Packy Carty’s oration, from the Unfinished Revolution Easter Commemoration in Belfast
I would like to welcome everyone here today to this hallowed spot, on this the one hundred and second anniversary of the 1916 Easter rising and the beginning of Ireland’s Unfinished Revolution.
I take this opportunity to send fraternal greetings to our incarcerated comrades in British and neo-colonial prisons throughout Ireland. I extend fraternal greetings and solidarity to all oppressed peoples across the globe who struggle to assert their sovereignty, secure their national liberation and face down the evils of imperialism and capitalist exploitation. We extend fraternal greetings to our friends and comrades across the globe, particularly in Scotland, Australia and the USA, though you’re far from home your contribution to the struggle for Irish freedom is keenly felt and warmly welcomed.
Today our thoughts and condolences go out to the Palestinian people, who yesterday in Gaza were gunned down by the forces of the Israeli Zionist occupation. At the last report, there were 16 Palestinian comrades murdered and over 1500 wounded. The Palestinian people yesterday marched in their tens of thousands to mark the terrible anniversary of Land Day, the 30th of March 1976, when 9 Palestinians were murdered protesting against the oppressive plans of the then Governor of Galilee. We must watch closely the events unfolding in Palestine as the Palestinian people plan to continue their protests until the anniversary of the Nakba on the 15th of May when 750 thousand Palestinians were driven from Palestine and the illegal colonial state of Israel created 70 years ago. On behalf of everyone gathered here today, on behalf of Saoradh and the wider Republican Movement I extend our solidarity to the Palestinian people as they protest for the right to return. I say to our Palestinian comrades your struggle is never far from our thoughts and from our hearts and we extend eternal solidarity to you in your continued struggle for the re-establishment of a Palestinian homeland, from the river to the sea.
Belfast is the birthplace of Irish Republicanism. Wolfe Tone on Belfast’s Cavehill set out a vision of an Ireland where all our people regardless of religion or creed would together control their own destinies. Tone’s words that day still echo righteously, he pledged; “never to desist in our efforts until we subvert the authority of England over our country and assert our independence”. Belfast has never been found wanting when it has come to struggle and sacrifice. When the sectarian statelet was formed following partition, Belfast bore the brunt of violent British imperialism. When the people rose up off their knees in the late 60s and early 70s it was the Belfast Brigade of the Irish Republican Army who led the offensive that smashed the orange sectarian statelet and engaged the forces of British imperialism sent to defend it. Belfast today continues to be an example for the continued struggle for Irish national liberation.
The people of Belfast have paid a heavy price for their steadfast resistance. This graveyard here today, with its monuments and flag poles, are a testament to that sacrifice, but perhaps a more telling sign of Britain’s continued enmity towards the Republican people of Belfast is the economic war it continues to wage, particularly against the Republican heartlands in North and West Belfast.
Twenty years ago, the Belfast Agreement subsumed a section of the National liberation movement into the administration of British Rule in Ireland. It resurrected the British institution of Stormont and it set back the struggle for Irish freedom by decades. Under the propaganda of a so-called ‘peace process’ was this watershed sold to Irish Republicans, particularly the beleaguered Republican people of Belfast. British imperialism and their newly co-opted proxies in Ireland promised ‘peace dividends’ to the communities that were the backbone of the struggle for over 30 years. People were told they would see an end to discrimination, increased economic welfare and an equal share of the fortunes that this so-called new dispensation would bring.
Instead, the Republican heartlands of Belfast have seen; savage cuts to welfare and public services, the push to privatise the health service, an end to public housing, the closure of factories, phantom community groups, nepotism, fraud and corruption. The deaths of the war have been replaced by deaths from suicide. Not only has the Belfast Agreement copper-fastened British Rule in Ireland but it has accelerated class oppression and exploitation of the working class people of the occupied six counties. By Britain’s own admission, out of 650 constituencies, West Belfast ranks number one for poverty and social deprivation. Furthermore, the EU’s own statistics firmly place North and West Belfast on top of the poverty and social deprivation tables. The Campaign to End Child Poverty, say twenty percent of children in West Belfast are living in poverty – the highest figure across the six counties. The research showed that Colin Glen, Falls and Whiterock were identified as the worst affected areas in the West of the city. The figures are in contrast to other areas such as South Antrim and North Down, where child poverty levels are around half of that in West Belfast.
These damning statistics clearly illustrate the so-called ‘peace’ process is, in reality, a poverty process. For over 30 years the strongholds of constitutional nationalism in Derry and Belfast have been the strongholds of poverty and social injustice. The elective aristocracy of Sinn Fein and the SDLP have presided over these deliberate conditions in working-class Republican areas, whilst they have become rent racking landlords and exploitive bourgeois bosses. All this in tandem with implementing savage British austerity cuts, ensuring that the ordinary working class citizens have been plunged into a life of poverty or precarious living conditions!
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “poverty is the worst form of violence” and considering the levels of poverty Irish citizens are forced to endure by violent British imperialism, it should come as no surprise that Irish citizens continue to confront British imperialism with armed struggle. Whilst Britain undemocratically partitions Ireland and imposes violent British imperialism, it should come as no surprise that Irish citizens continue to confront British imperialism with armed struggle.
The first question by the British media, the first question asked by those consumed by the British system; will Saoradh oppose violence! Our answer; Saoradh will oppose violent British imperialism to our last breath. Those who support violent British imperialism, those who support the violent poverty process, have no moral position on which to criticise an oppressed people, struggling for social emancipation and national liberation.
For years now, Irish Republicans have said that Stormont was a failure, that it had no true power and that its aim was to perpetuate British rule in Ireland, by conditioning a generation into accepting partition. When Stormont collapsed last year, following the RHI corruption scandal, we were vindicated in our analysis. Despite Sinn Fein’s excitement at the size of their vote in the subsequent election, it has provided nothing, the real power is and always has been at Whitehall and now the DUP and Tories rule directly from Westminster. Don’t be fooled by votes, don’t be fooled by talk of border polls and referenda, the Irish people have not had democracy since the 1918 general election. British Imperialism since that date has ruled Ireland on an alternating basis of military force or coercion. The only fly in the ointment is the looming storm that is Brexit.
Brexit has ushered in the greatest period of political instability and uncertainty that Britain has witnessed since the second world war. Brexit has the potential to break up the British state and as such it offers Irish republicans an opportunity to realise our first great objective; the ending of the British occupation and the reunification of the Irish nation. A rising right-wing English nationalism is proving usefully destructive, the hankering for the days of Empire has in a few short years destabilised the British state beyond what we ever envisaged possible. It looks set to tear asunder the intricate soft occupation in place here since 1998 with the inevitable infrastructure of a hard border imminent, this will drive home to the Irish people the partition of our country, it will clearly demonstrate Britain’s continuing usurpation of Irish sovereignty and as history teaches us it will inevitably stoke the fires of resistance against British Rule in Ireland
The other side of the Brexit coin is the European Union. The southern neocolonial state has lost any sovereignty it may have had to the European superstate. Under the capitalist neoliberal model imposed by the EU, there has been a fire sale in national industry and utilities, water, gas, fishing, our emerging oil and gas reserves, the Irish people pay through the nose while foreign multinationals reap a fortune, with little or no tax paid to the Irish people. A two-tier health system treats Irish citizens based on their wealth, not their health. Apple, Facebook and the super-rich dot-com corporations owe the people billions, but the Gombeen political elite revel in corruption as children sleep on the streets. The EU usurps Irish sovereignty as virulently as Britain does. The lessons of Greece are clear, for real independence, Ireland as a 32 county Republic, would have to break with the EU. The Ownership of Ireland should be for the People of Ireland, not for London and not for Brussels.
The coming battle in the banana republic is the battle for public housing. The neoliberal housing diktat puts housing at the mercy of the market, banks, vulture funds, speculators and rent racking landlords. They all pray on the Irish citizens forced to go cap in hand for the most basic of human needs, shelter. A home is a human right, a state should provide ample and adequate public housing for all. A government representative of the people of Ireland, working for the people of Ireland, would not have our people crawling on their hands and knees, as ex-British soldiers and mercenaries steal their homes for vulture funds. Apollo House was a first symbolic fight back and Saoradh has worked at the coalface of the homeless crisis in Dublin since our inception, but the worst is yet to come. Across Ireland we are facing a class war, both states are imposing poverty and deprivation and maintaining it with state violence, we must have a clear class analysis and strategic response to this humanitarian crisis.
As a young Party, not yet two years in existence, we are busy debating, discussing and developing our socialist ideology. We will, in time, produce our core ideological policy documents and from that policy, we will form the strategy that will set the tone of Republican activism for at least the next decade. I can not overemphasise the importance of this process and the importance of each and every one of you being involved in shaping and taking ownership of that process. We can not twenty years from now find ourselves in the cul-de-sac’s of the past, facing the same situations that have led us to where we are today. It is vitally important, therefore, that all of our actions, our activism and our campaigns are underpinned by that ideology, that they feed into an overarching strategy designed to achieve realistic short term and long term objectives.
This is a grassroots up process and because it is grassroots-led, it is painstakingly slow. There can be no return to top-down kitchen cabinet diktats. Because we are intensively engaged in this process, we do not have positions or policy documents on some issues imminently facing Irish society. We have not debated and formed policy on issues such as abortion or a possible border poll. We do not have policy on many other issues, we must first adopt our core ideology and from that ideology will Saoradh’s future policy and strategy flow, democratically from the Party membership.
Attempting to organise a Socialist Republican Party in Ireland has not been easy, we never expected it to be. Saoradh has been forged in oppression. Since our inception, we have faced constant raids, arrests and an incessant state harassment both North and South. However, despite the worst they can throw at us we stand here today united, more determined and with a growing and vibrant activist base who put the head down and the shoulder to the coalface, the determination to see the Unfinished Revolution through to a successful conclusion burns stronger than ever. Comrades go from here today and advance the struggle for freedom, advance it in the streets, advance it in the workplace, advance it in the fields, build Saoradh for victory.
In the immortal words of Bobby Sands; “Everyone, Republican or Otherwise has their own particular role to play. No part is too great or too small; no one is too old or too young to do something”
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