Easter 2019 Main Oration

Friends and Comrades,

We gather here every Easter to pay tribute to, and honour all those who gave their lives in the struggle for national liberation and socialism in Ireland and we especially remember our comrades in the Republican Socialist Movement who gave their lives in the struggle. We also remember all those who died fighting British imperialism and we salute them all.

This years main oration was read by Belfast IRSP secretary Joe Matthews

Our theme this year is workers’ rights and there is no more appropriate act of workers emancipation than the formation of the Limerick Soviet on the 14th April 1919 when One hundred years ago workers took control of the city of Limerick.

This should give us inspiration and confidence to go forward to keep the fight for national liberation and socialism as the same struggle, just as those who formed the Limerick soviet.

The Limerick Council of Trade Unions organised a strike against the British imposition of a “Special Military Area” in the city after the death of IRA volunteer and trade unionist Robert Byrne who was killed during a prison escape. The Special Military Area meant that workers travelling into or out of Limerick had to show ID cards at British Army barricades.

Faced with hostility of local people the British abandoned the city of limerick and set up a perimeter around the city, leaving the workers in control. It was now thoughthat the workers began to organise.

One of the first tasks was to feed the people and under the slogan of “We make bread not Profits” the workers began producing bread and other items for the people.

Limerick had been a hotbed of socialist revolutionary activity as just one year earlier 10,000 people participated in the local May day rally, passing a motion in support of the Russian Revolution.

As Connolly predicted, it was the workers who took on the might of the British empire. For nearly two weeks, Limerick Trades Council took control of the city, establishing its own currency – the soviet shilling – setting prices and even running its own civilian police force.

Comrades, This is an example of what can be achieved when workers and the marginalised stand together under the flag of socialism.

The IRSP have always promoted the idea of broad front and direct political action. We are currently involved in a number of initiatives including Action Against Cuts which include a broad range of groups and activists who are concerned about their community and are prepared to take direct action to highlight injustices of austerity which are a direct result of partition.

As Connolly said “If you remove the English Army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organisation of the Socialist Republic your efforts would be in vain.”

That quote from Connolly is as apt today as it was when he wrote it. The Irish working class will always be betrayed by the bosses and political elites, and we must always be aware of that fact.

The IRSP are out for a fair and equal society based on the needs of all the people not of the few. There can be no freedom from Britain unless we have freedom from capitalism, oppression and greed, be that foreign or native.

Because of our involvement in broad front campaigns against austerity we must not lose sight of the fact that the biggest injustice to the people of Ireland is partition and Britian’s continuing presence in our country.

Comrades and Friends, 1919 was a year of political revolution across the world, but more importantly it was a year of political revolution here in Ireland. In 1919 the Irish people voted IN the first Dail Eireann. This was a truely monumental democraticpolitical uprising against the British Occupation. 

Today in 2019, One hundred years after this act, we are on the brink of what could potentially be another political revolution. The possibility of ending partition on this island is becoming an ever increasing reality. The Irish people are once again indicating en masse that they want to express their democratic will in the form of a Border Poll.

In 2017, The IRSP through long debate, carefully applied our steadfast and battle hardened socialist revolutionary politics and through our ‘Yes For Unity’ Campaign we actively support the calls of the Irish People and we once again send our demand, ‘Give us a Border Poll’.

Comrades, while we all understand that initially this demand and the mere mention of a Border Poll can cause political uncertainty from some quarters, the IRSP have always understood that revolutionary politics must adapt to what is an ever changing situation. This was some of the clear lessons that were passed down to us from our founder Seamus Costello, and while some may try to hijack his teachings and use it against our political analysis, it was this movement that paid with our own blood and freedoms in defending the legacy and politics of Seamus and others, and through these sacrifices the Irish Republican Socialist Movement have ensured that Republican Socialist politics both physically and ideologically survived.

Comrades and friends, over the course of this movement’s existence our tactics have changed in order to adapt to the ever changing political environment and to facilitate the will of the Irish Working Class. Our political analysis and direction that was publicly announced ten years ago in 2009 that the objective of a 32 county socialist republic will be best achieved exclusively through political andpeaceful means still confidently stands.

The British state remains the enemy, and while our tactics have changed so have theirs. The Republican Socialist Movement is feeling the brunt of this at present, with the British PSNI mounting daily attacks on our movement through propaganda released through a subservient media. We know who the enemy is, and we will continue to oppose and expose their presence in Ireland. 

Comrades today above all is about remembering our fallen comrades, their families and the sacrifices that have been made by generations opposing Britain’s presence in Ireland. We are proud of our fallen comrades and promise to strive every day to build the society for which they gave their lives, a socialist republic is the only fitting epitaph to our fallen comrades. 

Revolution until victory.