IRSP Easter Oration 2014
Comradaí agus a chairde (Comrades and friends)
Today we gather to remember and salute our fallen volunteers of the Republican Socialist Movement, who made the ultimate sacrifice in pursuit of a 32 County Workers Republic.
We remember with pride our volunteers in the Irish National Liberation Army, the political activists of the Irish Republican Socialist Party and all those who lost their lives in the struggle for national liberation and socialism who lie buried in this plot and in similar plots across Ireland.
Without the courage and bravery of those who went before us, the integrity of our political struggle would have long ago been compromised by pretenders to our political philosophy. Republican Socialism was always a separate political identity from the wider republican struggle, and our movement has always espoused a distinct political outlook.
This is what attracted activists of the calibre of Seamus Costello, Miriam Daly, Patsy O’Hara, Kevin Lynch, Mickey Devine, Dominic and Mary McGlinchey, Ta Power, Gino Gallagher and many more hundreds of men and women from across Ireland into the ranks of the Republican Socialist Movement. When they had a choice they chose the Republican Socialist Movement over all other reformist factions.
The men and women who founded our movement were the brightest and bravest of their generation. They had the potential to affect revolutionary change in Ireland but attacks on our movement from state and non-state forces stifled that potential from the very beginning.
Our task as we stand here to remember our fallen comrades is to rededicate ourselves to the political ideals for which they gave their lives: to again build a movement that can and will fulfil that potential to effect revolutionary social change.
Whilst we remember the men and women from the latest phase of the conflict, those who we knew personally as family, friends and as comrades, we remain mindful that Easter is the time of year when we commemorate those who fought during Easter week, 1916, in order to overthrow the British administration in Ireland.
It is a time when we analyse the current state of the Irish republican struggle and its ability to confront the forces of British and international imperialism. We also use this solemn occasion to review how we continue to prosecute revolutionary struggle in Ireland.
The men and women of Easter week emerged from the collapse of the reformist movement towards home rule and the radicalised working class movement that battled the bosses during the Dublin Lockout. This sowed the seeds of the working class resurrection within the nationalist movement.
From that fateful week Irish republicans have since strove to drive the British from our shores but we have yet to realise the aims of the 1916 proclamation. That is the unfulfilled potential which I mentioned earlier, the revolution that has yet to happen in Ireland.
The hundredth anniversary of the Easter Rising is fast approaching and now there is talk of members of the British aristocracy participating alongside the Free Staters during state choreographed commemorations in the Free State.
Likewise, during the recent events in England, the so-called leaders of Labour and of Irish Republicanism raised a glass to salute the reigning British monarch. This is the antithesis of Republicanism. No Republican would ever countenance saluting any monarch.
What makes this situation even more perverse is that Sinn Fein are attempting to persuade the people that this is a step on the road to the Republic. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is simply an attempt to normalize the current situation in occupied Ireland which is in reality far from normal.
Republicans need to return to revolutionary struggle which will not be fought within Windsor Castle or the White House. Mimicking British bankers and the aristocracy by dressing in their clothes and taking part in their antiquated customs will not bring us one inch closer to the Republic for which so many of our friends and comrades gave their lives.
We in the Republican Socialist Movement will not be taken in by this charade. The toasting of the British Queen by Martin McGuinness was not done in our name. To paraphrase the great French revolutionary and Republican, Robspierre: ‘The elite must perish so that the people may live’. It is necessary that as we remember our brave comrades that we learn from history and attempt to move towards a revolutionary situation.
We need to learn from mistakes of the past and build on solid political foundations that will provide a strong basis for political change. We have been doing just that. Over the past three years the Irish Republican Socialist Party has undergone great change and development. This is part of the continuing struggle for socialism in Ireland.
Without the primacy of politics for which many of our comrades died, the struggle would have little to no chance of succeeding. The primacy of politics as envisaged by our fallen comrade Ta Power is what will bring the entire Republican Socialist Movement into the future; to see socialism in the 21st century.
The cultural, economic and political forces of the right are fighting the Class War with every weapon they have at their disposal. Internationally, Imperialist powers are carving up the world’s resources and manipulating borders in a manner not seen since the late 19th century. People’s lives, their hopes and their very survival is being threatened by global capitalism.
The living conditions of the European working class are being driven down by so called austerity measures. The rich and the powerful are manipulating the crisis in the capitalist financial system into a crisis in public spending by bailing out financial gangsters and gombeen men like Sean Fitzpatrick and faceless bondholders.
In return we see the criminalisation of the poor and of the working class, forcing us to work for little or nothing more than the dole. Ireland remains as occupied as ever. Despite the spectacle of reconciliation, regeneration and rebranding exercises, British imperialism still physically occupies the six counties.
The Westminster government and the Stormont pantomime is intent on implementing an economic agenda that is creating a surge in unemployment, underemployment, deprivation and poverty.
In the 26 county area, the situation is no different. The IMF, ECB and EU troika controls the Irish puppet state dictating budgets and encouraging the privatisation of all the means of production, distribution, exchange and our natural resources.
The forces drawn up by capital against the Irish working class are immense comrades. They are using their vast wealth and influence to crush any and all opposition to their plans of domination. But Republican Socialists have never been known to shy away from a fight.
Our strength comes from the empowerment of our class by our revolutionary Republican Socialist ideology. Ideas are our greatest weapon and without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement.
Being of the working class means making Republican Socialism relevant in your community and I say here today comrades if you are not playing a positive role within your community you are not a Republican Socialist.
IRSP members and indeed other members of the wider left republican family in Ireland need to become leaders within the working class movements. We need to espouse our revolutionary politics of working class empowerment in our trade unions, our community groups and our residents associations and any other arenas of struggle which may open up.It is only by becoming of the people that we can advance their interests.
We stand here today commemorating all those Irish revolutionaries who paid the ultimate price for their love of freedom. From the brave men and women of 1798 to those of the Irish National Liberation Army, they are all equal in sacrifice. It is fitting that this occasion takes place on the anniversary of one of the greatest broad front actions in Irish history.
The 1916 Easter Rising was an event where the Irish Volunteer Movement along with the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the Citizen Army and Cumann na hBann came together in a broad front to fight against British imperialism. It united working class militants alongside progressive nationalists, radical feminists with the revolutionary republican tradition.
In 1974, Seamus Costello sought a similar unification of anti-imperialist forces through the broad front. In 2014 he IRSP still maintain this aim. What needs to be done comrades, on this the 40th anniversary of our movements foundation, is the reassertion of Costello’s anti imperialist broad front. The contemporary broad front should comprise the widest layers of progressive political and revolutionary social forces. This is what must be done after we leave here today.
We have a programme of oppositional politics and progressive alternatives. It is our intention to fight the hypocrisy of those implementing welfare reforms and exploitative ‘labour activation schemes’ by exposing the bosses behind it all while addressing the housing crisis and lack of services and opportunities for the youth which is leading to societal self harm and criminalisation of an entire section of the community.
The biggest lie in this whole austerity drive is shown when this militarised police force can demand more and more millions of taxpayers’ money all the while we are told that care for the sick and elderly must be privatised to cut costs.
Next month we will mark the loss of James Connolly a founding father of Republican Socialism who was the last of those who rose during Easter Week to be executed on the 12th of May 1916 whose words I will now finish on:
Revolution is never practical – until the hour of the revolution strikes. Then it alone is practical, and all the efforts of the conservatives and compromisers become the most futile and visionary of human imaginings.