A chairde

Tá fáilte romhaibh go léir chuig ár gcomóradh bliantúil ar Éirí Amach na Cásca.

Comrades, you are all very welcome to our annual Easter Rising commemoration, where we remember the men and women of Easter week, as well as our own passed comrades.

It is during another trying time for the working class and the workers’ movement, both domestically and around the world, that we gather here today. There are, as ever, many issues on the agenda for us to assess and to fight on the basis of. At home, the cost-of-living crisis continues to squeeze working families. Our young people emigrate or stay to suffer as they see no future for themselves in Ireland. Stable housing remains a pipedream to many. The issue of Irish unification remains on the agenda while the governments drag their heels when it comes to planning and preparing. As the liberal establishment does little to meet the needs of working communities and to discuss the issue of migration, racist and reactionary elements have taken advantage of the situation and recruited some working people to the divisive politics of hate. Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Greens continue to drive Ireland closer and closer towards NATO, with Taoiseach Simon Harris recently committing to abolish the Triple Lock.

Abroad, the Palestinian people bravely resist Israeli genocide as the apartheid state receives the backing of the imperialist United States. This particular situation warrants special reference, comrades. Should the Israelis succeed in their efforts, the world will not be able to claim ignorance of what was going on, as it did with regards to the Holocaust in the final days of the Second World War. It is unravelling before the eyes of the world. It is important that we do not view the situation in isolation. It is part of the wider struggle of the United States to keep its imperialist stranglehold intact to maintain its hegemonic position. It is the same reason that the US and the EU involve themselves in the conflict in Ukraine. No socialist should be fooled into believing that these are uninterested parties wishing to play the role of peacemaker, nor that, despite its faults, the imperialist power is somehow the lesser of two evils. The United States is simply protecting its global interests through its vassal states. As has been seen throughout the course of the 20th century, a truly free world and self-determination is incompatible with US intervention and domination.

At a time when there is so much to be done, the workers’ movement, both at home and abroad, is unfortunately in a precarious and weak position. It does not take much reflection to realise that, as an international movement of the working class, we have never really recovered from 1991, or specifically in the case of the Workers’ Party, 1992. However, comrades, all hope is not lost. So long as we are here and we are recounting the vision of Tone, of Connolly, of Mellows, of Garland, Goulding and MacGiolla, and we are adapting socialism and republicanism to the present day, all hope is not lost.

The Workers’ Party is rather clear in our analysis. At the root of the main problems facing Ireland is neoliberal capitalism. The powers that be wish to see the state as something of an inactive observer in Irish economic life, which will only intervene to protect the interests of the capitalist class. There is no greater example of this than the housing crisis, which sees 14,000 people in homelessness, with countless others struggling to buy, to rent or to move out of their parents’ homes. The vulture funds and the private developers make their millions as the state refuses to take the lead on housing. This is because the powers that be, on a fundamental level, do not view the state as a force for social good. Despite the evidence to the contrary, they believe that the private market will sort it all out for them. This is the same for the collection of waste collection. Privatisation of the service has seen sky-high prices imposed on working people, as well as an increase in dumping and a removal of litter bins around Dublin. But so long as the state’s role has been lessened, this is a job well done according to the right-wing. This attitude is ripe for taking advantage of by the international capitalist class, the profits of which our domestic bourgeoisie are happy to skim just enough off the top of, as their contractors and subcontractors. This leaves us with a shambolic economy and a shambolic state, including at the level of local government.

Local government deals, in a very direct way, with issues that affect people’s lives: housing, refuse collection, traffic, public spaces, play areas for children and teenagers, libraries, childcare. And the central debate on all these issues is whether council policy is driven by building speculators, by private sector childcare providers, by multinational refuse collection companies or whether the policy is driven by the real needs of society, of communities, of families and of individuals. The Workers’ Party totally opposes the developer-led, private profit-led model of housing and other public services. Instead, we stand for a model of local government driven by the need to provide decent public housing, decent public facilities, and a healthy environment.

This, comrades, is what we are standing for in the upcoming local elections. Although local politics may not set the world alight, it is the level that the Workers’ Party, and indeed much of the workers’ movement, finds itself at. Before we can try to build a new world, before we can build a new Ireland, before we find ourselves in the Dáil and before we even find ourselves in our local councils, the Workers’ Party must become embedded in the working class communities that we seek to represent. This requires dedication to our cause and loyalty to one another. This election campaign is an opportunity for members of the Workers’ Party to back up our words. If we are serious about socialism, we cannot skip over the basic steps of party building. In order to achieve the support of the working class, to achieve class unity, Irish unity and, ultimately, to achieve a 32-county socialist republic, the Workers’ Party must become a strong and effective organisation made up of committed members.

Comrades, as we draw towards the end of this commemoration, we must remember the sacrifices made by those who came before us: Tone was denied his final request for a soldier’s death. Emmet was hanged, drawn and quartered. Connolly was dragged from his hospital bed to be shot. O’Connor, Mellows, Barrett and McKelvey were murdered in a cruel act of Free State revenge. Republicans of the mid 20th-century faced interment and repression. As the Troubles escalated, our comrades in the north uniquely faced attack from virtually every faction involved in the conflict, be they nationalists, loyalists or state forces.

More importantly, we must remember why they endured and sacrificed what they did: they believed in their collective ability to build up a new Republic. Each wished to see an Ireland free from poverty, free from sectarianism, free from exploitation and capable of meeting the needs of its people. Comrades, let us keep the vision of those men and women with us as we go forward.

Go raibh míle maith agaibh go léir.