IRSM Turns Twenty-Six

Danielle Ni Dhighe morrigan at
Mon Dec 11 14:45:06 MST 2000

10 December 2000

Irish Republican Socialist Movement Turns Twenty-Six

Today is the 26th anniversary of the founding of the Republican Socialist
Movement (IRSM). The IRSM is the combined revolutionary activists of the
Irish Republican Socialist Party, Irish National Liberation Army,
Republican Socialist Prisoners of War, and its support organisations
abroad, such as the Irish Republican Socialist Committees of North America.
Founded on 10 December 1974, it is the best embodiment in Ireland today of
the political tendency of which William Thompson, Fintan Lalor, James
Stephens, J.P. McDonnell, James Connolly, Jim Larkin, Peadar O Donnell,
Frank Ryan, Mick Price, Nora Connolly-O Brien were apart. It has produced a
number of visionary thinkers and people of action whose names are
appropriately added to those just cited, many now sadly torn from us
through what has been called the greatest level of repression ever directed
against any party in Irish history; people like Seamus Costello, Miriam
Daly, Ta Power, and Gino Gallagher.

The continuous growth the IRSP had experienced for the past half decade
continued during the year just passed. The IRSP gained new members and
developed new assets.  Strabane 's Teach na Failte office has also become
known as an IRSP office to the local community, and the community is making
use of this to seek the IRSP's assistance in their day-to-day difficulties.
This year offices will be opening in Dublin and Derry, and perhaps in Cork
as well.

The movement has erected a new monument to its martyrs in the Republican
Socialist plot in Derry, and impressive but tasteful tribute in stone to
our martyrs. The IRSP again commemorated our brilliant founding chairperson
and chief of staff, Seamus Costello's life and death in the service of the
Irish working class. The Easter commemoration this year was well attended.

All but seven RSPOWs have been given early release and are rejoining the
political struggle of the party, or at least a portion of them are. Dessie
O Hare is pursuing release under the GFA through the courts and at least
one other comrade will be released by mid-summer.  Yet, sadly, as we
prepare to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 1981 hunger strike, we
face a situation where once again republican and republican socialist POWs
are denied Special Category Status, as though the hunger strike had never
taken place. Patsy O Hara, Kevin Lynch, and Mickey Devine, who we remember
with pride, did not die so that we could watch political prisoners stripped
of their rightful status. The proper commemoration of the 1981 hunger
strike, therefore, must include efforts to see that the RSPOWs regain
political status.

In addition to six INLA prisoners being held in the six and 26-counties, a
seventh is fighting here in North America. Eddie John McNicholl, though
retired from INLA active service for over two decades, is being forced to
fight the US Immigration and Naturalization Service to avoid being deported
to Britain. This year we were able to get a commitment from the Friends of
Irish Freedom to assist Eddie John financially in regard to his legal
expenses, for which we are very grateful. In the coming year, however, we
hope to see Eddie John free and returned to his wife and children.

The INLA, having recognized the workers of Ireland's yearning for peace,
has maintained the cease-fire they called on 22 August 1998, in fact, they
have kept their cease-fire far better than any other organisation presently
on cease-fire in Ireland. Still, the INLA demonstrated its preparedness to
defend the working class nationalist neighborhoods, carrying out armed
patrols in North Belfast when loyalist in-fighting bled over and threatened
working class nationalists.

The IRSP held its third successful Ard Fheis since 1997, and the Ard
Comhairle elected at the Ard Fheis in October is highly representative of
the party and its greatest human talents.  The IRSP has shown its continued
superiority in putting forward bold and novel perspectives on intractable
political issues, such as its document on Community Policing and its
Non-Aggression Pact charters proposal, which will soon be re-introduced.
The IRSP is preparing to again contest seats in an election campaign,
though it was made plain at the Ard Fheis that party activists continue to
recognize the inability to find a parliamentary road to socialism, and
recognise that electoral participation is a question of tactics only, not
of principles. International Department incorporating activists from
Britain and North America continues to function well. The party sent
representatives to African Liberation Day commemorations in London;
Washington, DC; Houston, Texas; and Sacramento, California in May; then in
November joined in celebrating the 20th annivesary of the AAPRP-associated
All-African Women's Union.  The party is preparing for high level talks to
be renewed with the Welsh socialists Cymru Goch and will be seeking to
deepen our relationship with both Cuba and Libya.

Gino Gallagher once said of the movement: "We trace our tradition,
Republican Socialism, back through Irish history to the likes of radicals,
Marxists, and republicans as diverse as Thompson, Lalor, Davitt, Connolly,
Larkin, Mellowes, O'Donnell, and Seamus Costello. Not withstanding our past
problems and difficulties, we come from a proud radical vein of
revolutionary politics. We see the other parties (Sinn Fein and the SDLP)
as mainstream nationalists, representing all classes therein. We stand with
the whole of the Irish working class, regardless of religious background.
We are unashamedly a working class, Marxist, and republican movement."

The IRSM has little interest in the sterile confines of the sectarian Left
or the ultimately failing perspective of mainstream nationalists and
republicans. The party has involved itself in some worthy undertakings of
the Left, however, including the struggle against racism and the struggle
to expand and defend women's reproductive rights. Increasingly, the IRSP
will demand that it be recognised as a revolutionary socialist
organisation, and refuse to be coaxed into the senseless bickering of the
sectarian Left, but while demanding that it be counted as a part of the
socialist community.

The IRSP well understands that the only national liberation worth fighting
for in Ireland is that which brings with it the class liberation of
Ireland's workers. It has no interest in accepting, preserving, and
certainly not in administering either of the two partitionist statelets on
the island of Ireland today. It has no interest in being invited to the
White House by the leader of Western imperialism around the globe nor in
being wined and dined by the capitalist leaders of America and invited to
ring the bell launching the trading in that temple of capitalist greed, the
Wall Street stock exchange. It did not organise itself as a movement so
that its leaders could have large homes in Donegal, or so that it could
direct the educational policy of the British occupied and still partitioned
six county statelet.

The IRSM was organised by Irish workers, and continues to be lead by Irish
workers, for the purpose of defending the interests of Irish working people
and overthrowing imperialism and capitalism in Ireland, to enable the vast
majority of the population, who are Ireland's working class, to control
both the political and economic resources of the nation in their own
interests, and in the interests of working class people around the world.
Accordingly, it stands like James Connolly, mocking those who claim that we
must be "practical," and seek mere reform within the context of the
existing status quo, when we understand that only by remaining "extreme" do
we have the slightest chance of gaining something that is worth the
sacrifice the workers of Ireland have already made in the fight for Irish
national liberation.

The IRSP, which has championed Broad Front efforts since its foundation 26
years ago, and is presently engaged once again in such an effort. With the
Irish Republican Writers' Group and the 32-County Sovereignty Movement, the
IRSP is pressing for a community inquiry into the killing of RIRA Volunteer
Joseph O Connor, who may have been killed by the Provisional IRA. Further,
we have joined with these and others to defend the rights of all within our
community to freely express their political opinions and have denounced the
heavy-handed attempts to censor the IRWG by Sinn Fein.

As an unabashedly revolutionary socialist and republican movement, the IRSM
deserves--even demands, simply by its existence--the solidarity and support
of other revolutionaries internationally, just as it is compelled to lend
its solidarity to others fighting for the same aims as itself. We cannot
but question the political integrity of those who call themselves Marxists
and revolutionary socialists in Britain, the United States, Canada, or
elsewhere, who have made a long-standing practice of studied silence about
the IRSM, while rushing to embrace the multi-class, ultimately bourgeois
republicans in other movements; often serving as craven apologists for the
political shortcomings of those movements, while zealously reiterating the
black propaganda of the capitalist media about the IRSM. The revolutionary
workers of Ireland will well remember who were the opportunists and who
rendered genuine revolutionary solidarity to the proletarian struggle in
Ireland, as will we.

The comrades and supporters of the IRSCNA are justifiably proud of the
history of the IRSM and the dedication and political vision of our comrades
in the IRSP, INLA, and RSPOWs, and our own role in helping to build
awareness of, and support for, the IRSM in Canada and the United States. On
this, the 26th Anniversary of the founding of the IRSP and INLA, we take
this opportunity to reiterate our unswerving dedication to, and support
for, the movement. In doing so, we know we stand on the side of the Irish
working class, and we ask of those holding back from joining our movement
and being counted, which side are you on? For the answer to that question
must dictate whether you remain outside or join with us in helping the IRSM
as it embarks on the way towards its first half century . . . on the Way
Forward and the Road to Revolution.

Happy anniversary to all our comrades in the Ard Comhairle and general
membership of the IRSP in Ireland and Britain; the RSPOWs in Portlaoise,
Magilligan, and Maghaberry; and the volunteers of INLA. We hope you will
share the pride we have in you.

Peter Urban
North American Coordinator
Irish Republican Socialist Committees


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