A chairde agus a chomrádaithe,

Tà fáilte romhaibh chuig ár gcomóradh ar Éirí Amach na Cásca. Tàimid bailithe anseo chun cuimhnuigh ar fhir agus ar mhná seachtsine na càsca, chomh maith lenár gcomrádaithe féin a fuair bás ar son na poblacht shoisialach.

We gather once again, as we have done each year for over a century, to remember and honour those who fought in Easter Week 1916; we come here to re-affirm our commitment to the ideals of the rising, to acknowledge the importance of the progressive and democratic vision of Pearse and Connolly and of the Easter Proclamation, and to commit ourselves once more to the struggle to achieve it.

Though we remain a proudly secular party, the symbolism of Easter has never been lost on us, nor was it lost on the leaders of Easter week, who saw in their sacrifice a moment of rebirth for the republican cause.

Our Easter Commemorations are a time to reflect on the sacrifice of our own comrades who have gone before us in the struggle for a Socialist Republic, yet they are also a time for us to look forward, to re-commit ourselves to their cause, to learn and draw inspiration from their example, to re-gather our strength and prepare ourselves to carry on that struggle for a new generation.

It is a time, also, to reassert our claim to the true Republican tradition, and to put forward our vision – the vision of Connolly and the Citizen Army – of a new Republic, a united, democratic, secular Socialist Republic.
Though we are separated now by 108 years, there are still many lessons we can take from Easter week. In 1916, as now, Europe and the middle east were being ravaged by imperialist war, while in Ireland, the workers’ movement was demoralised following the defeat of the Dublin Lockout.
The Irish working class were called upon by their rulers and by the nationalist leadership to fight in the service of empire, to take the part of the imperialist ruling class, who pitted the workers of Europe against each other.
This drive to war threw the European socialist movement into disarray, but the leaders of Easter week rejected this call, declaring proudly that their fight was against empire, and not against their fellow workers. In that time of national and international crisis, Connolly, Pearse, and the men and women of the Citizen Army and the Volunteers led by example and organised to strike a blow for Irish freedom against the overwhelming might of the British Empire.

That blow for freedom, that sacrifice, set an example that has inspired generations of republicans and socialists, and continues to do so, over 100 years later. Our own Party’s fight has long moved on to the terrain of democratic struggle, but the example of Easter week still guides our movement.

Comrades, we find ourselves at a critical juncture for the republican movement. The slowly shifting sands of demographic change, and the recent political upheavals of brexit have combined to bring the prospect of political reunification closer than it has been in 100 years.
There are many people on this island, people who claim for themselves the name of Republican, who are triumphant at this time, who believe that on the day when the narrowest of majorities has voted for unity, that the republican movement can declare victory. Yet in many ways, real national unity seems as far away now as 50 years ago.
Last month in Dublin we celebrated the life and work of our late comrade Tomas Mac Giolla, who played such an important role in setting our party on the path of republican socialism.
56 years ago in his presidential address to the 1968 Ard Fheis, he showed us the path towards true national unity: “It must be made clear”, he told us, “that republicans do not ask the people of the Six Counties to come into the existing Twenty Six-county state. We would not wish that fate on anyone. We ask the people of the Six Counties to join with the people of the Twenty Six counties in abolishing both states which serve only British imperialism, and in establishing a Democratic Socialist Republic for the whole island in which the workers who create the wealth decide how and where it is used”.
Those words are as important and as relevant today as they ever were.
They remind us that our struggle is not for the replacement of the orange with the green, and that our victory will not be won on the day when 51% percent vote for a united Ireland, or the union jack is hauled down over City Hall for the last time.

They remind us of the warning of Connolly, that If you remove the English Army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organisation of the Socialist Republic your efforts will be in vain.
They remind us that our victory will come on the day when Tone’s vision is realised, and the denominations of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter are finally replaced with the common name of Irishman.

Standing here today we also remember those of our comrades who gave their lives in the pursuit of that victory. These comrades committed themselves to the building of a true Workers’ Party, a party of all religions and of none, a party of those noble men of no property. This is Tone’s way, it is Connolly’s way, and it is Billy McMillan and Desi O’Hagan’s way. It is thanks to our comrades who have never hesitated, never surrendered, who in the most dangerous of times held the line, that we are able to say we will not only survive but we will win the day.

To honour their memory, we must continue to strengthen and rebuild our party, a party which can once again be the vanguard of a united working class, and take the lead in the creation of a workers’ republic. We must ensure that wherever the question of national unity is raised, we are there to be the voice of the working class. Our rallying cry must be that, this time, Labour will not wait.

Comrades, in the spirit of Easter, we come here to re-dedicate ourselves to our cause. In the history of our movement few better embody dedication to the revolutionary struggle than Liam Mellows. Imprisoned in Mountjoy Jail, Mellows wrote of the partitioned Free State that it was ‘’British created, British controlled and serves British Imperialist interests. It is the buffer erected between British Capitalism and the Irish Republic.’

Times have changed, and the power of the British empire has waned. On the world stage it has long since been replaced by the USA in its domination of our politics, our popular culture and our political economy. But while empires may rise and fall the nature of imperialism, and the tools of economic control and coercion remain the same.

In 1914, as the imperial powers of Europe plunged the world into war, the men and women of the citizen army had no doubt where their loyalty should lie. Rejecting the call to war, they raised their banner over liberty hall proclaiming “We serve neither King nor Kaiser, but Ireland”.

Today we again refuse to be lackeys of empire, we refuse to put the interests of our rulers over those of the international proletariat. We instead offer our aid and solidarity to those workers who resist imperialism, and those movements who fight for national sovereignty against the agents of the US empire.

As socialists we are internationalists. We take pride in being part of a larger international movement and we take inspiration from the struggles and victories of those parties wherever they occur. We defend the political gains of our class whether that is in Cuba, Venezuela, or China.

We once again offer our support and thanks to our comrades in Cuba, whose continued resistance provides an inspiration to the workers of the world, even when faced with unparalleled economic violence.

Most urgently, at this time, we offer our support to the people of Palestine, thousands of whom have paid the ultimate price for their resistance to imperialism.

The genocide unfolding in gaza is carried out with arms and funding supplied the US and Britain, and under the protections of the US navy and air force.
It demonstrates once more that the American empire is the greatest enemy of the working class worldwide.  We must dedicate ourselves unconditionally to its defeat, just as the men and women of 1916 dedicated themselves to the defeat of the British empire.

Comrades, in the words of Tomas Mac Giolla:
‘’No member of the Workers’ Party should have any hang-ups about commemorating men like Connolly and Pearse and the historic events which took place in Dublin in Easter Week 1916.’’

We remain unapologetic about the centrality of the Republican tradition and ideology to the Workers’ Party. It is the foundations upon which our politics are built.
It links us with the great thinkers and doers of the past in Ireland and abroad; from Tom Paine to Karl Marx to Tone and Connolly.

Our republicanism leads us to reject the artificial division of the people on this island. We understand the necessity of ending the partition of our working class communities as being as essential a step forward as ending the partition of our country.
We know, through hard experience, that it is a difficult task to build working class unity and so far we have not succeeded.

Nevertheless, we stand clearly and unambiguously for the unity of all working people in Ireland in a 32 county socialist republic.

Commemorations such as these should not be an excuse to bask in former glories or to rue past defeats. We gather at these events to pay our respects to a great historical tradition which has yet to bear fruit: the republican tradition. To truly honour the memories of our republican forbearers and our fallen comrades, we must dedicate ourselves to the political struggle and to building the Workers’ Party.

When we gather here to commemorate 1916, we do so in the realisation that we must go beyond it, as the great James Connolly realised even then. It is only through the socialist transformation of society that the republican vision can be fulfilled.

We have a long way to go in building a party of the working class, a socialist party, that can confront the ruling class and imperialism. To do so we have to re-engage with working class communities and make the Workers’ Party a household name again

We have to fight on the issues that matter to working people, on housing, healthcare, energy and public services, and bring them to our side.

Today, as we remember the men and women who bravely fought an Empire, we in the Workers’ Party once again commit ourselves to the achievement of a united, democratic, secular and socialist republic. Free from oppression, free from sectarian division and free from class exploitation.

This is the vision that Connolly died for, it is the vision our fallen comrades dedicated their lives to – let us honour them and endeavour to bring that vision to completion at last. Go raibh maith agaibh go leir.