Irish Republican News · May 13, 2017
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: The Proclamation Project
The Proclamation Project

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As Republicans gathered in Dublin to mark the anniversary of the killing of Ronan MacLochlainn by Gardai 19 years ago, 32 County Sovereignty Movement national chair Francis Mackey urged support for The Proclamation Project, which was recently launched by the group.

Mr Mackey said the project is a “five year strategy to put Irish republicanism back into the driving seat of securing Irish unity”. The following is an extract from the draft document.

 

Introduction

The success of the Moore Street Occupation and the Easter Monday Centenary Commemoration in Dublin are demonstrable examples of how effective republican cooperation can be. Both events returned, in some measure, a political dignity to Irish republicanism. They also lay to rest the view that such cooperation cannot work and negate any strategy that would utilise this view to avoid engagement between republicans.

In each event, and in the processes to create them, the integrity of all organisations and viewpoints were respected. To the fore was the attainment of the objective at hand as opposed to using the engagement simply to advance a given group’s position. The simplicity of the format became its dynamic, the underlying rule being that the better argument prevails.

All those who participated were encouraged to speak in whatever status they so chose, individual or group representative, to ensure that whichever decisions were taken reflected the majority of views expressed.

It was also recognised that any failure to find agreement on a given point would not be viewed as an impediment or bar on seeking agreement on others. Equally, points of agreement and decisions made were not continuously re-visited but robustly implemented to maintain forward momentum.

The initiative behind the Easter Centenary March was focussed on requiring groups participating to present their core message as opposed to simply advertising which particular group they represented. The intent of this strategy was to move the current republican narrative out of the cocoon of the group and into the national conversation with their core political message. This was as challenging as it was necessary because it contained inherent implications; if a group has nothing different to say then why does it exist? If it has something to say why not ally it with similar views to propagate it wider?

The necessity of this challenge was born from the realisation that what currently unites all shades of republicanism and socialism is failure and that what is required is not the formation of new groups but the consolidation and development of a policy programme that can advance republican and socialist politics. The current low state of Irish republicanism is self inflicted; to pretend otherwise is a dangerous dishonesty. There are no quick fixes and any solutions which are not challenging are not solutions at all.

Both events referenced here were extremely challenging and required a tenacity and pragmatism to see them through. But central to the success of any future strategies must be the re-introduction of a sense of comradeship between republicans because in its absence even the most eloquent political theory will not advance one iota.

A national struggle requires a national mindset and all community political activity and campaigns must have a national dimension. There is no place in the republican struggle for parochialism. It is a debilitating and isolating practice which feeds of narrow mindedness and innuendo.

Equally, seeking refuge in ideological rigidity or historical technicalities is the very antithesis of what the concept of a revolutionary movement should be. Claims to represent or be a republican must be evaluated on the quality, depth and strategic merit of the activity carried out in its pursuit. In short Irish republicanism and socialism must be synonymous with that pursuit.

The most fundamental form of political activity is the act of talking, first to each other then together with others whom we need to engage. Dialogue is essential if ideas are to be translated into strategies and such strategies have a better prospect of gaining traction if those who are implementing them played a full part in their construction.

What is set out below is a template within which the dual criterion of political strategy building can be initiated, namely, conversing together to work out policy and strategy and acting together to implement it.

 

The Proclamation Project

A credible political strategy must contain and be cognisant of the following:

* Unity of purpose
* Defined objectives
* Defined policies

Unity of Purpose

Republicans working together is as important as the fruits of that work. The fractured nature of the republican base is testament to the fact that dialogue amongst republicans is practically non-existent. It has reached a crisis point wherein the deliberate avoidance of dialogue is the first priority and this is justified primarily on personal slander and parochial ego. In normal political discourse there is merit in considered disagreement yet even this is absent in the republican case. It is failure manifested.

It is beyond pointless to pursue to any extent a political objective which is predicated on failure. And it is equally pointless to place false preconditions on addressing and ending such a state of affairs. There is no issue of ideology, episode of history or point of politics which is served by not ending failure. Blame is not a solution. This is the first nettle which needs to grasped; republicans and socialists need to sit down together in a mature and pragmatic manner, in the first instance, to demonstrate to the people in whose name we claim to act that we can indeed do so. How can we talk credibly of unity in any sense yet fail to practice it ourselves? It is a wholly unsustainable position.

Defined Objectives

Aspirations are reached via the mechanism of defined objectives. Objectives are so defined according to our abilities to realistically achieve them. These abilities are greatly enhanced with republicans working in tandem which also allows for a more nuanced and practical process in selecting them. Once selected they give structure and direction to the republican struggle.

In setting out interim republican objectives we must balance the equation of ability set against relevance; relevance to contemporary society and relevance to the broader aspiration. Objectives are practical goals and at their core must be a working relationship between republicans and our communities. We cannot hope to bring our communities into the republican project by dealing with issues which do not affect them. This is where it is critical in understanding that all local republican campaigns must have a corresponding national dimension.

Defined Policies

An aspiration or an opinion is not a policy; nor is wearing a mask. Stating a position of wanting a United Ireland or the means of production to be in the control of the people are not in themselves policies to achieve them. Inherent in any meaningful definition of policy must be a strategy to pursue them. Policies can only define who we are once we actively pursue and implement them. It is our activism that will ultimately define us because whereas a policy reflects intent activism in their pursuit reflects ability and commitment.

There is a wealth of republican and socialist thinking at our disposal. At times we have allowed this resource to be stagnated by slogans and misappropriated to justify sides in schisms. From Wolfe Tone to Ta Power there exists a rich tapestry of revolutionary thought that a cooperating republican base can devise exceptional and distinctive policies. Recognising the primacy of revolutionary politics returns to the Republican Movement a political sophistication which cannot be ignored.

It is vital that republican socialism removes itself from the straitjacket of being perceived as a protest movement, more anti capitalist than proactively socialist. Our policy platform must be based on providing solutions.

 

Strategy Template

The next five years affords Irish republicanism an unprecedented opportunity to reinvigorate the republican project. The Centenaries of the most seminal events in republican history will place into the national narrative the core issues which are at the heart of Irish republicanism. As witnessed with the Centenary of 1916 the State and the revisionists were desperate to dilute the central tenets of what the Proclamation represents. But ultimately this was a distraction for republicans. Arguing with revisionists is not providing political alternatives or delivering radical solutions. This is where our focus must be.

The Easter Monday March was always to be viewed as a start point, a watershed. Republicans marked the event with a display of unity, a clear message in itself and an immensely fitting and important first step. The oncoming Centenaries can act as focal points around which a corpus of political and social policy can be formulated. Using the Centenaries in such a fashion allows republicans two critical components; a defined timeframe with an end point to aim for and a political end point in which the culmination of policy formation can directly address. In effect republicans will celebrate these Centenaries not with quaint pageantry but with separatist politics structured around agreed policies.

* 1918 General Election: Democracy & The Citizen
* Founding of the First Dail: Parliament & The Citizen
* Declaration of Independence: Sovereignty & The Citizen
* Democratic Programme: Society & The Citizen
* War of Independence: War & The Citizen
* 1921 Treaty: Negotiations & The British

Within these headings will be issues that will directly affect individual citizens, communities and the country at large and which in turn republicans will have to formulate policies and strategies to implement them.

* Sovereignty of the Individual
* Sovereignty of Community
* National Sovereignty
* Unionism
* Right to a Home
* Right to our Natural Resources
* Debt, Poverty & Society
* The Drug Abuse Question
* A.N. Other

The trajectory of this political activity is ultimately a return to the negotiations table with the British to end, once and for all, their presence in our country. The revolutionary period between 1916 and 1921 is where Irish republicanism got it right. Where it failed was in abandoning this position by allowing the British to determine their constitutional status in the Treaty negotiations. The British would not recognise the Irish delegates as representatives of the Irish Republic but rather as representatives of the British created Southern Parliament. Once the delegates conceded to this they were, in the words of delegate Robert Barton, “on the road to disaster”.

This error was repeated in the Good Friday Agreement negotiations. The entry fee into those negotiations was the prior acceptance of a partitionist outcome which it duly delivered. The case for Irish national sovereignty was neither made nor defended in that process.

The key lesson from this history is that for republicans to call for such negotiations we must have in place key elements which reflect and protect the totality of the republican position:

* Irish national sovereignty defined in International Law
* The participation of the people via Policy Programme
* Blueprint for a post withdrawal Ireland

The Proclamation Project proposal is geared toward reinvigorating republican politics by concentrating on building coherence in the republican message over a five year period. As that coherency brings depth and clarity to the republican position our political influence on the national narrative increases also. It can only be accomplished by republicans and socialists sitting down and talking. To view or use the proposal as a means to garner support, real or imagined, for any given group, or given group’s position, is to completely misunderstand its purpose.

© 2017 Irish Republican News