The Irish Republican Socialist Movement formed up at Liberty Hall Dublin on Saturday 26th March 2016, to retrace the steps of our ideological forebearers in the ISRP and ICA and to mark and commemorate the centenary celebration of the 1916 Easter rising, paying tribute to all those who gave their lives for Irish Freedom and Socialism, during Easter week and indeed in every generation since then.
Up to seven hundred people assembled at Liberty Hall itself on Eden Key at midday, including a 20 member IRSP manned ‘Citizens Army troupe’ complete with full ICA period costume and rifles, for a March to the GPO, Head Quarters of the Revolutionary Irish Republic during Easter Week.
Members and supporters from all around Ireland and from the many phases of the modern Republican Socialist struggle formed up in procession, proudly joined by our Durham comrades, the veteran striking miners of the Hatfield pit, who, as promised returned to Dublin for the occasion armed with their iconic Connolly/Lenin ‘Follonsby Wardley’ pit banner.
On approach, the GPO and the immediate entrance to O’Connell Street had (prior in the day) been unceremoniously blocked off by crowd barriers, with Gardaí and Free State officials, keen that the territory of revolutionary Dublin be monopolised over Easter by those in government, obviously keen to carry on the revisionist narrative which has been played out to the people over recent weeks.
Yet on seeing the approach of many hundreds of Republican Socialists, and on the interest of throngs of people who were gathering to view the march and procession, Gardaí saw they had little choice but to stand aside and allow the march proceed to its destination.
At the GPO itself, the steps on which the proclamation of the 1916 Republic was proclaimed were adorned with wreaths from the Irish National Liberation Army and the Irish Republican Socialist Party, before the proclamation of Poblacht na hÉireann, was read aloud as Gaeilge by a Orlaith McIlroy of the IRSP Citizen Army Troupe.
Founder member of the modern Irish Republican Socialist Movement Terry Robeson, was guest of honour at the occasion, unfortunately in ill health and unable to address those assembled, his speech was presented to and read out by his long term comrade Tommy McCourt, himself a veteran activist of both the Republican movement and the IRSP/IRSM.
The crowd assembled were reminded of the material and political conditions which existed during Easter week, and of how the realities of that period were often referred to by those founder members of the IRSM who, while gathered in the nearby Wynns hotel, attempted in the mid 1970s to identify a principled class based republican course between the counter revolutionary position of the Officials and the purely national orientated politics of the Provisionals.
The IRSM faithful were reminded of how this attempt to tap into the potent combination of class politics and the national ideal brought upon the founder members of the IRSM a whirlwind of attrition, from the Free State, the Officials, the Provisionals and the press. Yet, amongst other political realities, the comrades assembled were reminded of how ‘Just as the men and women of 1916 were willing to give up their lives to take this country back, so too must we be willing to do so’.
IRSP Ard Comhairle member Martin McGonagle returned to the theme of steering the right course when he referred to Connolly’s vision of Republican Socialism and how it related to the foundation of the IRSM.
‘James Connolly was first and foremost a revolutionary socialist, but within the Irish context he realised that the freedom struggle had to take precedent at that time. We can clearly see that rationale in his last statement to the British court marshal which sentenced him to death. He continued… ‘As Connolly and his comrades in 1916 set the context that there can be no working class struggle without a national liberation struggle, that was the main tenet of Connolly’s politics in 1916 and it is still ours today. Our political outlook is moulded in the ethos of revolutionary socialism, without losing sight of the goal of a united Ireland who’s sovereignty is in the ownership of the people of Ireland.’ ‘We exist to bring the pillars of the Free State and the sectarian northern State tumbling down, to be replaced by a sovereign, Socialist Republic.’
The return of the IRSM and the Red Flag to O’Connell Street for 2016 occurred in a year in which the movement has undergone a great period of rejuvenation, and our Easter ceremony clearly gave a great lift to both onlookers and to the Republican Socialist faithful, upon completion of the ceremony the sense of high morale was palpable amongst the membership.
The Irish Republican Socialist Movement end this period of Easter 2016 confident that the faith has been kept and the next generation are fully briefed on their role.
(Video & Audio to follow).