Cill Dara Shinn Féin Poblachtach

RSF address to Celtic League AGM

An address to the Celtic League 50th Anniversary AGM held in Falkirk,Scotland on Saturday October 29 from the President of Republican Sinn Féin Des Dalton.

For 50 years the Celtic League has been a tireless champion of the political, cultural, social, economic and environmental rights of the Celtic nations. Our Patron Ruairí Ó Brádaigh is a long-standing member of the Celtic League and he joins with me in extending greetings and Celtic solidarity to you all on behalf of Republican Sinn Féin.

As Irish Republicans we view Ireland’s long struggle for national freedom as part of the international struggle against imperialism. In keeping with this position Republican Sinn Féin’s foreign policy – first put forward in 1976 – calls for action in three concentric circles: (A) With the other Celtic countries toward a Celtic League on the lines of the Nordic Council or the Arab League; (B) with the stateless nationalities of Europe and the working class movements in Europe toward “a free federation of free peoples” (which was James Connolly’s goal); and (C) with the formerly colonized nations and the people still struggling against colonialism such as Palestine.

The world of today presents us with huge challenges and threats. In Ireland we are being squeezed between the old and new imperialisms. On the one hand the old imperialism of British Rule is still a reality in the Six Occupied Counties in the northeastern corner of our country. Arbitrary arrest, house raids and harassment remain the stock-in-trade of the British Colonial Police in Ireland.

The past year has seen a concerted effort by the British State to silence Republican Sinn Féin. In May of this year –just days before the Queen of England’s unwelcome visit to the 26-County State – two of our members Cait Trainor from Co Armagh - a member of our Ard Chomhairle (National Executive) - and Sean Maloney also from Co Armagh -a former Republican Prisoner - were arrested and charged as a result of political views they expressed in an interview with Channel Four News in September of last year. The charge is being taken under the draconian ‘Terrorism Act’ of 2006. The arrests and charges are an attack on the basic right to hold and express a political opinion and are reminiscent of the kind of draconian legislation used by the Spanish State in the Basque Country. We are calling on the Celtic League to highlight this case internationally,

In July of this year the President and Vice President of Republican Sinn Féin, Des Dalton and Fergal Moore were arrested in Lurgan Co Armagh and charged with participating in an ‘illegal’ march in Lurgan on January 23. The protest march in question was held to call for the release of veteran Republican Martin Corey who has been interned without trial in Maghaberry prison since April 2010. Again this is a deliberate attempt to put Republicans off the streets of the Six Counties. And we must also note that this year as Irish Republicans marked the 30th anniversary of the 1981 hunger strikes in the H Blocks of Long Kesh young Irish Republican prisoners are locked in a struggle for the same right to political status in Maghaberry Prison.

All of this shows that the nature of British occupation in Ireland has not changed. The British policy of “divisions carefully fostered by an alien government” created and sustained the Six-County State. It was a state built on sectarianism, discrimination, inequality and repression. The Stormont Agreement merely institutionalised sectarianism with a resultant increase in the polarisation of the two communities. Provisional Sinn Féin on the one side and the DUP on the other are more than happy to base their political supremacy on this sectarian divide. Posing as the political face of their respective ‘tribes’.

In the 26 Counties we face the new imperialism of the IMF/ECB and IMF.

The most vulnerable and marginalised in society are in the sights of this political and economic elite not just in Ireland but also across Europe. In Greece the people have been told they must pay the debts of the financial elite at the cost of the ownership of the very land beneath their feet. In Ireland the old, the young, the unemployed and those with special needs are to be the fodder used to bolster a failed currency and the failed political project that is the EU. The political and economic reality is that the 26-County Administration are merely managers of a programme that has been set out for them by the EU/ECB and IMF. It is time to cast off the shackles of the old imperialism of London – in occupation of part of our country - and the new imperialism of the EU/ECB/IMF.

The way forward for the Celtic peoples is to build an alliance of free peoples. In this regard we applaud Scotland’s progress towards independence. The Scots, Welsh, Cornish and even English nationalities or nationalisms are asserting themselves once more. The ties which bind the “Union” are fraying, a certain momentum is building up and we all need to be planning for a better future. We also salute the ongoing struggle of our comrades in Brittany for nationhood. The old order is being questioned more and more, people are receptive to new ideas and the circumstances are opportune again. What better basis on which to build a free, united, federal Ireland of over six million people?

In Ireland we believe that our programme for a Federal Ireland Éire Nua holds the key to building a New Ireland for all of the Irish people and replacing the two failed partitionist states. Republicans have never advocated the achievement of a united Ireland by adding the Six Counties to the 26, under either the 1922 or the 1937 Free State Constitutions. We have never proposed or recommended a 32-County Free State. We have never accepted either state but seek to restore the All-Ireland Republic which was overthrown in 1922.

The central thrust of Éire Nua is the maximum devolution of power from national to provincial, regional, right down to local or community level. The Provincial Parliaments will be elected by the people of each province according to a system of proportional representation.

Unionists and Nationalist, within a nine county Ulster would have a real and meaningful input and control over the political, social, economic and cultural life of their province, regions and communities. Unlike the institutions set up under the ‘Stormont’ and St Andrews Agreements, the governmental structures set out in Éire Nua, would be accountable only to the people who elected them. Under Éire Nua the sovereignty of the Irish people is paramount.

Éire Nua offers a framework within which all sections of the Irish people are the decision makers on the vital issues for their communities, their regions and their nation. “Apart from providing a solution to the Ulster situation, these proposals would bring power nearer to the people and help to correct east-west economic imbalance nationally. Republicans submit that such structures will be necessary to ensure justice for all, including the 18% of the national population who have supported the unionist position.”

Our social and economic programme Saol Nua – A New Way of Life - represents a vision of Ireland based on Republican, Socialist, and Self-reliance and Ecological principles; it identifies the obstacles to be overcome and the goals to be reached if we are to build an All-Ireland Federal Democratic Socialist Republic.

And so comrades and friends let us go forward together advancing the goal of a community of free Celtic Nations. I leave you with the words of the father of Irish Republicanism Theobald Wolfe Tone: “Let the nations go abreast. Let the interchange of sentiments among mankind concerning the Rights of Man be as immediate as possible”.

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"We of Republican Sinn Féin are the nucleus, which represents what Emmet represented,
the soul of Ireland,the prophetic shock minority, those who are neither purchased nor intimidated."

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