"To break the connection with England" Wolfe Tone

Monday, 17 July 2017

Bodenstown 2017

In these changed times Irish republicanism must have the courage and foresight to adapt to the political environment we find ourselves in. A fundamental recognition of these changed times is an essential prerequisite to political advancement. Our objectives remain the same. It is our strategic approach to their pursuit which must change.
Political and constitutional change is all around us yet republicans have been redundant as regards influencing these changes. Despite our objections, despite our take on history the voice of Irish republicanism is a whisper in the storm.
The importance of our objectives to the Irish people demands their inclusion in any strategic framework in pursuit of those objectives. We can no longer view the republican struggle as a struggle for the Irish people but rather as a struggle with the Irish people.
In recognising the people as the nation we are duty bound to engage with the views of the people irrespective of whether we agree with those views or not. The road to the republic does not involve bypassing the Irish people.
The challenge facing republicans is to integrate our objectives with the daily objectives of our people’s lives. As we hold the people to be the nation their wellbeing and the wellbeing of the nation are one.
National self-determination and national sovereignty are the fundamental rights of the Irish people but they only hold value if they themselves facilitate the functioning of other national and individual rights essential for social equality and social justice.
If the minds of our people are on these rights and challenges then it is there where the republican narrative must concentrate. Their concerns deserve more than clichés and platitudes. We need to bring a national dimension to local politics.
Republican focus must now be centred on building a policy platform around which republicans can fully engage not only with our people but also with each other in pursuing these rights.
Without question republican weakness is due to republican disunity. This is the first task which needs to be addressed. Over the last number of years genuine and productive progress has been made in this field.
The centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising afforded republicans an unprecedented opportunity to focus all our efforts on a unified goal. Working with the National 1916 Commemoration Committee a broad spectrum of republicans set in place a template within which republican unity could be constructed.
Recognising that no republican group was advancing our struggle the focus of the initiative centred on the republican message instead. Crucial to the project was the restoration of basic comradeship amongst republicans which required that most powerful of political acts, the act of sitting down and talking to each other.
What evolved was a pragmatic plan to give solid direction to the Republican Movement over the next five years. The fruits of these endeavours harvested the concept of Applied Republicanism which brings a contemporary relevance to the republican message.
Preaching history or abstract ideology will fall on deaf ears because our people have more immediate concerns. Our task as republicans and socialists is to provide alternative solutions to those concerns in a way that demonstrates that true sovereignty and national self-determination is the ultimate solution.
But Applied Republicanism observes that the republic we strive for is not an end point but a constant work in progress. An Irish Republic will not fall from the sky nor be yielded from a so called border poll but will be built on the foundations of established rights secured by republican and socialist activism.
Republicans have always feared that social politics could distract from the national question. But the point we need to stress is that social politics itself contains many national questions the answers to which demands the removal of partition.
Therefore it is imperative that republicans and socialists integrate social and national struggles in order to achieve both. To give real expression to this task republicans and socialists have set in place the Proclamation Project as a mechanism for revolutionary political activism.
Over the next five years we will witness the centenaries of some of the most prominent events in republican history. These events will place in the national narrative issues which currently Irish republicanism would be unable to do.
The 1918 General Election, the formation of the 1st Dáil, the Democratic Programme of Dáil Eireann, the Declaration of Independence, the War for Independence and other salient events will be marked by the Proclamation Project drafting a social schematic of how we envisage an Irish Republic will function for its people.
We in the 32 County Sovereignty Movement are privileged to be working along side republicans and socialists from other groups and those unaligned. We give our analysis as diligently as we listen and engage with the analysis given by others. We are not at this table simply to convert others to our point of view but to merge the collective strengths of all views to move this struggle forward.
Our Submission to the United Nations lays down the legal foundations of the liberation struggle. But that is just a starting point. Other republicans have brought invaluable grounds to politically build on and have opened doors through which dialogue and engagement with social movements has already begun.
This initiative is a true commemorative act of the father of Irish Republicanism Theobald Wolfe Tone. His own vision for Ireland was also centred on a unifying premise. Uniting Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter was his equivalent of our imperative of uniting the indebted, the evicted and the exploited.
As an occupied country other rights come into play. The Irish people have the right to employ armed struggle to end the violation of our national sovereignty. But this right, like any other right, is not a blank cheque. Possessing a right does not automatically infer that the right be discharged nor does it automatically confer an ability to properly discharge that right. Any right which is discharged in an arbitrary or deficient way does irreparable damage to that right.
In these changed times it is not business as usual. Armed struggle is not nor can ever be the default position of the Republican Movement. Whether we like it or not the Irish people believe that the Good Friday Agreement offers a peaceful route to a United Ireland. This does not mean that they are wrong. It means that we as republicans are unable to convince them that we are right. Pointing a gun at them will not alter this fact.
The policy programme envisaged by the Proclamation Project is the proper political response to partition at this time. In conjunction with the Good Friday Agreement both Brexit and the real possibility of Scottish Independence have dramatically changed the constitutional politics on these islands.
Westminster and the permanent security apparatus which governs the United Kingdom are now in a process of consolidating that political entity. The occupied Six Counties will play a central part in those deliberations. This goes beyond a mere numbers game like the DUP propping up a minority Tory government.
Westminster too are in changed times and we need to recognise this because this will determine their political attitude and strategies towards Ireland.
From this hallowed platform we in the 32 County Sovereignty Movement urge all republicans and socialists to work as equals with the Proclamation Project to confront these changed times with a pragmatic confidence that can advance our struggle. There is nothing stronger than unity. In these changed times we need to be strong.
Beir Bua.