Comrades, Today we gather to remember and salute the memory of our comrades who made the ultimate sacrifice in pursuit of an Irish republic. An Irish Republic based on the finest principles of socialism – freedom, equality and fraternity.
The struggle for socialism across the globe, as in Ireland has seen many changes in the past ninety-five years, it has witnessed peaks and troughs as the military nature of imperialism and capitalism marauds its way throughout the world on a bloody binge of exploitation in pursuit of greed and profit. Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq are merely the latest a long list of countries and people oppressed and used in this relentless war of attrition by global capitalism. And make no mistake about it, if there was nothing to be gained from attacking Libya, the Americans, the Brits and the rest of them would not be there.
Closer to home the republican socialist movement continues to strive to raise class-consciousness among all sections of our community. Teach na Failte, our exprisoners group, have recently been working with others to commemorate the Irish republican dead from the International brigade in the Spanish Civil war. Two plaques to commemorate Jim Stranney and William Tomlinson have been unveiled in west Belfast and east Belfast to the memory of the men. Two Belfast men from different traditions, who both left Belfast for Spain to fight the Facists, neither was to return home. In Belfast in 2011 we remember them here today. In doing so we are mindful of the hundreds of Belfast workers who lost their lives at the hands of fascists in the Belfast Blitz, hundreds of bombs were dropped onto the streets of the city from the New Lodge to Ardoyne, from Ballymacarret to the Newtonards Road, and they fell indiscriminately. It was remarked recently by a local historian that if more Irishmen and women had of followed brave Stranney and Tomlinson to Spain to confront Fascism then maybe the Belfast Blitz might never have occurred, no-one knows but it is worth considering as we analyse our own personal commitment to changing the political situation in Ireland.
It is necessary that as we remember our brave comrades that we learn from history and attempt to build our revolution on a solid political foundation that will provide the strong basis for a political revolution in Ireland. We have been doing that. For the past two years the Irish Republican Socialist Party has undergone great change and development. This is part of the continuing struggle for socialism in Ireland for without the primacy of politics for which many of our comrades died the struggle would have little to no chance of ever achieving success. The primacy of politics as envisaged by our fallen comrade Ta Power is what drives the entire Republican Socialist Movement.
The IRSP have studied the past and learned from it. We’ve seen our weaknesses and our faults but these are far outnumbered by our strengths and successes. We’ve re-organised and are building. We are building a formidable political organization that is led entirely by the ideals of the men and women who we today gather to remember.
This year the leadership of the Irish Republican Socialist Party took the historic decision to contest a number of Council elections in Belfast, Derry and Strabane. It is our view that this is a natural progression for the Party and in line with the thoughts and ideas of our founders in particular Seamus Costello and those around him who first formed the IRSP. Speaking at a rally in Derry last week a number of close friends described Costello’s approach to electoralism and explained how Seamus used his elected position to tackle poverty head on, to tackle corruption head on and to take the struggles of the working class right into the elected chamber.
Our intervention into electoral politics is not a sign of our acceptance in any way, shape or form of the continuing British occupation of the six counties, it is however a clear message from the republican socialist movement that we are no longer prepared to let the republican socialist political message be marginalised or ignored.
The working class across Ireland are under increasing attack from swingeing cuts in wages, jobs and services from the capitalist government as they kowtow to the banks and the International Monetary Fund. As the greedy capitalists and speculators attempt to recoup their foolish losses off the backs, it is paid for with the sweat and blood of the workingman and woman. We say that must change and we are prepared to take the struggle into any arena where we can make a difference for our class.
As we approach the hundredth anniversary of the 1916 rising it is important that we recognise the vision and commitment of it’s leaders, it is important that we remember all those brave Irish Republicans who have lost their lives in struggle for an Irish Socialist republic in the intervening years. It is our solemn pledge to their memory and vision to pursue our aims with the same commitment and determination. As Irish Republican Socialists we remain fully committed to the republic of Connolly, Mellows, Costello and Gallagher, We will continue to plot the downfall of British rule in Ireland.