we applaud the courage of the organisers of tonight's
demonstration and recognise the historical significance
of the first ever republican rally in Ballymena.
years ago, ten miles down the road in Antrim, same
date, same time and same reason, a small group of
republicans, some of whom I see here tonight, gathered
with the Brendan Convery Flute band to remember
the anniversary of internment. This was the first
republican public demonstration in the unionist
dominated town; it took place against a backdrop
of a media frenzy and an incessant loyalist campaign
of murder and intimidation of Catholics across County
tonight's demonstration is restricted to Fisherwick
it was restricted to the Rathenraw estate, the restriction
did not and could not take away from the historical
significance for Antrim republicans. For Ballymena
republicans tonight's rally has the same significance.
forward 16 years, half a dozen ceasefires and the
Good Friday Agreement and what is the wider back
drop of tonight's demonstration?
media frenzy and the ongoing intimidation and sectarian
attacks against Catholics in Ballymena, Ahoghill,
Rasharkin, Antrim and Cloughmills. Catholics still
remain twice as likely to be unemployed as their
Protestant neighbours. Discrimination in Public
housing allocations is rife, with Catholics unable
to get homes in certain areas despite there being
empty houses. In Ballymena today, it's still a case
of keeping your heads lower than a Larne catholic.
stated that, it would be wrong to classify all Unionists
and Protestants as supporting the above repression,
we recognise those who from the unionist tradition
who wish to represent the face of modern unionism
and engage in positive dialogue in an attempt not
only to achieve peace but also to improve the lot
of their own community. Those from the unionist
tradition who recently offered and indeed did help
to clean up the chapel after another sectarian attack
in Ballymena are to be applauded for their courage
IRSP considered carefully the request for a speaker
from the organisers of tonight's demonstration,
we are not strictly a nationalist political party,
we have very little in common with the 'hibs' and
chapel gate politics, so speaking at what the media
have dubbed a 'nationalist' demonstration caused
some debate within the Party.
are however Irish Republican Socialists with a proud
history of standing shoulder to shoulder with the
oppressed, marginalised and censored among the Irish
working class, this is a demonstration for rights,
human rights, civil rights and national rights.
No more second class Irish citizens, whether it's
in Dublin or Galway, Antrim or Ardoyne, Ballymurphy
the issue of rights is to be addressed, it has to
be for everyone and not a geographical lottery where
isolated communities are left at the mercy of reactionary
British forces. That is why we decided to accept
tonight's invitation to speak.
anniversary of the introduction of internment by
the British at the behest of Faulkner's government
is nothing to celebrate; the date is carved into
the collective memory of the oppressed of the occupied
six-counties, as the date when republicans, socialists,
trade unionists, nationalists and dissenters were
dragged from their beds by the British Army to face
torture, imprisonment and an uncertain future. Indeed
no one returned from internment unaffected by its
Republican Socialists we don't celebrate the 9th
of August, as Republican Socialists we remember
this as the date when the Brits tried to smother
the struggle for Irish freedom. They failed! The
struggle continues today and will continue as long
as Britain continues the occupation of the six-counties.
The struggle as we know it, has changed and those
who refuse to acknowledge those changes and adapt
their struggles to engage with the modern manifestation
of the British occupation in Ireland, no matter
how well intentioned and historically valid, will
let us be clear, whichever form our struggle takes,
whichever tactics we use, the republican socialist
struggle will continue until this state is smashed
and our class and our country are free.
republican socialist movement accepts the need for
changed tactics in a rapidly changing world. But
changed tactics don't mean changed principles. We
stand by the Republic of James Connolly and Liam
Mellows. Only when the Irish working class achieves
full economic and political freedom will we say
that the struggle is over. Let me be clear on this
point the INLA will only disarm when that objective
continues in modern Ireland today, both north and
south. Whilst we join with others to welcome home
Sean Kelly and the Columbia three, their freedom
remains a concession to a political party, there
are other 'internees' in Ireland. The continued
detention by the Free State government and Michael
McDowell of republican socialist Dessie O'Hare is
a disgrace and a direct denial of his human rights.
We call on the Dublin government to release him
to his family immediately.
the jails in Ireland are filling up with asylum
seekers who come to these shores fleeing persecution
and seeking work and shelter. Instead they end up
detained indefinitely, in detention centres having
committed no offences. FAILTE
In Mayo we have five Irishmen detained at the behest
of a multi-national oil company for trying to protect
their land, - our land - Ireland, from exploitation.
What price now for Rockall? Free the Rossport Five!
the illegal detention by the USA of thousands of
detainees from across the Middle East at Guatanimo
bay is immoral and an affront to human rights. Across
Iraq and Afghanistan ordinary working men and women
are imprisoned without trial or evidence by the
hands of an illegal occupying power that is the
Anglo/ American axis in the Middle East. These detentions
continue as the west murders its way through these
sovereign countries, plundering their oil resources
or stealing land for oil pipelines.
occupation, exploitation, corruption, murder, internment
these are the tools of western democracy, of capitalism.
The tools that they use with abandon against the
poor, the defenceless and the starving with across
IRSP and the working class from across Ireland will
not be lectured and moralised at by national governments
whose hands drip with the blood of those who cannot
defend themselves. They bring shame on the very
democracy they talk about defending. From Ballymena
tonight we send this message: To Britain - To America
our message is clear- Out of Ireland - Out of Iraq
- No war, but the Class war!
On the 28th of January 1994, a crisp Ballymena morning,
I stood in Fisherwick Gardens outside the home of
Cormac McDermott. Cormac had been murdered the previous
night by the UVF; I stood with his father-in-law
Councillor Willie Cunning waiting to for the RUC
forensics to leave. They left after awhile leaving
behind them spent ammunition, fragments of Cormacs
hair, blood and bone still clung to the bullet,
evidence if any was needed that there would be no
comprehensive RUC investigation into this sectarian
murder. Cormac was murdered because he was a Ballymena
catholic, who was not prepared to keep his head
down, his 'crime' to sell republican newspapers.
Murder the ultimate form of censorship!
years on from Cormacs murder, they have failed;
we stand in the same street, delivering the same
message that he lost his life for, Irish Unity,
Irish Freedom and no more second class citizens.
Onwards to the Socialist Republic - Brits Out!
us look to a higher motive than praise or profit
- to promote truth and labour together, as Irishmen,
bound by love of country, which is far higher and
stronger tie than any human obligation." -