Ronan MacLochlainn commemoration
Ronan MacLochlainn commemoration



The oration delivered by 32 County Sovereignty Movement Chairperson, Francie Mackey last month at the graveside of IRA Vol. Ronan MacLochlainn.


On May 1st 1998 IRA Volunteer Ronan McLoughlin gave his life in the service of his country. As an IRA Volunteer Ronan was engaged in legitimate armed insurgency in pursuit of the restoration of Ireland’s national sovereignty.

The mandate for this insurgency is derived, as it always has been, from the violation of our national sovereignty by the Westminster Parliament. The cause of conflict in Ireland, and the raison d’etre of Oglaigh Na hEireann, was outlined and set down in International Law which the 32 County Sovereignty Movement put before the United Nations in April 1998. Until this issue is finally resolved armed struggle is inevitable.

The legitimacy of armed insurgency in Ireland is without question. But this is not a blank cheque. The irresponsible use of arms, the unlawful use of arms or the criminal use of arms usurps the very legitimacy of the republican struggle. Moreover, it is the onerous duty of Oglaigh Na hEireann to abide by its own constitution to ensure that the context in which armed struggle is undertaken does not become a negative factor in the national struggle.

Oglaigh Na hEireann cannot adopt any other political or constitutional position which would place it outside of International Law. Equally, in its actions, it cannot engage in activity which runs contrary to the rules of warfare which are also set out in International Law.

The struggle for Irish freedom is primarily a political and democratic struggle with no room whatsoever for military juntas. Such juntas, meeting in secret with British Security Officials, gave us the Good Friday Agreement.

It is utter folly to look back at that process as a series of political mistakes. The Good Friday Agreement is the product of a political mindset which the Republican Movement must consign to the dustbin of history. The Provisionals have had their day; republicanism must leave them behind.

To build a revolutionary political movement republicans must in the first instance possess a national mindset. In the second instance we must realise that it is not about simply placing an idea or policy in the public domain and expecting blind allegiance to it. To command allegiance to a revolutionary idea we must involve the maximum number of republicans and socialists in its construction and development.

This is the true revolutionary process: it is also the most pragmatic path. The republican constitution obliges all republicans to engage with other progressive revolutionary movements to advance our goals. We cannot act in default of our own constitution nor seek to make ourselves unaccountable to its ethos and guidance. Equally, the current narrative of denigrating individuals and groups who take or possess a different view is counter revolutionary and must cease.

Political advancement requires political engagement. This engagement has to be inclusive and honest. At the heart of the current propensity of establishing republican entity after republican entity is the absence of basic comradeship. We must be honest with the past but we cannot allow that past to restrict our capacity for new thinking.

The republican struggle must have a forward trajectory at all times. Doing old things in different ways is mere repetition. Re-branding problems does not constitute a resolution for them. There is no pre Good Friday Agreement scenario to return to.

Strong leadership does not depend on control or power to convince people of the merits of its decisions but rather the strength and depth of argument to convince them to do so. Democratic accountability is essential in a revolutionary movement because it ensures that the better argument prevails.

Revolutionary struggles do not revolve around leaderships or loyalty to certain means to prosecute them. They revolve around the maximum inclusion of its followers in the totality of its processes. There is no other way forward.

In the Irish struggle for the restoration of national sovereignty the issue of republican prisoners has always been central. At times in our long struggle it was events within the prisons which formed our political dynamic. The Hunger Strike in 1981 directly confronted the criminalisation policy of the British Government and in the eyes of the world that policy was left in tatters.

All republicans have a political duty of care toward the political struggle that imprisonment of POW’s represents. We equally have a humanitarian duty of care toward their welfare and that of their dependants. We must never confuse the two. The humanitarian welfare of POW’s and their dependants must be depoliticised.

We cannot place a political precondition on assisting republican prisoners and their families. We cannot restrict the doors we can call on to seek support for our prisoners by labelling that support a de facto expression of support for our political objectives and the means employed to achieve them. It would be unconscionable to seek the politicisation of groups such as the Red Cross and we should apply that standard to ourselves.

This is the Centenary Year of the 1916 Easter Rising. The 32 County Sovereignty Movement was immensely proud to engage and march with other republicans and socialists to honour that seminal event with a display of dignified republican unity. We send our heartiest congratulations to those individuals who worked quietly and determinedly to bring about such a fitting honour.

The efforts by the Dublin Government to dilute and downplay the contemporary relevance of the 1916 Proclamation failed miserably as tens of thousands of Irishmen and Irish women enthusiastically attended events throughout Ireland to honour the Easter Rising. Irish republicanism must reach out to this national expression and engage with it.

To do this we must set forth our analysis in a way that demonstrates our policies provide solutions to the local and national issues which affect their lives. The Republican Movement is not a protest movement. Our voice cannot emanate from behind a mask.

As we stand at Volunteer Ronan McLoughlin’s final resting place we can say, with a degree of certainty, that from standing here previously, our collective actions on Easter Monday have advanced the objectives for which he paid the ultimate sacrifice. The onus on all of us now is to ensure that this momentum becomes unstoppable. We all have our part to play.

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© 2016 Irish Republican News