IRSP Easter 2016. Belfast oration.
The IRSM gathered in Belfast, Sunday April 24th 2016 for their annual commemoration of Republican Socialist fallen and in particular acknowledgement of the centenary relevance a hundred years after the rising of 1916.
The party of Connolly assembled at Dunville park on the Falls road at 11am,where, despite megaphone announcements from the British PSNI which attempted to intimidate the Republican Socialist faithful by declaring their 2016 Easter commemoration an ‘illegal gathering’, the Irish Republican Socialist Movement marched in Unison to Milltown cemetery accompanied by a complimentary Citizens Army colour party and onto the INLA/IRSP plot in order to pay tribute to our revolutionary dead.
The main IRSM colour party stopped to lower flags at the the graves of several INLA, IRA and PLA fallen throughout the cemetery as well as at the Antrim 98′ monument, before moving onto the main Republican Socialist plot and to the main ceremony.
At the Republican Socialist plot, wreaths were laid on behalf of the IRSP and INLA from around Ireland and Scotland, flags were lowered before international statements of solidarity were read by Comrade Tommy Doherty of the Matt McClarnon IRSP Cumann.
Comrade Simon McElroy from North Donegal IRSP read an address to those assembled on behalf of LGBT Socialists, before Comrade Michael McLaughlin read the main address on behalf of the IRSP Ard Comhairle.
Below are the contents of Comrade McLaughlin’s address.
We are here today to commemorate the events of Easter week 1916 and also to remember our comrades and volunteers of the Irish National Liberation Army and Irish Republican Socialist Party who fell in the struggle for national liberation and socialism in Ireland. Those events in 1916 were a turning point in the struggle for Irish freedom and nationhood. The joint effort by a wide range of Republicans, nationalists, trade unionists and socialists could accurately be described as the first broad front in modern republicanism.
Our main objective has always been, and continues to be, a society free from prejudice, discrimination and exploitation, a people’s republic. A secular, stable, sovereign, sustainable, non-sectarian, socialist society, a republic organised from the bottom up, with the means of production, distribution and exchange in the collective ownership of every Irish citizen.
As we strive to create a workers republic in this vision, our current political position will never be reconcilable with either rogue State on this island. We exist solely to bring the pillars of the 26 County Free State and the Six County sectarian northern State tumbling down, to expose those institutions as implements and apparatuses of the wealthy, designed to ultimately serve their interests.
The destruction of the society for the wealthy, the expulsion of imperialist interference in the affairs of the Irish people, the cessation of carefully fostered sectarianism ,created by an alien government to divide the Irish working class, these are the tasks the Irish Republican Socialist Party busy ourselves with in the centenary year of the 1916 rising.
The IRSPs political analyses has been correct at every major political juncture over the last four decades. But comrades we can be correct and wrong at the same time. We can be correct in continuously remaining principled, in continuously using our republican socialist political programme in the interests of our class but wrong if we fail to communicate that political programme correctly to the mass of the Irish people or fail to attract our class to our cause, ultimately their cause. We must continue Connolly’s revival.
We must continue the work of the martyrs who fought and died on Vinegar Hill. We must continue in the footsteps of the Workers who walked out on strike against exploitation, who fought pitched battles on the streets of Dublin during the 1914 Lockout. We continue to stand in solidarity with the spirit of the broad front of progressive forces who rose in 1916 against foreign physical and economic control of this island.
We stand here in the tradition of all progressive republicans and socialists who stayed the course, who remained principled, even in the darkest days of struggle. We continue to stand here on the shoulders of the giants of the martyrs of the Irish National Liberation Army who rose against imperialist occupation and lie buried in this graveyard and graveyards like it all over this island.
Republican Socialism has never had a strategic code to follow. To even try and create an authoritarian set of rules in which to pursue our struggle denigrates the journey to a people’s republic. 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 fruit of our revolutionary labour.
Our core principals, our tolerance, our fairness, our tradition of resistance, our uniquely Irish socialism, these are the things that will keep us on the correct path. We don’t claim to be perfect, yes mistakes have been made, but all done in the best interests of our class at any given time. We hold no romantic notions of martyrdom, like the men and women of the 1916 Rising, we are just as prepared to do what has to be done, when it has to be done.
As the struggle against foreign interference in our affairs, the fight for national liberation and socialism has evolved over the last century it has gone through many eras. From armed rebellion to civil war, from social and political activism to the dark years of the Long War from 1969 to 1998, the key for survival and growth is in identifying the transition from one era of struggle to another.
Today, 18 years after the Good Friday defeat, and after numerous treaties aimed at solidifying the peace, after the entrenchment of sectarianism in the north, after the absurdities of greed and gluttony during the boom and bust cycle of capitalism in the south, and the un-flinching implementation of cruel unjustifiable austerity, we are on the threshold of a new era of struggle and like those who have gone before us, we must embrace it and thrive. The stakes are too high to ignore the realities.
As the young capable comrades of the IRSP position themselves for leadership of this organisation, how will we be judged in 100 years time. As future generations gather at this very spot to commemorate the sacrifice for a workers republic, what will they say about the new era of struggle we are moving into? What will the history books say about us? Who knows? But it’s up to us to write that chapter of struggle, our struggle against imperialism and oppression and for national liberation and socialism.
Like the men and women who rose in 1916 we have a clear vision, we have the same motives.. To address our national sovereignty denied and to create a nation worthy of a people who have never known a nation, a nation waiting to be born, that exists today in the hearts and minds of young Republican Socialist’s.
The primacy of our political project will bring us towards the Workers Republic. It will abolish the physical border partitioning our island, from North to South, and it will destroy the economic border partitioning our island from East to West. The primacy of our political project will redistribute the wealth of the nation collectively and equally giving ownership of the nation to its entire people.
As we enter this new era of struggle it’s important to remember the words of Liam Mellows as he was led out of a battle scarred Four Courts in 1922 to see uninvolved and apathetic workers cleaning the rubble from the streets after the republicans garrisoned there were attacked by the Free Staters. The ordinary worker didn’t care for the fate of the Republicans being escorted to prison or execution, Mellows commented that “the workers are not with us”, meaning the republican side in the Civil War. We must be vigilant that we do not repeat those mistakes, we must learn from history, any future actions must lead towards the Workers Republic; there can be no backward steps. It’s only by standing shoulder to shoulder with workers in their daily struggles can we attempt to fight against the powerful forces lined up against us. We must always act in the interests of the working class.
In 1994, twenty two years ago, in the interests of our class, our armed wing adopted its “no first strike” policy in response to the changing political climate of the day. Our entire movement had an intense period of internal political discussion which led to the collective decision to move towards total cessation of armed actions in 1998.
Although we supported the peaceful resolution of the national question we could not support the Good FridayAgreement in 98. The GFA contained nothing to further advance the struggle for national liberation and socialism in Ireland. It was a defeat for the wider republican struggle. But our path had been chosen, the primacy of our political project had been ratified by the entire movement and our support base.
The ensuing years of political struggle led to the IRSPs calls in Bray 2005 for “ all anti-GFA republicans need to take a step back and engage with each other, those not on cease-fire need to call a cessation to their campaigns. Put simply it is not working; there is no support within the working class community for armed struggle to defeat imperialism, at this present time”.
Dialogue did eventually take place in 2008 which eventually led to the formation of the Irish Republican Forum for Unity, which had the potential to politically unite all strands of anti-imperialist republicanism, predictably it failed, due to the influence of British intelligence and the hidden agenda by elements within the IRFU to use it to create a new IRA, aimed at continuing failed tactics, tired rhetoric and the zero-sum political programme of the past.
The IRSP totally opposed these moves to use progressive dialogue for regressive aims and eventually withdrew our support for the IRFU over the “cloak and dagger” tactics being used. Culminating in our current political position that support for armed struggle is one of the biggest barriers to creating an anti-imperialist broad front in the interests of the working class and for the building of socialism in Ireland. The IRSP will never condemn those who engage in armed struggle, although we ask those engaged in it to analyse their actions further than the maxim “Ireland un-free shall never be at peace” or smashing normalisation.
Since 2010 to entire movement has moved forward in the spirit of the Ta Power document, continuing our ideologically principled political struggle for national liberation and socialism in Ireland whilst implementing the Ta Power principles of politics in command and collective leadership.
I will finish with an excerpt from comrade Powers analysis document which states.
“WE MUST MAKE NO SECRET OF THE FACT THAT WE ARE A REVOLUTIONARY PARTY, PREPARED TO GIVE LEADERSHIP ON THE STREETS AS WELL AS IN THE ELECTED CHAMBERS, AND THAT WE ARE OUT FOR A REVOLUTIONARY STATE”.
“What we must do is examine the above statement by Seamus Costello and draw all the necessary implications from it. A revolutionary party must have a revolutionary ideology, an ideology that enables us to analyse the world, the motive force at work in the world, and plan a campaign based on the analysis.”
“A campaign that is consistent, principled, and bold in its implementation, maxims as a guide to action is an ideology; it represents the historical interests of the working class, which through the medium of a revolutionary party, aims to overthrow the capitalist order and begin the construction of communism.”
Comrade Power continues
“We must make no secret of the fact that we are such a party, make no secret of what we stand for and aim for. We cannot try to fool the Irish people, we must recognise that it is fatal to confuse and deceive them. “
“We must define our socialist republic, explain exactly what it entails; innuendoes, vagueness and good intentions are not enough: The road to hell is paved with good intentions! We must define all this with the utmost clarity so that the Irish people are under no illusion of what we are fighting for. “
“A revolutionary socialist party means that we must engage in revolutionary politics throughout all of Ireland, both on the streets and in the elected chambers.”
Comrade Power finishes
“It means that we must first identify the major contradictions in Ireland today, which is the continued occupation by the British of the six counties, the resulting denial of our right to self-determination and sovereignty, the resolution of the national question, partition and all the evils and divisions that spring from it, it entails a struggle against imperialism, it entails the mobilisation of the mass of Irish people in the struggle for national liberation, but it doesn’t mean confining ourselves solely to the national question.”
“As we said before, there are many strands to the anti-imperialist struggle; it means involvement in campaigns against unemployment, emigration, repression, involvement in trade unions, action groups and EVERYTHING! “
“We must agitate, propagandise and organise around these issues (but not a reformist manner). There is no easy road to a socialist republic, no short cuts; we must strive towards uniting and politicising the working class no matter what obstacles confront us in our task, for we cannot win our struggle without the working class.”
Comrades in this centenary year of the 1916 Rising its imperative that the party of Connolly, the Irish Republican Socialist Party, continue and accelerate our growth and struggle for national liberation and socialism in Ireland.