A round-up of the main statements and orations by republicans at Easter 1916 commemorations this year.
Delivering the oration at the National Graves Association Easter Commemoration in Milltown Cemetery, Sinn Fein Deputy Leader Michelle O’Neill has said now is the time to heal the wounds of the past and to build a new society together where we respect each other.
A chairde agus a chomradaithe, is mor an onoir dom labhairt anseo in just.
I want to thank the National Graves Association for the invitation to be with you today.
As we gather to proudly remember all of our Irish Patriots.
So I especially want to welcome the families and friends of our patriot dead.
Can I extend my solidarity to you all at this time.
I’m very conscious of your loss.
I’m very conscious of your hurt and of your pain.
Easter is our chance to say we are with you, we stand in support of you and will always uphold, commemorate and celebrate the memory and sacrifice of your loved ones.
Failte mhor romhaibh uilig.
Despite what others would say it is right to remember our dead.
This year as we mark the anniversary of the Easter Rising we also mark a number of very significant anniversaries.
The centenary of some women achieving the vote and the suffragette movement,
100 years since the landslide election of 1918 when Sinn Fein fought the last truly national election turning its back on Westminster and forming the 1st Dail,
A year that marks 50 years on since the Civil Rights Campaign,
And a year that marks 20 years since the GFA was signed.
When we reflect on all these milestones of our republican history, we recall their relevance today where much has changed, but much more is still to be done.
SIGNIFICANCE OF 1916
Over 100 years ago Irish women and men - nationalists, republicans, socialists, trade unionists, gaelgeoiri, feminists - were gathering in rooms here in Belfast, in Tyrone, across Ireland and beyond, in Britain and the USA, in a plan to overthrow of the British empire in Ireland.
They envisaged a new Republic,
where the people would be sovereign as citizens, not as subjects;
where people have fundamental political, cultural, social and economic rights, not arbitrary privileges;
where there is equality, not elitism;
where there is peace and unity.
On Easter Monday 1916 Padraig Pearse marched with a small number of comrades to the General Post Office and read aloud the Proclamation of a new Republic.
The days that followed including the execution of the 1916 leaders was to trigger a century of struggle which has shaped Irish politics from then until now.
The 1916 Easter Rising was a declaration of freedom heard all around the world.
The patriots of 1916 believed a better Ireland is possible.
And so do we today.
To achieve it - to win their freedom - to win our freedom - they and generations of republicans since put everything on the line - including their own lives.
Sadly the Ireland of today is not the true republic that was proclaimed in 1916.
Our country remains partitioned with two states failing our people.
A century on Irish republicans continue to strive towards the New Republic as imagined by the Leaders of 1916, by the First Dail in the Democratic Programme of 1919 and by the republican icons of 1981.
Belfast has a long and proud tradition of republicanism from the United Irishmen and women and every phase of our long struggle since.
Throughout the 30 years of recent conflict many brave republicans died for our freedom.
These were difficult times to be a republican!
Different times and circumstances require different political strategies but our primary goal and commitment to Irish freedom remains steadfast.
But the journey is never easy!
It requires increased effort to mobilise people in support of republican objectives towards a united Ireland.
It is our job to change the political and constitutional conditions and transform and unite this island and its people.
In recent days we have seen again the horror of Israeli state violence against the people of Palestine.
The military might of the Israeli state unleashed on the people of Gaza.
This is a depressingly familiar vista.
The international community looks on as the rule of law is openly flouted.
The European Union looks on.
THE Irish government looks on.
This is not good enough. We need action.
Leo Varadkar and his government must now show leadership and decisiveness.
Israel must be challenged.
Their Ambassador must be informed that Ireland deplores their aggression; that Ireland stands for peace in Palestine and for a Palestinian state.
So the Taoiseach should send the Israeli Ambassador home and move immediately to recognise the state of Palestine.
ENDING PARTITION THROUGH THE GFA
The ending of partition, and shaping a new and agreed Ireland between Orange and Green, remains the only political solution for everyone on this island concerned with its future.
Over the past two decades Ireland has been transformed as a result of the peace process. And the Good Friday Agreement has been its cornerstone.
It provides for a peaceful and democratic way to end partition and unite the country.
When it was signed 20 years ago it offered hope of a new future.
It recognised that the constitutional and political conditions of the North had to fundamentally change.
No longer could the British/unionist state deny nationalists equality of opportunity, parity of esteem, recognition of our Irish national identity or political power.
The Good Friday Agreement is now under attack by some within the DUP and the British Tory party, because they did not sign up to it, don’t believe in what it represents, parity of esteem; equality and mutual respect for all in this society.
The Assembly election last March was brought to a head by the lack of respect and arrogance of the DUP towards those we represent - you, your families, and the wider Irish nationalist/republican people.
The DUP sought to set aside the principles of equality and respect.
They were involved in financial scandals which undermined public confidence in the institutions. They insulted broad nationalism, Irish language speakers, ethnic minorities and our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.
And the British government repeatedly refused to honour agreements and continued the cover-up of their dirty war in Ireland.
It was not acceptable to Sinn Fein and our dear friend and leader, the late Martin McGuinness acted.
Martin made it clear there could be no return to the status quo and zero tolerance of incompetence, arrogance and inequality.
We fought a second election in May and significantly increased our mandate once more.
We entered political talks to re-establish the Executive on the principles of equality, respect and integrity and to have the agreements fully implemented.
For over a year Sinn Fein were engaged in political talks with the DUP and the two governments.
The leadership of both parties reached a fair and balanced accommodation - a draft agreement - which we felt could address our concerns, and provide a basis to restore the Executive without further delay.
However, Arlene Foster and the DUP leadership failed to deliver on this and chose to withdraw from the talks and collapse the process.
For now, they are under no pressure from the British Government to move, because Theresa May is in hock to the DUP.
It’s no surprise the British Government has put its self-interest before ours.
But let’s be very clear here today the rights issues are not going away.
We are not going away.
There is no excuse for denying civil, social and cultural rights.
We need to secure the rights of Irish Speakers, the right to marriage equality and the right of families to an nquest - rights enjoyed by citizens everywhere else on these islands.
Standing still is not an option.
The onus is now on the two governments, - to act.
They must reaffirm their support for the full implementation of agreements and in the absence of an Executive establish the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference.
Republicans and Unionists have conflicting narratives, conflicting histories and conflicting allegiances.
That’s the reality. Part of the journey to reconciliation is about recognising that to be the case
Much hurt has been caused and real pain inflicted on all sides of the community.
It takes time to heal those wounds and to build a new society together where we respect each other.
The whole point in having joint heads of government in the Executive is because there is a responsibility on the two main political leaders to bridge the divide between us and those we represent.
That is what I am up for.
That is where I am focused.
But I need a unionist leader who is up for that also, so that together we can serve the entire community fairly.
I will not lead an unjust Government which denies citizens their rights - so we need to remove those obstacles to fix that.
Ending partition has now taken on a new dynamic because of Brexit.
The Good Friday Agreement’s political institutions, human rights guarantees, all-Ireland bodies, the constitutional and legal right of the people to exercise their right to self-determination and a united Ireland through consent, must all be protected.
I am confident as the consequences of Brexit become clearer and as we get closer to the withdrawal stage that more people from a unionist background - will be open to the idea of exploring new relationships on our island, and between Ireland and Britain.
Because Brexit exposes the undemocratic nature of partition.
Sinn Fein believes there should be a referendum vote on Irish unity within the next five years.
I believe now is the time to plan a new, agreed and united Ireland, in which all identities and traditions have a place and the opportunity to contribute to our shared nation.
Sinn Fein is about transforming Ireland and uniting our country for everyone.
We want to build, shape and be part of leading a New Ireland.
We don’t want to face inwards and talk about a united Ireland.
We want to face outwards and listen to those who don’t want it.
It is our task to persuade those people, why it’s in their best economic and political interests to share power not only at Stormont - but on an All-Ireland basis.
We believe Irish unity, on the basis of equality, offers the best future for all the people of our island.
Therefore, we need to listen and understand unionists’ fears and reassure the unionist people of their place in an agreed Ireland.
They too must belong.
Not as a minority.
But as equals.
Those of us who are united Irelanders must sell our vision.
We are confident about the economic, social and political benefits a new Ireland will bring.
Irish unity is now firmly on the agenda.
Comrades be in no doubt - We are entering a defining period in Irish political history.
The opportunities for real change are within our grasp.
The old certainties are gone.
The grip of the old parties is loosening.
The perpetual unionist majority has ended.
Europe is in a state of flux.
This is a time for big ideas.
Now is the time to build a New Ireland.
Now is the time to deliver a real Republic.
With others Sinn Fein wants a society based on equality, fairness and prosperity.
We want to be in government in both parts of Ireland to serve the Irish people and to deliver that real Republic.
To deliver the ideals of the 1916 Proclamation and to unite all the people of this island, in equality and mutual respect together.
I will finish with this.
Take nothing for granted, it is only through activism that we will bring about a new Ireland. Let’s never look back with regret. Let’s never wonder could we have done more. Lets’ keep moving forward. Let’s be the generation that delivers a new republic.
I look forward to the Easter when we stand by the graveside of our patriot dead and say we achieved that new Ireland.
That is the only proper tribute to all of our Irish Patriots.
Go raibh maith agaibh go leir.
The following Easter Statement was issued in the name of the leadership of the Republican Movement at Republican Sinn Fein (RSF) events on Easter week.
On this the occasion of the 102nd anniversary of the 1916 Rising the Leadership of the Republican Movement sends revolutionary greetings to all assembled at the graves and at monuments to the memory of our Republican dead and to celebrate the vision which motivated the men and women of the Irish Volunteers, Cumann na mBan, the Irish Citizen Army and Na Fianna Eireann to take up arms.
As we remember those who fought in 1916 we also remember all those who realised that the work of the 1916 Rising did not end when Ireland was divided into two states. In the over 100 years since the Rising many men, women and young people realised that most of the problems affecting the people of Ireland lie in the occupation of all or part of our land. Since the illegal partition of Ireland, the two seats of power, Leinster House and Stormont, have administered for the rich and better off rather than for the general population.
The words of James Connelly have never rung so true; “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 you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs.” For almost 100 years, those who betrayed the 32-County Republic with Collins in ‘22 and De Valera in ‘27 have enriched themselves and their families at the expense of Ireland and its people.
In more recent years those who left the Republican Movement and eventually entered both Leinster House and Stormont have likewise enriched themselves, their families and those who remain loyal to their brand of politics. None of these career politicians can realistically call themselves Republicans.
To those incarcerated for their Republican activity, we send solidarity greetings. In particular we welcome home our comrade Gabriel Mackle who was interned since November 2017 on the word of the British intelligence services. In what can only be described as an unRepublican act, Gabriel was denied access to the Republican landings. Our POWs have been to the fore of all struggles since the days when political status was sold out by the Provisionals, and if needed they will continue to resist any further attempts to criminalise any of our members as well as POWs of other groups.
Internment has long been used as a means to intimidate Republicans and stifle resistance to the occupation of the Occupied Six Counties. We call for the ending of internment of Republicans and the immediate release of Tony Taylor, who is now in his third year as an internee without charge, without trial.
To the soldiers of the IRA we salute your resolve. We know it is not an easy decision to leave the comfort of home and take up arms against a better-equipped enemy, and traitors living within our communities. To those who struggle to bring about a Sovereign Independent Socialist 32-County Republic, we commend you on your bravery in confronting the unjust occupation of our land and your desire for the betterment of all. We remember those who lived and often died struggling for a united Ireland of equals.
For too long counter-gangs have tarnished the name of Republicanism. Some even tried to usurp the name of Sinn Fein Poblachtach with criminal behaviour. Our activists have faced down many of these individuals and shut down their criminal enterprises. We take this opportunity to place on record that we will never involve ourselves in criminality. We are members of these communities and as such we depend on them for support. If members of the public are confronted by someone using our name for criminality we ask that they contact a local representative and give details.
This past year has seen the collapse of the sectarian assembly that is Stormont. We have long argued that Stormont was simply a stepping-stone towards placating Republicanism and copper-fastening the partition of Ireland. Westminster, which has long said it was neutral in all negotiations etc within the Occupied Six Counties, showed its true colours when, after the last Westminster elections the Tories effectively went into coalition with the DUP. Add to this the looming exit of Britain from the EU and we have a recipe for disaster for those within the Occupied Six Counties who deem themselves Irish. Irish Republicans have always opposed the EU as we recognise it is an imperialist and undemocratic institution. The possibility of some form of border between the Occupied Six Counties and the Twenty-Six Counties will only be another obstacle in the way of a free, fair Sovereign Ireland. We call here, not for a Border poll, not for a vote of any kind on independence but for a declaration of withdrawal from any part of Ireland by British government and an end to its interference in Irish affairs.
To those who say Sinn Fein has no vision for a future United Ireland, an Ireland of equals, irrespective of race, colour, creed, sex or sexual orientation, we say look to our Eire Nua document. We have long promoted it as a sound basis for this United Ireland; it is past time for all political parties to cease ignoring the innate qualities of this document. A united Ireland will come about, and it must be an Ireland where, all the children of the nation are cherished equally, “oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien government”. As we leave here let us work all the harder for the goal of a peaceful, sovereign socialist, democratic and United Ireland. An Phoblacht Abu.
At Saoradh’s Unfinished Revolution Easter Commemoration in Belfast, Packy Carty delivered the following oration.
I would like to welcome everyone here today to this hallowed spot, on this the one hundred and second anniversary of the 1916 Easter rising and the beginning of Ireland’s Unfinished Revolution.
I take this opportunity to send fraternal greetings to our incarcerated comrades in British and neo-colonial prisons throughout Ireland. I extend fraternal greetings and solidarity to all oppressed peoples across the globe who struggle to assert their sovereignty, secure their national liberation and face down the evils of imperialism and capitalist exploitation. We extend fraternal greetings to our friends and comrades across the globe, particularly in Scotland, Australia and the USA, though you’re far from home your contribution to the struggle for Irish freedom is keenly felt and warmly welcomed.
Today our thoughts and condolences go out to the Palestinian people, who yesterday in Gaza were gunned down by the forces of the Israeli Zionist occupation. At the last report, there were 16 Palestinian comrades murdered and over 1500 wounded. The Palestinian people yesterday marched in their tens of thousands to mark the terrible anniversary of Land Day, the 30th of March 1976, when 9 Palestinians were murdered protesting against the oppressive plans of the then Governor of Galilee. We must watch closely the events unfolding in Palestine as the Palestinian people plan to continue their protests until the anniversary of the Nakba on the 15th of May when 750 thousand Palestinians were driven from Palestine and the illegal colonial state of Israel created 70 years ago. On behalf of everyone gathered here today, on behalf of Saoradh and the wider Republican Movement I extend our solidarity to the Palestinian people as they protest for the right to return. I say to our Palestinian comrades your struggle is never far from our thoughts and from our hearts and we extend eternal solidarity to you in your continued struggle for the re-establishment of a Palestinian homeland, from the river to the sea.
Belfast is the birthplace of Irish Republicanism. Wolfe Tone on Belfast’s Cavehill set out a vision of an Ireland where all our people regardless of religion or creed would together control their own destinies. Tone’s words that day still echo righteously, he pledged; “never to desist in our efforts until we subvert the authority of England over our country and assert our independence”. Belfast has never been found wanting when it has come to struggle and sacrifice. When the sectarian statelet was formed following partition, Belfast bore the brunt of violent British imperialism. When the people rose up off their knees in the late 60s and early 70s it was the Belfast Brigade of the Irish Republican Army who led the offensive that smashed the orange sectarian statelet and engaged the forces of British imperialism sent to defend it. Belfast today continues to be an example for the continued struggle for Irish national liberation.
The people of Belfast have paid a heavy price for their steadfast resistance. This graveyard here today, with its monuments and flag poles, are a testament to that sacrifice, but perhaps a more telling sign of Britain’s continued enmity towards the Republican people of Belfast is the economic war it continues to wage, particularly against the Republican heartlands in North and West Belfast.
Twenty years ago, the Belfast Agreement subsumed a section of the National liberation movement into the administration of British Rule in Ireland. It resurrected the British institution of Stormont and it set back the struggle for Irish freedom by decades. Under the propaganda of a so-called ‘peace process’ was this watershed sold to Irish Republicans, particularly the beleaguered Republican people of Belfast. British imperialism and their newly co-opted proxies in Ireland promised ‘peace dividends’ to the communities that were the backbone of the struggle for over 30 years. People were told they would see an end to discrimination, increased economic welfare and an equal share of the fortunes that this so-called new dispensation would bring.
Instead, the Republican heartlands of Belfast have seen; savage cuts to welfare and public services, the push to privatise the health service, an end to public housing, the closure of factories, phantom community groups, nepotism, fraud and corruption. The deaths of the war have been replaced by deaths from suicide. Not only has the Belfast Agreement copper-fastened British Rule in Ireland but it has accelerated class oppression and exploitation of the working class people of the occupied six counties. By Britain’s own admission, out of 650 constituencies, West Belfast ranks number one for poverty and social deprivation. Furthermore, the EU’s own statistics firmly place North and West Belfast on top of the poverty and social deprivation tables. The Campaign to End Child Poverty, say twenty percent of children in West Belfast are living in poverty - the highest figure across the six counties. The research showed that Colin Glen, Falls and Whiterock were identified as the worst affected areas in the West of the city. The figures are in contrast to other areas such as South Antrim and North Down, where child poverty levels are around half of that in West Belfast.
These damning statistics clearly illustrate the so-called ‘peace’ process is, in reality, a poverty process. For over 30 years the strongholds of constitutional nationalism in Derry and Belfast have been the strongholds of poverty and social injustice. The elective aristocracy of Sinn Fein and the SDLP have presided over these deliberate conditions in working-class Republican areas, whilst they have become rent racking landlords and exploitive bourgeois bosses. All this in tandem with implementing savage British austerity cuts, ensuring that the ordinary working class citizens have been plunged into a life of poverty or precarious living conditions!
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “poverty is the worst form of violence” and considering the levels of poverty Irish citizens are forced to endure by violent British imperialism, it should come as no surprise that Irish citizens continue to confront British imperialism with armed struggle. Whilst Britain undemocratically partitions Ireland and imposes violent British imperialism, it should come as no surprise that Irish citizens continue to confront British imperialism with armed struggle.
The first question by the British media, the first question asked by those consumed by the British system; will Saoradh oppose violence! Our answer; Saoradh will oppose violent British imperialism to our last breath. Those who support violent British imperialism, those who support the violent poverty process, have no moral position on which to criticise an oppressed people, struggling for social emancipation and national liberation.
For years now, Irish Republicans have said that Stormont was a failure, that it had no true power and that its aim was to perpetuate British rule in Ireland, by conditioning a generation into accepting partition. When Stormont collapsed last year, following the RHI corruption scandal, we were vindicated in our analysis. Despite Sinn Fein’s excitement at the size of their vote in the subsequent election, it has provided nothing, the real power is and always has been at Whitehall and now the DUP and Tories rule directly from Westminster. Don’t be fooled by votes, don’t be fooled by talk of border polls and referenda, the Irish people have not had democracy since the 1918 general election. British Imperialism since that date has ruled Ireland on an alternating basis of military force or coercion. The only fly in the ointment is the looming storm that is Brexit.
Brexit has ushered in the greatest period of political instability and uncertainty that Britain has witnessed since the second world war. Brexit has the potential to break up the British state and as such it offers Irish republicans an opportunity to realise our first great objective; the ending of the British occupation and the reunification of the Irish nation. A rising right-wing English nationalism is proving usefully destructive, the hankering for the days of Empire has in a few short years destabilised the British state beyond what we ever envisaged possible. It looks set to tear asunder the intricate soft occupation in place here since 1998 with the inevitable infrastructure of a hard border imminent, this will drive home to the Irish people the partition of our country, it will clearly demonstrate Britain’s continuing usurpation of Irish sovereignty and as history teaches us it will inevitably stoke the fires of resistance against British Rule in Ireland
The other side of the Brexit coin is the European Union. The southern neocolonial state has lost any sovereignty it may have had to the European superstate. Under the capitalist neoliberal model imposed by the EU, there has been a fire sale in national industry and utilities, water, gas, fishing, our emerging oil and gas reserves, the Irish people pay through the nose while foreign multinationals reap a fortune, with little or no tax paid to the Irish people. A two-tier health system treats Irish citizens based on their wealth, not their health. Apple, Facebook and the super-rich dot-com corporations owe the people billions, but the Gombeen political elite revel in corruption as children sleep on the streets. The EU usurps Irish sovereignty as virulently as Britain does. The lessons of Greece are clear, for real independence, Ireland as a 32 county Republic, would have to break with the EU. The Ownership of Ireland should be for the People of Ireland, not for London and not for Brussels.
The coming battle in the banana republic is the battle for public housing. The neoliberal housing diktat puts housing at the mercy of the market, banks, vulture funds, speculators and rent racking landlords. They all pray on the Irish citizens forced to go cap in hand for the most basic of human needs, shelter. A home is a human right, a state should provide ample and adequate public housing for all. A government representative of the people of Ireland, working for the people of Ireland, would not have our people crawling on their hands and knees, as ex-British soldiers and mercenaries steal their homes for vulture funds. Apollo House was a first symbolic fight back and Saoradh has worked at the coalface of the homeless crisis in Dublin since our inception, but the worst is yet to come. Across Ireland we are facing a class war, both states are imposing poverty and deprivation and maintaining it with state violence, we must have a clear class analysis and strategic response to this humanitarian crisis.
As a young Party, not yet two years in existence, we are busy debating, discussing and developing our socialist ideology. We will, in time, produce our core ideological policy documents and from that policy, we will form the strategy that will set the tone of Republican activism for at least the next decade. I can not overemphasise the importance of this process and the importance of each and every one of you being involved in shaping and taking ownership of that process. We can not twenty years from now find ourselves in the cul-de-sac’s of the past, facing the same situations that have led us to where we are today. It is vitally important, therefore, that all of our actions, our activism and our campaigns are underpinned by that ideology, that they feed into an overarching strategy designed to achieve realistic short term and long term objectives.
This is a grassroots up process and because it is grassroots-led, it is painstakingly slow. There can be no return to top-down kitchen cabinet diktats. Because we are intensively engaged in this process, we do not have positions or policy documents on some issues imminently facing Irish society. We have not debated and formed policy on issues such as abortion or a possible border poll. We do not have policy on many other issues, we must first adopt our core ideology and from that ideology will Saoradh’s future policy and strategy flow, democratically from the Party membership.
Attempting to organise a Socialist Republican Party in Ireland has not been easy, we never expected it to be. Saoradh has been forged in oppression. Since our inception, we have faced constant raids, arrests and an incessant state harassment both North and South. However, despite the worst they can throw at us we stand here today united, more determined and with a growing and vibrant activist base who put the head down and the shoulder to the coalface, the determination to see the Unfinished Revolution through to a successful conclusion burns stronger than ever. Comrades go from here today and advance the struggle for freedom, advance it in the streets, advance it in the workplace, advance it in the fields, build Saoradh for victory.
In the immortal words of Bobby Sands; “Everyone, Republican or Otherwise has their own particular role to play. No part is too great or too small; no one is too old or too young to do something”
Tiocfaidh Ar La
Go raibh mile maith agaibh
The IRSP’s main Easter oration was delivered by Ciaran Cunningham at Milltown Cemetery.
Comrades and Friends
It is a great great honour to be asked to speak at this Republican Socialist Plot today,as we proudly mark the 102nd anniversary of the Easter Rising in Dublin when Republicans, socialists, revolutionaries and many ordinary Irish men and women took to the streets in order to drive British imperialism from our land. I would like to thank the ArdComhairle of the IRSP for asking me to speak as well as the families of the Republican Socialist martyrs and you the core membership for entrusting me to do so.
Easter is a time for reflection, celebration and the renewal of our collective commitment to the Irish revolutionary ideal.
It is right that we reflect upon those who have fallen, indeed it is vital that we do so. The brave fighting men and women who are buried within this plot, within nearby plots and indeed in graveyards across Ireland, these people gave their lives not only for the ideal of Irish Freedom(fighting and dying in the process of trying to make that dream a reality)but in a very real way they also gave their lives for us, personally as individuals.
Our ability in 2018, to live relatively free from state brutality, relatively free from what was once a sure and persistent threat of assassination and indeed our freedom to organise politically and with determination to carry on the struggle for Irish National Liberation and Socialism itself, can without a doubt be attributed to the fallen who we honour today.
This point is of course particularly pertinent to the Irish Republican Socialist Party, last year we made an extra effort to remember the Republican Socialist martyrs of 1987, those who died in defence of this great party and its right to exist.
Very often I have a romantic tendency (some may call it a weakness) to spot symbolic coincidences at Easter and take political and personal strength from them, usually I keep such notions to myself, but this year I will share one thought with you all.
Last year, as we stood here and honoured the Martyrs of ‘87, the rain pelted down upon each one of us, it was relentless and all who spoke from the platform fought their way through that storm to deliver their message, and everybody went home soaked.
Easter 1987 itself was the same, the weather was fierce, literally fierce that day, but the speakers who took to the stand had fought their way through a much more vicious storm as had all those who had the principle and tenacity to march with them.
The IRSP had long been declared an outlaw organisation both by the British state and their dependables in Leinster House, but by 1987, it was also outlawed from elements within our own community, people who tried their very hardest to murderously put the party of Connelly and Costello out of business.
By Easter 1987, the worst of that storm had passed, and the party spokespersons that Sunday were able to declare with confidence that the program of the IRSP would carry on without any further haste or hindrance and indeed it did, with the IRSP entering the ‘90s with a renewed sense of strength, confidence and vision.
Likewise, last year (30 years later almost to the day) our party left Milltown cemetery having braved a storm - albeit of much less fierce nature - and having heard our spokespeople (themselves veterans of that period) once again declare their determination to carry on with the party program.
And indeed, the year which has passed since we last gathered here was one of great renewal, vision and determination for the IRSP. Collectively we met and debated, collectively we planned and constructed, collectively we analysed, we read, we wrote and we published.As a party we charted a path for the future struggle for Irish National Liberation and Socialism and every party activist today, young and old is sensing a time of great things for the IRSP and our ideals.
It is one thing coming out of a storm and appreciating the heat and warmth of later political progress. But we cannot not with any sense of integrity, forget those who did not survive, indeed those who fell sheltering the party and ensured its safe passage.
In every period since the very conception of the IRSP, the fallen martyrs did just that. In every period since the party’s conception attacks were mounted upon the organisers, the intellectuals, the guerrilla fighters, the spokespeople and upon activists on a street level. So afraid was the British state of the pure revolutionary ideals of Connolly and Costello, the correct assertion that the struggle for Irish Freedom and the class struggle for Socialism were in fact one in the same and must be, could be and would be pursued together.
The day to day work of those who fell victim to the assassin’s bullet, those who fell in the field of combat or within Thatcher’s prison system, built the foundations around which the IRSP of 2018 can now set about implementing this most modern stage of the party program.
No doubt the families of those fallen comrades are here with us also, and you too will remember your loved ones in your own mind in your own way. We extend our condolences and send tributes to you also.
Our dead (the fallen comrades of the Republican Socialist Movement) allowed us to gather here today, they allowed us to plan for tomorrow, and we cannot, we will not forget their sacrifice while we push ahead our program of work.
And so we again salute them today, on Easter Sunday morning, paying tribute as we do of course to the patriot dead of all organisations and from all generations who lie within this cemetery.
For Republicans and Republican Socialists, Easter should also be a time of celebration. The collective legacy of Irish resistance,its many centuries of bravery, audacity and dogged determination in the face of waves of cruel adversity is on a par with freedom struggles anywhere in the world.
Many of you have come through the trauma of combat, and through the dark seasons of despair which are forced upon soldiers of freedom when they are committed to the Britain’s prison system, many of you have no doubt felt the pain and guilt of losing comrades and the countless other negative emotions and negative impacts which inevitably come with a life spent in revolutionary struggle.
Yet every day you have gotten up and renewed yourselves in the face of that adversity, you still get up and renew your determination to finish the job, you carry on your struggle without a wage and more often than not without a single complaint, all for the betterment of your class and your country.
Show me a British imperialist who would dedicate the best part of his life for the greater good, without a wage and without complaint, you will find very, very few. Show me capitalist who will dedicate any part of his life without a wage or complaint, you will find none.
You, the republican socialists of Ireland represent the best that exists within this country. Your spirit - which says that there is more worth in pursuing the collective good than in pursuing mere personal gain and ambition - is the essence of the Irish Republican ideal. There are many on the Irish left who will claim to be the inheritors of Connolly, and who do no doubt, attempt to espouse the goals of collectivism and equality above those of capitalist gain.
Yet only a few have gone further and translated those goals into action. Only a few have put their life’s and liberty on the line attempting to make Irish Freedom and Socialism a tangible and living thing, as opposed to a faded half nostalgic notion of some future washed out paid off union official.
You, the fighting comrades of the IRSP rank high amongst the faithful few. You have not merely interpreted the world, but as Marx commanded, you went out to change it. Throughout the course of struggle, you also looked after each other, and you still do, for this is how Irish Republican Socialists behave, by caring for each other now, just as the revolutionary state that we seek to create will do so later.
‘By their fruits you shall know them’ said Jesus himself, when we see the collective spirit of solidarity that has emerged from past struggles, the generosity of effort that our party comrades display daily and their willingness to struggle and suffer for an ideal greater than themselves, then we can say without a shadow of doubt, that today’s IRSP are the true inheritors of Connolly.
James Connolly had travelled the world espousing the ideas of Revolution. He spent time in America organsing and agitating, he formed links with working class representatives across the Atlantic and he used these contacts to build solidarity within an ethos of Internationalism.
Connolly was born in 1868. One hundred and fifty years ago and his political legacy is as strong in 2018 as it ever was. There is a growing interest in his ideals and his writings and young people are eager to learn the lessons that Connolly lays down. His fundamental political ideals matter as much today as they did in the time before the Easter rebellion. That is his lasting legacy. We are proud to be part of that legacy and the founders of this movement were inspired by Connolly to such an extent that they felt the need for a truly revolutionary movement to be established in 1974 after the abandonment of revolutionary principles by others. That is why comrades that we stand beside these graves, the graves of brave men and women who also took inspiration from Connolly, they took that courageous step towards revolution and gave the ultimate sacrifice. We honour them here today as we do every year. They were the heroes of the latest stage in Ireland’s struggle for class and national freedom.
The first leader of our movement, Seamus Costello, took great inspiration from Connolly and his politics, he modelled this movement on Connolly’s ICA and ISRP. James Connolly’s daughter, once described Seamus as follows:”Of all the politicians and political people with whom I have had conversations, and whom I have had conversations, and who called themselves followers of Connolly, he was the only one who truly understood what James Connolly meant when he spoke of his vision of the freedom of the Irish people.”
Comrades, this says it all, what finer and more eloquent endorsement of Seamus and this movement could there be. James Connolly’s daughter seen Seamus as the one and only natural political successor to her father.
And if that alone is not cause for celebration today then I don’t know what is.
Of course, we honour and pay tribute to all the leaders of the Rising and all the volunteers who took part, whether they were military, political, medical or who played any other role in that brave strike for freedom. We honour them all equally.
Comrades, it would be remiss of us to speak of selfless dedication for the Republican Socialist cause, and remembrance of the dead without mentioning the passing last year of our Comrade Harry O’Hara who following his own long period of political struggle took great personal pride and sought no reward or recognition for the daily upkeep of this Republican Socialist plot and others within this cemetery. Harry did a great job and we do indeed recognise him for his work.
Likewise, it would be remiss of us to speak of the need to stand by each other and to support each other, without recalling the ongoing efforts of the Little and Bunting families, who this year have succeeded in dragging into the spotlight the reality of what was a Tory ordered campaign of murder against the leadership and intellectual backbone of this party in 1980.
The families of Ronnie Bunting and Noel Little have always maintained that the death squad which visited so much sadness upon them, were not the mere sectarian stooges of the UDA but were indeed well trained, well directed and well-paid triggermen of the Tory Party itself.
The decision taken by Tory Viceroy Karen Bradley a fortnight ago to snatch the power of inquest around the murders of Ronnie and Noel from the hands of an Irish based Attorney General and hand it to one of her own party colleagues in Whitehall, smacks not only of a classic colonial disregard for the basic rights of Irish people, but a desperate attempt to cover up a campaign of political murder initiated by her own government predecessors and which occurred well within living memory.
We wish the Bunting and Little families well in their ongoing respective legal struggles and pledge our future support. Indeed, we pledge support for all suchlong-suffering families in their fight for truth and justice for their loved ones.
It is also vitally important that in the course of remembering our patriot and revolutionary dead at Easter that we do not fall into the mistake of believing that their legacy of strugglecan be confined tothe past like some proud historical relic.
We have a task to complete comrades, a task which must be completed, yes on the behalf of our patriot dead, but also on behalf of ourselves and the generations which will come long after we have gone.
Let nobody suggest that the vision which spurred on every fallen Irish revolutionary resting in this cemetery and beyond is near completion. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
In 1998, the Irish Republican Socialist Party declared its sincere belief that that the logistical merit in practicing armed actions had passed and that we were entering a stage of political and street based popular struggle.
With the greatest respect to all sincere republican activists and comrades, it is increasingly clear, that the IRSP were correct in that analysis.
Their analysis came with an important caveat however, one which stressed that future political action on behalf of republican socialism could not and would not involve giving recognition to British policing structures in Ireland, holding sincerely that nothing was to be gained from such an action, and indeed only grief, loss and confusion could emerge from it.
When we see how now, twenty years later, far from morphing into a ‘normal police force’ (if there is indeed such a thing) the PSNI are in all and any meaningful ways, advised, ordered, directed and led by the nose, by British military intelligence, we can confidently conclude that the legacy of the PSNI sits not within a handful of token Irish speakers in Garnaville training centre, but with the litany of disgraceful cases of modern internment, a continuous wave of political led raids and arrests on the homes of principled republican and republican socialist activists, an ever visible presence of purple gloved thugs who stalk republican families for search operations on their way to and from school and the continued deliberate remanding into custody of republican activists on the back of little or no evidence, in an effort to distribute legitimate political party activity, not of the liking of the planners of Whitehall.
No, the IRSP does not stand with the police who on the stroke of a pen at Hollywood barracks pursue the continuation of centuries old tactics of colonial oppression. We stand with their victims.
The IRSP were right in this analysis also.
In 1998 the party also predicted that the Good Friday Agreement was not designed with the welfare of the Irish working class in mind and urged opposition from the outset. Understanding that, dripping, as that document was with sectarian outlook and riddled with opportunities for the wealthy to transform Ireland not for the good of its people but for the profits of international business, the IRSP predicted that working class people would remain utterly economically oppressed in post Good Friday Ireland.
Only last week our party activists were giving advice and counsel to working families threatened by the spectre of eviction caused by pay cuts and the false dynamics of a housing system made rotten by the presence of private landlords and opportunistic speculators.
Every day we provide advice and assistance to marginalised and desperate families forced further into economic despair, under a system which does not give a toss for the material or emotional well being of families. Few here need further reminding of the creeping spectre of poverty which looms over our working-class communities, a spectre which will only grow bigger when fresh start mitigation packages begin to evaporate, and it becomes apparent that there is no cavalry coming over the horizon.
How different is the reality from the financial dream which was promised to us by the state backed media all those years back in 1998.
Again, in this area, the IRSP was correct in stating that a ‘cross community’ capitalist backed agreement, could be no substitute for a non-sectarian campaign of socialist resistance. They were correct.
Last year, the party announced its belief that shifting demographics in six counties, and the subsequent growth of progressive nationalist sentiment there, could see potential for putting the only positive aspect of the Good Friday Agreement to the test and for the good of the national goal.
It is our belief that if potential exists to demand in the near future, a ‘border poll’ or referendum on Irish Unity, then this is our opportunity to put the Good Friday Agreement to the test for once and for all.
Our people deserve something from the last twenty years of political stagnation, our people deserve a chance to (for the first time in history) push for the independence of their nation in peace, without the fear of death or imprisonment.
Give us a border poll and let us campaign positively for it. If nothing else we will shake the political confidence of those who seek to partition Ireland indefinitely. If (as is their way) Britain refuses the wishes of the people, then we can safely drop the Good Friday Agreement into the dustbin of history. We have nothing to lose.
Again, this call comes with an important caveat. Unlike all others who are lending their support to the notion of a border poll, we are not calling for the maintenance of European Union structures in Ireland, indeed we are demanding an independent Ireland’s withdrawal from the EU.
We call the European Union out for what it is, a rotten capitalist institution which (contrary to claims of many) has not delivered workers rights, has not delivered human rights and has not delivered prosperity, but rather has taken the credit on the one hand for gains made internationally by the European workers movement, while attempting to destroy the same rights at every opportunity.
We are not stupid, we are Socialists, and Socialism is impossible within the European Union. Indeed, a basic republican economic programme which sought mere fairness and self-determination, would be outlawed under the European Union. A basic checking of political facts would demonstrate this truth.
We seek a socialist republic and solidarity with other worker’s nations. These are values which the EU was created to destroy here and elsewhere, these were the traditional values of Sinn Fein and the founding values of the IRSP. They remain the values of the IRSP and this is where we stand. Again, the IRSP will be proven correct.
Our activists are mobilising country wide to this end comrades, and we are confident in the outcome.
It goes without saying that we honour greatly and eternally the efforts and sacrifice of all of our patriot dead. But to truly honour them, is to carry on with the program of revolutionary change in Ireland.
The IRSP possesses the correct program, we will not let down our revolutionary dead.
We have endured too much, too many of our friends and comrades have suffered for that to change. Our comrades died to achieve freedom for our people in a new Ireland which cherishesall ofits children; a revolutionary Ireland built upon the pillars of liberty, equality and fraternity.
Join with us.
Republican Network for Unity National Chairperson, Eadhard O Cuinn delivered the National Easter Statement in Ardoyne on the theme: ‘The end of one campaign is not the end of the struggle but merely the beginning of a new phase of the same struggle.’
On the 102nd anniversary of the historic Proclamation of the Irish Republic, the leadership of the Republican Network for Unity sends solidarity greetings to all its members, activists, friends and supporters in Ireland and abroad. We also like to send solidarity to our Cogus political prisoners and all Irish Republican prisoners. We also take this opportunity to add our voice, to the many, in calling for the immediate release of Tony Taylor.
102 years after the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, the Republic envisioned by its signatories has still not been delivered. The national, social, economic and cultural contradictions between the proclaimed Irish Republic of 1916 and today’s Ireland are striking.
The national question, as it is called, has not been solved.
We as Irish Republicans owe it to the memory of Ireland’s patriot dead to ensure that the goal of a unified Ireland does not simply become a cleche or an Easter battle cry. We must become relevant in our communities and popularise the Republican message. It is also incumbant upon us all to ensure that sudo gangs, egotists and self promotors are challenged for their anti-republican activity.
Brexit has brought the border dividing Ireland back to international attention.
We as Irish Republicans need to garner that international attention to further highlight Britain’s continued partition of Ireland.
The continued social and economic decline in Ireland sees us with an unprecedented raise in homelesness, unemployment, bank repossessions and emigration, this is not the Ireland envisaged by Pearse and Connolly.
We in RNU call for the opening up of ghost housing estates to help eleavate the homeless issue. We call for all-Ireland provision of better drug and alcohol support and a ring-fencing of mental health provision. We also call for improved financial help for local business, particulary in rural areas of Ireland.
Much has been made recently around support for an Irish language act. The Irish language belongs to all of us. We in RNU are in awe of the growing Irish language community and the huge raise of young people and parents who are choosing to avail of Irish medium education. (inniu Iarrann RNU Acht na Gaeilge anois)
Easter 2018 also marks the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Much had been promised to ordinary working-class people on both sides of the sectarian divide in the 6 Counties but very little has been delivered.
On a daily basis, jobs are being lost while politicians sit in Stormont, doing nothing for high wages. We, as Irish Republicans, articulated a message in 1998 that a return to Stormont would perpetulate sectarianism and continue idefinitely Britain’s usurpation of Irish soverntry. Despite being vilified and marginalised our message was sadly proven correct: Stormont cannot deliver and it will not deliver for the working-class people in the 6 Counties.
Instead of austerity from Stormont, Dublin and London, we believe in a united Irish Republic. This Republic proclaimed at Easter week 1916 is the Republic of Wolfe Tone. We believe in an inclusive Republic that provides equal opportunities for all of its citizens.
2018 also marks the 100th anniversary of votes for women. In the early 20th century, the militant suffragette women were at the forefront of the anti-colonial struggle in Ireland. Among those who formed Cumann na mBan, fought in 1916 and, later, rejected the treaty that partioned Ireland in 1921 were Irish suffragettes. Much has been achieved for women in the past 100 years - nonetheless, women are still not equal citizens today. The Republican Network of Unity needs to lead by example in all areas. Therefore, one of our tasks is to encourage more women to actively join the Republican struggle and follow the lead of women like Maire Drumm by taking on leading roles within our organisation.
These are the numerous tasks facing Irish Republicans today. The members of RNU need to be prepared in order to tackle these challenges. Yet, the last year was a difficult year for our movement. Our movement has experienced fundamental changes. Following long and deep internal considerations, the Republican Network for Unity, together with other Republican organisations and the prisoners supported by Cogus, thoroughly analysed the current situation. Based on this analysis we embarked on a new road.
One of the results of these debates was the announcement of a suspension of all military attacks by Oglaigh na hEireann in January 23rd, 2018. The history of the Republican struggle in Ireland over the past 225 years has seen various phases of armed struggle and non-armed struggle. If a military campaign fails to achieve its aims, the campaign has to be called off, the failures and weaknesses analysed and the movement, prepared for the future. Let us be clear! The end of one campaign is not the end of the struggle but merely the beginning of a new phase of the same struggle.
Today, the Irish Republican Movement is weak. So was the movement at the end of Operation Harvest in 1962. The statement ending Operation Harvest was not ONLY greeted by support. Many supporters who had provided billets and organisational support throughout the campaign were disillusioned. Similarly today, many people were unwilling to take the essential steps with us. Yet, barely seven years after the ending of Operation Harvest, a new generation of IRA soldiers arose from the ashes of Bombay Street.
Thanks to women and men like Maire and Jimmy Drumm, Billy McKee, Jimmy Steele, Brigid Hannon, Daithi O Connaill or Ruairi O Bradaigh who had kept the movement alive during the hard times of the 1960s, this generation took its rightful place in Irish history.
Today, revolutionary Republicanism is once again at low ebb. However, while we had to acknowledge that we are too weak to deliver a united Irish Republic immediately, we are convinced that we are strong enough to educate and organise a new generation of Irish Republicans to continue and succeed in the struggle for a united Ireland. To equip this new generation of Irish Republicans with the revolutionary spirit of Tone, Connolly and Pearse is the task of the Republican Network for Unity today.
Sin e agus go raibh mile maith agaibh