A chairde,

Fáilte romhaibh chuig ár gcomóradh ar Éirí Amach na Cásca, agus muid ag cuimhneamh ar fhir agus ar mhná 1916, chomh maith lenár gcomrádaithe féin.

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. 

Those who planned the Easter rising in 1916 had a vision of a new and better Ireland. However they did not live to see that vision realised as, in retaliation for the rebellion, the seven signatories of the proclamation were executed by the British authorities along with a further seven holding senior IRB or ICA leadership positions. Our Easter Commemorations are a time to reflect on the sacrifice not only of the 1916 – 1922 generation, but also of our own comrades who have gone before us in the struggle for a Socialist Republic. But they are also a time for us to look forward, to recommit 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, 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 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 Nicaragua. 

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 being carried out with arms and funcing supplied the US and Britain, and under the protections of the US navy and air force. It demonstrates once more that the US empire is the greatest enemy of the working class worldwide.  

We remain unapologetic about the centrality of the Republican tradition and ideology to the Workers’ Party. It is one of 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.

Comrades and friends, 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 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.”