A chairde, on behalf of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement we send from this Árd Fheis revolutionary and solidarity greetings to all people’s struggling for their national sovereignty and the inherent human rights which that entails. We extend solidarity to all political prisoners who are incarcerated for pursuing such rights and we call for the immediate end to internment in this country.
We especially send fraternal greetings to the people of Catalonia who have witnessed the savage and disgraceful imprisonment of those who organised and delivered their democratic mandate for Catalan national sovereignty. The plebiscite, and how it was brought to pass, holds valuable and critical lessons for other similar struggles, not least here in Ireland where the question of referendums looms large in the current national narrative.
We are also deeply moved by the plight of the Kurdish people, so shamefully betrayed by the imperial powers currently ravaging the resources of the Middle East. We support fully their struggle for a sovereign homeland and offer whatever support and aid we can proffer to them.
The Palestinian people of Gaza continue to resist the oppressive stranglehold perpetrated against them by the State of Israel. Their struggle is an inspiration to similar struggles throughout the world. We applaud, and continue to support, the BDS Movement in its international efforts to exert maximum pressure on Israel to end its oppression of the Palestinian people and to comply with International Law.
We call for a complete end to British Parliamentary activity in Ireland and for an immediate end to the violation of our national sovereignty. We once again re-assert that the sovereignty of the Irish people is inalienable and indefeasible, and this unassailable fact can be the only basis for peace negotiations to end the Anglo-Irish conflict.
According to the so-called peace process settlement, the guarantee of birthrights in Ireland to Irish citizenship and identity is, by adjudication of a British court, a fallacy. The presumption of being Irish by birth in British occupied Ireland is now exposed as an emotional flaw rather than a legal fact. Like cross border bodies, the so-called all Ireland dimensions of the Good Friday Agreement were nothing more than a green veneer to give the illusion of Republican gains.
And this ruling exemplifies the difference between British and Republican negotiators when it came to constructing the Belfast Agreement. Dublin and London where at one in protecting the border, because for them the constitutional question was settled under the terms of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921.
Their dual aim was to politically destroy the republican position by outmanoeuvring republican negotiators into conceding that armed struggle had no legitimate basis. The core strategy of both governments was to focus on securing a ceasefire, not to instigate negotiations to a political settlement, but to inextricably link the pursuit of Irish national sovereignty to the absence of peace in Ireland.
In a strategic turnaround, the British occupation of our country was no longer to be seen as the root cause of the conflict but rather the illegal failure of the Irish people not to accept its legitimacy. This was the premise upon which the Provisional IRA’s 1994 ceasefire was called. And because the ceasefire could not be broken on the issue of British occupation, but only on the manner of how that occupation was administered, the Irish Republican Army was reduced to the role of Sinn Féin’s militia and the armed representative of that party’s electorate.
The route to the talks table was beyond the scrutiny of the Republican base and also the rank and file. The extent of this exclusion was made manifest when the 1994 ceasefire was called. The expectations of those republicans who cavalcaded down the Falls Road were clearly at odds with the reality known to those who addressed them. The long road to victory was replaced with the British Intelligence road to defeat.
It has since been revealed that the then Provisional Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams, was tutored in negotiations tactics with the British by senior Dublin diplomat Michael Lillis, who was the senior representative Irish Official at the Maryfield Secretariat, established under the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1985. That agreement had the sole purpose of bolstering the position of constitutional nationalism against the focussed and determined goals of Irish separatism.
What could republican negotiators hope to gain from the experiences of a man such as Lillis, who never once in his diplomatic career asked the British to depart from Ireland? Yet Republicans were told, prior to the ceasefire, that a pan-nationalist front had been achieved. Are we to conclude that a central plank of this front’s strategy had no intention of ever asking the British to depart either? Precisely whose strategy was being played out here?
How is it that when addressing republicans publicly Mr. Adams forgot to inform us that the text he uttered was drafted by British tacticians precisely for the purpose of selling a complete and utter sell-out of the republican position? It now appears obvious that the strategic driving force behind the Armalite and Ballot Box strategy was the dual advice of British Intelligence and Free State Diplomats.
It can now be stated, with absolute certainty, that the secret contacts between republican leaders and British security officials, before, during and after the Belfast Agreement, were a deliberate intelligence gathering exercise on behalf of the British which culminated in the complete dismantling of the Provisional Movement both in terms of political direction and military capability.
The magnitude of this complete rout can only be explained by collaboration at the highest level in Irish republicanism. Worrying still, is that the longevity of this collaboration places it in the realm of the willing, as opposed to the coerced. This deeply unpalatable truth must now be confronted by all republicans, regardless of group affiliation, because it constitutes the core substance which determined, not only our defeat but also our direction on how we re-constitute the republican struggle.
In conjunction with security force collusion with loyalist paramilitaries, republican collaboration was firmly a part of the systemic use of murder by the British authorities in Ireland to secure British interests in Ireland. And as with the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, this systemic murder campaign was not confined to the Six Counties alone.
The toxic route to Good Friday is what will make it wholly unsustainable. But it equally condemns to inevitable failure any re-packaging or re-branding of the Provisional model as a vehicle to move us forward.
As Irish republicans, we cannot possibly offer a credible alternative if we are unable to expose the failures and deceptions of the past. Because if we cannot perform this task how can our people have confidence in us that we will not lead them down the same failed path?
The questions that must be asked, and answered, are these: For what died the sons of Roisin? For what killed the sons of Roisin? How, after more than three thousand deaths, thousands of years of incarceration, countless life-changing injuries, scores of suicides and addictions and the destruction of homes and families, was a political settlement reached that did not require any of the above to achieve?
There can be no revisionist icons beyond scrutiny. There is no one instance of betrayal. This toxic rot was systemic and needs to be fully exposed so that the politics it spawned can no longer continue to do injury to our national sovereignty.
Peace is laudable, but justice and sovereignty are essential if conflict resolution is to be truly realised. The challenge that now confronts Irish Republicans is how we influence the politics of that reality without resorting to irrelevant slogans and historical posturing. I invite all republican leaders to sit down as equals, and without labels or agendas, to explore the idea of a community-based inquiry process. Such a process will be tasked to fundamentally explain how, in the words of Johnathan Powell, Tony Blair’s Chief of Staff, ‘that republicans gave away so much in return for so little’.
There exists an onerous responsibility on today’s republicans to engage with our communities, the front line communities in the war, to seek the answers as to why the great sacrifices they endured came to nothing because certain republican leaders chose the word of British Intelligence above the committed beliefs of the republican people. And this inquiry is not solely confined to Ireland. Those whom we know were compromised were sent abroad to pursue an agenda that Republican support groups would ‘toe the line’ and any objectors were to be maligned and sidelined. If such activities and direction were against the interests of British Intelligence they would not have allowed their agents to play a role in them. But we now know that they did.
This nettle needs to be grasped!
The Brexit saga continues to challenge all sections of our people not least our unionist neighbours. And like ten years previously, when we submitted to Unionist leaders our pragmatic analysis as to where best their future lies we do so again today. The British Prime Minister lied to you. The deal he struck with the EU casts unionists as second class citizens within the UK. Parliamentary arithmetic cannot resolve the core contradiction in the unionist position which pledges loyalty to something it will never trust.
We ask you again, as a prudent measure for your communities, to sit down with us and plan a shared future in a sovereign Ireland. As political leaders, you have a duty of care to your communities to properly prepare them for the inevitable constitutional changes that are to come.
In his complete turnaround from the assurances he publicly pledged to you the British Prime Minister cast all of the people of the Six Counties as irrelevant to his vision of where he wants to take British nationalism. The threat of loyalist unrest against these political developments, mooted to exert political influence, begs the question: who will this unrest be directed against? Irish republicans have not lied to you. The broader nationalist population have not lied to you. The Dublin Government have not lied to you.
Are we to witness, yet again, the political leadership of Unionism exploiting the fears of working-class loyalists to promote the political and financial welfare of the same leaders who have vowed to abandon them in the event of Irish unity coming to pass?
Comrades, our analysis is prescient but our organisation is weak. And this is true of Irish Republicanism in general. We can end this state of affairs for no other reason than no one will end it for us.