Monday, January 24, 2011

éirígí Ard-Fheis Jan 2011 – Full Report

éirígí’s fifth Ard-Fheis took place on Sunday [January 23] in Culturlánn
McAdam Ó Fiaich on Belfast’s Falls Road. Up to 200 people from
across Ireland attended the all day conference.The morning session
focused on organisational and policy matters while the afternoon session
saw a range of guest and éirígí speakers address the packed venue.

éirígí Ard-Fheis 2011

Organisational Reports
Following the adoption of standing orders and the election of a steering
committee for An Ard-Fheis, a number of organisational reports were
delivered by a the outgoing elected party officers, Runaí Ginearálta
(General Secretary) Breandán Mac Cionnaith, Pádraig Ó Meiscill
(Publicity), Daithí Mac An Mháistir (Membership) and Ciarán Heaphey
(Finance). These reports were followed by a question and answer session.


The next item on the clár were motions on a wide range of issues
including the British occupation of the Six Counties, the economic
crisis, cutbacks to public services and the treatment of political
prisoners. There were also motions mandating the incoming Ciorcal
Náisiúnta to perform specific organisational and policy tasks as well
as motions sending solidarity to struggles around the world.

A significant portion of the available time was given over to a
discussion on the upcoming localelections in the Six Counties
and the merits of éirígí putting forward candidates in same. This
discussion was the latest stage in a process of internal debate
about elections which began in earnest in the spring of 2009.
At the end of the debate delegates voted in favour of éirígí
running candidates in the May election.  
Click here to read all motions adopted by An Ard-Fheis >>

Election of National Officers
Before breaking for lunch An Ard-Fheis elected seven individuals
to An Ciorcal Náisiúnta. These were
An Cathaoirleach (Chair) Brian Leeson 
Leas-Chathaoirleach (Vice-Chair) Rab Jackson 
An Rúnaí Ginearálta (General Secretary) Breandán Mac Cionnaith 
Cisteoirí (Treasurers) Micheál Mac Neighill and Ciarán Heaphey 
An tOifigeach Caidrimh Phoiblí (Public Relation Officer) Pádraig Ó Meiscill 
An tOifigeach Ballraíochta (Membership Officer) Daithí Mac An Mháistir
    Daithí Mac an Mháistir speaks about the party's socialism paper

    Official Launch of From Socialism Alone Can the Salvation of Ireland Come
    After lunch the numbers in the Culturlánn swelled as a series of speakers
    took to the podium to address An Ard-Fheis. The first to do so was éirígí’s
    Daithí Mac An Mháistir who formally launched the party’s most recent
    policy paper From Socialism Alone Can the Salvation of Ireland Come.
    Daithí not only gave a flavour of the content of the paper, he also explored
    the political context of its adoption and the process which was used to adopt it.

    Guest Speakers

    The first of four guest speakers, Patricia Campbell, President of the Independent
    Workers Union congratulated éirígí on the production on From Socialism 
    Alone Can the Salvation of Ireland Come before condemning the attacks on
    public services on both sides of the border. Patricia singled out the cutbacks in
    the areas of health and education for particular attention.

    Patricia Campbell of the IWU

    Donal Fallon of the student organisation Free Education for Everyone gave
    the assembled crowd a brief rundown on FEE’s campaign of resistance to
    student fees. He explained that the recent student protests in Dublin, Belfast
    and Derry had led to FEE setting up new branches in a number of third
    level institutions across the country. Donal finished by expressing his hope
    that these developments may signal the emergence of a new radical
    student movement.

    The chairperson of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign Freda
    Hughes impressed upon the Ard-Fheis the importance of developing
    an international grassroots campaign of opposition to Israeli oppression
    of the Palestinian people. She highlighted the role that everyone has
    to play in boycotting Israeli goods and building pressure for divestment
    from Israel.

    The last of the guest speakers, Pepe Gutiérrez from the Latin America
    Solidarity Centre, provided a unique perspective of the current
    economic crisis, proposing that the Latin American experience of the
    IMF in the 1980s and 1990s could prove useful to Irish activists today.
    This theme of mutual solidarity and co-operation was repeated throughout
    his contribution. Pepe concluded by encouraging people to have hope
    and belief in their ability to win through in the end. Other guests
    who attended the Ard-Fheis included representatives from the
    Communist Party of Ireland, the Workers Solidarity Movement, Kurdistan
    National Congress, and the Cuba Solidarity Group.

    Solidarity Greetings

    Louise Minihan reads a message from Cuban Ambassador Teresita Trujillo

    Following on from the guest speakers Leas-Chathaoirleach éirígí Rab
    Jackson read aloud a message of solidarity from the Popular Front for
    the Liberation of Palestine. éirígí Dublin City Councillor Louise Minihan
    then read out a message from the Cuban Ambassador to Ireland, Teresita
    Trujillo. Solidarity greetings were also sent to An Ard-Fheis by the
    Workers Party of New Zealand, Izquierda Castellana and the Peace And
    Neutrality Alliance.  
    Click here to read the full text of all solidarity greetings >>

    Cathaoirleach Address

    Following the showing of a short éirígí video, Cathaoirleach éirígí Brian
    Leeson gave the main address of the afternoon. In a wide ranging speech
    Brian paid tribute to the sacrifice of the republican community in Belfast,
    rejected sectarianism and highlighted éirígí’s achievements over the last five
    years. He also outlined the backdrop to the next ten years of struggle
    which will witness a number of centenary anniversaries including the
    1913 Lockout, the 1916 Rising and the partition of Ireland.  Brian
    went on to urge activists to emulate the examples of those who fought
    for Irish freedom a century ago, before telling people that the time had
    come for the poor to declare war on the rich and committing éirígí to
    playing its part in that war. When Brian finished his speech, folk singer
    Pól Mac Adaim brought An Ard-Fheis to a close with a rendition of
    Amhrán na bhFiann.

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