Comrades we gather here today to commemorate the life sacrifices of ten young men in ’81 determined, driven by passion and belief that Ireland’s fight for freedom is not and will not be criminalised even after 800 years of British oppression after countless lives pledged and given in the cause of Irish freedom.
As Roger Casement 98th anniversary was on the 3rd of this month I would like to pay tribute by quoting him:
If we are to be indicted as criminals, to be shot as murderers, to be imprisoned as convicts because our offence is that we love Ireland more than we value our lives, then I know not what virtue resides in any offer of self government held out to brave men on such terms self government is our right, a thing born in us at birth. A thing no more to be doled out to us or withheld from us by another people than the right to life itself, where all your rights become an accumulated wrong where men must beg with bated breath for leave to subsist in their own land, to think their own thoughts, to sing their own songs, to garner the fruits of their own labours and even while they beg to see things inexorably withdrawn from them. Then surely it is a braver and a saner and a truer thing to be a rebel in act and deed against such circumstances as these than tamely to accept it as the natural lot of men.Penned in 1916 it could be 1966 or 2016 Ireland, Gaza or wherever oppression, colonialism, imperialism is assisted by world powers, multinational and gombeen capitalists. We must identify our enemies clearly as Connolly phrased it. ”Every enemy of tyranny is my friend no matter where be his birth place. Every enemy of freedom is my enemy though he may be as Irish as our own hills.”
These ten young men died on hunger strike not just for recognition as political prisoners but to advance their class struggle and rights to Irish people, not just to change masters but to be done with masters and become masters of our own destiny. We can only start when we take control of our own lives and fight our own battles. The vested interests in our society from politicians, business, most union leadership, the legal profession, banks and financial institutions are bleeding us dry and using our children as collateral for their debts for years to come. Not alone are our homes and food but also our people treated as commodities non essentials.
Human rights and abuses of prisoners are still normal practice in Maghaberry. Selective internment and harassment, stop and search, and house raids are the recourse for those who speak out and highlight the practice while the “head in the sand brigade” toast their oppressors as a shared history. So has the elderly and their burglar. Not much parity of esteem in that and proven once again that their class interest is greater than their national differences.
Muriel McSwiney on hearing of Liam Mellow’s execution said in the U.S.A. “I’d rather that they are dead than to succumb to empire”. Connolly said: “The freedom of the working class must be the work of the working class”.
Because while we elect and select careerists as leaders of trade unions or political parties they will ultimately betray us to their aspiring class interests. We have a legacy, a proud legacy from Tone, Lalor, Connolly, Mellows, Costello and all those who gave their lives for national and social freedom the inseparable entwined both strands.
The role of a revolutionary is building support and conditions favourable to the execution of the revolution which entails involvement in every sphere of local struggle building towards national resistance to the exploiter state necessary to fulfil our vision of a 32 County Socialist Republic.