published in the
Independent, December 9, 1970.
WHAT IS IRISH REPUBLICANISM?
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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".
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
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
liberties and laws." The restoration to the Irish people of
their social, cultural and economic heritage was his aim.
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."
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.
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
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.
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.
means are, of course, only secondary -- the objective and
its interpretation are paramount.
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.
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.