On Wednesday (29 January) éirígí Rúnaí Ginearálta Breandán Mac Cionnaith was contacted by The Irish News to outline the socialist republican party’s views on the challenges facing modern-day republicanism and on certain recent statements made by prominent former IRA prisoners.
A written response was provided to The Irish News that same afternoon.
On Monday 3rd February, The Irish News published an edited version of the response supplied by an Rúnaí Ginearálta. The full unedited text of his contribution can be read below. It initially featured on the éirígí website.
éirígí is an open, independent, democratic political party.
éirígí is not aligned to, or supportive of, any armed organisation and by extension is not supportive of the armed actions of such organisations.
Since its foundation in 2006 éirígí has argued that the conditions simply do not exist for the prosecution of a successful armed struggle.
Over the course of the last eight years éirígí has been repeatedly asked to join the right-wing, reactionary chorus of condemnation of republican armed actions.
We have refused to do so because we understand that forty years of the politics of condemnation have achieved nothing.
We further understand that engagement and influence are far more useful than sound-bite condemnations.
Instead of pointless condemnation, we have chosen to put forward our critique of modern Ireland and the role that republicans can play in shaping positive change, in the belief that ever greater numbers of people will be won over to that position.
We have advanced our critique both in public and in private.
It is clear that there are those republicans who do not agree with éirígí’s analysis of the current objective conditions.
It is equally clear that there still are men and women from both sides of the border willing to engage in armed actions.
As has been the case in the past, those actions need to be seen in the context of partition and the imposition of a deeply unjust socio-economic order.
Armed political actions are a symptom of that disease and not the cause.
Without addressing the root cause of conflict in Ireland, it seems certain that there will be people willing to resist British political interference, partition and injustice through armed means.
Simple recognition of that fact does not equate to either condoning or condemning those individuals or their actions.
At the time of éirígí’s establishment, the party asserted that a Democratic Socialist Republic could only be achieved through the establishment of a new progressive social movement incorporating local communities, organised labour, cultural organisations, campaign groups and political parties.
éirígí still believes mass popular participation in struggle to be a prerequisite for radical change in Ireland.
As a party we, therefore, place great importance on community engagement and the popularisation of the socialist republican message. Through campaigns, elections, political propaganda, public meetings, outreach and all of the other tools of political development, we seek to play our part in challenging injustice and promoting a credible alternative to the status quo.
We continually invite others to join with us in building an effective voice for the Irish working class.
The wider republican struggle is more fractured now than it has ever been.
This fragmentation continues to demonstrably weaken the cause of progress.
An honest recognition of the reality of the current objective conditions is a necessary first step on the road to consolidation of the republican struggle.
We therefore welcome all strategic discussions within the wider republican, socialist and revolutionary circles. We particularly welcome movement towards the position that éirígí has advocated since 2006.
In the past, Irish republicans often took inspiration from revolutionary organisations across the globe. Struggles in France, Cuba, Vietnam, Palestine and elsewhere have all provided radicals in this country with ideas and inspiration.
In recent times, for example, South America has produced valid and very successful forms of popular struggle. That region has seen immense social and economic change result from new thinking and new forms of unarmed struggle.
While it is not possible to directly transport exact strategies and tactics from one country or region to another, there are important lessons that Irish republicans can learn from the recent experiences of others in South America and elsewhere.
We in éirígí hold that the creation of a popular movement for maximum change represents the best potential to create the conditions which will make British rule and capitalist exploitation in Ireland untenable.
While our opponents may wish that republicans had only two options to choose from – that of accepting the status quo or that of an armed campaign – we in éirígí remain committed to creating another option for those who wish to see an end to British rule, social injustice and economic exploitation across all of Ireland: – a mass, participative revolutionary movement.
Across Ireland, the failure of the political institutions at Stormont and Leinster House can be seen on a daily basis – massive unemployment, increased poverty, youth emigration and savage cuts to a wide range of much needed public services.
On the other hand, wealth is being increasingly concentrated into the hands of the few, as borne out by the fact that the richest one percent of the population in Ireland saw their combined wealth increase by almost sixty percent between 1980 and 2012.
The need for a mass-participatory and radical movement in Ireland could not be more evident.
We in éirígí intend to continue to play our part in building that movement and we encourage others to do likewise.