The Ard Comhairle of the Irish Republican Socialist Party sends warmest and sincere new year’s greetings to all our active members, veterans, and supporters across Ireland and worldwide.
As always, we pledge our solidarity for the coming year to struggling prisoners and advocates of freedom and economic justice everywhere.
It goes without saying that 2020 was an exceptionally difficult year for our heroic health care staff and core essential workers who with zeal and courage fought (and continue to fight) against the Covid-19 pandemic. To them we offer more than claps, but the promise of continued physical support and practical solidarity going into the new year. As they also fight against poor conditions and wage disparity, creeping privatisation and government neglect, both north and south of the border.
The year 2020 saw the IRSP develop and grow at a rate arguably unprecedented in several decades: politically, logistically and in terms of numerical recruitment across Ireland. We take great heart from this fact.
Observing as always, the position of our founding members and ideological leader James Connolly, our membership (despite the difficulties of the year that was in it) again successfully combined the struggle for Irish national liberation with the class struggle for working class emancipation, as part of a principled and progressive, all Ireland political program. This is the IRSP way!
Our contribution to Irish Unity
Recent events with regards to the Covid Epidemic and Brexit have once again shown that the British Occupation of Ireland is a social, economic and political disaster. More-so than ever, people are being won over to the idea of ending partition and a full British withdrawal from Ireland.
The ongoing success of the Yes for Unity programme in 2020 was again evidenced in further public meetings and door to door canvassing drives which our activists actively contributed to across the island of Ireland; part of a series of activities initiated the year earlier.
These successful meetings and doorstep introductions continue to raise awareness of the real potential that exists for gaining Irish unity and independence in an achievable referendum process. A process than can spare this generation of working-class youths the needless horror of imprisonment and death, and in which working class interests can be forced to the top of the agenda if we organise sufficiently to ensure that that will be the case.
We fully intend to recommence and extend the Yes for Unity programme as soon as is possible in 2021.
IRSP mobilisation against Covid 19
Even before the commencement of Covid 19 lockdown restrictions in March, the IRSP Ard Comhairle had directed their membership to mobilise in response to the crisis; upholding the historic Republican Socialist position in regard to the defence of working-class communities and predicting the looming and drastic failure of the state to provide adequately for either frontline healthcare workers or vulnerable citizens, north or south.
Republican Socialist Aid saw IRSP activists step up to the mark and mobilise across, Dublin, Galway, Limerick, Strabane, Cavan, Cork, Newry, Belfast, Fermanagh, Derry and elsewhere, in response to the ongoing Covid 19 crisis and its aftermath.
In an initiative that saw our members working, gathering and mobilising, night and day for weeks on end, the party of Connolly and Costello provided both vital protective equipment to frontline hospital and care home staff, as well as food stuffs, clothes and protective equipment to vulnerable citizens, including the isolated, the ill, the elderly and the homeless.
The solid work of the IRSP in this regard again proved our credentials to working class communities, eventually attracting attention and reluctant praise from mainstream media and outlets normally hostile to our position and our very existence. Evidence if any were needed, of the resilience and stamina which exists within modern Irish Republican Socialism.
Republican Socialist Aid remains mobilised and active in this regard and will continue to be present wherever needed in 2021.
Mobilising against high rent landlords and gentrification
The latter part of the year saw IRSP activists in the six counties mobilise in response to appeals from working class families, renting homes from unscrupulous landlords and letting agencies who were charging extortionate rents as a means to force them from their homes in a long-term process of gentrification, which has decimated working class communities elsewhere.
These relatively new property owners – who themselves come from a nationalist background -, seek to amass obscene amounts of wealth by abusing traditional housing shortages in nationalist areas to drive up rents to far above the local housing benefit levels. Leading to poverty, hunger and despair in the short term and the eventual gentrification and decimation of traditional working-class communities in the long run.
The IRSP sought to directly disrupt and prevent what was occurring via a campaign of direct action to highlight the individuals and agencies responsible for this shameful anti-working-class extortion.
The silence of local mainstream nationalist politicians in the face of our campaign has been deafening. Working class people will make up their own minds as to why and the IRSP will not stop until the rents are dropped.
Both the ongoing compliance in 2020, of mainstream nationalism in the face of slum landlordism, austerity and benefits cuts, and the failure of elected leftist parties to step up to the mark in relation to any of these issues, suggests what has been evident to many on the ground for some time.
IRSP, the only working-class alternative
The ongoing effectiveness, professionalism and attraction of the IRSP across Ireland, suggests that we have succeeded in the minds of the people (despite immense diversity) to uphold the legacy of James Connolly and Seamus Costello. A direct result of our being located within (as opposed to above) working class communities across Ireland.
That legacy and it’s enduring success has led not only to the introduction of new party comrades and structures to the IRSP, but to the welcome and heartening return of older party structures from across Ireland which had unfortunately been lost to us during the turbulent years of the conflict.
This development has made 2020 a fantastic year for the party as a whole and all members and supporters should, and no doubt do, take heart in that fact.
We would look forward to the challenges and ever changing political climate in which 2021 will bring, and our activists across Ireland are organised and equipped to extend our Republican Socialist ideology and activism in defence of the Irish Working Class.