“If you remove the English army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organization of the Socialist Republic your efforts would be in vain. England would still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs.” — James Connolly
The following statement from the Irish Republican Socialist Committees of North America was written for an upcoming centennial commemoration in Ireland of the Revolutionary Government of the Republic.
For [Irish] Republicans of all stripes the Easter Rising marks a turning point in resistance to British imperialism and a world historical event that gave birth to modern Irish Republicanism. The vision laid out by Connolly and other martyrs for self-determination was one of a nation organized by the principles of common ownership and shared prosperity.
The Republic declared in the 1916 Rising was officially established 100 years ago in 1919 by An Chéad Dáil Éireann — the Revolutionary Government of the Republic. True to the democratic and egalitarian vision of those who fought and died for Ireland three years prior, the first Dáil called for social, political, economic and cultural independence for Ireland and the equal rights of all her citizens.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of another landmark event in the struggle for self-determination, buried even deeper under bourgeois revisionism — the establishment of the Limerick Soviet. In response to intensified British repression, workers in the Cleeves factory went on strike. This grew to a general strike from which the soviet, or workers’ council, was formed. Workers took control of the city and organized daily affairs in the interest of their class. Although it lasted only a couple of weeks, the Limerick Soviet stands as a testament to the power of the working class. It also stands in stark contrast to counter-revolutionary governments that rule Ireland in the interest of the wealthy. Occurring during Easter week, it was an early testament to the legacy of the Rising and one that deserves to be commemorated alongside the Rising.
While the Six Counties remain occupied, the equally grim reality of the 26-county Free State gives credence to Connolly’s warning that simply changing the flag, without fundamentally restructuring Irish society in service of the people, will keep the imperialist order intact and on the backs of the Irish people. As in Connolly’s time, the national bourgeois gombeen [capitalists] cynically appeal to a revisionist history that robs the revolutionary and socialist character from the foundations of Republicanism. As their class has done for generations, they invoke a sterilized nationalism that serves the continued oppression of Irish workers and the plundering of their land.
On both sides of the border, the people are ground deeper and deeper into poverty by policies of austerity. And on both sides of the border, working people are driven from their homes for the sake of profit.
The 32-county socialist republic declared in 1916 and established in 1919 is long overdue to be realized by Ireland’s sons and daughters. To do so requires fighting the revisionism of both British imperialism and Irish capitalism. It is up to the current generation to push forward toward national liberation and socialism. Forward in the name of Connolly and Costello.
Up the workers’ republic!