Workers’ Party Easter Oration 2014 April 21, 2014Posted by Garibaldy in Workers' Party.
Comrades and friends,
You are all very welcome here today to the Annual Workers’ Party Easter commemoration.
We are here to honour the men and women of Easter Week 1916, to rededicate ourselves to the noble and principled ideals that they set out to achieve.
We also remember with pride and honour all those Comrades and friends of The Workers’ Party who gave their lives in the struggle for a democratic, secular, socialist republic, a unitary state on this island.
Their sacrifice will never be forgotten and we pay tribute today to all those who contributed to the creation of The Workers’ Party as the modern embodiment of the struggle for freedom and the emancipation of the working class.
We do of course live in a hugely different world from that of 1916 but there is still great relevance and lessons to be learned from what the men and women of 1916 set out to achieve.
The struggle for national independence and political and economic sovereignty remain today vital matters of concern. British Imperialism may well have ceased to exist as a serious world power, but new forms of Imperialism and political and economic subjugation have taken its place.
In particular the United States of America seeks to dominate and control the entire world in its own selfish interests, and the European Union now acts solely in the interests of capitalism and is devoid of even the most rudimentary appearance of democracy or accountability.
In Ireland we are ruled by 2 administrations – in the Dáil and at Stormont – by people who may profess to adhere to the ideals of 1916 but in reality are far removed from the democratic, egalitarian, republican and socialist principles contained in the Proclamation of 1916.
Both administrations are made up of parties that subscribe to dominant capitalist ideology. Neither represents any challenge to the existing economic system which is the cause of social and economic misery.
As we approach the 100th Anniversary of 1916 we will hear all manner of praise for 1916 and even talk of rededicating to the ideals of the proclamation. Just as in 1966, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary, we can expect much symbolism, pageantry and rhetoric. Already there has even been nonsensical talk of national and republican unity.
What we do not want, or need, is a futile and destructive process of all manner of groups and sects competing to claim the title of true inheritors of the ideals of 1916 and ownership of the holy grail.
What would be far more productive would be a national debate on the nature and character of Irish society today and how we might move towards a New Republic in which the values and political ideals of 1916 could be encapsulated in a new political and social order: a New Society which would embrace the values of the common good over individual greed and private profit; collectivism over individualism; democracy and citizenship and political and economic sovereignty.
Such a debate on the nature of society cannot ignore the fact that the fundamental struggle today for freedom and emancipation is the struggle between capital and labour. The greatest enemy facing the Irish people North and South today is Capitalism. It is Capitalism which is the cause of our social and economic ills. Capitalism cannot be reformed or ameliorated. Only its replacement by a Socialist society can bring social and economic freedom.
Ireland today is not the Ireland of 1916. We are no longer a predominantly rural and agriculturally dependent society.
The dominant political and social values are those of the international economic order … Capitalism.
The progressive trends in the independence movement have evolved as well.
Today those progressive trends are to be found in Socialism.
That evolution towards a coherent and scientific socialist ideology was organisationally mirrored in the creation of The Workers’ Party which reached a high point in the 80s. Since then we have had setbacks, reversals and even defeats. But the only hope for the achieving of political, social and economic freedom for the Irish people lies in a rejuvenated and strong Workers’ Party, a Party driven and governed by a strong Socialist Ideology.
If we are to be true to the ideals of 1916 in the world in which we live today, then Building the Party must be our prime objective.
We are under no illusions as to the enormity of this task.
A strong Workers’ Party represents the only hope that real change is possible in our country.
No other Party seeks to bring about the fundamental transformation of society that is needed in order to create a new political, economic and social order.
The Labour Party and Sinn Féin in particular – two parties that profess to speak for the working class – have failed our class.
In the North Sinn Féin (and their DUP partners) have presided over the highest levels of unemployment, poverty, homelessness, educational disadvantage, privatisation of public services, and a health service in crisis. In the South they profess opposition but their one ambition is to be in government. They are akin to De Valera’s Fianna Fáil in the 30s. They are long in nationalist and republican rhetoric, long in populism whilst simultaneously embracing free market economics and big business.
The Labour Party, no strangers to coalition governments, have surpassed all previous betrayals of the working class and labour movements by their participation in this Fine Gael-led Government.
It is the working class that has borne the impact of devastating cutbacks and economic measures that have impoverished hundreds of thousands of our people and will continue to do so for years to come.
Local elections next month are an opportunity North and South to begin a fightback on behalf of the working class. The Party will be standing a small number of candidates. We are proud of the role and record of our councillors in Cork and Waterford, and are hopeful of not only retaining but expanding our number of councillors.
This is a vital part of Building the Party.
We cannot rely on past achievements but on our active involvement in the everyday struggles of working class people in our communities.
This involves bringing into membership of the Party new Comrades, most of whom will not have had our historical experience or background.
This must necessarily entail attracting more women and young people to the Party.
On this, the 100th anniversary of the founding of Cumann na mBan, it is worth noting how much of the women’s struggle remains to be won.
Right across society women continue to suffer discrimination. In Employment, both in wages and career opportunities; in terms of reproductive rights; as the primary carers; in fact in almost every walk and area of life.
But our concern for women must not just be about their role in society.
They are glaringly absent from the ranks of the Party itself.
We must not only increase the numbers of women in the Party but women must take on roles of responsibility, leadership, and authority in the Party.
In conclusion Comrades,
We are only too well aware that the Socialist Republic remains to be won. The question is – what do we do to bring it about?
The starting point must be to Build the Party.
Over the next weeks and months the detail of what that means in practice will be debated within the Party.
It is our task to ensure that it reaches a conclusion and that we set about the work that will be required to bring about a renewed and rejuvenated Workers’ Party.
Only that can bring about the democratic, secular, socialist republic we strive for.
Thank you for your attention Comrades.
Left Archive: H-Block Struggle – Irish Revolution, On the March, a Peoples Democracy Pamphlet, 1981? April 21, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, People's Democracy.
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To download the above file please click on the following link: H-Block PD pamphlet x2
Many thanks to Niall Meehan for scanning and donating this to the Archive.
This is a very useful document from Peoples Democracy issued during the initial part of the H-Block campaign. In 13 or so pages it outlines the position of PD on the campaign, positions it as ‘A Political Issue’, ‘Humanism’, ‘Fianna Fail/SDLP’, the ‘Experience of the Civil Rights Movement’, ‘Winning Mass Support’, ‘The Trade Unions’, ‘Workers and the National Question’, ‘The Role of Women’, ‘Youth and H-Block’ and ‘A Fighting Organisation’.
It is far too comprehensive to do justice to it in its entirety, however the Introduction gives a good sense of the direction of the pamphlet.
As the Introduction notes:
PD has always fought for a broad based campaign on the question of H-Block. From the moment Britain withdrew political status we took the initiative in trying to win mass support for the prisoners. We were active from the beginning in building the RACs…
…our persistent efforts to build broad support for the H Block prisoners from both Sinn Fein and the Left. The Provos claimed we were selling out the National struggle while the Left denounced us for wanting an alliance with bourgeois individuals and parties. Neither accusation was true and by participating themselves in the National Smash H Block Committee our critics have in practice come to recognise this.
It argues that:
Today no one can doubt the merit of a broad-based campaign. The H Block Committee’s list of success is impressive. The conspiracy of silence has been breached and tens of thousands of people have received first hand information about the conditions in Long Kesh and Armagh.
And it concludes.
In this pamphlet we explain the reason for our involvement in the campaign and how we see it developing in the overall context of the National struggle and the fight for socialism. the success of the campaign to date is clear. But it is also clear that we have reached a plateau in our activity. If we are going to take the struggle forward we must know where we are headed.
Throughout the text there are some interesting observations, for example:
Experience has shown us that the liberals, intellectuals and others who do not recognise, even in a historic sense, the need for national liberation, have not flocked to the H-Block campaign. The active campaigners have been those who supported the national liberation struggle over the past decade. The broad, popular, base of the campaign has been comprised of those who, while being neither Socialist or Republican, retain a long term hope for complete national independence.
You may have missed this earlier: From the selection in the Left Archive…The Coffee Circle Papers (Papers and responses from the series of political forums organised during 1998 by Democratic Left): Paper 6 – Northern Ireland April 18, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive.
As part of getting people acquainted and used to the extended Left Archive we’re going to link every week to previous documents that have been posted there that may be of interest. This week The Coffee Circle Papers (Papers and responses from the series of political forums organised during 1998 by Democratic Left): Paper 6 – Northern Ireland.
Many thanks to Catherine Murphy TD for donating this document to the Left Archive. Due to its length it will be posted up in individual sections over the next twelve months.
As noted late last year:
This document [published on foot of a series of meetings] is unusual in respect of the Irish left in that it sought to challenge fairly directly the assumptions held by a political formation. That formation, Democratic Left, less than a decade old had recently left government after Fianna Fáil had won the 1997 General Election. It had also shed two seats from its complement of six Tds.
Due to the length of this document it has been broken up into sections, and will be posted non-sequentially over the next year or so. This chapter engages with the issue of Irish politics in the aftermath of the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement and the referendum on foot of that. There are two contributors, Dr. Paul Bew of Queens University, Belfast and a response by Fergus Finally, formerly Special Advisor to Dick Spring, leader of the Labour Party. That both were advisors to different parties at various stages during the peace process their contributions are of some interest.
The summation is made by Paddy Gillan, then editor of Times Change.
All are short and remarkably undetailed, one might even say they were vague. The focus is on unionism, to an almost remarkable degree. And largely the theme of the papers is not addressed. Nor is it clear what the implications, as then perceived, for the left are.
The summation is arguably more interesting, with Dr. John McManus of DL arguing that the agreement ‘marked a ‘full stop’ to nationalism. Proinsias De Rossa argued that ‘Sinn Féin had a long road to travel. There was not just a time difference but a very large ideological gap. He felt that we must challenge the idea of SF being the guardians of equality agenda; there is a need to recover the equality project for the left – we can’t let them demean equality the way they demeaned republicanism.’
Perhaps tellingly there is no mention that Democratic Left organised and had elected representatives in the Northern Ireland.
Bishop Supports SF on Abortion – Or Does He? April 17, 2014Posted by Garibaldy in Choice, Sinn Féin.
Fascinating report on the BBC website about a row between the Catholic bishop of Dromore and elements of SF over a letter distributed in west Belfast claiming he supported its position on abortion. The BBC quotes the bishop as saying
When I became aware of party political literature which was jointly issued in the names of Sue Ramsey MLA and Councillor Matt Garrett of Sinn Féin, which stated that I ‘share’ their position on the ‘termination’ of unborn human life, I was appalled
The Deputy First Minister and Paul Maskey MP (West Belfast) both acted to get the letter removed. The BBC quotes Paul Maskey as saying
Sinn Féin accepts that references in the letter to Bishop McAreavey were inaccurate.
“These letters should have not gone out.
“I apologise unreservedly to the bishop for any hurt and distress caused.
“I can assure the bishop that all reference to him on this issue has now been removed from all print and electronic literature. Sinn Féin has also removed the offending comments from Facebook.
A very revealing story as well as a fascinating one.
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Some may have noticed this at the weekend, but Left Archive co-curator Aonghus Storey has set up a section of the Left Archive which will focus on Political Posters. Bar two items (held on to for sentimental reasons!) there is no intention to cover election posters, Alan’s Irish Election Literature site covers that side of things.
But there is plenty of scope for left oriented non-election posters – whether campaigns or promotional. Some of the most striking visuals appear in that form, as noted on the ILA often they’re the only point of contact between small groups and the general public. And finally they’re part and parcel of the Irish left.
So, if you have photographs of non-electoral left posters please forward them to the Archive for inclusion in that collection. All contributions gratefully accepted.
Left Archive: What Sinn Féin means by ‘Regionalisation’ – Provisional Sinn Féin, 1974 April 14, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Sinn Féin.
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To download the above file please click on the following link:
This is a short leaflet from Sinn Féin in 1974 which outlines its approach to ‘Regionalisation’. There is an oddly contemporary note in its definition of same, when it suggests that one meaning is ‘Taking away powers from primary local authorities and giving them to regional authorities. This use of the word is particularly marked in Ireland.’
It notes another meaning is ‘Dividing the state into economic planning regions for which planning is done centrally with some advice from regional consultative bodies that have no powers of their own’.
And finally it seeks the creation of regional public authorities under democratic control.
Obviously this links in to the approach espoused in Éire Nua (which can be found in the Archive here) and it quite naturally leads to the federal Ireland envisaged in that document.
NPM “What you maybe meant to keep” April 12, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Election Literature Blog, Irish Left Online Document Archive.
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Curated tour of the exhibition this morning,(Sunday), 11.00 am, by exhibition co-curator Alan Kinsella of Irish Election Literature and indeed this parish! As was said earlier in the week, a great opportunity to get a real insight into the materials on display.
Should Adams and McGuinness retire? April 12, 2014Posted by Tomboktu in Irish Politics, Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin, The North.
Norman Tebbit’s remark during the week — the he hoped Martin McGuinness would be shot in the back — prompted a thought. Should McGuinness and Gerry Adams consider retiring from activie politics at this stage? They are the only leaders to have remained in place as leaders from the start of the peace process through the signing of the Belfast Agreement, and the first years of the operation of the Assembly and Executive. Tebbit’s comment show that despite the huge changes they led Sinn Fein and the IRA through, they are still lightning rods for hatred and distrust. Would it be better for the stability of the process and politics in the North if they were to hand over the rein of Sinn Fein to a new generation?
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These again featured in last nights presentation at the NPM, imagery from the 1989 General Election for De Rossa and the WP. The photos were taken on Sandymount Strand by fashion photographer Mike Bunn. The landscape version (of which unfortunately there’s no copy still existing, though if any one has one please forward to CLR or Left Archive, it’d be much appreciated) had the towers of the Pigeon House in the background.
And scroll to the end to a link to Mary FitzPatrick’s website.