Belfast's WolfeTone/McCracken cumann 32CSM held a wreath laying ceremony yesterday 4th May to honour all those who have gave their lives in the pursuit of Irish freedom. From the days of the United Irishmen, to the rising of Easter 1916 and so many other campaigns to the present day, the core message of Irish Republicanism has remained the same and the cause has always been the pursuit of our national sovereignty and self determination. The following unified message was read out across the country in the past few weeks at various commemorations and again in Belfast this week.
The greatest monument we can erect to our patriot dead is the sovereign republic for which they made the ultimate sacrifice. And in the struggle to establish that republic their sacrifice must be the driving force behind today’s generation.
The mantle of Irish republicanism can only be inherited by those who have ideas to advance it. This is the critical task that faces contemporary republicanism and today, republicans are engaging with each other in the development of the following ideas as a way forward.
We reaffirm the lawful assertion in the 1916 Proclamation that the sovereignty of the people of Ireland is inalienable and indefeasible. We also reaffirm our position that the continuing violation of that sovereignty by the Westminster Parliament remains the root cause of the Anglo-Irish conflict.
Let us remind ourselves and others of what was laid down so trenchantly on that Easter Monday morning and let us ask ourselves to what extent, if any, have these objectives been realized.
• The Irish Republic was proclaimed a Sovereign Independent State
• The Irish Republic was proclaimed sovereign and indefeasible
• The Irish Republic guaranteed the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland
• The Irish Republic promised to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all of the children of the nation equally.
It is a cause of deep regret to all true and genuine Irish republicans that we have been prevented from implementing these important and laudable actions. Prevented by foreign imperialism on one hand and by mendacious, greedy local interests on the other. This was the counter-revolutionary alliance which combined to overthrow the Irish Republic one hundred years ago. It is a right-wing alliance that remains in place to this day.
The violent imposition of partition in our country continues to be a crime against the democratic, cultural and economic development of the Irish people. All treaties and Parliamentary Acts, be it from London, Dublin or Stormont, that seek to sanitise the counter democratic function of partition, are culpable in that crime.
The narrative of partition has developed the insidious concept that there exists two Irelands on the island. In a grotesque contortion of democratic norms the constitutional future of our country is subject to a gerrymandered veto, under complete British legislative control. This is precisely what a Border Poll constitutes.
The fundamental counter narrative of Irish republicans is that there is one Ireland, and its constitutional status is defined in the first instance by our sovereignty, and that our governance is determined by one sovereign vote of the Irish people.
Just as at the beginning of the 20th century, when the rationale behind the granting of Home-Rule was not to give Ireland independence, but to keep Ireland within the Empire’s orbit of control so too today, faced with the inevitability of change, the forces of contemporary imperialism, Britain, the EU and the United States continue to ensure that Ireland remains a colony of the powerful.
In this project they have, yet again, found allies among the Irish. A coalition government in Dublin siding with NATO, beholden to foreign capital and rejecting any move towards ending partition. And a parliamentary opposition that is ambivalent about its relationship with the British Royal Crown.
More than ever the struggle for political and economic autonomy must become one. The Democratic Programme of Dáil Eireann was the social programme of the Irish revolution. Its core ethos reflected the political understanding of Pearse and Connolly, that the welfare of the people can only be secured in a sovereign Republic, where the people exercise democratic control over all facets of our society and economy.
The carefully fostered divisions that the British strategically engineered to maintain its occupation can only be addressed by our own revolutionary programme which sets out in clear terms the inclusive structure of the republican position.
We must recognise that these divisions are nurtured by partition, and in the event that the violation of our sovereignty ends, the legacy of these divisions will continue.
Irish national sovereignty is predicated on the two principal constituencies of Irish society, citizens and communities, functioning for their mutual benefit. The development of the infrastructure necessary to resource society must be in harmony with the structure and functioning of society itself.
It is imperative we recognise that in a post partition Ireland other divisions will remain in the geo-political sphere.
Political structures can address certain aspects of the rebuilding process but the social policy platform in an Irish republic must be structured along similar lines. It is essential therefore that republicans demonstrate how our social programme can function in such a republic.
The everyday concerns of the Irish people must concern Irish republicans every day. The core issues of partition, housing, health, education and the environment must have republicans at the forefront of every campaign fighting for republican socialist solutions in these fields.
All republican activism must have a national dimension because as James Connolly stated, “the re-conquest [of Ireland] involves taking possession of the entire country, all its powers of wealth production and all its natural resources, and organising these on a cooperative basis for the good of all.” There can be no partitionist solutions.
The language of republicanism must be the language of sovereignty. Terminology such as ‘Irish unity’ and ‘united Ireland’ are too vague in meaning and provide refuge for those who can use such terms for political effect but without any obligation to pursue them.
As we stand now Irish republicans must elevate our activism beyond simple protest and into the realm of radical and novel strategies which can effect real change. The inherent and insidious contradictions of partition must be exploited to the full so as to fatally undermine it at every opportunity.
Campaigns such as the preservation of the Moore Street Battle Site, currently under threat from corporate greed, must be radicalised to go beyond the historical dimension and be firmly focussed on securing the aims and objectives of those who battled there. Revolution does not belong to history, revolution makes history.
Thousands of our people, in each of our four provinces, are equally at the mercy of that same corporate greed of Vulture Funds and Banks wherein the fundamental need and right to a home is all but eradicated. The struggle for housing rights, the struggle against partition and the struggle to protect our history must all be complimentary to each other.
The fight against evictions and repossessions must also be radicalised: physically preventing them in the fenian tradition on as many fronts as possible but also utilising that struggle to generate a national momentum behind a policy that private property rights must be subordinated to the welfare of the public. Such a policy will not come out of Leinster House.
The ongoing social and economic marginalisation of our Gaeltachtaí in the 26 counties is mirrored in the Six Counties. As Irish Republicans the promotion and advancement of the cultural, social and economic life of our Gaeltachtaí must be a central plank in any programme for a Sovereign Ireland. This must be accompanied by the progressive and effective promotion and development of our language within wider Irish society in terms of education as well as within the wider cultural and social life of our people.
Irish republicanism is currently in a state of reassessment. It needs to be. A new political dynamic must be identified so that republican resources can be focussed on advancing our core objectives. This cannot happen in isolation either from each other or other political and campaign activists.
We continue to draw inspiration from generations of unbending patriots. From those who defeated the Black and Tans to the H-Block martyrs there is an unbroken line of resistance to the forces of imperialist repression and their capitalist masters.
From this bedrock of republicanism there has emerged a clear analysis of where we stand today and where we must aim to go in the future. We are able to identify the machinations of those forces hostile to the establishment of a republic in keeping with the vision of Tom Clarke and James Connolly.
We can honour our patriot dead in many ways, but the most effective way is to be effective ourselves in advancing the struggle for which they gave their lives.