Review: IRSP Ard-Fheis '02
Danielle Ni Dhighe
danielle at irsm.org
Wed Nov 6 18:16:36 MST 2002
Review: IRSP Ard-Fheis '02
By John Martin, IRSP Political Secretary
The 4th Ard-Fheis since the reformation of the Irish Republican
Socialist Party in 1995 was held recently in Derry City.
A lively and critical debate took place over a wide range of issues
and 24 resolutions were passed with a number of motions referred to
the incoming Ard-Chomhairle. Aims and principles of the movement are
contained in the document "This is Republican Socialism", published
on page 7 of this publication.
This was an important development in the evolution of the party since
Gino Gallagher initiated the revival of the Republican Socialist
Movement in late 1994. A decision was then taken by the leading
activists of the movement to not only expand the IRSP with new
members, but actively seek the return of former activists. As one
comrade said, "We have drawn a line under the past and we are taking
a mature approach - the door is open to anyone who agrees with
republican socialist politics."
Unfortunately an armed assault on the movement by a gang lead by
former INLA leader Hugh Torney and using known drug dealers led to
the death of Gino Gallagher and set back by a number of years the
rebuilding of the movement.
However, since then, there have been 4 Ard-Fheiseanna held which have
pointed the way forward for the movement and shown what can be
achieved by political action.
The below resolution probably summarises what most activist
republicans believe despite what the Provisional Sinn Fein leadership
"Ard-Fheis recognises that the Good Friday Agreement has failed to
deliver peace to working class communities, has increased sectarian
division and is a major block towards a Republic. We call for all
republicans and socialists to oppose the current political set-up,
unite in opposition to the maintenance of a sectarian state and push
for-ward towards a republic. We believe that political opposition is
the best method available at this time to republican and socialist
forces and that these forces could best be united in a Republican
Forum that allows for unity in action whilst respecting ideological
A lively discussion took place around the Non-Aggression Pact,
with many delegates opposed to any talks with representatives of
sectarian loyalism. A commitment was given by the party leadership
not to enter into talks with the UDA without calling a special Ard-
Fheis. There is unlikely to be such an Ard-Fheis in the foreseeable
future. However the delegates endorsed the NAP by a huge majority.
Another resolution applauded and supported the disciplined and
defensive role of the INLA in the defence of working class
communities, especially in North Belfast, from sectarian attack and
re-affirmed support for the INLA ceasefire.
On policing the position was clear - opposition to republicans ever
taking seats on the Northern Ireland Policing Board.
An important document, "On Organising Our Work in the Trade Unions",
was presented to the Ard-Fheis and showed the determination of the
party to turn towards the working class and its organised sections in
particular. This document will be thoroughly discussed and debated by
the movement before the next Ard-Fheis.
A comprehensive resolution on anti-drug work was also passed with an
emphasis on adequate preventative measures necessary in combating the
drug epidemic that has devastated working class communities.
Solidarity was expressed with Traveller organisations, who are
opposed to "The Housing Miscellaneous Act (2002)", a draconian piece
of legislation, which criminalises Travellers for being Travellers.
There was also condemnation of the world's drug companies and
western governments for their refusal to reduce the cost of drugs and
treatment for HIV/AIDS. These should be made freely available to help
ease the suffering of those millions who suffer from the escalating
HIV/AIDS crisis in the Third World.
On housing, the Ard Fheis supported the demands for affordable social
housing to be made available for all regardless of race, colour or
creed and condemned the political scapegoating of ethnic and racial
Support for Dessie O'Hare was also expressed and his immediate
release as a qualifying political prisoner under the Good Friday
Agreement was demanded.
Support for political prisoners in Ireland and internationally was
also expressed, with particular sympathy for the Palestinians
and in particular our comrades in the PFLP.
Also the Ard-Fheis sent solidarity greetings to those courageous
death fasters in Turkey who are struggling against an oppressive
The Ard-Fheis ended with the Republican Socialist Movement in the
strongest position it has been in since its foundation.
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