IRSP: Speech at Memorial to Miriam Daly and Brendan McNamee
Danielle Ni Dhighe
danielle at irsm.org
Thu Jul 31 12:59:09 MDT 2003
SPEECH DELIVERED BY IRSP ARD-CHOMHAIRLE MEMBER GERRY RUDDY AT THE
UNVEILING OF A MEMORIAL PLAQUE TO MIRIAM DALY AND BRENDAN MCNAMEE
May I say that I'm honoured to be asked to speak at this unveiling. I
first met Miriam in the late sixties. She was an academic, had a good
career, and could have ignored what was going on in the wider
society. But she threw herself into the struggle for justice and
Over the past 35 years there have been different methods of struggle
employed by those seeking change in Ireland.
Initially the preferred method of struggle was lobbying, influencing
the great and the good of those days, and persuading Labour MPs from
Britain that the introduction of civil rights in the North of Ireland
would be a good thing.
That approach attracted some liberal minded unionists - the type
later to found the Alliance Party. The types who seem to believe that
if you are nice to Catholics then they will behave just like
There was no more chance of the Stormont regime of 1967-68 conceding
any justice to the lobbying approach then today there is of David
Trimble even talking to the Garvaghy Road residents. The more things
change the more they stay the same.
So a group of militants forced the NICRA to take to the streets in
the form of demonstrations to press the case for reform. The reaction
of the state was repression. Batons and bullets were used against the
civil rights marchers while unionist politicians and reactionary
clerics wiped up the fears of working class Protestants and awakened
a sectarian monster.
Appeals from the middle classes for the struggle for justice to halt
were ignored by the rising tide of militants who rapidly came to
recognise that justice and the continued existence of the six county
state were mutually incompatible.
However, those same militants had no desire to bounce the people of
the North into the 26 counties and call that a republic. It was clear
to all of us then on the streets that the only Republic worth
fighting and dying for was the Workers' Republic of James Connolly.
We knew that the social and national question was intertwined.
The repression used by the Stormont state with the backing of the
British forced republicans to rearm and defend the nationalist areas
from Orange pogroms. Thus was born another method of struggle as a
combination of rural guerrilla warfare, civil disobedience, urban
armed struggle, and street protests brought down the old Stormont
Both Brendan and Miriam played their part in that phase of the
struggle, Miriam as a militant member of the NICRA, and then later
the Northern resistance movement. Brendan was a volunteer in the
Provisional IRA before recognising the importance of the class
question and joining the People's Liberation Army, the forerunner of
Brendan died defending the right of the IRSP to exist. It's a sad
thought to think that despite clear and present enemies available
there were and are still republicans ready to kill fellow republicans
first. A young man with so much to live for, he was denied his
allotted time on this earth because small-minded people wanted
conformity, unquestioning loyalty, and blind obedience. But Brendan
was a questioning independent individual able to think for himself
and ask the awkward questions.
On behalf of the leadership of the Republican Socialist Movement may
I say that this is exactly what is needed today - independent minded
individuals able to ask the awkward questions and see through the fog
of confusion, spin-doctoring, censorship, and bovine-like loyalty
that today passes for politics. We reject the latter and call on
independent minded people to join us and help renew the republican
Following the demise of the old Stormont, the full force of British
imperialism was brought to bear on the resistance struggle. State
directed loyalist murder gangs brutally slaying innocent Catholics in
an attempt to demoralise the resistance; a conveyor belt justice
system that denied justice; a refining of torture techniques in
Castlereagh; the tainted evidence of the lowest of the low - the
informer; the attempted criminalisation of freedom fighters and
revolutionaries; murder gangs operating out of British Army barracks;
state-sanctioned bombings of Dublin and Monaghan; state files on
every nationalist; housing policy and employment polices dictated
primarily by military Generals; and the demonising and censoring of
Such tactics in turn provoked a response and nowhere more so than in
the prisons where the blanket men and women engaged in the dirty
protest to re-gain political status. Thanks to the sterling work of
the Relatives Action Committees and then later the H-Block/Armagh
committees the issue became an international issue. Miriam was to the
forefront of that work. She gave her intellect, her energy, and sadly
eventually her life into the defence of the political prisoners.
Pro-imperialist forces took out Miriam because of her leadership of
what was now another weapon of struggle, the mass movement. Her loss
was not only a devastating personal blow to her family, but also a
major setback for the mass struggle. While it is true that it is the
masses that make history, outstanding individuals like Miriam can
greatly influence the direction that mass movements take.
Following the ending of the hunger strikes another major tactic was
used in the struggle, that of fighting elections. Republicans
successfully used that tactic to add to the pressure on the British
to reach an accommodation.
So, friends and comrades, we can see how over the past 35 years the
full range of tactics have been used to advance the republican
Now for the hard question. Did those tactics succeed? Did armed
struggle, mass mobilisation, and electioneering bring us one step
closer to the Workers' Republic we first set out to build all those
years ago? I will not insult your intelligence by answering for you.
That is for each one of us to decide individually.
But this I will tell you - James Connolly needed no mandate to lead
the linen workers in Belfast in the 1907 strike; he needed no mandate
to form the Citizen Army to protect the Dublin workers from the
scabs, employers, and police in 1913; he needed no mandate to march
into the GPO on Easter Monday 1916 to begin the Irish Revolution.
Miriam and Brendan needed no mandate to do what they did. They saw
injustice, they resisted; they saw repression, they resisted; they
saw brutality, they resisted; and they saw the naked face of
imperialism, they resisted. And they died.
Comrades and friends, today we need no mandate to honour these two
fine republican socialists. We need no mandate to be republicans. We
need no mandate to be socialists. We need no mandate to oppose
imperialism wherever we find it. It is enough for injustice to exist,
for us to organise to oppose it.
For the essence of the lives of these comrades was that they
organised. They organised either in the Party or in the Army or in
the mass movements. But they organised. And, if their sacrifices are
to have lasting meaning, then we too must organise. We must organise
in the bodies we are members of, to ensure that the struggle for the
liberation of the Irish working class is victorious. There can be no
more sitting on the sidelines.
Today's plaque is a fitting tribute to these comrades. But if truth
be told, they need no monuments. For so long as there is a republican
still alive in Ireland struggling for the Workers' Republic, then the
spirit of Brendan and Miriam, and all the other men and women who
died so that their country and their class could be free, will live
Comrades, we salute you!!!
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