Speech Delivered by IRSP Ard-Chomhairle Member Terry Harkin
Danielle Ni Dhighe
danielle at irsm.org
Tue Jan 21 14:47:32 MST 2003
Speech delivered by IRSP Ard-Chomhairle member Terry Harkin at the
unveiling of a plaque in West Belfast to commemorate Mickey Kearney
and Patrick Campbell, two INLA volunteers killed on active service.
Friends and Comrades:
It is an honour to be asked to speak at this unveiling of a memorial
plaque to the memory of two volunteers of the Irish National
Liberation Army who hailed from this district. Mickey and Patrick
were two fine young men cut down in their prime of life for standing
up for what they believed in.
In today's hectic world with everything happening so fast it is
little wonder that the youth of today, spoon fed on a continuous diet
of wall-to-wall trash TV and designer music to deaden the soul, have
swallowed whole the manufactured cardboard heroes, held up by a
partisan mass media for them to admire. So who cares if Westlife
endorse "Poppies" to remember with pride the army that tied Connolly
to a chair and shot him. Who's Connolly? Where did Articles Two and
Three go? What where Articles Two and Three anyway?
As our children walk past this plaque many of them will be more
concerned with "Rave" culture than the plight of the community in
North Belfast, where kids of the same age or younger are blackmailed
into spying on their defenders. They'll stand under it and talk
about "Big Brother" as their every move is observed by the
Ascendancy's cameras. They would be wise to emulate both Patrick and
Mickey, look beyond the hype and have something more to believe in.
I knew Mickey Kearney in life, gave the oration to him in Milltown
the day we buried him. I could not do justice to his character then,
nor can I do it now. 16 years have not diminished my inability to
articulate the multi-faceted character that was Mickey Kearney.
Mickey died at the hands of fellow Irishmen who were duped into doing
the work of the British Imperialist war-machine and trying to wipe
out the Republican Socialist Movement. He died in defence of this
movement and our presence here today and our unveiling of this plaque
shows he did not die in vain. We did not go away, you know.
The Republican Socialist movement today is as strong if not stronger
than it has ever been. Our policies and politics are today even more--
if that were possible--relevant to the lives of our young people as
when Seamus Costello set about re-establishing the tradition of
The philosophy of Republican Socialism is based on the needs
aspirations and hopes of the Irish working class. That class that
labours, North and South, Prod and Taig, to produce all of the wealth
of the country, but only receive a pittance from the boss's table. It
encompasses the republicanism of Wolfe Tone, the socialism of James
Connolly, the radicalism and militancy of Liam Mellows, the humanity
of Peadar O'Donnell and the vision and passion of Seamus Costello.
It was this set of beliefs that attracted both Mickey and Patrick to
the banners of this movement. Often there is a tendency within the
broad republican tradition for people to sanitise the memory of those
republicans who were killed in action. Patrick and Mickey were no
saints - they had the same faults, habits and customs of
thousands of other young men living through a war. In short, they
were just two working-class lads. But both also had something else,
something special. They had beliefs, courage, commitment and
dedication. That is what made them different from the thousands of
others. They looked deeper than the gloss, pushed themselves to the
front and said, "enough".
Take young Paddy Bo, I didn't have the privilege to know Paddy Bo, he
was born the year Seamus Costello, founder of the INLA was
assassinated at the hands of the Official IRA. He grew up in troubled
times and saw what was happening to his own land and to his own
people. When able, he joined the INLA, to play his part in liberating
his class and country. Unfortunately he died at the hands of the drug
dealing scum he was defending his adopted community from.
Both deaths weigh heavily on the living. Families are left with
memories of the good and bad times. Friends may remember the pranks
played and the days of craic and laughter. Comrades may remember the
days of training and operations carried out.
But what will future generations walking under this plaque know? Will
they know that these volunteers were heroes of the working class?
Will they look at these plaques with pride or just shrug their
shoulders and walk on by?
The answer to these questions lies with this generation with you,
with me, with us all today. For, to make meaning of their sacrifices
and deaths, we must strive to build a better world for our children.
As I look around this gathering today I see many comrades of Mickey
and Paddy Bo, past and present, some still active in the movement,
some not active in politics, some fell out with us for past
decisions. To them we say, your home is with us, as it always was, in
trying to bring about this new world both ideologically and
Unfortunately we cannot say that what is now passing for politics on
either side of the border will build a better world. Stormont is a
farce, a charade, a joke! A place for place-seekers, for the gin and
tonic set--for the great and the good, for the wannabes and for
the has-beens, a place for the small minded, for the YES men and
women to swan about in. It is an obscenity for any self-respecting
republican to give credence to that administration in the White House
on the hill.
And, as for the Dail - the stench of corruption both from the body
politic and the body holy is reaching to high heavens. All the great
institutions of that ill-begotten and bastard-born state, are
corrupt, venal and pathetic.
In 1969 Seamus Costello clearly laid out what attitude should be
adopted by elected republicans to the existing parliamentary
He said: "Breaking the confidence of the people in the existing
Parliamentary institutions should be one of the main functions of our
TDs. They should be full time Revolutionary Organisers in their own
"The attitude of Sinn Fein councillors should be to avail of every
possible opportunity to demonstrate that we are fundamentally
different from all of the other parties and we should not yield to
the temptation to let up on the attack, either for some short term
advantage, or because some of them just happen to be nice people."
Seamus believed that the republican should enter the partitionist
assemblies with the intentions of Guy Fawkes and, "use it as a forum
from which to advance our revolutionary ideas thereby creating a lack
of confidence in the whole system".
That's why we are republicans. And more importantly today that was
why Paddy Bo and Mickey were republicans. Corruption and capitalism
go hand in hand and neither can be reformed. They must be destroyed.
Neither Stormont nor the Dail but the Republic is what we demand, the
Republic of Connolly, of Costello and of Kearney and Campbell.
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