Tuesday, 21 December 2010

From Socialism Alone Can the Salvation of Ireland Come

Following months of discussion, éirígí recently adopted its position paper on socialism - From Socialism Alone Can the Salvation of Ireland Come. This is a critical development for the rebuilding of socialist republicanism in Ireland.

When éirígí was established as a campaigns group in April 2006 it did so as an avowedly socialist republican organisation, founded upon the principles of that champion of revolutionary socialism in Ireland, James Connolly.

The activists who ultimately founded éirígí had first asked themselves two questions: Was the objective of a socialist republic still relevant in today’s world? And if so, was there a need for a new political organisation to fight for the creation of that republic? With the answer to both these questions being a definitive yes, éirígí came into existence.

Four and a half years later, the party has reached another significant milestone with the publication of a major ideological policy paper. From Socialism Alone Can the Salvation of Ireland Come is not only an important development for éirígí as a political party; it is also an important for the development of socialist republicanism in Ireland.

From Socialism Alone Can the Salvation of Ireland Come does not simply reject capitalism in all of its forms; it also sets out éirígí’s vision of an alternative society based upon the public ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange.

Over the course of the last century many Irish republicans have come to the conclusion that an Ireland which remained capitalist post a British withdrawal would not really be free at all. And éirígí is proud to follow in that tradition, to follow in the footsteps of organisations such as the Irish Socialist Republican Party and the Republican Congress and of individuals like Peadar O’Donnell, Liam Mellows, Constance Markiewicz, Frank Ryan and Mairéad Farrell.

However, From Socialism Alone Can the Salvation of Ireland Come is not just about éirígí taking its place in Ireland’s revolutionary tradition. It is also about changing the parameters of debate in republican Ireland and beyond. It is about building the theoretical foundations for a powerful movement in Ireland that will be uncompromisingly republican and socialist. A revolutionary republican movement that has class politics at the core of its analysis, a movement that will never again commit the mistakes of militarism, constitutionalism or the pernicious notion that labour ‘must wait’.

The process by which éirígí developed and adopted From Socialism Alone Can the Salvation of Ireland Come was itself an example of the type of participative democracy that éirígí wishes to see at the heart of a new socialist Ireland. This process saw an initial draft debated by the entire membership within their respective local Ciorcail (branches). Each individual member was afforded the right to suggest deletions, additions and amendments to the document.

Once the first round of discussion had been completed a second draft of the paper, based upon the feedback received from the membership, was drafted. This second draft was then circulated to the entire membership and again debated within the local Ciorcail. The feedback from this second round of discussions informed the drafting of the third and final draft of From Socialism Alone Can the Salvation of Ireland Come.

For the first time a dispersed voting procedure was used which saw members voting at meeting of their local ciorcal on whether to adopt or reject the paper. As with all major strategic and policy issues each member of the party had an equal vote. The result of this vote saw the paper being unanimously adopted.

While the process of developing and adopting From Socialism Alone Can the Salvation of Ireland Come took a number of months to complete, it was time well spent. éirígí’s unique decisions-making process, as contained within Bunreacht éirígí, places consensus building at the heart of a process of decision making.

Many Irish republican and socialist organisations are based upon outdated and anti-democratic ‘top-down’ models of decision-making. Such models are inherently unstable, leading to leadership cliques and internal divisions. Organisations which use delegate based organisational models, pressure cooker conferences and artificial deadlines to make decisions are invariably corrupted by leaderships who think they know better than their memberships.

Announcing the public launch of From Socialism Alone Can the Salvation of Ireland Come, cathaoirleach éirígí Brian Leeson said: “Ireland today is at a crossroads. We can continue down the path of capitalism and imperialism that has partitioned our country, exploited our population and impoverished our communities or we can strike out for a better future based upon national independence and socialism.

“From Socialism Alone Can the Salvation of Ireland Come correctly asserts that the only option that will work for the vast majority of the Irish people is that of independence and socialism.

“There can be no compromise between the exploiter and the exploited. It is a matter of their prosperity or ours – the slave owner and the slave cannot be prosperous together.

“éirígí is under no illusions as to the mammoth scale of the task that has been set out in this document. It is the same task that confronted the men and women of 1916 and it is the same task that confronted the thousands of republicans who fought the struggle over the last 40 years – it is about nothing less than the re-conquest of Ireland by the working people of Ireland.

“We need to start small while thinking big. We need to organise in our communities, in our workplaces, in our places of education, in our homes and on our streets. We need to make the argument with every single person who has no vested interest in the current rotten system that there is a better way and a better destination. There is a system that the working people of Ireland can have a stake in – that system is socialism and the time to start fighting for that system is now.”

To read From Socialism Alone Can the Salvation of Ireland Come go here: http://www.eirigi.org/pdfs/socialism.pdf


Saturday, 18 December 2010

PSNI Provoke Riot in Newry

The Derrybeg estate in Newry was once again placed under siege by the PSNI last night [Friday], provoking some of the most serious rioting in the nationalist area in many years.
A convoy of armoured jeeps descended on the working class housing estate yesterday evening and began sealing off the entrance to the area. They also had a large presence in the Carnagat and Parkhead areas, as well as sealing off several other main roads around Newry.

The PSNI claimed they were responding to a bomb alert at the Camlough Road roundabout, which is, in fact, some distance from Derrybeg. However, local residents, éirígí activists and elected representatives were able to walk right up to the roundabout during the ‘alert’, with traffic flowing freely around it.

As expected, the PSNI spent their time goading young republicans who had gathered nearby. Over four hours of rioting ensued as the youths responded to the attempted intimidation with a range of missiles.

As a direct result of the PSNI actions, there was also a car accident, which resulted in a young man being taken to hospital with minor injuries. Despite being in the vicinity, the PSNI did not even respond to the incident and it was left to éirígí activists and local residents to clear the road and remove the damaged car to ensure the safety of motorists and pedestrians.

In a blatant attempt to draw young people into further confrontation, the PSNI then decided to enter Derrybeg itself, a tactic which failed miserably.

éirígí activists and other residents remained at the scene for the duration of the trouble and confronted the PSNI as to why they were even in the estate.

After leaving Derrybeg for a short period, the PSNI returned in armoured landrovers in another attempt to stoke tensions.

This time, however, éirígí activists placed themselves in front of the landrovers and refused to let the political police enter the estate. As the activists were joined by other residents, a standoff ensued before the PSNI were forced to admit defeat and, embarrassingly, withdraw.

When a member of the so-called District Policing Partnership arrived on the scene, she informed the residents and éirígí activists that she had been speaking to a senior PSNI officer. She passed on the information that the officer in question told her that “they would be dealing with the people who had surrounded a landrover”. When an éirígí activist challenged her as to what her colleague in the PSNI meant by saying they would “deal” with people and “Did it mean the PSNI would be using violence?”, she refused to answer, stating “I won’t speak to you” before leaving the area.

Rúnaí ginearálta éirígí Breandán Mac Cionnaith said: “Serious questions need to be asked as to why the PSNI felt the need to be anywhere near the Derrybeg estate in the first place, considering the alleged alert was nowhere near the area.

“A pattern seems to be emerging with incidents like this. Several weeks ago, the PSNI used similar tactics in the exact same area, provoking a riot situation. Each time there is an alleged security alert in Newry, the PSNI use it as an excuse to arrive in force to seal off the Derrybeg estate, close roads, antagonise youths and cause riot situations.

“The blame for this situation lies squarely with the PSNI and we commend our activists and the people of Derrybeg who stood shoulder to shoulder and refused to allow the PSNI, who were intent on causing trouble, to enter their area. People across the Six Counties who are suffering due to the unwanted presence of the PSNI should take a leaf from the book of the people of Derrybeg.

“éirígí will fully support any community that is resisting the repressive tactics of Britain’s police force in Ireland.”


Thursday, 16 December 2010

Let the British Government Do Its Own Dirty Work

Rúnaí ginearálta éirígí Breandán Mac Cionnaith has called on the establishment parties at Stormont to let the British government do its own dirty work in relation to the stripping of public services.
Mac Cionnaith was speaking after the Six County executive announced it had agreed a budget after weeks of prevarication.

He said: “If the political parties at Stormont, particularly those who claim to be left-wing, are genuinely opposed to the cuts being demanded by the British government, they should refuse to administer them and join the rest of us on the streets in a campaign of resistance.

“A failure to let the British government do its own dirty work and, worse, deciding where best to implement the cuts can only lead working people to conclude that what has happened over the last number of weeks at Stormont has been nothing but meaningless posturing.

“Despite the spin being put on Stormont’s draft budget, it is clear that the Six County executive has totally failed to challenge the British government assault on working class communities and on the most vulnerable in our society.

“Instead, the Six County executive has acquiesced with the British government in administering massive cut-backs. In essence, all that the Stormont executive has managed to deliver today are further attacks on public service workers and further decreases in household income values for the vast majority of families across the Six Counties as a result of increased domestic rates and the introduction of new stealth taxes.

“It is also clear that essential social care services for the elderly and infirm, such as homecare and occupational therapy, will be extremely vulnerable to further cutbacks.

“Education for our young people is clearly under attack, with the schools’ budget being particularly hard hit, and university students will inevitably face increased fees resulting in many being excluded from third level education.”

Mac Cionnaith added: “Asset-stripping is a main plank of the Stormont executive’s budget, which opens the door to the future privatisation of public services.

“This budget will come as absolutely no surprise to anyone who has observed the impotence of the Six County executive since its establishment.

“In their Programme for Government 2008-2011, all the Stormont parties agreed to implement £1.65 billion [€2 billion] of cuts in public expenditure. That was followed in March of this year by the announcement of another £360 million [€420 million], bringing the total cuts which Stormont had agreed to £2 billion [€2.4 billion], even before the impact of this present budget, with its additional £4 billion of cuts, takes effect.

“Despite an economic recession affecting greater numbers of people than officially admitted, the Stormont parties continue to collude in concealing both their own ineptitude and the full extent of that crisis from the population.

“On the day that this budget was published, unemployment figures in the Six Counties again rose to 58,500 people. Not included in that official figure are another 40-50,000 people who are also seeking work but are not entitled to Job Seekers Allowance. That means that 100,000 are currently seeking jobs in the Six Counties – a real but unpalatable fact that the Stormont parties will not even publicly admit. In that context, Stormont’s aim to create 4-5,000 jobs barely even addresses the problem.”

The general secretary continued: “Stormont’s economic agenda is clearly designed in Britain and implemented without question by the establishment parties in the Six County executive.

“éirígí has consistently pointed out that, as the British government introduced widespread cuts across all public sector services, Stormont would dutifully follow suit through ‘modernisation agendas’, ‘health service streamlining’ and ‘investment incentives’.

“For working people in the Six Counties, the result of this budget will be a massively negative impact on housing, employment, health and social services, with continued community disintegration and reduced services for the ill and vulnerable and further financial pay-offs to companies through the privatisation of public services to provide jobs with rock-bottom wages.

“Stormont cannot and will not provide any alternative.

“The increasingly obvious signal is that a new political, economic and social order is required right across Ireland to bring radical, meaningful and effective improvement to the lives of working class people. Stormont is a clear impediment to that.”


Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Fallen IRA Volunteers Remembered in Newry

On Sunday, December 12, around 70 republicans and socialists gathered at the iconic Egyptian Arch in Newry to commemorate the 90th Anniversary of an ambush in which 3 IRA volunteers lost their lives.

The éirígí-organised event entailed the unveiling of a commemorative plaque and was attended by people from across the district and further afield. It was also fitting to have family members of the volunteers in attendance.

During the event, a PSNI helicopter hovered overhead keeping everyone under surveillance, but they failed in their attempts to intimidate those in attendance.

The plaque was unveiled by Jackie Shields, whose grandfather, volunteer Peter Shields, fought bravely in the Egyptian Arch Ambush and died as a result of wounds he received.

A wreath was then laid and a minute’s silence was observed.

The event was chaired by local éirígí activist Stephen Murney.

Murney spoke about the growth of éirígí in the Newry area and the Crown Forces harassment that has come with it.

“The most recent incident occurred just a few hours ago when myself and a fellow éirígí activist were stopped by the British police in Hill Street after we had just collected this memorial plaque,” he said.

“We were surrounded, forced from the vehicle at gunpoint and made to stand with our hands raised above our heads while we were vigorously searched. The vehicle we were in was also extensively searched and the political police attempted to remove the plaque from the boot of the car. We strongly objected to this and lifted it from the car ourselves.

“After roughly 20 minutes, during which time they made snide remarks about the plaque, they let us continue on our way. It’s ironic that we are here commemorating an event in which the then RIC was one of the targets and, now, 90 years on their predecessors in the PSNI are trying to disrupt us and disrupt our commemorative event.

“Let us make one thing clear: no amount of petty harassment and intimidation will ever stop republicans from honouring our patriot dead, nor will it deter us from our political activities.”

The guest speaker for the event was prominent local republican Davy Hyland.

Hyland explained in great detail the history surrounding the ambush and the funerals that followed, which, according to reports, were the biggest ever seen in Newry, with an estimated 20,000 people turning out to pay their respects.

Hyland asked: “What, I wonder, would volunteers Canning, O’Hare and Shields make of contemporary Ireland 90 years on? As staunch Irish republicans, I doubt if they would be enthusiastic or happy with the current state of play.

“In the south, due to the greed of the banks, developers and the corrupt government itself, they have had to be rescued by the IMF and EU at a cost of €85 billion. In their latest budget, their response has been to once again target the most vulnerable in society, with massive cuts being imposed on the young, the old, the sick, the unemployed and those living on the minimum wage.

“Yet the politicians in Leinster House, along with their big business cronies, who were the ones who actually created the crisis, escape with their own wealth intact with their bonuses guaranteed and with their gambling debts paid off by those who played no part in the fiasco.”

Hyland added: “As republicans, we do have a duty, not only to remember the past, but also to organise for the future in a comradely fashion.

“I would like to thank éirígí for organising this commemoration and erecting this plaque for the Egyptian Arch Martyrs. It ensures that volunteers Canning, O’Hare and Shields will always be honoured and remembered.”


Respect Fallen Freedom Fighters

The following Letter was published in today's Newry Democrat

Since last year éirígí in Newry started planning a commemorative event to remember the 90th anniversary of the Egyptian Arch ambush in which 3 IRA volunteers paid the supreme sacrifice for Irish liberation. For far too long this historic event was largely forgotten about and we felt it would be fitting to pay tribute to the fallen volunteers.

In last week’s edition there was an article regarding éirígí commemorating the 90th Anniversary of the Egyptian Arch Ambush.

The title of the article claimed that the Volunteers were part of an “ambush gang”. As the organiser of this commemorative event, and a proud Socialist Republican, i have to say found this description deeply offensive.

I also spoke to relatives of the volunteers and they too shared the disgust and were hurt that their loved one was described as being a member of a “gang”.

The Newry volunteers were soldiers of the Irish Republican Army who took part in a meticulously planned and daring operation involving over 200 volunteers.

Last Sunday people from all walks of life, both young and old, came together with eirigi to pay their respects to these courageous volunteers and the sacrifice made on that cold December night 90 years ago. They didn’t commemorate members of a “gang”, they commemorated soldiers of an army, an army that was to the fore in resisting British occupation. Despite the odds being stacked against them they nonetheless faced the foe with outstanding courage and bravery. The principles by which the organisation stood and for which many of its members paid the ultimate sacrifice remain relevant almost a century later.

Many people would associate the word “gang” with gangsters and criminals. The use of the term in this instance is effectively criminalising the volunteers and their actions. I doubt that was the initial intention but i think a bit more care and consideration should be shown in future when referring to fallen Óglaigh who gave their lives for our liberation.

éirígí Newry

Traitors to Ireland and the Working Class

Sometimes it can give an activist some smug contentment to say ‘I told you so’.
Many left-wing and republican activists have crowed loudly about how they predicted the economic bust and chastised people with memories of their unheeded warnings. While this may help the self esteem of the activist in question, it is a sad reality that this wallowing in self regard does nothing for the cause of revolutionary socialism. Instead, it puts people’s backs up and means that they only hear sneering when they should be being won over with arguments for resistance against capitalism and imperialism and the building of an alternative society.

Sadly, a similar ‘I told you so’ situation exists for Irish republicans and socialists with regard to British armed forces recruitment in Ireland. éirígí has been mobilising since its inception against the continued occupation of Ireland and the thousands of troops stationed here, representing Britain’s military domination of the Six Counties.

Also since its foundation, éirígí has warned against the British campaign to recruit Irish citizens into the ranks of British military organisations. In the last two years it has become clear that this campaign has had some success.

In May 2009, the British Ministry of Defence announced that they were increasing their recruiting targets in Ireland from the average yearly intake of 300 new soldiers up to 500. This target is in addition to the almost 450 people who are recruited annually to the British army’s reserve the Territorial Army. With recruitment suffering in England, Scotland and Wales, a major effort was being made to use the economic turmoil in Ireland as a recruiting sergeant.

This recruitment drive wasn’t to be confined to unionist strongholds and major efforts have been made to increase the numbers signing up in the Twenty-Six Counties. The Irish Times and other sections of the corporate media have played an important role in this in providing regular flattering articles on Irishmen taking part in British ‘adventures’ in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This recruitment drive has proven relatively successful. Between 2007 and ’08, 10 people with addresses in the Twenty-Six Counties joined the British army; then, in the year from 2008 to ’09, 50 signed on the blood soaked line; and between 2009 and ’10 the figure was 85.

éirígí has made a consistent effort to resist British recruitment. Protests against the RIR march through Belfast city centre and British navy vessels in Irish ports; pickets of British recruitment stalls at universities and job fairs; alongside letters, literature and posters have all made for a vibrant campaign of resistance. The simple truth, though, is that this is an uphill battle. The scale of the economic collapse is stark and the level of resources behind the recruitment campaign is vast.

The message must be got out loud a clear. Young Irish men and women who join the British armed forces are traitors. They are traitors to the memories of the thousands of Irish citizens killed, tortured or imprisoned directly by the British army as part of the occupation of Ireland. They are traitors to those Irish citizens killed by unionist militias who the British establishment resourced and directed.

They are also traitors to the thousands of Iraqi and Afghan civilians who die each year as a direct result of British imperialism. They are class traitors, for most of these recruits come from working class estates throughout Ireland and they, for a few hundred euro each week, choose to protect the interests of an economic system built to enrich the few.

‘I told you so’ is no answer. Active campaigning is.


Saturday, 4 December 2010

éirígí to Commemorate Egyptian Arch Ambush

Plaque unveiling and commemoration of the 90th anniversary of the Egyptian Arch ambush, Sunday 12th December

Assemble at the Arch, Camlough Road, Newry, at 2.30pm

Followed by refreshments & entertainment in the Railway Bar, Monaghan St

Music by Pól MacAdaim

Organised by éirígí


Friday, 3 December 2010

éirígí Ard Fheis Postponed

Due to the hazardous weather conditions across the country, éirígí’s Ard-Fheis 2010, which was set to take place in west Belfast tomorrow [Saturday], has been postponed.

Rúnaí ginearálta éirígí Breandán MacCionnaith said: “Unfortunately, due to the severe weather we’ve been experiencing over the last week, it is not practicable, nor would it be responsible of us, to ask activists to travel from across the country this weekend.

“Some of our activists, including those in Wicklow, Offaly, Sligo, Waterford, Dublin and Donegal are in areas that have been worst hit by the snow and going ahead with the Ard-Fheis tomorrow would probably have entailed holding it without them, something which we were not prepared to do.

“Arrangements are being made at present to reconvene the Ard-Fheis in the very near future, most probably in the early new year and notice of this will be made public as soon as is possible.”

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