In May 2007, at its first Ard Fheis, the membership of éirígí unanimously supported a motion declaring éirígí to be a political party.
The following is extracted from its first policy paper, ‘Imperialism - Ireland and Britain’, the full test of which can be accessed at https://www.eirigi.org
The national territory of Ireland includes the island of Ireland, her waterways, airspace, islands and seas. The right of the Irish people to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, is sovereign and indefeasible.
For eight centuries relations between Ireland and Britain have been defined by Britain’s ambition to conquer and colonise the island of Ireland. For eight centuries this ambition has been thwarted by the determination of the Irish people to be free. The resultant cycle of invasion and occupation, rebellion and resistance has led to the deaths of millions and the impoverishment and enforced emigration of millions more.
Throughout this period Britain has carefully fostered false divisions among the Irish people. These divisions, be they on the basis of class, religion, gender or ethnicity have been used to maintain the British presence in Ireland and to ensure that wealth and power are concentrated in the hands of the few at the cost of the many. Such “divide and conquer” strategies have been used by Britain and other imperialists the world over. Central to the success of this strategy is Britain’s ability to identify a sufficiently large, or powerful, section of the Irish people willing to support and administer British rule in Ireland. Throughout our history Britain’s rule in Ireland has been at its most tenuous at those points in history where such a section of the population could not be identified, most notably in the 1916-1921 period.
The continuing British occupation of six Irish counties is a clear violation of the right of the Irish people to national self-determination. This is the context within which relations between the peoples of Ireland and Britain are defined.
éirígí wishes to see the normalisation of relations between the peoples of Ireland and the peoples of Britain but believes that this can only occur when Britain respects the right of the Irish people to self-determination. This in effect means the ending of Britain’s constitutional claim to part of Ireland and the withdrawal of the apparatus of occupation. There can be no other basis for the normalisation of relations between the peoples of these islands.
While it would be highly desirable for a British government to unilaterally commence the process of disengagement from Ireland, we in éirígí believe this to be a highly unlikely scenario. The lessons of history teach us that Britain will concede only as much as is necessary to weaken and divide any political movement that challenges its authority in Ireland. Our history is littered with military campaigns, treaties and statutes designed by Britain to neutralise such movements and prolong the occupation.
The most recent of such treaties, namely the Belfast and St Andrews Agreements, of 1998 and 2006 respectively, contain many of the features that have defined British treaties in Ireland for centuries. Three such features stand out most clearly.
- Firstly, central to both of these agreements is an absolute
acceptance of the legitimacy of British rule in Ireland. The
constitutional status of Britain’s occupation will not change until
a majority of those within the occupied six counties so decide- in
effect one sixth of the Irish people will hold a veto over the
- Secondly Britain’s long history of nurturing false divisions
in Ireland continues with power being allocated on the basis of a
crude sectarian head-count designed to deepen and prolong false
divisions along religious lines.
- Finally, as with all British treaties, there is the apparent potential for those who support Irish freedom to achieve a long-term victory if they are willing to support the status quo in the short-term. In this the British government is at its most devious. Britain has conceded enough to convince some who oppose British rule in Ireland that these latest treaties are substantially different to all previous treaties and therefore worthy of support. In this the British draw upon their not insubstantial experience in negotiations and hope to neutralise the demand for British withdrawal and Irish Freedom. Failing this the British hope to lay the seeds of division among those who would nominally desire Irish freedom but disagree upon how it may be achieved.
We in éirígí are convinced that these two most recent treaties are considerably more likely to solidify British rule in Ireland than they are to end it.
Others have argued that Britain no longer has ambitions of empire and is in fact preparing to withdraw from Ireland, using the establishment of the Stormont assembly and increased levels of cross-border co-operation to support this hypothesis.
We in éirígí reject this analysis. We believe that the evidence indicates the opposite to be true. Britain is simply re-shaping and modernising the occupation and in doing so is attempting to portray her role in Ireland as neutral while simultaneously co-opting an ever larger section of the population into supporting the occupation. The current British government have over the last number of years implemented a policy of regionalised parliaments and assemblies with the objective of securing the long-term integrity of the so called “United Kingdom”. The British establishment has moved to neutralise the demands for complete independence for Scotland, Wales and Ireland by conceding limited powers to locally elected representatives. This tactic, and variations of it, has been successfully used on many occasions throughout history. This is the context within which the Stormont Assembly was established.
Increased co-operation between the Dublin and London governments and increased co-operation between the business classes on both sides of the border is in reality simply part of a broader pattern of globalisation and European Union-wide integration and not evidence of a gradual British withdrawal.
If further evidence of Britain’s contemporary imperial ambitions is required one need only look to Britain’s role in the invasion and occupation of both Afghanistan and Iraq. For those who have claimed that Britain is now a force for good in both an Irish and a global context, the lie has been well and truly exposed.
It is now more than ninety years since Padraig Pearse read the Proclamation of the Irish Republic from the steps of the General Post Office on Easter Monday 1916. This act signalled the start of a most momentous phase in Irish history which culminated in the ending of the British occupation of twenty-six of Irelands’ thirty two counties, after more than seven hundred years of attempted conquest. As we approach the centenary year of the Easter Rising freedom has yet to be achieved with six Irish counties remaining under British occupation.
We in éirígí view this occupation and the denial of democracy it represents to be the single most substantial challenge facing the Irish people today. For as long as Ireland remains occupied it will be impossible for the Irish people to choose a system of governance that truly “cherishes all the children of the nation equally” which we hold to be the only form of governance worthy of the people of Ireland.
Recent years have seen the demand for Irish freedom largely neutralised as Britain has attempted, with some success, to co-opt ever greater sections of the Irish people into administering British rule in Ireland.
Irish freedom will only be achieved when the demand for British withdrawal is once again placed centre stage of the Irish, British and International arenas and when the cost to Britain of holding Ireland outweighs the benefits of withdrawal. We believe the time is approaching when that demand will once again be loudly voiced.
That is the task now facing Socialists, Republicans and Nationalists; the building of a new social and political movement for Irish freedom. While ultimately such a movement will need support internationally, including most probably a section of the British people, it is at home and most particularly within the occupied counties where the renewed call for freedom must first be made.
In the building of such a movement inspiration can be sought, and lessons learned, from our own history. In the period prior to the 1916 Rising Ireland witnessed a cultural revival encompassing the Irish language, music and sports. The same period saw the growth of both a separatist movement advocating Irish freedom and a revolutionary form of socialism and trade unionism. It was by drawing support from all three of these trends that that the most successful Irish Rebellion to date, and the following five year revolutionary period, occurred.
The international arena also offers insight into how modern day social and political movements develop. There are now numerous examples across the globe of people challenging global capitalism and imperialism through “bottom up” social and political movements. Any new movement for Irish freedom should seek to encompass not only traditional political parties but also organised labour, community groups, cultural organisations, campaign groups as well as non-aligned individuals.
While advocating the development of a new movement for Irish freedom we in éirígí believe that freedom is only of value if we, the Irish people, use it to create a society based upon genuine equality and social justice. Ninety years of nominal freedom for twenty-six counties has produced a social and economic order that is in no way substantially different to that of the old imperial order. The words of James Connolly have proved typically prophetic:
If you remove the English army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organisation of the socialist republic, your efforts would be in vain. England would still rule you. She would rule through her capitalists, her landlords, financiers, and through the whole array of commercial and industrial institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs. England would still rule you to your ruin, even while your lips offered hypocritical homage at the shrine of that freedom whose cause you betrayed.
éirígí believes that the creation of a Democratic Socialist Republic represents the best framework within which the needs of all the Irish people can be met. We assert that any new movement for Irish freedom needs to recognise that the pursuit of national freedom is inextricably linked to that of social and economic freedom.
We in éirígí also wish to see an end to the false divisions that Britain has so carefully fostered in Ireland and believe that a new political and social movement may offer a mechanism to do just that. We challenge those who may historically have believed that their interests were best served by supporting the British presence in Ireland to re-examine their position in the context of the twenty-first century. We appeal to members of this community to join us in a political movement for the creation of a new all-Ireland Republic where all the people of Ireland will be entitled to an equal share of the nation’s wealth and equal access to power regardless of class, religion, gender, ethnicity, or other false division.
We in éirígí intend to play a full part in a new movement for Irish freedom and appeal to people the length and breadth of Ireland and beyond to do likewise and to contribute, in whatever way they can, to completing the unfinished business of Irish freedom and the establishment of a Democratic Socialist Republic.