today or a blind and unyielding dogmatic adherence to the holy grail.

Neither of these tendencies live in the real world of political struggle where the main task, as in Connolly's time is to make activism relevant to and part of the people in their daily lives." ENDS

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