Main IRSP and éirígí Easter orations, Belfast, April 8 and 9

Below are orations from both events.  Originally I had them up as two separate posts but, within a couple of hours, I thought “bugger it, just because they chose to have separate events doesn’t mean those of us who favour socialist-republican co-operation should treat them separately”, so I’ve combined them.  I also intend to do a short write-up on the Easter commemorations. The IRSP main oration appears before the éirígí one purely because it came first chronologically.

It’s certainly very encouraging to see excellent turnouts for both events but, who knows, maybe next year socialist-republicans will be able to organise a combined event, making it even more attractive and showing our side can work together where it makes sense to!  Live in hope . . .

 

Below is the oration delivered by Jason Nott of Cork IRSP at the party’s annual Easter 1916 Commemoration in Belfast on Easter Sunday, April 8:

Comrades,

today we gather to remember and salute the memory of our comrades who made the ultimate sacrifice in pursuit of a 32 County democratic Irish republic. An Irish Republic based on the finest principles of socialism – freedom, equality and fraternity.

We remember with pride those volunteers of the Irish National Liberation Army and their comrades in the Irish Republican Socialist Party who lie buried in this plot and further afield.

Without their intellect, their courage and their bravery the integrity of republican socialism would have long ago been consigned to history, but I am proud to say we are still here following in their footsteps.

We also send fraternal greetings to all imprisoned republicans, our comrades in Portlaois and to the republican prisoners in Maghaberry who are on protest at this time. Especially in our thoughts is Marian Price, the victim of a vindictive British state, and we call for her immediate release.

Easter is the time of year when we commemorate not only the political vision of the men and women of Easter week 1916, it is also the time when we analyse the current state of the Irish republican struggle and its ability to confront the forces of British and international imperialism in Ireland. We also use this sombre time to review how we as the Irish Republican Socialist Movement continue to prosecute revolutionary struggle in Ireland.

The men and women of Easter week 1916 tilled the land of the nation and sowed the seeds of working class resurrection, from that fateful week Irish republicans have striven to drive the British from our shores, we have yet to realize the aims and goals of the 1916 proclamation.

It is necessary that as we remember our brave comrades that we learn from history and attempt to build our revolution on a solid political foundation that will arm us with the tools necessary. For 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 for without the primacy of politics for which many of our comrades died the struggle would have little to no chance of ever achieving success. The primacy of politics as envisaged by our fallen comrade Ta Power is what drives the entire Republican Socialist Movement.

Whilst it is natural and correct at Easter time that our thoughts turn to fallen comrades and times past, it is also necessary that we plan and strategize for the future, if their lives are not to have been squandered on the altar of political expediency.

That brings us to where we are at today in the 21st century, a struggle that has been in the doldrums for nearly two decades as those who have signed up to the Good Friday Agreement pursue their partitionist agenda. The failure of other republicans to fully understand the nature of this failure adds to the political conundrum that we face today. As Irish Republican Socialists we fully understand the nature of that failure, ‘as the absence of war does not necessarily mean peace, the lack of political integrity cannot be covered up by the establishment of dysfunctional institutions such as Stormont and the Dail.’

Seamus Costello set out his plans for a socialist republic, his vision of a revolutionary working class political party, the Irish Republican Socialist Party. We are the genuine inheritors of the mantle of Connolly, Mellows and Costello and whilst we are humble as we don the mantle that has been handed down to us we take on the responsibility with determination, resolute that the IRSP will continue to develop our politics and strategies that can lead us to victory.

The IRSP have studied the past and learned from it. We’ve seen our weaknesses and our faults but these are far outnumbered by our strengths and successes. We’ve re-organized and are building. We are building a formidable political organization that is led entirely by the ideals of the men and women who we today gather to remember.

In the past year the IRSP has built on our working class base and felt confident to enter a number of candidates in local council elections in the north and to work with others in the south.  Our intervention into electoral politics is not a sign of our acceptance in any way, shape or form of the continuing British occupation of the six counties; it is however a clear message from the republican socialist movement that we are no longer prepared to let our political message be marginalized or ignored. Across Ireland IRSP electoral intervention demonstrated that the IRSP have a credible working class message that we will continue propagate.

The leadership of the Republican socialist movement takes this opportunity to address our membership across Ireland and further afield, our supporters and the Irish working class in its totality- now is not the time for recriminations about the past, now is not the time for hankering over lost opportunities in struggle. We must keep building the revolutionary struggle in Ireland and we will be at the forefront of that revolution.

As we approach the hundredth anniversary of the 1916 rising it is important that we recognize the vision and commitment of it’s leaders, it is important that we remember all those brave Irish Republicans who have lost their lives in struggle for an Irish Socialist republic in the intervening years. It is our solemn pledge to their memory and vision to pursue our aims with the same commitment and determination.

As Individual republican socialists often we experience isolation and a lack of confidence because we ultimately struggle against the monolith of global imperialism and it is difficult to understand how we as individuals can impact on the enormity that constitutes global imperialism.

Worry not Comrades, every one of us is a revolutionary, revolution is in our blood, every day that we engage in revolutionary activity, every day that we spread the gospel of discontent, whether it be in the Unions, in the Residents Associations, in the campaigning working class action groups, is a day that brings the overthrow of capitalism one day nearer, do not fear struggle, it is the very life blood that revolutions are built on and the Irish revolution is no different.

Comrades, New fields of working class struggles are opening up in front of us. The current successful campaign of mass non-payment of the Household Charge in the 26 counties is an example of such new struggles. The reaction to this campaign which has seen well over 1 Million households steadfastly refusing to pay an unjust tax is a sure sign that the mood among the Irish masses is not one of conformity. The Irish working class today, just as it was in the period after the 1916 Rising, is revealing itself as fertile ground for the cultivation of discontent and the only true protagonist capable of delivering revolutionary social change. Our own movement has been and will continue to place ourselves at the heart of such struggles. The IRSP will continue to play a role in raising class consciousness and constantly seek to identify and play our part in the emergence of such new fields of working class struggle.

It is important that we live a revolutionary life as part of a global revolution; all of us have our part to play on the road to victory. Every day that we spread the republican socialist message is one day closer to victory.

Today we remember and salute fallen comrades, as the sun sets on today’s commemoration let us rededicate ourselves to daily revolutionary activity one and all, in the mould of Connolly, Mellows and all our fallen.

Let the fight go on.

The main oration at the éirígí Easter Rising commemoration the following day, Monday, April 9, was given by the party’s membership secretary, Daithí Mac an Mháistir.  Below is the text of his speech:

Ar dtús báire ba mhaith liom mo fhíorbhuíochas a ghabáil do éirígí Béal Feirste as ucht iarraidh orm teacht anseo inniu chun labhairt ar an ocáid cuimhneacháin seo ar Éirí Amach na Cásca 1916. Go raibh maith agaibh.

Is ollmhór an onóir dom bheith i gcroí-lár ghluaiseacht na Poblacta, Iarthar Bhéal Feirste, i measc laochra na saoirse – i measc shaighdiúirí na Poblacta on nglún seo agus ó na glúin a tháinig romhainn atá ina luí sa chré thart timpeall orainn, agus libshe, na daoine uaisle a choimeádann muinín sna cuspóirí álainne ar son a thug said a gcuid saol luachmhara.

Firstly, I would like to express my sincerest thanks to éirígí Béal Feirste for inviting me here today to speak on this the occasion of the commemoration of the 96th anniversary of the 1916 Rising.

It is a true honour to be here in the heart of Republican West Belfast amongst the heroes of Ireland – amongst the martyred soldiers of Ireland from this and previous generations who are buried here in the hallowed grounds of this cemetery – and amongst you, the noble, risen people who have kept faith with the objectives for which they gave their precious lives.

I would particularly like to take this opportunity to salute the memory of Volunteer Daniel Burke, of the Irish Republican Army’s Belfast Brigade, 1st Battalion, who died on active service on this day in 1974.

We come here today on this Easter Monday not alone to reflect and remember, but to recommit also.

While it is important to reflect upon and remember the heroism and sacrifice of those we are gathered here to commemorate, what is required more than anything today is that we recommit to strive and struggle in whatever way we can for the realisation of the Irish Socialist Republic that the Easter Rising in many respects proclaimed.

It is for this objective and nothing short of it that Ireland’s pantheon of freedom fighters fought and died throughout the last hundred years.

Re-committing ourselves to this objective is the only form of homage appropriate to the memory of those who fell in that fateful week in 1916, and in all subsequent periods of struggle for Irish freedom.

Ireland is not free, and recommitting ourselves to actively struggling for its freedom is the only logical way to conceive of this objective being realised.

It will not fall from the sky, nor will it be achieved through wishful thinking or attempts to kill unionism with kindness. Neither will it be achieved by the donning of sackcloth and ashes, or by talk of reconciliation with the forces of reaction.

Given the fact of the ongoing occupation of the six-county area and the catastrophic effects that the crisis of capitalism is having on people right across Ireland, it should be self-evident to all right thinking people that the goal of revolution in Ireland is as justified and necessary today as it ever has been. It is certainly the case that more and more people are coming to believe this.

In recognition of this reality, it is essential that we prepare our forces in earnest for the coming period of struggle before us. The class struggle is at its most heightened in decades. The battle lines are drawn very clearly for all to see between the ‘masters of the universe’ and the ‘wretched of the earth’.

We must prepare our forces well because we have ‘a world to win’ and our enemy is strong.

We must redouble their efforts to build a revolutionary movement that is capable of sweeping away once and for all the rotten edifice that is the political and economic system in Ireland, north and south. In this regard we are firmly of the belief that the primary, and as yet still elusive, objective of the glorious Rising of Easter week – that being the liberation of the people of Ireland – is impossible under capitalism.

In this regard, we are firmly of the belief that is impossible to talk of freedom under capitalism.

It is our firm belief also that we will have to fight is we are to successfully achieve our primary objectives of removing the British presence from Ireland and casting off the scourge of capitalism once and for all.

It will fall upon people just like those of us gathered here today to step into the breach and do the fighting – it will be people like us who come from the revolutionary Fenian tradition who will fight for Ireland’s freedom, or it will be no-one. It has always been this way.

Just as the men and women of 1916 struck out for Irish freedom, so too will this generation have to.

To come here and commit to do anything less or anything different than struggle for full Irish freedom would be an affront to the lessons and legacy of 1916, and to the memory of all those interred here.

By our deeds and actions we must show that we are as worthy of belonging to the same august tradition of service to the cause of Ireland’s freedom and the exaltation of its people as the martyrs we remember here today proved themselves to be.

If, as James Connolly noted, “The national movement of our day is not merely to re-enact the old sad tragedies of our past history, it must show itself capable of rising to the exigencies of the moment.

“It must demonstrate to the people of Ireland that our nationalism is not merely a morbid idealising of the past, but is also capable of formulating a distinct and definite answer to the problems of the present and a political and economic creed capable of adjustment to the wants of the future.”

In this respect we must set ourselves apart from those who pay lip service to the true meaning of 1916.

We must show the people that we are deadly serious in our commitment to a Socialist Republic, where our socialism will in practice equate to “the application to agriculture and industry; to the farm, the field, and the workshop, of the democratic principle of the republican ideal”, and not merely some vacuous, empty rhetoric about an ‘Ireland of equals’.

We are entering into a period of historical commemoration of the centenaries of some of the formative events of the last hundred years of Irish history, the 1913 Lock-Out and 1916 of course being two of the most significant for socialist republicans.

You can be assured that the establishment and the political parties that support and defend it will each vie to appropriate the legacy of the revolutionary period that spanned the years from 1913 to 1921.

Well. Let me say one thing with absolute certainty.

The volunteers of Easter week would be scathing of the hypocrisy of those who claim to be Republican yet practice politics that see them supporting a British police force that harasses Irish republicans preparing to remember their dead, as happened to éirígí activists here in this city and in Newry in the last week.

They would be scathing also of those who “bubble with love and enthusiasm for ‘Ireland’, and can yet pass unmoved through our streets and witness all the wrong and the suffering, the shame and the degradation wrought upon the people of Ireland, wrought by Irishmen upon Irishmen and women, without burning to end it”.

They would be scathing too of so-called socialist republicans who endorse Tory slave-labour ‘workfare’ proposals from the vantage point of their Stormont ivory-tower committees.

These people are, are Connolly declaimed them to be, frauds and liars in their hearts.

We however know what we are. We are of the same faith as those who gave their lives in pursuit of the noblest of causes.

We have remained true to the fight to free humanity for evermore from the bonds of oppression and injustice.

Of 1916 it is indeed no exaggeration to state that ‘never had man or woman a grander cause, never was a cause more grandly served’.

Never was there a grander cause than the cause of freedom. Never was it more grandly served than by those who are buried here in Milltown cemetery.

The martyrs of the Irish freedom struggle, of 1916 and beyond, died that the nation might live; that the British political and military presence in Ireland be obliterated; that the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland be vindicated and made a reality; that a free People’s Republic take its rightful place amongst the nations of the world.

They have set the benchmark for all of us in struggle. Their sacrifice is an enduring reminder of the lengths that we must be prepared to go to in resisting that which is wrong and in attempting to bring about that which is right.

Their example is a testament to the fact that there can never be compromise with imperialism and occupation, and that there can never be compromise with injustice.

Their memory steels those of us who are dedicated to rebuilding a revolutionary socialist republican movement in that firm conviction. It steels us, to paraphrase Bobby Sands, “to fight back our tears and scorn our fears, and cast aside our pain. For loud and high we must sing our cry, ‘A nation once again!’”.

I measc laochra na nGael go raibh a n-anamacha dílse uilig.

Beirigí bua agus Tiocfaidh ár lá.

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Posted on April 13, 2012, in 21st century republicanism and socialism, Commemorations, Democratic rights - general, Economy and workers' resistance, General revolutionary history, Irish politics today, IRSP, James Connolly, Political education and theory, Public events - Ireland, Repression and resistance in the six counties today, Seamus Costello, Social conditions, The road to the Easter Rising. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I hardly leave a response, however after reading through a great
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