32CSM Alan Ryan Memorial 2015 Main Oration by Mr Francie Mackey

8 Sep

On behalf of the family of Volunteer Alan Ryan, the 32 County Sovereignty Movement and the broad republican family I welcome you here today.

It falls to us, Alan’s comrades and friends, to protect his good name and reputation and to establish his political legacy. The relentless and insidious onslaught against Alan in certain media quarters is testament that his influence continues to this day.

The distressful images which are routinely published of his final moments are outside the boundaries of acceptable journalistic standards and we stand firm with Alan’s family in demanding that such publications cease forthwith.

For those with an anti-republican agenda it is easier to denigrate than it is to debate. The frustration held by republicans over this relentless policy of criminalisation can only be challenged with a relentless articulation of our core political message.

What they do not want the Irish people to hear can only be told to the Irish people by Irish republicans ourselves. Our visions, our solutions and our strategies to achieve them are the strongest weapons in our political arsenal.

The core republican position on British occupation will never go away so long as that occupation remains. Volunteers of the calibre of Alan Ryan will always be prepared to step up to the plate and confront the violation of our sovereignty.

We do not state this as an encouragement for such action but as a statement of its inevitability. Every generation of Irishmen and women testify to this truth. Armed resistance to British occupation is a symptom of that occupation and no amount of revisionism or the butchering of democracy can deny this fact.

In recognising this inevitability republicans must not make the mistake of taking it for granted. Republicanism must be infused with a discipline that allows it to meet all its challenges both internal and external.

Central to this discipline is comradeship and mutual respect. There are now several republican groups currently constituted each with their own emphasis on different aspects of the national struggle.

Some will say that the very existence of different groups points to a fractured republican base. This is not the case. What has the republican base fractured is the unwillingness of different groups to meaningfully engage with each other on common issues where a combined effort can advance our goals.

A national struggle requires a national mindset. Local republican activity must be afforded a national dimension at all times. Parochialism has no role to play. No one group has a monopoly on republicanism. No one group has a monopoly on history. No one group has a monopoly on tradition. Republicanism is the totality of its parts and for it to function properly those parts must work in harmony and mutual respect.

The 32 County Sovereignty Movement are strong advocates for republican unity. We have our view on how such unity can be achieved and once achieved how such unity can progress. These views are not cast in stone. We have a pragmatic view of politics and are more than open to hear and adopt the views of others on this matter. Our position is simply this; let the better argument prevail.

We have set out the terms for peace in Ireland before the United Nations. This is not a party policy document but a national articulation of the cause of conflict in Ireland and what is required to end it. We do not claim ownership of this position nor do we demand prior endorsement of our group to support its basic premise.

The United Nations Submission is a start point for contemporary republicanism. What we need to do now, all of us together, is to put in place a political programme of activism to advance our goals from that point. We are where we are, we cannot simply wish that this should not be the case. We cannot continually spring up new entities because we find debating with each other too challenging. If Alan Ryan, like so many others, can give his life, surely, in their name, we can speak with each other.

Alan was an unapologetic Irish republican and a dedicated anti-drugs activist. His service to both his country and community were selfless and will form the bedrock of his political legacy.

Political legacies are built on new ideas. New ideas take courage and we have Alan’s courage to inspire us. The drug abuse issue in Ireland requires new concepts, political, legal and social to address it. Our abhorrence of drug dealing can no longer form the central plank of our policies towards it.

Republican policy in this area must be based on understanding why people abuse drugs in the first place. We must view drug abuse as a social issue with legal implications rather than a legal issue with social implications. Criminalising sick and substance dependent people has not worked the world over.

So here is the challenge to republicans today; what new ideas can we bring into our communities to help them with this pressing problem? Do we recognise that actually impacting on drug abuse is a more fitting tribute to Alan than all the eloquence of green oratory? In honor of Alan and his role on this issue can we come together and bring this tribute to pass?

We are on the cusp of the centenaries of arguably the most important events in republican history. These events can be said to demonstrate where Irish republicanism got it right. Next year sees the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising. That event was an armed expression of Irish sovereignty so expressed because our sovereignty was and is violated.

The 1916 Proclamation articulated this view with a clarity and firmness which holds as strong today. Cognisant of their domestic and international political environment Irishmen and Irish women expressed their sovereignty during Easter Week.

This set in train a series of political events which republicans utilised with outstanding success. Rather than simply honouring the sacrifices of Easter Week they politically built upon them.

They defined an Irish mandate and democratically secured one in 1918. They established national governance and Irish law.
In 1919 they issued the Declaration of Independence. They placed the armed forces of the Irish Republic under civilian authority and prosecuted a war in defence of Irish sovereignty.

In those short few years they brought the Irish Republic into being and brought the British government to the negotiations table. There is much we need to learn from this. These events were not isolated nor disconnected. They were the product of doing things right.

Where they fell down, and where others fell down in 1998, was to concede to the British demand that Irish sovereignty was not on the negotiations table. The parallels are unmistakable.

These centenaries commence next year. There is a huge effort to both dilute and misrepresent what these events actually represented. We cannot compete with the resources at their disposal. All we have is each other and our collective ingenuity. We cannot allow these events to pass without demonstrating to the Irish people that their still exists in Ireland today a significant body of political opinion which represents the core message of these events.

This must be done on a national basis and it must represent a political statement of republican intent. They are too important to be merely commemorated. They are too significant to be recalled with re-enactments or street theatre. They are the core DNA of who we are and what we represent. And just as that generation of Irishmen and Irish women had something to say to the Irish people so too must the current generation.

We say that Volunteer Alan Ryan was our friend and comrade. We stand by what he stood for and against those who took his life. We say that republicanism has a rich vein of political and ideological ideas ingrained within it. And in tribute to Alan and all those who gave their lives we say it is our duty to present those ideas to the Irish people.

That opportunity is now upon us. Let us seize it.

Beir Bua!

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