1 December 2014 Edition
Inspired by James Connolly in turbulent times
2nd annual James Connolly School
A breathing space for political discussion and education in the midst of some of the most tempestuous and turbulent times in Irish politics for decades
THE second annual James Connolly School, organised by Sinn Féin Átha Cliath, was held in the Unite trade union hall in November and proved to be a lively and inspiring gathering, giving a breathing space for political discussion and education in the midst of some of the most tempestuous and turbulent times in Irish politics for decades.
The Unite hall is where the National Right2Water Committee meets so it was appropriate that the school met there this year.
Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Lynn Boylan spoke of how the issue of water is not confined to Ireland and that across the EU people are resisting the drive by capitalism to privatise and profit from this most basic human necessity. Lynn gave us a sense that the struggle for the right to water in this country is far from isolated internationally, something that needs to be stressed more in the campaign.
Dublin City Councillor Daithí Doolan, who represents Sinn Féin on the Right2Water National Committee, pressed the need to focus on the campaign in the vital weeks and months ahead as the Fine Gael/Labour Government tries desperately to roll back the tide of mass public resistance to water charges.
• Daithí Doolan and James Connolly Heron
The truly appalling consequences for families and individuals of the housing crisis, especially in Dublin, was made clear by Councillor Críona Ní Dhálaigh, Cathaoirleach of Dublin City Council’s Housing Committee.
She said we need to build a campaign for housing and to help organise those affected, including the thousands on the local authority waiting lists, people being forced out of their homes by rent rises, as well as people at risk of homelessness due to mortgage debt.
Journalist, An Phoblacht columnist and political activist Eoin Ó Murchú gave a fascinating insight into the Dublin Housing Action Committee of the 1960s, in which republicans such as himself were active.
• Lynn Boylan, Barry Lyons and Aengus Ó Snodaigh
He pointed out that while the extremes of poverty may not be as great now, the current crisis is no less grave for families who are forced to live in emergency accommodation in hotel rooms and even in cars, compared to the army barracks used in the 1960s.
James Connolly’s great grandson, James Connolly Heron, spoke on the battle to save Moore Street and on the forthcoming centenary of the 1916 Rising.
In a passionate address he compared the elite in Irish society in our time who “sacrificed their country for their lifestyles” to the men and women of 1916 who “sacrificed their lives for their country”.
Barry Lyons of the 1916 Relatives’ Association urged everyone to keep pressure on the Government on the issue of Moore Street. (A few days after the school we saw the Government unveil its insult to the men and women of 1916 with the so-called centenary video which does not even mention the Rising!)
Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD gave an historic talk on James Connolly and the Irish Citizen Army. He spoke of its origins in the 1913 Lockout and the efforts to build it into what became a small but highly efficient and politicised force. The republished book which Aengus prepared for publication by Sinn Féin and An Phoblacht – The History of the Irish Citizen Army, by R. M. Fox – is available from the Sinn Féin bookshop and online.
• Eoin Ó Murchú, Seán Oliver and Críona Ní Dhálaigh
Seán Oliver from Belfast gave a fascinating presentation on the theme of ‘After Scotland – a Border Poll for Ireland’.
He said that, despite the outcome, the Scottish referendum has weakened the ‘United Kingdom’ and should be used to press for a Border poll here. He emphasised the primacy of the economic arguments for Irish unity which should be advanced, something the Tory Westminster Government is well aware of as they continually refuse to reveal, for example, how much taxation is paid by people and companies in the Six Counties to the Treasury in London.
South Dublin County Councillor Eoin Ó Broin concluded the school with a talk on the prospects and requirements for the formation of a Left Republican Government.
He said that Sinn Féin needs to prepare well now, not just for holding government office at some stage in the not-too-distant future but to ensure that, if in government, we are equipped to bring about real and lasting change in Irish society.
The James Connolly School saw the formal launch of the Dublin Sinn Féin 1916 Committee which can be contacted on Facebook.