Thursday, May 26, 2011

James Connolly, Monarchy & Labour Party Hypocrisy

The tweet below was posted by Labour party TD for East Galway Colm Keaveney on the first day of the Windsor visit and was reproduced in the Galway Independent newspaper the following day in its May 18th issue.

Below is the contents of a letter from éirígí Sligeach activist Gerry Casey in response to Keaveney's remarks which was published in yesterday's Galway Independent (May 25th).  Just click on the image below to read the digital edition or click here to read it on the papers website.

The following text is the full content of the response to Deputy Keaveney.

A chara

Please allow me to respond to the Labour TD Colm Keaveney's ill-informed tweet relating to the Windsor visit published in last weeks Galway Independent. In it he describes the socialist republican party éirígí as 'thugs'.

So what merits such a tag in Deputy Keaveney's eyes?

Is it upholding our right to organise a series of protests against the visit of the British head of state, all of which were peaceful despite huge provocation from Gardai? Is it our refusal to be intimidated by persistent Garda actions who, in the run-up and during the visit, intimidated and threatened activists engaged in legal political activity?

Party members erecting posters in Dublin, including myself, were illegally stopped and searched and interrogated by Gardai refusing to show ID or cite what act they were acting under as obliged by law. Despite having permits to poster, these were torn down and the remainder seized by Gardai.

éirígí Dublin City Cllr Louise Minihan had her car searched by up to a dozen Gardai who seized a banner that read 'Fund Communities Not Royal Visits' deeming it to be 'offensive'. Other similar banners and flags were also seized as Gardai tried to prevent peaceful protests taking place. I was grabbed from behind and thrown to the ground by Gardai as I videoed their attempts to prevent people joining a protest at the Spire.

While the Union Jack flew over government buildings, Gardai effectively banned our national flag from Dublin city centre, seizing tri-colours and throwing them in refuse trucks.

As someone who has watched Gardai police anti-Shell protests in north Mayo, this intimidation, illegality and blatant attempts to prevent peaceful protest does not surprise me. But if Deputy Keaveney is concerned about 'thugs' he would be better served taking on those 'thugs' for which his government are responsible i.e the Gardai. Or does Deputy Keaveney think that the right to engage in legal political activity and peaceful protest should only extend to other countries and not here?  Does he believe the thuggery outlined above is acceptable?

Is mise

Gerry Casey
éirígí Sligeach

Labour TD Colm Keaveney
Previously a full-time Trade Union official with SIPTU until his recent election to Leinster House, Keaveney and his colleagues in the Labour party would like us all to believe that they are following in the footsteps of James Connolly and James Larkin.

Speaking at Arbour Hill just two days before he welcomed the first English Monarch to visit the 26 counties in 100 years off her plane, Keaveney's party leader Eamon Gilmore said: 

"It is an occasion to honour the memory of a man who, through his ideals; through his vision; and through his sacrifice; bequeathed to us a living legacy. That legacy is the Labour Party."

Gilmore welcomes Windsor to Dublin
He added:

"So as we gather to celebrate the life of James Connolly - the values he stood for, the ideals he fought for - we might also reflect on our own call to duty."  

So what were those values of Connolly's that the Labour party leader wanted to celebrate?  What for instance were Connolly's views on Monarchy and of royal visits to Ireland?

Speaking in the advance of the last 'British royal' visit in 1911 Connolly made his views absolutely crystal clear "that the occasion will be utilised to make propaganda on behalf of royalty and aristocracy against the oncoming forces of democracy and National freedom".

James Connolly
 And in comments that could just as easily be directed now at Gilmore and Keaveney he said:

"Let the capitalist and landlord class flock to exalt him; he is theirs; in him they see embodied the idea of caste and class; they glorify him and exalt his importance that they might familiarise the public mind with the conception of political inequality, knowing well that a people mentally poisoned by the adulation of royalty can never attain to that spirit of self-reliant democracy necessary for the attainment of social freedom."  

Gilmore and the Labour party have portrayed  this visit as one of the greatest moments in Irish history, as they grovelled before the English monarch, the head of what Connolly described as "a survival of the tyranny imposed by the hand of greed and treachery upon the human race in the darkest and most ignorant days of our history."
While Connolly along with other socialist republicans was leading the opposition to the last 'royal visit' to Dublin,  Gilmore and the Labour party were shutting down large sections of the city, using their political police to try to prevent protests against this visit.   Cheered on by a largely compliant and unquestioning media, they attempted to demonise and criminalise those who dared take to the streets in opposition to this visit in the same way that Connolly and Markieveicz were treated in 1911 by the British authorities.

Clearly at odds with the current Labour party view of monarchy, Connolly described it as deriving its only sanction "from the sword of the marauder, and the helplessness of the producer, and its gifts to humanity are unknown, save as they can be measured in the pernicious examples of triumphant and shameless iniquities."

So while Gilmore, Keaveney and the rest of the Labour party may wish people to believe that they are following in the footsteps of James Connolly, do they seriously think he would have welcomed the Commander in Chief of the British army to our shores while they continue to occupy part of our country?

They may want us to believe that Connolly would have wined and dined in Dublin Castle rubbing shoulders with the political and capitalist classes that have caused so much suffering to Irish workers  in order to honour  an English monarch, but does anyone with capacity for rational thought seriously believe them?  

Unlike Eamon Gilmore and the Labour party, James Connolly was avowedly opposed to capitalism, to monarchy and to all forms of privilege.  Unlike them, he was a staunch defender of workers rights and of the poor.  Unlike them, he was not a social democrat - he was a socialist and a revolutionary socialist at that.  Unlike them, he was an anti-imperialist opposed to the occupation of any part of Ireland by a foreign government.

In his final statement which was given to his daughter Nora on the eve of his execution, Connolly re-iterated his position on the British occupation in no uncertain terms.

"The British Government has no right in Ireland, never had any right in Ireland, and never can have any right in Ireland

Commandant-General, Dublin Division,
Army of the Irish Republic

May 9th 1916 

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