The Workers’ Party commemorated Liam Mellows, Rory O’Connor, Joe McKelvey, and Richard Barrett today outside Mountjoy Prison, where they were executed one hundred years ago by the Free State.

Garrett Greene, Workers’ Party representative in Dublin Central, spoke about the socialist republican views held by Mellows, and how they live on in the modern-day Workers’ Party.

Read the full speech below:

Comrades, today we have chosen to focus our commemoration on Liam Mellows. From his early work as a Na Fianna Éireann organiser; his leadership in Galway during Easter week 1916; his work for the Republican Movement in the US; until his capture in the Four Courts in June 1922, Mellows was a dedicated and relentless organiser and builder of the movement. 

But his greatest legacy for us as a workers’ party today is his powerful analysis of the nature of the Free State. Mellows understood that any true Republican Movement must embrace a social programme that could bring working people to its side in opposition to the sell-out of the Republic.

He clearly identified the free state elite’s willing subjugation to the British Empire and saw it as merely a buffer state for British Imperialism. 

‘It is a fallacy, Mellows said, to believe that a Republic of any kind can be won through the shackled Free State. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. The Free State is British created and serves British Imperialist interests. It is the buffer erected between British Capitalism and the Irish Republic.’ 

Mellows’ analysis would be echoed by the Republican Congress in the 30s, and advanced to its logical conclusion by our Party – by Goulding, Mac Giolla, and Garland, who understood the need to forge a political organisation of the working class to defeat both the ruling elite and imperialism.

100 years on from the civil war  – there is no doubt that much has changed in Ireland. But there is still a direct relationship between the state, the type of state, that was established in 1922 and the many problems faced by working class people in the south – from the housing crisis created by the rentier and developer class who form this country’s elite, to the complete failure to develop a native industrial base and the total dependence of our economy on US multinational corporations.

Our Party was the first to identify the change in the nature of imperialist control and exploitation of Ireland, correctly pointing to the shift of imperialist control from Britain to the US Empire in the 1960s.

This control has become more total in the ensuing decades both economically and culturally. 

Our economy is now dominated by a small number of US multinational corporations. The Irish elite – unwilling to develop a native industrial economy – are content to hand responsibility to a small number of multinationals from whom they can skim enough corporation tax to keep the state afloat. They have handed near total authority over our economy to the United States, a state of affairs which serves the native capitalist class very well –  the developers, landlords, and financiers.

It is no surprise, therefore, to see the longstanding position of Irish neutrality being further undermined with every passing year. This neutrality, perhaps the last vestige of the republican and internationalist principles on which the struggle for independence was based, now stands in stark contrast to this state’s total economic subservience to US interests. 

 This last year has seen a relentless push from the ruling elite for Ireland to join NATO and to give support to its proxy wars. To keep our shambolic economy on its feet the Irish political elite will happily sell out our country for US gold.

In doing so, Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, the Green Party give backing to the US Empire – an Empire that has sought to strangle the Cuban state, that gives aid to apartheid Israel in its colonial extermination of the Palestinian people, that funds and uses Nazi paramilitaries and groups like ISIS as their shock troops to destabilise sovereign countries.

Comrades, as James Connolly said, ‘Men perish but principles live’. 

Many have paid lip service to the principles of Mellows over the decades but ultimately abandoned them. 100 years on from their death we, the Workers’ Party of Ireland, remain true to them. 

In rebuilding our Party and fighting for a new, socialist, and secular 32 county Irish Republic, we ensure that the principles of Liam Mellows, Joe McKelvey, Rory O’Connor, and Dick Barrett will live.