Saoradh held its annual conference in Newry recently with empty seats at the top table to represent those members of its National Executive who have been interned.
Despite being scaled down due to Covid, the day long event on Saturday, November 6, included party delegates from across Ireland, Scotland and Italy.
In his outgoing speech the Saoradh chairperson Brian Kenna pointed to the empty seats, which he said belonged to Executvie menmbers Mandy Duffy, Kevin Barry Murphy, Davy and Sharon Jordan.
“While those seats have now been filled with new, fresh and energetic faces we can’t help but miss the input from our committed and dedicated comrades,” he said.
“It’s our duty to push forward in the face of such adversity and with a new National Executive in place we can do so with renewed vigour and determination.”
Motions were passed focusing on strategy, education, youth, republican prisoners, socialism, extradition, culture, equality, activism, homelessness, slum landlords, and international fraternity and solidarity.
Statements were also read out on behalf of Republican political prisoners along with international messages of support from Flanders, Palestine and Nepal.
The following is an extract from the opening address by Mr Kenna:
“A chairde agus chomradaithe, ta failte mor roimh go leir go dti an Ard Fheis seo. Ta me an-sasta go bhfuil brea againn anseo innuu. Ta suil agam go beidh la rathuil agus spreaguil againn.
“Welcome to the Unfinished Revolution. It’s great to see you all here today after the restrictions placed upon us all as a result of Covid-19, the lockdowns, travel restrictions, isolation, social distancing, and so forth. It’s a heartening sight to once again assemble for our Ard Fheis.
“It has been a relatively long time and indeed, a difficult time, since our last National Conference and much has changed. Apart from the loss of loved ones and indeed serious illness brought about by the pandemic, Saoradh and its members have suffered a sustained onslaught by Crown forces of arrest and imprisonment, stop and search, harassment, intimidation, and abuse.
“We have endured raids on our homes, our offices, and our places of work. This abuse has been enthusiastically extended to our families, our friends, our neighbours, and our work associates.
“While quite clearly a deliberate plan by MI5, directed by Westminster, this attack on Republican Socialists is mirrored wholeheartedly by the neo-colonialists in the Dublin government down south and their lackeys in the Special Detective Unit.
“The SDU use heavily armed specialist attack forces to blast their way through our windows and doors in some grotesque show of force designed not to catch so called dissidents, but to instill fear in our children, to deter our neighbours from having anything to do with us, and to serve as a warning in a very public way that they intend to crush the Republican spirit.
“The August 2020 MI5 raids across the whole island resulted in the arrest and internment of 9 Saoradh members and the Palestinian activist Dr. Issam Hijjawi Bassalat. During the raids down south that day, Saoradh members were told that the raids were in conjunction with, and at the request of the RUC and MI5. The warrants did not state “National Security” as usual but “Matters of International Terrorism.”
“This is the M.O. of MI5. It is a construct of MI5 to try and broaden the net to not only colour people’s minds here at home, but internationally as well.
“They are trying to crush our Republican spirit, our socialist ideals, our desire and determination to bring about the reunification of our country and the establishment of a Socialist Republic.
“Our presence here today tells us - that they have failed. That they will continue to fail - and that victory will be ours. Venceremos. Beidh an bua againn.