Ruairi O' Bradaigh Eulogized

Ruairí Ó Brádaigh - Cuimhneachán

Statement by Des Dalton, President, Republican Sinn Féin, on the death on June 5 of Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, Patron and former President, Republican Sinn Féin. 

Ruarí Ó Brádaigh: Robert White's biography of a Republican idealist

What is an Irish Republican

Click here for documentary relating to O'Bradaigh  

Click here for video of Ruairí Ó Brádaigh speech at the 1986 Provisional Sinn Fein's Ard-Fheis

Ruairi O’Bradaigh - Daily Telegraph

Ruairí Ó Brádaigh - Cuimhneachán

Anyone who has ever navigated the ocean sea understands the importance of the North Star, that constant in the firmament, which enables the sailor, ideally with the assistance of a sextant, to know the latitude of his travels.  There are very few such constants in the human experience, especially, since the occasion of Original Sin, among men.  

Every once in a great while, a man emerges, whose example is as constant as the North Polar Star, in spite of the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.”  Bishop Fulton J. Sheen used to remind us that there is a real difference between right and wrong, “Right is still Right, even if no one is Right, and Wrong is still Wrong, even if everyone is Wrong.”  

Ruairí Ó Brádaigh was there, throughout the second half of the twentieth century, and on, through his last breath on the 5th of June 2013, into the twenty-first, reminding, through example, of the rectitude of the men and women of 1916, and of their Easter Monday Proclamation of the Irish Republic.  Respecting the democratic will of the people as expressed in the 1918 general election (a virtual national-self determination plebiscite), which elected deputies then formed An Chead Dáil Éireann, which assembly, without foreign let or hindrance, pledged its alliegance to the Irish Republic Proclaimed in 1916, and then, following the American example of the 4th of July 1776, Declared, to a candid world, the Independence of that Irish Republic, Ruairí also pledged his allegiance to that All-Ireland Irish Republic.    

As an educator, himself, Ruairí understood that an electorate, like a conscience (or, as above, a navigator), is only a reliable guide when properly informed.  Even though the Irish Republic of 1916 had been driven underground by “outrageous fortune,” and replaced, de facto, with a 26-county neo-colonial state, and the 6-county “occupied Ireland” statelet, he, in part inspired by the example of his own father, and in part by Ireland’s old tradition of nationhood, he, not unlike Pádraic Pearse, determined, at a very early age, to a life of service, to restore Ireland to is place among the nations of the world, to bring about the realization of the bright dream of 1916.  Beginning his public life in 1950, he consistently set the example of loyalty to that ideal.  Working secretly (beginning in the IRA in 1951), as well as in the open, he set the example, and preached only the Gospel of Tone, of Emmet, of Rossa, and of Pearse.      

Ruairí’s devotion to duty was single-minded and with steely determination, but his persona was generally a most charming and persuasive exterior.  As we traveled around Ireland in his old grey car, or in whatever car I had rented, it was always an education, not unlike walking the streets of his Jewel and Darlin’ Dublin with Éamonn Mac Thomáis. 

There was no end to the stories, always insightful, informative stories, not intended for entertainment, as much as for education.  He seemed to know everyone, and everyone seemed to know him.  It could be a car repair shop in the Midlands, and a nearby restaurant for a cup of tea while a broken windscreen was replaced, or a place in the wilds of Conamara, which The Tall Fella had once used as a safe house.  A private meeting could have been arranged with a French jurist, of international reputation, at The Castle Hotel, or with some other interesting people in the Skeffington, within sight of Liam Mellows’ statue on Eyre Square in the City of the Tribes.  I witnessed mutual respect, understanding and genuine affection between Ruairí and so many real people.  For my part I developed some lasting friendships with men, to whom I was introduced by Ruairí - one of whom named one of his sons Ruairí Ó Brádaigh Mooney.

Ruairí always seemed to be on duty.  Once we were to meet the family in Dublin of an American attorney, who was active in the Cause in New York.  We arrived early, it was raining, Ruairí got out of the car to stand under the overhang of a building, whilst I sat in the car.  A man came along and said to him, “Ó Brádaigh, tusa?”  Which was followed by ten minutes of conversation, totally as Gaedhilge, when your man said to Ruairí (still in Irish), “I’m here to meet a Yank from New York called Liam Ó Murchadha.” Whereupon Ruairí pointed to me, and I still sitting in the car this entire time.  No matter what the occasion, including that cup of tea (accompanied by a pile of spuds - you would think we were farmers just come in from turning the hay), Ruairí was always the brilliant, but respectful, conversationalist.  Yet as I listened to him charm (and educate) the house, there was never a wasted word.  

Once I asked him if he were ever off duty, he responded, saying, “I’ll bet that you think Ireland is a country.”  To which I responded, “Of course I do.”  “It’s not,” he relied, much to my astonishment, “Ireland is a large village, and sooner or later, everyone knows everyone else’s business.  Which is why we must always be conscious of setting the right example.”  After a slight pause, he added, “Besides, if I failed in my duty, anywhere, Patsy would hear of it, and tell me about it.”  There were two points to this exchange, the obvious one regarding his sense of duty, and the more subtle one that his wife, Patsy, was his confidant and secret counsellor in all things - in many ways part of the secret of his amazing successes, against outrageous odds.  He also confided that, when he would travel with Daithí Ó Conaill, that Ó Conaill was so straight, that, if he thought that a joke Ruairí had told might have been, in the slightest, inappropriate, Ó Conaill would later, privately, take him to task for it.

What were at work for Ireland were two teams: privately, Ruairí and Patsy; publicly Ruairí Ó Bradaigh and Daithí Ó Conaill.  Ó Brádaigh and Ó Conaill (assisted by Seán Ó Brádaigh, publicity director and the brother of Ruairí, who also had an uncanny ability to advise on how to avoid virtual land mines) were the intellectual dynamic duo of the Irish Republic, who would have Ireland, as Pearse said of O’Donovan Rossa, “as we would surely have her, not Free merely, but Gaelic as well, not Gaelic merely, but Free as well.”    While they were the intellectual leaders of the Irish Republican movement, they were not prideful of their position, but rather were continuously seeking input from a variety of others.  On one occasion I witnessed them consulting with Nobel Laureate Seán Mac Bride, at Mac Bride’s home.  In the crafting of the Éire Nua plan, they called upon, extensively, the legal counsel of the late Caoimhín Campbell of Galway.  The point here is that neither man was on an ego trip, but both sought the best advice they could find, because they desired whatever was best for Ireland, and they had a prejudice in finding it in the culture and ancient institutions of Ireland, before any foreign “-ism” or imports – including unbridled capitalism and state-imposed socialism.

The danger of foreign influence, of attempts to involve Ireland, on one side or another of the Cold war, was real.  Just as in the early years of the twentieth century Irish nationalists would proclaim, “We serve neither King nor Kaiser,” it could have been said by Ó Brádaigh and Ó Conaill – Irishmen of one allegiance only, in the 1950s, and subsequently, “We serve neither Crown nor Kremlin.”  It was KGB/Communist influence among some members of what would become the “Stickies,” in addition to the question of the traditional policy of Abstention, which contributed to the 1969/70 “Provisional” - “Official” split in the Republican movement.  Ó Brádaigh and Ó Conaill, led other Irish Republicans, in defence of Ireland’s old tradition of nationhood, in opposition to all foreign attempts (English, Soviet, or otherwise) to control the Republican movement, or to violate Irish neutrality.    

Éire Nua is an intellectual tour de force; while it seems simple enough, it is the result of slow (almost evolutionary) and deliberate research and discussion.  Yet it is a revolutionary departure from the capitalist and socialist foreign systems, which, sooner or later, fail to deliver the promised joy.  While Ruairí Ó Brádaigh deserves to be remembered for a variety of things, including his physical courage as a military leader, the Éire Nua plan may be among his most lasting contributions (analogous to the relationship of James Madison to the Constitution of the United States). 

Ruairí Ó Brádaigh was exceptionally mindful of “Ireland’s exiled children in America” and of their potential to assist the Cause of Irish Freedom.  He testified before a committee of the United States Senate, and lobbied the Congress.  He traveled extensively, building the morale of, listening to, and advising (not dictating to) the “Yanks” who wished to make a meaningful contribution.  He was no stranger to Our Lady of Refuge Parish in The Bronx.  Only for Ruairí, on the recommendation of Mike Flannery in a meeting on Fordham Road, introducing us, I might never have met the late Dave Burke of Lawrence, Massachusetts (who became one of my dearest friends), and never have succeeded Dave as Editor of the National HIBERNIAN DIGEST.  My story, I am certain, is not unique.   

This remembrance began with an analogy to the North Star and how its constancy, measured with accuracy through the use of a sextant, becomes an invaluable aid to navigation.  While the corpus of Irish Republican ideology, the definition of Freedom, may be found in the words of Tone, Emmet, Lalor, Mitchel, Rossa and Pearse; the teaching, and the example, of Ruairí Ó Brádaigh has provided us with the instrument to measure, with great accuracy, the present degree of orthodox adherence to the Fenian Faith.  

Like Mike Flannery, who was “out” with his older brother in 1916, and who fought in the Irish War for Independence, and in the Second Defence of the Republic, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, with the blessing of Commandant General Tom Maguire, last surviving member of the Second Dáil Éireann, and other associations, provides continuity within the Irish Republican movement. 

It is fortunate that the stature of Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, who could never be purchased nor intimidated, has been recognized by a number of serious writers and historians – today’s Ireland, as well as future generations, will be in their debt; I will mention only three: J. Bowyer Bell, The Secret Army: The IRA 1916 - …. (also recommended to me by old Joe Clark, a member of the Árd Comhairle of Sinn Féin, Sráid Caoimhín in 1971, who had commanded the defence of the Mount Street Bridge in 1916, “it’s all here, and he’s got it right”); Ed Moloney, A Secret History of the IRA (former Northern Editor of The Irish Times and the Sunday Tribune, now living in New York); Robert W. White, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh: The Life and Politics of an Irish Revolutionary (Dean of the Indiana University School of Liberal Arts and Professor of Sociology at Indiana University - Purdue University, Indianapolis).  

While we are all saddened that Ruairí has been taken from us, we should, in the words of Pádraic Pearse, speaking of Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, be “in exaltation of spirit that it has been given to us to come … into so close a communion with that brave and splendid Gael.”  Ruairí’s death on the 5th of June is doubly significant: June 5th is the birthday of another great Irish Patriot / Revolutionary, James Connolly; also, June 5th is the anniversary of the great Irish victory at the Battle of Benburb (1646).  If he couldn’t remain with us, then at least he had the opportunity, in Heaven, of observing June 5th in the company of the likes of James Connolly and of Eoghan Ruadh Uí Néill - “Owen Roe.”†

Ar dheis lámh Dé go raibh a anam uasal

Liam Ó Murchadha, do scrí

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Statement by Des Dalton, President, Republican Sinn Féin, on the death on June 5 of Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, Patron and former President, Republican Sinn Féin. 

Ruairí Ó Brádaigh was a towering figure of Irish Republicanism in the latter half of the 20th century. He came to embody the very essence of the Republican tradition, setting the very highest standards of commitment, duty, honour and loyalty to the cause of Irish freedom.

Since 1950 he served at every level of the Republican Movement, and from 1956 took on the onerous responsibilities of national leadership with only a short interval, up to the present day. Ruairí was a man of immense capability both as a politician and as a soldier. He holds the unique distinction of serving as President of Sinn Féin, Chief of Staff of the Irish Republican Army and from 1957 to 1961 as a TD, representing Longford/Westmeath.

At critical junctures in the history of the Republican Movement, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, along with his close friend and comrade, the late Dáithí Ó Conaill, manned the gap against the forces of reformism who sought to convert a revolutionary movement of national liberation into a mere constitutional political party, first in 1969/70 and once again in 1986.

For Ruairí the essential principles of Irish freedom were clear and marked the political course to be followed. He dismissed any cult of the personality, warning always of the inherent dangers of following merely the man or woman over the cause of Irish national independence. At a time when our sense of identity is being steadily eroded, when our people are discouraged from taking pride in their history or culture Ruairí Ó Brádaigh was a tireless champion of the Irish language viewing it as the cornerstone of our unique identity as a nation.

Like Pádraig Mac Piarais he believed in an Ireland that was: not only free but Gaelic as well; not only Gaelic but free as well.

As an Irish Republican he believed passionately in Theobald Wolfe Tones vision of substituting the denominations of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter with the common name of Irish man and Irish woman.

He played a leading role in formulating the ÉIRE NUA proposals for a four-province Federal Ireland, which was based on the principles of true decentralisation of decision-making with full particatpory democracy involving all sections of the Irish people as trust founders of a New Ireland. Such a democratic template would provide the Unionist minority with a New Ireland with real political power and decision-making. He was among the Republican leaders who met representatives of loyalism and unionism at Feakle, Co Clare in 1974 and later strongly supported the MacBride/Boal talks, which were eventually sabotaged by a 26-County Government Minister.

Such was Ruairís commitment to the principles of a non-sectarian and pluralist Ireland that he and Dáithí Ó Conaill stepped down from the positions of President and Vice President respectively of Sinn Féin when ÉIRE NUA was dropped as a policy document to further the agenda of a reformist clique operating within the Republican Movement in the early 1980s.

For Ruairí Ó Brádaigh there could be no temporising on the issue of British rule in Ireland. Drawing on the lessons of Irish history he recognised that it constituted the root cause of conflict and injustice for the Irish people. In opposing the 1998 Stormont Agreement he rightly viewed it as a flawed document serving only to copper-fasten British Rule while also institutionalising sectarianism, thereby further deepening the sectarian divide. Ruairí Ó Brádaighs analysis has since been bourne out by a number of independent studies which have shown an increase in sectarianism in the Six Counties in the years since 1998. The economically and politically oppressed and partitioned Ireland is far removed from the vision of a New Ireland, which inspired Irish Republicans such as Ruairí Ó Brádaigh.

In an introduction to the biography of Ruairí Ó Brádaigh written by Professor Robert White, the journalist Ed Moloney described Ruairí as the last, or one of the last Irish Republicans. Whilst the tribute was well intentioned the case is quite different. It is because of the lifes work of Ruairí Ó Brádaigh that he is not the last Republican but has rather ensured the continuity of Irish Republicanism, passing on the torch to succeeding generations.

We in Republican Sinn Féin are proud to remember him as our President and later our Patron, as a man of great intellect, coupled with great humanity and empathy for the oppressed both in Ireland and internationally. We salute his memory and pledge our resolve to honour him by continuing his work, guided by the same principles and maintaining the same high standards of integrity, truth and that marked Ruairí Ó Brádaigh as man and patriot. We extend our profound sympathies to his wife Patsy, and the Ó Brádaigh family. Ar dheis dé go raibh a anam dílis.

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Ruarí Ó Brádaigh: Robert White's biography of a Republican idealist 

Book Review by  Seaghán Ó Murchú . 9 May 2006

SOURCE: The Blanket

 When 8-year-old Ruarí Ó Brádaigh was getting ready for school, February 7,  1940, his father pulled out his pocket watch. He commanded Rory and his  sister, when the big hand hit nine: 'Kneel down and say your prayers. Two  Irishmen now lie into quicklime graves in Birmingham.' (27) Peter Barnes and  James McCormick had been hanged for the 1939 Coventry bombings-neither IRA  man had been directly responsible for the premature detonation that killed  innocents, but victims had to be found. Such drama often entered Rory Peter  Casement Brady's days, told in Robert W. White's biography. (Chesham,  Bucks.: Combined Academic Publishers/Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2006; £20/$30)  Matt Brady, Rory's father, had been wounded in 1919; his life was saved by  Seán Mac Eoin-no friend of the Irregulars in later years, but a loyal friend  to one particular Volunteer, no matter his side in the Civil War. Matt died  in 1942 from these slowly lethal wounds. This symbolizes the world into  which Ballinamuck, Longford's Rory grew: one in which republican ideals were  lived, even if and certainly until death-even if they killed you.
 White, who has written a curiously difficult to find (at least in my  experience; having long sought the book in vain, I finally was able to  photocopy it after it finally had been retrieved after being 'on the run'  long from a university library) 'oral and interpretative history' of the  Provos (Westport CT: Greenwood P, 1993), here has the clout of Indiana UP  and its British distributor to publicize what I hope will find its place on  many shelves, public or private: as his subtitle claims, this is a  comprehensive examination of 'the life and politics of an Irish  revolutionary.' In 436 packed pages, White scours every scrap of  information. He has excavated primary material, challenged previous claims  in print with new evidence, and verified the claims documented from lengthy  interviews with RÓB and many other Republicans-although Adams "and others"  refused, Danny Morrison consented once--by secondary accounts and other  witnesses whenever feasible. His extensive notes record his careful  scholarship. His text flows without the impediments of many academics. His  insights unfold easily, without bravado, sentiment, or editorializing. When  White differs with RÓB, he lets his findings make the counter-argument  rather than himself directly. Subtly and meticulously, what emerges is the  clash of principles with pragmatism within the Republican movement over the  past half-century and more.
 While we have had lately solid biographies of Adams (Sharrock & Davenport),  McGuinness (Clarke & Johnston), and Brendan Anderson's of Joe Cahill (also  reviewed by me in The Blanket), we until now have lacked a substantial  presentation of the supposedly more traditional Republican thinker and  activist who, since 1986, has found himself and RSF on the fringes of the  Movement after having been shunted aside in maneuvers that began at least a  decade before. Many readers of this review surely recall how the Northern  contingent, eager to carry on a more sectarian campaign that targeted  Loyalists and therefore gained a tit-for-tat revenge against their enemies,  undermined the power of Dáithí Ó Conaill (deserving of his own biography  certainly!) and RÓB. Belfast and Derry defeated Dublin and the 26 County  base that had sustained the Movement for most of the past century. White  analyses how these tactics evolved, and fair-mindedly provides his account  of how RÓB--in his advocacy of the Éire Nua programme that advocates  co-operatives, small-scale and localized control of resources, and  federalism allowing provincial autonomy and grassroots representation as  much as possible within a united island under democratic socialism-proves  himself contrary to stereotype the truly "revolutionary" socialist.  Alongside future Sticks and IRSP and Workers' Party founders, RÓB labored  in the early 60s, after the collapse of the Border Campaign, to provide a  political foundation for the military response to imperialism. He argued  against the allure of a consumer-driven, EU-directed, market economy all too  willing to weaken the Irish language and native culture to advance a  specious Ameropean (to adapt a later term from his one-time advisor Desmond  Fennell ) hegemony.
 His interests in anti-colonial and national liberation campaigns displayed  his eagerness to learn from like-minded radicals all over the world. His  ecumenical approach also inspired more local ties: the mid-60s Wolfe Tone  Society, White reminds us, had Belfast's Protestants as its target audience.  Despite the damage it ultimately caused to his career by more narrow-minded  activists intent on revenge and not only community defense, RÓB refused to  pigeonhole himself any more with Catholics than with Communists. While his  open-minded willingness to listen to Loyalists and to invite them into his  model of a Dáil Uladh met with antagonism from both sides of the sectarian  divide in the 1970s, RÓB had long preached against, as he had discussed in  1959 with Seán Cronin, the dangers of the IRA turning into a  'self-perpetuating religious sect' rather than an 'instrument of freedom in  Ireland.' (8
 He reminds us of RÓB's early creation, in the mid-1970s, of what would  become SF's foreign policy, and of his subject's careful diplomacy that  established ties with other European and Third World liberation struggles.  He was an early proponent of outreach to women's interests, and of an  alternative government-through a provincial Dáil that was attempted to  accompany the advocacy of Éire Nua as the official policy of SF from about  1972 on until its abandonment was forced by Morrison. SF's publicist  famously belittled ÉN as 'a sop to loyalism' in the same 1981 Ard Fheis  speech that boasted of the armalite and the ballot box's two-handed  ascendancy as the iconography of a Northern-controlled Movement. As White  quotes Ed Maloney's phrase for this rejection of federalism that sought to  protect Loyalist self-government at the devolved level within a democratic Republic, the scorn heaped upon RÓB and his supporters revealed the  Northerners' weakness: they stooped to destroy federalism through 'the  ultimate sectarian analysis'. (284) Maloney also provides a forward (dated  April 2005) to this biography in which he summarizes that 'while Adams and  his people were prepared to break the rules to advance their agenda, Ó  Brádaigh believed in playing by the rules, even though they might damage his  interests.' (xv) White diligently examines the accusations that RÓB and Ó Conaill had weakened the IRA in their handling of the 1975 truce. This  supposed ineptitude, the Northerners have long preached, had damaged the  Movement and thus justified the demotion or removal of the Dublin and  rural-based leaders. White finds that contrary to claims-only in hindsight  by Cahill, McGuinness, and Adams-that none of these Northerners circa 1975
 had expressed any of the doubts that they recalled in 1985.
 When politics beckoned in the next decade, only then did the Northerners  manipulate votes at the 1986 Ard Fheis-which added 250 voters not attending  the 1985 session who had defeated the call for the removal of the doctrine  of abstentionism from the collaborationist Dáil in Leinster House. Packing  Mansion House with their new SF recruits and manipulating the rules of who  could vote so as to inflate voting clout from many a newly-born, one-person  cumann, the majority who had aimed their rifles at the forces of the South  now dwindled as had every faction earlier that century. The 1985 majority of  161 opposed, 141 in favor of ending abstention from the Dáil turned into a  rout: 429 for, 161 against in 1986. Gerrymandering, intimidation, and a  driver failing to pick up a delegate likely to oppose the ballot box policy:  these all added up to defeat for those determined to defy entry into the  Dáil. The holdouts by the media and their Provo victors portrayed those who  would begin RSF as a stubborn rosary-swaying, gun-toting  geriatrics--foolishly naïve followers who preferred to parade their Fenian  dead rather than accept realpolitik. This fundamental IRA Green Book policy  of refusal to enter constitutional politics had also for years been backed  by the Northerners--until entry into government in the wake of the H-Block  campaigns and the hope of wider electoral success understandably swayed  Provos to cooperate with Dublin's government by sharing in its partitioned  and British-backed rule. Tempted by offers of power, promised jail release  if he informed, enduring hunger strike, threatened by injury, cajoled by the  sly, RÓB does not back down from his principles, even at the cost of losing  any chance of success to advance his heartfelt if idealistic vision of a  truly revolutionary socialism.
 Contrary to the canards peddled as fact by the Northern contingent that  defeated RÓB, White explains how RÓB despite his suits and Pioneer badge and  generally mild manner-he worked as a vocational schoolteacher in Roscommon  town teaching Irish and business courses when not directly serving as an  activist, in hiding, or seeking to advance the Movement abroad as well as  across Ireland-exemplifies radicalism. He explains RÓB through what Frances  Fox Piven and Richard Cloward in Poor People's Movements: How They Succeed,  Why They Fail reveal: weaker parties gain from disrupting the political process. Elites may respond with repression and destruction of protest. Or,  they may make concessions if they cannot easily defuse the disruption. But  the key for success is that the weaker party remains weaker! White  paraphrases that 'short of a revolutionary situation, protesters may force a  government to respond but they cannot dictate the nature of the response.'  (290) Concessions by the elite seek to lure the protesters into 'normal  political channels' so its leaders are absorbed 'into stable institutional  roles.' White shows how this trapped the SDLP on this route once they  abandoned absentionism and entered Stormont in 1974. They endorsed the  statelet's collection of overdue rents and rates. They consented to their  co-option. Meanwhile, internment continued. This example may seem tangential  in a biography. Only one other time does White bring in comparative  political scholarship. But this also clarifies RÓB. Adams and McGuinness and  Morrison laughed at the 'suits' who represented the stuffy geezers and  Fenian worshippers rather than the denim-clad fist-raising proles. White  carefully contends that RÓB would and has proved to be the more committed,  uncompromising, radical. As far back as the mid-1960s, RÓB foresaw that the  Marxists could cause a split. But, in the meantime, hoping that this  division could be resisted, he decided to work with his comrades, no matter  their allegiance, to further the militant along with the political cause.  When the breaks came in 1970 as in 1986, RÓB considered himself the truer  radical. So convinced is RÓB of his ideals that he would rather wait for a  wider revolution one day that could transform Ireland rather than enable constitutional efforts that only prop up an unjust, capitalist, and  voracious status quo.
 White cites Rosa Luxemburg and Richard Michels. Michels presents the 'Iron  Law of Oligarchy' that crushed socialist leaders of the early twentieth  century. These radicals, (White notes how Adams and his defenders had in  their earlier Marxist phase demanded abolition of all Irish private  property--against RÓB's reminder that even in Eastern Europe some  privatisation was still allowed and defensible within a humane and  compassionate socialism that refused the class-based, and demonstrably  sectarian in its application, rigidity of his Northern working-class  opponents) once they had organized and attained power, could not give it up.  The radicals became respectable. Their positions had to be maintained, their  perks sustained. Power never returned to the people in whose name the  socialists had gained their votes and earned their party's victory.
 Rosa Luxemburg in Revolution or Reform criticized reformers who promised to  destroy the legislatures they entered vowing to defeat: 'Instead of taking a  stand for the establishment of a new society they take a stand for the  modification of the old society.' (342) Such sparing citations are chosen  well. They demonstrate how RÓB's refusal on principle to enter not only  Westminster and Stormont but Leinster House, during his time as SF leader  and IRA chief-of-staff as well as in his decades of service in many other  capacities, did not bring success as measured conventionally by politicians,  but has exemplified the necessity for fidelity-dílseacht being the revealing  title of RÓB's biography of Second Dáil survivor Tom Maguire-who granted the  legitimacy of the All-Ireland 1919 Republic to the Provos in 1970 and RSF in  1986. Why is this important? The IRA claimed to be defending the Republic of  1916 proclaimed and established by the First Dáil in 1919, reaffirmed by the  Second of 1921, and never dismantled by all the voters in Ireland--despite  the anti-Treaty vote of 1922 and the defeat of 1923, no other grounds for  legitimacy existed de jure according to which the IRA could assert its  legitimacy against not only the British but the garda and the 'Free State'  army. This claim of a sort of 'apostolic succession' has often been derided  by Marxists, Provos, Sticks, and all other factions outside of RSF, even by  other dissidents from the current Provo accommodation. But White, while not  discounting its fringe mentality and the costs that it has wrested from its  investors, does convincingly present how a rejection of reformism becomes  the only choice for this brand of revolutionary.
 If the system is to be overthrown, RSF and RÓB ask as once the Provos asked  of the Officials in 1970 at their split, how can entry into the enemy's camp  and promotion as the enemy's servants be any victory for those committed to  radical Republicanism, in the spirit of Peadar Ó Donnell-a role model for  RÓB-and those who sought nothing less than a total 32-county democratic and  socialist republic? Against the Northern-led reformers, in 1982 RÓB defended  his tenacity: to implement 'Irish people in control of their own affairs',  SF could not expect to merely shuffle the personnel in charge of the  government's institutions. Admitting SF would not achieve the triumph of  their platform. 'A big and successful heave to topple and replace is what is  needed rather than tinkering with the existing system.' (289) Reformism  could never be disguised as revolution.
 This stance--parodied by the communists as naïve and lacking in the  deviousness that Lenin counseled if rebels were to poison the beast from  within, and denigrated by the pragmatists as doomed to failure within a  nation that has long relegated the mandate of the Second Dáil to the margins  of Republican histories--deserves the attention given here. White keeps his  academic distance from his subject. He balances his interviews with  citations, reflections, and a detailed grasp of the minutiae surrounding  many diplomatic, tactical, and personal agendas that have convulsed the  Movement. I might add that on pp. 340-1 he places the refusal of a vocal  group of ex-prisoners to accept the strategy of the Provos within the  context of their crackdowns against anti-GFA dissidents. White also records  violence perpetrated by those aligned with the Provos against Derry and  Belfast activists; White refers in his notes on pg. 404 to The Blanket's  coverage of repression.
 In conclusion, he depicts why and how RÓB has chosen a similarly unpopular  stance that exiles him from the comforts of power, the better to repel its  enticements and to seek realization of his dreams of a socialism deepened by  an ecological, non-sectarian vision of gaining a fairer control by all of  Ireland over its resources, its products, and its peoples' destiny. Inspired  perhaps by the canton system of Switzerland as a model for a union of  independent entities-his mother's mother was a Swiss Protestant émigré-and  by his own family rooted partially in Belfast and Donegal, RÓB never let his  idealism become tainted by sectarianism. This lost him the leadership of his  party after a decade or so of back-room deals and bitter backbiting by the  Northern contingent, but he kept his dignity. RSF thus claims itself the  only Republican party true to its legacy. While this echoes the slogans of  Fianna Fáil, Clann na Poblachta, Workers' Party, and Provisionals, each of  these predecessors has in turn entered into the government that they once  had vowed to destroy. Yet, as an idealist, RÓB claims to speak for many  silent faithful. Before the 1970 split, he observed correctly: 'the minority  is going to expel the majority.' While nobody can make the same claim for  RSF, rather than give in to the majority, this time a minority still refuses  to surrender and to 'repeat the mistake of the past.' (150) While avowedly  Republican parties earned seats, none have regained the island-wide Republic  as declared by their heirs and former comrades in 1916 and 1919.
 White shows that RÓB must live where he has chosen by such idealistic  intransigence to reside: on the outside of the castle and out of range from  the camera. Unlike Anderson's biography of Cahill, White does offer us  glimpses into domestic life, his marriage, and the continuation of the  struggle as fought by his children. You do wonder how his family survived  without him for so much of his career. At least, unlike as in Cahill's  story, the children receive names and assume recognizable identities. Too  often, no matter who's under examination, the Republican leader analyzed  leaves spouse, parents, and children outside the spotlight. While  understandable for privacy and protection, this often makes the activist  appear as if floating, his daily duties somehow rolling on effortlessly as  the kids keep coming between his stints in prison or under a hedge. White  takes time to place RÓB within his community, his heritage, and his legacy  to show how the deeply rooted ideals planted at an early age-such as in an  eight-year-old in 1940-blossom and renew.
 His local advocates in Roscommon town, no matter their differences  politically, held on to RÓB's right to his post in absentia and proved in  court that his pension had been paid into. He kept the respect of his  neighbors in Roscommon and Longford for decades. While his softer, more  humorous side was necessarily eclipsed by his bold resistance and darkened  by media eager to rank him among the world's worst terrorists, RÓB does in  these pages emerge as a man who respected even those who would betray his  principles. He does not attribute, for instance, Adams' long rise to power  to any inherent character flaw, but to Adams' choice to work within a  constitutional system that could only doom its adherents to compromise.  While the Provos succeeded in entering the same Dáil as their earlier  opponents, giving in to pragmatism to advance in the name of republicanism,  RÓB finally steps aside and watches them pass. His commitment to the same  fidelity that inspired his own forebears and continues in his children wins  out over his ambition.
 Early on, in 1966 against the communism of Goulding, Johnston, and MacGiolla  that would impel the Officials, RÓB defended his brand of less au courant  but equally, if not more, relevant social agitation. This popular front of  civil rights and Enlightenment direction had, however, to be welded to  political activism, and this strategy need not always stay peaceful if  violence against the State was deemed necessary for revolution. Those  faithful to tradition could be just as radical. White speaks for RÓB as he  contended-immediately against the Marxists in the late 60s Movement, but  also consistently ever since: 'Everyone agreed that the Dublin Parliament  was a neocolonial apologist for British imperialism. How was the person who  was willing to cooperate with that Parliament more revolutionary than the  person who refused such cooperation?' (137) A question all the more relevant  today as the Parliaments, Assemblies, and Ministries multiply that require  vowed Republicans to sign 'test case' oaths not to promote physical-force,  unconstitutional methods as their ticket of admittance into the corridors of  power.
 But, if Republicanism in its endangered purity demands no seduction, then a  few true adherents can still be found in every generation who refuse these  blandishments of power. They may be ignored as fanatics, cast out as  terrorists, or condemned as infidels or excommunicants or cranks--depending  on the accuser's own ideology. But the diehards' defiant recital of  Republican catechism learned, as Rory's was at his father's request to kneel  in honor of another pair of Fenian dead, rolls on through decades. You may reject this purity. Yet, you close White's study understanding its dogma and  why its appeal still beckons to a few stalwart activists. White's book  enables us to comprehend, if not necessarily to share or applaud, the costs  and the rewards of such an embattled faith. 

 White names Fennell as an 'important non-Republican resource' for RÓB.  (172) Fennell apparently never joined a Republican body; his articulation of  regionalism, Cearta Sibhealta activism in Conamara, and Irish federalism  found its counterpart in Éire Nua, advocated by Fennell, Ó Conaill, and RÓB  along with many others, not only Republicans but even, as White notes, a  stray Loyalist at least on occasion. I might add that according to Richard  Davies' Mirror Hate: the convergent ideologies of Northern Ireland  paramilitaries, 1966-1992 (Aldershot, Hants & Brookfield VT: Dartmouth UP,  1994), Fennell wrote for An Phoblacht as 'Freeman' around this time,  promoting ideas to be elaborated in his own publications as well as  congruent with those arrived at by RÓB through the 1960s along with and  perhaps detouring from those propagated by the Wolfe Tone Society. Since I  am personally interested in this period and possible links between these  players, I admit my digression proudly-and extra credit for White's  reminders of such disparate figures as the fate of Ivor Bell, the sadly  vilified Christine Elias, and (the awful disclosures of) Maria McGuire. He  has researched the period well, and knows when to bring in the many minor as  well as the major players to illustrate his account-necessarily it revisits
 much detail from Republican chronicles along RÓB's quest.

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What is an Irish Republican

By Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, President Sinn Féin To the Republican Movement which maintains direct organizational continuity from Fenian times, through the Irish Republican Brotherhood, past 1916 and the First Dáil to the present day, Republicanism in Ireland has a very strict, yet extremely comprehensive meaning.

In the strict sense, an Irish Republican was one who gave allegiance to the 32-County Republic of Easter 1916 and who denied the right of the British Government to rule here. With the establishment of the first Dáil Éireann in 1919 as the Government of that Republic its supporters were Republicans, just as were those who opposed the setting up here of two partition States -- Six County and 26 County -- in 1921 and 1922.

The "Treaty" States, both North and South subservient economically to Britain, suppressed the All-Ireland Dáil which was the embodiment of the Republic. For the Republican Movement then, a Republican today is one who rejects the Partition statelets in Ireland and gives his allegiance to and seeks to restore the 32-County Republic of Easter Week.

But what happened in 1922 is deserving of a deeper analysis. North of the border life went on just as it had for hundreds of years, except that now the local Ascendancy class had a private power bloc called Stormont, a private army named the B-Special Constabulary and the full backing both militarily and financially of the British Government. This power they have used unashamedly to divide Protestant and Catholic working people to their mutual disadvantage, exploiting them both.

In the 26 Counties all the symbols and trappings of freedom were gradually won, but despite limited efforts in the 1930s and 1940s, the new State remains a new colony, an example of unfinished and interrupted revolution, territorially, economically, culturally -- a model of "Neo-colonialism".

So then a Republican in 1970 is one who seeks a great deal more than just physical control of the 32 counties for the Irish people. He stands in a line of succession going back beyond Wolfe Tone to the Gaelic leaders of resistance to the Norman invasion. But it was Tone "the father of Irish Republicanism" who articulated clearly the objective: "The rights of man in Ireland. The greatest happiness of the greatest number. The rights of man are the rights of God and to vindicate one is to maintain the other. We must be free in order to serve Him whose service is perfect freedom."

Fintan Lalor likewise sought something more than mere political freedom. He spoke of "constitutions and characters and enactments of freedom," saying "these things are only paper and parchment . . . Let laws and customs say what they will, these truths are stronger than any law; those who control your lands will make your laws and control

your liberties and laws." The restoration to the Irish people of their social, cultural and economic heritage was his aim.

James Connolly maintained that "the whole age-long fight of the Irish people against their oppressors resolves itself in the last analysis into a fight for the mastery of the means of life, the sources of production in Ireland."

To give depth and meaning to Republicanism -- beyond just the right to fly the Irish Tricolour or to paint letter boxes green -- is to see the Republican objective as one with political, social, economic and cultural dimensions. The Democratic Programme of the First Dáil in 1919 which fulfilled this role has since been carefully left to one side in certain quarters.

There are many calling themselves Republicans who would be perfectly satisfied with the name of a Republic for all 32 Counties while leaving the present social, economic and cultural system unchanged -- or worse still, integrating it with the rampant capitalism of the EEC. They are deluding themselves and deluding others.

For the Republican Movement only a struggle on many fronts will achieve the Republican objective of restoring the "ownership of Ireland to the people of Ireland" (1916 Proclamation). Such a struggle inevitably gets bogged down in parliament, be it Westminster, Stormont or Leinster House, and those attempting it get absorbed into the Imperial system.

All necessary means must be used to restore Ireland and her resources to the Irish people, not precluding as a last resort the use of physical force against the British Army of Occupation. The means are, of course, only secondary -- the objective and its interpretation are paramount. For the Republican Movement the definition of Republicanism rests mainly on the nature of the ultimate goal and the condition of allegiance to the Republic of Easter Week.


First published in the Irish Independent, December 9, 1970.


In 1971, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, the late Dáithí Ó Conaill, and others authored the Éire Nua program.  Éire Nua is visionary in concept and far reaching in that it includes all of Ireland. It offers a solution that guarantees equality and the maximum distribution of authority at provincial and subsidiary levels in a unitary federal system comprising the four provinces of Ireland. It views the war in the North not as a religious conflict but as an ongoing effort to remove the last vestiges of colonialism. It sets forth specific conditions to start the process of reconciliation and unity including a British declaration of intent to withdraw from Ireland, the convening of a constitutional convention to draft a new all-Ireland constitution, the unconditional release of all political prisoners, finally resulting in a British withdrawal.

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 We have come to the holiest place in Ireland; holier to us even than the  place where Patrick sleeps in Down. Patrick brought us life, but this man died  for us. And though many before him and some since have died in testimony of the  truth of Ireland's claim to nationhood, Wolfe Tone was the greatest of all that  have made that testimony, the greatest of all that have died for Ireland whether  in old time or in new. He was the greatest of Irish Nationalists; I believe he  was the greatest of Irishmen. And if I am right in this I am right in saying  that we stand in the holiest place in Ireland, for it must be that holiest sod  of a nation's soil is the sod where the greatest of her dead lies buried. Thus  spoke Pearse in 1913, one hundred years later those words still hold true. As  Irish Republicans we come here each year to reaffirm our commitment to the  ideals passed down to us by Tone and the Society of United Irishmen.

Standing here on this sacred soil we come into communion with the  spirit of Tone and renew our Republican vow first taken by Tone and his comrades  on Belfast's Cavehill in 1795: Never to desist in our efforts until we have  subverted the authority of England over our country and asserted her  independence. This was the programme of Tone and it remains the programme of  the Republican Movement today. We are proud of our continuity of ideology and  organisation with the United Irishmen, just as veterans of the United Irishmen  endorsed and supported the Young Irelanders in the 1840s, today's movement  represents a meeting of the generations in common struggle.

The historian C.  Desmond Greaves described the reorganisation of the United Irishmen in 1795,  transforming itself into a fully revolutionary movement as a: "turning point in  Irish history". For the first time the Irish nation was exclusively identified  with Irish democracy.

 Today the Republican Movement continues to champion and lead the fight for  true All-Ireland democracy in defiance of the forces of reaction led by  Westminster, Stormont and Leinster House. The political and economic conditions  experienced by the Irish people today are a gross betrayal of the high ideals  and vision for a new Ireland articulated by Republicanism from Tone and Emmet  right up to today.

Last week we laid to rest our Patron and former President Ruairí Ó  Brádaigh. Throughout his life he was a gifted and tireless worker for such an  Ireland, an Ireland worthy of the sacrifice given to achieve it and one that  lived up the high idealism of the historic Republican Movement. The actions of  the 26-County police evoked memories of the funeral of Frank Stagg and if  anything were a testament to power of a revolutionary idea over the seeming  might of a corrupt and failed state. In life they feared Ó Brádaigh and the  cause which he served and articulated with great skill, conviction and courage  and in death they showed that the power of the ideals and ideas he espoused  lived on with the same potency as before. 

  Ruairí Ó Brádaigh was one who lived fully according to the template of  Republicanism set out by the United Irishmen. For him sectarianism was a weapon  in the arsenal of the British State and one that must be countered as forcefully  as any political or military threat posed by that same state. Along with his  friend and comrade Dáithí Ó Conaill and other Republicans, he devised ÉIRE NUA  as a means of making a reality of Tone's dream of substituting the common name  of Irish man and Irish woman for the denominations of Catholic, Protestant and  Dissenter. 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 Nationalists 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 Andrew's 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.

As an alternative 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.

The people of Ulster within a free and Federal Ireland will make  decisions affecting the people of a nine-county Ulster they will not be  dependent on the whim of a foreign parliament or government.

Speaking in University College Cork in January 2008, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh  said: "We do not want to back the Unionists on to a cliff-edge politically where  they will oppose us all the more. Neither do we seek to have them as a permanent  and disgruntled political minority in one corner of Ireland."

During the 1970s, soundings were taken with every shade of unionism to  obtain reactions. The result in all cases was similar; first choice was an  independent Six Counties. We did not think that would be viable. All said, in  that case they would opt for our four provinces idea as the most generous on  offer.

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.

Tone had realised from the beginning that an effective union of the all  the people of Ireland would be necessary to affect a revolution. As James  Connolly pointed out in Labour in Irish History what was required to bring about  such a union of hearts and minds was: The activity of a revolutionist with  statesmanship enough to find a common point upon which the two elements could  unite, and some great event, dramatic enough in its character, to arrest the  attention of all and fire them with a common feeling. The figure with the  qualities set out by Connolly was Tone and the event capable of firing the  people with a revolutionary fervour was the French Revolution.

ÉIRE NUA also proposes a new All Ireland constitution which  would be put to the people of Ireland for adoption and which would include a  Charter of Rights. A draft Charter of Rights contained within ÉIRE NUA enshrines  such fundamental rights as freedom of conscience, religion, ethical or political  beliefs; freedom of expression and communication, the right to education, to  join a trade union, the right to access adequate housing, food and medical care.  It is also proposed that the European Convention on Human Rights be made part of  the internal domestic law of the New Ireland. In fighting back against the new  imperialism of the finance capitalists of the EU superstate we carry an  alternative social and economic programme SAOL NUA. 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

SAOL NUA is based on the principle that every person is entitled to  have his or her inherent human dignity respected and every citizen should be  able to enjoy freedom from poverty or insecurity and to have access to a fair  and adequate share of the nation's wealth. All citizens should be equal before  the law and all have the duty and the right to contribute by work to their own  welfare and the welfare of society.

It identifies the essential elements of Democratic Socialism which are  required in building the New Ireland; banking and all key industries must be  brought under democratic or social control and the further development of  community banking such as Credit Unions.

Social control of capital is  essential to ensure capital serves people rather than people being the slaves of  capital. By doing so you ensure balanced development and equitable distribution  of wealth. Money must be regarded, not as a commodity, but as an accounting  system in which all participate.

We must have new indicators of what constitutes economic success to  replace the discredited indices of GNP and GDP. They merely record economic  activity in terms of transaction and movement of money, commodities etc. They  take no account of the voluntary sector, those who work in the home etc -- all  of who make a valuable contribution to the local and domestic economy. Quality  of Life is a far more valid index of human development and progress, the  recording of adult and infant mortality, literacy, access to health services,  nutrition etc.

The UN Human Development Report mission statement is clear on what  distinguishes meaningful human development: The goal is human freedom. And in  pursuing capabilities and realising rights, this freedom is vital. People must  be free to exercise their choices and to participate in decision-making that  affects their lives.

ÉIRE NUA and SAOL NUA give us a blueprint for the future built on the  sure foundation of true All-Ireland political and economic democracy.  A  New Ireland fashioned from the ideals of the 1916 Proclamation and the  Democratic Programme of the First Dáil. As Liam Mellows reminded us we are back  to Tone: Our freedom must be had at all hazards. If the men of property will  not help us they must fall; we will free ourselves by the aid of that large and  respectable class of the community  the men of no property.

We have set out here what distguinishes Irish Republicanism from those  who collaborate in the interests of British or EU imperialism against the Irish  people. Because of this Irish Republicanism has throughout its history faced the  full brunt of British and later Free State repression. But all of their gallows,  firing squads, jails and internment camps could not and never will quench the  flame of true revolutionary Irish Republicanism. However the forces of the State  have introduced a new a more insidious threat to Republicanism, one if  unchallenged threatens to drive a wedge between Republicanism and the people of  Ireland. Even those who would declare themselves as opponents of the  revolutionary Republican tradition have admitted to a grudging respect for the  idealism and integrity that underpins it.

Writing in the Irish Times on September 14 John Waters, whilst  dismissing the organisations to which Bobby Sands and Patsy O�Hara belonged to  in withering terms he still acknowledged: there was something noble and  redemptive. Over the past number of years we have seen a plethora of groups  emerge, a number of which have taken on the name of the historic Irish  Republican Army. The emergence of groupings styling themselves as Republican  who in reality are merely using that noble title to mask their real purpose of  extortion and racketeering. In some cases such groupings masquerade as  anti-drugs activists, posing as champions of the community. These  pseudo-Republican groups seek to control their communities through fear. Posing  as revolutionaries but merely hiding the grim reality that the only war they  wage is not one of national liberation but instead a war on the youth of their  own communities. The forcing of a parent to present their son for a punishment  shooting as happened in Derry is medieval and far removed from any ideal of  progressive Republicanism.

The drug gangs who peddle their wares in communities throughout  Ireland and across all classes are enemies of the Irish people. The community  and political activists who oppose them deserve our full and active support.  However the pseudo-Republican groupings that take money from the drug dealers  are no less parasitical than the drug dealers themselves. In many ways they are  worse in that they leech from the communities they purport to defend  in effect  they are drug dealers by proxy with the added insult of sullying the noble name of Republicanism in doing so.

The activities of these pseudo-Republican gangs have the potential to eat  away like a cancer at the very heart of Irish Republicanism, leaving in their  wake an empty husk with neither relevance nor credibility. Such groups have  descended into a bloody feud with criminal gangs in a wasteful and futile  exercise, which has already resulted in much needless death. Sadly the feuds and  deaths which they have led to do not contribute in any way to the historic fight  for Irish freedom. The duty to halt this slide lies with those who claim the  title deeds of Republicanism.  We have a bounden duty to hold out against  this hijacking of the Republican ideal; we must lead by example in ensuring that  authentic Irish Republicanism continues to live in the hearts of the Irish  people. It is not enough to claim those title deeds without acting on them. To  do so we in Republican Sinn Féin must ensure that a clear distinction can be  made between what represents true Republicanism and those who instead provide a  perverse and twisted parody of it.

We must look first to ourselves if we are serious about building a  credible and effective opposition to the political and economic enslavement of  the Irish people. There are those who believe that there is a short cut to this  by creating a false unity, a so-called unity based on ignoring fundamental  principle. To do so is to build on sand and any movement built on such a  foundation contains within it the seeds of its own fragmentation and division.  We must instead concentrate our energies and focus our attention on building the  Republican Movement into what Dáithí Ó Conaill described as its historic role:  It was the catalyst for the for the progressive forces of this country and  abroad who desired the establishment of a sovereign democratic socialist  Republic. We must have confidence in ourselves and our own Movement and not  relying on other groups or organisations who may on the surface provide a  certain glamour and gloss but who lack the necessary ideological depth and  commitment to the task of achieving our ultimate goal, the complete ending of  British occupation and the re-establishment of the All-Ireland Republic of  Easter Week. It is our duty to take up the torch of freedom and carry it  forward; each person has a key role to play and must be willing to play it if we  are serious about completing our noble task.

The political analysis provided by Republican Sinn Féin of the  political trajectory of the current process of embedding British rule in Ireland  has proven to be accurate. The very fact that the British Government and their  surrogates in Stormont still rely the draconian laws, secret evidence and  internment to protect their undemocratic statelet points to the abnormality of  British rule and partition. The continued interment without trial of Martin  Corey  justified by the British State on the basis of secret evidence  the  continued attempt to criminalise Republican POWs  the repressive deployment of  an armed colonial police force all illustrate for those who wish to see that the  nature and reality of British occupation has not changed.

Our analysis is  sound because it is based on the lessons of Irish history. Liberty, Equality and  Fraternity are not to be found within the portals of Leinster House, Stormont or  Westminster; they are to be found only by a revolutionary awakening of the Irish  people to their own strengths and possibilities as a people and nation. Wolfe  Tone was clear about this in his own day, he too rejected the puppet parliament  of College Green, he recognised it as merely an agent of the English Government,  an institution anchored in greed and corruption.

In words which are  applicable to both partitionist states today he wrote of the Dublin Parliament  in scathing terms: The revolution of 1782 was a Revolution which enabled  Irishmen to sell at a much higher price their honour, their integrity and the  interests of their country; it was a revolution which, while at one stroke it  doubled the value of every borough-monger in the kingdom, left three-fourths of  our countrymen slaves as it found them, and the government of Ireland in the  base and wicked and contemptible hands of those who had spent their lives in  degrading and plundering her . . . The power remained in the hands of  our enemies, again to be exerted for our ruin, with this difference, that  formerly we had our distress, our injuries, and our insults gratis at the hands  of England, but now we pay very dearly to receive the same with aggravation,  through the hands of Irishmen.

The French Revolution armed the Society of United Irishmen with the  ideological tools to formulate a democratic programme for a free and independent  Irish Republic. Drawing on that rich tradition Irish Republicanism has remained  truly international in character. Irish Republicans are not bound by the narrow  vision of reaction and reformism but by the wide and embracing ideals of  progress and the revolutionary possibility of all peoples. Our cause is the  cause of humanity and in the words of the Proclamation of 1916: we pray that  no one who serves that cause will dishonour it by cowardice, inhumanity, or  rapine.

As we turn from this honoured place we should consider again the words  of Theobald Wolfe Tone: To break the connection with England, the never-failing  source of all our political evils, and to assert the independence of my country,  these were my objects. To unite the whole people of Ireland, to abolish the  memory of past dissensions, and to substitute the common name of Irishman, in  place of the denominations of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter, these were my  means.  As Pearse puts it, here we have implicit all the philosophy of  Irish Nationalism, the very definition of Ireland a nation. I leave you with  the words of Pearse spoken here one hundred years ago:

To that definition and to that programme we declare our adhesion anew;  pledging ourselves as Tone pledged himself  and in this sacred place, by this  graveside, let us not pledge ourselves to follow in the steps of Tone, never to  rest, either by day or by night, until his work be accomplished, deeming it the  proudest of all privileges to fight for freedom, to fight, not in despondency,  but in great joy, hoping for the victory in our day, but fighting on whether  victory seem near or far, never lowering our ideal, never bartering one jot or  tittle of our birthright, holding faith to the memory and the inspiration of  Tone, and accounting ourselves base as long as we endure the evil thing against  which he testified with his blood.

An Phoblacht Abú.


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Ruairi O’Bradaigh

Source The Telegraph  June 22, 2013

7:00PM BST 19 Jun 2013

Ruairi O’Bradaigh, who has died aged 80, was an unrelenting opponent of British rule in Northern Ireland and on two occasions led splits in Sinn Fein against the party softening its line.

Twice chief of staff of the IRA between 1958 and 1962, president of Provisional Sinn Fein from 1970 to 1983 and of Republican Sinn Fein from 1987 to 2009, O’Bradaigh was a lifelong hardliner. When in 1969 the Official leadership in Dublin refused armed support to Catholic communities in the North as the “Troubles” erupted, O’Bradaigh led a walkout to form the Provisionals. And when 17 years later Gerry Adams’s readiness to join the peace process brought a vote by Sinn Fein to end “abstentionism” and take its seats in the Dail, he led a further breakaway to form Republican Sinn Fein, opposing the peace process to the end.

But despite O’Bradaigh’s refusal to contemplate anything less than British withdrawal, he at critical moments sanctioned or took part in contacts with the British. Indeed, he was regarded in London as a man of his word, and could even weigh in to limit the damage from reckless ventures, telling the captors of the Dutch industrialist Tieder Herrema in 1975 that their action served “no useful purpose”.

Gerry Adams rated O’Bradaigh “quite liberal on social and economic matters”. Yet he could be callous in the extreme, describing the shooting of a baby during an IRA attack as “one of the hazards of urban guerrilla warfare”.

Peter Roger Casement Brady was born at Longford on October 2 1932 to strongly Republican middle-class parents; his father, Matt Brady, had been wounded in 1919 in a shoot-out with the Royal Irish Constabulary.

Ruairi, as he soon styled himself, was educated at St Mel’s College, Longford, and University College, Dublin, graduating in 1954. When not behind bars, he taught Irish at a school in Roscommon.

O’Bradaigh joined Sinn Fein in 1950, and next year the IRA. In 1955 he led a raid on barracks near Arborfield, Berkshire, securing the IRA’s largest ever arms haul on the British mainland . The weapons were recovered soon after and some of the unit arrested, but O’Bradaigh got away.

That December O’Bradaigh took part in an attack on police barracks at Derrylin, Co Fermanagh, in which an RUC officer was killed. Arrested in the Republic, he was jailed for six months for failing to account for his activities.

While in jail in 1957, he was elected to the Dail for Longford-Westmeath. O’Bradaigh refused to take his seat; at the 1961 election his vote collapsed. On his release, he was interned at the Curragh. In September 1958 he escaped, cutting through the perimeter fence during a football match.

Weeks later he was appointed IRA Chief of Staff, holding the position — punctuated by a spell in prison — until the autumn of 1962. He stood down after announcing the end of hostilities along the Border. In 1966 he polled 10,370 votes in Fermanagh and South Tyrone as an Independent Republican.

O’Bradaigh tried at a crucial Ard Fheis (party conference) in January 1970 to persuade the leadership to “defend” nationalist communities against Loyalist attack. His argument rejected, he led a walkout to become de facto leader of the “Provisionals”.

Elected president of Provisional Sinn Fein, he developed the goal of a federal Ireland, with each province having its own parliament (and Ulster’s potentially a Protestant majority). In August 1971 Reginald Maudling, Home Secretary, barred him from mainland Britain.

That November, he was preparing to meet six Conservative MPs in Dublin when the whips intervened. The following March O’Bradaigh had his first contact with a British representative — a Stormont MP and former army officer. This led to Harold Wilson and Merlyn Rees — then in opposition — meeting Provisional leaders in Dublin (in 1976 Rees would have O’Bradaigh expelled from Northern Ireland, only for him to defy the order).

Released after six months in the Curragh, O’Bradaigh testified to a US Senate committee about the treatment of IRA prisoners. In December 1974 the Provisional leadership met leaders of Ireland’s Protestant churches at Feakle, Co Clare. When the IRA called a Christmas ceasefire, O’Bradaigh had talks with British officials leading to an open-ended truce. It broke down , but he had a first formal meeting soon after with British contacts. At the end of 1976 O’Bradaigh met Loyalists at their request, to see how their proposals for an independent Ulster could mesh with Sinn Fein’s formula.

From Gerry Adams’ election as vice-president of Sinn Fein in 1978, friction grew between its old and new generations. By 1983 O’Bradaigh was only its nominal leader, and Adams “reluctantly” made his move. O’Bradaigh went under protest; a serious car accident soon afterward further weakened his position.

He and his supporters formed Republican Sinn Fein, with the Continuity IRA (secret until 1996) its military wing. He scorned Sinn Fein’s engagement in all-party talks, condemned the Good Friday Agreement as a British confidence trick, and said the IRA’s decommissioning while British troops remained on Irish soil was “the worst sell-out yet”.

By 2009, when he retired as president of Republican Sinn Fein, the Continuity IRA had attracted a number of dissidents from the peace process. O’Bradaigh’s parting shot was to denounce as a “turncoat” McGuinness, who as Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister had condemned the killers of two British soldiers as “traitors”.

Ruairi O’Bradaigh is survived by his wife, Patsy, and six children.

Ruairi O’Bradaigh, born October 2 1932, died June 5 2013


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