|Road To No Town|
Part One: Preamble
Firstly, this piece is not written to undermine or question any existing ideological standpoints. The content herein adheres to the historical ideals of Irish Republicanism in all its forms, albeit this is an admixture of those ideals that are best suited as to be relevant to modern day Ireland and the complex political environment we now find ourselves in.
Secondly this piece is for all people of Ireland no matter what religion, colour or beliefs therein held; for those are personal issues that should bear no relevance on the task at hand: to free our people from the oppression of British interference and imperialism!
Finally, this would not have been possible without many discussions with comrades and intellectuals over the last 10 years or so, and although it may not have seemed like it I do in fact listen with great intent. My task was to put such ideas together in such a way that made the most sense to me and hopefully to you the reader, the Irish people. So let us begin.
The old adage “Ireland unfree shall never be at peace” rings true, but we cannot be at war forever and risk the future of our sons and daughters on a continual basis. There has to be a solution, one last collective push.
Without going into intricate details I wish to use the following few examples as a basis to explain as to why history in Ireland, and perhaps all over the world, has a tendency to repeat itself. Such cyclic changes only fall into the hands of imperialism, who are well versed to this longstanding pattern by now. So how can we help break this pattern together?
In the 15th Century it was prophesied that Red Hugh O’Donnell, this great son of Ireland, along with sons of the O’Neill clan were the greatest threat to British interference in Ireland, and indeed they successfully brought British influence to its knees on more than one occasion. However such battle lines were religiously based, and all romanticism cast aside such efforts failed, and under such a premise will continue to do so.
Fast forward to the late 18th Century and Wolfetone and Henry Joy McCracken, amongst other notable leaders, influenced by the success of the French Revolution, helped to unite ‘Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter’ under the battle cry ‘Death or Liberty.’ Across the country many uprisings and battles were successful, and indeed I am of the view that this may have been the closest we have come to ridding Ireland of British oppression. This is because of the ‘United Front’ approach adopted by the leaders and the fact that so many at the time could relate deeply to the oppression from wealthy landlords and other covert manipulation tactics. This was a class war, and that made it powerfully effective. However, all romanticism cast aside such efforts failed.
In 1803, the charismatic and flamboyant Robert Emmet attempted an uprising, it was doomed to failure from the start yet nonetheless spectacular in it’s romanticism and inspiration for future generations. Emmet was martyred and his speech at the dock left a great impression on the consciousness of the Irish people and Irish republicanism, one that remains to this day. However, all romanticism cast aside such efforts failed.
In 1848 amidst the Great Hunger, and from inspiration provided by revolutions elsewhere in Europe, Thomas Francis Meagher and the Young Irelanders staged a small uprising that was doomed to failure. It is of interest considering his involvement he avoided the death sentence and instead was exported for life to Van Dieman’s land in Australia. I suspect this was because the British knew that to make a martyr of him amidst such a time as the ‘famine’ would surely incite widespread rebellion while also risking the possibility of mass subversion of work houses and the interests of the wealthy. Indeed, revolutionary support and fervour is most probable during such times of upheaval and oppression, and the time to strike is when the iron is hot, but in this case the people were too weak and down-trodden to unite effectively. A lesser known fact is that during this period Meagher and Young Irelander’s brought back the Irish Tricolour from a Masonic Lodge in France where it was adopted as our national flag. Our national flag is said to represent the peace (white) between Catholic (green) and Protestants (orange) but it could also be viewed entirely opposite depending upon how one chooses to look at it. One must ask oneself is this helpful long term and this divide will be touched on later. However, all romanticism cast aside such efforts failed.
Arguably the most intriguing developments arose off the back of Thomas Clarke who joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) in Dungannon in 1878 and fled to the United States where O’Donovan Rossa trained him and others in the use of explosives. The subsequent dynamite campaign began on English soil in 1883, but Clarke was quickly arrested on the word of an informer and imprisoned for 15 years penal servitude. There he witnessed his comrades lose their minds one by one, yet managed to keep himself sane by counting the bricks in his cell, or throwing a button from his prison uniform on the cell floor in the black of night only to get down on hands and knees and find it again, and of course to repeat the process over and over. He also adopted mathematically based thought experiments, and as word would have it he counted the bricks in the entire prison block. Upon his release he was lauded as a hero by the young idealistic rebels who acknowledged his willingness for self sacrifice and the price he paid, yet no hero was he to himself for his want for revolution had failed. He was a frail looking and modest man that would pose the greatest threat to the British in Ireland in the years ahead. In those subsequent years it was precisely because he was so unassuming and vulnerable that made him so dangerous to the enemy.
It is well known that due to Eoin MacNeill’s counter order, which resulted in most of the Irish volunteers staying away from battle lines, the uprising of Easter 1916 was practically doomed to failure. Indeed, this was MacNeill’s rationale for the counter order. He was afraid to die. I will not pass judgement on MacNeill nor speak ill of the dead. This fact was known by the remaining leaders who met on the morning of Easter Sunday, 23rd of April to vote on whether or not the planned rising should go ahead. It was decided to do so the following day, for it was agreed to take a representative and dramatic stand against the British in what was also a time of War for them amidst World War One. It was hoped this would put enough pressure on them to solve the Irish question of independence while also garnering international support. The former was somewhat successful and the latter absolute. This would come but not until many years later, and many people would have to die. What is telling is the fact that the ‘hard left’ socialists in the ‘Irish Citizen Army’ under James Connolly, and the traditional more ‘left to centre’ leaning Irish republicans in the ‘Irish Volunteers’ coalesced for the uprising. Although ideological differences were apparent, both sides understood the importance of a united front amidst widespread oppression, and knew the majority of Irish people had been cowed into submission over centuries of oppression and how their last stand would eventually consolidate the ideals of Irish freedom in man, woman and child. It is said the IRB ‘kidnapped’ Connolly, although I doubt he would be the type to to go unwillingly, yet whatever happened when he finally heard plans were in place for an immediate rising he delightfully agreed to join the IRB Army Council and play a leading role, such was his stature. It is also no secret that Connolly and Pearse were at loggerheads in the years prior over many issues, yet it is fitting that both of them led the storm on the General Post Office (GPO) in Dublin on that Easter Monday morning as brothers in arms. This is something to take note of for future discussion in the remaining sections. The uprising of 1916 was successful in so far that it put the cause for Irish freedom on the international stage, and it’s purity at heart could not be denied! The proclamation of 1916 has consequently inspired countless others to take up arms in pursuit of this ideal. As symbolic as the rising was it was not supported by the majority of Irish people at the time. It was only, at the orders of General Maxwell, when the 16 staggered executions followed that the desire for Irish freedom was stoked in the hearts of the Irish people. The image of the rising could not be denied and remains to this day, yet it would be hubris of me to say that such an image was not hijacked to suit certain agendas, in particular those of the Catholic Church, the wealthy classes and interests of British imperialism. The image of the rising was turned into one of religion, and any socialist ideals therein were swiftly and conveniently swept under the rug by the subsequent Free State and British influence thereof. This was our biggest mistake, and explains the pains and struggle of subsequent events up to the modern day.
Conclusions so far drawn in Part Two:
From the above illustrative examples we can see that such uprisings involved prominent leaders and leadership that were well known, yet still not fully representative of the Irish people they represented. This made it easy for the masses to follow, if they chose, but also made it easy for the enemy to make a hard example of the prominent leaders so as to put the fear of God into the Irish population, at least for another generation or so. This cyclic failure can therefore be explained by a lack of a cohesive and collective movement led by ordinary Irish people where egos are cast aside. The closest this came to post 1916 was arguably the Civil Rights Movement which preceded the looting of Bombay St. in 1969 and the subsequent 29 years of sectarian bitter conflict.
Part 3: Republicanism in late C.20th and the modern day - fractured by sectarian agendas placed here by the state
As previously alluded to, post 1916 the symbolism of The Rising was hijacked by the Free State and their lackeys to such a degree that it no longer resembles any Ireland I wish to be apart of. The Free State turned into a conduit for British rule and influence in Ireland, and one of their first agendas was to instil a sectarian agenda and mindset into our own people. Sectarianism was never apart of Irish culture and never should be. Being a Republican is not about being a Catholic it is about equality in all remits of life for the likes of you and me. The consequence of British interference, religion and mass media was the subversion of the Civil Rights Movement and the 29 years of ‘tit for tat’ sectarian killings which played into our enemies hands, and will continue to do so. As long as we are divided we can be controlled. Working class Protestants and Catholic’s face the exact same social issues, deprivation and oppression and our politicians tell us to blame each-other!
Too much time has and continues to be wasted on ‘the past’ as well as unhelpful rhetoric which reinforces duality (us versus them). This has to stop. The exact same social issues and pressures are being faced by people on ‘both sides of the proverbial fence’ - we are not so different yet our educational system makes us believe otherwise. For example: Where is the education in schools on the role Protestants played in the formation of Irish Republicanism in the late 18th Century? Where is the education in schools on the role Catholic’s played in the Monaghan Militia in the torture and murder of United Irishmen? Why isn’t William Orr taught in schools across the country? Such a founding Presbyterian revolutionary would surely eradicate the ‘us and them’ mentality that appears to be on the rise for our young people today. This is just one facet of a myriad of profound problems faced by our society today, and worse still all such things can be addressed if we had unity and direction.
Leinster House tears down Moore Street and turns our capital city into a tax haven for multinational corporations, and utilises Shannon airport for an imperial war machine. For the vast majority of people this is not the Ireland they want to be apart of, only the small number of elites thrive under such a regime while the rest of us suffer. Modern day republicanism is totally fractured and siloed, we must build some bridges and show the real threat we pose. This will take community meetings, arguments and much courage, but there is much worse should we remain like this. We may as well gift wrap our country to drug king pins and cartels. This can’t be allowed to continue.
Part 4: United front and the dismantling of egos and the incorporation of ordinary people in ‘their’ struggle
Woody Guthrie, one of the worlds most prominent socialists once said: ‘left wing, right wing, chicken wing.’ In other words, such duality in our way of thinking actually impedes the struggle for international socialism, and in our case Irish Republicanism. To think in such ‘black and white’ terms is criteria for disorder. There are in fact many shades of grey. For example one can be hard left but disagree with abortion. Again, we must not bring personal preferences into politics for this muddies the waters, and what we need is crystal clarity and unity on the direction we are going.
Fascism is a different matter altogether and needs opposed at every turn, indeed fascism is not just aligned to right wing thinking, for history shows us the further right or left one goes the more fascistic one has the potential to become. We must not become the oppressor in the pursuit of liberating the oppressed. This is a trap people fall into time and time again.
This brings me onto the need to dismantle egos and the belief that we are ‘supermen’ who have a ‘God’ given right to defend the people. This mentality has to be removed. For it is the ordinary people who hold the power not any one else, and any political party who puts itself up for election should know that, whether they wish to admit it or not. The idea that strong revolutionaries should be immune from the same problems as those they represent is hubris at best. Such thinking will only distance us from the task at hand and the people we are to represent! In fact, such a mindset should be completely eradicated because the revolution cannot be led by one group or individual, but by the masses and on a collective basis, and the more vulnerable the masses, the more powerful the revolution will be! Our egos have to be smashed! All the leaflets in the world won’t beat honest dialogue, this will take self-sacrifice, the willing to travel across the country with genuine intent, and most of all a great love for the land and the people. For people are not fools they know the real thing when they see it.
Part 5: Future directions - proposals and the need to facilitate a free ireland for all Irish people for all walks of life
Moving forward, the worse things get the more exposed and vulnerable Stormont, Leinster House and British Rule in the 6 counties becomes. This is already happening and we are on the verge of an upheaval. But for it to be a success we must cast personal beliefs aside and focus collectively on what is important. This will take dialogue between groups who might not see eye to eye, and the subsequent inclusion of all those who wish to live in our great country free from discrimination and fear. We must give unionism and loyalism their say, we must give people from all creeds and walks of life the fundamental right to their beliefs and place of worship, albeit providing nobody harms or offends one another. Yet we must show those whose opinions differ from our own, by example that we are all Irish and belong in Ireland and the real enemy is the oppressor, not each-other.
There is a space for us all. The worse things get all the better. We are on the verge of a tipping point, and we must not waste this opportunity. This land was made for you and me. Let’s take it.