Archive for February, 2016
Irish Republican Socialism as a distinct movement embodied by the Irish Republican Socialist Party has been, since it’s inception in 1974, the most progressive force in Republican politics. Until the splintering of traditional Republicanism post-Good Friday Agreement (GFA) and post-PIRA ceasefires, it was the single principled voice of Republican Socialism in Ireland. Unlike every single one of the present day myriad of anti-GFA Irish Republican groups, parties and ‘societies’ who are all derivitives of the Provisional movement, the IRSP ‘tendency’ first emerged as the most revolutionary section within the Officials.
The IRSP’s key ideologues, such as Costello, Bunting and Power stood head and shoulders above the one dimensional Nationalists/Defenderist leaders of the nascent Provisionals like O’Bradaigh, MacStiofain and McKee. Likewise, the IRSP were an uncomfortable reminder to the stageists, reformists and ring-road socialists of the Official Republican Movement. The IRSP’s primary premise has always been that the class struggle and the national struggle are inseparable, in keeping with Connolly’s “the cause of labour is the cause of Ireland, the cause of Ireland is the cause of labour” (Workers Republic,8 April, 1916).
In present day Ireland, with the Pythonesque fracturing of the Provisonals grassroots into a plethora of personality-led ‘super-provo’ entities, which seem to multiply in number almost weekly, it is not surprising that political opportunists have sought to adapt the mantle of ‘Republican Socialism’ . Thankfully, their concept of ‘Republican Socialism’ is more often than not a backwards glance towards a vague notion that ‘Socialism is a good idea’ but as with all one-dimensional Republicans, there is always the proviso that ‘labour must wait. ‘
Nevertheless, the reality is that the political waters of Irish Republicanism are heavily populated with groups offering ‘radical’ politics masquerading as a generic ‘Republican Socialism’ . For the IRSP to survive intact, retain it’s distinct identity, prosper and not become a bit-part player in the post-ceasefire alphabet soup of so-called ‘dissidents,’ it’s Republican and Socialist politics, in equal magnitude, is it’s ultimate salvation! At no time in the past has Republican Socialism sought or felt the need to ‘out-Provo’ the Provisionals and likewise it would be folly to ever attempt to ‘out-super-Provo’ the ‘super-Provos!’ Thats not to say that there are not many issues that the IRSP share a platform with fellow Republicans on and it would be equal folly to imitate an ‘ourselves alone’ attitude, which conversely, is still a key tenet and hangover of many anti-GFA parties/groups. Sadly, in practice, history has proven that many of these traditionalist groups retain their previous movement’s ‘undermine and absorb’ attitude towards the IRSP.
In the present political climate, where the conditions for widespread popular armed struggle are not yet a viable option, revolutionaries will gravitate towards Republican Socialism’s politics where the economic liberation of the working-class has equal emphasis to national liberation. One dimensional ‘Republicans/Nationalists’ will gravitate towards the super-Provo group that makes the biggest bang; have the ‘greenest’ flag and shout the loudest about post-86 or post-97 ‘Shinner heresy’.
The revolutionary socialism of Marx, Connolly, Costello, Bunting and Power defined the ‘Irps’ in the past and it is surely their ideological anchor for the future. In simple terms, many groups now carry the Starry Plough flag, invariably as just another ‘Republican’ symbol amongst many, but the Irish Republican Socialist Party are the only party to give the ‘plough’, the revolutionary flag of the Irish proletariat, it’s prominent and proper place, side-by-side with the Red flag, the symbol of international Socialism.
“If you remove the English army to-morrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organisation of the Socialist Republic your efforts would be in vain.
England would still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs” (James Connolly)
During the Gino Gallagher 20th Anniversary commemoration on Saturday, 30 January 2016, at the Irish Republican Socialist Movement plot in Milltown Cemetery, Belfast, IRSP spokesperson, Micheál Ó Ceallaigh, (pictured left) delivered the following powerful keynote speech:
Comrades, today marks the 20th anniversary of the murder of one of the finest Republican Socialist revolutionaries to ever grace the struggle for National Liberation and Socialism in Ireland.
Gino Gallagher was a giant of a man, both in physicality and mentally. He oozed qualities that are so badly needed to lead a revolutionary Movement.
Soft spoken and quiet, highly intelligent and full of passion and motivation, he had a clear plan of how to turn the Republican Socialist Movement back onto the steady path, while possessing the vision that would see it stay there and flourish.
As a young Republican Socialist and member of the IRSP, Gino Gallagher is someone who I aspire to, and along with other young Party Activists, he is someone we can learn a lot from on our political journey. Although too young to have known the man, the stories about him are told on a regular basis, giving the younger members the visual picture of who Gino was, and what he stood for.
Gino believed strongly in the implementation of the Ta Power Principles, a document he had read over and over again while in jail, and had worked so hard when released from prison to have put into action within the R.S.M. He recognised the importance of working towards building the IRSP into a respectable and serious force.
The first thing Gino done in his new position as INLA Chief of Staff, as well as IRSP National Organiser, was to make sure Costello House was put back in action. Rallying other members together, he helped with cleaning up the Party HQ’s, painting it, paving it and making sure other maintenance work which was needed, was carried out.
He was feared by the enemies of Republicanism. Whether that be the British Army, RUC or counter revolutionaries and criminals. He was a proven, seasoned and committed Volunteer and Activist.
Gino recognised the increasingly reformist approach of the Provisional Movement and warned against jumping into bed with the British Government. He knew that entering into a ‘diplomatic war’ with the Brits would be catastrophic for the wider Republican struggle. He has been proved right on this.
He believed the IRSP and INLA needed to be ready to fill the political vacuum which would be created when it donned on the Irish working class that the path taken by the P.R.M was not one which would see anything close to a worthwhile political outcome after so much death and bloodshed. It was on the back of these events which Gino dedicated every wakened hour of his time to building the Movement both in Belfast and nationally.
On that January day in 1996, our Movement lost one of its brightest lights. Just like Seamus Costello, Miriam Daly and Ta Power before him, a cruel blow was struck at the R.S.M once again. However, just as before, the Movement survived and took the example set by the likes of Gino onwards.
His ideals and vision for our Movement still remain strong today in each and every young member of the IRSP. We hope we can live up to what Gino expected from Republican Socialist Activists. We strive to help build the Party into the formidable and respectable force he envisaged.
There is a lot of work to be done, but we are confident of succeeding on the long and arduous path laid out for us. And it will be the memory and stories of Gino Gallagher which will help carry us through to that certain day.
The Party of Connolly, Costello and Gallagher is organised, and is here to stay!
Comrades – let the fight go on!