IRSP 2002 Hunger Strike Commemoration Keynote Speech
Danielle Ni Dhighe
nidhighe at irsm.org
Sat Aug 24 12:35:24 MDT 2002
IRSP 2002 Hunger Strike Commemoration Keynote Speech
In August every year we gather here at this monument to honour the
1981 hunger strikers. This year marks the 21st anniversary of that
period in which we lost ten of the bravest men Ireland has ever seen.
We, in the Republican Socialist Movement, are here today not
just to remember them but to re-dedicate ourselves to the political
ideals that our comrades fought and died for.
We in the IRSP, as part of the Republican Socialist Movement,
represent the radical authentic voice of the working class within the
Republican tradition. We are a class-based party believing that the
only united Ireland that can meet the aspirations of the working
class people is a Socialist Republic.
We in the Republican Socialist Movement acknowledge that there have
been diversions along our journey - in the main caused by the removal
of our best leaderships through state sponsored and directed murder,
the absence of the primacy of politics and self criticism. However,
we have always stood steadfast in our opposition to Stormont and
focused on our revolutionary goal of a 32 County Socialist
Republic for which there can be no compromise.
Since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, which in our view
institutionalises sectarianism, naked sectarian hatred has rampaged
through working class areas. This may suit some people but as
Republican Socialists we take no pleasure in watching working class
communities at each others' throats while the middle classes tut-tut
in the plush homes along the Culmore Road at the antics of the lower
Unlike the middle classes, our comrades and members live in these so
called interface areas and are active on the ground in defending
working class homes from sectarian attack. The INLA have assured us
that they will use any means necessary to defend working class homes
from attack and we support them in that stance.
We are neither war mongers nor sectarian bigots. We do not want to
see working class communities attacking neighbouring working class
areas. And as a movement we have put forward political proposals to
help defuse tensions. The Non-Aggression Pact is one such proposal.
The Non-Aggression Pact is about encouraging working class dialogue,
co-operation, and breaking down barriers. It is about neighbours
reaching agreement between themselves without the fear of
manipulation by armed groups. It is a bottom up approach within the
control of the people at grass roots level. It is the beginning of
working class communities taking control of their lives and the
ending of their manipulation by thugs, bullyboys, and political
opportunists. We appeal to community workers, activists, and trade
unionists, particularly within Unionist areas, but also within
Nationalist areas, to shake off the grip of those manipulators who
would deny you the right to control your own lives.
The Good Friday Agreement has failed and our analysis is that it will
The collapse of the current power sharing Executive would be in the
interests of the working class. Would it not be better for Sinn Fein
to pull the plug now, walk out of the Executive, and build a united
Republican and Socialist opposition to the stabilisation of a
Northern state that benefits only the those who have a vested
interest in the capitalist system?
Whatever they do is their choice. But we say that, both North and
South, they are going down the path laid out by the Workers Party, the
path of reformism and acceptance of the status quo. That is their
privilege and right to do so, and they have been electorally
successful in doing so. That is their road. It is not ours.
Other Republicans believe that the continuation of armed struggle
will bring about a Republic. That by clinging to absolutes they can
by the purity of their principles convince the "people" to back them.
We think that they should reconsider and reflect on the dividends of
the thirty years of armed struggle.
To quote James Connolly, speaking about honouring Tone at
Bodenstown: "It is only right at the grave of Wolfe Tone for
Republicans to pay homage but it also our duty to put our ideas,
policies, and beliefs under the microscope and re-examine what we
stand for and see if we are doing things the correct way."
Today in Derry 2002 that quote from Ireland's greatest Socialist sums
up the approach of the Republican Socialist Movement to the politics
of modern day Ireland. That is what both the IRSP and the INLA have
been doing over the past six years - re-evaluating, re-examining, and
renewing in the light of current realities our policies and
principles. Self-criticism is the life blood of any movement and
friends and comrades from this platform I can assure you that we will
not have in this movement any "omerta", any stifling of healthy
dissent, or suppression of other than leadership views. Any of our
initiatives will not be leadership driven against the wishes of
A healthy democratic, radical, and Socialist movement is the best
vehicle for the liberation of the working class. It is now time to
build a working class movement in Ireland that is class-conscious,
Socialist Republican, and prepared to take on all the vested
interests of capitalism.
There is revolutionary potential stirring within the working class in
Ireland. The day of the Celtic Tiger is fading and we will soon be
back to unemployment, poverty, poor housing, and a cap in hand
attitude to the imperialist power of the USA. The anti-globalisation
movement is an anti-capitalist movement. There are stirrings of
dissent in many parts of the world. We welcome that and stand with
all the anti-imperialists and Socialists against oppression whether
from US imperialism or religious fundamentalism.
But our fight, our struggle, our battlefield is here in Ireland. Our
comrades, our members, our fighters are every day involved in the
struggles of the Irish working class.
They are there in defence of Nationalist working class areas in
Belfast from Loyalist sectarianism. They are there in the fight
against the drug barons of Dublin and elsewhere, and are marching
with the inner city communities against the ravages of hopelessness,
deprivation, and poverty. They are there in the trade unions fighting
against the alliance of capitalists and trade union bureaucrats that
tries to stifle and contain working class militancy. They are
involved in the struggle against the privatisation of public
amenities and against water charges. They are there in the struggle
for political prisoners and supporting the release of our comrade
Dessie O'Hare. We were the first group to go onto the streets of
Derry in the renewed campaign for segregation and political status
for political prisoners in the Six Counties. We actively opposed the
visit by former US warlord Bill Clinton to this city. We were at the
forefront of the campaign in support of the death fasters in Turkey
and during anti-war demonstrations here in Derry our party gave
leadership with the clear and concise message "No War But the Class
In short, wherever there is struggle that is where the class-
conscious, militant, and the members of this movement will be. For,
comrades - like Larkin, like Connolly, like Costello, like O'Hara,
Lynch and Devine - we preach the gospel of discontent.
Regardless of what others do, we in the Republican Socialist Movement
will stand by the Republic of Connolly, Mellows, and Costello.
On to the Republic, comrades!
Victory to the Irish working class!
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