Shinners seize the moment – socialist-republicans need a serious alternative

While the new Bourgeois Sinn Fein tries to wrap 1916 around itself, socialist-republicans urgently need a co-operative strategy

As the new Bourgeois Sinn Fein tries to wrap 1916 around itself, socialist-republicans urgently need a co-operative strategy

The bould Shinners have certainly stolen a march, a big one, on both Fianna Fail and the government by announcing their 100th anniversary celebrations of the Rising.  And that these celebrations are open to all.  In other words, they are effectively acting as if they are the government and the state and the inheritors of the mantle of 1916, all rolled into one.

Their programme begins early – it starts this August by marking the 1915 funeral of Fenian O’Donovan Rossa, one of the events that showed the size and power of the Irish Volunteers (the Citizen Army also took part).  And, of course, it was at Rossa’s funeral where Pearse gave his famous graveside oration, culminating with the words “Ireland unfree will never be at peace.”

An exhibition on the Rising, Revolution 1916 Eiri Amach, will run for no less than 33 weeks at the Ambassador Hotel at the top of O’Connell Street.  International Women’s Day, March 8, will be dedicated to the role of women in the Rising and the dual fight for the rights of Ireland and of women.  (Ironic, considering the Shinners tawdry shilly-shallying on the very basic right of women to access abortion.)

A visual spectacular is planned for the GPO, running the actual 100th anniversary of the dates of the Rising – April 24-29.  A 3D video will tell the story of the rebellion, with the GPO itself even appearing to come under shell fire and be engulfed with flames, as it was in 1916.

A number of other events, including a reconstruction of the Citizen Army marching from Liberty Hall to St Stephen’s Green, and events marking the Irish diaspora, are also planned.

Another way in which the wily Shinners have stolen a march on both the Soldiers of Destiny and the government is getting descendants of the 1916 leaders on board, most particularly James Connolly Heron, grandson of Archie Heron and Ina Connolly (one of Connolly’s daughters).

Sinn Fein is setting itself up beautifully for the next 26-county general election, establishing their authority as the alternative to the wretched Fine Gael-Labour coalition.  Indeed, by also stealing a march on the dreary, lack-lustre gombeens of Fianna Fail, they are very much positioning themselves not as a junior partner to the Soldiers but as their replacement.  They seem to be positioning themselves to be able to form a government on their own or with some other party in very much a subordinate role.

Given the degree to which Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fail have been discredited by the past six-seven years of vicious austerity, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that the Shinners could form a single party government in Leinster House after the next elections.  Difficult sure, but not impossible.

This would be Adams’ crowning achievement.  He may be taoiseach briefly, nicely setting himself up for retirement at Aras an Uchtarain.  The same road as De Valera, although his stint as taoiseach would be much, much briefer.

What is the alternative to the now thoroughly bourgeoisified Sinn Fein?

The gas-and-water socialists provide none at all because they haven’t a clue about the national question in Ireland and the historical significance and rootedness of republicanism in the Irish working class and rural poor.

Only the republican-left has any hope of offering an alternative to the new establishment-in-waiting, represented by Bourgeois Sinn Fein.

The socialist-republicans need to sit down together and start working on a serious counter-strategy for commemorating the Rising and taking the struggle for national liberation and socialism forward.  We need to think not of building our own little groups, but of building a socialist-republican (and thus revolutionary) party, like the one Nora Connolly and Mick Price advocated in Republican Congress in the mid-1930s, like the one Connolly tried unsuccessfully – because it was too early – to build in the 1890s.  We need a Connolly-type perspective for the 21st century and a revolutionary republican party based on that perspective.

Further reading: 1916, 2016: them and us


Posted on February 8, 2015, in éirígí, Commemorations, Economy and workers' resistance, Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Irish Citizen Army, Irish politics today, IRSP, Partition, Provos - then and now, Public events - Ireland, Republican Network for Unity, twenty-six counties, Women, Women in republican history. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. you might like to look at which analyses several video promotions of the 2016 celebrations

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