You are all very welcome here today to the Annual Workers’ Party
We are here to honour the men and women of Easter Week 1916, to rededicate
ourselves to the noble and principled ideals that they set out to achieve.
We also remember with pride and honour all those Comrades and friends
of The Workers’ Party who gave their lives in the struggle for a democratic, secular, socialist republic, a unitary
state on this island.
Their sacrifice will never be forgotten and we pay tribute today to
all those who contributed to the creation of The Workers’ Party as the modern embodiment of the struggle for freedom
and the emancipation of the working class.
We do of course live in a hugely different world from that of 1916
but there is still great relevance and lessons to be learned from what the men and women of 1916 set out to achieve.
The struggle for national independence and political and economic sovereignty
remain today vital matters of concern. British Imperialism may well have ceased to exist as a serious world power, but new
forms of Imperialism and political and economic subjugation have taken its place.
In particular the United States of America seeks to dominate and control
the entire world in its own selfish interests, and the European Union now acts solely in the interests of capitalism and is
devoid of even the most rudimentary appearance of democracy or accountability.
In Ireland we are ruled by 2 administrations – in the Dáil and
at Stormont – by people who may profess to adhere to the ideals of 1916 but in reality are far removed from the democratic,
egalitarian, republican and socialist principles contained in the Proclamation of 1916.
Both administrations are made up of parties that subscribe to dominant
capitalist ideology. Neither represents any challenge to the existing economic system which is the cause of social and economic
As we approach the 100th Anniversary of 1916 we will hear all manner
of praise for 1916 and even talk of rededicating to the ideals of the proclamation. Just as in 1966, on the occasion of the
50th anniversary, we can expect much symbolism, pageantry and rhetoric. Already there has even been nonsensical talk of national
and republican unity.
What we do not want, or need, is a futile and destructive process of
all manner of groups and sects competing to claim the title of true inheritors of the ideals of 1916 and ownership of the
What would be far more productive would be a national debate on the
nature and character of Irish society today and how we might move towards a New Republic in which the values and political
ideals of 1916 could be encapsulated in a new political and social order: a New Society which would embrace the values of
the common good over individual greed and private profit; collectivism over individualism; democracy and citizenship and political
and economic sovereignty.
Such a debate on the nature of society cannot ignore the fact that
the fundamental struggle today for freedom and emancipation is the struggle between capital and labour. The greatest enemy
facing the Irish people North and South today is Capitalism. It is Capitalism which is the cause of our social and economic
ills. Capitalism cannot be reformed or ameliorated. Only its replacement by a Socialist society can bring social and economic
Ireland today is not the Ireland of 1916. We are no longer a predominantly
rural and agriculturally dependent society.
The dominant political and social values are those of the international
economic order … Capitalism.
The progressive trends in the independence movement have evolved as
Today those progressive trends are to be found in Socialism.
That evolution towards a coherent and scientific socialist ideology
was organisationally mirrored in the creation of The Workers’ Party which reached a high point in the 80s. Since then
we have had setbacks, reversals and even defeats. But the only hope for the achieving of political, social and economic freedom
for the Irish people lies in a rejuvenated and strong Workers’ Party, a Party driven and governed by a strong Socialist
If we are to be true to the ideals of 1916 in the world in which we
live today, then Building the Party must be our prime objective.
We are under no illusions as to the enormity of this task.
A strong Workers’ Party represents the only hope that real change
is possible in our country.
No other Party seeks to bring about the fundamental transformation
of society that is needed in order to create a new political, economic and social order.
The Labour Party and Sinn Féin in particular – two parties that
profess to speak for the working class – have failed our class.
In the North Sinn Féin (and their DUP partners) have presided over
the highest levels of unemployment, poverty, homelessness, educational disadvantage, privatisation of public services, and
a health service in crisis. In the South they profess opposition but their one ambition is to be in government. They are akin
to De Valera’s Fianna Fáil in the 30s. They are long in nationalist and republican rhetoric, long in populism whilst
simultaneously embracing free market economics and big business.
The Labour Party, no strangers to coalition governments, have surpassed
all previous betrayals of the working class and labour movements by their participation in this Fine Gael-led Government.
It is the working class that has borne the impact of devastating cutbacks
and economic measures that have impoverished hundreds of thousands of our people and will continue to do so for years to come.
Local elections next month are an opportunity North and South to begin
a fightback on behalf of the working class. The Party will be standing a small number of candidates. We are proud of the role
and record of our councillors in Cork and Waterford, and are hopeful of not only retaining but expanding our number of councillors.
This is a vital part of Building the Party.
We cannot rely on past achievements but on our active involvement in
the everyday struggles of working class people in our communities.
This involves bringing into membership of the Party new Comrades, most
of whom will not have had our historical experience or background.
This must necessarily entail attracting more women and young people
to the Party.
On this, the 100th anniversary of the founding of Cumann na mBan, it
is worth noting how much of the women’s struggle remains to be won.
Right across society women continue to suffer discrimination. In Employment,
both in wages and career opportunities; in terms of reproductive rights; as the primary carers; in fact in almost every walk
and area of life.
But our concern for women must not just be about their role in society.
They are glaringly absent from the ranks of the Party itself.
We must not only increase the numbers of women in the Party but women
must take on roles of responsibility, leadership, and authority in the Party.
In conclusion Comrades,
We are only too well aware that the Socialist Republic remains to be
won. The question is – what do we do to bring it about?
The starting point must be to Build the Party.
Over the next weeks and months the detail of what that means in practice
will be debated within the Party.
It is our task to ensure that it reaches a conclusion and that we set
about the work that will be required to bring about a renewed and rejuvenated Workers’ Party.
Only that can bring about the democratic, secular, socialist republic
we strive for.
Thank you for your attention Comrades.
Sunday, 20th April 2014