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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
Help Renew the Republican Dream
Speech by Gerry Ruddy at unveiling of Monument in Strabane
Gerry Ruddy • 9 September 2003

Over the past 12 months I have attended a number of unveilings initiated by the Republican Socialists Memorial Committee and indeed must pay tribute to the sterling work they have carried out to pay honour and tribute to the dead volunteers of the INLA.

Behind the memorials are the individual lives of the volunteers, sadly short lives for many volunteers in the republican struggles of the past 30 years never saw out their allotted span of three score and ten years. Those individual lives are important and need to be honoured as indeed do those nearest and dearest to the volunteers. For those left behind have memories, pain grief and sorrow to haunt them. When one sees the pain, the sadness that permeated peoples lives one can only bow ones head in awe of the courage of the people who endured.

Friends and comrades, brothers and sisters, it is indeed a humbling honour to be asked to speak at this unveiling to two brave Republican volunteers, - James McPhilemy, killed in Action on 10 August 1988, Aged 20, McPhilemy was part of a three-man team when he was killed in action as he prepared to attack an army post at Clady, Co. Tyrone.

He had made himself vulnerable when he called out to warn children in the area to get down as soldiers opened fire and killed him. Alex Patterson, aged 31, and a father of four was shot dead on 12 November 1990 by an SAS team who had staked out the house of an Ulster Defence Regiment member near Victoria Bridge outside Strabane.

Alex Patterson's death was subject of an inquest in 1997, highlighting another example of Britain's "shoot to kill" policy when dealing with republican activists.

This is indeed a fitting monument in tribute. But it is important to remember the reason why republican activists died in struggle. I refer to all republican volunteers regardless of whatever organisation they belong to because I believe that whatever differences exist between republicans we should all respect those who fell in the struggle.

They died that we could live in an independent Republic free from British rule with the right to make our own decisions.

There are things that have affected the daily lives of everyone here.
Oppression, violence, repression, discrimination collusion between loyalist death squads and the higher reaches of the British Government, CS gas plastic bullets, shoot to kill policies, a conveyor belt ‘justice system that denied justice; a refining of torture techniques in Castlereagh; the tainted evidence of the lowest of the low-the informer; the attempted criminalisation of freedom fighters and revolutionaries; murder gangs operating out of British Army barracks; state sanctioned bombings of Dublin and Monaghan; state files on every nationalist; and the demonising and censoring of Republicans and so on and so on.

All we wanted was equality, freedom justice and peace. That our experience tells us is not something we can get either under British rule or Stormont rule. We believe that the struggle for a republic is the only way forward.

No matter what anyone tells you Republicanism is a revolutionary doctrine, it is a radical doctrine, it is a progressive doctrine. Those of us here today who call ourselves republicans wear that mantle of republicanism with pride.

For there is pride in participating in the struggle for freedom. Those who we honour today played their part in the struggle against Imperialism. W e had enough of the cant and hypocrisy of the comfortable bourgeois middle classes who preached passivity in the face of violence, preached acceptance in the face of injustice, preached resignation in the face of inequality. They got on with making profits while the working classes suffered. So Republicans took up arms and fought for the liberation of their people. We honour those who fell in battle.

But times change. It has been clear for some time that the vast majority of the Irish people favour Republicans using peaceful methods of struggle. That has to be respected for we all realise that different situations require different methods of struggle. There are huge social economic and political problems facing us all. If these are to be tackled then we need Republicans and Republican Socialists to throw their full wait into the political struggle for our full emancipation.

However the bottom line for the Republican Socialist movement is that justice and the continued existence of the six county state were mutually incompatible.

It is clear to us that the only Republic worth fighting and dying for was the Workers Republic of James Connolly. We know that the social and national question was inter-twined.

What are needed to day are independent minded individuals able to ask awkward questions and see through the fog of confusion, spin doctoring, censorship and bovine like loyalty that today passes for politics. We reject the latter and call on independent minded people to join us and help renew the Republican dream.

Sometimes we hear reference to mandates. Let me tell you something. I need no mandate to oppose the injustice done to Michael McKevitt. He was convicted on the word of an informer in a non jury special court that republicans have always opposed. I don’t need to know what Michael McKevitt has done or believes in. Nor do I need to agree with his views. All I know is he was stitched up by the State and we should oppose that.

And I don’t need a mandate to support the political prisoners in Maghaberry. It is imperative that a united stance is taken by all Republicans and I stress all, in support of segregation. The IRSP fully support the right of the Republican prisoners to segregation.

The IRSP would like to see instead of the current divisions between republicans a unified campaign. Disunity among republican parties weakens the possibility of winning the justified demands of the prisoners.
The IRSP are calling for the establishment of a broad based committee comprising representatives of all republican groups and other supporters to take up the demand for segregation. The history of the H- block mass struggles during the 81 hunger strikes show what can be achieved by a unified campaign drawing support from a wide base.”

We need no mandate to oppose Imperialism wherever we find it. It is enough for injustice to exist for us to organise to oppose it.

However let me say clearly and without equivocation we, as the Republican Socialist Movement cannot on our own create the Republic. It can only be done by the support participation and enthusiasm of the majority of people on the island.

Having looked at the bourgeois republic that constitutes the state power in the 26 counties one has to conclude there is a long way to go to gain that support.

The stinking smelly of racism rises from the bowels of this bourgeois corrupt state. Corrupt practices reach to the very heart of the state. Drugs decimate working class communities and workers are daily exploited in the work places Trade unions rights are whittled down and demoralisation and contempt for politics spreads. Republicans and socialists talk glibly about a fight-back but cannot even talk to each other.

The emergence of various pressure groups from within the republican traditions shows there is a ferment of ideas taking place.

The IRSP welcome that ferment. We should never be afraid of debate and dialogue. We are prepared to talk to anyone about the future development of the Republican ideal but we will never desert our working class analysis. Only a Republic that places the working class firmly in control is worth the struggle.

We appeal to all those radical sections of political opinion, north and south, republican and socialist to come together in the interests of the Irish working class and at least begin to create some hope for the future.

But parallel with an openness to others comrades this leadership will continue to develop and consolidate this movement. We are getting involved in class politics and fighting for the rights of the class. But let me re-iterate that problems in working class areas cannot be dealt with by self appointed baseball bat beaters. That is not the way to win people to revolutionary politics. We need a clear class based response from working class communities to the problems of crime within the community.

No revolutionary movement can last without clear politics and based on a correct appreciation of the needs of the people. Our function is to empower the working class to achieve its own liberation. But we need to be relevant to the needs of the working class. It is not enough to slog anise. We must do.

Let me quote James Connolly, speaking about honouring Tone at Bodenstown

“It is only right at the grave of Wolfe Tone for republicans to pay homage but it also our duty to put our ideas, policies and beliefs under the microscope and re-examine what we stand for and see if we are doing things the correct way”

That quote from Ireland’s greatest socialist, sums up the approach of the Republican Socialist Movement to the politics of modern day Ireland. That is what both the IRSP and the INLA have been doing over the past nine years-re-evaluating, re-examining, and renewing in the light of current realities our policies and principles. Self-criticism is the lifeblood of any movement and I can assure you that we will not have in this movement any stifling of healthy dissent, or suppression of other than leadership views. A healthy democratic radical and socialist movement is the best vehicle for the liberation of the working class. I t is now time to build a working class movement in Ireland that is class conscious socialist republican and prepared to take on all the vested interests of Capitalism.
There are stirrings of dissent in many parts of the world. We welcome that and stand with all the anti-imperialists and socialists against oppression whether from USA Imperialism or religious fundamentalism.

But our fight, our struggle our battlefield is here in Ireland. Our comrades our members our fighters are everyday involved in the struggles of the Irish working class. Wherever there is injustice so there should be our comrades struggling against that injustice. No republican no republican socialist should stand idly be when injustice is done to any of our. class

In short where every there is struggle that is where the class-conscious militant and the members of this movement should be. Forlike Larkin- like Connolly -like Costello – we preach the divine gospel of discontent.

It is the responsibility of every one of us here today to make a a3 difference to our society. No one can stand idly by while racism injustice poverty exploitation and sectarianism predominate.
That was not the way Tone fought for a Republic in his day, nor is it our way.

Friends lift your ambition to the stars and help your class claim their birth right full economic and political liberation. No one is to o insignificant to play a part. We here are all important. Titles and awards mean nothing to us.

Neither class nor man is our better. We are IRPS proud and defiant. We spread the divine gospel of discontent. We only want the earth and we will create a fitting tribute to the long generations of working class radicals like the two comrades we honour here today, who saw a vision of a better Ireland and a better world.

Le t us build that better world together as a class united in solidarity.

On to the Socialist Republic.




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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

11 September 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


Seconds Out for Round Thirteen
Eamon Sweeney


UN Report on Human Development
Liam O Ruairc


No Sign Yet of an End to the Cold War
Anthony McIntyre


West Belfast - The Politics of Childhood
Davy Carlin


Review of Eoin O'Broin's Matxinada
Douglas Hamilton


Help Renew the Republican Dream
Gerry Ruddy


Three Meeting Announcements
Belfast & Dublin

7 September 2003


Bush, Coke-a-Cola and the Nazis
Eamonn McCann


A Regime of Silence
Anthony McIntyre


Lower Falls Memories
Kathleen O'Halloran


My Axis of Evil
Pedram Moallemian


In Memory of Israfil Shiri 1973-2003
Debbie Grue


IRPWA Calls on Paul Murphy to Reveal Recommendations
Martin Mulholland


A Letter to Mr Foley
Matthew Kavanagh




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