Scotlive at aol.com Scotlive at aol.com
Fri Aug 13 00:40:30 MDT 2004

Speech for the Kevin Lynch Commemoration, Dungiven, delivered by
Gerard Murray on Sunday, 1 August 2004

Struggles take many forms and the republican struggle in Ireland has
taken many forms. Armed struggle against British imperialism, street
protests, riots, hunger strikes, pickets all have been weapons in the
armoury of republicans. The sacrifice of Kevin and his comrades and
their use of the hunger strike was on the immediate issue of
political status. The refusal since the republican struggle began in
the 1790s of Irish republicans to accept criminalisation is absolute.
Nobody, especially not an administration of Brits, whose hands are
covered with the blood of thousands of innocent Iraqis, has the right
to call republicans, who oppose their claim to rule this island,
criminals. We are not and we never have been terrorists. Kevin and
his comrades were never terrorists. They were freedom fighters,
patriots and anti-imperialists.

Today as we salute the memory of Kevin Lynch, hunger striker and
political prisoner, it would be remiss of us not to express our full
solidarity with current republican political prisoners in Maghaberry
and re-iterate our call for the immediate release of Dessie O'Hare
and the other qualifying republican prisoners under the terms of the
Good Friday Agreement. We make no distinction between different
republican groupings when it comes to solidarity with republican
prisoners. Do not forget there would be no republican prisoners in
gaols if there were a final settlement to the national question. And
so long as the national question is unsettled then so will there be
republicans who will wage a struggle to establish a republic on the
island for all the people of the island.

It has been a learning experience for many of us as we watch how the
Brits were able to transfer that same national question down to the
level of "divided communities." We have had recently various
spokespersons for the great and the good reduce the problems here in
the North to the levels of flag and parades disputes. This is now
called a community problem. In recent weeks statements from a wide
range of bodies including statements from two PSNI-RUC spokesmen
claimed that the communities could only resolve the issues. The
implication of this is that the "two communities" can sit down and
resolve the problem while the state bodies act in a mediating role!

Let me run that by you again. The state bodies act in a mediating

Ah, yes, now I see it --­ the paratroopers in Ardoyne on July
l2th, 2004 were mediating -- just like they did on Bloody Sunday,
1972. And, yes, the Parades Commission made two rulings that the
mediating RUC -- oops, sorry, PSNI -- overruled in order to allow
loyalists to trample the croppies back into the ground in Ardoyne and
Lurgan. And, oh, did you not realise that the British state is
neutral between the two communities and only want to help us get
together and be nice neighbours!! Really those Catholics and refugees
who are being petrol bombed and pipe bombed from their homes
by "decent loyalists" will really have to be nicer to their
neighbours and do nothing to offend them -- like being different.
Blame is allocated equally by the great and the good. We are all to
blame and those who claim jurisdiction over us really have our best
interests at heart.

But we know different. The reality is that sectarian elements in
unionism want to lord it over nationalists. It is a case of "croppy
lie down". They are aided and abetted in this by a range of state
bodies including the NIO, the police force, the prison service and
the intelligence agencies. Many employees of state bodies acquiesce
in sectarian attitudes and actions. The theft of security documents
by RIR soldiers from Castlereagh and the subsequent handing over of
them to the UDA shows the continuing close contact between armed
loyalism and the British military.

Six years after the Good Friday Agreement, in terms of troop levels
and collaboration, nothing has really changed. The Independent
Monitoring Commission has highlighted the ongoing high number of
British soldiers stationed in the North.

In a report on British demilitarisation, the commission said troop
levels in the North were at just under 15,000. This is larger than
the number of British troops in Iraq.

This number was supposed to be reduced to 5,000 as part of Britain's
commitments under the Good Friday Agreement.

Six years on from the so-called historic Good Friday Agreement we do
not have justice, democracy or freedom. We have a biased police
force, a bigoted prison service, and an arrogant bevy of British
overlords making decisions for us, no democratic assembly and naked
sectarian hatred given free range every July. Unionism simply does
not recognise the right of people in the North to be either
republicans or nationalists. Like the Bourbon Kings of France they
have learnt nothing!! July 2004 confirms that the state of Northern
Ireland is in essence still a cold house for nationalists.

It is very important for us as republicans not to fall into the trap
posed by the misuse of language. We all have seen how the spin
doctoring of the Blair government in Britain has turned language
around so that the truth becomes lies and lies become the truth. The
armed occupation of a foreign country becomes its liberation.

We reject the notion that there are two separate divided communities.
There are not two communities -- instead we have a divided working
class who clash in deprived areas. And while elements of that self
same working class clash particularly in July those who benefit from
the sectarian clashes jet off to sunnier climates tut-tutting about
the fighting going on amongst the lower classes.

Was it for this that men and women sacrificed the best years of their
lives in struggle, in prison, in exile and for many in death? Was it
for this that the hunger strikers died? Surely it is legitimate to
ask hard questions? Is it not time to call a halt to the endless
round of talks about talks about talks?

Don't misunderstand what we are saying. We republican socialists are
in favour of dialogue. We emphatically state that armed struggle is
not the way forward. To go down that road at this time is to go down
the road to nowhere. It is not an option. Armed struggle today is
emphatically not the road that leads to the Republic.

Yes, dialogue is possible but there can be no more pussyfooting
around. If there are those who refuse to talk to any section of
republicanism or nationalism then it should be clearly understood
that republicans can and will withhold their consent to the running
of the six county state. And we believe it should be clearly
understood that from the republican perspective any arrangement that
is internal is temporary, transient and transparent. Surely it is
time for republicans, socialists, radicals and anyone else who cares
to come together and say loud and clear -- the Good Friday Agreement
has not worked, does not work, is unlikely to work in the future.
Northern Ireland as a political entity does not work. There is no
permanent solution possible that envisages the continued existence of
the sectarian six county state.

Our whole history of struggle, our experiences of fighting the Brits,
of living under the thumb of reactionary unionism, of enduring
prisons, hunger strikes, brutality and sectarian hatred has steeled
into our souls the unbreakable belief that the only solution to our
problems is the establishing of a Republic that the workers, that is
the vast majority of the people of Ireland, Catholic, Protestant,
Dissenter and refugee, control.

At the end of the day the only class republicans can rely on is not
that class that sucks you in and then sells you out but the Irish
working class, the incorruptible inheritors of the fight for freedom.
In perpetuating and honouring the name of Kevin Lynch, hunger
striker, soldier, socialist, we reaffirm our commitment to the
Republic of James Connolly.

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