Sunday, August 23, 2009
A chairde on behalf of the National Executive of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement I welcome you here today. Bodenstown is a place of pilgrimage for Irish republicans. It is a place that reinvigorates us whether we march here in our thousands or in lesser numbers like today. This graveside has witnessed the words of many great republicans who struggled before us. It has witnessed great moments in the evolution of republican thinking. Alas, it has also witnessed the seeds of betrayal cloaked in green intentions. Today it is the turn of the 32CSM to add our analysis and views on how our struggle can be advanced. I am honoured to do this for you today.
As you are aware the 32CSM has over recent years redefined the role of annual commemorations from being events of reflection to being events of forward thinking and self criticism. The true lineage back to Wolfe Tone is to be found in the forward lineage to securing his objectives. Since we last gathered here our organisation has taken the struggle to our opponents. We have expanded our presence throughout the country and have been to the forefront in encouraging republican unity.
At the beginning of the year we launched our campaign against the Lisbon Treaty re-run. We acted early because we recognised our limited resources needed as much time as possible for our initiative to gather momentum but also to inject a republican take on the debate at the earliest opportunity. In tandem with this we sought dialogue with other republican and socialist groupings to endeavour to forge a united opposition so that our view on Lisbon would not be drowned out by the din of more moderate groupings. Our own efforts have borne fruit and we have accumulated an impressive amount of literature which we will be distributing in the run up to the October poll.
Central to our campaign against Lisbon is ensuring that sovereignty as it affects the Irish people in all its forms will be high on the agenda. The last campaign challenged all those opposed to Lisbon on the grounds of sovereignty violation to extend their opposition to its violation by London. An issue like this cannot be isolated from the broader political context. Partition, the theft of our natural resources and the financial scandals are all sourced from the same political mindset which now asks us to vote yes to Lisbon. I urge all republicans and socialists to form a common bond for this campaign and push for a No vote and then continue to push beyond that again to say No to partition. The republican voice will be heard.
In the Six Counties the twin strategy of normalisation and internment by remand continues. The 32CSM have been active against both. The Statelet and its political operators are desperate to convince people that the issue of policing is resolved and separate from the constitutional question. Nothing could be more inextricably linked. And thanks to our activists and comrades in the Unity Initiative we have politically demonstrated this by forcing the abandonment of several DPP meetings in the occupied area. We have challenged them from both within and without and our tenacity has exposed these bodies as toothless fronts of a normalisation strategy. I congratulate all republican activists engaged in these protests. Our efforts will continue.
I also at this point wish to congratulate the fighting spirit of our youth who have defended their areas against RUC backed loyalist incursions. In your determined way you have shown to the world that the Six Counties remains a war zone because the true cause of the conflict here was sidelined in the so called peace process. By your actions you have proven that that process is a sham. But what I want to say to you now is this; build the political alternative that your actions cry out for. Come into republican organisations and help us to put in place the alternative structures to partition. Compliment your resistance with a cogent political argument so that those who would attempt to criminalize you can be exposed as servants of the crown.
As Windscale was changed to Sellafield and Long Kesh was changed to The Maze the British tactic of rebranding its oppression to sanitise it continues. On the flimsiest of grounds Irish republicans are being routinely interned via a remand process. Terry McCafferty and Colin Duffy are examples of this oppression. We have embarked on a continuous series of successful pickets and protests to highlight their plight. But we may need to examine other options to bring this matter to a head. This policy is not confined to the Six Counties alone. In the Twenty Six Counties similar events have occurred. Republicans from Derry and Munster have recently been released from custody following lengthy periods of incarceration and stringent bail conditions. In the Munster case republicans who had been cleared by the appeal court were suddenly rearrested some months later and brought before the Special Criminal Court on the exact same charges from which they had been exonerated. This blatant attempt to secure convictions at any cost was even too much for the Special Criminal Court which was forced to concede that it had no jurisdiction to try the men because the appeals court had already dealt with the matter. Thankfully the men are now free.
We make mention of Michael Campbell currently incarcerated in appalling conditions in Lithuania. Again activists of the Irish Republican Prisoner Welfare Association have regularly picketed the Lithuanian Embassy in Dublin to protest at Michael’s treatment. Added to this is the current plight of his brother Liam Campbell. Having been rammed off an Irish road by British personnel he now faces extradition proceedings to Lithuania. In an absolutely disgraceful turn of events a court, calling itself Irish, whom Liam was before on the same proceedings, allowed a British court to take precedence where the welfare and liberty of an Irish citizen was concerned. It reinforces the historical correctness of those who opposed the 1922 Treaty with all their might. I take this opportunity to send solidarity to all republican POW’s and also to Pol Brennan who seems to have lost his long battle against deportation from the United States. Our determination to campaign on their behalf remains undiminished.
In Belfast, Derry and Cork the 32CSM joined with thousands of other Irish citizens in protesting at the Israeli invasion of Gaza. The invasion was clearly an exercise by the Israeli forces to punish the Palestinian people of the region for democratically electing Hamas as their political representatives. The invasion followed on from a policy of embargoes which were designed to keep the Palestinian people in subjugation but like all imperial powers they misjudged the resolve of an oppressed people. As in Ireland false agreements, bolstered by outside influences, will not resolve that conflict. Palestinian sovereignty must be given the ultimate expression of a homeland otherwise the conflict will continue. We are also mindful of spurious calls from these shores that the process which led to the Good Friday Agreement should be used as a template for conflict resolution. We say clearly to our Palestinian and Basque brothers and sisters this is not the way forward. Do not compromise on your right to sovereignty. Do not barter your right to sovereignty in exchange for cheap reforms or populist support. Our struggles are too historic and just for that.
Comrades the template for the republican struggle began with Wolfe Tone. A profound and insightful visionary he seen clearly the use of sectarianism as a means by which the British could divide our people and maintain their occupation. He argued passionately for the unity of Catholic Protestant and Dissenter not just to rid our land of the British Government but for all Irish people to live in our country in peace. The unionist identity with Britishness cannot be ignored but neither can democracy be usurped to accommodate it. There is a dilemma at the heart of unionism which republicans must help them to address. Unionism pledges loyalty to an entity it will never trust. And it is that mistrust which has led to its siege mentality.
In 2005 the 32CSM sent a submission to unionist leaders inviting them to engage with us on the future of our country. Thus far they have declined but our door remains open to them. Republicanism is open to political arrangements which gives voice to the unionist identity. Prominent amongst these is the Eire Nua proposal, a central tenet of Republican Sinn Fein, which the 32CSM acknowledged at our recent AGM as a possible working formula for a United Ireland. It is not cast in stone but it does demonstrate that republicans are acutely aware of the views of a million of our fellow Irishmen and Irishwomen whom we view as an integral part of the Irish nation. We will never look upon you as a reason to keep the Irish people divided as a flawed strategy to maintain a flawed peace.
Comrades I thank you for your activism over the previous twelve months. I adjure you all to redouble our efforts for the next twelve months ahead. Our historical leaders remain our guides but for now it is us who must make the journey.
Go raibh maith agat.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
Republicanism and Anti Facism
The recent vandalising of the Sean Russell statue in Dublin has again raised the spectre of fascism in republican minds. Russell has been accused of being a nazi sympathiser. This is nonsense, he was an Irish patriot who sought to aid his comrades in Ireland with material support. The regime that offered it wasn’t a particularly appealing one but those who would condemn Russell should remember that as late as 1939 the British government were cutting deals with the Nazis, sacrificing Czechoslovakia to the Germans and only declared war when eventually Hitler invaded Poland with whom they had a treaty. Sean Russell was not a nazi but those that daubed swastikas on the memorial to him have given us an opportunity to address the issue of republicanism and fascism today.
The history of republicanism and anti fascism is long and can be traced back to such men as Frank Ryan and Kit Conway who led volunteers to fight against General Franco’s fascist armies. This was a continuation of the fight against fascism that had been going on on their home soil against Eoin O Duffy and his Blueshirts. The Blueshirts supported the anti republican Free State factions and were reactionary, mostly middle class conservatives. The vicious street fights between republicans and fascists laid the ground for the men who would travel to Spain to fight with their international comrades in the International Brigades. The republican volunteers served bravely and fought honourably in the Spanish Civil War, unlike the 700 men who followed O’Duffy who made a nuisance of themselves and failed to make any headway.
The recent passing of Bob Doyle, an International Brigade veteran, was an event that brought the relationship between anti fascism and republicanism into sharp focus. The cooperation between republican and left wing groups in commemorating him was inspiring. It also served to remind us that we cannot stand idly by as republicans in these present times as the threat of fascism re emerges across Europe and Ireland.
The flip side of the relationship between republicans and anti fascists has always been the cooperation between fascists and loyalists. This relationship goes back 80 years as British fascists in the 1920s had set up in Co Down and cooperated with local loyalists in pogroms against Catholics. In the 1930’s Glaswegian fascists travelled to Belfast for the 12th of July to engage in sectarian coat trailing with their loyalist comrades. It is not surprising to find links between loyalism and fascism/racism/neo nazis, the ideologies are markedly similar. They preach superiority, hate and intolerance. In the 1980’s the UDA had strong links with the national front in Britain and NF members frequently attended Loyalist marches, fundraisers and concerts. The young Johnny Adair was an ardent admirer of the racist skinheads and fronted a skinhead band in his youth. National Front publications often expressed ardent support for Loyalist organisations and held fundraisers for Loyalist prisoners. In the 2000 Drumcree standoff around 20 Combat 18 members travelled from Britain to support the Loyalists.
In June 2008 republican graves in Milltown were daubed with Combat 18 slogans by Loyalists, further underpinning the growing links between the groups in recent years. The expulsions of Polish and Romanian families by the UDA has been welcomed by British fascists. Racist leaflets have been distributed in the Waterside with National Front type material, they also called for a shoot to kill policy on “dissident republicans”.
The rise of the BNP in Britain is cause for concern for the left across Europe who have seen the right on the rise in France, Austria and elsewhere. It is also a timely reminder to Republicans that the links established between Loyalists and far right racist gangs look set to strengthen in the years ahead. The sectarian attacks on Catholics will continue and will broaden to include immigrants as has already been seen.
Republicanism is based on inclusion for all, this must be the basis for our staunch opposition to all forms of racism and bigotry. In this we have allies within the anti fascist movement that must be utilised and aided. They are not the type to daub swastikas on statues of republicans, they have long sympathised with the republican struggle and the overlap of the two must once again be renewed.
The proliferation of far right groups can be attributed to mainstream political failure as well as economic woe. These are two conditions in abundance in Europe but also in Ireland. The time to stamp out fascist groups is in their infancy before they are incapabable of being destroyed. The defence of the working class by republicans has long earned a respect for our cause. This must continue. The war is not only being fought in the occupied Six Counties but also on the streets of working class towns and cities in the Free State. The excellent example set by republicans stamping out anti social behaviour should continue and be extended to include any emerging far right groups in the present or future. With solidarity will come victory.