Statement from the leadership of the Irish National Liberation Army
On the issue of weapons held by the INLA
The Irish National Liberation Army, as part of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement, was formed in December 1974 in order to bring about a 32 County Socialist Republic on the island of Ireland. Since then many sacrifices were made by our volunteers, dozens were killed and many hundreds jailed and exiled as a result of their revolutionary activity. We would like to commend our volunteers past and present, for their courage and steadfastness in the face of overwhelming odds and adversity. At various stages during the conflict the volunteer soldiers of the INLA took the war to the heart of the British establishment and to their military, political and capitalist apparatus in Ireland.
Our actions helped bring an end to Unionist one party rule in the six counties and like all other parties to the conflict our members have suffered, have been killed, imprisoned, died on hunger strike and marginalized – but never broken nor defeated. We pay tribute to our fallen comrades who gave their lives in the struggle, we also pay tribute to their families and share their pride and sorrow. We also salute the courage and steadfastness of all of our supporters who risked and sacrificed so much.
The nature of the conflict in the north of Ireland for a generation dictated that armed struggle was the only option available to those who wished to bring down a corrupt and stubborn regime and to remove the British occupation from Ireland and we make no apology for our part in the conflict. We believe that conditions have now changed in such a way that other options are open to revolutionaries in order to pursue and ultimately achieve our objectives.
Revolutionaries must continually analyse and adapt to the prevailing conditions of the day. To fail to do so will ultimately mean that the failures of the past will be repeated. James Connolly said in 1915; “We believe in constitutional action in normal times; we believe in revolutionary action in exceptional times.” We do not see the continuing occupation of the six counties as acceptable and no nation should be occupied by any foreign imperialist state but we do believe that the retention of INLA weapons at this time clearly alienates a large section of the working class on the island of Ireland from the struggle to build socialism. We see it as our duty as revolutionaries to persuade the working class that there exists massive benefits in embracing socialism and building a republic that embraces all the children of the nation equally and that is something worth fighting for. We believe that as the battlefield has changed then so too must our tactics. We will continue our !
struggle to bring about the republic for which so many of our comrades gave their lives pursuing.
The circumstances which brought about the need for armed conflict have changed radically. We, along with other republicans, can claim some credit for the progress that has been made. In particular the recent decommissioning of loyalist weapons can be traced back to the INLA’s imaginative “no first strike” policy of 1994.
The INLA have now been on cease-fire for almost twelve years and in recent times has been engaged in a process of in-depth consultation and collective debate, locally, nationally and internationally. On 11th October 2009 the INLA announced that our military war was over concluding that the time was right to reaffirm the primacy of politics and clearly stating that it is our belief that armed struggle is not a viable option at this time.
We can now also confirm that the INLA has disarmed through a joint facilitation group consisting of a local, a national and an international organisation. This was done in a process in accordance with international standards. The joint facilitation group included; Creggan Enterprises Derry, The Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Dialogue Advisory Group, Amsterdam, an international conflict resolution organisation.
We hope that this move will further enhance the primacy of politics as outlined in the Ta Power Document and that it will, in time, unite and advance the working class struggle in Ireland. We recognise that real, meaningful and lasting change will only be secured through radical political struggle from a united working class in Ireland. We remain committed to ending partition, eradicating sectarianism and uniting Ireland by building a viable working class alternative. We will seek to engage with all other progressive forces to work towards these ends. The volunteers of the INLA will not be found wanting in the continuing struggle for the liberation of the working class.
The INLA and the entire Republican Socialist Movement remains steadfastly opposed to the partitionist and sectarian set-up in the six counties. These moves by the INLA do not mean an acceptance of either Stormont or the political, policing and judicial structures in the north. We will continue to oppose these structures as vigorously as before through the primacy of politics. We remain steadfastly opposed to any British colonial policing in any part of Ireland.
Whilst our tactics are changing our objectives remain the same – the establishment of a 32 County Socialist Republic envisaged by generations of Republicans from Liam Mellows to Ta Power and from James Connolly to Seamus Costello. The tradition of Irish Republican Socialism remains and is growing. We are convinced that the northern state as a political entity is unworkable and we remain opposed to the Good Friday Agreement and it’s institutions which perpetuate sectarianism and division among our class.
All our comrades and activists will prosecute our struggle politically and with the same vigour with which they fought the British state in Ireland. We have fought the long war, let us now fight for an independent Irish society based on the principles of equality, social justice and lasting peace.