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32CSM Ard fheis 2023/24

Yesterday, 20th January, we held our annual ard fheis.

We reflected on the past year, debated different topics and discussed how best to move forward in the coming year.

The day finished with the election of our Ard Chomhairle.

The following is the address made by national chairman Francis Mackey:

We stand with the Palestinian people in their struggle for national sovereignty. We stand with the millions of people throughout the world who have demonstrated their solidarity with the Palestinian cause.

From this Ard Fheis we call for an immediate ceasefire to the hostilities as a first step in a resolution process to end the violation of Palestinian sovereignty.

We fully support the charge of genocide made against the government of Israel by South Africa at the International Criminal Court. It is clear beyond doubt that the government of Benjamin Netanyahu is set on a firm Zionist agenda of displacing the remaining Palestinian people from their ancestral home to make way for further illegal settlements and to anchor further the apartheid state in the region.

The absence of support for Palestine from the main Western powers further demonstrates their agenda of NATO expansionism irrespective of the global consequences. The conflict in Ukraine is one such consequence wherein right-wing puppet regimes masquerade as democratic governments. Equally the sabre rattling over the future of Taiwan continues to feed into armed global imperialism.

Let us make this clear, that as Irish republicans we fully endorse the single state solution of a Palestinian State predicated on the sovereign democratic inclusion of all peoples within its lawful borders. Rogue states and puppet regimes only prolong conflict as they run contrary to all semblances of natural justice and democratic development.

We call on all republicans and revolutionary socialists to adopt this position and to utilise all their resources and ingenuity to pursue this outcome. There is a groundswell of support for Palestine in Ireland as witnessed by the unprecedented turn out at the recent solidarity rally. Our role is to move that support beyond rhetoric and into the realm of focussed activism to pursue the single state solution.

Ireland remains partitioned. The politics of partition is becoming more normalised by the day. Even the failure of Stormont to convene is no longer seen as a damning indictment of the Six County entity itself but rather as an ever-drifting irrelevance of squabbling, parish pump politicians. The Statelet continues to function.

Threats of dire consequences if Stormont fails to sit is mere shadow boxing as the centre of gravity of political and financial control edges inexorably back to Westminster. And in the absence of any coherent republican opposition, we will become bystanders to the solidifying of British rule in Ireland.

In the Twenty-Six Counties electoral politics is absorbing the Sinn Féin surge as the predictable flip-flopping on pressing issues exposes them as dancers to the opinion poll tune. The abandonment of republican and socialist goals, lauding EU imperialism, the slippery slope to NATO membership, generous Corporation Tax rates for the multi-nationals, the never-ending litany of sell out.

Nothing of note will change for the working class and the green clamour for a Border Poll will recede, wrapped in the empty rhetoric of building relations between the two communities.

The question of immigration has the potential to polarise opinion even within republicanism. As communities struggle to come to terms with an immigration system bereft of any transparency or consistency the lazy labelling of their concerns as right wing posturing is extremely damaging and counterproductive.

Naturally such an issue will attract right-wing elements, but republicans must not fall into the trap of fighting the wrong enemy whilst the State’s immigration debacle proceeds under the radar with a compliant State media staying tactically quiet.

Shouting slogans across police lines is a poor substitute for developing a clear and coherent policy that addresses the totality of the immigration issue based on realities and common sense.

We are not always authors of our own destinies. And at times throughout republican history external factors have forced republicans to internal observations and scrutiny. Perhaps these events are a case in point.

Irish republicanism is in a poor place. We have known this for some time. Can we now grasp this opportunity to demonstrate a maturity in common purpose by developing together a comprehensive position on this vexed and most exploited issue?

And in so doing can we kickstart a process of developing a republican policy programme across a wide range of issues that sets us apart from the conformists?

We have missed too many opportunities to advance republicanism to the extent that a pattern of failure has become the norm. The disarray caused by Brexit was fertile ground for republicanism but not one credible seed was sown.

Our inability to articulate an alternative to a failed Stormont, to influence our communities to a more radical approach beyond the Good Friday Agreement, speaks volumes of our political credentials.

I can only reiterate what we stated in our New Years Statement.

For Republicans 2024 should be the year for joined up thinking rather than a range of small organisations saying the same things. We have to challenge the political parties on their failings and their failure to protect the rights of their fellow citizens and we need the republican position articulated in towns and villages across Ireland.

Our door remains open. Our children, our grandchildren deserve better.

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