[Marxism] Ireland: speech by new eirigi general secretary

Philip Ferguson philip.ferguson at canterbury.ac.nz
Mon May 12 22:06:14 MDT 2008

>From the ard fheis speech by new eirigi general-secretary, former IRA POW Rab Jackson: 

A chairde,

Go raibh maith agaibh as teacht anseo inniu agus as an tacaíocht a thug sibh i rith na mbliana. Feicim thart an seomra go bhfuil poblachtánaigh ó gach chearn den tír. Tá aithne agam ar chuid agaibh agus níl ar chuid eile. Ta fáilte romhaibh uilig.

Thank you to every one for coming today and for the support you have shown éirígí over the last two years. This room itself is a credit to such a young party and I see here today republicans from all over the country, young and old, some I know and some I don't.

You are all equally welcome.

There are a lot of things I could not have predicted in life and in politics. I couldn't have known when I became politically aware in my late teens, like the rest of you, that the political journey my life would take me on would be so broad, would be full of joy and pain, success and failure, and endurance.

And my life is average, if not insignificant in terms of the history of republicanism.

I have been shaped and changed by the conditions of my time. My opinions and views have been moulded by different events in my life. I am a republican, political ex-prisoner, who is as devoted today to the realisation of Irish freedom, as I was when I first involved myself in republican politics.

I could not have predicted the road that would unfold before us. I'm sure not one of us could. In forty years of war and struggle we have all seen much. Every generation in this room has been inspired by some event, or series of events, to become involved in republican political activism.

However, some of our people have become tired; some no longer have the enthusiasm or the energy they once had and that is understandable. We have come through one of the most debilitating and dis-empowering phases that republican history has ever endured.

For me, the last ten years of republican activism have been worse by far, emotionally and physically, than the ten years I spent locked up. And I am sure that there are many who feel the same. éirígí has been a political ray of hope in that time.

Looking around this room, it is clear that there are comrades and friends from all over this island who are not here. The reasons for this are many and varied.

We have to find ways to change that and to once again unite all republicans under a common banner.

I have engaged in many strands of the republican struggle, from war to prison, community politics to party politics. I have tried to play my part in the struggle to the best of my ability. My advice for any republican seeking radical change in Ireland today would be to knock on éirígí's door.

That's why I am here.

We in éirígí know well the nature of political struggle in Ireland. We have stepped out and established what I believe to be a disciplined, dedicated and determined political organisation, which is willing and committed to achieving republican ideals.

Yet in this sense we are no different to the litany of other small groups of people who, throughout the ages of human history and republican history, have taken a leap of faith and established and spearheaded a new idea.

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