Friday, January 26, 2018

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A United Ireland, Now More So Than Ever, Is Achievable!

The 1916 Societies feel the potential for Irish unity is greater than ever before.




The 1916 Societies Annual Convention was held in Knockatallon, Co Monaghan, on Saturday 20th January, which was attended by activists from the length and breadth of Ireland as well as Scotland. The event included international speakers from Catalonia and Palestine.

The incoming National Organiser Mark Campbell chaired the event, annual reports were read out by each department. Barry Monteith proceeded over the election of the new officer board and conducting internal organisational matters. Afterwards, there was a minute silence held for two Society members that had passed during the year, Paddy O’Neill and Tom Timoney. The Proclamation was then read by Neil McThréanlámh.

The 1916 Societies Chairman Frankie Quinn facilitated an open discussion around Left Republican and Socialist strategy, along with groups such as the Peadar O’Donnell forum and Proclamation Project and how to utilise media platforms. In which he gave examples of media education which the ‘Societies’ facilitated in the past. He went on to explain the importance of showing Republicanism in its most positive light, that Anti Imperialist Struggle is about more than just the armed conflicts of the past. It is about getting feet on the street, engaging the mass of the people, the Catalan initiative being a prime example of that.

 
This was then followed by the Independent Dungannon Councillor Barry Monteith, who is also a member of The Thomas Clarke Society, Dungannon, talked about massive surge towards support for a United Ireland, from people who would never have traditionally gotten behind the concept. Even amongst conservative elements of the Irish population, such as Fine Gael. With the advent of the centenary of 1916 millions of Irish people have attended commemorative events across the island. A whole new generation of people are re-engaging about the future of their country. The fundamental issue of the National Question has not gone away, despite the concerted efforts from some quarters, such as the normalisation and promotion of the Northern Irish Identity, etc, which has been shattered.

The 1916 Societies started out in 2009, when Irish Republicanism was at a very low ebb, very few people would have said that there would ever be an opportunity of seeing a ‘United Ireland’ in their lifetime. Now people are a lot more confident of actually live in one. Though this is only an opportunity, but what ‘we’ can do is, make sure the opportunity becomes a reality. We do that, by getting out there with our message of ‘Independence and Sovereignty’.

The first of our two international speakers took to the stage, the Palestinian activist Dr Nidul Saadeh, who began by stating that, if you look throughout history, Ireland united north and south, has been one of the most outstanding countries in standing for international justice and the causes such as Palestine. The line is very clear between freedom seekers and freedom fighters from Cuba, Palestine, Ireland, Catalonia, Basque, Vietnam and South Africa and those who infringe on those freedoms and Human Rights such as the UK, US, Israel and Apartheid South Africa.

He went on to describe how the Palestinian people have been lied to and deceived by European Union and the US, and also that they were mis-lead by the bourgeois leadership, such as Palestinian Authority. Over the last two decades, which has resulted ‘in losing, thousands of hectares of land, and thousands of lives and a lot more suffering of the people, without any achievements’. None of which take away from the just roots of the Palestinian cause. He made parallels between the Bourgeois in Palestine and in Ireland and how they benefited economically and undermined the struggle. Though a new generation of activists that are coming to the core, which have stunned the Israeli’s with their readiness to resist and ‘Alertness, awareness and organisation’. Trumps blunder in naming Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has added fuel to the fire, insulting people at many levels from human, ethnic and ecclesiastic. The arrogance of handing specific control to one grouping over another, especially over such contested land can be seen as nothing but incendiary from human and philosophical perspective. Palestinians are waking up to the notion that Israel doesn’t want to compromise but rather to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians off the map. That having Zionist only areas and infrastructure Israel is an apartheid regime. He questioned why Western States including Ireland continue to entertain an Israeli presence in their countries given Israel’s questionable activities not only in Palestine but in the wider Middle East, in terms of trying to destabilise the Arabic countries that have supported Palestine in the past. He welcomed any support for the Palestinian cause, no matter how small, but that it was vital that initiatives such as BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) in fighting the Neo-Colonial, Israeli regime. The boycott of ‘Sport, Cultural and Political movements’ empowered the Palestinian people. Highlighting and boycotting such things, such as Israelis pharmaceutical’s and weapon manufacture, for example, would undermine the regime.

 

Next up was Alfred de Lleida, a Catalonian independence activist who described the events around the October 3rd Catalonian Independence referendum and how the democratic will of the Catalonian people has been undermined by the Spanish state. Even after the draconian measures carried out by the Spanish State, in the lead up to the referendum the Catalans still voted in overwhelming numbers on behalf of those seeking independence. He also pointed out, the unnecessary incarceration of those who organised the referendum. Though the initial momentum garnered though the October 3rd was not used to its full potential, down to the disorganisation of some the leaders of the independence movement and the initiative was lost. The new Republic was impossible to enforce, because of lack of support from the international community on an official level and so on. However, because of the violent nature in which the Spanish state clamped down on the movement and enforced direct rule on Catalonia. Which has done a lot to discredit the Spanish state in the region as well as the international stage. There was also a small victory in that Independence movement was re-elected as the majority in the regional parliament. He drew parallels in the Irish struggle for independence after 1916. Moving forward they will have to develop new strategies to build a consensus within grassroots communities around what the new Republic can offer such as social justice and equality. Also how communities have organised themselves for the defence of the Republic, which is something that could be built upon. Also discussed was the possibility to build a solidarity with Countries on the European periphery and also North African States.

Frankie Quinn in responding to some the points being made by Alfred about 1916 and War of Independence, such as how the right-wing elements will inevitably try to position themselves into power and carry out a Counter-Revolution. A change of the flag isn’t enough and won’t change the conditions of working-class people. Frankie went on the say that although the Catalans may have lost this battle, there is every chance that this has set in motion the start of Catalan freedom.

 

This was followed by Neil McThréanlámh of the Sean Heuston 1916 Society, Dublin, give an insight of the 1916 Societies involvement in the Anti Eviction Campaign. Neil who has just completed a law degree, holds a clinic once a week to give advice to those facing eviction and so on. He explains that you cannot divorce law from politics, that laws are enacted on whims of those in power to keeps in privilege. He goes on to say that most Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil ministers are landlords, that enacted laws which favours banks over the rights of ordinary people. For example, the court services have an investment committee, which means some of the judges involved in that, also presides over the court of appeal. That this investment committee has been investing in banks and other funds since the introduction of the Euro, he shed light on the conflict of interests.which lies at the very heart of the system. He goes on to make the point that, all that stops us living in a decent society is good laws that favours the people, which would allow them to keep a roof over their head even during hard times. Some of the activities in which Sean Heuston Society and other Dublin based societies have been involved were direct action protests, such as sit-ins in bank lobbies, properties which bailiffs were trying to seize and so on.

Frankie Quinn then ended the proceedings by thanking the speakers and everyone who was involved, then paying a mark of respect to Seamus McElwaine who’s monument is only is yards from the gathering.

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