32CSM Chairman Address Ar Fhies 2016

8 Dec

Below is the Chairman’s address that was delivered by Francie Mackey on Saturday at the 32 County Sovereignty Movement’s 2016 Ard Fheis –
Comrades agus a chairde, on behalf of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement we send from this Árd Fheis revolutionary and solidarity greetings to all people’s struggling for their national sovereignty and the inherent human rights which that entails.
As we leave the centenary year of the 1916 Easter Rising we now enter a critical time for Irish republicanism. In 2017 the populism surrounding the centenary celebrations will have passed and like Christmas decorations in January the core meaning of that seminal event will be stored away, not for a year for some, but for another century.
With much reticence the Dublin Government marked the event. Their strategy was to bury the politics of 1916 within a decade of other events desperately hoping that the politics of Home Rule and the Good Friday Agreement will prevail. In this they will succeed if republicans fail to impact on national politics in 2017.
I want to congratulate the Irish people for their enthusiasm in celebrating the centenary. In their tens of thousands they attended local and national events and expressed a pride in those who fought in Easter Week and what they fought for. These people were not lured by pomp and circumstance but by a recognition that the Proclamation remains a nation building document, a blueprint for a genuine republic for all the people of Ireland.
For republicans these people are our audience. But having demonstrated their understanding of our history they will not be swayed by green clichés or arguments hiding behind a mask. If republicans wish to make ourselves relevant to our people then our message must not only resonate with them but must also rise above all the other messages that are currently directed at them.
When the Moore Street battle site was spontaneously occupied by citizens to protect our historical heritage a glimpse of genuine republican unity was seen. The maturity displayed demonstrated just how politically effective such unity can be. The occupation attracted a wide cross section of Irish society all eager to show empathy with the protestors aims.
But above all republicans listened to the reasoned arguments of historians, archaeologists and legal professionals and democratically arrived at a strategic conclusion which placed the State on the back foot in their efforts to sell off the site to property speculators.
From this Ard Fheis I would like to express our heartiest congratulations and admiration for all those activists engaged in that campaign. I wish to extend solidarity to the Save Moore Street Campaign who for years have tirelessly raised awareness of the neglect of these historic buildings. In doing so they have also helped to maintain the core ethos of what the rebels strove to achieve.
But like 1916 itself the battle is not over. The Minister for State has appealed the ruling of the High Court that the entire area is of immense historic importance. And as we await the outcome of the Supreme Court deliberations on the matter we remain ready and primed to once again defend our heritage.
On Easter Monday 2016 republicans of all shades marked the centenary in a magnificent display of comradeship and political dignity. Marching behind the simple dynamic of Irishmen and Irish Women the display of unity was applauded by the thousands of Irish people who were in attendance on O’Connell Street.
Recognising the decorous nature of the parade they listened attentively and respectfully as they were addressed from a republican perspective. And this is the salient point we must recognise, that presenting ourselves properly is the first impression that we must make if we are to secure their audience for the republican message we must deliver to them.
I want to thank sincerely the magnificent vision and effort carried out by the National 1916 Commemoration Committee in bringing about this memorable event. I want to thank all those republican groups who took part and made the event the only truly national commemoration of the 1916 Centenary.
This is the template upon which republican unity can be fashioned. It is the first step taken in translating a marching solidarity into a policy driven solidarity. If we can march together we can argue together. And if we can do both we can change the political narrative on the island.
And this is why 2017 can prove to be a watershed for Irish republicanism. The comfort blanket of the centenary will be absent which means it must be the strength of our message that we must first and foremost rely on. And although other important centenaries afford Irish republicans a platform to deliver our message it is the message itself that we must concentrate on.
Republicans must be cognisant of the political environment we find ourselves in for two primary reasons: firstly, the political mindset of our people resides in this environment and it is that mindset, in the here and now, which republicans must converse with. Secondly, all political theatres yield opportunities for the various opinions which operate within them and this is no less true for republicans.
One such opportunity which presented itself was the recent Brexit Referendum and the outcome of that poll. Here the issue of sovereignty was placed on the national, European and international stage. At the core of this conversation was the fundamental analysis that the 32 County Sovereignty Movement placed in International Law before the United Nations.
This is the core analysis which laid down the correct rejection of the process which led to the Good Friday Agreement. It was this analysis that the British Government immediately sought to remove from the so called peace process. It did so by insisting that the entry fee into negotiations was the abandonment of Irish claims to sovereignty over the Six Counties.
Camouflaged in the rhetoric of peace both the Dublin Government and establishment nationalists deflected from this analysis by labelling it as anti-peace. And in the emotive environment of the time our analysis was strategically ignored. But the great flaw in that strategy is that the UN Submission can never go away until the issue of the violation of our national sovereignty is resolved.
And every time that political events like Brexit arise so too does the analysis outlined in our submission. And Brexit is not a singular event which presents us with political opportunities. The political response to it further exposes the deeply flawed constitutional analysis which was presented to the Irish people seeking endorsement of the Good Friday Agreement.
In attempting to challenge the Brexit result, as it applied to the Six Counties, Sinn Fein’s interpretation of the Good Friday Agreement was so exposed as completely misguided by the British High Court that it renders only one of two conclusions: either Sinn Fein were completely duped in the negotiations and were out of their depth or they were willing confederates in duping the Irish people into accepting it.
With either scenario Sinn Fein’s position is completely untenable. If it is the former they must now move to reject Good Friday on the grounds that it represents a deliberate assault on Irish sovereignty by a foreign parliament and is so constructed to pro-long that assault. If their position is the latter then they can be rightly called collaborators in the Vichy and Quisling mould.
And we say this honestly to the Sinn Fein party and its electorate, that you should demand honesty from the Sinn Fein leadership on this fundamental point. How can Good Friday be a highway to Irish unity when your leadership’s interpretation of it has been rubbished in a British court?
Sinn Fein has recently called for dialogue with republicans to take advantage of what they termed were seismic political changes on the island, in reference to Brexit. And we agree with the extent of these changes but we can only take advantage of them if our political position and analysis allows us to do so.
The court ruling brings clarity to the position elucidated by the Sovereignty Movement, namely, that the issue of sovereignty is not, nor ever will be, within the remit of the Stormont Regime. Equally all discussions in relation to a so called hard or soft border deliberately fall short of the constitutional realities as a result.
Good Friday has reinforced a British border between the six and twenty six counties. Brexit now enforces an EU border between the same two entities. We now call upon all republicans to direct their demands for the restoration of Irish sovereignty squarely at the table of the Westminster Parliament. In one vote within that institution the Anglo Irish conflict can be ended. We now call for that vote as a prelude to a genuine peace process for the people of Ireland.
But the task for all republicans in 2017 is to make this analysis relevant in order for it to gain political traction. In political struggles being right is unfortunately not enough. How can we translate the language of sovereignty into the every day discourse of our people?
I want to introduce an answer to that question so that ourselves as a political pressure group and the wider republican base can engage in a progressive political debate to put in place a bedrock of republican and socialist activism and build a unified strategy to secure republican aims. The concept is known as Applied Republicanism and is predicated on four functioning principles:
Recognising that each generation of Irish republicans have strategic autonomy and onerous duty to pursue our perennial right to national self-determination. It is the right which is necessarily carried forward and not any given strategy or stance taken in its pursuit.
Republican policies must be synonymous with their pursuit. All policies must be developed in tandem with a viable strategy to implement them.
All matters for policy must be defined in terms of how they function and all policies must be applied strategically to impact on that composite process.
Success must be consolidated and translated into policy. Failure must be recognised and democratically discarded.
Applied Republicanism is designed to bring republican policies and strategies into the heart of the functioning relationship between the citizen, the family, the community and the nation. It defines National Sovereignty in terms of a functioning and just society by recognising the mutual dependency that these relationships have for each other. It has historical provenance.
James Fintan Lalor once described the struggle between tenant and landlord as a microcosm of the struggle between Ireland and the British Empire. Herein lies the seeds of Applied Republicanism. In defining the national struggle in such terms Lalor was defining a national dimension to local struggles. In Lalor’s era the Land Question was one of the burning issues of the day and by integrating this question into the question of national sovereignty the struggle to secure our sovereignty was immediately broadened and made relevant to the daily struggles of our people.
In the modern era these daily struggles are no less relevant to the continuing national struggle today. But to truly understand the nature of these problems, to realistically engage with them, republicans must put in place a pragmatic policy programme to address them. Waving the Proclamation at political and social issues is not an all curing panacea. Quoting Pearse and Connolly bears little relevance to the scourge of addiction or the deprivations of debt.
We view each citizen as sovereign and as the ultimate source of national sovereignty. But in between the sovereign citizen and the sovereign nation is a functioning co-dependence and it is within this relationship that Applied Republicanism must strategically operate. It is here we make a reality of Lalor’s perceptive vision by recognising the concept of community as the binding agent between the citizen and the state.
What’s deprived of the citizen is deprived of the nation and what’s deprived of the nation is deprived of the citizen. A family cannot function without a home. Communities cannot function without families. A nation cannot function without communities. Partition is as depriving of our people as homelessness and debt. Applied Republicanism seeks to address the totality of our sovereignty’s violation by seeking to build strategies at every social level to end it.
Bobby Sands said that we all have our part to play. The problem arises when we fail to play our parts in harmony with each other. The 32 County Sovereignty Movement has been to the fore on the issue of republican unity since our inception. We recognise that identity is important to republican groups. But the preservation of identity need not be a bar to mutual cooperation.
Identity is more progressively expressed via radical policies and strategies rather than initials and labels. Giving leadership should not be confused with seeking control. Democratic debate is essential to political advancement. Republicanism is not a static concept; there is no holding position only a position to be advanced.
From this Ard Fheis the 32 County Sovereignty Movement calls on all republican groups to not only engage in inclusive dialogue but to actively seek this dialogue themselves. We must create a policy interface between ourselves and our people if republican objectives are to have any hope of being realised.
We send solidarity greetings to all Republican POW’s and their families. The need for their welfare makes no distinctions as to the status of POW’s and neither do we. Republican prisoners have always been central to the republican struggle and have at times given leadership to that struggle.
We have been consistent in our approach to prisoner’s welfare. We believe such welfare should not be politicised nor applied in a discriminatory fashion. The cost of schoolbooks and electric bills do not vary depending on what landing a POW happens to be housed.
We urge all republicans to redouble their efforts both in relation to supporting the dependants of POW’s and also advancing the goals for which they have faced imprisonment.
Before I finish I wish to reiterate just how important the year 2017 will be for all republicans. If we cannot build on the unity and comradeship displayed for the 1916 Centenary then in truth we will have marked that event in vain.
1916 is unfinished business; let us make it our business to finish it.
Beir Bua

One Response to “32CSM Chairman Address Ar Fhies 2016”

  1. seachranaidhe1 December 8, 2016 at 10:04 am #

    Reblogged this on seachranaidhe1.

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