It is a great honour to be invited here today to speak at the graveside of the founding father of Irish Republicanism.
We owe a great debt to Wolfe Tone for lighting a torch that successive generations of Irish patriots have ensured has not been extinguished. That flame burns in the hearts of all those gathered here today and it burns in the dark cells of Maghaberry and Portlaoise Gaols where those who continue the vision of Wolfe Tone's Ireland, free from Britain's interference, suffer for those same political ideals.
Following on from our Easter centenary commemorations, Republicans who continue to strive for an Irish socialist republic have found new impetus and drive; the call to build a new revolutionary political party has found fertile ground. Since Easter Republicans across Ireland have been engaged in a wide ranging, proactive process of debate and discussion. The work of building an energetic movement that has sought a grassroots up approach aimed at avoiding the inherent failures of past structures and strategy has begun in earnest. The Easter slogan Unfinished Revolution has (to use a digital phrase) ‘Gone Viral’. It resonates with Irish Republicans. It gives meaning to their aspirations. It shouts out in defiance of the continuing oppression of both failed states and it offers an alternative to the onslaught of imperialism, capitalism and neo-colonialism that keeps the nation envisaged by Tone divided and the Irish People subjugated as modern serfs.
As we build we remain committed to Republican Unity, a fractured base only serves the interest of our enemies. We will look to consult and engage in dialogue and find common ground with those who share the Republican ideology.
We have been handed a unique opportunity with the recent British referendum on the European super state. The so called brexit has put the brakes on the united states of Europe project and shattered the political status quo in the British parliament. For the first time in over one hundred years the glaciers of political power in Britain have begun to melt. The Tories are cutting each other's throats in the quest for Number 10, while the Labour party has seen a grassroots uprising centered round Corbynism and a right wing counter coup that looks set to split the party. Mix these unprecedented circumstances with the rise of UKIP and ‘little englander’ mentality and the call for a second Scottish independence referendum and we could be witnessing a United Kingdom in a cycle of perpetual constitutional turmoil. England’s difficulty is always Ireland’s opportunity.
The Brexit referendum, to the chagrin of Irish Republicanism, raised issues such as Sovereignty, democracy and the right to national self determination. All these rights, that the British complained were being infringed by the European Union, have for centuries been suppressed or denied to the Irish People. Why when the British vote to leave the EU is that seen as a democratic act of self determination, but when in 1918, when the Irish People voted for independence and subsequently formed their own government, the British responded with war and oppression? Why when failing to defeat the IRA in the ensuing war did the British undemocratically partition our country creating a majority from a minority? Let us not forget that those who favour a continued link with Britain hold a majority in just two of Ireland’s thirty two counties. Let us not forget that those who tell us we must gain a partitionist majority in a border poll, that they themselves are happy to administer undemocratic British rule in Ireland. Let us not forget that the British secretary of state who holds the key to this undemocratic poll has herself no democratic mandate in Ireland. We say to the British and her lackeys do not speak to us of democracy as you don’t know the meaning of the word. Ireland has had her democratic vote, Britain usurped this act of national self determination and until this usurpation is ended through the restoration of Irish national sovereignty, there can be no democracy in Ireland.
If the British people thought the EU was infringing on their sovereignty; they should see how it has impacted on the people of the 26 county statelet. For every euro the EU gives the 26 counties it takes two euros in fish! That’s double its contribution before any other tax. Far from being benevolent, the EU effectively rules the south through the gombeen class that has been at the top of free state politics for a century. The current mending of relations between the ‘civil war’ parties of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail was inevitable as both serve the same masters in class and capital. Their interests are far removed from those of the ordinary families who we have seen thrown out of their houses in places like Corofin by masked bullies protected by the guards on behalf of vulture capitalists. We see a land increasingly rich in natural resources forcing its citizens to pay water tax while corporate elites make off with billions in gas and oil. We see in the southern state a lack of health care and a lack of social housing. We see a race to the bottom in cutting taxes for the rich and the corporate elite while all the time squeezing more and more out of the ordinary citizens. While county courts evict hundreds of families those in power in Leinster House refuse to recoup the massive revenues that corporations like Apple owe it. There is something fundamentally wrong with a state whose biggest export is its youth through emigration.
It seems strange too, that while so many voted against Fine Gael in the last election that they didn't win, they are a minority, and yet like zombies they continue on governing with the same austerity agenda that is creating a massive inequality gap; that has children living in bed sits; that plunges entire sections of our communities into grinding poverty, and for what? So EU bondholders and bankers can be repaid their lost gamblings out of the taxpayers pocket.
The anti water charges campaign has shown the power of the mass movement, it has shown that the system cannot be changed from the inside so must be challenged from the outside. It has offered a model for a movement where we take to the streets and put down these undemocratic self serving gombeen policies through popular struggle. Our mantra should be ‘don’t emigrate, agitate’! Water may be the rallying issue of today but there are many more; they are part of a neoliberal onslaught and without national sovereignty we will not be able to eradicate these exploitive policies. They are two sides of the one coin; the national struggle and the social revolution. We must spread this analysis among the Irish people we must win them to our side with our analysis and the Republican Movement must always be to the fore in our actions and our deeds.
I take this moment to pay tribute to our Political Prisoners, their dignity while incarcerated for their beliefs should be an inspiration to us all. I also pay tribute to the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association for the amazing work they do week in week out helping the dependents of our political prisoners, easing their burden and raising awareness of the often brutal conditions that they endure. I know first hand your work is much appreciated by both the Prisoners and their families.
I thank you once again for having me and I congratulate the organisers on a fitting tribute to Wolfe Tone.
I will finish now with one of his quotes.
Our freedom must be had at all hazards. If the men of property will not help us they must fall; we will free ourselves by the aid of that large and respectable class of the community - the men of no property.
Go raibh maith agaibh.