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."