Monday, 13 April 2009
2009 Easter Commemoration
32CSM Easter Oration
A chairde, there are those who would say we are traitors gathered here to commemorate the actions of traitors. Pearse and Connolly were deemed to be traitors because the British trenches in the Somme were filled with Irishmen deceived into thinking that fighting in the imperial slaughter of the First World War would lead to Home Rule. Pearse and Connolly said it wouldn’t, and they were right, but still they were vilified and executed. Ninety three years later republicans once again state that the Home Rule strategy will not deliver Irish freedom. Calling us traitors for saying so from the steps of Stormont, flanked by Britain’s head policeman in Ireland, proves we are also right. We are immensely proud to share the views of Pearse and Connolly.
Once again British soldiers are being killed on Irish soil. Once again British soldiers are using Irish soil to train to kill in foreign wars. Once again establishment nationalists have moved to support the British regime in Ireland. Nothing has changed. Claiming that unity will be achieved by 2016 is similar to the deception employed to lure men to their deaths in the fields of Flanders in the lost hope of securing Home Rule. Nothing has changed here either. The men and women of 1916 fought for fundamental change. They were not reformists, but Irish separatists who articulated the basic republican message that our sovereignty is inalienable and indefeasable.
This year also marks the 90th anniversary of the establishment of the First Dail Eireann. The First Dail was the Proclamation in action. It was an Irish parliament of, by and for the Irish people. It declared our independence to the world and set about a radical social programme to cherish all of the children equally. It remains our blueprint for the future of our country and our people.
Our history is one of conflict because too often our history has been repeated. Political arrangements which usurp Irish sovereignty cannot lead to peace or freedom. Inherent in these arrangements is the attempted suppression of those who seek to defend our sovereignty. They murder us. They hang us. They intern us. They intimidate us. They malign us. It represents that familiar colonial chorus, ever desperate to maintain itself. Trading civil rights in return for recognition of foreign rule condemns our children to fight for that most basic of rights, their own freedom. The men and women of 1916 were not fooled or bought by the trappings of Home Rule nor intimidated by the forces of Westminster and her Irish lackeys. For them democracy meant more than an opinion poll rating or a gerrymandered election. The voice of the people can only be heard if it is freely expressed.
And this is the message which republicans need to articulate today. As republicans we need to put before the people our framework from within which Irish democracy can function without external impediment. We need to set our case against British occupation in a way which is relevant to our people’s needs today. Our aims cannot be solely the product of the past nor can they be a slave to that past. British reasons for remaining in Ireland will change according to modern British interests and republican strategies opposing these interests must adapt accordingly. But in doing so we cannot repeat the failures of history by compromising the legitimacy of our position for the appearance of short term gain. The British have no right to be here and our right to resist them is a matter for us to determine and not them.
We are constantly asked; what is your alternative? The answer depends on who is asking the question. To those who call us traitors we say; any alternative but yours. To those who call us anti democratic we say; let us negotiate without pre conditions. To those republicans who genuinely seek an alternative we say; let us construct one together. We must be clear that the Good Friday Agreement represents a significant defeat for republicanism. And in the face of this we need to be pragmatic and not reactionary. Recrimination is not an alternative. Working constructively together is. Along with other republican comrades the 32 County Sovereignty Movement has engaged in an initiative to forge a way forward from a unified republican position. The ideology behind it is the ideology of necessity. All republican banners are welcome because all republican banners are needed.
How we engage with the Irish people is as important as what we engage them on. From the outset the truth of what we say will be judged by the strength by which we say it. Eloquence and emotion are no substitutes to a unified voice. The politics of conflict resolution requires clarity to ensure that any resolution is just and democratic. Armed conflict is in existence because such a resolution has not been entered into. Neither republicans nor the British government can invoke the existence of armed conflict as an excuse not to engage in a process to find a final democratic resolution to the Anglo Irish conflict. We have to deal with reality as it is and not how we wish it to be.
Standing here in commemoration of 1916 let us invoke the clarity of the Proclamation as we now address the British government today. You must leave Ireland. If, as you say, you have no selfish, strategic or economic reasons for remaining in Ireland then there is no excuse for you not to leave. There is no problem in Ireland which demands your presence that the Irish people themselves cannot resolve. If you require a framework to allow you to disengage from our country we will construct one for you. But for this to happen you must go before the international community and renounce your claim to sovereignty over the Six Counties. A claim of sovereignty represents the bedrock of any strategic interest so let this be the basic test of your intentions.
We call on all republicans to realign ourselves around the securing of achievable aims. We have set forth a programme to rebuild the republican movement through political advancement. We have proposed that commemorating 1916 should be the annual barometer by which we measure our success especially in the run up to its centenary in 2016. Irish republicanism must be in a position on the occasion of this centenary to tell the Irish people that concrete political gains have been made toward making national reunification an unstoppable reality. The Proclamation is too important a document to condemn it to perpetual aspiration.
The Unity Initiative is the only realistic way forward. Armed struggle is a reality in our midst. We must address it for what it is, a symptom of the unwillingness of the British government to engage on the core cause of conflict, namely, its illegal claim to sovereignty over part of our country. For those who want armed struggle to cease they must come forward with proposals to address its cause. The politics of condemnation is a failed irrelevancy just as British micro Ministers are sitting in Stormont. The 32 County Sovereignty Movement have endeavoured since its formation to put such proposals into the public domain.
We sought a peaceful alternative through the auspices of the United Nations only to have that route disbarred to us when the US authorities, acting on influence from London and Dublin, banned our organisation from travelling there. But we are not deterred by this and efforts are underway to petition the Obama administration to reverse this policy. Because contrary to previous declarations made there, Ireland is not at peace.
We have sought dialogue with both governments, unionist and nationalist parties in an attempt to seek a peaceful way forward but these offers have been largely ignored. We thank all those who worked toward achieving this. And we say it again now; if you truly believe our position is so flawed come and tell us how, rather than grandstanding on media soap boxes. Our door remains open and we will not stop knocking on yours.
Comrades, the template of 1916 remains supremely relevant for us today. It was republican unity which drafted the Proclamation and allowed for the accommodation of its diverse views so magnificently. It was republican disunity which led to that fateful confusion on that day. They have given us the benefit of their foresight and the lessons of their errors. Let us leave here today all the wiser for both.
Easter Statement From the leadership of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement
We send greetings first of all to the families and friend of our dead INLA volunteers and our dead comrades from the IRSP killed for their political beliefs. We send greetings and solidarity to all our comrades currently imprisoned for their political activities.
We remember all those who in the latest phase of the struggle for liberation from the yolk of imperialism fell in the struggle. And we salute the memory of all republicans of whatever hue who died in the struggle for the self-determination of the Irish people.
Easter is a time, when all over Ireland and in parts abroad, Irish republicans gather to pay homage to our dead and to renew our resistance. It is also a time to take stock, to re-evaluate where we stand and to ask where stands the struggle for an independent Irish Republic?
Comrades if truth be told the struggle has suffered a severe set back over these last years. Consider the enemies who face us. A foreign power, a native government of appeasers in the South and in the North a puppet administration in cahoots with MI5, the PSNI and supporting the most repressive laws we have ever seen.
Those, who sold the Good Friday Agreement as an advance for Irish republicanism, sold a lie. It was a defeat.
However it would be a mistake to simply jump up and down and bemoan the mistakes of the past or dwell on what others did or did not do.
Do we, the Republican Socialist Movement learn from our past? Do we the Republican Socialist Movement have a strategy and a determined path to follow? Yes we do!
We have clearly set out our position on the type of resistance we believe should be followed by Republicans in this day and age. That is why we have worked for Republican political unity with other organisations.
The IRSP is part of the Republican Forum for Unity. We encourage all republican socialists to give their full support to the activities of the Forum. Where we can work on issues together we will.
That does not in any way hinder or stop the building of our own Party. We encourage all those who want to change the system join the organisation that that consistently and persistently opposed both imperialism and capitalism. Join the IRSP
We say as we have been saying for years that the road forward is the political road. We do not mean the road to Stormont and the pleasures of administering power for the British. We do not mean the path to the Dail and the pleasures of administering power on the behest of the native bourgeoisie and foreign capital.
We mean the political road of revolution, of the transformation of the two states in Ireland the seizing of power from the capitalist elites, the taking back from the robber barons the land resources, the economic resources and wealth that rightly belongs to the whole of the people on the island.
We recognise that the continuation of partition is a block to the well being of all citizens on the isle. It perpetuates sectarian bitterness turning neighbour against neighbour, stifles our economic well-being and allows the continued social and economic exploitation of the working class regardless of religion or race.
No body should be happy to see peace walls in Belfast City or else where dividing neighbour from neighbour. Those walls are a clear indictment of the failure of British rule. They are an indictment of Stormont rule. They shout loudly that the Northern state is a failed state.
No one should be in the least surprise therefore that the continued existence of a failed state perpetuates a violent reaction. There will always be republicans who are prepared to take up arms to resist. That should surprise no one. It is entirely predictable.
Generations have come and gone and seen violence, communal strife, repression discrimination unemployment, emigration and poverty. History worldwide shows that these things breed the conditions for armed resistance.
But simply wishing it away will not change that. Nor will it be changed by righteous anger, by emotion or by the trusted and tried and failed methods of the past.
Irish republicanism needs a new direction. All around we see the proliferation of splinter groups evolving from what used to be the Provisional Republican Movement. We do not rejoice in division. That is why we advocate and support a broad front policy of –co-operation with others. Renewed republicanism is in the overall interests of the vast majority of the people on the isle.
But renewed republicanism must take into account the wishes and needs of the people
In a time of severe attacks on the living standards of the working people throughout the island Republicanism cannot stand aside and think only of a pure Republic unrelated to the existing social and economic conditions.
We believe that the best way forward for Irish republicanism is to totally embrace the socialist ideal and for Irish republicans to throw themselves fully into the day-to-day struggles of the people. The building of a mass movement of working people to change the world we live in is our best chance of success.
And it needs to be side loud and clear from this and all republican platforms that the political struggle for a Socialist Republic holds no threat to those who see themselves as coming from different traditions.
Part of our task is to convince and reach out to those who we have failed to persuade as to the validity of our beliefs. That is why we in the republican socialist movement will take all opportunities to reach out and influence sections of the protestant working class of the validity of our socialist ideas.
We applaud the tremendous work carried out by our members and ex-prisoners in Teach na Failte in the work they do in working class areas bring working people of differing backgrounds together. That is real republicanism. That’s what Tone, Mitchell, Connolly Mellows and Costello stood for.
That is the Republicanism to take away with you today from these hallowed grounds. We are resolutely opposed to Imperialism. We are resolutely opposed to Capitalism. But, we are resolutely for working class unity and against sectarianism.
Comrades, we have, as a movement faced death.
Comrades, we have as a movement faced imprisonment.
Comrades, we have as a movement faced slander lies and informers and traitors.
Comrades we have as a movement faced the might of Imperialism and we have not flinched.
Nor will we flinch no matter what they throw at us.
We stand today at these graves unbowed and as determined today as when we were formed, to stand by the Socialist Republic.
Victory to the Working class
On to the Republic