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29 September 2005 Edition

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A moment of revolutionary opportunity

Jim McVeigh - former republican POW

Jim McVeigh - former republican POW

Opinion

Republican activists should seize opportunity provided by latest IRA initiative

BY

JIM McVEIGH

What a week! Indeed what a year it has been for republicans. This week again the Army has taken another huge initiative, putting its weapons beyond use. Many republican activists will be looking back, reflecting upon the sacrifices made during our most difficult days of struggle, thinking of the friends we loved and lost, and perhaps looking forward with a little trepidation, asking where do we go from here? Thinking, what is my role in the time ahead?

Let me say straight away that we stand on the brink of an unprecedented opportunity in the time ahead. The Republic is at last within our grasp. In this phase ahead and we need something like a ten-year strategy to deliver this, we can at last end partition and establish a radical republican government on the island, a government of which we are the heart and soul.

Now is not the time to be paralysed by fear or doubt. We must believe in ourselves and recognise this moment, this point in our struggle, for what it is -- a moment of decisive revolutionary opportunity.

When the Army decided upon its most recent course of action, or indeed any of its previous initiatives, it did so perhaps with one simple objective in mind — to create the maximum amount of goodwill for our cause here in Ireland and beyond these shores. Our job in the time ahead then is to turn that goodwill into real political muscle and support and then to use that muscle to advance more quickly toward the Republic. So what does that mean in real terms?

'Every revolution needs a revolutionary party'

The above quote from an Ógra poster sums up one of the essential tasks in the time ahead for every republican activist- building the revolutionary party. That means joining the party, supporting it, developing it. We must open up the party to new faces and voices and all of the energy and new ideas they can bring. That means intensifying recruitment across the country. It also means that in the time ahead we need more than ever, the wise and steady guidance of older, more experienced republicans. We must invite ex-prisoners, former activists, all those people who have quietly supported us in the background for years, to play a more direct role in the party.

What about the setting up of another cumann up the road or in the next village? We need a cumann, a republican presence and voice in every part of every city, every town, town land and village in every corner of this island.

Of course, none of this will simply happen or drop from the sky. Each one of us, each particular cumann or tier of leadership must plan for it. That means sitting down together and devising a plan of work, the who, what, where and when? Look beyond your present horizon and seize the opportunities that lie there.

Building a mass movement

Of course you can't have a revolution without the people and the job of the party is to help build a radical mass movement. That means making sure that at every level within the party or every place where we exist, we campaign. Campaigning must become a central focus of all of our party work.

Campaigns can take many different shapes, some are designed to mobilise large numbers of activists, others to create new ones, some are publicly driven and some are about networking or building alliances on a smaller scale. We need to do all of those things simultaneously. Every time we begin a campaign or join with others in an existing one we open up a new front, a new site of struggle, we make new friends, create more republicans, turn spectators into activists.

The list of possible campaigns is exhaustive. While we have set before ourselves a number of priorities, those too will constantly evolve and change. At all times we must be guided by our primary objectives. Not just the ending of partition but our absolute commitment to equality and revolutionary change.

That means in the time ahead campaigning to have our prisoners released, making the demand for truth and the end to state collusion impossible to ignore. It means placing the all-Ireland agenda at the heart of every campaign. It means pressing our demands for real demilitarisation now. It means pushing the equality agenda and demanding our rights. But it also means shifting our emphasis and prioritising other issues in keeping with our revolutionary objectives.

Campaigns

It means us spearheading and developing a major anti-poverty campaign. Building an anti-racism campaign. It means opposing with greater vigour, privatisation North and South and the running down of public services. It means intensifying the Rossport 5 campaign. It must mean that these issues of social justice become an ever-increasing focus of our campaigning energies.

How do we join these many campaigns up and deliver the Republic? This is also a challenge to republicans, to reach out, to make alliances with others, to identify those objectives that might unite us. Across this island there are other people, not members of our party, republicans, socialists, radical trade unionists, environmental campaigners, green party activists, community activists with whom we might make common cause. We must begin that search with greater vigour in the weeks and months ahead, we must begin to forge these alliances at a grass roots level, where it counts most.

Now it is time to build a broad-based republican labour coalition, a movement for radical change. A movement that can unite all of the most progressive forces on this island behind the demands for unity and social justice.

This is indeed a moment of decisive revolutionary opportunity. Let each and every one of us each in our way and in a spirit of comradeship seize that opportunity.

Ar aghaidh chun na Poblachta!

An Phoblacht Magazine

AN PHOBLACHT MAGAZINE:

  • The first edition of this new magazine will feature a 10 page special on the life and legacy of our leader Martin McGuinness to mark the first anniversary of his untimely passing.
  • It will include a personal reminiscence by Gerry Adams and contributions from the McGuinness family.
  • There will also be an exclusive interview with our new Uachtarán Mary Lou McDonald.

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