Monday, April 27, 2009

National 1916 Commemoration 2009

32CSM Easter Oration

On behalf of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement I would like to welcome you all to Arbour Hill Cemetery. I wish to thank the National 1916 Commemoration Committee for their efforts in making today a fitting tribute to the men and women of Easter Week. I would also like to congratulate, and pay tribute to, all those republicans who marked the 93rd anniversary of the Easter Rising with dignity, principle and a clear understanding of what those in 1916 died for. Our annual commemoration of this seminal event has moved beyond a simple remembrance ceremony. It is now an event which we use to measure our political gains in the previous year. And although there would be a temptation to gauge that measure in terms of our physical growth we have a more certain criteria which can tell us how far we have travelled. The howls of cant and hypocrisy from governments and establishment nationalists directed against us grow louder as we grow stronger. The more desperate their accusations against us the more evidence we see of the sure inroads we have made against them. Let us stay the course. And we do this not by responding in kind but by responding with our political analysis and our activism. We have no need to stoop to their level because republicanism has no place there.

There are those who would say we are traitors gathered here to commemorate the actions of traitors. Pearse and Connolly were deemed to be traitors because the British trenches in the Somme were filled with Irishmen deceived into thinking that fighting in the imperial slaughter of the First World War would lead to Home Rule. Pearse and Connolly said it wouldn’t, and they were right, but still they were vilified and executed. Ninety three years later republicans once again state that the Home Rule strategy will not deliver Irish freedom. Calling us traitors for saying so from the steps of Stormont, flanked by Britain’s head policeman in Ireland, proves we are also right. We are immensely proud to share the views of Pearse and Connolly.

Our role as republicans is to bring democracy to Ireland. We fight for democracy because democracy is denied us. Those that vilify our opposition to the current constitutional status quo because they claim the Irish people overwhelmingly voted for it cannot have it both ways. They cannot say on the one hand that the majority vote should be binding against us but subject to a veto by a minority on the island. They cannot hide behind the populism of a vote whilst negating the democratic effect of that vote. If the votes of the Irish people are to have any meaning then the British government must remove itself from that process so that an Irish government mandated by those votes can govern our country alone. This is what they fought for in 1916 and this is what we fight for today.

Once again British soldiers are being killed on Irish soil. Once again British soldiers are using Irish soil to train to kill in foreign wars. Once again establishment nationalists have moved to support the British regime in Ireland. Nothing has changed. Claiming that unity will be achieved by 2016 is similar to the deception employed to lure men to their deaths in the fields of Flanders in the lost hope of securing Home Rule. Nothing has changed here either. The men and women of 1916 fought for fundamental change. They were not reformists, but Irish separatists who articulated the basic republican message that our sovereignty is inalienable and indefeasible.

This year also marks the 90th anniversary of the establishment of the First Dail Eireann. The First Dail was the Proclamation in action. It was an Irish parliament of, by and for the Irish people. It declared our independence to the world and set about a radical social programme to cherish all of the children equally. It remains our blueprint for the future of our country and our people.

Our history is one of conflict because too often our history has been repeated. Political arrangements which usurp Irish sovereignty cannot lead to peace or freedom. Inherent in these arrangements is the attempted suppression of those who seek to defend our sovereignty. They murder us. They hang us. They intern us. They intimidate us. They malign us. It represents that familiar colonial chorus, ever desperate to maintain itself. Trading civil rights in return for recognition of foreign rule condemns our children to fight for that most basic of rights, their own freedom. The men and women of 1916 were not fooled or bought by the trappings of Home Rule nor intimidated by the forces of Westminster and her Irish lackeys. For them democracy meant more than an opinion poll rating or a gerrymandered election. The voice of the people can only be heard if it is freely expressed.

And this is the message which republicans need to articulate today. As republicans we need to put before the people our framework from within which Irish democracy can function without external impediment. We need to set our case against British occupation in a way which is relevant to our people’s needs today. Our aims cannot be solely the product of the past nor can they be a slave to that past. British reasons for remaining in Ireland will change according to modern British interests and republican strategies opposing these interests must adapt accordingly. But in doing so we cannot repeat the failures of history by compromising the legitimacy of our position for the appearance of short term gain. The British have no right to be here and our right to resist them is a matter for us to determine and not them.

We are constantly asked; what is your alternative? The answer depends on who is asking the question. To those who call us traitors we say; any alternative but yours. To those who call us anti democratic we say; let us negotiate without pre conditions. To those republicans who genuinely seek an alternative we say; let us construct one together. We must be clear that the Good Friday Agreement represents a significant defeat for republicanism. And in the face of this we need to be pragmatic and not reactionary. Recrimination is not an alternative. Working constructively together is. Along with other republican comrades the 32 County Sovereignty Movement has engaged in an initiative to forge a way forward from a unified republican position. The ideology behind it is the ideology of necessity. All republican banners are welcome because all republican banners are needed.

How we engage with the Irish people is as important as what we engage them on. From the outset the truth of what we say will be judged by the strength by which we say it. Eloquence and emotion are no substitutes to a unified voice. The politics of conflict resolution requires clarity to ensure that any resolution is just and democratic. Armed conflict is in existence because such a resolution has not been entered into. Neither republicans nor the British government can invoke the existence of armed conflict as an excuse not to engage in a process to find a final democratic resolution to the Anglo Irish conflict. We have to deal with reality as it is and not how we wish it to be.

Standing here in commemoration of 1916 let us invoke the clarity of the Proclamation as we now address the British government today. You must leave Ireland. If, as you say, you have no selfish, strategic or economic reasons for remaining in Ireland then there is no excuse for you not to leave. There is no problem in Ireland which demands your presence that the Irish people themselves cannot resolve. If you require a framework to allow you to disengage from our country we will construct one for you. But for this to happen you must go before the international community and renounce your claim to sovereignty over the Six Counties. A claim of sovereignty represents the bedrock of any strategic interest so let this be the basic test of your intentions.

We call on all republicans to realign ourselves around the securing of achievable aims. We have set forth a programme to rebuild the republican movement through political advancement. We have proposed that commemorating 1916 should be the annual barometer by which we measure our success especially in the run up to its centenary in 2016. Irish republicanism must be in a position on the occasion of this centenary to tell the Irish people that concrete political gains have been made toward making national reunification an unstoppable reality. The Proclamation is too important a document to condemn it to perpetual aspiration.

The Unity Initiative is the only realistic way forward. Armed struggle is a reality in our midst. We must address it for what it is, a symptom of the unwillingness of the British government to engage on the core cause of conflict, namely, its illegal claim to sovereignty over part of our country. For those who want armed struggle to cease they must come forward with proposals to address its cause. The politics of condemnation is a failed irrelevancy just as British micro Ministers are sitting in Stormont. The 32 County Sovereignty Movement have endeavoured since its formation to put such proposals into the public domain.

We sought a peaceful alternative through the auspices of the United Nations only to have that route disbarred to us when the US authorities, acting on influence from London and Dublin, banned our organisation from travelling there. But we are not deterred by this and efforts are underway to petition the Obama administration to reverse this policy. Because contrary to previous declarations made there, Ireland is not at peace.

There are now calls from different quarters to seek dialogue with us. There are those in the media who have advocated this course and there are those who think we should be dealt with as a security issue. But there are also those who make this call but who have no intention of following it through. This tells us that they cannot ignore us because they cannot ignore the cause of the conflict. In its recent statement Oglaigh Na hEireann spelled this out very clearly;
“History has shown us that compromise with the British on the issue of national sovereignty has always resulted in those who have compromised condemning those who continue to uphold and defend Irish sovereignty. Our struggle is against the British occupation forces and the administrative arm of the British government in Ireland”
The 32CSM have also made our position abundantly clear. We put forward our case based on its own merits. We stand over this, confident and prepared. We have no need to exploit the past efforts of high profile republicans to present an emotional aura to our view. We do not need to parade the contributions of individual republicans to the struggle just because they happen to agree with us now and then jettison them if they happen to change their stance in the future. Our position is based on reasoned argument and not personality. We hold no allegiance to a cult leadership but to the objective at hand. I make a personal appeal now to all republicans not to allow themselves or their contribution to the struggle to be hijacked by sectional interests who have only their own narrow agendas to fulfill. All those who have struggled, all those who are struggling and all those who will struggle are equals within that struggle. No republican has the right to say to another that just because they fought and did not secure the objective that nobody else has the right to continue that fight in a manner they deem imperative.

The 32CSM have sought dialogue with both governments, unionist and nationalist parties in an attempt to seek a peaceful way forward but these offers have been largely ignored. We thank all those who worked toward achieving this. And we say it again now; if you truly believe our position is so flawed come and tell us how, rather than grandstanding on media soap boxes. Our door remains open and we will not stop knocking on yours.

Comrades, the template of 1916 remains supremely relevant for us today. It was republican unity which drafted the Proclamation and allowed for the accommodation of its diverse views so magnificently. It was republican disunity which led to that fateful confusion on that day. They have given us the benefit of their foresight and the lessons of their errors. Let us leave here today all the wiser for both.

Beir Bua.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Prison Protest Set To Escalate

Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association

E3 Prison Protest to escalate.

The current protest by republican POW’s on E3 landing in Portlaoise gaol is set to escalate following a ruling that yet another prisoner has been denied temporary release by the Free State department of justice. Last week two republicans prisoners went on a no wash/dirty protest over the politically motivated denial of temporary release, more prisoners were set to follow but an agreement was made between the Irish Prison Service and the Officer Commanding republican POW’s to call a temporary halt to the escalation of the protest in order to see what moves could be undertaken to end the action by the prisoners.
Earlier today the OC of the prisoners informed the IRPWA that the Irish Prison Service had come back empty handed and another prisoner was denied temporary release. It seems that the Department of Justice and the Irish Prison Service are committed to the policy of confronting republican prisoners.
We have been informed that all republican prisoners on E3 will join the protest on Monday. The POW’s had earlier stated that they would stagger men in pairs until the whole landing was on protest, the OC has informed the IRPWA that this is no longer the case as the prisoners now see no merit in this course of action.
The IRPWA call on the entire republican family to support the men in their protest and to support the IRPWA in a series of protests they are now planning, we thank those republican comrades who have already come out in support of the POW’s.
The Department of Justice and the Irish Prison Service are making a grave mistake if they think they can call these man’s bluff and they are guilty of a gross underestimation of the Óglaigh na hÉireann POW’s resolve.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

POW Protest Portlaoise Prison


Protest on E3 Portlaoise Goal.

It is with great regret that the IRPWA call upon the republican family to once again support POW’s in their protest against the blatant injustice of the Prison system in Ireland.
The IRPWA have been tasked by the republican POW’s to state how and why this protest has occurred and to clarify the facts of this protest.
A protest is currently underway on E3 Portlaoise due to the suspension of the temporary release (TR) and compassionate release (CR) programmes. It is the belief of the POW’s that this has happened due to IRA actions in the occupied six counties, indeed the Irish Prison Service have indicated this much and one of their spokespersons has even asked the OC of E3 if he ‘Believed in the border’!
The situation at present is as follows: Two republicans prisoners (Vinny Kelly and Justin McCarthy) are currently involved in a no wash/dirty protest, NOT on the blanket as some have suggested. At intervals republican POW’s will join this protest until the whole landing is on protest , at this stage the protest will escalate.
The Irish Prison Service representative and the Governor have asked the Officer Commanding to reconsider the POW’s stance pending talks with the Free State government, the only concession the POW’s have been willing to make at this stage is to delay further men joining the protest for a short period to give them a chance to resolve the issue. It is the understanding of the IRPWA that this window of opportunity is fast closing and we would urge all those involved in the Free State government and the Irish Prison Service to make strenuous efforts to resolve this intolerable situation as soon as possible.