the republican ensemble for a Republican Congress. The article appeared in the Ardoyne Republican blog.
Ever since the 1994 IRA Ceasefire, the strategy of the Provisional Movement has adopted a British approach to the Unionist Veto, Partition and the occupation. Objectives changed dramatically with its ditching of socialist policies, approval of the Mitchell Principles, Belfast Agreement, ending the Armed Campaign, decommissioning, disbandment of the IRA and endorsement of British Policing. Throughout this period a significant number of Provisionals, most of whom had devoted much of their adult years in honourable service expressed objections to these changes but faced dismissal, expulsion or forced resignation.
Between 1997 and 2000, a number of new Irish political groups emerged. All of which advocated core Irish Republican and Socialist objectives. The first was the 32 County Sovereignty Movement with a strong focus on the lack of Irish sovereignty. Secondly came Eirigi, initially founded in Dublin with socialism as its cornerstone. It later became a Political Party. Next was the Republican Network for Unity who mobilised against the endorsement of British Policing. Like Eirigi, RNU also became a Political Party with a distinct revolutionary republican and socialist outlook. The most recent group established was the 1916 Societies
Prior to what became known as the Peace Process, the Provisional Movement had split in 1986. After the Provisional Leadership decided to take seats if elected to Leinster House. Dozens of members including, the former President and Vice-President left the Ard Fheis after the vote. Those who walked-out held their own Conference at a different venue. Where they voted to continue the long-held policy of abstentionism. In order not to confuse the public, the Party was renamed Republican Sinn Fein. RSF correctly predicted that the Provisionals would also erode other principles and they would also enter Stormont and accept Partition.
Apart from the Irish Republican Socialist Party, RSF held firm and against the reformist policies of Sinn Fein. Both Parties were consistently demonised and criminalised by Provisional Leaders. They were also heavily censored by the media in Ireland, Britain and America because of their positions on the continued occupation of the Six Counties. A few Provisionals who dissented from their Leadership after the PIRA Ceasefires in 1994 and 1996 joined the IRSP and RSF. While both Movements held legitimate objectives, most former members felt they couldn't commit to a different Leadership.
|INLA Chief of Staff, Gino Gallagher|
In addition to strong feelings of betrayal by the Provisionals. A few months had only passed since the Republican Socialist Movement survived a determined attack against it by former members with key people assassinated. The same Republicans felt unable to join RSF as not only was fellow Activists targeted, threatened and beaten in a concerted campaign by former comrades in the Provisional Movement. On one occasion Óglach Joe O'Connor was brutally executed by the Provisional IRA in front of his family outside their home in Ballymurphy on October 13th, 2000. Which a British Government Minister described as; 'internal housekeeping'. A number of Belfast Republicans were subsequently 'arrested and detained' by the Provisionals and threatened with the same type of death as Joe's, if they became involved with; 'other groups'.
|Óglach. Joe O'Connor|
It has been over five years, since I last used this blog to propose the establishment of a new Irish Republican Congress. You can click on the following link to read; A Proposal for a Republican Socialist Alternative. At the time, my analysis was based on the need for a democratic, unified republican and socialist umbrella body that would consist of representatives from each of the above Parties and Groups and Independents. A Congress based on the ideas and ideology of the 1934 model, founded by Peader O'Donnell and Frank Ryan over seventy years ago. Two working-class heroes who dedicated their lives to secure the 32 Socialist Irish Republic. A Congress that could assist the various organisations in their quest to secure a revolutionary movement.
A number of attempts to create republican unity between the above Parties, Groups and various Individuals. I accept and fully understand that there is much ground and suspicion between everyone concerned. Based on the very nature of revolutionary politics and the years of attrition by the British and Free State Governments against Irish republicans, it is hardly surprising that we find ourselves primarily protecting ones own Party or Group. However, that should not prevent us from exploring ways in which we can build a truly equal and shared overarching body that could help us all reach out to the majority of Irish citizens. Who demand an Ireland free from imperialism, partition, poverty and occupation. A sovereign Irish socialist republic, where single person can enjoy religious, political, civil liberty, equality and freedom.
Two of the best examples of unified activities by Republicans in recent years, has been the Irish Republican Forum for Unity (IRFU) and the Anti-Internment League. The IRFU consisted of the IRSP, 32CSM, RNU and a number of respected Independent Republicans. Although the IRFU got off to a great start, one of the main setbacks was the failure of RSF and Eirigi to join the forum. Most of Eirigi's and RSF's analysis were already shared by everyone represented. Their inclusion would have benefitted everyone including both Parties. Again its understandable that RSF has a policy against becoming involved in 'broad fronts'. Whilst I accept their right to hold that particular position, I would urge them to investigate the Anti-Internment League and witness what could be achieved. Another problem faced by the forum was a couple of concerns expressed by the IRSP. Unfortunately, the IRSP felt the issue was insurmountable at that time and left the IRFU. Whilst the forum was indeed short-lived, everyone remain comrades and it did present an alternative to GFA advocates.
The Anti-Internment League has led to increased confidence and cooperation between a number of Republican Groups, Parties and Individuals. Working as a Collective, it has held two very successful and large demonstrations in Belfast recalling the detention of thousands of Irishmen and women by Britain between 1971-1975 and to also highlight the ongoing incarceration of Political Prisoners. The League consist of RNU, 1916 Societies, Eirigi, 32CSM, Cabhair, Cogus, IRPWA and Independent Republicans. As with any such body, there have been teething problems between the various groups who make up the Anti-Internment League. We have seen thousands taking to the streets demanding an end to Political arrests, Diplock Courts and Internment by Remand.
|Anti-Internment March: August, 2013|
What I propose should be in the interests of all Irish Republicans, Socialists and Democrats. Though, I stress that they are only suggestions and can be amended, altered and changed to suit everyone. Each City, Town, Village and County could have its own Congress to meet regularly, discuss ideas and educate one another on how best to develop our own communities. Each Province would also have its own Congress applying the same methods. Then, there would need to be a National Congress made up of each Party, Group and/or Independents. The National Structure could help build confidence between one another, mobilise numbers and chart the way forward for Republicanism.
Think I have written enough for now readers, I welcome positive contributions to my suggestions and I look forward to them until then, Adh Mhor.....