A round-up of statements issued at the turn of the year by the leaders and leaderships of Sinn Fein and republican organisations.
32 County Sovereignty Movement
We stand by the democratically endorsed 1919 Declaration of Independence, issued by the duly elected First Dáil Eireann, to the free nations of the world.
We reaffirm that in this, the centenary year of that seminal event, complete recognition of the validity and vision of that Declaration remains the only solution to the Anglo-Irish conflict.
The Irish people of that era reasoned correctly that the carefully fostered divisions amongst traditions on the island, as a deliberate instrument of British policy, could only be addressed when those traditions are allowed to interact within an Irish sovereign framework.
The British reaction to the democratically expressed will of the Irish people was to declare that outcome illegal, which was tantamount to a declaration of war against the Irish people.
And yet it was the Unionist leader Edward Carson who succinctly, and presciently observed;
“What a fool I was. I was only a puppet, and so was Ulster, and so was Ireland, in the political game that was to get the Conservative Party into power.”
Partition has been a disaster for Ireland, on both sides of the border. We now stand on the precipice our forebears once stood upon but with one major difference; we have the benefit of history and the honesty of Carson to guide us.
As Irish republicans, we openly appeal to our unionist fellow citizens to once and for all take democratic control of your own destinies and do not leave your future to political horse-trading with British political parties who do not have your interests at heart. National sovereignty is always stronger than Parliamentary majorities or partitioned arithmetic.
And we deliberately make this appeal to ordinary working-class unionists, because your political leadership has vowed to abandon you if constitutional change comes to pass. Sit down with your fellow Irishmen and women and forge a sovereign republic for our people. Divorce your cultural heritage and identity from sectarian headcount politics and integrate its core ethos into building a sovereign society that offers justice and equality for all.
For our part, Irish republicans are preparing a social schematic of a sovereign republic that we believe can be created in the event that the violation of our national sovereignty ends. But no matter how eloquent or adroit this presentation may be, it will always be deficient, because it will lack the essential contribution of the tradition which gave us the great Protestant thoughts and input into the development of Republican ideals in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Those ideals are as much your heritage as it is that of those who currently espouse them. The totality of Irish sovereignty can only function within a society which has true autonomy in deciding its government and covets economic democracy to secure social equality and justice.
As much as absentee landlordism contributed to the misery of mass evictions in the past, absentee governance, by the Brussels financial elite, have contributed nothing but debt enslavement to the similarly marginalised and with similar consequences. The parallels of history are clear. Let us ensure that our solutions are steeped in this knowledge.
Michelle O’Neill (Sinn Fein Vice-President)
As we approach the end of 2018, I want to thank and commend all those working in our frontline services over the Christmas period.
While many people will be relaxing at home with their families over the Christmas period, thousands of doctors, nurses, paramedics, fire fighters and vital support staff will be at work, caring for patients, supporting families and saving lives.
The chaos of Brexit has obviously dominated politics over the past year and we can expect more of the same in 2019.
But, equally, Sinn Fein will continue to provide strong leadership and decisive action, representing the best interests of all our citizens.
We are living in historic times. And despite the chaos and uncertainty of Brexit, I am hopeful about the future.
Hopeful because more and more progressive voices are coming together to assert their rights as citizens and reject the kind of narrow, self-serving agendas that brought us Brexit, Tory cuts and the denial of rights.
I believe progress is possible. I am hopeful we can end the denial of rights in the north and restore our power-sharing institutions on the basis of equality.
The prejudice felt by women, the LGBTQ community, Irish speakers and victims is incompatible with the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. Through all the chaos, uncertainty and challenges that face us, that peace agreement must be protected.
It’s time we finally give people the kind of government, society and future that they deserve and can have confidence in.
A new Assembly and a new type of politics is possible. Let’s make 2019 the year of real and lasting change.
Nollaig shona do gach duine agus bliain ur faoi mhaise daoibh go leir.
Republican Sinn Fein
Beannachtai na hAthbhlianna o Shinn Fein Poblachtach do ar gcomradaithe, chairde agus lucht tacaiochta anseo in Eireann agus thar lar. Seolamid teachtaracht tacaiochta cuig ar cimi poblachtanaigh, go hairithe Jonathan Hawthorn i Priosun Port Laoise.
[Republican Sinn Fein extends New Year’s greetings to friends, supporters and members both in Ireland and internationally. We also salute Republican prisoners especially Jonathan Hawthorn in Portlaoise jail.]
This year is the 100th anniversary of An Chead Dail Eireann and will be a year of challenges and opportunities for all Republicans. One hundred years ago was the last time the population of Ireland voted as a single unit and they overwhelmingly voted for a 32-County Republic. Sinn Fein had campaigned on a platform of independence, sovereignty and a total separation from their Imperialist neighbour. This decision was to lead to the War of Independence, and ultimately to the betrayal of the people by Irish politicians who compromised on the ideals of the 1916 Proclamation. Rather than stand fast on principle, they agreed to partition off part of Ireland in exchange for a subservient puppet parliament in Leinster House for 26 Counties, and another at Stormont for six north-eastern counties.
This decision had far-reaching consequences down through the following century, with families split in the defence of the 32-County Republic, a sectarian Administration in the Occupied Six Counties that treated nationalists as less-than-human and it led to a continuation of the struggle for a Sovereign Democratic Republic.
Despite the defection of many so-called republicans into “constitutional” politics, the call for a United Ireland has never been quelled. Republicans have rightly stayed relevant and refused to enter Leinster House or Stormont not because of any oath to a foreign monarch, but because neither of these institutions represent the people of Ireland as they still remain subservient to foreign entities.
This past year has seen an ever-increasing assault on the people of Ireland, on their standard of living and the rights of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland. The neo-liberal coalition of FF+FG has tried their best to force water charges onto the people of Ireland. This has been steadfastly resisted by a peoples’ movement. Evictions are now an all too common sight, with the banks that were bailed out by the taxpayers now selling on their mortgages to vulture funds who, working with the State, then forcibly remove many from their homes. Last December saw the people once again work together to rightly return a farm to its rightful owners, after the KBC Bank used unlicensed thugs to assault the family and a neighbour. This particular eviction was facilitated at the highest level of policing when the thugs were escorted through the back roads of Roscommon to the farm and worse still were the lies told by the MI5 leader of the Irish police when he said “his” police would not stand by as people were assaulted, the video clip clearly shows the police watching people being attacked These actions by the people of Ireland give hope to us all. Working independently of establishment parties they faced oppression and injustices against others. They stood firm and resolute in the belief that this State does not represent them. Let this form of resistance continue, let no political party take over such movements as they have no interest other than to control activists.The disconnect between both States here and the people has never been starker. Politicians in both administrations... continue to be paid huge wages, expenses and other perks while many people live hand-to-mouth. The irony of Stormont representatives being paid while not actually working and the Leinster House representatives getting 1,000 euro pay rises epitomises all that is wrong with politics in Ireland.
The two States continue to use the old divide and conquer tactic. Whether it is through religion, class or ethnicity they have managed to isolate groups and individuals. In December last we heard 26-County politicians lay the ground-work to blame nurses for any issues that might arise in the future because they want their pay restored to proper levels. Similarly, they blame the scandal of patients lying on trolleys in A+E departments on doctors not working longer hours. Earlier in the year it was the fault of teachers looking for pay parity causing cuts in spending in other areas of education. Strange how there is ample money for politicians pay-rises, their perks and expenses. Now is the time for the people to stand together, shoulder-to-shoulder against the whole political class that seeks to impoverish us.
The Republican Movement has long promoted Federalism as a way forward in a unified Ireland. The Eire Nua policy of Republican Sinn Fein calls for four provincial parliaments as well as regional parliaments. These would give voice to people on how issues are dealt with locally. It would give a strong voice to our unionist brothers and sisters in a nine-county Ulster Dail. Today more and more people are talking about the Eire Nua document and of Federalism in general. This is a good thing. Now is the time to engage with people locally and nationally to promote this concept. It is and has been a viable way to deal with the problems that have beset Ireland since partition. Even those who called the Eire Nua programme “a sop to Unionism” did secretly engage in discussions on its merits with Unionists.
With the deadline for Brexit there will be challenges for Republicans here in Ireland. The fact that it is Ireland and the British-imposed border that is causing so much angst has thrust the unnatural situation here into the limelight. Irish Republicans, who consistently refused to accept any form of British border in Ireland are to thank for this situation. If it were up to any of the constitutional politicians in either jurisdiction, the issue would have been brushed over many years ago. The old saying “England’s difficulty is Ireland’s opportunity” has never rang truer. We need to keep this issue in the forefront of the media. We need to highlight the very obvious answer to this difficulty for Britain, ie, removing all vestiges of British rule from our country. While the self-serving Establishment will not publicly admit it, the time is fast approaching where the balance of power will shift in the Occupied Six Counties.
We as Republicans do not engage in a sectarian head-count, but by the divisive method set down over many years by both British and Irish politicians the day is coming when internally in the Occupied Six Counties a majority will want to reunite with the 26 Counties, though in a new Ireland, not the flawed 26-County State.
Internationally, we send greetings to all struggling peoples around the world, we again stand in solidarity with our Palestinian brothers and sisters who remain resolute in declaring their right to the homeland in the face of increased aggression from Zionist forces. The rise of fascism globally is alarming. We see in Europe a rising number of people giving the fascist salute from Kiev to Madrid; in the USA minorities are being increasingly oppressed with an increasing number of attacks on Black, Hispanic and others. In many other countries fascists and neo-liberal leaders are on the rise. Left-leaning political parties are undermined through proxy “peoples’ risings”, sponsored, at times, by Imperialist countries. The left must rise to these manipulations, we must work together to bring the working-classes together, for a more equal society.In the coming year let us resolve to advance the cause of the All-Ireland Republic, proclaimed in Easter Week and established by the will of the Irish people on January 21, 1919.
Peadar Toibin (All Ireland Political Movement)
Ireland excels at orthodoxy. The orthodoxy of 1950’s Ireland has in 2018 been replaced by its mirror image. We don’t do respectful diversity of opinion well in Ireland. 1950’s Ireland was intolerant to dissent as was 2018.
As 2018 ends all of the political parties are in perfect conformity on a whole range of issues. The rush by all parties from the extreme left to the extreme right in the Oireachtas, to occupy exactly the same space and time on a range of different issues is unparalleled internationally. Other than a handful of exceptions, this uniformity is reflected in the national print and broadcast media.
On whichever sides of these cultural wars you ideologically reside, it has to be of concern that there is no political party to challenge the status quo and represent 1/3 of the people of the state without a voice in Leinster House. Group think has not served this country well. We all owe about 40,000 euro due to an economic crash. One of the main ingredients of that crash was group think. Very few were willing to say stop when southern economy was being driven off the cliff.
Respectful opposition is not the enemy. Indeed it is a critical part of functioning democracy. Indeed if you silence a large minority, you push them to the margins. If you push them to the margins they will vote for people on the margins too. This is what has happened in the US, Britain and now in France.
One of the engines of this political uniformity is the party system that punishes those who question the prevailing winds of the day and interprets blind conformity as loyalty. Ministers promoted on the basis of fidelity to the leader and geography rather than relevant technical knowledge are easily captured by their departments.
Nowhere is this Ministerial inability more obvious that the national emergencies in Housing and Health care. The inhumane burgeoning waiting lists for healthcare and housing are causing extreme pain and suffering to hundreds of thousands of people. Yet they are politically tolerable to the Fine Gael front bench and their Fianna Fail back benchers.
The ballooning of costs of new hospitals and in broadband steal from future generations already saddled with the astronomical debt of the last economic crash. The Minister for Health has remained a media darling through all of this by speaking only about abortion for the last 2 years. This has been facilitated by an opposition who openly admit to being on political ceasefire.
Luckily Fine Gael has been propped up in terms of Brexit by a EU establishment that seeks to make it as hard as possible for Britain to leave. The one practical step that FG could take to ameliorate Brexit on the island of Ireland would be to actively pursue the All Ireland Economy promised since the inception of the Good Friday Agreement.
However as Liam Mellows predicted Irish Unity is a threat to the establishments on both sides of the border. FG, the party of power, would become a small regional party in a United Ireland.
The Good Friday Agreement was a landmark agreement. It became the basis of what seemed like an impossible peace. However it was created when there was a Unionist majority and before the spectre of Brexit. The institutions created under it are not working. Families across the north are living in food, housing and health poverty and yet one dysfunctional party can put the administration in the north into cold storage for 2 years.
It is time to look beyond the Good Friday Agreement. The governments are in dereliction of the duties by not implementing Joint Authority now. It’s completely logical and way beyond time to plan, fund and deliver services on an All-Ireland basis. It’s time to delete the barriers to the All-Ireland economy now. The border is a wall with a thousand blocks. Each block represents a practical barrier. We need to take down the border block by block. This can be done by creating a cross border ambulance service, a cross border education system, a cross border radio licensing system, a cross border corporation tax and excise duty. The list is endless. Each convergence removes a block and lowers the border. It makes us stronger and makes the eventual transition to unity simpler.
It’s is also beyond time for the regional southern parties to stop dithering and start to function on a national basis. Fianna Fail is politically paralysed in this regard by a leader who is afraid to make a decision. Since the days of Bertie Fianna Fail have talked the talk but the still refuse to take the necessary step. All the while the SDLP is disintegrating and rudderless.
Ireland is turning into a city state. Dublin is an outlier in European terms with regards the size of the population and economic activity in comparison to the rest of the country. Rudderless spatial development is empting rural Ireland west of the Bann, in the border region and the western sea board. Demand must be met by infrastructure on the east coast for sure but new infrastructure must stimulate population growth on the west coast. Brave decisions must be made to build a small number of urban counterbalances on the west coast.
100,000 workers in the south of Ireland work full time and yet are in poverty. An economy built upon a working poor is not a just society. Workers are entitled to fair wages and terms and conditions that allow families to thrive. Workers must be able to organise and collectively bargain. Zero hour contracts hollow out the ability of young families to provide for their children and increase the profit of massive multinationals. Spiralling costs hollow out wages threatening workers and employers.
Often the left seeks to pit the family on 20,000, 35,000 or 50,000 pounds against each other. They also pit the worker against the small enterprise owner. Everyone is ignoring the elephant in the room. The biggest injustice is actually that fact that wealth is migrating at speed to the richest 1%. 82% of the money generated last year when to the richest 1%
In the south 83 High Worth Individuals (people with assets over 50m euro) had taxable income of less than the average industrial wage, which is just over 36,500 euro. 140 HWIs were found to have a taxable income of less than 125,000 euro. This while 10,000 men, women and children are homeless and the figures are getting worse.
There are 18,092 mortgages valued at 3.98 billion euro currently in the hands of unregulated vulture funds. They buy debt cheap, grind out what they can from families, farmers and business people, throw them on the scrap heap and get out fast.
They are an asset stripping tool employed by Fine Gael to feed on those in financial distress. Michael Noonan siad himself “Vultures, you know, carry out a very good service In the ecology”. Leo Varadkar echod this sentiment just in the last few days. Vulture funds are not an accident of the market they are an invasive species introduced on purpose into Irish society by Fine Gael. They are untouchable. They refuse to come before the Finance Committee in the Oireachtas but have access all areas with the Dept of Finance meeting them 125 times.
500,000 people are in housing distress. The collateral damage of the FF crash is still winding its way through the court system in the form of broken families in arrears. While at the same time families are being crucified by astronomical rents and house prices that are higher than the most dangerous peak of the last property bubble. Again this has not happened by accident. Michael Noonan told me that house prices were too cheap and that the only way to increase supply was to increase prices. This stupidity has facilitated property speculators to sit on land banks, refuse to build and wait for house prices to increase even further.
Leo Varadkar stated today that the introduction of one of the most extreme abortion regimes in Europe was a sign of social progress. It shows how upside down our world has become when the state sponsored ending of thousands of lives is considered progress. (ending of lives is what the actual law states)
Simon Harris states that he is pro-choice but the cruel policies that he implements make many women feel that they don’t have a choice. As a result of FG’s policies 19 women gave birth, homeless last year. This is an astonishing situation.
All of the necessary economic and social supports must be provided to mothers and families to ensure that they know that they can raise their children in confidence. We need to be prolife for the whole life.
It’s shocking that in the last month FF, FG, SF and Labour have refused to accept amendments to their abortion bill that would have guaranteed that pain relief would be made available to an unborn child after 20 weeks gestation, that would have guaranteed that medical care would have been given to a child that had survived abortion, that would have made it illegal to have abortions on the basis of gender and disability, that would have simply offered information and an ultrasound to a mother is considering abortion and that would have guaranteed doctors, nurses, midwifes and pharmacist full conscientious objections.
The establishment is in lockstep in opposition to a range of simple humanitarian amendments. FG TDs say that abortion survival is a ‘fairy story’. FF TDs state that abortion regret is ‘Makey Uppy’. Fianna Fail and Fine Gael members cannot tell the difference between their TDs and Ruth Coppinger anymore.
Members and elected representatives of Sinn Fein, Fianna Fail and the SDLP are gathering votes for parties that are doing damage to their core values. They are working for leaderships that are going in the opposite direction to them. Many of these members realise that they are in the wrong parties. Many feel that due to tradition and friendships that it would be hard to leave. But the truth is by staying they are part of the problem and are giving licence to their leaderships to destroy their values.
Politics is not a social club. Political activism is a deeply important responsibility. Being a passenger of a political vehicle going the wrong way contributes to the problem. In the opening days of 2019 citizens need to take stock as to where they are at and where their party is going. Men and women need to seek out the political party that is most closely aligned to their values and world view.
When this happens people must get active. Decisions are made by those who turn up. Being broken hearted, depressed or angry with regards what is happening is not nearly enough.
We need to build, organise and plan. Most of all we need to get active now. Grass roots activism will be our defining mark.
For many people this process has already started. 1,400 people have signed up to our new All Ireland Political Movement. 8 elected reps have declared. This leaves us the same size as the Soc Dems who have been about for 3 years while we are just at the starting gate. We are talking to well over 20 elected reps around the country. Hundreds of people are coming to our meetings. We will have well over 20 public meetings between now and mid-February. We have 20 Cumann up and running and hope to reach 100 Cumann by March. We will start the process of selecting candidates by the end of January.
Change must happen! But it will not happen by itself. It will own happen if you and hundreds of thousands of people like you have the drive to make it happen. Join with us. Bigi linn.
Irish Republican Socialist Party
The leadership of the Irish Republican Socialist Party today sends New Year greetings to its core membership, to supporters across Ireland and the world, to the family and friends of Republican Socialist martyrs and to imprisoned comrades everywhere.
The year 2018 proved momentous for the Republican Socialist Movement; wherein, acting upon previous year’s commitments, the party of Seamus Costello embarked upon a nationwide campaign to build for a radical referendum on Irish unification.
Staying true to Costello’s principled doctrine of Guerrilla Politics; we recognised a clear opportunity in demographic shifts within the occupied six counties, and, (applying modes of organisation learned from comrade organisations across the Celtic world and in Europe), we moved to build a popular momentum capable of forcing the goal of Irish Unity to the top of Irish national priorities and capable of pushing the progressive radical vote which will follow, over the line and towards victory.
Our members travelled across Ireland and beyond to this end; knocking upon the doors of working-class homes, organising public meetings in towns, cities and villages and debating capably in defence of our goals. In 2019 we will build further upon this momentum, bringing the only left-wing analysis to the coming debate on national unity and introducing a whole new generation to what is the only progressive and principled Republican Socialist analysis on this issue.
We note that some commentators have dramatically called into question the principle of our referendum program. In the face of such criticisms we say this; successful campaigns were never fought by those who stood still, but by those who could manoeuvre both inside and outside the enemy’s walls.
The IRSP are not above others critically analysing our direction, we welcome it, with the caveat that no one political tendency on this island has the capacity to deliver a united democratic socialist republic alone. Yet it is the responsibility of those who would oppose our direction to formulate a strategy past sloganizing.
The IRSP will embrace this path while it works and will choose another if it fails, our members are principled people and will remain on the revolutionary road regardless, concern yourself with your own structures and we will take care of ourselves.
Our grassroots working class engagement process has also been a crucial component in the realisation that 2019, a year of great historical significance, is the year for preparation, dialogue, debate and mobilisation towards a referendum to deliver a United Ireland.
A socialist United Ireland is no longer an abstract aspiration of the few. The fundamental contractions that exist within British occupied Ireland, the push for Scottish Independence, Brexit, mixed with the inherent exploitative nature of capitalism, all combined are making progressive Irish Unity a distinct possibility.
Republican Socialists do not intend to sit on the side-lines waiting for the Irish people to be allowed to peacefully and democratically express their wish for a United Ireland through a referendum mechanism. We categorically demand it; and we will stand shoulder to shoulder with all others to make this demand in 2019. We will engage in debate and dialogue with any individual or group that shares our strategic analysis on this single issue.
The wider conversation on the building of an Irish unity referendum must first and foremost be carried out in a respectful and comradely manner. Existing differences in policy have to be acknowledged and set aside for any meaningful dialogue to succeed. We must learn the lessons of our recent history; have the capacity to identify state players and agents of influence whose motives are to sow the seeds of division.
Republicans and socialists must get involved in the wider mainstream debate on a united Ireland to prevent the right-wing establishment from monopolising the social, cultural and economic narrative and to further divide the people for their selfish elitist class interests.
We must make it clear to the working class that transitioning into a 32-county capitalist framework (post referendum) will not solve the deep seeded problems which arise from a society built on exploitation. The housing crisis, education crisis, healthcare crisis, poverty crisis, unemployment, underemployment and the debt crisis can only be seriously addressed with a radical transition process towards a socialist republic; an Irish referendum is the catalyst for this change.
The IRSP will campaign for the creation of a commission, consisting of all representatives of the organised working class to examine ways of establishing an all-Ireland socialist economy post referendum.
2019 will also be a year of historic centenary celebrations as we commemorate the establishment of the First Dial and the acceptance and ratification of the Democratic Programme and the 1916 Proclamation of the Republic as the fundamental bedrock on which a progressive Irish Republic should be established. The IRSP welcome attempts by a broad spectrum of Irish socialism to unite and discuss the potential for implementation of the principal’s laid out in both these historic yet relevant documents.
The IRSP enter this year having survived 44 years of British and Free-State attempts at destroying our movement. At every stage of IRSP development we have faced relentless and multi-layered attacks. Many of these attacks were fronted by proxies of the state who; while portraying themselves as Republicans or Republican socialists, were simultaneously engaged in efforts at destroying the Republican Socialist movement on behalf of the enemy. This is the lesson of our past and a tradition we will continue to expose whenever it arises.
A visible confidence exists among the present membership and support base of the RSM This is a product of solid work and genuine activism while vibrancy is the harvest from possessing a clear and concise Republican Socialist strategy. We endure an MI5 agenda to dismantle this confidence and vibrancy through, for example, the PCTF. It would be unthinkable that such an agenda could be conceived of bereft of the traditional and dual employment of Proxies to aid state objectives. Our party adheres to the principles contained within the Ta Power document and in all our dealings with Republican comrades we persevere to pursue comradely relationships which are based upon mutual respect.
As our influence grows, criticism will naturally follow. We embrace criticism and dialogue as an opportunity for us to reflect and to analyse our own positions. We must reject faux criticism entirely and confront all those who, knowingly or not, have allowed themselves to become proxies of the state (s), particularly on social media platforms.
The meaningless scandalization of Republicanism for the petty and selfish aim of self-exposure must end. This can be terminated by replacing negative language with a positive and effective revolutionary dialogue. We must silence opportunistic reactionaries and delimit their ability to undermine confidence or sap the morale of genuine activists. This will be achieved by prioritising the politics which unites us above the issues that set us apart. The IRSP of 2019 recall the words of Seamus Costello with a membership that stands as testimony to them. “We are in business as a serious revolutionary organisation and we are not going to be put out of business by anybody. The IRSP is organised and it is here to stay.”
The entire Irish Republican Socialist Movement has absorbed these attacks and has only grown stronger; we view State oppression against us merely as vindication of our adherence to our revolutionary programme laid out in 1974, as we go into 2019, rest assured that we are as committed today as then.
On behalf of the Saoradh National Executive we wish to thank the membership and supporters of Saoradh for another year of hard work, dedication and activism that has brought us to where we are today.
Often in Republicanism, we look forward to the next event, the next political meeting, protest or action, seldom having the time to reflect on what we have done, what we have built, or what we have achieved to date.
As a Revolutionary Republican Party, we have shown leadership, direction and impetus, ensuring such revolutionary activism was adopted throughout the year.
As the year draws to a close we would like to take this rare moment to reflect on a year where Saoradh, despite many hardships and challenges, continued on an upwards trajectory of growth and vibrant activism all of which wouldn’t have been capable without the hard work and determination of members and support from our communities.
This year started with the Bloody Sunday March debacle, Republicans were faced with a reformist march committee and refused to take part, but Saoradh in Derry stepped forward and showed leadership by holding a Republican alternative that paid respects to those who lost their lives at the hands of the British Parachute Regiment whilst holding true to the Anti-Internment origins of the original March.
In January, Eistigi, produced a mission statement and since our last Ard Fheis has been formally adopted as our National Youth Department. Eistigi continues to engage in the education of our youth by providing a revolutionary format which defies the stereotyping of Republican youth by the British state and has thrived in areas such as Derry where Crown Forces have disenfranchised and oppressed the Irish working class youth.
February seen the opening of a third Saoradh and IRPWA office in Dungannon. Kevin Barry House is a reflection of the hard work and dedication of the activists of Saoradh and the IRPWA in Tyrone. A series of public meetings regarding the awareness of drugs and empowerment of our communities were also held in rural Kildress, a Republican community that was in the grip of a serious drugs epidemic and this is something Saoradh members continue to offer support on.
February also seen our activists in Belfast continue to challenge the sectarian carve up of services by continually highlighting the lack of leisure facilities in Republican areas of North Belfast. As that continued we held a quarterly meeting in Dublin where a document on socialism and Ireland was read and debated as the party evolved and matured our political ideology.
March seen the party grab widespread coverage in the Twenty Six Counties when members of People Before Profit were accidently subjected to Garda harassment in the mistaken belief they were actually revolutionaries attending a Saoradh meeting.
Meanwhile in Newry a Craobh was established from existing and new members, who quickly set about engaging the local populace. Issues such as dangerous traffic conditions raised by the local community where highlighted and challenged, as was the capitalist exploitation of workers at the local Norbrook plant where Saoradh offered solidarity and assistance. Saoradh also emphatically smashed the craven policy of banning the Irish tricolour in the Newry St. Patrick’s Day parade which was for the first time awash in our national colours.
April started with Easter and in a strong and defiant statement this years Unfinished Revolution March took place in West Belfast, the supposed stronghold of Sinn Fein. Easter Monday in Derry seen the youth defend an Irish Republican Army colour party as it marched to the Republican Plot for an annual commemoration. Following this event our National Headquarters at Junior McDaid House were attacked again by British Crown Forces and several members seized, subject to fellon setting and oppressive bail measures implemented, aimed at curtailing the party in Derry City.
May began with May Day and a strong Socialist statement by former National Chairman, Davy Jordan. Following that, the airing of a primetime BBC documentary on the issue of Brexit and the British border in Ireland, lifelong Republican and Saoradh founder Paul Duffy gave the Saoradh perspective. Whilst the BBC and the leader of British Crown Forces attempted to focus on possible IRA attacks on any future British border infrastructure, Paul used the platform to highlight the root cause of the conflict in Ireland; the continued partition of Ireland and the British usurpation of Irish national sovereignty. Since that documentary was aired and as the uncertainty of Brexit intensifies, every major news outlet, many of them global names such as the Washington Post, have asked us for the definitive Irish Republican position on Brexit and its impact on Ireland.
June seen the coat trailing exercise and humiliation of the Southern State fawning over British Royals on an official visit to their Neo-Colonial Statelet, Saoradh activists in both Cork and Kerry took to the streets in opposition, a fact which the so called press decided to airbrush from the news coverage.
Meanwhile Saoradh in Newry documented and published the deployment of British troops in the South Armagh area.
In the midst of this we had the establishment of the POW Department, which has held protests at Maghaberry and Hydebank amongst other means of highlighting prison issues and supporting prisoners. The department continues to be active and will carry that dedication through to 2019.
July seen a very well attended Wolfe Tone Commemoration. The annual Bodenstown event is witnessing a revival and the Saoradh Commemoration at the grave of the founding father of Irish Republicanism is by far one of the largest seen in recent times.
Derry again came under attack by the British State in July. Saoradh members had been working on the ground to defuse exchanges between Republican and Loyalist youths and in the process one of our members had his car burnt out. British Crown Forces used the incidents to launch an assault on the Republican people of the Bogside and in response the Republican people of the area fought back. When Crown Forces engaged youths with batton rounds the Irish Republican Army responded by engaging the heavily armed Crown Forces with rifle and grenade fire. The images and videos that appeared on social media speak for themselves. In the aftermath of a week of resistance Saoradh members’ homes were ransacked by British Crown Forces with the full support of Sinn Fein representatives.
August seen Saoradh instrumental in organising and mobilising for a number of Anti-Internment and prisoner marches and events. Again large crowds mobilised in Belfast for the Anti-Internment parade, there was an Anti-Internment event in Newry and prisoner issues and campaigns where highlighted.
Our success at propagating a Republican message via social media was also attacked mid August. After partial ban’s and infractions for offering our analysis, our main Facebook page, which had over 14 thousand followers, and several of our regional pages where shut down.
September began an intense process of debate and discussion around a proposed Brexit Document. Every Craobh engaged in the process.
Meanwhile Saoradh in Newry covered and lent support to unionised workers who were in a labour dispute with Glen Electrics in the Town, the workers were successful.
A broad range of Saoradh and Eistigi activists also engaged in housing action and squats in Dublin which took place under the banner ‘Take Back The City’.
October witnessed the launch of our document; Brexit in the context of Ireland. After months of work and debate it has been shaped by the consultation process of the membership. Saoradh is now one of the only party’s with a detailed position on Brexit and how it impacts the Irish people.
In Derry, Saoradh and Eistigi members responded to community concerns in relation to nuisance fireworks. In response to this activists seized and put beyond use a large quantity of fireworks that were plaguing Republican communities.
November started off with our comrades in Derry again facing the brunt of the British war machine in Ireland as Crown Force raids and detentions increased, with the local Chair and Vice Chair among multiple Saoradh members seized. The British Army were once again on the streets of Derry as our National Headquarters at Junior McDaid House was raided for the third time in 2018.
Despite continued harassment by both the British establishment in the Occupied Six Counties and the Twenty Six County administration, Saoradh held our third Ard Fheis in the Crown Plaza Hotel, Dundalk. A new look National Executive was elected as was our National Chairman.
Bringing the year to a close, December witnessed Saoradh members from across Ireland, including our National Chairman, take part in the occupation of KBC bank headquarters in Dublin following their employment of masked Garda and Loyalist linked mercenaries to evict a family from their home in Roscommon. Saoradh activists have been highly active on homelessness and neoliberal housing provision across Ireland with soup kitchen, involvement with Apollo House and other protests and initiatives.
In Belfast, a newly established office housing Saoradh, IRPWA and Eistigi was opened. This garnered huge political and media reaction as an image of an IRA revolutionary soldier engaging the enemy was painted in Christmas attire on the window. These public outcries only helped publicise the party, the fact that there are still Republican Prisoners and the overarching fact that the Irish Republican Army still remain active and dedicated.
This chronology is but a glimpse of a year in the life of this party. It is far from being exhaustive. There will have been many nights spent selling tickets, posting leaflets and newsletters, writing articles, engaging in community work, organising functions, standing in picket lines, attending commemorations and supporting Republican Prisoners, however in all of this it is our membership and supporters who have engaged in this revolutionary activism, helping Saoradh grow and move forward. May the year ahead be as fruitful as the last.
As the Unfinished Business continues so will the Unfinished Revolution!
Continuity Sinn Fein
At this special time of the year we extend greetings to all the republican prisoners and their families at home and abroad and to all friends, comrades and supporters who continue to struggle for national self-determination and adhere to the traditional principles of Irish republicanism.
The past year has been a difficult one for the republican movement, as forces both in the occupied six counties and the 26 county free state continue to combine and collaborate to promote the normalization of the British rule throughout Ireland.
The aim of this concerted political and police co-operation is the attempted destruction the republican ideal of a new and United Ireland however there are men and women active today and indeed those in prison who refused to bow to the queen of England and they stand firm in the goal of Irish Republicanism, whose objective, as outlined by Wolfe Tone is to break the link with England: only then can Irish freedom come to fruition.
In the Free State a sustained campaign of harassment and arrest of Republicans who oppose the British presence continue and in recent weeks the activity of the 26 county political police has been stepped up against republican activists who refuse to accept British rule throughout Ireland.
In fact the police North and South are so determined to tarnish Irish Republicans that a new phrase falls from the tongues of the police is indicative of their attitude to the age old aspiration of the Irish people for an All Ireland Republic that was proclaimed during the Easter Week Rising of 1916.
The unity of Ireland is a legitimate aspiration for the Irish people and this political aim should not be tarnished by police describing it as some sort of criminal enterprise.
The increasing and more widespread opposition to the British forces is what Provisional Sinn Fein now fears recent operations by true Republicans in Belfast, Armagh and Derry all point to a growing and determined resistance to British rule in Six Occupied Counties.
The past twelve months has also seen increased repression used against republican activists as the Irish people struggle under a massive financial burden imposed on them by the criminal actions of bankers, speculators and developers assisted by spineless politicians.
Yet the focus of the police is not directed against the criminals in pin stripped suits, but focused on the dedicated men and women who simply campaign for the age old aspiration of a United Ireland.
Over the past year we have seen a massive increase in homelessness throughout Ireland to which our government has refused to address by coming up with a permanent solution to this crisis. while they all sit comfortable with six figure salary’s paid for by us the people of Ireland. It is time for us to stand up and fight against this corruption within our country and take to the streets in unity.
The past year also witnessed the forced departure of a few people who used the cover of Republicanism for activists that can only be described by any fair minded observer as anti-republican and not in accord with the core principles of the Republican Movement.
These men were dismissed and their departure now enables our organization to move forward and build on the core values and traditional principles of the Republican Movement.
A process of recruitment, education and training is ongoing and the results will become clear in the coming months. The C.I.R.A. wish to restate that the armed struggle against British occupation continues despite the sell-out and surrender by some former Republicans who now administer British rule in Ireland.
There will be no C.I.R.A. ceasefire and military operations against the forces of the British presence will be intensified. The C.I.R.A. give warning that there is no safe haven for those who administer and support the British presence in the occupied six Counties.
The core cause of conflict still exists as Ireland is divided and the age old aspiration to unity must be acknowledged by British declaring their intention to withdraw from Ireland. Only then shall the foundations of a real and lasting peace in our country be established.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank every man,women and child who took to the streets in support of all our political prisoners north and south who are being held within the occupied six counties and the free state gaols, would also like to thank our president and vice president and all our members and supporters on their continued support throughout the year, with out you the voice of the Republican movement would not be heard, here’s to a better 2019 than 2018 as well push forward in our goal to unite Ireland.
Republican Network for Unity
Republican Network for Unity would like to extend a happy new year to all citizens throughout the island, in particular, the POWs and their loved ones. We also extend our solidarity to our international comrades throughout the world.
For many working-class people throughout the island, 2018 was a very difficult year in many respects. In the 6 Counties, for instances, we witnessed the announcement that many schools and doctor’s surgeries would close due to budget cuts, whilst the adjustment of social security benefits targeted citizens who require the most assistance in order to have some standard of living. Republican Network for Unity highlight that welfare reform changes have disproportionately targeted large families with children. We condemn these reform measures and point to the fact that currently one in four of our children live in poverty and given these draconian introductions this will, unfortunately, increase to one in three. These changes to our health, education and welfare system were all endorsed and implemented by a Stormont government not fit for purpose. This extended arm of Westminster ironically has nationalists on board who were once considered left-wing republicans but now endorse British neo-liberalist right-wing policies all because they wish to remain in power at any cost. Shame on them, the Republican Network for Unity will not stand idly by and watch as working-class people are driven to the gutter whilst they continue to receive their health pay checks.
It was no better in the twenty-six counties. Fine Gael continued to boast about their increased returns in cooperation tax and a steady increase to their economic recovery, however, for the working-class people, there are more negatives than positives to Leo Varadkars fairy tale statement. Working-class people struggle daily to pay ever-increasing childcare costs and ever-increasing rents by landlords who would evict them at moment’s notice. It has also been identified that homelessness is an ever-increasing issue and one the Irish government fail miserably when it comes to addressing. Sadly, as we have identified previously, there are over 9000 people on our streets and in make-shift accommodation with no positive aspirations for their futures. The health service is also in tatters and is clearly inefficient as the doctors and consultants build their timetables around public and private patients. Ultimately, if you can pay you to get a better standard of care which is disgraceful when there should be equality for all citizens.
In 2019, we will commentate the centenary of the first Dáil Éireann which is also referred to as the “Revolutionary Dáil”. This was established following the elections of 1918 and was set up as we declared our independence from the British empire. The idea was that we would have a revolutionary Republic whose main ideals would be self-determination, rule of law, and representative democracy. Since its establishment, working-class people have witnessed a total contradiction throughout the years by the political parties in the Dáil as they continue to endorse and implement right-wing policies on a regular basis. Many of these parties will point to the proclamation as their political bible, we declare “shame on them” There is no equality in the 26 Counties for the working class and the gap between the rich and the poor continues to increase. Was the society that we now live in the one that the signatories of the Proclamation envisaged? There is nowadays right-wing politics, the stigmatization of the vulnerable in our society and no equality for the working-class. The following is an extract from the proclamation;
The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally
We call on all Republicans and like-minded groups to stand shoulder to shoulder with us in 2019. We must all collectively show solidarity with each other whilst still maintaining our own autonomy and identity. Many uncertainties lie ahead for all of us in 2019 so we believe it is imperative that we join together from time to time. One of the primary concerns for all of us in 2019 is Brexit which is important to all citizens on the island as the dynamics geographically may once again change, and shockingly the announcement that we could see further British soldier sent here to protect their British border once again. We are the generation of revolutionary Republicans that once again must continue the fight for equality and self-determination for the working-class in our country.
Republican Network for Unity will continue to challenge the injustices that working-class people face throughout the island without hesitation just as many generations of Republicans did before us. Many of our initiatives to date have been successful from working with community groups to putting members on the ground to challenge anti-social behaviour. We have also taken a pro-active approach in relation to dealing with the homelessness crisis, this is an initiative that we are currently planning to roll out across the country. We have also dealt with numerous other issues, in particular, the drugs issue that is destroying a generation of our young people throughout all communities in Ireland.
We must be proud to be called Republicans not only to remember our signatories of the Proclamation and our fallen comrades but to build a better society for future generations. It is in our hands now, just as our forefathers did, to challenge the injustices in our country and most importantly be proud to do it.
“I may die, but the Republic of 1916 will never die. Onward to the Republic and liberation of our people.” - Bobby Sands