Delivering an oration in Fermanagh, Sean Bresnahan called for the restoration of The Republic. The oration is lifted from the 1916 Societies website.
On Saturday 7th January, the Matt Fitzpatrick Society Newtownbutler marked the 60th anniversary of esteemed Republican Martyrs Sean South and Fergal O’Hanlon. National PRO of the 1916 Societies, Sean Bresnahan, gave the main oration, published below.
A chairde. First-off I’d like to thank the Matt Fitzpatrick Society for the opportunity to speak here this evening, at this fine monument to famed Irish Patriots Sean South and Fergal O’Hanlon, soldiers both of the Irish Republic whose lives they gave in defence of the people – that Ireland might one day be free. It truly is an honour.
As we gather together we do so to reflect on their tremendous sacrifice, and on that of all who fought and died for the Republic over the course of the century past, mindful also of those imprisoned ongoing due to continuing opposition to British rule in Ireland – that very thing which South and O’Hanlon determined upon ending when joining the Republican Movement. We extend them our solidarity and to recently released POWs here today we offer the warmest of welcomes.
We are mindful also of the McKearney family, who not far from here are waking their mother Maura. A family steeped in the tradition that bore Sean South and O’Hanlon, knowing much by the way of suffering and Martyrdom themselves, we offer our sympathies to them at this sad time.
In the twilight hours of a New Year’s Eve sixty years ago, as a 14-man unit of the Irish Republican Army set compass for Brookeborough RUC Barracks, determined to strike a blow for Irish Freedom, Sean South remarked to his comrades, ‘is this the moment we long have waited for?’
60 years on from that tragic night, an enduring inspiration to those still determined on completing the struggle for a free Ireland, our people await in hope that same moment so fondly imagined by South and O’Hanlon – the glint of freedom lighting their souls as they marched towards destiny unknown – where freedom will at last be upon us.
Out of this national liberation struggle a new Ireland will emerge, upright and free. In that new Ireland, we shall build a country fit for all our people to live in. That then is our aim: an independent, united, democratic Irish Republic. For this we shall fight until the invader is driven from our soil and victory is ours.
Those words, issued by the republican leadership at the outset of ‘Operation Harvest’, are a reminder of the Ireland that South and O’Hanlon carried in their hearts as they entered the village of Brookeborough all those years ago.
It is that same Ireland that we, in the broad republican family, aspire to now today: a united and independent all-Ireland democracy as foresaw by the men of 1916, supported in turn by those who trod in their footprint down through the long years since – among them Sean South and Fergal O’Hanlon. Such an Ireland is far from the reality of our country in 2017.
The current situation in Ireland is a bleak one. Despite misleading figures that point to economic growth, a ‘two-tiered recovery’ is not only underway but at an advanced stage. A rapacious transfer of the nation’s wealth to corporate interests straddling the economy is in full flow, backed by the might of the Troika. Society struggles to pick up the slack – homelessness, indebtedness and a widening gap between rich and poor the inevitable consequence.
The so-called republic to the south is in crisis, with economic indices like house prices and GDP manipulated to disguise a social catastrophe where people queue at food bank for their Christmas dinner, where families have only a Bed and Breakfast to call home, where others freeze in doorways overnight and where others again struggle to hold onto their homes. Suicide is the answer for too many. Ireland is facing the abyss.
But we cannot understand this nightmare – and in turn confront it as we must – without understanding the role of the Troika and its control over successive Dublin Governments, which is the number one causal factor behind the crisis in Ireland today.
EU finance capitalism, driven by the needs of the Bundesbank and a slavish technocratic elite in Brussels, thinks it can save itself while the ordinary man and woman pays the price for its doing so. But it can’t. Because, despite the imposition of austerity in an effort to restructure perceived economic misadventures within the Eurozone, it is not the member states or their deficits that are to blame – even where they have contributed to the crisis with their own incompetent profligacy.
What is wrong in the Eurozone is as simple as it is complex, stemming from the faulty architecture of a monetary union devoid of the means to transfer economic surplus from its centre to the periphery. Absent such a mechanism, we are left with an austerity-driven low-inflation high-unemployment ‘doom loop’, which fuels itself in perpetuity by virtue of this essential contradiction.
Ongoing difficulties in Ireland are directly connected to the workings of the Eurozone and cannot be understood in any other context. That’s not to excuse the attitude of the political machine in Dublin but to say that without an analysis of the European debt crisis and the mechanics of monetary union – in terms of how that union structurally impacts peripheral member-states – we’re only scratching the surface.
It is no longer then a case of simply changing the government – indeed were it ever. The required solution will likely be wider than anything achievable at the level of the nation-state, should it seriously hope to succeed. It more probably requires a pan-European approach to debt and liquidity and ultimately to monetary union itself. That’s where we are at and we need to be conscious of where we’re at.
Liam Mellows once described it ‘a fallacy to believe that a Republic of any kind can be won through the shackled Free State’, holding it ‘the buffer between British Capitalism and the Irish Republic’. While the nature of capitalism and its relationship to Ireland is today more complex and extends beyond British influence over the economy, the words of Mellows have never been more apt.
The existing establishment is rotten at core and must give way for the democratic republic. But the republic can only be part of a wider solution where the failed, self-destructive Euro experiment is dismantled in full, the fraternal association of free peoples championed by Connolly going forward in its stead, ending the reign of finance imperialism, ending the debt crisis born thereof, ending the violations of our economic sovereignty by the terrorists in suits known today as the Troika.
And what of the Six Counties and its continuing occupation, its end still nowhere in sight? The internal arrangement set up under Good Friday has been exposed as a total facade, with little to no accountability or check on a permanent administration, sustained by sectarianism, that exists only as a bridgehead between British policy and Irish acquiescence to its terms.
Such policy still notably includes Internment, Diplock Courts, ‘special powers’ and the degrading of political prisoners in the gaols – all of it on the watch of supposed republicans who now administer that same occupation with no real objection to the above.
The northern regime, stumbling from scandal to scandal, is failing its people while fulfilling, as ever, its traditional purpose, which is to stunt the emergence of a progressive alternative at a national level at behest of its British paymaster. The hard reality is that the northern entity, despite outward appearances, is no more than a ward of Britain, with a revised Stormont at the lynchpin of the distraction. That there are yet some who think republican objectives can be achieved there reveals that we still have much to learn.
A century on from 1916, Ireland is in a truly sorry state. So severe are the problems impacting society that a new beginning, in the form of a democratic republic where power and finance are accountable to the people, offers the only route out of the morass. Towards that end, creating a new dynamic in Irish politics through the building of an alternative from below – where the people fight as one for the future – should be the immediate priority in these difficult and testing times.
In that context, republicans must work harder and closer than ever before to advance radical political change. The Ireland we are intent on cannot then be a mere extension of the artificial Free State on a 32-county basis. Our vision is of a new Ireland where issues as homelessness, sectarianism, poverty and emigration – which deface our society and trample its dignity – are no longer the lot of our people.
What is required is a direct all-Ireland response, a national campaign that takes no heed of partition, confronting thus the rotten political system – in its entirety – and demanding its obliteration – in its entirety – making headway for the All-Ireland Republic. Ultimately, then, our aim is towards the full restoration of Irish sovereignty, which must remain the focal point.
In that effort, we can only depend on ourselves, the broad mass of the people, and that is the lesson of history. The behaviour of the ruling establishment – north and south – proves as much conclusively, to say nothing of republican leaderships who, one after the other, have abandoned the Republic, over and over and over. We need to organise and put faith in our own, empowering working people while connecting their struggles each to the other – and in turn to the Republic.
Emerging realities, be they the continuing outworking of the Eurozone’s debt crisis, the impending exit of Britain from the EU or the escalating threat of military confrontation on the global stage, mean we need to prepare for change – for make no mistake it is coming. Progressive sections of society, ourselves included, must exert pressure on the established order and push our ideas to the forefront.
Ultimately, we can only truly rid ourselves of austerity by restoring sovereignty and rebuilding the Republic – forging a republic of the people and not the banks, in the lofty tradition of Tone and Lalor, of Pearse and Connolly, Sean South and O’Hanlon – all who have shown us the way forward; all an example for the road ahead. The time is now right to restore the Republic. Working together we can make it happen.
The stone walls that once were the barn in which these fine men breathed their last, here at Moane’s Cross in Altawalk, though smashed in spite and razed to the ground by the British Army, have since been rebuilt in the form of this monument before us. This beautiful memorial stone is a symbol of the unconquerable spirit that lies in the hearts of our people, that boldly and in defiance asserts to the enemy that, though they may strike us down, we will rise again.
We must go from here and loose that ancient spirit, determined that, like the walls of that barn where South and O’Hanlon passed from this life, the Republic for which they died – the Republic of 1916 – will be rebuilt, stone by stone, until Irish Freedom has been secured, until that moment long-sought by generations of our people has finally been realised; when Ireland, at last, takes her place among the nations.