Delivered by IRSP Ard-Comhairle member, Gerard Foster

Friends and Comrades, in 1966, Seamus Costello, founder and leader of the IRSP and the INLA, stood on this very spot, the most revered grave in Irish Republican history. He delivered one of the most prophetic orations ever delivered here in Bodenstown; we make no apology for revisiting his oration here today. 38 years ago Costello said of the six-counties;

In the North, the destinies of one and a half million of our countrymen are controlled by a puppet regime whose existence for some 45 years has depended on the support of British armed forces. This regime has found to its apparent delight that one of the simplest ways of ensuring its continued existence is by the furtherance of bigotry and sectarianism. Ample evidence of this policy can be found in the recent antics of a certain reverend agent provocateur.

These then are the means by which the British imperialists intend to maintain the people of the North in perpetual slavery. These are also the means by which the working classes are divided against their own material welfare.The pro-British capitalist classes who control the economy of the North know very well that, when the people reject those who foster sectarianism, their next step will be to demand a just share of the wealth, which they create. These are the real reasons why one section of the community are led to believe that it is in their interest to discriminate against another section. Never are they told that the standard of living which they enjoy, at the expense of their victimized neighbors, is theirs by right - rather are they tricked into believing that these natural rights are a reward for their support of the regime. These tactics serve to ensure that a large section of the population of the North remain loyal to the regime and at the same time do not insist on having a bigger share in the wealth.

Costello was highlighting how Britain maintained its rule in Ireland by sectarian division and social division. Of course Britain could not only have done this by force of arms alone. There are native capitalist classes both North and South of the border that have facilitated British rule because it allowed them to profit. They serve no master but money. They have been a constant block to the Republic.

No matter what guise they went under, or what Republican name they choose
to call themselves-such as Fianna Fail-Soldiers of Destiny- so long as they
were in defence of existing property relations they were and are a block to
the Republic. In every generation there have been those who have
compromised their principles, endeavouring to partially liberate Ireland
from the yoke of the British through negotiation that first required the
concession of equity instead of social equality.

We regard the Good Friday Agreement as one such effort. Sinn Fein have
reaped electoral rewards as a result. They are now the largest nationalist
Party in the North and have built a base in the South that seems
impressive. But in so doing they may well have forgotten the lessons of
history. The Workers Party once had similar success in the South. Where are
they now? When a political movement ditches it¹s principles it may well
have short-term electoral reward but in the long term it will be no longer
what it was.

It would be remiss of us at Bodenstown not to highlight that Wolfe Tone
over whose grave we stand, believed in Liberty Fraternity Equality.

Liberty includes the freedom to express your views without fear or favour.
We call on all who call themselves Republicans to recognize the right to
dissent, the right not to agree- the right to articulate minority views.
And we call on all Republicans to condemn anyone or any organization that
tries to stifle political opinions they don¹t agree with. We in the
Republican Socialist Movement have endured bitter times in the past. We
have learnt that the way to resolve differences is not to take up the gun
against our opponents but to respect their views while not agreeing with them.

We have strong differences with other republicans over such issues as the
Good Friday Agreement, abstentionism, armed struggle and so on. But we must
not allow those differences to embitter us or to demonise our political
opponents. If we call for the unity of the working class so also should we
call for the unity of republicans on issues on which we can agree? That is
why we welcome the growing openness among all shades of republicanism to
sit down together and discuss issues. We have long called for a broad
front. A few years ago we pushed the idea of a republican forum where
republicans could discuss differences in an open and fraternal way and
debate how best to move towards the Republic.

Therefore we can but only welcome calls for Republican Congress. This
movement will play a constructive role in helping to bring that about.

But what is unique about our analysis of the political situation is that we
assert that the Republic will not emerge under capitalism. Unless the
working class as a class take the leading role in the national struggle
fighting for social freedom then the end result will be a neo-colony in
thrall to international capital. The forging of links between the different
sections of the working class is critical to the successful struggle for
socialism in Ireland.

As republican socialists we support the continuing dialogue with sections
of the unionist working class. However, that dialogue must be an
exploration and examination of working class communities' views, fears and
CATHOLIC AND DISSENTER are principles, which remain the cornerstone of
republican socialism. They also represent the best formula for uniting our

Seamus Costello recognized in an article that engagement with unionist
working class was and is important but equally so there can be no exclusion
of republican socialist politics from any agenda concerned with working
class politics such as that practicised by the Socialist Environmental
Alliance in the North¹s European election; Costello wrote;

Connolly was totally in opposition to this approach. He categorized them as
gas and water socialists. Today in Belfast we have what we call ring-road
socialists. They are exactly the same type of people. They are, in fact,
the leadership of the Official republican movement in Belfast.

We maintain that any co-operation with the Protestant working class must be
on the basis of a principled political position. It must be on the basis of
explaining fully to the Protestant working class what all our policies are,
not just our policy on the ring road.

We must try and politicize them, simultaneously with conducting a political
campaign to get rid of Britain. It will be primarily an educational
function, or an educational campaign directed towards Protestants in the
hope at least that some significant section of the Protestant working class
will understand.

In reaching out to all sections of the working class including the recent
arrivals to our country fleeing economic or political oppression we must
not be afraid to face up to issues. We are told by the administrations in
DUBLIN, BELFAST and LONDON and we are also told by some Republicans that
the failed Belfast/Good Friday/Stormont agreement some how will provide not
only a pathway to peace on the island but is also a stepping stone to a
democratic socialist republic. Like Saddam¹s weapons of mass destruction
this is hogwash.

We are being asked to believe in a new Republican slogan, LIBERTY,

Equity means fairness. It does not mean equality. Equity is not part of my
definition of republicanism.

EQUITY CAN NEVER LEAD TO EQUALITY. At its very best equity will maintain
the status quo of discrimination of rich over poor, Protestant over
Catholic, white over other ethnic groups. And so will the Good Friday
Agreement. Importantly, for republican socialists the current political
dispensation will maintain, nurture and propagate the divisions in the
working class. Irish Republican Socialists will never endorse any political
settlement between Ireland and Britain, which has at its heart the
destruction of Irish working class unity and the promotion of greed and

As republican socialists we reject this process as flawed. Already in the
North we have major funders of community infra structure charged with
Targeting Social Need talking about a 'benign apartheid reward' (Urban 2 ­
Inner North Belfast, Community Empowerment Partnership, 9th June 2004).
This is at the behest of reactionary unionism led by the DUP and
unchallenged by supposedly progressive unionism within the loyalist
community sector.

'Benign apartheid' like 'secondary discrimination' is a direct result of
the sectarian social equity being delivered by the Good Friday
Agreement. Supporters of the status quo would have the working class
believe this is acceptable because the apartheid and discrimination that
results from equity is not the primary motivation but merely an unavoidable
secondary outcome of the process. In other words, northern working class
Catholics still remain twice as likely to be unemployed and homeless as
they were ten years ago! But, that¹s ok as in the bad old days of unionist
domination discrimination was direct and intentional; today discrimination
is merely a benign by-product of a flawed political process. So that¹s OK then!

Meanwhile today, working class Catholics are twice as likely to be
unemployed and homeless!! We are asked to accept that this secondary
discrimination is benign. If this is the case where is the strategy to
combat secondary discrimination?

Discrimination either primary or secondary can never be benign or harmless;
it can only deliver the continuation of inequality and division. Both are
anathema to republican socialists.

James Connolly referred to 'gas and water' socialists, Seamus Costello
referred to 'ring road' socialists in the 1970s and today we have the
'equitable' socialists or 'stepping stone' republicans. The titles may
change but the politics remain the same. All the above require unacceptable
compromises of basic republican principles.

The core values of republicanism as articulated by Wolfe Tone and the
United Irishmen that of liberty, fraternity and equality were then and
remain now the most progressive form of political thought and one that we
in the IRSP fully endorse and principles that we hold dear. We remain
determined to insure that republican socialism will be a core plank of any
progressive agenda that sets as its goal the liberation of our class, our
country and common humanity.

In his 1966 oration Seamus Costello laid out the path to the socialist

This in effect means that we must aim for the ownership of our resources by
the people, so that these resources will be developed in the best interests
of the people as a whole. Some of you may feel that these aims are
impossible to achieve until such time as we have an independent all-Ireland
government. It is certainly true that some of these aims will not reach
fruition until such time as we have an all-Ireland parliament. However, in
the meantime, you as republicans have an extremely important part to play
in the furtherance of this policy.

"It is your duty to spearhead the organization of a virile co-operative
movement among the farming community. It is also your duty to use your
influence as trade unionists to organise a militant trade union movement
with a national consciousness. In short, it is your duty to become active,
hard working members of each and every organization that is working for the
welfare of all the people and towards the reunification of the country.

As it was in 1966, so it is today.

Comrades and friends here today get out there and work for the liberation
of your class and your country.



The United Irishmen formulated their programme in response to the specific
contradictions they confronted in Ireland in their own times, but they drew
inspiration from the Republican revolutions that had taken place in America
and France. They turned to France not only for inspiration, but also for
material and military aid. We all know that this aid was too little and
came too late to enable the success of the United Irishmen’s attempted
revolution, but it is important to recognise that they sought it out.

In 1848, when Young Ireland rose, it turned to Irish émigrés for support
and it leaders, like Stephens and Mahoney sought refuge in France, where
they were active in the Republican and Socialist circles of the day. The
Fenian Rising was being organised for, both an American and Irish
organisation were established to build for the insurrection.

When Connolly was seeking support, he traveled to both Scotland and America
raising funds. He was actively involved in the formation of the SLP in
Scotland and in establishing the IWW in America. When the Spanish Republic
defended itself against a fascist insurrection, Irish Republicans formed
the Connolly Column to join in the fight there. In earlier times, the INLA
sent volunteers to fight along side of the revolutionaries of the MPLA in
Angola, trained in the PFLP’s camps in North Africa, and secured weapons
through armed revolutionaries in Europe, such as Action Direct and the CCCs
of Belgium.

Irish revolutionaries have long understood the importance of both receiving
and providing international solidarity and support, in terms of
inspiration, morale building, and material aid.

Today, the IRSP has established the Irish Republican Socialist Committees
of North America and more recently the Federation of Irish Republican
Socialist Committees Abroad, the first chapter of which was formed in
Sweden and which is drawing support from elsewhere in Europe, Australia,
New Zealand, Latin America, and beyond. The party has been active in
support for revolutionaries in Turkey and the Resistance in Iraq. It has
participated in international conferences in Puerto Rico, Italy, the
Netherlands, and Germany. It has contributed to African Liberation Day
celebrations around the world. And, the IRSP has issued statements of
solidarity with struggles around the globe.

In continuing to uphold a tradition in Irish Republicanism which dates all
the way back to the United Irishmen, the IRSP today remains mindful that
our class is in struggle around the world and that all workers gain from
the successes of workers in other nations and are obligated to defend and
provide solidarity with workers’ struggles wherever they may occur. As we
stand at this grave side today, I bring to you greetings of solidarity from
the comrades of the IRSCNA and FIRSCA. In addition, I bring to you
greetings of solidarity from the many socialist and anti-imperialist
organisations with which the IRSP has forged relations over the past
several years.

Today, as in the days of Tone and the United Irishmen, Irish
revolutionaries continue to seek and extend solidarity to like-minded
activists around the world. We are stronger for the assistance receive, but
stronger too are we for the assistance we provide.


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