The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

The Republic: Of Connolly, of Costello, of Kearney & Campbell

Speech Delivered at the Unveiling of a Plaque to Commemorate Two INLA Men Killed on Active Service

Terry Harkin, IRSP Ard Comhairle Member • 19.01.2003

Friends and Comrades, it is an honour to be asked to speak at this unveiling of a memorial plaque to the memory of two volunteers of the Irish National Liberation Army who hailed from this district. Mickey and Patrick were two fine young men cut down in their prime of life for standing up for what they believed in.

In today's hectic world with everything happening so fast it is little wonder that the youth of today, spoon fed on a continuous diet of wall to wall trash TV and designer music to deaden the soul have swallowed whole the manufactured cardboard heroes, held up by a partisan mass media for them to admire. So who cares if Westlife endorse "Poppy's" to remember with pride the army that tied Connolly to a chair and shot him. Who's Connolly? Where did Article's 2 and 3 go? what were Article's 2 and 3 anyway.

As our children walk past this plaque many of them will be more concerned with "Rave" culture than the plight of the community in North Belfast were kids of the same age or younger are blackmailed in to spying on their defenders. They'll stand under it and talk about "Big Brother" as their every move is observed by the Ascendancy's cameras. They would be wise to emulate both Patrick and Mickey, look beyond the hype and have something more to believe in.

I knew Mickey Kearney in life, gave the oration to him in Milltown the day we buried him. I could not do justice to his character then, nor can I do it now. 16 years have not diminished my inability to articulate the multifaceted character that was Mickey Kearney.

Mickey died at the hands of fellow Irishmen who were duped into doing the work of the British Imperialist war-machine and trying to wipe out the Republican Socialist Movement. He died in defence of this movement and our presence here today and our unveiling of this plaque shows he did not die in vain. We did not go away, you know.

The Republican Socialist movement today is as strong if not stronger than it has ever been. Our policies and politics are today even more, if that were possible, relevant to the lives of our young people as when Seamus Costello set about re-establishing the tradition of Republican Socialism.

The philosophy of Republican Socialism is based on the needs aspirations and hopes of the Irish working class. That class that labours, North and South, Prod and Taig, to produce all of the wealth of the country but only receive a pittance from the Boss's table. It encompasses the Republicanism of Wolfe Tone, the socialism of James Connolly, the radicalism and militancy of Liam Mellows, the humanity of Peadar O¹Donnell and the vision and passion of Seamus Costello.

It was this set of beliefs that attracted both Mickey and Patrick to the banners of this movement. Often there is a tendency within the broad Republican tradition for people to sanitise the memory of those Republicans who were killed in action. Patrick and Mickey were no saints -­ they had the same faults, habits, and customs of thousands of other young men living through a war. In short, they were just two working-class lads. But both also had something else, something special. They had beliefs, courage commitment and dedication. That is what made them different to the thousands of others, they looked deeper than the gloss, pushed themselves to the front and said, enough.

Take young Paddy Bo -- I didn't have the privilege to know Paddy Bo, he was born the year Seamus Costello, founder of the INLA was assassinated at the hands of the Official IRA. He grew up in troubled times and saw what was happening to his own land and to his own people. When able, he joined the INLA to play his part in liberating his class and country. Unfortunately he died at the hands of the drug dealing scum he was defending his adopted community from.

Both deaths weigh heavily on the living. Families are left with memories of the good and bad times. Friends may remember the pranks played and the days of craic and laughter. Comrades may remember the days of training and operations carried out. But what will future generations walking under this plaque know? Will they know that these volunteers were heroes of the working class? Will they look at these plaques with pride or just shrug their shoulders and walk on by?

The answer to these questions lies with this generation with you-with me-with us all today. For, to make meaning of their sacrifices and deaths we must strive to build a better world for our children. As I look around this gathering today I see many comrades of Mickey and Paddy Bo, past and present some still active in the movement, some not active in politics, some fell out with us for past decisions. To them we say, your home is with us, as it always was, in trying to bring about this new world both ideologically and politically.

Unfortunately we cannot say that what is now passing for politics on either side of the border will build a better world. Stormont is a farce, a charade, joke! A place for place-seekers, for the gin and tonic set, for the great and the good,­ for the wanes and for the has-beens, a place for the small minded, for the YES men and women to swan about in. It is an obscenity for any self-respecting republican to give credence to that administration in the White House on the hill.

And as for the Dail - the stench of corruption both from the body politic and the body holy is reaching to high heavens. All the great institutions of that ill begotten and bastard born state are corrupt, venal and pathetic.

In 1969 Seamus Costello clearly laid out what attitude should be adopted by elected Republicans to the existing parliamentary institutions.

He said, "Breaking the confidence of the people in the existing Parliamentary institutions should be one of the main functions of our TD's. They should be full time Revolutionary Organisers in their own areas.

The attitude of Sinn Fein councillors should be to avail of every possible opportunity to demonstrate that we are fundamentally different from all of the other parties and we should not yield to the temptation to let up on the attack, either for some short term advantage, or because some of them just happen to be nice people."

Seamus believed that the Republican should enter the partitionist assemblies with the intentions of Guy Fawkes and "Use it as a forum from which to advance our revolutionary ideas thereby creating a lack of confidence in the whole system".

That's why we are republicans. And more importantly today that was why Paddy Bo and Mickey were Republicans. Corruption and capitalism go hand in hand and neither can be reformed. They must be destroyed.

Neither Stormont nor the Dail but the Republic is what we demand, the Republic of Connolly, of Costello, and of Kearney and Campbell.




Index: Current Articles + Latest News and Views + Book Reviews + Letters + Archives

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of 'crackpot' than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that seem important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost.
- Thomas J. Watson

Index: Current Articles

19 January 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


Fair Trial Not a Farcical Travesty
Bernadette Sands McKevitt


For Whom the Bells Toll
Anthony McIntyre


The Republic: Of Connolly, of Costello, of Kearney and Campbell

Terry Harkin


O Bradaigh versus Adams
Classicism versus Historical Consciousness

Father Sean Mc Manus


Beyond the Border
Annie Higgins


17 January 2003


No Rights For Humans
Anthony McIntyre


The Fight For America's Soul

Julie Brown


The Bloody Streets of New York
Mike Davis


The Left Betrays the Iraqi People by Opposing War
Nick Cohen


Missive To America
Annie Higgins


The Letters page has been updated.




The Blanket




Latest News & Views
Index: Current Articles
Book Reviews
The Blanket Magazine Winter 2002
Republican Voices