This years main oration was delivered by IRSP Ard Comhairle member and Trade Union activist Michael McLaughlin.
Comrades, supporters, friends, brothers and sisters one year on from the centenary of the 1916 rising we again gather to remember the sacrifice of all volunteers who fell in action in defence of the principles laid out in the proclamation of the Irish Republic.
In particular this year we remember our young volunteers who died in defence of the Irish Republican Socialist Party’s right to exist. We owe them everything and as a new generation of republican socialists step up to continue the struggle for national liberation and socialism it’s on their shoulders we stand, united and stronger than ever.
Our journey to socialism was a natural progression out of necessity, the jackboot of imperialist occupation was our introduction to the class nature of society. We were failed, we all, at some point, lived with the bitter taste of poverty, our opposition to the physical manifestations of imperialism awakened a consciousness that naturally led us to socialism. As our contempt for the establishment grew so did our understanding that to be truly free, to be truly liberated, means giving ownership of the nation to its entire people.
We seen a society built upon inequality and exploitation of the communities we grew up in, wage slaves, everyone broken on some level all disenfranchised but not powerless, never powerless. The strength that it took to stand up against imperialism, to agitate and strive to confront our oppressors on any level possible, this is the strength that is alive in the Irish Republican Socialist Party today and this is the strength on which the socialist republic will be built.
Real change will come from the streets. As its only by the active participation of the masses, the dispossessed and exploited, taking control of their own interests for the good of our entire class can any change worth fighting for be delivered.
The time for a debate on the type of Ireland we wish to create is here. An Ireland with universal participation in real democracy for all citizens, constitutional rights to work, to rest, to leisure, the right to a properly maintained and funded state health service, care in old age and in sickness, a right to housing a right to education, a right to freedom of expression and a right to privacy, the right to the freedom of information, freedom of assembly, the right to religious worship or to choose not to, the separation of church and state, the right to artistic expression, the protection of the concept of diverse contemporary family. These things are not bargaining chips between the working and ruling classes, they should be enshrined in a progressive collective nation’s constitution, not become a construct of the capitalist toll bridge society to profit the few.
As the political establishments on both sides of the border continue to fail workers, as we witness the commencement of neoliberalist divorce proceedings between the capitalist states of Europe, in this climate a momentum towards an Irish border poll is slowly but steadily growing, we cannot ignore this. A cursory glance around the island points us to the conclusion of a society deeply divided and polarised by class, a border poll is just one issue that needs addressed.
We are serious about our political aims and objectives. We are serious about a united socialist Ireland,this process starts by dialogue between all progressive forces on what type of Ireland we wish to create. The IRSP are ready for that debate. We will never be a barrier to any serious attempts to remove partition, we will stand shoulder to shoulder with all who strive to achieve this, we are willing to share the important lessons we have learned standing outside the Good Friday Agreement though striving for a peaceful resolution of the national question.
All over Ireland a war is waging between bosses and workers. Corporations interests are protected by the state and the media, natural resources stolen and sold to enrich the few. Benefits sanctions attack our most vulnerable while working conditions are slowly eroded. Our trade unions are under constant attack. We stand in solidarity with everyone in their daily struggles. We cannot beg for equality from either the British state or the Irish capitalist state, asking for equality from entities built on hegemonic inequality is a futile act, we must take back what they have stolen, our nation’s wealth, our dignity, we must revive the collective aspirations of our class.
A merging of two corrupt capitalist states into one corrupt capitalist state is not good enough, the struggle cannot stop there, we strive for a society grounded in Irish neutrality and in the vision of Connolly that will never capitulate to, nor serve, the interests of the most wealthy over the needs of Irish workers.
There is much talk of the re emergence of a hard border due to a British exit from the EU.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.
A hard border that prevents the active participation of citizens in society, a hard border at your own front door that breaks men,women and children, a hard border at your own front door trapping people in a cycle of debt and human exploitation. A psychological hard border that destroys the dreams, hopes, imagination and aspirations of our class to collectively achieve a society which protects people, not prosecutes, a society in which no man woman or child is left behind.
This year marks the centenary of the great October revolution. A time to revisit the spirit and determination of the Soviet people who created something unique, the world’s first socialist state, it’s a time to look at the similarities between the IRSP and the Bolsheviks. Both our political parties, although thousands of miles apart we cut from the same oppressed working class anti-imperialist and internationalist cloth.
Historically the IRSP, like the Bolsheviks had no problem in working outside the perceived norms of political activity when the situation dictated it. When seeking funding for their political activities both parties were not above engaging in proletarian expropriation. When facing the might of an oppressive imperialist state both parties were not above taking up arms against it. When facing reactionary counter revolution from within, both parties were not above physically confronting it in whatever way they seen fit. When facing a changing political climate both parties were progressive enough to change with the times.
As we move towards the centenary of the great October revolution the links between the 1916 Irish rising and the Bolshevik revolution are more intertwined than modern historians would like us all to believe.
Shortly after the nineteen sixteen rising a delegation of what were to become senior Bolsheviks arrived in Dublin from exile in London to learn the lessons from the Irish fight against imperialism. What they took away from revolutionary Ireland is all academic and up for debate. But Lenin said at the second world congress of the soviet international in nineteen twenties Petrograd that he considered James Connolly to be head and shoulders above above his contemporaries in the european socialist movement. Lenin said that the easter rising was a decisive blow against the power of English imperialism.
Comrades the complete and honest truth is a powerful weapon we must not ignore when we are confronted by the false propaganda churned out from the establishment. The very curriculum in our children’s schools is capitalist propaganda to create obedient lackeys, from the pulpit, newspapers, internet articles flows capitalist propaganda, it’s an instrument of their rule.
We have to break this cycle of lies we must continue to spread the message a that stable, sustainable, shared, socialist republic is in the people’s best interests, a free Ireland that belongs to them from Ballymena to Bantry Bay.