A round-up of the annual speeches and statements released by republican organisations to mark the 105th anniversary of the Easter Rising.
Keynote address to annual commemoration by Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald:
The rebels of 1916 set out to liberate our country from British rule and to shape a nation that would thrive and prosper.
They stepped into the role of change-makers because they believed in the new Ireland, the independent republic so poetically expressed in the proclamation.
As a generation impatient for change, they knew their time had come. They seized the day.
The legacy of the 1916 rebels bears witness in the Ireland of today.
The people of this island - in the turbulence of a pandemic - again find ourselves at a crossroads.
In a time of lives lost and lives disrupted, the failed ways of the old Ireland have been exposed like never before.
And as we look forward together - as we seek change - Irish Unity comes into focus.
A United Ireland presents an exciting opportunity to shape something new, something different, something better than anything that has gone before.
A century on from partition, people wake up every morning and know that the divided Ireland of 2021 doesn’t work for them or their families.
We see the broken politics of partition every day.
People’s entire lives defined by the search for a home they can afford, by the struggle to access treatments when they are sick, working long hours and still not making ends meet, younger people starved of opportunity, and rural towns and villages left behind.
The lack of fairness and inequality is frightening. People want better. They are fed-up with politics from a bygone age that holds them back and stifles their potential.
The politics that gave us the Magdalene Laundries, industrial schools, mass emigration, fostered by a political class that desperately clings to past and to power.
We recognise that partition is at the root of these failures and we are fired-up with ambition for the future.
We see clearly that the task of bringing about real change for workers and families is linked inextricably to the goal of reunifying our country.
The politics of a new Ireland has come of age. The grand vision of Pearse and Connolly is renewed.
Irish Unity means positive change for us all. Not only is it achievable, it is necessary.
The practical challenges posed by Covid-19 and Brexit make this apparent.
These crises have reshaped and energised the conversation on a United Ireland.
Unity is being talked about in every corner of our island. This is because Irish Unity makes sense. It’s the very best idea for the future of Ireland.
A United Ireland is an idea whose time has come. Much like the rebels of 1916, our generation too is impatient for change.
We refuse to accept the limitations of the past. We know that better is possible and we look with fresh eyes and fresh hearts at the prospect of Irish Unity.
We are excited and enthusiastic about the new beginning that unity offers our people.
Éire nua inar féidir lenár dteanga, ár gcultúr agus ár n-oidhreacht bláthú.
No longer will we be constrained by the unambitious dogma of official Ireland that so badly failed our parents and their parents before them.
No longer will we be told - this far and no further. A new generation is rising up with the hope and tenacity to lay claim to our destiny and to the future of our island.
Those in political leadership must show an ambition that matches this hope. Nowhere is that more important than in the office of An Taoiseach.
We will not be constrained by old, jaded thinking. Or by those who wish to cast the debate on Irish Unity as an exhausted collision between green and orange or as a friction point between Britishness and Irishness.
This gets us nowhere. Irish Unity is not the politics of shame or loss. It’s the politics of progress.
The politics of a nation that transcends all the hurt, division and conflict of the past by forging a new future together, for all us.
A people moving forward in the inclusive belief that no matter our backgrounds, no matter our identities, no matter the journey we have travelled to this point - that we can reconcile, that we can heal divisions, that we can lift each other up.
The things we have in common - the things that bring us together - are far greater than those which divide us.
In Ireland of 2021, the grave mistake and injustice of partition has come full circle.
Partition has failed and unity is the answer. The winds of change blow all around us.
It would be unforgivable, to emerge from this pandemic and not seize the opportunity to prepare for unity, for our new Ireland.
We must prepare for a referendum on Irish Unity, for the people to have their say.
Both governments must prepare for unity. The people must prepare too.
Caithfimid labhairt faoin todhchaí. Caithfimid ullmhú don todhchaí, le chéile.
When it comes to the future of our country, treading water is not good enough. It never has been.
Now is the time for real ambition.
Friends, today, we gather online to honour those who gave their lives for Irish freedom and we send solidarity to the families of our patriot dead.
In so doing, we look firmly to the future. The last twelve months have been incredibly difficult for our people.
However, through the chaos, hardship and pain, we have an exciting opportunity to build something new, something better – a United Ireland.
We can do this. We can be the generation that unites Ireland. We – the people of Ireland – are up to this task.
During this pandemic, you have responded with togetherness, kindness and compassion.
This is who we are. These are the values of unity. The rebels of 1916 were the change-makers of their day.
Today, the role of change-maker falls to us. This is our time.
The past was for those who seek to divide. The future is for those of us who seek to unite.
Those who seek to hold back the tide of change can have yesterday. But tomorrow is ours.
A new and united Ireland is on the horizon. Let’s seize this moment, together.
Ar aghaidh linn le chéile. An Phoblacht Abú!
The following address was delivered by Ciarán O’Brien at the Lasair Dhearg Rising Commemoration 2021:
‘Beware, Beware of the thing that is coming, beware of the risen people, who shall take what ye would not give.’ – This was the warning of Patrick Pearse.
Within a year of this warning Pearse would be dead. Executed for his part in a rising 105 years ago that set in motion a cataclysm of events that shaped Ireland today. That Easter week, the new armies of the Irish Republic set out to assert the birthright of every Irish man and woman – ‘the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies’. A birth right that remains today.”
Occupying strategic positions across Dublin City, the rebel men and women under the leadership of Pearse and Connolly, made the cry for freedom and proclaimed a Republic for all. The Brits, as ever, replied to freedom in the only means they know how: through repression.
Five days of street fighting ensued as the rebels of Easter week defended the Republic through force of arms. Their cries for freedom now echoing from the barrel of a gun, echoes that rang out not just across Dublin, but the world. And as the walls of the GPO shook from canon fire, so too did the foundations of Britain’s colonial empire In Ireland.
Two weeks later the final shots of the rising were fired – 15 leaders lay dead – with Roger Casement soon to follow. ‘We die so that Irish nation might live’ said MacDiarmada. And as the bullets of the executioners pierced the leaders, and as life springs from death, that great republican ideal for which they fought for that Easter week pierced the hearts and minds of the Irish nation. What came after was a rumbling of national conscience. A new dead generation had awakened the children of the nation, and summoned to her flag – they began to strike for her freedom.
105 years on we are yet to achieve the Republic they sought. And so every year on this date we remember and rededicate ourselves to the commitment of that goal. We commemorate all those since then who have given their lives to its realisation, especially those who have paid with it. We acknowledge the sacrifice of all those still active in the fight for its achievement today: who often leave their workplaces only to go home to begin their real jobs – those who are prepared to lose everything, so that we may gain everything worth having.
For what is the lesson of Easter week? It is the lesson that reigns throughout Irish history for Republicans – that the path to the 32 County Socialist Republic is laid not within the confines of constitutional nationalism, it doesn’t lie within the halls of British or west-Brit parliaments, it is the lesson that we have always been closest to the Republic when our struggle is embedded within the working class communities wherein the Socialist Republic will be built, and with whose sole authority it will lie with.
That Socialist Republic won’t be built through ‘Fresh Starts’ and ‘New Deals’, it won’t be forged through a border poll or federal arrangement. It won’t be found in EU markets. We must never lose sight that the goal was never just a united Ireland: BUT A 32 COUNTY SOCIALIST REPUBLIC.
The realisation of the Republic we seek, and the unity of catholic, protestant and dissenter through which it will be achieved – will not be won through miracle arguments of GDP growth, of public sector savings and access to European markets — It will be won through the issues that plague both catholic, protestant and dissenter – issues that only a Socialist Republic can fully resolve.
But the Socialist Republic can’t just be something we promise, a vague aspiration for the future – it is the duty of all republicans in the here and now, to begin to build as best we can the projects that the socialist republic will complete, and the welfare that it will ensure.
2020 has shown this to be possible. When covid-19 struck our shores Socialist Republicans across Ireland organised to defend their communities, not just from the virus, but from capitalism. When the fragile free market failed to deliver – threatening starvation to thousands – it was Republicans who filled the gap, and those Republicans, across Ireland, across the spectrum – organised to ensure the survival of their communities.
And when the fascist snake slithered from its den, and sought to use the pandemic for its revival – It was Socialist Republicans who joined forces to drive them from our cities.
We’ve shown time and time again: that we can deliver for our class, that we can achieve a whole lot more with whole a lot less than the politicians who have all the resources of the state at their disposal.
These tasks did not require state regulation, or the consent of a British minister – all it required was the effort and belief that we can do better – that we deserve better.
It is along these foundations that we must build.
We must build the Republic street by street, house by house. We must measure the confidence of our movement – not with votes – but with the rallying of people to organise for each other. Our value will not be measured in the people’s reliance upon us, but the reliance of the people upon themselves.
In the words of Óglach Bobby Sands: ‘There is that much to be done that no select or small portion of people can do; only the greater mass of the Irish nation will ensure the achievement of a Socialist Republic, and this can only be done by hard work and sacrifice’.
And it will be the sacrifice of us, the children who were born into a so-called ‘peace’, peace we’re told we must be grateful for – who know an absence of war, but not violence – who do not know assassination, but know suicide. Who’s violence is dealt, not from British soldiers in khaki, but British Politicians in suits. One in three children in poverty – that will be the legacy of the revolutionaries turned statesmen – We will not make the same mistake.
So to the rulers of Ireland, the landlords, the bosses, the politicians and bureaucrats, we say: beware of the thing that is coming… Whilst the bourgeois politicians may deliver their united Ireland, where your eviction notice is stamped with the harp and not the crown – it will be the revolutionary youth of this generation that deliver the Republic – who shall take what you would not give.
We have been born into an unjust system. We will not be prepared to grow old in it – Join the fight for a Socialist Republic friends – we only have the world to win!
32 COUNTY SOVEREIGNTY MOVEMENT
Annual easter message read by Francie Mackey, chairman of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement:
In this address to the Irish people at home and abroad we regret we are unable to hold a more fitting Easter commemoration due to the Covid pandemic. Hopefully next year we will be better positioned to commemorate the 1916 Rising and remember the leaders at their final resting place and in so doing remember all who gave their lives for Irish freedom. However, this Easter message is looking at Ireland today and we appraise ourselves on how to uphold and achieve their vision as set out in the Proclamation.
The evolving political landscape on the island of Ireland demands a concise and pragmatic political response from Irish republicanism. Brexit has exposed the deep fault lines of the Good Friday Agreement, and its supposed All Ireland architecture, as a mechanism to progress the evident will and right of the Irish people to live in a sovereign 32 County Ireland.
The developing national narrative has, at its core, a strategic deceit to ensure the consolidation of the constitutional status quo whilst the question of what is termed Irish unity drifts aimlessly in the jargon of a so-called Border Poll.
Irish republicanism does not have the luxury of adopting a supine rejection of this flawed narrative whilst offering nothing more than a shallow analysis which demeans the genuine desire of our people for a peaceful and democratic path to a sovereign republic. That path is not guaranteed, a violent reaction no less so.
The driving engine of any republican analysis must be a clarity of language which expresses our objectives both as a clear and progressive repudiation of partitionist politics (peace process politics) and also sets apart the Ireland we seek to create from the aimless aspirational lip-service of the political hegemony on the island.
In our New Year Statement we referenced the political significance surrounding the provision of a Border Poll. We urged republicans to engage in constructive debate to adopt an agreed strategy as this provision is being presented as the sole path to an assumed British disengagement from our country.
Our own internal discussions have identified key areas where political influences will bring their own agendas to manipulate a porous process to suit their own ends. We also identified the crucial reality that our objections to a Border Poll should not alienate or disparage the genuine held views of the vast majority of Irish people who would vote positively if such an opportunity were presented to them.
A Border Poll however is not a democratic device: it serves as a British veto over change to its imposed boundary in Ireland. British legislative control dominates every facet of its construct and application. Such control determines the timing of its holding, the question or questions posed, the conditions required to ‘win’ such a poll and finally parliamentary approval over the outcome.
It represents a multi-layered veto over the sovereign rights of the Irish people, the natural outworking’s of the original Triple Lock guarantee in the Good Friday Agreement. That guarantee serves British interests in Ireland which Wolfe Tone described as the never-failing source of all our political evils. The Irish people are reduced to bystanders, as our future is determined beyond our sovereign and democratic control.
At a recent televised debate adherents of the Good Friday Agreement discussed the possibility of future unification. None of the participants could make the argument for national sovereignty as our right. None alluded to the influence of British interests in our country as the primary source of divisions amongst our people let alone that such interests exist at all. None would commit to any credible strategic programme to pursue constitutional unity.
It is beyond question that the national rights and ambitions of the Irish people cannot be progressed by the politics of the Good Friday Agreement. Nor can they be engaged with in any meaningful sense with green or red rhetoric. Irish republicanism can only fill this political void if we articulate our position and ideas via language our opponents themselves cannot use.
REPUBLICAN SINN FÉIN
Easter Statement from the leadership of the Republican Movement, 2021:
On this the 105th anniversary of the Easter Rising 1916 the Leadership of the Republican Movement sends greetings to Irishmen and Irishwomen at home and abroad. We extend solidarity greetings to Jonathan Hawthorn, POW, Portlaoise. This year we mark with pride the 40th anniversary of the heroic sacrifice of the ten H-Block hunger strikers.
Again, this year due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, Republicans cannot hold the usual commemorations at the graves of our patriot dead. However, individual members of the Republican Movement will lay wreaths at graves and memorials in Ireland and abroad. Our members will fly the National Flag at their homes and at Republican monuments and we will wear the Easter Lily with pride.
We have declared for the All-Ireland Republic proclaimed on Easter Monday 1916 and ratified by the First (All-Ireland) Dáil Éireann in 1919. In our allegiance to this Republic, we have, and we will reject all other political entities in Ireland.
Lately many political commentators and politicians of various hues of Irish nationalism are suggesting that the “United Ireland” is around the corner and that physical force Republicans should “leave the stage”. Ireland was united before our country was partitioned by Britain under threat of “immediate and terrible war”. That united Ireland was under British rule. Beware of what “United Ireland” is on offer.
Any “new” Ireland that comes as a result of a border poll or two-state referenda will be negotiated by the political establishment of Leinster House, Stormont and Westminster. They have all proven that they have no love for an Ireland “sovereign and indefeasible” as stated in the 1916 Proclamation. The men and women of 1916 and 1919-23 and those who followed did not fight for a unitary state ruled by a political elite whose main interests is in protecting the cosy cartels they have built up in Stormont and Leinster House.
They have all stood in the way of national forces opposing British rule in the Occupied Six Counties. They have already flown the kite of Ireland joining the British Commonwealth and speak of our shared history. Our shared history is nothing but a history of invasion, murder, torture, rape and genocide. Now is not the time for the Republican Movement to leave the field, it must remain as a guarantor of traditional Republican ideals. The Republic is not for sale.
This Easter we take this opportunity to remember the Volunteers and Republican activists who have died since last Easter. We express condolences to their families, friends and comrades. Regretfully due to the COVID-19 pandemic many of us could not attend the funerals of our deceased comrades. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anamacha.
We send salutations to Sinn Féin Poblachtach, the public face of the Republican Movement. It has withstood the onslaughts of criticism from without and within. The path SFP members choose is not an easy one. As well as harassment from the 26-County and British States they constantly face down those who would try to destroy the Organisation’s reputation in the media and on other forums who attempt to engage in futile social media discussions.
We commend Sinn Féin Poblachtach members and supporters who have marked the 100th anniversary events of 1920 and 1921. The leadership has been heartened by the reports we have received. We acknowledge all Republican activists and appreciate your commitment to Irish Republicanism. We ask you to take further steps to build the Movement in your local area and play a part in the national effort to finally bring about British disengagement from Ireland.
It is the duty of the Republican Movement to oppose British occupation in Ireland to the best of our ability and strength. In every decade armed struggle has been used, not as a principle, not as a tactic, but as a reality of opposition to British Crown Forces. When a sustained campaign cannot be mounted, it is a duty to at least harass the enemy.
We have witnessed a steady rundown of rural Ireland by the 26-County State. The winding down of Bord na Móna, closing of rural post offices and cutting back of transport services, yet millions are spent on greenways and other tourist attractions. Peat products are imported from thousands of miles away, but the local peat industry is closed down. One may ask which peat product has the largest carbon emissions.
People in rural Ireland are being forced to move to overcrowded cities or commute for several hours. It seems no services for the local population but plenty for European tourists. Is it their aim to turn the 26 Counties into a holiday park for the EU?
We cannot allow a new 32-County Ireland to be taken over by a Leinster House/Stormont coalition where the “elite” and their interests will flourish while the people most at risk, the elderly, the homeless and marginalised of our society continue to barely survive. Éire Nua, the political programme of the Republican Movement, provides a blueprint which allows all the Irish people to come together and build a new Ireland which would embrace all political opinions.
We acknowledge the work being carried out by the Éire Nua Food Initiative and other voluntary organisations in helping the homeless and vulnerable across our country. It is indeed a sad indictment on the Establishment both north and south of Britain’s Border.
In conclusion, the Leadership of the Republican Movement assures the Irish people that no opportunity will pass where we shall be found wanting and at the opportune time appropriate action will be taken to achieve the independence of our nation.
IRISH REPUBLICAN PRISONERS WELFARE ASSOCIATION
The following statement was penned by current Republican Prisoners in Maghaberry, Portlaoise, Hydebank and Mountjoy Gaols:
Comrades, we the imprisoned revolutionary women and men of Hydebank, Maghaberry, Portlaoise and Mountjoy on this the 105th anniversary of the Easter Rising extend greetings to the leadership and volunteers of the Irish Republican Army. We salute the courage, integrity and commitment of the women and men who continue resist the illegal occupation in the face and might of imperialism and the counter revolutionary apologists, your courage, commitment and dedication are an inspiration.
We also extend those greetings to our friends and comrades worldwide, while sending revolutionary greetings to all anti imperialists throughout the world. We pay special tribute to the families of Republican Prisoners in what has been a particularly hard year for those with loved ones in gaol at this time. The COVID-19 pandemic and the mismanagement of such by the sectarian institution in Stormont, the occupying British Government and the capitalist Dublin Government has seen the prolonged separation of Republican Prisoners and their families. However, the unwavering support and understanding from our families has made a challenging time a little less difficult.
Over the last year more than 50 imprisoned women and men in Hydebank, Maghaberry, Portlaoise and Mountjoy embarked on a 14 day hunger strike along with esteemed Palestinian political hostage, Dr Issam Hijjawi, in an act of revolutionary resistance against imperialist aggression following his forced isolation. This forced isolation was in direct contrast to procedures faced by non-Republican Prisoners within Maghaberry Gaol. However, the unified response from Republican Prisoners across the gaols was a timely reminder, should it ever be needed, that an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. It also allowed us as prisoners to realign ourselves with the constant battle we all face in the wider struggle for reunification.
Furthermore we take this opportunity to thank all those who supported our act of revolutionary resistance, all those who organised and attended protests and pickets, those throughout the world who sent us Revolutionary messages of solidarity and above all those fraternal comrades who joined us on hunger strike. We salute your actions.
To all those charlatanistic alleged pro Palestinian activists who choose to remain silent to the ongoing illegal administrative detention of Palestinian political prisoner Dr Issam Hijjawi, shame on you all! The icon of Palestinian resistance Dr George Habash summed it up when he articulated “in today’s world no one is innocent. A man is either with the oppressed or he is with the oppressors. He who takes no interest in politics gives his blessing to the prevailing order.”
For the first time in the 900 year old resistance to the illegal occupation of our country a Palestinian languishes in the occupiers Maghaberry Gaol at the behest of British imperialism, yet in some quarters there is a deafening silence to this injustice.
Easter 1916 saw the Irish people take on the might of the British Empire, without the approval of many at the time. By then the Irish people had endured centuries of brutality meted out by the hands of the occupier. Republicans, socialists and feminists came together under the banner of the Irish Republic and took on the might of the British Army and its lackies the R.I.C.. Though there was a realisation early on that this would not lead to immediate victory, the significance of this revolutionary act was clear. A century on the Irish people continue to face the same brutality, in many different guises. The country is still divided, with British rule administered in one half while running the other half by proxy. This alone creates the justification of the ongoing armed struggle and we are steadfast in our belief that colonial violence on this island will always be met with revolutionary armed resistance.
Comrades rest assured we will not stand idly by in the face of the illegal occupation and we will resist any attempts to criminalise us or the struggle for genuine liberation, the socialist Republic and a classless society.
We are in a showdown with imperialism and we the women and men illegally detained by the occupation will not be found wanting. We join hands with our comrades throughout the world and we echo the words of Ulrike Meinhof, “dare to struggle, dare to win, attack and smash the power of imperialism. It is the duty of every revolutionary to make the revolution”
We also take this opportunity to thank those within the IRPWA, Saoradh and Eistigí for their continued support in highlighting the plight of Republican Prisoners up and down the country, including the impending extradition of our comrade Ciaran Maguire and the internment of Zack Smyth while continuing to raise issues such as social inequalities, political policing and political courts. It is you and you alone who continue to provide financial assistance and support to the families of Republican Prisoners, which is very welcome at this time. We urge anyone with an interest in Irish Republican Prisoners or those who wish to challenge the capitalist system, which is doing its very best to suppress positive social change, to get in touch with your local IRPWA & Saoradh representatives.
As we remember our revolutionary dead today, we ask those of you outside to take the time to rededicate yourselves to the cause and help bring about Irish liberation and equality, while ensuring that those who have lost their lives and liberty in the cause of Irish Freedom have done so justifiably.
To quote Constance Markievicz “But while Ireland is not free I remain a rebel, unconverted and unconvertible. There is no word strong enough for it. I am pledged as a rebel, an unconvertible rebel, to the one thing - free and independent Republic. “
Onwards to victory, onwards to a united Ireland.
Beidh ár lá linn.
REPUBLICAN NETWORK FOR UNITY
The Republican Movement extends the warmest of greetings to comrades, friends and family on 105th anniversary of the Easter Rising and the proclamation of the Irish Republic.
“It is perhaps that I may be taken speaking on behalf of a new generation that has been re-baptised in the Fenian faith, and that has accepted the responsibility of carrying out the Fenian programme.”- Padraig Pearse.
For too long the Fenian programme, the Republican programme has been one drenched in betrayal of one type or another and one where our survival as an ideology and tradition has become the true struggle not only for our generation but for those who will follow in our stead. The nationalistic impulse pushing for a border poll, has in one way or another consumed Republicanism, it has not yet inflamed the wider Irish community in the same manner, perhaps due to the ambiguous nature of its processes and the fact that ending partition is being sold as a steppingstone to the Irish Republic, an argument once used by Michael Collins when he signed the treaty of betrayal.
We must remember our fallen, our martyrs as Pearse once said, “they have left us our Fenian dead.” The enemy has empowered us for generations to continue our struggle, because to fail, or to stop would mean to betray the memory of those who gave their lives for the Irish Republic. It has almost been 100 years since Collins and his cohorts created the Free State and partitioned our nation, now those who carry-on the legacy of Edward Carson wants us to embrace the partition and celebrate it, this is something we will never do, we cannot confine our Republic to annals of history and accept a British settlement, it held no legitimacy in 1921 and there is no legitimacy still in 2021.
Our hope as ever lays in the hearts and minds of our people, we should not offer them tainted fruit that will not bare a prosperous future, better to be honest and take the more difficult road, than to travel the easiest route only to find out the path led to nowhere. Community politics is the only effective way of realising a better future for our people, only when we can support and empower them, only then will they see the steps we need to take to achieve that better future, to achieve national liberation we must first achieve liberation of self.
Our national language is ever present in our hearts and minds, we must continue to learn, teach and promote Gaelic at every opportunity. Náisiún a chaill a theanga, a saoirse caillte, a nation that has lost its language has truly lost its freedom.
“The Irish Republic must be made a word to conjure with - a rallying point for the disaffected, a haven for the oppressed, a point of departure for the socialist, enthusiastic in the cause of human freedom.”- James Connolly.
Important words especially today, the fundamental core of our ideology is our pursuit of the Irish Republic and everything it stands for, we must be practical, but we must also be principled.
The Republican Movement remember our comrades who languish in captivity as well as those who are out but still trapped in the mantled jaw of British injustice.
Our communities have been ravaged during the lockdowns, the social ills that have been conveniently hidden by the political elite could no longer be held at bay, the fear peddled day in and day out by the media was nothing short of shameful, yes the virus devastated our communities, we lost friends and family, and if the loss wasn’t enough we where then denied proper and fitting burials of our loved ones, the chance to mourn our last liberty reduced to an inhumane level. Returning to the media, one thing the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have demonstrated so clearly is that the media is and has always been a tool of the establishment to be used in whatever way that is most convenient for those in power. This is not an insight to Republicans but perhaps an awakening for those less politically engaged within our community.
British loyalists must be watched ever closely, as despite appearances their ties with the State are still strong. The most recent riots and violence being a result of a decision taken by the establishment not to prosecute any Sinn Fein members for attending Bobby Storey’s funeral. Which is hypocritical of loyalists considering the show of strength put on by loyalist terrorists while the PSNI where present. Regardless there is something to be said when two people who are labelled dissidents in Tyrone are now subject to prosecution for attending a funeral of a local Republican, but seemingly if you are a member of an establishment party then the rules can be twisted and bent to suit your needs.
We live in troubled times; we recount statements over the years that paint the doom and gloom and perpetual demise of Republicanism. Our movement has experienced a rekindled flame and our revolutionary spirit is at an all time high and we proactively grow our political vision to which activism is the core. We think not to speak for future generations, but we are on the correct course and remain faithful to the Irish Republic.
An Phoblacht Abu Is cumhacht í ár dteanga
IRISH SOCIALIST REPUBLICANS
Easter Statement 2021 from the leadership of Irish Socialist Republicans:
On the 105th anniversary of the 1916 Rising, the leadership of Irish Socialist Republicans extends greetings to our members and supporters at home and abroad. In particular, we extend Revolutionary greetings to our comrades in Anti Imperialist Action Ireland and Macradh. We send greetings to all Republican organisations who continue to resist British rule and fight for the Republic. We also extend our solidarity to all Republican POWS and to all Republican activists before the courts. Irish Socialist Republicans salute all who continue the work and remain committed to achieving Irish Freedom and Socialism.
This year also marks the 40th anniversary of the 1981 Hungerstrike, when Republican POWS from the IRA and the I N L A fought British Imperialism from within the H-Block torture camp with the only weapon available to them, their lives. That summer 10 Republican Volunteers would be martyred on Hungerstike, murdered by British Imperialism. The courage and sacrifice of the 1981 Hunger Strikers continues to be a great source of Revolutionary inspiration to all Socialist Republicans and we commend the efforts of An Choiste Náisiúnta 1981, the independent Socialist Republican campaign to mark the anniversary for their ongoing work across the country.
105 years ago, the Irish Citizen Army, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the Volunteers, Na Fianna Éireann and Cumann na mBan joined together in an Anti-Imperialist Broad Front, established the Army of the Irish Republic and Proclaimed in Arms the All-Ireland People’s Republic. For five days the Republican forces took on the might of the British Empire, igniting a flame that continues to burn today, lighting our path to National Liberation and Socialist Revolution.
105 years on, Irish Socialist Republicans declare our alliegence remains with the Republic proclaimed in 1916 and with the Working Class. The Proclamation of the Republic remains a truly revolutionary document and is relevant to our ongoing struggle. In declaring the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, the Provisional Republican Government were openly asserting that the Irish People, by right, own all the land, resources, wealth and wealth producing processes in the county along with the means of production, distribution and exchange. In short, this principle set out in the Proclamation establishes that the Irish Republic is the People’s Republic and its re-establishment is the path to liberation and the capture of power by the Working Class.
105 years after the 1916 rising, Ireland remains occupied by foreign Imperialism and exploited by capitalism. Partitioned into two artificial statlets to suppress the Republic, the counter revolutionary administrations in Ireland continue to exist to serve the interests of Imperialism. Despite statistics that suggest Ireland is a rich nation, tens of thousands of families have no home of their own and are homeless at a time when hundreds of thousands of houses are deliberately kept empty by landlords. This artificial housing crisis created by landlords and foreign vultures has led to increasing numbers dying on our streets. Poverty, hunger, sickness, low wages precarious work and rising unemployment are the daily reality for the working class in Ireland who live in the rack rented substandard accommodation controlled by Private Landlords and foreign vultures. Alongside the imperialists and foreign vultures, the landlords, bankers, developers gombeen politicians and exploitative employers are every bit as much the enemies of the working class and must be fought and defeated through an All-Ireland Struggle for National Liberation and Socialist Revolution. The system is not broken, it is working exactly as it was designed to function, namely, to serve the interests of capital and imperialism. The only course of action to address the issues facing our class is Revolution. The alternative to the misery that confronts the Irish Working Class is the Irish Socialist Republic. But the Republic cannot be imagined into existence, it has to be fought for.
The forces of Imperialism and Counter Revolution are well organized against that fight. Despite the claims and wishes of some, Britain has no intention of leaving Ireland. The Brits are once again increasing troop numbers in Ireland and the military are backed up by hundreds if not thousands of MI5 operatives across Ireland who are in control of policing across all 32 counties. In the 6 counties, the RUC/PSNI are the frontline of the occupation, the shock troops who continue to wage the war against the Republican Community. Added to these forces, sections of the Brit establishment, working through the DUP and MI5 have begun to reactivate the threat of loyalism, the fascist foot soldiers of the British Occupation. In moving to strengthen its grip in Ireland in the wake of Brexit, British Imperialism has stirred loyalist anger to dangerous levels. We urge all nationalists and Republicans in the occupied six counties to be vigilant against this threat from Loyalism. While history has shown that Republicans will act to defend communities, the blame for any loyalist violence if it does breaks out, must be placed firmly at the door of British Imperialism in London. There is a hidden hand stoking the loyalists that must be exposed.
There are those who doubt that British Imperialism remains at war in Ireland. That the Brits continue to see Republicanism as a threat can be judged by the recent actions of the RUC/PSNI in Derry. Every year in the run up to Easter the RUC invades Republican Communities in Derry, raids homes, harasses families with day and night time incursions and arrests republican activists on trumped up charges. This year, the violence committed by the RUC against women and Children has been witnessed around the world. There should be no welcome for the RUC in Republican communities and they should be driven out. In response to these violent attacks on their community, the youth of Derry rallied and resisted the incursions of crown forces. Sticks, stones and petrol bombs were the weapons of choice as a new generation demonstrates the truth to the maxim that Oppression breeds resistance. Irish Socialist Republicans salute the youth of Derry for defending their community and fighting back. We are reminded of the words of James Fintan Lalor that, ‘the first act of resistance is, always, and must be ever, premature, imprudent and dangerous.’
Since being established four years ago, Irish Socialist Republicans have asserted that the primary task facing Republicans today is the Rebuilding of the Struggle for National Liberation and Socialist Revolution on an All-Ireland basis. We have asserted that a vibrant, militant Socialist Republican organization is required to carry out such work and we have set about building one. Our efforts have bourn fruit. In that time our Revolutionary Political Line has won a growing network if support across the country and internationally and our movement has expanded from its initial base on the east coast, through the midlands recently breaking new ground in the west coast and now with an organized presence in every city in the Occupied Six Counties. While there is more organizational work to be engaged in, it is particularly inspiring that a new generation of Revolutionary Youth is coming forward, joining our movement and taking their place in the ranks of the struggle for National Liberation and Socialist Revolution. This year the 1916 events we have organized across Ireland will be led by our Revolutionary youth. The prominent role of youth in our movement is a sign of the renewal of Socialist Republicanism and the strengthening of the struggle for the All-Ireland People’s Republic.
At the same time, over the last four years our movement has consistently argued that no organization, working alone will free Ireland. We have continued to put forward the revolutionary position that only an Anti-Imperialist Broad Front, uniting all Revolutionary Socialist Republicans and Progressive forces can wage a successful struggle for National Liberation and Socialist Revolution. Such a broad front would not try to force the unity of existing groups but would recognize the organizational independence and integrity of all groups involved instead uniting republicans around our common set of Socialist Republican Principles and a Revolutionary Political Programme capable of leading the Irish Working Class in the Reconquest of Ireland. We take this opportunity to encourage all Irish Revolutionary Organizations, collectives and individuals to engage with us on the development of the Anti-Imperialist Broad Front. 105 years ago it was an Anti-Imperialist Broad front of Socialist Republican and Progressive forces that marched into the GPO and Proclaimed the Republic. Such a broad front is needed today to finish the work of Connolly and Pearse and lead the working class in the revolutionary conquest of power.
There is no parliamentary road to socialism. The socialist Republic cannot be established through reformism, electoralism or border polls. There is no quick victory in the struggle for National Liberation and Socialist Revolution. The key to winning the Irish Revolution is winning the support of the Irish Working Class to the Republic. For this reason, socialist Republicans have a duty to be active in their communities, to provide leadership in the everyday struggles of the working class and to link these struggles concretely to the revolutionary struggle. The working class can only achieve liberation and conquer power through revolutionary struggle. Part of building that struggle to victory is the development of alternative Republican working-class power structures in communities across Ireland that become the building blocks of the All Ireland People’s Republic. A further key plank in the revolution must be the reconquest of the Irish Language at a community level and its restoration as the spoken language of our people. The fight against cultural imperialism is one that Socialist Republicans cannot afford to ignore.
We are confident that this coming year will see the continued growth of our movement and the continued strengthening of the struggle for National Liberation and Socialist Revolution. All Socialist Republicans must be active and guard against complacency and revisionism. We each have a role to play and must be mindful of our tasks int the current period:
· To build a vibrant, militant, Revolutionary socialist Republican Movement
· To develop the Anti-Imperialist Broad Front
· To agitate in communities and win our class to the Socialist Republic
· To develop alternative Republican working-class power structures across all 32 counties.
For National Liberation and Socialsit Revolution- Brits Out Now!
Beir Bua-Tiocfiadh Ár Lá!
Below is the text of the Saoradh National Easter Statement:
Saoradh on the 105th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rebellion sends revolutionary greetings to our supporters and comrades in Ireland and around the world.
We remember and pay tribute at this time to the gallant stand made over a century ago which continues to inspire the fight for freedom here in Ireland and of other oppressed peoples around the globe.
We honour the patriots of that era and all our martyrs today as we recommit ourselves to achieving the vision laid out in the Proclamation of 1916.
Saoradh are reminded that men and women are incarcerated in British and 26 County Gaols for standing by the Republic proclaimed in 1916 and we think of them and the sacrifice they and their families make as we gather today to commemorate our fallen heroes.
The vision of a 32 County Socialist Republic still remains strong and still gives hope to those who are struggling today in Ireland under capitalism and imperialism. Although Saoradh has had to adapt and adjust our activism in the face of a continuing global health crisis, we grow more confident daily in our political analysis and position, especially during a period that has further highlighted the failures of occupation, partition and inherent inequality in our country. This time has given us challenges but also the opportunity to build in other areas of party activity including strategy, theory and in PR.
Saoradh share the anger and frustration at how this pandemic has been mismanaged by the establishment and we are on record highlighting the various inconsistencies and contradictions in their approach. This can be no more apparent than at the very present when failed political leaders lack the moral courage to stand up against various forces that put other interests over the health of the nation.
Frustrations are also raised when working class communities witness British Crown Forces invade homes and stop & search activists showing no regard for established protocol. Saoradh will be more than vocal in reminding all elements of the dysfunctional elites and their boot boys of their behaviour during this sensitive time.
The British and 26 County establishments must fear our message and our analysis as we continue to bare the wrath of MI5 led harassment across the country.
Our social media pages face regular censorship yet we are getting our message out there and it is resonating with people. Just as the men and women of 1916 were continuing in the Fenian tradition, we hope to pass the unrepentant revolutionary Republican flame on to the next generation.
We remember that in 1916 it was so called ‘dissidents’ and radicals within the broader nationalist movement who led the charge and pushed the revolutionary agenda forward to rise and strike a blow for liberty. We are proud to inherit the title ‘dissident’ in the Irish context although it is slung at us as a slur in some media and political circles; the same people who often are most vocal in the defence of political dissidents in conflicts miles away.
After the 1921 Treaty if there were no dissenting voices, there would be a perpetual Free State with no one trying to advance the national question after it. In 1969 it could be said that without dissenting voices, the then Republican Movement could have left nationalist people in the Occupied Six Counties undefended and not have taken the war further to the British establishment.
The Good Friday Agreement was not the end of Irish history and there has been and will always be dissenting voices until the Socialist Republic that so many gave so much for is achieved.
History has shown us the limits of reformism and how far it can take the anti-imperialist struggle here in Ireland. That is why we dissent, we occupy this space, this is our territory and we are constantly determined to navigate it and nurture it while aiming to build slowly and surely as we bring people with us.
Revolutionary dissent is needed now more than ever as we face imperialism on many fronts and the bland reformists have nothing different or radical to offer the working class.
In Europe we see the EU continue its journey into a blatant capitalist super rich club based around the larger states who still claim dominion over nations within their borders. As we envisaged to our west, swapping Trump for Biden will not mean a thing if the US continue to drop bombs on Yemen or threaten Syria, Iran and other countries thousands of miles from their shores.
The ongoing subjugation of the Palestinian people continues by the fascist and racist state of Israel and we reiterate our fraternal support to them and the aforementioned struggles who continue to resist in the face of an imperialist and capitalist onslaught.
We also take this opportunity to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the 1981 Hunger Strikers this year and where better to look to for further verification that the revolutionary Irish spirit cannot be broken. 800 years of British oppression could not break it.
Saoradh are ready to take to the streets once again as soon as conditions are right and we hope to see you there as we set about completing the work of the 1916 patriots. They were truly a golden generation of Irish revolutionaries but let us honour them most fittingly by getting out and playing our part in the Unfinished Revolution today.
Beannachtaí na Cásca oraibh go léir.
An Phoblacht Abú.
IRISH REPUBLICAN SOCIALIST PARTY
The main oration delivered by IRSP Lower Falls representative Michael Kelly:
Friends and comrades, I would like to welcome you to our online Easter commemoration for 2021.
Normally, the Republican Socialist Family gather at the gravesides of our comrades every year to honour our fallen Martyrs in the traditional republican way, but sadly, due the ongoing covid-19 pandemic, that simply isn’t possible this year. We will nonetheless pay tribute to all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of an Irish Workers’ Republic, in a fitting and appropriate manner in the present circumstances.
We thank all the families of our comrades for their patience and understanding, as we again commemorate their selfless sacrifice differently this year. We will do so differently, but no less meaningful. We will never allow such circumstances to prevent us from remembering our fallen comrades.
We will always honour their memories and the political ideals for which they gave their lives, but we will do so respecting the best scientific advice in order to keep our membership and the wider community safe. Not only do we commemorate the members of the Republican Socialist family who lost their lives during the latest phase of the conflict, we remember all those brave volunteer soldiers who stepped forward on Easter Monday morning 1916 in Dublin as members of the Irish Citizen Army, Cumann na mBan or the Irish Volunteers.
They bravely took to the streets of Dublin to strike at the British in the heart of that empire’s second city. Those events were a turning point in the struggle for Irish freedom and nationhood. The joint effort by that wide range of Republicans, Nationalists, Trade Unionists, Socialists and many ordinary people could arguably be described as the first broad front in modern Irish republicanism.
Those events sparked a desire for freedom rarely seen outside of the republican and Irish cultural organisations of that time. Let us ask ourselves, why did these brave fighters decide to take on the might of the British Empire in the knowledge that they had little chance of victory, and that only death or imprisonment awaited them? They did it knowing that future generations of Irish people would take up the fight. And they succeeded in lighting the fuse that awakened the revolutionary spirit of the Irish people.
They lit the flame of freedom and opposition to British rule in Ireland that inspired future generations to continue the struggle. During the past year the Republican Socialist Movement has had to adapt to very challenging circumstances.
The global pandemic has changed the way we have operated as a revolutionary political organisation.
We have been unable to organise gatherings such as meetings, demonstrations, protests or pickets, but this has made us no less effective. The Republican Socialist Movement through Republican Socialist Aid has been to the forefront in providing front line medical facilities and their staff with vital PPE during the early stages of the pandemic.
Thousands of items such as masks, face screens and bottles of sanitizer were delivered to carers, care homes and hospitals right across Ireland when the system fell apart and was unable to offer protection to front line workers.
We also provided thousands of hot meals to isolating and vulnerable families and we continue to provide food parcels to communities that have been left behind by the agencies who were funded to provide this service.
This is real community empowerment, carried out by dedicated and committed activists, from Derry to Cork. All of this was done solely by localised funding initiatives and donations from friends and supporters.
This was simply an extension of the activism of our members. It was genuine revolutionary activity and the leadership of this organisation is extremely proud of and grateful to the many activists who stepped forward during the current crisis.
This activity stands in stark contrast to the gutter press headlines, aimed at our membership, by the PSNI & MI5.
The difference between the headlines and the reality on the ground is testament to the high calibre of young activists within the IRSP.
Genuine young men and women, of our class, who are driven to make life better for our communities. We are organised and active in dozens of working class communities right across Ireland, and the people who we helped and continue to help are our family, friends and neighbours. Ordinary working class people who have been let down by the system both here in the occupied six counties, and in the 26 county State. We send our unwavering support to the Yes for Unity campaign, which has continued to exert influence across the body politic, despite restrictions and lockdowns. Rather than filling halls at public meetings the campaign has adapted and held very successful online public meetings in a sign that despite not being able to meet, they have still been able to organise.
Also, by working quietly in the background engaging with people within our communities and beyond, and convincing them of the merits of supporting the calls for a border poll they have continued to build support for the concept of a border poll. The campaign for such a poll is gaining momentum. Hardly a day goes by without someone new coming out in favour and this, we have every confidence, will only grow as time moves.
We believe it is inevitable as the days pass, that there is more and more support for our stance. Our support for a referendum and the Yes For Unity campaign is simply one option on the long road to a republic.
Presently, this looks the most likely way that partition can be dismantled. It is merely one option that may or may not work out.
Let us be clear though, all our eggs are not in the border poll basket. If the border poll does not work out, we have other options that we will pursue.
We are a revolutionary organisation and we will continue to explore all revolutionary avenues, nothing will ever be off the table in terms of achieving our aims. But we are also clear that campaigning for a border poll at this time does not dilute our revolutionary credentials one iota, in fact it shows clearly that this movement is far sighted and adaptable.
This movement is not bound by traditions that can hinder our path to freedom, it never has been.
Rather, we are guided by the core political principles of revolutionary socialism. These broad principles have served us well over the last 47 years. 40 years ago our communities were in the midst of a real and deadly war with the British government led by Maggie Thatcher.
Sick of seeing young men and women dragged away from their families and their homes and then held in the most atrocious conditions, a mass movement of ordinary working class people rose up in defence of the prisoners.
Thousands came onto the streets across Ireland demanding better conditions for the prisoners.
Sadly, ten of our comrades died within Long Kesh due to the outright bitterness of Thatcher, with more losing their lives on the outside.
This year we remember, in particular, Volunteers Jim Power and Matt McLarnon, who died while on Active Service at the time of the Hungerstrike, and who’s 40th anniversaries fall next month.
1981 was a horrendous period of our history. There was turmoil and despair on a daily basis, but this brought about awareness and an awakening among ordinary working class people. It was a time when people were becoming more and more aware that politics had a direct effect on their daily lives.
The politics of the Thatcher led government allowed our prisoners to die on protest as their Tory killing machine privatised public services, throwing millions on the unemployment scrapheap and giving billions in profit to their supporters. Unfortunately, Thatcherism did not die with Thatcher. Privatisation is still a policy adopted by various government regimes.
One of the bodies set up in 1971 in order to prevent discrimination in housing allocations was the Housing Executive.
Historically, this body provided public housing across the 6 counties and whilst not perfect, it is one of the publicly owned institutions that fulfils it’s role to all sides of the community equally.
In recent years the Housing Executive has come into the sights of privateers within government.
The Department for Communities which oversees the Housing Executive has plans to privatise the organisation.
Already, large parts of the responsibilities of the body have gone out to private housing associations. The on-going plans to break up and privatise the housing executive are against everything that our communities have stood for.
We must and we will oppose them. The first step in this process is to expose them, and that is what we are doing here.
We are signalling our intention to oppose the privatisation of the housing executive and to win back their right to build quality social housing.
That aspiration was taken away during the previous round of privatisation that brought about the private housing associations and allowed them into the social housing system in a big way.
At the same time the housing executive was barred from barrowing money to build new homes. This needs reversed as soon as possible. Private landlords across the north have been taking advantage of the current lack of social housing and the failed housing system.
Ramping up rents and exploiting loopholes in legislation that allows them to charge more than local benefit rates.
This means that local families are forced to pay out of their already limited benefits in order to keep a roof over their heads. Currently, the IRSP are the only organisation highlighting this exploitation and we have been doing so successfully.
Several large private housing landlords have come under pressure from us and have changed their policies in this regard, meaning many families do not have to pay housing costs from their benefits.
This campaign is on-going and where we find landlords exploiting vulnerable tenants, we will be there opposing their activities. Attacks on our class come in various forms. Not just those out to make a quick profit whilst exploiting our communities.
The British Occupation has been baring its teeth in an attempt to keep the people down. We’ve witnessed the heavy handed tactics of the PSNI aided and abetted by British security services such as MI5.
Highly aggressive raids and incursions have taken place in Galliagh, the Lower Falls, the Ormeau road, the Creggan estate and other areas. These have led to raids, arrests and neighbourhood lockdowns. Our people will not be intimidated; we have come through much worse and will do so again on the imperfect road to the republic. The republic envisioned by leaders such as James Connolly.
Our ideological Forefather, executed by the British establishment for his role in organising the Rising. He was first and foremost a revolutionary socialist, but within the Irish context he realised that the national freedom struggle had to take precedent at that time.
We can clearly see that rationale in his last statement to the British court marshal which sentenced him to death. In it he says:
Believing that the British Government has no right in Ireland, never had any right in Ireland, and never can have any right in Ireland.
Connolly referred to the occupation of Ireland by the British as a crime against human progress, that remains the case today as we strive to realise the ideals and objectives of that great man. The IRSP believe that the Irish working class are the sole instrument in which we can achieve our goals.
Only by working through them, by convincing them of our political programme, that our vision is their vision, that a Republican Socialist society is in their best interests, that our Republic is their Republic, that it will belong to them. Only then will we see the fruits of our labour. Comrades, polticial struggle is never easy. We must use Easter week to re-dedicate ourselves to the fight for an Irish Workers Republic, to keep the flame of resistance alive.
No matter how far away victory may seem, no matter how poorly our prospects look, never ever give up hope, never stop educating, agitating and organising. For in the end victory is achievable. Turning to the proclamation and looking at the words proclaimed by Pearse at the GPO one hundred and five years ago, we cannot be anything other than inspired and moved by the progressiveness and honesty of that proclamation.
Given the period in which it was written, that document was years ahead of it’s time, with it’s affirmation of equality for all the people of Ireland, which was unheard of in the class system fostered upon us by the British ruling classes.
Let’s take heart from the proclamation and it’s authors. Those who fought and died to make freedom a reality for the people of Ireland.
Let us take it into our daily lives and live it ourselves. For indeed, the establishment of the republic and the ideals contained in the proclamation is the only fitting epitaph to the men and women of 1916 and their contempories who we have lost in the decades since.
Let us truly treat all of the children of the nation equally, let us fight poverty, discrimination, exploitation, homelessness, homophobia, racism, unfair water charges, tax breaks for the rich.
Let us love all our children, let us help our elderly, let us welcome those fleeing persecution, let us house the homeless and provide all our people with a decent standard of living.
Let us build the republic of equals, and as James Connolly said, “Our demands most moderate are - we only want the earth!”
Onwards To Victory - Saoirse Go Deo!
Irish Republican Army Easter Statement 2021:
The leadership of the Irish Republican Army takes this opportunity of the 105th anniversary of the Easter Rising to remember those who so courageously went before us. We also thank the volunteer soldiers of Óglaigh na hĒireann. We salute you and commend you in your continued determination, bravery and steadfast opposition to the ongoing occupation of Ireland.
We would also like to thank our supporters at home and abroad for their continued support in the struggle for self determination. In particular we would like to send solidarity greetings to Republican Prisoners in Maghaberry, Portlaoise, Hydebank and Mountjoy gaols.
As we approach the 40th anniversary of the 1981 Hunger Strike which resulted in the deaths of ten gallant Irishmen, we call on the wider Republican family to support current Republican Prisoners. We must continue the struggle to end the criminalisation of Republican POWs.
This Easter will again be different due to the global health pandemic, however it still remains a time when we as Irish Republicans rededicate and recommit ourselves to achieving a 32 County Socialist Republic.
Despite the ongoing difficulties around Brexit, a rise in militant Loyalism and a continuing health crisis, the occupier remains determined in their attempt to quash Republicanism. They have failed and their efforts have been in vain.
While the liberation of Ireland has not yet been achieved, British manipulation coupled with the treachery of former Republicans has upheld the partition of Ireland. For the solution the army must look, in radical terms, to attacking the cause of Ireland’s problems.
Almost 100 years since the partition of Ireland, it’s clear it has failed and those who attempt to uphold it will fail. The Irish Republican Army will continue to attack the problem at its root and make no apology for undertaking this necessary task.
In the words of Padraig Pearse, “As long as Ireland is unfree the only honourable attitude for Irish men and women to have is an attitude of rebellion”
The Irish Republican Army will continue our struggle until a 32 County Socialist Republic has been achieved.
Caoimhe Garland, Ard Comhairle and Belfast Workers’ Party gave the oration below to the 2021 Easter Commemoration:
Fáilte, a chairde agus a chomrádaithe chuig ár gcomóradh Éirí Amach na Cásca.
Welcome to the Easter commemoration of the Workers’ Party. For the second year in a row we gather centrally online rather than regionally at various centres where we traditionally hold commemorations and to which we will return whenever health regulations allow.
We in no way object to the restrictions imposed by the present health regulations. We recognise the very serious nature of this virus which has caused over 6,700 deaths on this island over the past 12 months. We totally support all public health measures needed to fight this pandemic. Our issue is that governments have been both cowardly in the face of vested interests and too often inefficient in delivery. Both the Dublin and Belfast administrations have failed the people because they would not take the tough decisions needed. Frankly, the Covid related restrictions were too little, too late, too disjointed and were not implemented on an all-island basis. Six months ago, The Workers’ Party proposed a coherent, all-island Zero Covid strategy which would have involved a short, sharp and perhaps difficult Lockdown for a three week period. This proposal was ignored. Had such a strategy been adopted then the deadly Third Wave, which has been the most deadly by far, could have been avoided.
Once again we pay tribute to those workers who are on the frontline of the battle against Covid, especially those in healthcare and other similar services but also those far from the public eye in the meat plants, in the food processing plants or in food transportation, in the supermarkets and other retail outlets, in our schools as the education system moves offline and back into the classroom, who are putting their lives at risk for the good of society.
Within our own country, we are not all in this together. We know that the old and those already ill have suffered the bulk of the fatalities. Amongst workers, we know that frontline workers across all sectors that cannot work from home are those in most danger. We have heard of many meat plant workers dying. Yet no meat plant owner died. Many female, part-time, non-unionised care workers in the nursing home sector were infected with Covid and sadly there were many fatalities. Have we heard of any of the corporate bosses running these homes getting ill, having to go on sick leave or even losing a cent in profits?
Lockdown is difficult. But it is not equal. A family where everybody has their own bedroom, where there are spare rooms that can double as a work room, where there is a large, private garden, where the cost of technology is not a problem cannot be compared to a family jammed into an overcrowded apartment, where the bedroom doubles as a workplace, with no outdoor green space, and several people try to share technology.
The USA, the richest, most militarily powerful country in the world failed catastrophically to tackle the pandemic and the number of recorded deaths is now approaching 600,000. Yet smaller, poorer countries, countries who are continuing to suffer from US imperialism like Vietnam or Cuba have had a much less severe experience during this pandemic. Their public services, their health services and their populations have all cooperated to effectively prevent the pandemic gaining any foothold in their countries. In this context comrades we must again take this opportunity to commend the Cuban people and the Cuban health services for their work internationally in fighting this pandemic despite the barbaric embargo imposed by the Trump administration and cynically left in place by Biden. We again pledge our support to the campaign to have the Henry Reeve Medical Brigade become the recipients of the 2021 Nobel Peace prize.
Our Easter commemoration is an occasion in which we look back and remember those who fought for freedom and socialism, we also look back to the history of our own movement and those comrades who fought and struggled to bring our party to where we are today. We look back because it is correct to recognise and honour the battles of the past and also because it is our duty, as socialists, to learn from both the successes and the failures of the past.
Two events have notable anniversaries this year. One hundred years ago, 1921, saw the end of the Irish War of Independence. While all past events impinge, in some way, on the present it cannot be denied that the July truce, the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 6th December and the proceeding Government of Ireland Act from May that year continue to have major repercussions on Irish politics to the present day.
Fifty years ago, on the 9th August 1971 Operation Demetrius, internment without trial, was introduced by the Stormont government with the approval of the UK Secretary of State and the Tory government. The introduction of internment, the fact that only republicans were targeted, the abuse of all victims and the torture of those who became known as the hooded men officially marked the militarisation of the UK government’s response to the democratic and peaceful demands of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association. NICRA was pushed to one side as the North suffered a death filled 18th months. Over the next four and a half months 150 people were killed, with many hundreds injured. The following year, 1972, almost 500 people were killed, the worst year of the Troubles.
Even in those fraught and tension filled years of 1971 and 1972 the Republican movement still sought to concentrate on the issues of housing, on the robbery of our natural resources, on the destruction of Irish language and the Gaeltacht communities, and on the gross exploitation of workers and the blatant use of many employers of scab labour to break legitimate strike actions. It was in defence of the rights of striking workers in the silver mines in Co Tipperary that on July 6th 1971 Martin O’Leary, a 21 year old volunteer from Cork city, suffered such catastrophic injuries that he died later in Limerick Hospital.
Down the years our own comrades have withstood attacks on our party from a wide range of reactionary forces, state and sectarian, all committed to stop the advancement of progressive politics. Many of our friends and comrades gave their lives so that we could go on to create and build an organisation fit for heroes which has made it possible for workers and their families to recognise that there is a way forward and that is to build a Workers Party, of all religions and of none, that the most important thing is who you are and where you stand in the class struggle. This is Tone’s way, it is Connolly’s way, and it is Billy McMillan and Cathal Goulding’s way. It is to our comrades who have never hesitated, never surrendered, who in the most dangerous of times held the line, that we are able to say we will not only survive but we will win the day.
In our Party constitution the Workers’ Party is dedicated to the establishment of ‘’a democratic, secular, socialist Republic: a unitary state on the island of Ireland.” When we adopted this constitution almost thirty years ago, and indeed for many years previously we were very clear that the unitary state we envisioned was not merely the 26 county Republic expanded to a 32-county basis. As early as his presidential address to the 1968 Ard Fheis Tomás Mac Giolla stated: “It must be made clear however, that republicans do not ask the people of the Six Counties to come into the existing Twenty Six-county state. We would not wish that fate on anyone. We ask the people of the Six Counties to join with the people of the Twenty Six counties in abolishing both states which serve only British imperialism, and in establishing a Democratic Socialist Republic for the whole island in which the workers who create the wealth decide how and where it is used”.
For many months, we have examined the question of a Border Poll. We recognise that a border poll at this time would increase political instability and sectarian tension. However, we also recognise that we cannot put our head in the sand and ignore political developments. We must examine the political situation as it faces us, and we have done so. Our demand is that the Civic Forum be reconstituted and reconvened for the specific purposes of looking at all aspects of the future political formation on this island and involving all shades of political opinion. Such a forum, if it is to be successful must also engage all elements of civic society, including the trade union movement. If there is to be a border poll, and that decision is not ours to make, then the electorate have a right to know the options on which they are voting. An all-encompassing Civic Forum is the only democratic way to ensure that clarity.
In recognising the necessity of our active engagement with the question of the Border Poll, and in our call for the convention of a Civic Forum we reaffirm our commitment to the tradition of Republicanism and our rejection of Nationalism.
As Republicans and as Socialists we recognise that capitalist society is based on Class divisions. We recognise that these Class divisions are not immutable human characteristics but are related to a particular form of social and economic organisation based on the exploitation of Labour by Capital. The only route to the abolition of this particular social form, and with it all forms of exploitation, is through the organisation of the only revolutionary Class: The Working Class. The vehicle of this liberation is the mass workers’ Party.
In his pamphlet, The Concept of Republicanism, our late Comrade Desi O’Hagan outlined the four interdependent aspects of the concept. Republicanism is Democratic, Socialist, Secular, and Internationalist. In staunchly adhering to this Republican Ideal as outlined by Desi we recognise both the need to battle all forms of Nationalist and Sectarian bigotry while also recognising the need for our Party to engage proactively and creatively with the national question.
The simplistic denunciation of this latter point as ‘Nationalism’ is not only factually false, but it is also both theoretically wrong and, in practical terms, it is a sure road to political stagnation, decline and irrelevance: ‘So long as one remains a monk one can keep tolling the bell.’ The cloister may offer solace to some but not for us. To build a mass workers’ party we cannot be content with fighting shadows. And we will gladly leave that luxury to others.
This brings us to the vital subject of Party work and Party building. It should be obvious to everyone that without the membership actively engaging with the day-to-day struggles of the Working Class our objective of building a mass Party will not be fulfilled. The pandemic has, of course, seriously limited our ability to engage in day-to-day work. However, as restrictions ease over the coming months and we begin to resume political activity it is incumbent on all members to once again get actively involved in campaigning on working class issues in their locality.
Our aim is to become a Party of and for the Working Class but we must be honest and admit that we are far from reaching that goal. While we have of course made progress in rebuilding the Party over the past few years, WE MUST DO BETTER. It is not enough to blame ‘the system’ or this or that individual or group of individuals. We are all members of the Workers’ Party and we all bear a responsibility to do our part in building the organisation As Seán Garland said: “As the vanguard party we must continually act as the vanguard. It is not enough, as Lenin has said, to attach revolutionary sounding names or labels to ourselves. We must be with the people in every area of struggle”.
No doubt, mistakes will be made and this is not necessarily a bad thing. The Party has made mistakes in the past and has shown a capacity to learn from them. We need to revive this tradition of working hard and learning through experience.
Commemorations such as this are not an excuse to bask in former glories or to rue past defeats. We gather at these events to pay our respects to a great historical tradition which has yet to bear fruit: The Republican tradition and the vision of a society free from exploitation and oppression. To truly honour the memories of our Republican forbears and fallen Comrades we must dedicate ourselves to the political struggle and to building the Party.
Comrades and friends, when we gather here to commemorate 1916 we do so in the realisation that we must go beyond it; as the great James Connolly even then realised. It is only through the socialist transformation of society that the Republican vision can be fulfilled.
Today, as we remember the men and women who bravely fought Empire, we in the Workers’ Party once again commit ourselves to the achievement of a united, democratic, secular and socialist republic. Free from oppression, free from sectarian division and free from class exploitation.
This is the vision that Connolly died for, it is the vision our fallen comrades dedicated their lives to – let us honour them and endeavour to bring that vision to completion at last.
Go raibh maith agaibh go léir.