Thursday, May 28, 2009

Spot the Difference?

There is No Difference!

In the run-up to the 2009 elections, éirígí launched its Spot the Difference? campaign to highlight how few differences there actually are between Ireland’s nine largest political parties.

Despite the petty squabbling and rhetoric, all the main political parties are actually saying the same thing when it comes to the major challenges facing the Irish people today.

A central element of Spot the Difference? is a campaign leaflet which can be downloaded here. éirígí activists have distributed thousands of copies of this leaflet across Ireland.

The British Occupation
MI5 barracks in HolywoodWhile six out of nine of Ireland’s largest political parties profess to support the ending of partition, none of them actively oppose the British occupation.

By supporting the unionist veto, through their support for the St Andrew’s Agreement, those six parties are instead providing the British government with the veneer of democratic consent it has always needed to stabilise its Irish occupation.

Since the time of partition, the political establishment in the Twenty-Six Counties has been well placed to assert the right of the Irish people to national independence and freedom. Instead, they have chosen to abandon more than a million of their fellow-citizens to their fate under the British occupation. In practice, this has meant more than 80 years of discrimination, pogroms and sectarian violence against the nationalist population of the Six Counties.

By participating in the puppet parliament at Stormont, the SDLP and Sinn Féin are providing Britain with highly valuable propaganda. When the British government is asked about its Irish occupation, it can now point to the two largest nationalist parties’ happily administering British rule at Stormont and pose the question – ‘What Irish occupation?’

The Economy
As the world is enveloped in the greatest economic crisis in decades, not one of Ireland’s main political parties is suggesting that the capitalist system itself might be the problem.

Pensioners protesting outside Leinster HouseDespite the fact that capitalism created the mess that millions find themselves in, Ireland’s largest parties remain totally committed to that system. How can the cause of this social and economic sickness also be the cure? It just doesn’t make sense.

Not one of the nine largest parties has so much as hinted at the possibility that another socio-economic system might be possible, or indeed desirable. For all of the establishment parties, the solution to the current recession lies in a complete embrace of the so-called free market.

Despite their crocodile tears and denials, all of the biggest parties are largely in agreement that the ‘cure’ will include the following elements:

  • That, in the interests of ‘competitiveness’, the wages of Irish workers will need to fall.
  • That, to attract foreign, primarily US, investment, Irish workers will need to accept poorer conditions of employment.
  • That the private banks must not be allowed to collapse.
  • That the private banks must ultimately remain private – even if a temporary nationalisation is required to achieve this goal.
  • That Public Private Partnerships and Private Finance Initiatives will be central to any recovery.
  • That savage cutbacks in the public sector are ‘necessary’, regardless of the impact this will have on education, health and employment.
  • That the state should use workers’ taxes to bailout private businesses, developers, bankers and investors.

Populism over Principle
Given that the largest parties are in agreement on the major national and socio-economic issues, it has become necessary to create artificial points of disagreement for them to argue over.

Without such disagreements, people might just begin to question why exactly Ireland needs so many political parties and so many politicians!

Thus, the political discourse in Ireland has been reduced to personality politics and petty squabbles over relatively minor issues. Day and daily, the people of Ireland witness the establishment parties attempting to outdo each other as the party of ‘change’ - while promising nothing but more of the same.

Never before has populism so blatantly replaced principle and never before has the quest for power for the sake of power been so transparent.

If proof is needed of how little actually divides the nine largest political parties then their willingness to enter coalition with each other should provide it.

In the Six Counties, all of the main parties are partners in a permanent coalition ‘government’ based upon acceptance of British rule and the capitalist socio-economic model. In the Twenty-Six Counties, the dogs on the street know that all of the main political parties are willing to enter coalition government with each other if that allows them to reach the magic number of seats necessary for them to access the levers of power in Leinster House.

A Real Alternative
éirígíéirígí, as a socialist republican political party, is offering a real alternative for those who want something different to the sham politics of the larger parties.

As an anti-imperialist organisation, éirígí stands in total opposition to the British occupation; believing the alternative to acquiescence to be resistance. To this end, éirígí is actively challenging the attempts of the British government to ‘normalise’ its occupation of the Six Counties. For more on éirígí’s Campaign for a British Withdrawal please click here.>>

As a socialist organisation, éirígí understands that the capitalist system can never deliver a decent and productive life for working people. As a system it operates in the interests of those who have already amassed wealth and power. And, conversely, it discriminates against those who do the work that actually creates that wealth.

éirígí also understands that the current economic ‘bust’, and all of the human hardship that accompanies it, is as much a part of the capitalist system as the economic ‘boom’ that was the ‘Celtic Tiger’. You can’t have one without the other.

Only a new, socialist economic system can deliver genuine equality and ensure that everyone gets their fair share of Ireland’s wealth. Only a socialist system can bring an end to the cycle of boom and bust and deliver the proper, participatory planning that the people of Ireland deserve.

If you are interested in helping or joining éirígí, e-mail

Monday, May 25, 2009

The people deserve a first class health service

In recent times we have witnessed savage cutbacks being imposed right across our health service. Hospitals nationwide, including Sligo General Hospital (SGH) and Our Lady's Hospital, Manorhamilton are being decimated by the Health Service Executive (HSE) and their political masters.

In recent times we have seen the HSE attempt to unilaterally undermine the rights and working conditions of employees in relation to sick pay. We have seen vital services being downgraded and withdrawn. These include the closure of an orthapaedic ward as well as the hospital’s Stroke unit, despite HSE denials, and the ongoing planned removal of our much needed cancer care services to Galway. Nurses and other front line staff are losing their jobs in significant numbers causing huge concern for staffing levels and the impact that this will have on patient safety at the hospital.

What we are witnessing is the health and well-being of people being made to suffer to pay for the incompetence of the HSE and the greed of the politicians, developers and bankers that squandered the wealth of the Celtic Tiger. éirígí insist that they must not only reverse the cutbacks but they must upgrade the esential services in our hospitals. They must also abandon completely their failed policies of a two–tier system of medical apartheid and privatisation of health care, all of which is based on a failed right wing ideology.

Their system has failed but there is a clear, workable and just alternative to ward closures, lengthy waiting lists, private hospitals on public land and exessive charges. éirígí believe what is now needed more than ever is the building of a first class health service that is truly free and equal, based solely on medical need and not ability to pay. A world class health service for all. The Irish people deserve no less.

Consigning the Children of the Nation to a Regime of Torture

“It shall be the first duty of the Republic to make provision for the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of the children, to secure that no child shall suffer hunger or cold, for lack of food, clothing or shelter, but that all shall be provided with the means and facilities requisite for their proper education and training as Citizens of a Free and Gaelic Ireland.”

Democratic Programme of the First DáilThe preceding quote was a central element of the Democratic Programme of the First Dáil and echoed the declaration within the 1916 Proclamation that all of the children of the nation should be cherished equally.

The Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Child Abuse, published this week, left no one in any doubt that children in the Twenty-Six County state were never treated equally. That the measure of a society can be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable was a watchword of James Connolly: the testimony of the more than 1,500 people who gave evidence to this Inquiry is a damning indictment of the nature of the southern state. This was a state that deemed it appropriate to incarcerate children living in poverty and chose to ignore consistent reports of the torment they endured in these institutions.

A staggering total of 170,000 children were incarcerated in Industrial Schools from 1936 to 1970. The Commission’s report documents the systematic abuse, torture and neglect of thousands of children banished to industrial schools run by catholic religious orders the length and breadth of the state.

From Artane in Dublin to Letterfrack in Galway; from St Joseph’s Industrial School in Tralee to St Joseph’s ‘Orphanage’ in Bundoran; children were starved, beaten, sexually abused and humiliated. The vast majority received little or no education; instead, they were effectively used as slave labour for a regime that dehumanised them. Thousands have been left emotionally and psychologically traumatised, many meeting premature deaths in conditions of absolute poverty. This was not a case of a few bad apples in the system: it was systematic institutional abuse of children on a state-wide scale.

Just a few examples will suffice. Letterfrack was described as “an inhospitable, bleak, isolated institution, accessible only by car or bicycle and out of reach for family or friends of boys incarcerated there. Physical punishment was severe, excessive and pervasive… sexual abuse was a chronic problem”.

In Daingean, County Offaly, children were routinely stripped naked and flogged. According to the report, those children who passed through this so-called reformatory “were brutalised by the experience and some were damaged by it”.

Artane Industrial SchoolArtane Industrial School was the largest in the state; it was a place where “physical punishment of boys was excessive and pervasive and, because of its arbitrary nature, led to a climate of fear amongst the boys”. Sexual abuse of boys was a “chronic problem”.

Goldenbridge Industrial School in Inchicore was run by the Sisters of Mercy. Its method of inflicting punishment and the implements used “were cruel and excessive and physical punishment was an immediate response to even minor infractions”. Child labour was a routine feature of this regime; it was used in the manufacture of rosary beads and, according to the report: “this industry was conducted in a way that imposed impossible standards on children and caused great suffering to many of them”.

The testimony of those who survived this regime is harrowing. The vast majority of the children incarcerated in these institutions were there simply because their families were poor. The state paid religious orders to lock up children living in poverty. Behind the high walls of these institutions, children suffered the most appalling abuse and privation.

From the establishment of industrial schools in 1868, over 100,000 children were incarcerated in these institutions and, right up to the 1950s, over 6,000 children were locked up in industrial schools at any one time. The timeframe for the Commission’s Inquiry ran from 1936 to the present. Not only does it document the horrific level of abuse of children, it also details how Catholic Church authorities ignored consistent complaints of abuse and simply moved known and persistent abusers from one institution to another. The care and safety of children was secondary to the protection of their tormentors. Many of these abusers received glowing references and continued to torture children in their new placements. How did such appalling abuse take place over such a long period?

The Industrial Scchols Act introduced them to Ireland in 1868The Industrial School system was a legacy of British rule in Ireland. In 1922, responsibility for this system fell to the Free State Department of Education. From its establishment, the Free State entrusted the education and care of children to catholic religious orders and continued the policy of incarcerating children.

Notwithstanding substantial reforms to the system in Britain in the 1930s, the industrial school system in the Twenty-Six Counties became the primary means through which the state dealt with child poverty. While the Catholic Church dominated many aspects of social life in the early years of the Free State and maintained its dominance for over half-a-century through the control of education, health and welfare services, it was only in a position to do so because the state directly provided the funds to religious orders to organise these services.

All industrial schools were provided a per capita grant for each child, yet the state systematically ignored both official and unofficial reports of serious abuse and neglect of children. The system of funding for these institutions actually encouraged religious orders to increase the numbers of children held under their control. The greater number of children, the greater the level of funding. In this, they were assisted by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, known by children as the ‘cruelty man’, who, in removing children living in poverty from their families, provided the religious orders a steady flow of income and a ready source of slave labour.

In the 1940s, P Ó Muircheartaigh, the inspector of industrial and reformatory schools, reported on serious underfeeding of children in industrial schools, particularly those run by the Sisters of Mercy. He reported that this was “a serious indictment of the system of industrial schools run by nuns” that “should not be tolerated in a Christian community”.

Ironically, given the fact that most children were incarcerated as a result of poverty, Ó Muircheartaigh observed: “if the children’s parents subjected them to semi-starvation and lack of proper clothing and attention from which they suffer in some industrial schools the parents would be prosecuted”.

An Irish-American priest, Edward Flanagan, who ran a childcare centre in the US, travelled to Ireland in 1946 and visited many of the industrial schools. He was horrified at what he witnessed and described the industrial school system as a disgrace to the nation.

Fr Edward FlanaganThe political establishment was not impressed by his observations. The Fianna Fáil minister for justice, Gerald Boland, dismissed Flanagan’s testimony, claiming he didn’t know what he was talking about and exaggerated what he witnessed. Fine Gael leader James Dillon denounced Flanagan for publishing what he described as “falsehoods and slanders,” claiming that he had “done a grave injustice not only to the legislators of this country, but to the decent, respectable, honest men who are members of the Irish Christian Brothers”. These were the same Christian Brothers many of whose members were involved in raping and torturing children. Calls for a public inquiry into the system were dismissed by Fianna Fáil minister for education Tom Derrig because it was claimed it “would serve no useful purpose”.

The political establishment in the Twenty-Six Counties, represented by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, saw no useful purpose in investigating the systematic abuse of the most vulnerable in Irish society. It is a shameful testimony on a society that criminalised the impoverished while institutionalising poverty and refused to respond to serious criminal acts against children. Those in poverty were voiceless and powerless in the face of the political and social ruling classes who controlled their lives.

No religious orders have been brought before the courts for these crimes against children. Regimes of torture have gone unpunished. Not only have religious orders escaped punishment, they continue to be paid by the state for the provision of a range of day care services for children, the elderly and people with disabilities.

In 2007, a total of just 10 religious orders received in excess of €376 million [£331 million] from the Twenty-Six County Health Services Executive, with one order, the Brothers of Charity, receiving €166 million [£146 million].

A 2005 report from the Twenty-Six County comptroller and auditor general expressed concern about the manner in which funding for these services was allocated and highlighted both a distinct lack of clarity about the costs of the services being purchased by the state and a lack of accountability about the quality of those services.

There is a continuing myth that religious orders are charitable organisations. The figures from the HSE suggest otherwise. These orders have financial turnovers equivalent to large corporations. They are also in possession of large tracts of land and a substantial property portfolio throughout the state. Notwithstanding their healthy financial state, they will pay just 10 per cent of the estimated €1 billion costs relating to the redress scheme and legal costs of the Inquiry. Under a deal agreed with the state in 2002, religious orders were indemnified from redress claims in exchange for cash payments and property transfers equivalent to €127 million [£112 million].

John Kelly of Survivors of Child Abuse at the report launchThe publication of the Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Child Abuse has succeeded in exposing the sickness at the heart of the Twenty-Six County state and has given voice to many hundreds of those who were incarcerated at the behest of the state and tortured at the hands of religious orders.

It was another world from that envisioned in the Democratic Programme of the First Dáil, in which the well being and education of children was to be paramount. Instead, children living in poverty were criminalised, forcibly removed from their families and locked up in institutions, where they suffered the most appalling privations. The abuse was systematic and widespread. It involved the courts, state institutions and government departments, state agencies, such as the perversely-titled Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, and over a dozen religious orders. It was funded by the Dublin government and happened because the neo-colonial state vested power and privilege within a social class that treated those experiencing poverty as second class citizens who were responsible for the circumstances in which they found themselves. Such a system perpetuated gross inequality and ensured that wealth remained in the hands of a small minority.

While the torture of children in these institutions may have ended, the legacy remains. It is found in the broken lives of those who were subjected to these regimes of torture, in their continuing poverty and homelessness.

The system of childcare in the Twenty-Six Counties remains chaotic; 6,500 children at risk of abuse or neglect have not been allocated a social worker. Over the last number of years, 20 children in the care of the state have died from neglect. Young teenagers in need of care have been assigned to entirely inappropriate ‘emergency’ bed and breakfast accommodation; many have died as a result of drug overdoses.

Throughout the economic boom, levels of childhood poverty grew and recent budget cuts have targeted children’s hospitals and children suffering educational disadvantage. Those in power in the Twenty-Six Counties remain committed to inequality and unconcerned about the impact of their policies. The Commission of Inquiry has recommended the erection of a memorial to those incarcerated within the Industrial School system. The construction of a society that cherishes all of the children of the nation equally would be the only really fitting monument.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Connolly Remembered at Arbour Hill

Around 200 people gathered at Dublin’s Arbour Hill Cemetery on Saturday [May 16] for éirígí’s fourth annual James Connolly Commemoration.

The assembled republicans braved high winds and rain as they walked the short distance from the entrance of the Cemetery to the graves of the executed leaders of Easter Week, led by a well-marshalled colour party.

The day’s proceedings were chaired by Ursula Ní Shionnáin and opened with the playing of the national anthem and a minute’s silence for all those who have given their lives in the cause of Irish freedom. A wreath was then laid at the national monument on behalf of éirígí.

Excerpts of Connolly’s writings, dealing with the indivisibility of the national and social struggles in Ireland and the nature of socialism, were read out by Dublin’s Daithí Mac An Mhaistír, Nuala McGurk from Belfast and Fermanagh’s Kevin Martin.

Newly-elected éirígí Rúnaí Ginearálta Breandán Mac Cionnaith delivered the main oration, paying homage to a man who provided the basis for socialist republican thought in Ireland and plenty of examples for action.

Part One

Part Two

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

éirígí demand immediate release of Maura Harrington

Sligo éirígí activist Gerry Casey has called for the immediate release from prison of prominent Shell to Sea campaigner Maura Harrington. He also said that her jailing at this time was a deliberate move by the state to silence one of Shell’s most vociferous opponents in north Mayo at the same time that an An Bord Pleanala oral public hearing begins to discuss Shell’s planned pipeline.

Maura was returned to the jail on Monday night for refusing to pay a fine arising from her peaceful opposition to Shell Oil’s project in Mayo. She was previously imprisoned in March for 28 days. Shell to Sea campaigners, including many éirígí activists temporarily halted her return to Mountjoy prison. As the car carrying Harrington arrived at the Dublin prison at around 10pm on Monday, éirígí and Shell to Sea activists blockaded the road, stopping the car in its tracks. Gardaí then intervened to forcibly ensure Harrington arrived in custody. Maura was also a guest speaker at éirígí’s Ard Fheis on Saturday in the West County Hotel, Chapelizod, Dublin.

Casey said: “The jailing of Maura Harrington on Monday night is the latest move in a concerted effort by the state to intimidate and silence opposition to the giveaway of our natural resources to Shell and their proposed pipeline in County Mayo. Maura’s only crime has been to refuse to bow down and accept the diktats of Shell and the forces of this state who have lined up against the people they claim to represent.”

“The timing of her arrest is no coincidence. It comes at a crucial time, as an oral hearing by An Bord Pleanala has just commenced to discuss Shell’s proposed pipeline. It also comes at a time when repression has intensified against the entire Shell to Sea campaign, including a savage assault on Willie Corduff, who was severely beaten by a gang of masked men, believed to be Shell security.”

He added: “What Shell, with the collusion of the Gardaí and their political masters, are doing in north Mayo is totally unacceptable. The only realistic solution to this dispute is the nationalisation of our natural resources in the Corrib gas field and elsewhere. This would also enable all the genuine environmental concerns of the local community to be addressed in a proper manner. At a time when our health and education services face massive cutbacks, when nurses and other essential front line staff are being laid off, when hospital wards are being shut down and special needs classes being scrapped, Fianna Fáil and their Green party colleagues’ refusal to end the giveaway of our natural resources is truly shameful.”

He concluded: “Maura must be released immediately and éirígí pledges its continuing support to campaigning for her release. While this state continues to give away our much needed natural resources and act as brutal enforcers for Shell, acts of civil disobedience, such as those carried out by éirígí and Shell to Sea activists on Monday night, will also continue.”

éirígí and Elections: an Exercise in Participatory Democracy

éirígíWhen éirígí was established in April 2006, it had two goals in mind: the reinvigoration of the struggle for national independence and socialism in Ireland, and the reinvigoration of the movement that would achieve those goals.

The struggle for genuine national democracy necessitates the building of a democratic socialist republican movement. A movement that has it aims, objectives, agenda, tactics and strategy rooted firmly in the collective analysis of the rank and file membership; a movement whose elected leadership is directly accountable, without exception, to the organisation as a whole.

This objective of maximising the participatory nature of the republican struggle was put into practice by éirígí activists across Ireland when the issue of the party’s participation, or otherwise, in elections was debated in the months leading up to last weekend’s Ard Fhéis.

The topic of the debate came as a surprise to no one given that the éirígí constitution states as one of its means “the contesting of elections where the contesting of such elections is deemed to advance éirígí’s objectives. An Ard Fhéis alone can authorize the contesting of elections and participation in institutions to which members are elected.”

What followed was an exercise in participatory democracy. Over the course of four months éirígí members across the country took part in a multi-phased discussion focused on the topic of elections and elected institutions.

The first phase of this discussion process was based around an elections background paper which included a range of the different options open to éirígí. These options ranged from complete non-engagement in the electoral process, right through to the contesting of every election and participating in every elected institution.

On completion of the first phase of discussion, which took place at a local level within all local Ciorcail, it was clear that the option of tactically contesting elections and tactically participating in certain elected institutions was the preferred option of the majority of the membership. A second clear theme which emerged at this point was the unanimous view of the membership that éirígí should not participate in the elected institutions based in Westminster or Stormont.

The second phase of the discussion saw An Ciorcal Náisiúnta produce a draft proposal which was broadly reflective of the feedback from the first phase of discussion. This draft proposal was then explored and discussed by all local Ciorcail.

The third phase of the discussion process saw members from across the country come together to discuss the draft proposal at a national conference in Dublin. This conference allowed activists from different parts of the country to exchange ideas and identify both common ground and areas of contention.

Following on from the national conference An Ciorcal Náisiúnta amended the draft proposal to reflect the general feedback that had emerged through the second round of local meetings and the national conference. This amended draft was the focus of the fourth phase of discussions, which again took place at the level of local Ciorcal.

The fifth and final phase of the entire process was the discussion that took place at the recent Ard Fhéis and the vote that followed.

Throughout the entire process every member of éirígí had the right to submit proposed amendments to the draft proposal. On many occasions those proposed changes were incorporated into the draft proposal. Where those proposed amendments were not incorporated each individual member had the right to propose amendments at An Ard Fhéis.

As with all major policy and strategy decisions within éirígí the final vote was taken on the basis of one member – one vote, a mechanism which guards against the possibility of delegate manipulation.

The entire four-month long process of discussion was conducted in a comradely and inclusive fashion right up to, and including, the moment of the vote last Saturday.

The outcome in terms of éirígí’s democratically-ratified position on elections wasn’t a perfect result for any one individual. But that was never the intention. Through a drawn-out process of discussion and consensus building, éirígí was able to develop a collective view that involved give and take by every member of the party, including members of An Ciorcal Náisiúnta.

The final package adopted by An Ard Fhéis was made up of three main elements, namely an éirígí policy paper entitled ‘Elections, Elected Institutions and Ireland’s Revolutionary Struggle’, a series of Ard Fhéis motions and a series of constitutional amendments. All are reproduced below.

Following on from An Ard Fhéis an éirígí elections committee is to be established. This committee, in conjunction with the membership, will develop a draft electoral strategy paper for éirígí – a paper which will then be put to the general membership for adoption at An Ard Fhéis.

As the newly-elected Rúnaí Ginearálta Breandán Mac Cionnaith said,

“éirígí is keenly-aware of the pitfalls and dangers presented to the revolutionary struggle by participation in elections and elected institutions. We have taken the decision to tactically contest elections at a time of our choosing without any naive illusions.

“We know that the British occupation and partition cannot be ended through parliamentary reform. We also know that a socialist system cannot simply be voted into place by a parliament.

“For British rule to be ended and the socio-economic order to be changed a revolutionary situation must first come into existence. Such a revolutionary situation can only come about when working people taking control of their lives, their workplaces, their communities and their streets. No political party can deliver revolution. Only the people themselves can do that.

“éirígí believes that the popularisation of socialist republicanism will play a role in creating that revolutionary situation and assisting with that popularisation is what we intend to do over the coming months and years.”

Click here to read ‘Elections, Elected Institutions and Ireland’s Revolutionary Struggle’.>>

Click here to read Constitutional Amendments and Ard Fhéis motions linked to the elections discussion.>>

éirígí Takes Another Step Towards Elections

In a major strategic decision, overwhelmingly approved by its membership at their recent Ard-Fheis, the socialist republican party, éirígí, has adopted a policy paper on elections and elected institutions which confirms the party’s intentions to contest future elections on a tactical basis.

In adopting ‘Elections, Elected Institutions and Ireland’s Revolutionary Struggle’ the party has now effectively declared its intention to contest elections across Ireland where it deems the contesting of those elections will advance éirígí’s revolutionary objectives.

In the event of éirígí candidates winning seats in Leinster House or in local councils on either side of the border the party will participate in those elected institutions on a tactical basis. The Ard-Fheis also confirmed that in the event of éirígí candidates successfully contesting elections to Stormont or Westminster they would not take their seats within those British institutions.

These decisions were reached following lengthy consultation and debate within the party over the past number of months.

The party membership at the Ard-Fheis also approved the establishment of an elections committee to develop a comprehensive éirígí electoral strategy. The exact timing of any éirígí electoral intervention will be decided by the general membership following the adoption of this electoral strategy.

Speaking after the historic decision, newly-elected éirígí Rúnaí Ginearálta, Breandán Mac Cionnaith said,

“éirígí believes it is possible to move closer to its socialist and republican objectives by tactically contesting elections and tactically participating in specified elected institutions. Such an approach will provide a major additional platform for éirígí to challenge and expose the status quo while simultaneously representing the interests of working people and promoting our vision of a socialist republican alternative.

“Any éirígí engagement in elections will be on the basis of a clear understanding that the existing elected institutions must ultimately fall before a new, genuinely democratic system can emerge. Revolutionary change in Ireland will come from events on the streets and in the workplace and not from any gradual process within the elected institutions of the two states that currently exist in Ireland.

“The primary reason for éirígí tactically participating in elections and elected institutions will be to expose the limits of the current systems, both North and South, and give an effective voice to those whom the current systems are failing. éirígí is not in the business of protecting, defending or reforming those institutions which have continually failed the youngest, oldest, sickest and most disadvantaged sections of our population.

“In moving toward the electoral arena éirígí remains committed to building on its proven track-record as a campaigning organisation. In addition we will continue to work within our communities to develop alternative community-based initiatives, structures and forums to which working people can transfer their allegiance to and away from the existing institutions of the state.

In closing Breandán acknowledged the scale of the task ahead,

“éirígí recognises the immense size of the task ahead of us. We understand that it will take many years of slow and patient work to bring about a new socialist Ireland. Despite the scale of the challenge we have no doubt that it can be achieved. Contrary to the wishes of our opponents éirígí is here for the long haul. In developing its position on elections and elected institutions éirígí has sent a clear and unambiguous signal of its intention to build and develop throughout Ireland and to become a permanent force on the Irish political landscape.”

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

éirígí Ard Fheis 2009

éirígí activists from the north-west were among those in attendance at the party’s third annual Ard Fheis in the West County Hotel, Chapelizod, Dublin on Saturday and Sunday [May 16-17]. The party’s annual James Connolly commemoration was also held on Saturday at Arbour Hill cemetery.

The socialist republican party’s Ard Fheis began with debates on the party's stance on elections, the current economic crisis, international solidarity issues, the Campaign for a British Withdrawal, political prisoners and the fight for Ireland's natural resources. Among the guest speakers who addressed the event were prominent Shell to Sea campaigner Maura Harrington and Fermanagh independent Cllr Bernice Swift, who spoke on behalf of Firinne, the group representing the victims of British state collusion in the Fermanagh area.

Speaking at the conclusion of the Ard Fheis, Sligo éirígí activist Gerry Casey said that a radical alternative to the current failed economic system was required.

Casey said: “The capitalist economic model, which exists to serve the interests of the business class at the expense of workers, has been exposed for the failure it is. The economic crisis we are currently in was created by the political classes and their friends in big business throughout this country. Over the past 15 years, they plundered the wealth of the ‘Celtic Tiger’. When they had the opportunity and the wealth to create first-class health, education and transport systems, they chose not to and have instead provided us with record unemployment levels, mass privatisation and endemic child and fuel poverty. Now, as the economy spirals into an ever deepening crisis, the hundreds of thousands of people who actually worked hard to generate the wealth are being forced to foot the bill to protect those who mismanaged it.”

He added: “This country needs a genuine and radical alternative for what passes as politics in this country. The establishment political parties, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour, Sinn Féin and the SDLP have all failed the people they claim to represent and have failed to offer a credible and radical alternative to the never ending cycle of economic bust and boom. Instead of tackling the root cause of the problem, which is the capitalist economic model, they all choose to retain that failed system and merely tinker with how they will operate that system.”

He concluded: “Capitalism has failed and it is long past time to consign that failure to the dustbin of history. We must begin the work to create an equal and sustainable system, a socialist system, where working class people, not the business class, would benefit and control the wealth of this nation. éirígí is offering a credible and radical alternative so sadly lacking among the political classes in Leinster House and Stormont. We appeal for people to join us in promoting this alternative."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

éirígí Ard-Fheis 2009

This Saturday and Sunday [May 16-17] sees éirígí’s Ard-Fheis 2009 in the West County Hotel, Chapelizod, Dublin and the annual James Connolly commemoration in Arbour Hill Cemetery.

The socialist republican party’s Ard-Fheis will begin on Saturday with debates on language, culture, political prisoners, international solidarity and socio-economic issues.

éirigí chairperson Brian Leeson will make a keynote speech on the development of the party and the Campaign for a British Withdrawal. Other guest speakers are to be confirmed.

Speaking before the Ard-Fheis, Leeson said: “This is éirígí’s third Ard-Fheis and will mark the steady growth of the party. This gathering holds particular significance for socialist republicans, coming as it does on the 90th anniversary of the First Dáil’s Democratic Programme, the 100th anniversary of Fianna Éireann and in the week of the anniversary of James Connolly’s execution.

“éirígí has been highly active on a number of issues over the past twelve months and is now, more than ever, a radical alternative to the right-wing politics of the establishment, which has led the people of Ireland into a cul-de-sac of economic crisis and continuing occupation.

“The party is looking forward to the upcoming debates and urges all socialist republicans to mobilise against inequality, exploitation and the British occupation over the next 12 months.”

Monday, May 11, 2009

Shell must cease their work in Mayo – Garda assaults must be investigated

Sligo éirígí activist Gerry Casey has called for an immediate halt to all work by Shell Oil on their refinery in North Mayo and has claimed that the only credible solution to the Corrib gas dispute is the nationalisation of our natural resources off the coast of Mayo and elsewhere. He also called for an independent public inquiry into the many abuses, including serious assaults which he personally witnessed, carried out by the Gardai acting as enforcers for Shell at Glengad.

Casey was speaking following a Day of Action at Glengad, north Mayo, organised to show support to the local community and to remove illegal fencing erected by Shell as they attempt to complete their refinery. Casey was among the large numbers of people who took part in the protests, which included éirígí activists from the north west and other areas of the country. At least six protesters were arrested while others were assaulted by Gardai. At least one demonstrator was left bleeding after being assaulted by Gardai.

Casey said: “What Shell, with the collusion of the Gardai and their political masters, are doing in north Mayo is wrong and must be stopped. All work should be halted immediately so that an acceptable solution can be reached.”

He added: “The reality is that the nationalisation of our natural resources in the Corrib gas field and elsewhere is the only viable solution to this dispute. It is not too late for the Fianna Fáil led administration to take the massive amount of gas reserves currently at the mercy of Shell’s greed back under state control and to utilise its wealth for the benefit of the Irish people instead of lining Shell’s pockets. This would also enable all the genuine environmental concerns of the local community to be addressed in a proper manner.”

“The wealth generated should be utilised to provide investment in efficient and effective health and education systems for all and to end fuel poverty. At a time when savage cuts are being inflicted on our health and education services, with nurses and other essential front line staff being laid off, hospital wards being closed and special needs classes being scrapped, this administration has ran out of excuses for refusing to put an end to the shameful giveaway of our natural resources. They must nationalise our valuable and much needed natural resources starting with the Corrib Gas Field.”

Calling for an independent public inquiry into the many abuses carried out by the Gardai acting as Shells bully-boys and enforcers in north Mayo, he said: “The countless abuses, including physical assaults, which campaigners claim that Gardai and Shell security employees have inflicted on protestors must be thoroughly examined. What the local community have witnessed in recent times, and what I witnessed in person today, has been unjustified arrests and unprovoked assaults on peaceful demonstrators. The one thing the local community have not witnessed here has been justice.”

He concluded: “An independent public inquiry must be established as a matter of urgency to investigate these matters fully and to secure justice for the local community. It is not acceptable that they think they can assault and intimidate peaceful protestors like they did on Saturday and get away with it. The Gardai must be brought to account for their abuses.”

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Annual James Connolly Commemoration on May 16

Tommy McKearney speaking in 2008Breandán Mac Cionnaith will be the main speaker at the fourth annual éirígí James Connolly commemoration which will take place at 3.30pm on Saturday May 16th in Dublin's Arbour Hill.

In what is becoming a well established event in Dublin's republican calender the fourth éirígí annual James Connolly commemoration will take place at 3.30pm on Saturday, May 16th, at the gravesides of the executed 1916 leaders in Dublin's Arbour Hill cemetery. This year's main speaker will be éirígí's Breandán Mac Cionnaith.

Bernadette McAliskey speaking in 2007Speakers at previous commemorations have included Bernadette McAliskey, the veteran civil rights activist, and Tommy McKearney, the former H-Block hunger striker and trade union acitivist, as well as éirígí's Brian Leeson and Daithí Mac An Mháistir. The commemoration is éirígí's national annual commemorative event to honour all of those who have sacrificied their lives in the fight for Irish freedom.

Previous commemorations have been well attended by socialist republicans from accross Ireland and this year promises to be no different. All are welcome.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Bobby Sands Remembered in Dublin

éirígí activists marked the twenty-eighth anniversary of Bobby Sands’ death on Tuesday past (May 5). In more than a dozen locations across the city banners and posters were erected asking people to remember the historic sacrifice made by Bobby Sands on that date almost three decades ago.

Tallaght Village

For the thousands of commuters making their way to work in Inchicore, Tallaght, Clondalkin, Sallynoggin and other districts of Dublin the banners and posters served as a reminder of the special significance of May 5th.

St Michael's Estate, Inchicore

Speaking about the anniversary éirígí Chairperson Brian Leeson said: “May 5th is a date that is seared into the consciousness of Irish republicans across the world. Even for those who were very young, or not even born, at the time of Bobby Sands’ death the date triggers a range of mixed emotions – of sadness, of loss and of immense pride.

Basin Lane, South Inner City

“In marking this date we are also marking the heroic sacrifice made by the other nine hunger-strikers and their families twenty-eight years ago. Their collective strength and determination inspires us to this day and will inspire generations of republicans to come. In remembering their deaths we recommit ourselves to achieving that for which they died – an Ireland free from British occupation.”

Quarryvale, Clondalkin