Many hundreds of the Republican Socialist faithful assembled upon Belfast’s Falls Road today (Easter Sunday 2017) to pay tribute to Ireland’s fallen martyrs and the revolutionary dead from all generations of the Irish National Liberation and working class struggles.
In particular recognition of the 30th Anniversary of the attempted neutralisation of the Irish Republican Socialist Party, pride of place was rightly given to the families of those INLA Volunteers who in 1987, gave their lives in defence of the IRSP and the primacy of revolutionary democracy.
Despite frivolous warnings from the PSNI/RUC a young Republican Socialist colour party emerged into large crowds congregated at Dunville Park on the Falls Road, before marching towards a small gathering of close family and comrades of INLA Volunteers; Tá Power, John O’Reilly, Mickey Kearney, Emmanuel Gargan and Kevin Barry Duffy, who had gathered with portraits of their loved ones.
The families of the ’87 Martyrs were then invited to form up at the immediate rear of the colour party, followed by wreath bearers representing the many families of INLA and IRSP fallen from all decades of the modern Republican Socialist movement.
A new appearance from the recently formed ‘Jemmy Hope Republican Socialist Flute Band’ Belfast, was met with enthusiasm from all in attendance, while columns of IRSM ex-Prisoners and veterans from around Ireland formed up at intervals, interspersed with other attending Republican Socialist and Republican Flute bands from around Ireland and beyond.
Comrades from as far away as Sweden and France also joined in the procession which made its way up the Falls Road and into what can only be described as appallingly wet conditions and onto Belfast’s Milltown cemetery.
Upon entrance to Milltown it became apparent to all those in attendance that numbers had swelled to what may well have been record levels for a Belfast IRSM gathering, a fitting recognition of the determination of the ’87 Martyrs and all the INLA & IRSP fallen, who over the years imbued the wider Republican Socialist family with a spirit of eternal resolve and commitment to always bounce back, stronger than before.
With proceedings chaired by Belfast IRSP activist John Nugent, this theme of resolve was touched upon by main speaker Michael McLaughlin from Strabane, who (in reference to the ’87 martyrs) reminded all those in attendance that ‘we stand upon their shoulders’.
Comrade McLaughlin then went on to touch upon the resounding political themes currently emanating from the Stormont establishment and mainstream nationalist politicians, reminding those in attendance of the ‘hard border at the door of all working-class families’.
He stated ‘This hard border already exists due to British and European Union austerity measures all over Ireland, an uncomfortable truth for some. A most dangerous yet subtle hard border than has ever existed, a hard border that unemployment, poverty, lack of opportunities, underemployment, fear of eviction creates, a hard border that exists at the front door of the majority of homes on this island.’
Confirming that the IRSP would get behind any progressive efforts to end partition, he continued however ‘A merging of two corrupt capitalist states into one corrupt capitalist state is not good enough, the struggle cannot stop there’.
For Republican Socialist POW Jimmy McCafferty also gave what was a quite unique and personal rendition of the IRSP, INLA and H-Block roll of honour, paying attention to the individuals and how they died.
Comrade Canice Millen of the Republican Socialist Youth movement read out the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic, while Comrades Danny Morrison (Derry IRSP) and Gerard Murray (Belfast IRSP) read out statements of solidarity from both the Republican Socialist Associations of North America and Republican Socialist Prisoners in Maghaberry and Portlaoise.
Wreaths were also laid on behalf of IRSP and INLA structures from across Ireland.
In what was a deeply moving and personal gesture, long term Belfast Republican Socialist activist Fra Halligan also read his own tribute to the fallen INLA martyrs of 1987, addressing both the personal loss of the families and friends of the fallen, but also the counter revolutionary dynamic which lay behind the events of that dark period, stating firmly that (contrary to media spin) what occurred was not factionalism in any form, but a premeditated attack upon the structured of Costello’s Irish Republican Socialist Movement, an attack which has had failed and which (should similar circumstances arise) would surely fail again.
Overall, Easter 2017 was a special occasion for the Irish Republican Socialist Movement, a living tribute and testimony to the spirit ideals and resolve of their fallen comrades and all of Ireland’s revolutionary dead.