Throughout the recent Conflict, Britain and her Agents of Death regularly targeted and assassinated Republicans and Political Activists.in attempts to defeat resistance to it's Occupation. The most blatant use of this was during the 1980 and 1981Hunger-Strikes. When seven Republican Prisoners in Long Kesh and three in Armagh Gaol embarked on a collective Hunger-Strike to have Political Status restored. IRSP Leaders, Miriam Daly, Ronnie Bunting and Noel Little were killed by British Intelligence Agents in Belfast. Irish Independence Party Leader, John Turnley was also murdered in Carnlough. While former Mid-Ulster MP, Bernadette McAliskey and her husband were badly injured at their Coalisalnd home in County Tyrone. All those shot were influential members of the National H-Block Committee, an important support group which advocated on behalf of the Protesting Prisoners.
|Miriam Daly (IRSP)|
After the British reneged on a proposed deal and murderous response to Political Activism. A second Strike was inevitable that began on March 1st, 1981. Given Britain's in the Six Counties, it was no surprise that the long-suffering POWs' chose to nominate their former Leader and Hunger-Striker, Bobby Sands to contest the Fermanagh/South Tyrone By-Election. After the sudden death of the sitting MP, Frank Maguire. Sands was successfully elected with over 30,000 votes on April 9th, 1981. Even though Sands won, the British Government under the Tyrant, Maggie Thacher ignored his victory and refused to grant him and his comrades Political Status. Furthermore, she had Westminster legislate against other Hunger-Strikers standing in future elections through the 'Representation of the People Act'. Volunteer. Bobby Sands MP, tragically died a month later and was followed by nine of his brave comrades. His vacant seat was subsequently won by his Election Agent, Owen Carron. A number of other Hunger-Strikers also stood for election during the 1981 Irish General Election that June with Kieran Doherty winning a seat in Cavan/Monaghan and Paddy Agnew taking his native Louth. The election of Doherty and Agnew ensured that the outgoing Fianna Fail Administration lost control of the Government. Outgoing Taoiseach, Charles Haughey had played politics with the two Strikes but his uncaring attitude came back to bite him.
Within days of the ending of the Hunger-Strike, a UDA Gang shot and killed former Internee and Belfast City Councillor, Larry Kennedy in Ardoyne. Larry had been a strong supporter of the POWs' and Hunger-Strikers. Also shot during the attack was, Micky Lagan who had bravely tried to prevent the Gunmen from entering the Shamrock Social Club. Micky led the local Ambulance Service throughout the darkest days of the Seventies. Larry was a popular figure in the area and was responsible for helping old and young residents alike. He had stood on an Anti-H-Block ticket and like two IRSP members was elected to the City Council in 1981. In spite of Kennedy's murder and the deliberate attacks on senior H-Block & Armagh Activists. The election bug spread throughout Belfast and beyond.
|Councillor. Larry Kennedy|
Since then, more Working-Class Champions have been elected to various Chambers throughout the Country. For much of the Eighties while disadvantaged communities suffered under the crass economic policies of Imperialism. Some brave people came to the fore and challenged the Status-Quo and exposed the growing crimes against 99% of the populace. Genuine Socialists, Republicans and Democrats played a huge role in giving expression to the voiceless. The territorial, social and economic problems facing the Irish people were laid bare. As was Partition, Occupation and ongoing Oppression in the Six Counties.
Even with a strong socialist political tradition prevalent in Ireland for centuries and our hospitable and helpful culture. Most of Ireland's Political Parties have moved away from these core principles and retreated to the middle. Where they feel more comfortable and can appeal to the Middle-Class for support, votes and funds. It doesn't seem to matter, how many of our fellow citizens live in relative poverty, have little prospects of decent employment, education and a nice home. Challenging capitalist economics is not popular and does not to win votes in elections. Capitalism is constantly in crisis and it is the ordinary person who suffers its negative effects. How can Republicans like myself help change the political dynamic of our communities to benefit everyone and not just the few? What is needed to fundamentally change the course of history as the Hunger-Strikers did in 1981? Can socialist politics bring that change we all badly need in Ireland in the 21st Century?
The examples of courageous Blanketmen & Women, Relative Actions Committees, National H-Block/Armagh Committee. As well as, the recent Anti-Internment March in Belfast. Stand as not only as shining illustrations of unity. They also demonstrated what can be achieved when Republicans unite in a common cause. Each and every group represented on the march were responsible for the huge numbers who took to the streets. They were also behind the disciplined organisation of the parade. Based on the positiveness of the march, no Group or Party had it's Independence or ideology compromised or weakened in anyway. Obviously there are differences between RSF, IRSP, 32CSM, Eirigi, RNU, 1916 Societies and Independents. Although, I welcome those differences and have no problem with what each respective Party believes. Based on the above, there should be no conceivable reason why those who believe in a united democratic, socialist Irish Republic cannot come together under an independent Chairperson over the next few months.Where serious discussions surrounding forthcoming elections can take place with respect at its central theme.
In the last Council Elections for Belfast, the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) and Eirigi stood. To the best of my knowledge there were no discussions between both Parties about how best to represent the communities they desired. Which was problematic as one Candidate from each Party was standing in the same Constituency. Predictably, the votes were spilt and the outcome misrepresented the true political narrative in that particular area. I believe it is not presumptive of me to suggest that had both Parties spoke about their objectives something better could have been achieved. Had I lived in one of those districts at that time, I would have had a dilemma about who to cast my vote for? If a discussion does takes place and a proper template agreed by everyone concerned in the run-up to the 2015 Council Elections in the North. We can all have confidence that at least core Republican principles will be at the forefront of Candidates Campaigns. Agreement will also help us all to properly challenge the Parties who have failed the Irish Working-Class. After all, the failure of Constitutional Parties to end the decades of disadvantage for our communities needs to come to an end.