On behalf of the Saoradh National Executive we wish to thank the membership and supporters of Saoradh for another year of hard work, dedication and activism that has brought us to where we are today.
Often in Republicanism, we look forward to the next event, the next political meeting, protest or action, seldom having the time to reflect on what we have done, what we have built, or what we have achieved to date.
As a Revolutionary Republican Party, we have shown leadership, direction and impetus, ensuring such revolutionary activism was adopted throughout the year.
As the year draws to a close we would like to take this rare moment to reflect on a year where Saoradh, despite many hardships and challenges, continued on an upwards trajectory of growth and vibrant activism all of which wouldn’t have been capable without the hard work and determination of members and support from our communities.
This year started with the Bloody Sunday March debacle, Republicans were faced with a reformist march committee and refused to take part, but Saoradh in Derry stepped forward and showed leadership by holding a Republican alternative that paid respects to those who lost their lives at the hands of the British Parachute Regiment whilst holding true to the Anti-Internment origins of the original March.
In January, Eístigí, produced a mission statement and since our last Ard Fheis has been formally adopted as our National Youth Department. Eístigí continues to engage in the education of our youth by providing a revolutionary format which defies the stereotyping of Republican youth by the British state and has thrived in areas such as Derry where Crown Forces have disenfranchised and oppressed the Irish working class youth.
February seen the opening of a third Saoradh and IRPWA office in Dungannon. Kevin Barry House is a reflection of the hard work and dedication of the activists of Saoradh and the IRPWA in Tyrone. A series of public meetings regarding the awareness of drugs and empowerment of our communities were also held in rural Kildress, a Republican community that was in the grip of a serious drugs epidemic and this is something Saoradh members continue to offer support on.
February also seen our activists in Belfast continue to challenge the sectarian carve up of services by continually highlighting the lack of leisure facilities in Republican areas of North Belfast. As that continued we held a quarterly meeting in Dublin where a document on socialism and Ireland was read and debated as the party evolved and matured our political ideology.
March seen the party grab widespread coverage in the Twenty Six Counties when members of People Before Profit were accidently subjected to Garda harassment in the mistaken belief they were actually revolutionaries attending a Saoradh meeting.
Meanwhile in Newry a Craobh was established from existing and new members, who quickly set about engaging the local populace. Issues such as dangerous traffic conditions raised by the local community where highlighted and challenged, as was the capitalist exploitation of workers at the local Norbrook plant where Saoradh offered solidarity and assistance. Saoradh also emphatically smashed the craven policy of banning the Irish tricolour in the Newry St. Patrick’s Day parade which was for the first time awash in our national colours.
April started with Easter and in a strong and defiant statement this years Unfinished Revolution March took place in West Belfast, the supposed stronghold of Sinn Féin. Easter Monday in Derry seen the youth defend an Irish Republican Army colour party as it marched to the Republican Plot for an annual commemoration. Following this event our National Headquarters at Junior McDaid House were attacked again by British Crown Forces and several members seized, subject to fellon setting and oppressive bail measures implemented, aimed at curtailing the party in Derry City.
May began with May Day and a strong Socialist statement by former National Chairman, Davy Jordan. Following that, the airing of a primetime BBC documentary on the issue of Brexit and the British border in Ireland, lifelong Republican and Saoradh founder Paul Duffy gave the Saoradh perspective. Whilst the BBC and the leader of British Crown Forces attempted to focus on possible IRA attacks on any future British border infrastructure, Paul used the platform to highlight the root cause of the conflict in Ireland; the continued partition of Ireland and the British usurpation of Irish national sovereignty. Since that documentary was aired and as the uncertainty of Brexit intensifies, every major news outlet, many of them global names such as the Washington Post, have asked us for the definitive Irish Republican position on Brexit and its impact on Ireland.
June seen the coat trailing exercise and humiliation of the Southern State fawning over British Royals on an official visit to their Neo-Colonial Statelet, Saoradh activists in both Cork and Kerry took to the streets in opposition, a fact which the so called press decided to airbrush from the news coverage.
Meanwhile Saoradh in Newry documented and published the deployment of British troops in the South Armagh area.
In the midst of this we had the establishment of the POW Department, which has held protests at Maghaberry and Hydebank amongst other means of highlighting prison issues and supporting prisoners. The department continues to be active and will carry that dedication through to 2019.
July seen a very well attended Wolfe Tone Commemoration. The annual Bodenstown event is witnessing a revival and the Saoradh Commemoration at the grave of the founding father of Irish Republicanism is by far one of the largest seen in recent times.
Derry again came under attack by the British State in July. Saoradh members had been working on the ground to defuse exchanges between Republican and Loyalist youths and in the process one of our members had his car burnt out. British Crown Forces used the incidents to launch an assault on the Republican people of the Bogside and in response the Republican people of the area fought back. When Crown Forces engaged youths with batton rounds the Irish Republican Army responded by engaging the heavily armed Crown Forces with rifle and grenade fire. The images and videos that appeared on social media speak for themselves. In the aftermath of a week of resistance Saoradh members’ homes were ransacked by British Crown Forces with the full support of Sinn Féin representatives.
August seen Saoradh instrumental in organising and mobilising for a number of Anti-Internment and prisoner marches and events. Again large crowds mobilised in Belfast for the Anti-Internment parade, there was an Anti-Internment event in Newry and prisoner issues and campaigns where highlighted.
Our success at propagating a Republican message via social media was also attacked mid August. After partial ban’s and infractions for offering our analysis, our main Facebook page, which had over 14 thousand followers, and several of our regional pages where shut down.
September began an intense process of debate and discussion around a proposed Brexit Document. Every Craobh engaged in the process.
Meanwhile Saoradh in Newry covered and lent support to unionised workers who were in a labour dispute with Glen Electrics in the Town, the workers were successful.
A broad range of Saoradh and Eístigí activists also engaged in housing action and squats in Dublin which took place under the banner ‘Take Back The City’.
October witnessed the launch of our document; Brexit in the context of Ireland. After months of work and debate it has been shaped by the consultation process of the membership. Saoradh is now one of the only party’s with a detailed position on Brexit and how it impacts the Irish people.
In Derry, Saoradh and Eístigí members responded to community concerns in relation to nuisance fireworks. In response to this activists seized and put beyond use a large quantity of fireworks that were plaguing Republican communities.
November started off with our comrades in Derry again facing the brunt of the British war machine in Ireland as Crown Force raids and detentions increased, with the local Chair and Vice Chair among multiple Saoradh members seized. The British Army were once again on the streets of Derry as our National Headquarters at Junior McDaid House was raided for the third time in 2018.
Despite continued harassment by both the British establishment in the Occupied Six Counties and the Twenty Six County administration, Saoradh held our third Ard Fheis in the Crown Plaza Hotel, Dundalk. A new look National Executive was elected as was our National Chairman.
Bringing the year to a close, December witnessed Saoradh members from across Ireland, including our National Chairman, take part in the occupation of KBC bank headquarters in Dublin following their employment of masked Garda and Loyalist linked mercenaries to evict a family from their home in Roscommon. Saoradh activists have been highly active on homelessness and neoliberal housing provision across Ireland with soup kitchen, involvement with Apollo House and other protests and initiatives.
In Belfast, a newly established office housing Saoradh, IRPWA and Eístigí was opened. This garnered huge political and media reaction as an image of an IRA revolutionary soldier engaging the enemy was painted in Christmas attire on the window. These public outcries only helped publicise the party, the fact that there are still Republican Prisoners and the overarching fact that the Irish Republican Army still remain active and dedicated.
This chronology is but a glimpse of a year in the life of this party. It is far from being exhaustive. There will have been many nights spent selling tickets, posting leaflets and newsletters, writing articles, engaging in community work, organising functions, standing in picket lines, attending commemorations and supporting Republican Prisoners, however in all of this it is our membership and supporters who have engaged in this revolutionary activism, helping Saoradh grow and move forward. May the year ahead be as fruitful as the last.
As the Unfinished Business continues so will the Unfinished Revolution!