The media announces that “the population of Ireland has reached 5 million … for the first time in 170 years”. Interesting – and a barefaced lie! The population of Ireland passed 5 million some time ago and is actually around 6.5 million now.1
Ireland remained with negative population growth until near the end of the last century – mismanaged for most of the population first by the British occupiers of the whole of the island, then by a combination of the native neo-colonial bourgeoisie and of the settler colonial ruling class.
For more than a century the population of Ireland stood at around 5 million, static despite a high birth rate. This was mathematically possible only through continual massive emigration – mostly to English-speaking regimes: Britain, USA, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
But it is true that 170 years ago it was more than 5 million – in fact it was around 8.5 million. And it is worth reflecting on how they were able to produce enough food domestically to feed that entire population while now, with a smaller population, we import as much as 80% from abroad.2
It was the Great Hunger that wiped out much of the earlier population, statistics somewhat hiding the pain and sorrow of millions of Irish in death, disease and emigration — and the great transfer of land for cultivation (and rent) to pasturage, with its dangerous environmental impact.
It provided an opportunity for growth of the Catholic Irish capitalist class, the Gombeens, huckstering money-lenders buying up the lands of afflicted neighbours.
The kind of class that the British could depend on in 1921 to manage the neo-colony and to murder and jail those of national liberation3.
Emigration kept population stats steady and, combined with unemployment, ensured a low internal home market for development. An educated workforce and natural resources could be developed but the Gombeen class opened it all to foreign multinationals rather than develop it themselves.
Even with foreign exploitation of the workforce at home, the education system turned out mostly emigration fodder: the Irish tax-payers funded an education system to provide a literate and numerate English-speaking workforces for capitalist exploitation abroad.
No wonder the Irish political class declined to give the Irish abroad a vote in the Irish state – unlike for decades any other state in the European Market. Yet during the 1930s through to the 1960s, money sent home by Irish migrants accounted for an estimated 30% of the Irish State’s economy.4
The Irish state remains a neo-colony with low taxation and other incentives for foreign companies to take over our few industries5 and local and foreign property speculators to rake in profits out of the despair of homelessness or of struggling to meet rent or mortgage payments.
A neo-colonial market for produce of foreign companies and to plunder not only our labour force, not only our natural resources on land, sea and wind and but even our infrastructures in transport and communication, energy, health service, water supply and even our city sanitation.
The announced statistics were truncated, appropriate perhaps for a truncated country, with the history behind those statistics not so much truncated as obliterated.
That is our present and our past but not how the future has to be – we can write our own future but we won’t do it by putting a mark on a ballot paper.
3The Irish Civil War or Counterrevolution, 1922-1923.
4I have read this in the past but am unable now to find the reference; however I have posted some references on the figures of remittances from Irish emigrants.
5 For a few examples of foreign takeover: Irish stout, beer and lagers (Guinness, Smithwicks, Harp); Irish whiskey (Paddy, Jameson, Bushmills); cigarettes (Afton); preserved vegetables (Erin); aviation (Aer Lingus); public transport (Transport for Ireland; LUAS); sugar (Irish sugar beet replaced by subsidised cane sugar from the USA); woodlands (Coillte).
The Irish State recently commemorated the end of the Irish Civil War but what it was really doing was celebrating its victory over the democratic national liberation forces.
The Irish national bourgeoisie, the Gombeen ruling class, armed and supplied by British Imperialism and colonialism, in 1922 launched a war against the forces that had brought the British Occupiers to the negotiation table.
In that short war or counterrevolution, the Irish State formally executed over 80 Irish Republican Volunteers – many more than had the British during the War of Independence 1919-1921. It also shot dead and blew up surrendered Volunteers and kidnapped, tortured and murdered others.
The Irish government of the day put the financial cost of the Civil War at 50 million sterling which today would be near to 3 billion euro.
A curtain of repression settled over Ireland, in the Irish state and in the colony in the Six Counties (in particular from the RIC re-baptised as RUC and the State-armed Loyalists of the B-Specials). Many Republicans were in jail and if not, could not find work and so emigrated.
The political party allegedly representing the Republicans, Fianna Fáil, led by a former leader of the forces attacked by the State, joined the Gombeen system and became in fact the preferred party of the Irish ruling class.
Though the Republican forces recovered and returned to the struggle in the 1930s (with the Communists against the fascist Blackshirts), again in the 1940s and onwards, they never again came close to winning control over the State.
What the Irish State has given us since its inception, even after the Civil War, has been generations of underdevelopment; unemployment and emigration; a huge decline in the Irish-speaking areas; inequality and social repression of women and LGBT people.
The latter was due to Catholic Church domination in every sphere of life, resulting in institutional physical, mental and sexual abuse, along with censorship in printed, audio and visual media and in banning of contraception.
The ruling class of the Irish State, the Gombeens, tolerated the foreign occupation and control of more than one-fifth of the island’s land mass and abandoned the large Catholic minority in the colony to discrimination and pogroms.
It tolerated also institutional and media racism against the Irish diaspora in Britain, the repressive legislation of the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the jailing for long sentences of a score of innocent Irish people in five different cases in the 1970s.
The Irish State tolerated Loyalist/ British Intelligence bombing inside its territory, failed to protect its citizens from terrorist bombing in the 1970s and covered up its complicity, for example with regard to the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings.
In addition, it used a Loyalist bombing to disarm the opposition to repressive legislation, not against Loyalists but against Irish Republicans, sending Republican activists to jail on the unsupported word of a senior police officer.
More recently this Irish State that we inherited has given us a housing crisis while it makes the territory a rich hunting ground for property speculators, bankers, landlords and vulture funds and also sells off/ gives away our natural resources, public transport and other infrastructures.
The selling-off includes our health service which is also in crisis while the private companies chop off parts of it and sell service back to the State at a profit. And a country that was able to feed 8.5 million prior to 1845 (and export foodstuffs) cannot now feed 5 million without huge imports.
They have given us nothing to celebrate but as always, there is a choice. We can bemoan the situation or we can “take back the nation they’ve sold” (Soldiers of Twenty-Two). And that cannot be done through electing any party or parties into the system.
A deadly disease has struck some people in Ireland, affecting tendons in the legs, control of the tongue and causing partial amnesia. By a strange twist, some of those affected are attracted to the very site of the first outbreak of the disease.
The effect on the tendons in the legs of those affected is dramatic: they can no longer stand up straight and find themselves bending a knee or even collapsing on to both knees, the tongue protruding in bizarre licking motion.
Less visible but in many ways more striking is the amnesia effect. Those affected lose memories of parts of what they learned in school or what they themselves thought and said in the past – even in recent years.
According to Dr. P O’Neill of the Institute of Research and Adjustment, a new symptom was observed recently: “Affected people spent four hours staring vacantly at a film of some anachronistic ritual”.
Dr. T.W.Tone, who has been studying similar outbreaks in the past observed on the affinity of the disease for people of higher social classes: “No-one is guaranteed immunity but it does seem that the lower the social class, the less likely the person is to contract this disease.”
Commenting on the low recovery rate of those who contract the disease, Dr. J.Connolly pointed to the crucial importance of prevention, for which community programs of education can be very effective. “We rely especially on Volunteers,” he said, “men and women who are dedicated to preventing the spread of this disease.”
On Sunday participants in a 1916 Rising Commemoration organised by the Irish organisation Anti-Imperialist Action were harassed by police as they gathered to march to the Irish Citizen Army Republican plot in Glasnevin Cemetery.
Six political police in plain clothes walked among those gathered beside Phibsborough shops demanding names and addresses of the participants, most of whom were fairly young. Four uniformed Gardaí also stood nearby and a Public Order Unit van parked at the cemetery entrance.
The participants declined to be intimidated and set off on their march, led by a lone piper playing Irish marching airs, followed by a colour party with different banners interspersed among the marchers, among which fluttered many flags.
Organisers had learned that the coach carrying members of the Republican Flute Band from Scotland that was to lead the parade had been prevented by police there from taking the ferry to Ireland.
In 1916 a broad alliance the Irish Volunteers, Irish Citizen Army, Cumann na mBan, na Fianna Éireann and Hibernian Rifles1 took part in a Rising organised by the Irish Republican Brotherhood against British rule in Ireland and against world war.
Due to a number of unfortunate circumstances, the leader of the Volunteers cancelled the Rising which however went ahead a day later than planned and was for the most part confined to Dublin, where a third of the numbers in the original plan took part and fought for a week.
The occupying British Army shelled the city centre from a gunship in the river Liffey and also from artillery on land. Explosions and resulting fires destroyed much of the city centre including the General Post Office in the main street, which had been the headquarters of the insurrection.2
After a week with the city centre including the GPO in flames, the rebel garrison evacuated to Moore Street where the following day, surrounded and vastly outnumbered, the decision was taken to surrender.3 A British military court passed death sentences on nearly a hundred prisoners.
All but fifteen of those sentences were commuted to long jail periods but the seven Signatories of the 1916 Proclamation4 and another seven were shot by British firing squad in Dublin, a fifteenth in Cork and after trial months later a sixteenth was hanged in Pentonville Jail, London.
At Easter 1917 Irish Republican and Socialist women commemorated the 1916 Rising; ever since then Irish Republicans and sometimes Socialists in Ireland and in many parts of the diaspora have commemorated the Rising, whether legally5 or otherwise, in jail or at liberty.
The War of Independence began in 1919 with many of the Rising’s survivors participating6.
The Parade on Sunday – local and national historical memory marked
At Cross Guns Bridge over the Royal Canal the parade halted and flares were lit in memory of events there in 1916.
On Easter Monday 1916 a small group of Irish Volunteers had marched from Maynooth along the canal bank to join the Rising in Dublin and found guarding the bridge two Irish Volunteers who advised them to wait until the following day to go into the city centre.
The Maynooth group spent the night in Glasnevin and the following day marched into the GPO, passing an empty Cross Guns Bridge on the way. Back towards Phibsborough, British artillery had blown a barricade and killed Seán Healy, a Fianna member at the Nth. Circular Road crossroads.
Later, the Dublin Fusiliers unit of the British Army blockaded the bridge, preventing people from crossing it in either direction. They shot dead a deaf local man who failed to heed their challenge because he did not hear it.
We Serve Neither King nor Kaiser but Ireland declared one banner carried last Sunday, Britain/NATO Out of Ireland another, This Is Our Mandate7, Our Republic and Collusion Is No Illusion, It Is State-Sponsored Murder were another two.
A large banner also declared alongside the image of James Connolly that Only Socialism Can Be the Solution for Ireland. Some organisations also carried their own banners, such as those of Dublin Independent Republicans, Ireland Anti-Internment Campaign and Irish Socialist Republicans.
Flags fluttering included those bearing the logo of the organising group Anti-Imperialist Action and others bearing the slogan “Always Anti-Fascist”, green-and-gold Starry Ploughs, a couple of Ikurrinak (Basque flags) and another two of Red with Hammer & Sickle in yellow.
At the Monument: speeches and songs
Glasnevin Cemetery (ReiligGhlas Naíonn) covers over 120 acres in North Dublin city and is in two parts, each with Republican Plots separated by the Cabra Road and contains the graves of both famous and ordinary people.
On the north side there is also access to the Botanic Gardens, both on the south banks of the Tolka river. The imposing Monument to numerous Republican uprisings and the Irish Citizen Army Republican plot is on the south side, across the pedestrian bridge over the railway line.
A man chaired the event for Anti-Imperialist Action and spoke briefly, introducing people for readings (all of which were from James Connolly) and for orations. The presentations of these were evenly divided between men and women, three of those being of young people.
Three songs were sung: a woman sang The Foggy Dew (by Charles O’Neill) and Erin Go Bragh (by Peadar Kearney), while a man sang Patrick Galvin’s Where Is Our James Connolly? Two women read out pieces by James Connolly and another read out the 1916 Proclamation.
The words of the chairperson and of those giving orations were different but there were common themes: upholding the historic Irish spirit of resistance, the importance of the working class in history and the objective of a socialist Republic encompassing the whole of the Irish nation.
These words were balanced by denunciation of US and British imperialism and the colonial/ NATO occupation of the Six Counties by the latter; the Irish client regime; the special no-jury courts8 of both administrations in Ireland and repression by police forces and occupation army.
Also denounced were those political parties that had abandoned the struggle for the Republic and instead had become part of the colonial and neo-colonial administrations or, in the latter case, were on their way to becoming so.9
Floral tributes were laid by representatives of a number of announced organisations and then others came forward to lay floral tributes also. The colour party lowered flags for a minute’s silence in homage and salute before slowly raising them again and the piper played Amhrán na bhFiann.
The chairperson thanked all for attendance, listing organisations by name and cautioning all to stay close together as they left, due to the threatening presence of Gardaí and in particular the Public Order Unit. In the event, the celebrants exited the cemetery and dispersed without incident.
1A small unit, an armed wing of a split from the more socially conservative USA version of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, their participation in the Rising was notable.
2Photos of much of the destruction are available on the Internet and accessible by search browser.
3The terrace they occupied still stands and is the object of a historical memory and conservation struggle against property speculator plans approved by the municipal city managers and Government political parties (see smsfd.ie).
4A remarkable document, the text of which is available from many postings on the Internet.
5Irish women commemorated it in public in contravention of British WWI martial legislation in 1917 and 1918 and for decades the public commemoration of the 1916 Rising (and even the flying of the Irish Tricolour) was forbidden in the British colony of the Six Counties with attendant colonial police attacks on any attempt to do so.
6Sometimes inaccurately called “the Tan War” (reference to a special colonial police auxiliary force that became known as the “Black n’ Tans”), the war saw the birth of the IRA and lasted from 1919-1921. A British “peace” proposal opened deep divisions in the nationalist coalition and was followed by a Civil War 1922-1923, in which the pro-Treaty government and armed forces were armed and supplied by the British to defeat the Republicans in a campaign of repression and jailing, military actions, kidnapping and torture, murder of prisoners, assassinations and over 80 formal executions.
7Also displaying text referring to the First Dáil’s Democratic Program of 1919.
8The Diplock court in the colony and the Special Criminal Courts in the Irish State, political special courts in all but name, with low proof bar and abnormally high conviction rate and refusal of bail while awaiting trial.
9References to 1) the 1930s split from the Sinn Féin party, the Fianna Fáil political party that became a preferred Government party of the foreign-dependent Irish ruling bourgeoisie and 2) to the Provisional Sinn Féin party who endorsed the British pacification plan in 1998 and embarked on the road to becoming a party of reformist nationalism in the colony and is heading for neo-colonial (and neo liberal capitalist) coalition government at the moment.
An event was held on a busy Saturday afternoon in Dublin’s city centre to commemorate IRA volunteer Patrick O’Brien, killed by soldiers of the Irish State.
The event included bagpipe airs, a colour party, speeches and a resistance song.
A colour party with Irish Tricolour and the flags of the four provinces, led by a lone piper marched into and a short distance westward up Talbot Street towards where a crowd waited beside a memorial sign that had been erected shortly earlier. The colour party took up station on the opposite side of the road.
Among the airs being played on the short march were Thomas Moore’s Let Erin Remember and The Wearing of the Green or The Rising of the Moon, the same traditional air to both different songs referring to the 1798 Rising.
THE SHORT LIFE OF A LOYAL REPUBLICAN
Gina Nicoletti, chairing the event, recounted to the crowd a short history of Volunteer Patrick O’Brien who was born on 17 August 1898 in the townland of Woodlands near Castledermot in County Kildare to a local agricultural working couple.
The O’Brien family had 16 children, all of whom survived and ten of whom lived with Patrick and his parents in a three-room house at the time of the 1911 Census.
An obituary published in a Republican newspaper on the anniversary of his death suggests that Patrick moved to Dublin in 1915, joining the Irish Volunteers in December of that year aged 17. He took part in the 1916 Easter Rising under the command of Edward Daly.
Evading capture in 1916 and returning home, O’Brien joined the local Irish Volunteers company in Castledermot but returned to Dublin in May 1917 and became attached to E Company, 3 Battalion, Dublin Brigade, Irish Volunteers, which was based on the south side of the city.
An active IRA member during the War of Independence, Vol. O’Brien took the anti-Treaty side in the IRA split in March 1922.
In a response to a renewal of executions of IRA men by the Free State government, Liam Lynch (IRA Chief of Staff) issued the ‘Amusements Order’ on 13 March 1923 banning all cinema, theatre and sports events “at a time of national mourning” with action threatened against non-compliance.
At midnight on 23 March 1923, Patrick took part in an operation to blow up the Carleton Picture House, O’Connell Street (then near the Parnell Monument opposite the Savoy Cinema). The cinema had closed an hour before a landmine at the front entrance shattered the glass of several windows.
There were no injuries but newspaper articles reported that the sound of the explosion was heard several miles away. Accounts of what happened afterwards were gathered from one of the IRA unit, Volunteer Joseph Doody in his pension application.
The unit unexpectedly encountered Free State soldiers coming from the Parnell Monument who opened fire on them and another patrol was approaching from the southern end of O’Connell Street and the unit retreated through Findlater Place and out to Marlborough Street.
In the running firefight in Talbot Street, O’Brien was hit by at least four bullets (three in his left leg and one in his right leg). He fell wounded on the pavement between Speidel’s pork butchers and the Masterpiece Picture Palace at 99 Talbot Street and died about 30 minutes after arrival at hospital.
Patrick O’Brien was 24 and his death certificate listed his occupation as an employee of a railway company. His address was 28 Cadogan Road, Fairview which is a cul de sac of Victorian redbrick houses close to Annesley Bridge and opposite the Sean Russell statue.
Only three weeks before Patrick’s death, the Free State CID1 had raided no. 43 Cadogan Road and captured the press used to print the Sinn Féin2 paper An Phoblacht along with eight people who were on site. A number of prominent IRA families lived in the vicinity, including the Brughas.
Patrick O’Brien was buried in the Republican Plot, Glasnevin Cemetery and a volley was fired over his grave, presumably following the funeral in the cover of darkness as the IRA could not have risked such a public display during the burial, in a time of martial law.
Despite the hard repression by the Irish State on combatants, their relatives and friends, O’Brien’s family were proud of Patrick as displayed in an anniversary notice placed in The Nationalist & Leinster Times.
The Irish Independent reported on 27 March 1923 that at the inquest of Patrick’s death, his brother James told those present:
“[My brother] … belonged to the IRA since 1915 being then about 15 years of age. He had never changed his principles since then. He always intended to die as he did … rather than change his principles as he swore allegiance to the Republic in 1916.”
FLORAL WREATH, SONG AND SPEECH
A representative of Anti-Imperialist Action was called upon and stepped forward to attach a green, white and orange floral wreath to the pole beneath the commemorative sign.
Seán Óg accompanied himself on guitar singing The Foggy Dew, a popular Republican ballad about the 1916 Rising composed by Fr. Charles O’Neill.
Dublin City Councillor Cieran Perry gave a fairly short speech stressing the importance of these acts of remembrance upholding traditions of resistance in the Dublin working class, also denouncing the fake patriots who stir up racist divisions and hostility in the community.
Perry’s speech also listed some of the crimes of the Irish state, facts underlined when Joe Mooney read out the list of 70 IRA Volunteers formally executed by the Irish state along with those killed in battle or after they surrendered, or were abducted, tortured and murdered in Dublin 1922-’23.
TRAFFIC AND PEOPLE
Traffic was light along the narrow Talbot Street during the event and slowed down to ease past the crowd that had spilled from the pedestrian pavement into the street. A few minutes’ eastward of the spot is the plaque commemorating the killing of Sean Treacy by the British in November 1920.
There was a substantial number of people in support of the event on both pavements of the one-way street but others gathered too, whether out of curiosity or in sympathy. Some of those present consisted of visitors from other countries, whether as students, tourists or workers.
Not for the first time I thought that having leaflets to distribute summarising the event and the reason for it would be useful. I spent a little time explaining some aspects of the event and its history to a couple of visitors from Sweden who seemed very interested.
The uniformed Gardaí kept away from the event, though no doubt the plain-clothed political Special Branch had a few of their own in the vicinity to collect faces and try to match names.
THE ORGANISERS: INDEPENDENT REPUBLICANS
The commemorative event was organised by a group by the name Independent Republicans which has been doing great work in conserving and promoting historical memory associated with events such as the 1916 Rising, the War of Independence and the Civil War.
The Irish Free State came to power as an instrument of British imperialism which clothed, armed and otherwise supplied the state’s National (sic) Army. Independent Republicans have collected the names of 70 Irish Republicans killed in Dublin by that Army.
The group has also devoted time and effort to researching the backgrounds and circumstances of death of many on that list, a substantial undertaking for which we owe them a great debt. Their erection of ‘plaque’ signs around the city at the spot where the fighters fell is also great work.
On Easter Saturday (8 April) Independent Republicans will be holding a 1916 Rising commemoration in Dublin city centre, details below.
Anti-Imperialist Action will be holding theirs on Easter Sunday (9 April), details below.
1Criminal Investigation Department, based at Oriel House, where police detectives and some soldiers of the Free State organised operations against Republicans including raids, assassinations, abductions and torture.
2This is not the party of the same name today. Sinn Féin began as a dual-monarchy Irish nationalist party, adopting Republicanism later in 1918. Those who later supported the anti-Republican status of the country and partition by England left the party and another large number left to join the Fianna Fáil party upon the latter’s founding. Briefly in the 1960s the party espoused socialism but split at the end of the decade and Sinn Féin under the Provisionals briefly adopted socialism again during the 1970s. The party of that name today is neither socialist nor even Republican.
The stage production of Tales From the Holywell, written and performed by Damien Dempsey, is currently running at the Abbey until the 18th – and possibly beyond. Once advertised it was booked out for three weeks (with possible access through cancellations).
It was through cancellations that I and a few others faithfully waiting got in to see the performance on the 7th (it was closed on the bank holiday of the 6th). I really enjoyed it and cried laughing at times.
The whole audience gave him a standing ovation at the end and joined in singing one of his songs during his encore.
The stage set was bare and without background, with stage lighting showing Dempsey alone at times and at others, revealing players of keyboard, violin, double bass and percussion. Dempsey accompanied himself, alternating between two guitars.
The production consisted of Dempsey talking about his upbringing, his difficulties with his father but with whom he went to live when his mother left home, childhood and adolescent battles, his struggles and desires as an artist – all interjected with humorous cracks and songs.
He comes across as a man committed to his art and with integrity.
Dempsey was raised in Holywell Crescent, a collection of local authority houses constructed on the site of an ancient holy freshwater well. This was one of probably thousands of wells across Ireland, each thought to be inhabited by a pagan spirit and then given a saint’s name by Christianity.
The well after which Dempsey’s street was named was St. Donagh’s Well (probably misnamed, see Links below) near Killbarrack and as the area became anglicised, called only “the Holy well”, then “Holywell” and the pool itself filled in and built over.
Whether he can speak it or not I have no idea but the Irish language made an appearance from time to time in Dempsey’s narrative, always with respect and, one might say, even reverence. And I was amazed to hear him sing a verse from An Cúlfhionn a capella, totally in Irish.
His song Colony – some might say masterpiece – gives a clear indication of what Dempsey feels about the long colonisation of Ireland and its parallels elsewhere in the world. I hoped he might take the opportunity to comment on the growing racist mobilisations in Ireland but was disappointed.
Conor McPherson directed the production which was written and performed by Damien Dempsey.
Apart from Dempsey’s, other music was provided by Lucia McPartlin (fiddle, vocals), Aura Stone (double bass) and Courtney Cullen (drums, percussion, vocals). I noted no name given in the theatre program for the keyboard and vocals performer.
I’m a great fan of Damo’s lyrics but less so of his singing; a question of musical and cultural taste, I suppose. But still I rose, wholeheartedly with the rest, to applaud his performance.
Whether its run will be extended I don’t know but currently it’s advertised to end on 18th February. If you haven’t booked, it’s well worth getting there early and hoping for a cancellation.
Eamon McGrath (31 October 1955 – 11 January 1923) singer and song lyrics-writer, activist in areas of housing, water and national sovereignty, historical memory and anti-fascism.
He was getting buried on Saturday and I wasn’t able to be at the service nor at the celebration of his life with comrades afterwards.
I hope this eulogy, if that’s the right word for this, will make up for my absence to his family, comrades and friends and, of course, to me.
Eamon came into my life through the Moore Street occupation in January of 2016. The property speculator Joe O’Reilly (Chartered Land) and the State were about to collude in the demolition of three buildings in the 1916 Terrace.
The State had declared only four buildings in the 16-building terrace, after a long struggle, to be a historical monument and even later, purchased – but around 300 men and women hadn’t occupied just four buildings in 1916.
The Save Moore Street From Demolition campaign group had called emergency demonstrations on to the street following which the buildings had been occupied by protesting conservationists.
The weather was bitterly cold but the occupiers held firm for a week until a stay of demolition had been imposed by the High Court. Despite his health status and challenged mobility, Eamon was there throughout, with humour and song.
Subsequently, to prevent internal damage by contractors, a six-weeks’ blockade was imposed on the building by conservationists from 6.30am to 4.30pm each weekday. Eamon was very much a part of that too, driving himself and his close comrade Sean Doyle up from Wicklow every day.
Eamon was intensely loyal to close friends and comrades. On occasion I found him prickly or grumpy (especially at 6.30 am) but throughout any disagreements he never lost sight of who were his comrades and other people he respected.
Though a proud man, when he recognised himself in error, he didn’t hesitate to apologise.
A new broader group came out of the occupation and blockade, called Save Moore Street 2016 and Eamon attended and contributed to internal organising meetings and events we called on to the street – re-enactments, fake funerals of history, pickets, demonstrations and rallies.
As others drifted or were called away from the group by other commitments, Eamon remained with the active core.
Of course, Eamon had been active before 2016: certainly very much so in the general awareness-raising and mass campaign against planned privatisation of our water and the installation of water meters.
He was to continue that activism, which resulted in assaults by a water contractor on him and Seán Doyle, court appearances for both and in May 2016 both of them went to jail for a period but remained unbowed.
Eamon was one of the original occupiers of Apollo House in December 2016 in protest against homelessness and as a co-founder of the Anti Eviction Flying Column, Eamon was to the fore in resisting evictions across the country and also a co-founder of the Bring It to Their Doors campaign.
The State authorities were making things awkward for Eamon by then, both in terms of working as a taxi driver and claiming benefit when he was not. His ability to reach events in Dublin declined but he still got there often enough on public transport, while remaining active nearer to home.
As his physical mobility declined further, comrades in Carlow started an on-line collection to buy him an electric wheelchair. Even as I made enquiries to contribute, the fund had already reached its target, so quickly did people support it.
Later still, his family installed a new chairlift for his home so he could access the room where he recorded his songs with lyrics commenting on the ongoing political struggles, adapted to popular airs.
Though our voices didn’t go well together, we sang together a couple of times – outside the GPO and outside Dublin City Hall.
He remained active on social media but in particular in keeping an eye on the activities of right-wing people, covid-deniers, racists, fascists …. Eamon was a handy source for a quick update on the status of many of them.
Eamon arranged an interview for us both with the Dublin Near FM radio station, the interviewer being then a former drug addict who sadly returned later to his addiction and died on the street. It was on the way back from the interview that Eamon told me a little about his earlier years.
He had a difficult time in his childhood, including institutional confinement and his formal education suffered as a result. However, he educated himself about many things by reading, listening, discussing and viewing on line.
I think the last time I saw Eamon was at a commemoration at the Peter Daly monument in Wexford inSeptember 2022, in his electric wheelchair and attached oxygen cylinder for his lung condition and all in good cheer, asking me for Moore Street campaign updates in detail.
His comrades in Anti-Imperialist Action Ireland, which he had joined at its foundation in 2017 correctly called him “one ot the most dedicated political activists of the last decade” and no-one who knew him could argue with that.
I knew little of Eamon’s family life but he often emphasised how important family was, not just to him but in general. Though I do not know them tá mé i gcomhbhrón leo, offering them my condolences along with the many they have received and are no doubt still arriving.
A partner, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, extended family member and friend to many.
Eamon McGrath of Kenmare Heights, Greystones & formerly Wolfe Tone Square, Bray, Co. Wicklow, was buried in Radford Cemetery, Greystones Saturday after a service in the Holy Rosary Church, Bray, attended by family, comrades and friends.
Speech by Pat Reynolds2 in Commemoration of Irish Civil Wars 1920-1923 on a sub-zero evening outside Camden Irish Centre, London on 8th Dec 2022
(Reading time: 15 mins.)
A Chairde Ghaeil agus a Chomrádaithe, tonight we are gathered here to remember and celebrate the lives of Liam Mellows, Rory O’Connor, Dick Barrett and Joe McKelvey, four great Irish patriots.
We also call out the neo-colonial Irish Free State for those unlawful murders and all other executions carried out by this British Imperialism-backed Dublin regime, acting on orders to attack the Irish Republic and its army and people.
In remembering this time and the setting up of the Irish Free State and the Northern Ireland government 1920 -1923 we take the Republican view of history in an All-Ireland context and avoid the narrow structures of the Free State 26-County centenaries.
These ignore the Six Counties and the heroic role played by the people there in defence of the Republic and a United Ireland.
In looking at this time in history we consider the two proxy wars waged in Ireland by British guns and on behalf of imperialistic interest to put down the Republican fight for a 32-county Irish Republic declared in Dublin at Easter 1916.
That was voted by a very large majority in 1918 for the same All-Ireland Republic, fought for in a war of independence from 1919 -1920 by an undefeated IRA.
The revisionists try to partition the Irish struggle to backdate some kind of imaginary Loyalist/Unionist state which never existed, was never fought for or voted on to create a colonial divide-and-rule in what was always even — under colonial rule — one country.
As Republicans we reject the 1948 Republic declared by the Blueshirts3 and fascist Franco ally Costello.
Those who want to read about this heroic struggle by the Irish people should read the two books by Ernie O’Malley TheSinging Flame on the War of Independence and On Another’s Man’s Wound on the Civil War.
In looking at the history of this time we see two wars being fought against the Republic, the first in what became Northern Ireland from June 1920 to June 1922, a two-year war to put down the Republican people in the North East of Ireland.
The second war was within the newly created 26 Counties Free State from November 1922 to May 1923, a nine-month war by British guns against the Republic.
It is sad to state here tonight that the only war ever fought by the Free State Army was to put down the Irish Republic and its own people.
James Joyce in the Dubliners short story collection has this wonderful story The Dead where at the end he looks out the window and sees it is snowing, in his words “it is snowing all over Ireland, snowing, on the living and the dead.”
At that time in history, we see British guns firing down all over Ireland, leaving us the heroic dead and the living nightmare that became the Irish Free State and the Six Counties, seen years earlier by James Connolly as “a carnival of reaction”.
What we see happening at this time of history is that Imperialism tried and won by negotiation what they had failed to do in war, to defeat the undefeatable IRA and the undefeated people.
The imposition of Partition upon the Irish people required the breaking up of the Republic declared in 1916 in rebellion, by democratic vote in 1918, and fought for in the War of Independence from 1919-1921.
The Imperialists moved first to break the Republicans and Nationalists in the North East of Ireland.
We see from Churchill’s father playing “the Orange card”4 to benefit the Tory party in the late 1800 to the Curragh Mutiny in 1913, and the arming of the Unionists their intentions on retaining the wealthiest part of Ireland and the Belfast manufacturing base of shipbuilding.
We see the hand of Sir Henry Wilson at play from the aftermath of the Curragh Mutiny, where he protected senior army officers, to his role in being political and military advisor to the emerging Northern Ireland government, and the arming of the new Unionist state.
We see his hand in diverting the body of Terence MacSwiney from Holyhead to Cork, the hanging of young Kevin Barry and the Orange led anti-Catholic pogroms of Belfast and Banbridge.
We see it in other links too with the Orange murder gangs which, led by Orangemen were involved in murders in Cork, and in the murder of Thomas MacCurtain Lord Major of Cork.
District Inspector Swanzy5 was believed to be responsible for the gang who murdered Thomas MacCurtain who was then moved to Lisburn, Co. Antrim. He was tracked there and executed by the IRA.
Sir Edward Carson in the House of Commons supported the Amritsar Massacre6 as did Churchill who falsely claimed that the protesters were armed and stated, ‘Men who take up arms against the State must expect at any moment to be fired on.
Men who take up arms unlawfully cannot expect that troops will wait until they are quite ready to begin the conflict. When asked What about Ireland?, Churchill stated, I agree and it is in regard to Ireland that I am specially making this remark.
We can see this in the murder of Thomas Mac Curtain7 and other Republicans
Also when another Orangeman from Banbridge, Colonel Smyth stated this policy that suspects could be shot on sight if the RUC had good reason to believe they might be carrying weapons or did not put up their hands.
Smyth’s new shoot-to-kill policy was published and he was recalled to London to meet Lloyd George. Michael Collins ordered that Smyth be executed before he could implement his shoot to kill policy.
Later on, Smyth’s brother,8 also in special forces was shot dead in a shoot-out with Dan Breen in Dublin. After Smyth’s funeral in Banbridge there was organised large scale anti-Catholic attacks on businesses and houses.
The anti-Catholic pogroms lasted for two years from June 1920-June 1922 in the North-East of Ireland in Belfast, Banbridge and other areas. There were over 500 deaths in these pogroms but only 13% (65) were army/police or IRA while the other 87% were civilians.
Here civilians are the main targets, with 58% of these being Catholic and 42% being Protestant. But based on the population of Belfast at the time, 76% Protestant and 24% Catholic, Catholics were four times more likely to be killed than Protestants.
The British government stood largely idly by while these pogroms went on and did absolutely nothing about it.
We see this clearly in how Catholic workers and Protestant socialists were driven out of the shipyards, some ten thousand Catholic workers driven out of their jobs for being Irish and Catholic and we see one thousand homes and business burned out.
Some 80%of the places burned out were Catholic-occupied or owned and 80% of the refugees were Catholic. Considering Catholics only made up one quarter of the Belfast population we can see what happened here.
This was the putting down of the Republican nationalist community to enforce the partition in Ireland and to prepare for a one-party neo-fascist apartheid Protestant statelet.
The impact of the ten thousand job losses and the burning of houses and businesses led to large scale migration of Catholics from the North east to Britain and to Dublin.
We also see at this time the use of British death squads to murder Catholic as they did in Cork City with McCurtain and now in Belfast with the McMahon family and others. These death squads were operating within the RUC9.
In the 1970-1995 period we see the emergence again of these British death squads in Northern Ireland linked to British intelligence, army and police with often open collusion and sharing of agents and information.
Collins had asked a Catholic priest and a university professor to record and write up each of the deaths during the pogroms, but when it was at the printers the Free State government after Collins death decided to pulp the whole print run.
This was in order to cover up what had happened to the Republican/nationalist community around Belfast in the pogroms, probably because of their own shame with the own war crimes of executions of prisoners and atrocities during the war.
It was to add to their shameful record. The story of the Orange pogrom was not published until the 1990s. Those who want to can read it under the title Orange Terror. Equally The Orange State or Arming the Protestants by Michael Farrell cover this time.
The execution of Sir Henry Wilson in London in June 1922 put an end to these pogroms against Catholics in that the head of the serpent, the rabid anti-Catholic Orange Bigot was gone.
He was a political and military advisor to the new Northern Ireland government and was largely responsible for the arming of the new Protestant state, including the B Specials10.
Tonight, we honour those brave Irish volunteers and community activists who tried to stop the pogroms and defend isolated Catholic areas in Belfast where most of the killings took place, those who stood for an All-Ireland Republic and against the imposition of Partition.
We must never separate their fight from the fight in the rest of Ireland to defend the Republic. The partitionist mind has no place in Republican history.
The war in Ireland to smash the Republic now turned to the rest of Ireland when under Churchill’s orders and Churchill-supplied weapons, Collins attacked the Republican army in the Four Courts starting a second proxy war on behalf of British imperialism in Ireland.
The Truce between the undefeated IRA and the British government started on 6th July 1921 and ended with the Treaty of 5/6 December 1921. The Treaty was signed under threats by Lloyd George of immediate and terrible war.
The Treaty today would be seen as unconstitutional under international law given the violent threats made by Lloyd George. The Treaty was for the Partition of Ireland with a British Governor General in Dublin and an oath of loyalty to the English King.
Two of the big lies around the Treaty were when Collins stated it was a stepping stone towards a united Ireland, in fact it was a millstone around the necks of the Irish people since then.
The second lie to justify this surrender was that the IRA was weak and low in arms. This was nonsense as evidenced by the Civil war fight.
The Dáil on 7th January 1922 voted 64-57 in favour of the Treaty, once again the Dáil11 voted under the duress of immediate and terrible war.
All the women deputies voted against it, as did the female relatives of the 1916 leaders Pearse, Connolly, the MacSwineys and Cumann na mBan
The Catholic Bishops fully supported the Treaty as they did with the Act of Union in 1800, and every priest in Maynooth took an oath of loyalty to the English Crown on ordination.
The Press in Dublin, TheIrish Times, Independent and The Freema ns Journal all supported the Treaty as did big businesses, big farmers and the Unionist community which included four Unionist TDs.
From January to May 1922 Collins rebuilt the new Irish army up to some 58,000 men. These included some 30,000 ex-British Army men, some 3,000 deserters from the IRA and some 25,000 new recruits.
The British Army allowed any serving Irishman to transfer into the new Irish army without any loss of pay or rank.
Collins was running to London on a regular basis to see Churchill who wanted to see the new army attack the IRA. In May 1922 Churchill stated that ‘there is a general reluctance to kill each other’.
There was a General Election on 16th June 1922 when Pro-Treaty group won 58 seats with 35 going to anti-Treaty, four to Unionists, 17 Labour, seven to a Farmers’ party and 17 others.
Collins broke the Pact with De Valera under orders from Britain and by June 1922 there were two armies in Ireland, the IRA and the new army set up by Collins and Mulcahy.
The IRA held an Army Convention in Dublin with over 200 delegates representing about 75% of the IRA and they voted to stand by the Republic.
They took over the Four Courts under the leadership of Rory O’Connor and Liam Mellows with Liam Lynch as Chief of Staff.
After the execution of Sir Henry Wilson on Collins’ command, the British government blamed the Four Courts garrison and Lloyd George openly called for the Four Courts to be attacked or the Treaty would be declared void.
On 28th June 1922 Collins ordered the Four Courts to be attacked using borrowed British big guns, but even the uniforms boots and the Lee Enfield rifles had been supplied by Churchill.
A big explosion of ammunition inside the Four Courts led to their surrender, while fighting continued around O’Connell Stree and Cathal Burgha died emerging from one building. The IRA retreated from Dublin towards their new Munster Republic.
Griffiths and Collins were to die in August 1922 and the war against the Republic entered a new and ugly phase. Mulcahy set up a semi-dictatorship, fascist in outlook and in practise. On 15th October he introduced the new Bill labelled “the Murder Bill” into Dáil Éireann.
The new government’s links with fascists can be clearly seen later on in the 1930s with their linking up with Blueshirts, their support for Franco and we saw against in the 1970s, with their police Heavy Gangs, press censorship and emergency courts12.
The Emergency Powers Act aka the Murder Bill is a shameful chapter of history which that party and the people involved including the church by its silence needs to be held accountable.
In November 1922 Ernie O Malley was arrested lucky for him he was badly wounded so escaped being executed, but on 17th November 1922 four young Republicans were executed by their State to get the public ready for bigger executions.
The later execution of Erskine Childers a patriotic Irish man was most shameful. Griffiths’ mocking of Childers was racist and shocking as all the Irish abroad and at home would be offended by Griffiths. Childers with an Irish mother was as Irish as De Valera, Pearse, Cathal Brugha or Terence MacSwiney.
The Free state was formally up on 6th December 1922, on 7th Sean Hayes TD was shot dead by the IRA and the following morning the Free state executed Rory O’Connor, Liam Mellows Dick Barrett and Joe McKelvey from Belfast one from each province.
While the Free State made a big issue of a TD being killed, they themselves killed in cold blood Cathal Brugha, Harry Boland and Liam Mellows, all TDs.
The song composed after the executions,
Take it down from the mast Irish traitors, It’s the flag we Republicans claim. You murdered brave Liam and Rory You have taken young Richard and Joe.13
The Free State went on to commit further war crimes against the Republic and Republicans; in all they murdered over 80 men without proper trial and in cold blood.
They executed four young IRA men in Donegal and Sean McKeown was responsible for the cold-blooded murder of the Noble Six Republican prisoners in Sligo.
Co Kerry was the worst for Free State atrocities, in one case nine IRA prisoners were tied to a land mine and blown to pieces, along with four more executed in Kerry and more again executed by land mine in Cahirciveen.
In total 17 were murdered in cold blood by the Free State army in Kerry. There had been over 400 sentenced to death over 80 state executions, but we must also add in the number of surrendered prisoners who were executed.
Tod Andrews in his Book Dublin Made Me suggested the total figure of State and army executions during this time to be 153.
After the death of Liam Lynch, the IRA decided to dump arms at the end of April 1922.
In a general election in August 1922 the Free State got 63 seats with Sinn Féin getting 44 despite the loss of the Civil War. In 1926 DeValera14 broke with Sinn Féin and in 1927 won 44 seats with Fianna Fáil, thus taking the Sinn Féin vote.
In 1932 De Valera came to power and he in turn after using the IRA in the 1930s to defeat the Blueshirts turned against them and was cruel in his jailing and treatment of Republicans.
To finish, we are here tonight in Camden to honour all those who stood with the Republic in the War of Independence and in the battle to prevent the Partition of Ireland.
Those who died in the pogroms in the North East as much as the young soldiers who died defending the Republic in the Civil War.
In the Republic too the Free State used the same tool as the Unionists in using a form of ethnic cleansing to push out their opponents out by emigration.
Just as the Catholics in the North East were driven out of Harland and Wolf and driven abroad, so too were the defeated Republicans in the rest of Ireland who could not get a job in the army, police or civil service, in teaching or in any other public service.
We see in Sean Sexton’s book of Irish Photos15 whole IRA battalions in New York and in Chicago at their annual dinner dances driven out of |Ireland by the new Free state.
By 1923 the Irish Republican Army had been defeated in the battle for the Republic but their spirit was still alive among the Irish people. In every generation the Republican movement would attempt to fight on towards that original dream of a United Irish republic.
More so the Spirit of the Republic came alive in the 30-year war in Northern Ireland from 1969 -1998, and it came alive in the 1981 Hunger strike of Bobby Sands MP and his nine comrades.
As we approach another crucial stage in Irish history, we need to be wary of the dying embers of British imperialism, they will again try and dilute that Republican dream with offers of NATO, Commonwealth, and a role for British monarchy.
We can see the Tory Right again use the Orange card with the Protocol where they are prepared to break an international agreement.
And we see in the Legacy Bill how the Tory Party has contempt for all the people of Northern Ireland, Unionist and Nationalist, when it comes to protecting British imperial interest there.
We see it in unionist Keir Starmer16 when he stated that he would campaign for Northern Ireland to stay in the Union, contrary to another agreed international treaty to remain neutral on this issue. Let us as Republicans remain eternally vigilant against British deceit.
Tonight, as we honour the men and women who stood by the Republic and against the Partition of Ireland, we should stand by the same Republic declared by the 1916 Proclamation free from any British interference and the pledge to treat all our children equally17.
We stand here too in the spirit of Tone and Connolly.
We stand proudly in honour of four brave Irish patriots here tonight, in honour of the workers driven from the shipyards of Belfast, the people who perished in the pogroms, the men and women in the North East and in the whole of Ireland who stood with the Republic, all those who gave their lives for the Republic, and those who down the long years have fought and kept that flame alive.
The view of Joyce that it is snowing all over Ireland stays with me on this cold night, but it moves on to a vision of Ireland of Easter lilies growing in freedom all over Ireland and dancing freely in the breeze.
It is there in the struggle of those who fought and died for the Republic. That we remember tonight. It is there in the words of Bobby Sands in his Rhythm of Time18 when he shouts that they, the Republicans, were Right.
1The title was chosen be Rebel Breeze as this take on the Irish Civil War consisting of two wars (or campaigns?) is unusual and worthy of consideration. The editing for publication and footnotes are Rebel Breeze’s also. The text was supplied thanks to Pat Reynolds.
2Pat Reynolds, from Longford, is a long-time Irish community activist settled in London. He was co-founder of the campaigning Irish in Britain Representation Group and is co-founder of the Terence McSwiney Commemoration Committee.
3Irish fascist organisation of the 1930s led by former Free State Commissioner of Police and former IRA officer Eoin O’Duffy.
4A reference to the 1886 quotation of the senior Churchill with regard to whipping up members of the unionist Orange Order in Ireland to defeat British Government proposals on Ireland.
5Of the Royal Irish Constabulary, the British colonial gendarmerie in Ireland.
6In India, 1919 when over 1,000 unarmed people were shot dead by British Army soldiers.
7IRA Volunteer and elected Lord Mayor of Cork in January 1920, murdered by Royal Irish Constabulary in March 1920.
8Major George Osbert Smyth, one of the British Army killed during an escape from a raid on a house in Drumcondra, Dublin of IRA Volunteers Dan Breen and Sean Tracy during raid to capture them.
9Royal Ulster Constabulary, British colonial gendarmerie, currently renamed Police Service of Northern Ireland.
10A part-time reserve of the RUC which had weapons at home or at work, greatly detested and feared among the nationalist community. The reserve was disbanded in May 1970 with many members incorporated into the Ulster Defence Regiment of the British Army.
11Dáil Éireann, an all-Ireland Parliament prior to Partition, now of the Irish State and excluding the six counties of the British colony.
12Reference to a special political police force tasked with repression of Republicans and gaining confessions under torture (see for example framing of The Sallins accused and Joanne Hayes case), the censorship under Section 31 of the Broadcasting Act and the Special no-jury Courts set up under the Amendment to the Offences Against the State Act.
13Two couplets from different verses of the Soldiers of Twenty-Two Irish Republican song.
14Éamonn De Valera, a 1916 commandant, later anti-Treaty leader, later still founder of the Fianna Fáil party after splitting from Sinn Féin, Taoiseach (Prime Minister) and later President of the Irish State.
The founding of the Irish Citizen Army, the first workers’ army in the world1, was commemorated in Dublin at the site of Wolfe Tone monument in Stephens Greeen, in song and speech on 23rd November 2022.
Organised by the Connolly Youth Movement, the other participating organisations represented were the Irish Communist Party, Independent Workers Union, Lasair Dhearg2 and Welsh Socialist Republican Solidarity (Ireland) – the Irish branch of the Welsh Underground Network.
In addition, a number of independent activists were also present.
THE IRISH CITIZEN ARMY
The Irish Citizen Army was founded on 23rd November 1913 on a call from Jim Larkin and James Connolly, both leading the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union in its titanic struggle against the federation of Dublin Employers’ plan to break and disperse the union.
The call for the formation of the ICA arose due to the attacks of the Dublin Metropolitan Police on the workers and their supporters; already in August 1913 the DMP had killed two workers by truncheon blows and injured many, including a youth who would die later as a result.
The ICA’s initial organiser was the writer and dramatist Seán O’Casey, later succeeded by Boer War veteran Jack White.3 In addition to requiring its recruits to be union members, the ICA enrolled women as well as men and some of the former were officers commanding both genders4.
While the ITGWU was defeated in the eight months of the Lockout, it was not smashed and came back stronger in a relatively short period. The ICA faded away then but was reorganised over following years and approximately 120 took part as a unit in the 1916 Rising, alongside other units.5
SPEECHES AND SONG
A small crowd had gathered at the advertised location, the Wolfe Tone Monument in Stephen’s Green and the chairperson of the event called people to order.
Diarmuid Breatnach, an independent activist, was asked to sing one of Connolly’s compositions, ironically titled Be Moderate, often referred to instead by its refrain, “We only Want the Earth”.
An older man with a Dublin accent, Breatnach told his audience that Connolly published the lyrics in New York in 1907, going on to sing the five verses to the air of Thomas Davis’ A Nation Once Again6, using the chorus part to repeat the refrain that “ … we only want the Earth!”7
A representative of the Independent Workers’ Union, a young man with an Ulster accent, spoke about the need for workers to have a trade union and for that union not to align itself with employers or with the State.
In order to truly represent the interests of the workers, the union needs to be independent, he maintained and also democratic in its decision-making.
In conclusion, the speaker said that the IWU is the union that is needed and called on people present to join it and to support it.
“MAKE THE VISION A REALITY”
Amy Margaret, a young woman, also with an Ulster accent, delivered a speech on behalf of the organisers of the event, the Connolly Youth Movement.
“The Citizen Army was a direct response to the brutality carried out by the RIC and Dublin Metropolitan Police during the Dublin Lockout” she said; “the police killed two workers, injured hundreds more with baton charges, and frequently ransacked the tenements where strikers lived.”
“The Citizen Army fought back with some succes” she continued “and as one pointed out, a hurley has a longer reach than a baton. It was in the Citizen Army that the working-class stood up to the RIC and employers,” she continued.
“The same RIC that torched farmer’s homes during the Land war, the same employers who often owned the slums where workers lived; it was here at Stephen’s Green (and elsewhere in the city) that the Citizen Army stood up to the British Empire, alongside comrades in the Irish Volunteers.”
She told her audience that when, during a dockers’ strike in 1915, scabs were imported and police harassed picketers, Connolly sent a squad of the ICA with fixed bayonets to the scene, resulting in the dispute’s resolution with “a considerable increase in wages to the dockers concerned”.
“The Citizen Army was not simply workers armed with guns,” the speaker said, “but also armed with culture” and referred to weekly concerts in Liberty Hall (the ITGWU’s HQ) and to the dramatic acting history of Seán Connolly and whistle-playing of Michael Malin, both 1916 martyrs
“What the ICA stood and fought for in their own words, “… is but one ideal – an Ireland ruled and owned by Irish men and women, sovereign and independent, from the centre to the sea.”
“Connolly was clear however that such a Republic would have no place for the “rack-renting, slum-owning landlord” or the “profit-grinding capitalist”, but should rather be a “beacon-light to the oppressed of every land”.
“The most fitting tribute for the ICA then is to make that Republic a reality. To do so we must learn from the past and their examples. We can learn from them to never be cowed by the odds against us, we can learn from their comradeship to each other.
We can learn from how they combined political, economic and cultural methods to advance the cause of a worker’s republic. But more importantly we must be able to learn from their shortcomings.
After the Rising and the loss of its leadership the ICA began to devolve into a social club and whilst some members played an important role during the Tan War, the ICA was not the revolutionary workers’ army it once was.
Therefore we must build a truly mass movement – not just a committed core of activists, and we must build a movement not reliant upon key personalities so that it can function no matter what.
We all know that things must change in Ireland, and so we reaffirm the principle that the Citizen Army stood by; only the Irish working class is capable of waging the revolutionary struggle necessary to change things; not capitalists and landlords.
Helena Molony of the ICA, said, “We saw a vision of Ireland, free, pure and happy. We did not realise that vision. But we saw it.”
As the socialist-republican youth of today, we commit ourselves to make that vision a reality and to build a Republic that the men and women of the Citizen Army would gladly call their own.”
MARKIEVICZ: “RESOLUTION, COURAGE AND COMMITMENT“
Breatnach was called back to the microphone and talked about the lessons to be learned from Constance Markievicz, co-founder of Na Fianna Éireann, the Irish Citizen Army and of Cumann na mBan, born in Britain “as were a number of our national and class heroes”, he said.
“Constance was born into a settler landlord family, the Gore-Booths”, he told the audience and her experience of witnessing deprivation, along with her sister Eva, during the Great Hunger, had a strong effect on both, inclining them to social reform and they became also suffragettes.
The speaker said that in that latter aspect and as a poet Eva became well-known particularly in England but Constance was better known as a revolutionary and for her allegiance to the working class and to the Irish nation.
He reminded his listeners that Markievicz was artistic and apt to strike poses; O’Casey, founder of the ICA had been hostile to her and co-founder of Cumann na mBan and wife of Tom Clarke of the IRB, Kathleen Clarke, had found her irritating.
Breatnach said that Markievicz was 3rd in 1916 garrison command at Stephen Green and had been accused not only shooting dead there a member of the DMP but of exulting in it; however according to witness accounts she had not even been present when the officer was killed.8
A British officer at her court-martial after the surrender of the 1916 Rising had claimed that she begged for her life at the court-martial but the official British records published later gave the lie to that and her own account that she demanded equal treatment with the executed leaders rings true.
“Her life as an example,” Breatnach continued, “teaches us not to judge people only by their background or indeed by their idiosyncrasies but primarily by their resolution, courage and commitment, all of which Constance Markievicz had by the bucket-load.”
The speaker also reminded those present that the very Wolfe Tone monument beside which he stood had been blown up in a number of British Loyalist bombings of the city during the 1970s, a number of which would soon be commemorated on the December anniversary of one of them.
The Irish State had prosecuted not a single one of the perpetrators, not even for the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, with the highest death toll9 of any one day during the recent 30 Years War. Instead, they had used the 1972 bombing to pass emergency legislation to attack Irish Republicans!10
Speaking briefly as a historical memory conservation activist, primarily active in the campaign to save the Moore Street market and 1916 battleground from speculators, Breatnach remarked that it was fortunate that the area behind him was a public park.
Otherwise it would all have been a prime target for property speculators. People sometimes express surprise that Irish governments do so little to protect areas of insurrectionary history. He stated however that this was natural since it was not their history but that of the struggling people.
“The history of the Irish ruling class is of a foreign-dependent one”, Breatnach stated, “rather than that of a national bourgeoisie willing to fight for independence. The last time Ireland had such a bourgeoisie was in 1798, mostly led by descendants of settlers and planters.”
“This is why Connolly pointed out that the Irish working class are the true inheritors of the Irish struggle for freedom. National independence and socialism are two different objectives but interdependent in Ireland and for the struggles to succeed they must be led by the working class.”
Wreaths were laid on behalf of a number of organisations, including Lasair Dhearg and the chairperson thanked all for their attendance, leaving people to their various ways into the mild autumn-like afternoon.
1Clearly not the first army composed of workers, since these are the members of most armies; nor the first to fight for the workers, as did some for the Paris Commune in 18th March-28th May1871. However, the ICA was founded specifically for the defence of workers, the first in the world to be so, though its constitution was largely Irish nationalist.
2Socialist and anti-fascist Irish Republican organisation mostly represented in Belfast. The name means “Red Flame”.
3A number of Irish were veterans of the Boer War, the British against Dutch colonists in South Africa, most like White were on the British side but some fought for the Boers, to the extent of forming an Irish Brigade for the purpose. Later, a number from both groups ended up fighting alongside one another in the 1916 Rising (and no doubt against others who remained in the British Army).
5The Irish Volunteers, Cumann na mBan, Na Fianna Éireann, the Hibernian Rifles and of course the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the chief architects of the Rising, its members fighting as members of other units, chiefly the Volunteers and the Fianna (the membership of both those organisations was exclusively male though its couriers were often female but Tom Clarke’s wife, Kathleen Clarke, was the IRB’s liaison from Dublin with the sister organisation in the USA.
6James Connolly (1868-1916) did not prescribe any air for the lyrics and they have been sung to several. A Nation Once Again was composed by leading member of the Young Irelanders, Thomas Davis (1814–1845) and published in 1844, for many years considered a candidate for Irish national anthem.
7“For our demands most moderate are: we only want the Earth!”
8Breatnach also said that least two and probably three members of the DMP were killed during the Rising, each one in an area under the control of the ICA, who no doubt remembered well the force’s actions during the 1913 Lockout.
91974: 33 male and female civilians and a full-term unborn baby.
10The Amendment to the Offences Against the State Act, including the introduction of the no-jury Special Courts, essentially for trying Irish Republicans with a much lower quality of evidence required to convict, including the unsupported word of a senior Garda officer.
In atrocious weather conditions, Irish Republicans of a number of organisations and of none gathered at the Liam Mellows monument in Finglas today (Sunday 4 December 2022) to honour four Republicans executed by the Irish State in 1922.
Liam Mellows, Rory O’Conor, Joe McKelvey and Richard Barrett were all prominent IRA Volunteers during the War of Independence and rejected the Anglo-Irish Agreement to create a subservient state in a partitioned country.
The Irish State chose the four prisoners in retaliation for the assassination of Seán Hales TD, himself shot in retaliation for Free State executions of Republican prisoners. By coincidence or intent, each one of the four had been born in a different one of Ireland’s four provinces.
THE COMMEMORATION EVENT
A part of the commemoration marched with colour parties, led by lone piper, from Finglas village to the Mellows Monument.
Ado Perry chaired the event, one of a series of Irish Civil War commemorations in Dublin organised by Independent Republicans, which group also erected commemorative panels in various locations around the city, often marking the location where Free State troops killed an IRA Volunteer.
Three colour parties attended the event and a list of all the known Republican victims of the Free State was read out.
Sean Óg, accompanying himself on guitar, sang Brian Ó hUigínn’s Soldiers of ‘22 and James Ryan’s Take It Down From the Mast, two of the best-known of a very limited number of songs about the Irish Civil War. A number present joined in on the chorus of the second song:
Take it down from the mast, Irish Traitors,
It’s the flag we Republicans claim;
It can never belong to Free Staters,
For you’ve brought on it nothing but shame.
Mags Glennon gave a speech on behalf of the organisers but it was difficult to make out its content (kindly supplied since and given in full in Appendix.
The main speaker advertised for the event was John Crawley, who has found recent fame in Republican circles with the publication of his biographical book The Yank, about his enlisting with the US Marine Corps and attempting to pass on his military skills to the Provisional IRA.
It was a shame that the volume of the PA was only turned up at around the last quarter or so of his speech. Despite the limited audibility of most of it, the attendance endured the rain and stood there in good order1.
Ado Perry thanked speakers and musicians for participation and all for attendance, making special mention of the colour parties. He announced that the event commemorative event would be at Kilmainham Jail early in January.
A lone piper played a lament and swung into the national anthem, Amhrán na bhFiann. Representatives of the National Graves Association addressed the crowd briefly before the event finally concluded and the wet and the weary headed home or to a warm pub or restaurant.
A local resident assured us that the sun does sometimes shine in Finglas. I assured him I believed him as I had seen some photographs to verify it.
The weather really was atrocious, raining almost non-stop and on one occasion during the event, lashing down heavily upon the gathering. One had to feel sympathy for the men and women of the three colour parties, who had to endure the downpour without the shelter of even an umbrella.
Indeed this reporter felt the need to break his bicycle journey away from the event for a bowl of hot soup in a nice eatery across the motorway bridge in Finglas village, before pushing on to my destination in the Glasnevin area.
BACKGROUND: THE FREE STATE
The State that came into existence in 1922 was a creation of those forces that accepted Dominion status within the British Commonwealth instead of an Irish Republic, accepting also the partition of Ireland for the first time with six counties becoming a British colony.
While the pro-Treaty position had a majority of votes in the Irish parliament, a large part of the civilian population and the vast majority of the fighters (Irish Volunteers, Cumann na mBan, Na Fianna) rejected the Treaty and their representation left the Government in protest.
Although Anti-Treaty forces had occupied the Four Courts in Dublin, the Civil War was started by the Free State military, shelling the Republican occupants with artillery on loan from the British military and going on to use British transport and weapons to defeat the Republicans.
Rory O’Connor, Joe McKelvey, Richard Barrett and Liam Mellows were already in jail when Seán Hales was killed and could not be considered guilty by any stretch of causality; nevertheless they were executed on 9th December 1922.
From Century Ireland:
In a statement issued by the National Army’s General Headquarters, the latest round of executions are explained as a ‘reprisal for the assassination…. of Brigadier Sean Hales, TD, and as a solemn warning to those associated with them who are engaged in a conspiracy of assassination against the representatives of the Irish people.’
The executions took place at 9.20 am. The prisoners were marched blindfolded to the rear of the Mountjoy Prison buildings with three clergymen in attendance. They were shot by firing squad and their bodies were subsequently interred within the grounds of the prison.
Commenting on these developments, the Irish Times has editorialised that the ‘Free State Government has committed itself to an act of ‘reprisal’ which eclipses in sudden and tragic severity the sternest measures of the British Crown during the conflict with Sinn Féin.’
The first executions carried out by the Free State took place on 17 November 1922, and then continued a week later with that of Erskine Childers.
On the last day of November, the number of those executed increased to eight when three Dubliners – Joseph Spooner (21), Patrick Farrelly (21), John Murphy (19) – were killed at Beggars Bush Barracks.
The three men were captured on 30 October after an attempt was made to blow up Oriel House, the headquarters of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID)2.
Following the deaths of Spooner, Farrelly and Murphy, the leader of the Labour Party, Thomas Johnston, called for an end to executions as a method of punishment. Mr Johnston, speaking in the Dáil on 30 November, stated:
‘We have been told pretty frequently during the last few weeks that it is the intention of the ministry to re-establish the reign of law, and we were told yesterday, as we have been told frequently, that unless this kind of thing is done anarchy will prevail. I want to make the charge that this kind of trial, this kind of sentence, is, in fact, anarchy. It is not law. It is anarchy- lynch law once removed.’
By the time the Civil War ended, the Free State had formally executed around 80 Irish Republicans (many more than had the British occupation 1916-1921) and at least another 20 killed as surrendered fighters or kidnapped, sometimes tortured, then taken somewhere and shot.
Post-Civil War, the class nature of the State became even clearer: led by a foreign-dependent capitalist class, handing over healthcare and education to the Catholic Church, upon the institutions of which it leaned heavily for social control of the masses.
The foreign dependency was at first on the British who helped create the State but subsequently first the USA and then the EU have been added to the list of economic masters. This is the inheritance of the Anglo-Irish Agreement and of the victory of the Free State in the Civil War.
APPENDIX (reading time approx 11 minutes):
SPEECH BY MAGS GLENNON FOR INDEPENDENT REPUBLICANS GROUP
Today we gather to remember and honour Liam Mellows, Rory O’Connor, Joe McKelvey and Dick Barrett, four dedicated volunteers who were executed without even the pretence of a trial by a Free State regime bent on revenge and determined to use any methods to defeat the principles and spirit of Irish Republicanism.
In this case the brutal elimination not just of key IRA military leaders but also the articulate political voices who could expose the betrayal of the revolutionary republican ideals by the Free State.
As the Civil War grew increasingly bitter in the autumn of 1922 the Free State implemented the Public Order Act, allowing for summary execution from anyone caught in possession of weapons. Kevin O Higgins stated that “what was needed to put down the Irregulars were more local executions, and we should just kill them anyway”.
It is important to recognize the context in which these four brave men met their deaths. They were murdered to ensure the supremacy of the Free State elite who felt it was their right to betray the principles of the 1916 Rising and the Democratic Programme of the 1st Dail.
The prosperous catholic and moderate nationalist class had seen their Home Rule party practically eliminated in the 1919 election. Mass campaigns against conscription, transport strikes against British militarism as well as sporadic strikes and workers Soviet revolts worried what Mellows called ‘the state in the country people’.
The political interests of the prosperous middle class catholic merchants, professionals and big farmers were well served by acceptance of the British Treaty, which would ensure they held social, economic and political power in the new Free State. They cared not for partition or royal oaths as they had achieved their Home Rule.
The Free State elite saw the role of working people, many of whom had been at the forefront of the war, was to retreat once more to the slums and to obey their masters.
The democratic and egalitarian basis of a Republicanism expressed in the founding documents of the struggle promised a radical and democratic future, appealing in particular to working people in Dublin who had been fighting since the Lockout of 1913.
WT Cosgrave famously described the urban and rural poor as the ‘sweepings of the workhouses’ and desired that they emigrate as quickly as possible. The original Sinn Fein of Arthur Griffith had supported the employers in 1913 but piggy backed to prominence on the back of the 1916 Rising.
The elimination of men like Mellows – Brugha and Childers were already dead – was to ensure the political head was cut off the Republican movement.
The execution of military commanders like O Connor, Barrett and McKelvey was to send a message to all provinces that the IRA rank and file would suffer similar deaths to their commanding officers.
The terror Dublin had suffered in 1922 was intensified across the south in 1923 with dozens of young volunteers (many just boys) disappeared, tortured, shot at roadsides and dumped behind ditches. Yet Fine Gael still today parrots rubbish about republican ‘violence’, to cover up the savage war crimes on which they built their Free State.
We must all openly question the narrative being put forward by the Free State establishment today, completely ignoring the centenary of the Civil War. Remembering the deaths and honouring the lives of the republican volunteers has been carried out by their families and small local Commemoration groups.
Any further publicity would reveal the betrayal of the democratic and revolutionary principles of Republicanism which the Free State attempted to wipe out in the Civil War. We must rededicate ourselves to the revolutionary, internationalist and anti-imperialist traditions of Irish Republicanism.
As we work to advance these ideas in our communities, we must reject the conservative and xenophobic brands of nationalism, whether orange or green, that seek to deflect the blame for our social and economic problems away from the establishment figures benefiting from and promoting such conflict.
We remember today the sacrifice made 100 years ago by Liam Mellows, Rory O Connor, Joe McKelvey and Dick Barrett. May they rest in peace and their ideas and example form the basis of a strong, principled and united Irish Republicanism into the future. Beir Bua!
SPEECH BY JOHN CRAWLEY, MAIN SPEAKER AT EVENT
At 3:30 am on Friday, the 8th of December 1922, IRA volunteers Liam Mellows, Rory O’Connor, Dick Barrett, and Joe McKelvey were informed they were to be summarily executed by the Free State government in retaliation for the killing of Sean Hales, the previous day.
Hales had voted for the ‘Murder Bill’ permitting the execution of those bearing arms in defence of the Irish Republic.
The Free State made great play of the fact Hales was a T.D. even though the first T.D. slain in the Civil War had been shot by Free Staters when they killed Cathal Brugha, who presided over the first meeting of Dáil hÉireann in January 1919 and had served as Minister for Defence. Free Staters had murdered Harry Boland T.D. in August, and of course, Liam Mellows was a T.D.
Captured as part of the Four Courts garrison the previous June, these four IRA volunteers had been in prison since then. They held no responsibility for IRA operations on the outside.
Those Free Staters who hadn’t the resolve to stand by the Republic demonstrated vicious zeal in proving to the British they had the cruelty to murder those who did.
They attempted to justify these killings by claiming they were implementing the will of the Irish people who approved the Anglo-Irish Treaty under Britain’s threat of immediate and terrible war if it were not ratified.
But it was not the will of the Irish people that led to the bombardment of the Four Courts the previous June with artillery provided by the British army. It was the will of British Prime Minister Lloyd George and Winston Churchill.
The firing squad that shot Rory, Liam, Dick, and Joe that cold December morning was manned by Irishmen who had all served in the British army. They carried rifles and wore uniforms supplied by the British government.
The Free State government called its armed wing the National Army, but it was no national army.
It was an exclusively 26-County force set up under Article 8 of the Anglo-Irish Treaty to fight the only war they ever engaged in – the war to overthrow the Irish Republic. Had it been a national army, the British government would never have permitted it to exist.
Bernard Law Montgomery, who became a Field Marshall during the Second World War and had commanded British forces in Cork during the Irish civil war, wrote in 1923:
‘We [the British Army] could probably have squashed the [IRA 1919-21] rebellion as a temporary measure, but it would have broken out again like an ulcer the moment we removed the troops…
The only way, therefore, was to give them [the Irish] some form of self-government and let them squash the rebellion themselves; they are the only people who could really stamp it out, and they are still trying to do so and as far as one can tell they seem to be having a fair amount of success.’
By May 1923, the Free State Army would have 58,000 men who were armed, equipped, and uniformed by the British government.
Of this number, more than 30,000 were Irishmen who were former British soldiers, approximately 3,000 were IRA deserters who had defected from the Republic, and the remaining 25,000 had no prior experience on either side.
James Connolly had written in 1915, ‘When a foreign invader plants himself in a country which he holds by military force his only hope of retaining his grasp is either that he wins the loyalty of the natives, or if he fails to do so that he corrupts enough of them to enable him to disorganise and dishearten the remainder…The chief method of corruption is by an appeal to self-interest.
The self-interest of the Free Staters lay in the opportunity to achieve managerial control of a state with the pay, pensions, patronage, and prestige that went with it. A state whose parameters had been determined by a Tory-dominated cabinet committee that consulted nobody in Ireland except unionists.
Contrary to what partitionist propagandists would have us believe, the Treaty was not the result of a decision that had to be taken for pragmatic reasons in the face of overwhelming odds that any rational person in Ireland could recognise and accept.
Nor was the Dáil split down the middle. The Treaty passed by only seven votes in January 1922. Had the vote been taken before the Christmas recess, as many had expected, the Treaty would almost certainly have been rejected.
Unfortunately, the Christmas break gave powerful pro-Treaty interests like the Catholic Church, big farmers, big business, and an assortment of gombeen men the opportunity to wear down the resolve of a number of T.D.s.
Liam Mellows presided over an IRA convention held in the Mansion House in Dublin in March 1922. The IRA voted more than 80% against the Treaty and passed a resolution declaring, ‘That the Army reaffirms its allegiance to the Irish Republic…’
Cumann na mBan voted overwhelmingly against the Treaty by 419 votes to 63, and the vast majority of the active IRA units in the field also rejected it.
In a letter to his mother written shortly before his execution, Liam Mellows declared, ‘I die for the truth.
That truth was spoken by James Connolly at his court martial in 1916 when he said, ‘The British Government has no right in Ireland, never had any right in Ireland, and never can have any right in Ireland . . .’
That truth was also spoken by Pádraig Pearse while inspecting Irish Volunteers at Vinegar Hill in Wexford in the early autumn of 1915 when he said, ‘We, the Volunteers, are formed here not for half of Ireland, not to give the British Garrison control of part of Ireland. No! We are here for the whole of Ireland.’
As has been shown so many times in Irish history and is being demonstrated today in a different context, in a revolutionary struggle, the choice one often confronts is whether to do what counts or to make what you can do count.
To do what mattered proved too daunting for many Free Staters, so they made the Treaty count, saved their skins, opened career paths, and shifted the goalposts from the 32-County Irish Republic to a 26-County Dominion of the British Empire moulded by British strategic interests.
In 1948 Fine Gael Taoiseach John A. Costello declared that the Irish Free State would become the Republic of Ireland – a republic that would tell the world Ireland is Ireland without the Six Counties.
In the future, when any Dublin politician would proudly assert, ‘I stand by the Republic,’ they were referring exclusively to the twenty-six-county Republic of Ireland announced by this former Blueshirt in 1948, not the thirty-two-county Irish Republic proclaimed in 1916 and ratified by the First Dáil in 1919.
Again today, Britain is attempting to shape the political environment to suit its strategic interests. Just as in Liam Mellows day, former comrades who swore they would lead us to the Republic are leading us in the opposite direction.
All talk of the Republic is now gone because the Republic was never on the negotiating table in 1998. We no longer hear Ireland referred to as our country but as this island. Our country is one nation. This island has two.
Great play is made about the potential of a united Ireland as outlined in the Good Friday Agreement. We had a united Ireland during the Famine. We had a united Ireland when the Republic was proclaimed in 1916. We had a united Ireland when the United Irishmen was formed in 1791.
So what did the 28 Protestants who founded the Irish republican movement mean by a United Ireland? Not territorial unity, which already existed, but the only unity that matters and the unity the British would never countenance – a unity of Irish citizens across the sectarian divide.
The united Ireland defined by the Good Friday Agreement is not a republic. It envisions a polity where the sectarian dynamic remains intact and the cleavage in national loyalties between Ireland and Britain is constitutionally enshrined.
Consequently, many supporters of this strategy propose a continuing and symbolic role for the British royal family as an institutional point of reference for the loyalties of those who would prefer to see themselves as a civic outpost of Britain rather than as equal citizens of a national democracy within an all-Ireland republic.
Debates and discussions are taking place on changing the Irish national flag, discarding the Irish national anthem, and re-joining the British Commonwealth. Instead of breaking the connection with England, we are being relentlessly conditioned into becoming more closely incorporated into a British sphere of influence on a national level.
When former comrades meet and greet British royalty in Ireland, they are sending out an unambiguous message that Ireland is not one nation but two. That Britain has legitimacy in Ireland and a role to play in influencing the political trajectory of our country.
Our goal as IRA volunteers was to break the connection with England. Not to convince the rest of Ireland to re-join the British Commonwealth.
There are many happy clappy euphemisms being employed to describe the Ireland of the future. A shared island, an agreed Ireland, and a new Ireland. Who in their right mind could be against the concept of sharing and new and agreed arrangements?
When we drill down into it, however, we see the trap being laid for us by the British government. A shared island means we share in Britain’s analysis of the nature of the conflict, we share in the colonial legacy of sectarian apartheid, and we share in the imperial project of divide and rule.
We do this by recognising Ulster unionists as the British presence in Ireland with the right to have their Britishness enshrined in law. Republicans know that unionists are pro-British, but we do not accept they are the British presence.
The British presence is the presence of Britain’s jurisdictional claim to Ireland and the civil and military apparatus that gives that effect. England invaded Ireland hundreds of years before the plantation of Ulster. They claimed sovereignty here long before a single unionist set foot on Irish soil. What was their excuse, then?
An agreed Ireland has come to mean the two traditions agreeing to disagree in peace and harmony about the constitutional source of Irish sovereignty and the legitimacy and extent of British influence in constraining Irish democracy.
A muddled and subversive belief that the conquest and colonisation of Ireland share reciprocal legitimacy with its struggle for independence.
The new Ireland we are being asked to work towards is not new. It is predicated on all the old divisions. Divisions that Britain nurtured to retain the sectarian dynamic and resultant cleavage in national loyalties as this policy of divide and rule is the key to their control in Ireland.
It is designed to prevent us from developing the national cohesion required to achieve a 32-County republic. To make us permanently susceptible to British influence and manipulation.
During the Dáil debates on the Anglo-Irish Treaty, a persistent theme was that a pro-treaty vote was a vote for peace, with the resulting implication that those who stood firmly for the Republic were out for war. Liam Mellows replied:
‘If peace was the only object, why, I say, was this fight ever started? Why did we ever negotiate for what we are now told is impossible?
Why should men have ever been led on the road they travelled if peace was the only object? We could have had peace and could have been peaceful in Ireland a long time ago if we were prepared to give up the ideal for which we fought…’
Today those who stand resolutely for the Republic are accused of being against the peace process. Few republicans are against peace, but many are rightly critical of a process that cannot lead to the republican goals for which countless patriots sacrificed their lives.
A united Ireland rooted in British/Irish identity politics cannot be a republic. That is why the British government is all over this. It is their best opportunity to retain maximum influence in Ireland with a minimum footprint when the demographics eventually prove incontestable.
No one has been preparing more diligently to shape the strategic architecture of a future united Ireland than the British government.
One hundred years ago this week, Liam Mellows, Rory O’Connor, Dick Barrett, and Joe McKelvey were dragged from their cells and murdered in cold blood because they stood for what weaker and more personally ambitious Irishmen could not summon the courage to defend any longer.
We honour them today. We remember with pride all Ireland’s patriots from their day to this who never forgot who they were or what they represented.
Long Live the Irish Republic!
1Thanks to Independent Republicans for posting a copy of his speech and that by Mags Glennon on their behalves.