In the policy paper ‘Elections, Elected Institutions and Ireland’s Revolutionary Struggle’, éirígí has already comprehensively outlined its view of the role that elections can play in the battle for Irish national and social freedom. That document states that “éirígí believes it is possible for a revolutionary party to move closer to its objectives by tactically contesting elections and tactically participating in specified elected institutions.”
With regard to the upcoming Westminster election, the question is, therefore, a tactical one, summed up with the simple question ‘Will the contesting of these elections bring Irish republicanism closer to, or further from, its objective?’
éirígí believes that the answer to this question lies in accurately assessing the objective strength of Irish republicanism at this point in its historic struggle. Without such an assessment, it is impossible to navigate the future direction of the republican struggle and the role that elections might, or might not, play in that struggle.
Irish republicanism has suffered a major defeat over the course of the last 15 years. For tens of thousands of Irish republicans, this period has been defined by disbelief, disappointment, frustration, anger and, all too often, despair. A once strong, confident Irish republicanism is now in a state of confusion, division and fragmentation.
The demand for Irish national reunification and independence has been removed from the political centre stage, only to be replaced by a petty sectarian squabble, with the British government happily acting as the arbitrator of the ‘settlement’. While it may be unpalatable to acknowledge this reality, that does not make it any less true.
It is éirígí’s view, however, that all is not lost. As a result of the determination and selfless work of political activists around the country, Irish republicanism is slowly emerging from this bleak period of its long and noble history.
But the process of rebuilding republicanism has, in historic terms, only just begun. It is a process that must have a bottom up approach and be centred in every working class community in Ireland. That is the only way that a new, radical republican movement, one that is capable of challenging the vested interests of occupation and exploitation, can emerge. This will be a long and arduous task; one that will take place out of the glare of the media spotlight. It will be a process that will often seem thankless and painfully slow-moving. But it is one that must be undertaken if republican objectives are to be secured.
This is the objective reality against which any republican participation in the upcoming Westminster elections must be evaluated. From its current position of weakness any republican participation in this election would, in éirígí’s opinion, be unwise.
Irish republicanism cannot afford to have its political agenda set by the elections of the political establishment. Participation in elections should only be considered from a position of relative strength, where the results are likely to advance the struggle and not retard it. For this reason, éirígí will not be contesting the forthcoming election, nor will it be supporting any non-éirígí republican candidates should they choose to stand.
Now is the time for republicans to focus on the process of rebuilding the ideas, the organisations and the wider movement that will bring about the victorious conclusion of the struggle for freedom and independence. For its part, éirígí will be continuing its work to repopularise the socialist republican message in working class communities and to nurture the still fragile green shoots of a resurgent Irish republicanism.