On behalf of the Ard Comhairle / CEC of the Workers Party, I would like to welcome you
all to The Workers Party Annual Wolf Tone Commemoration.
Let us take a moment to look at how little has changed for the working class in our society
since the United Irish Men came into existence, and Tone and his comrades were
guided by three fundamental principles -
* That the weight of English influence on the Government of this country is so great as to require a cordial
union among all the people of Ireland to maintain that balance which is essential to the preservation of our liberties and
the extension of our commerce.
* That the sole constitutional mode by which this influence can be opposed is by a complete and radical
reform of the representation of the people in Parliament.
* That no reform is practicable, efficacious, or just, which shall not include Irishmen
of every religious persuasion.
Our perceived inferiority, economic disadvantage and subservience
to England as seen at that time has simply been replaced by Ireland being economically disadvantaged and subservient to the
EU/IMF – a gift bequeathed to the Irish people by the cronyism, corruption and criminality that was nurtured under the
guardianship of successive Fianna Fail governments.
The unrelenting drive for ever increasing wealth and power
caused the ruling class to gorge themselves at the table of profit – but are the working class not entitled to attend
the banquet of opportunity?
It seems not! Just one stark and frightening example of this
is evident; as the new school year begins, we see children with learning difficulties sacrificed by the State. SNA hours in schools right across the country have been slashed, children with special needs are being
forced into classrooms with 30 or more pupils or in some cases they cannot even attend school and have to stay at home –
all of this in order to ensure there are millions of our tax euro available to subsidize the fee paying / for profit education
sector, where the children of the wealthy sit in their well-equipped classrooms, with no more than a dozen of their classmates.
Tone said that “our
independence must be had at all hazards, if the men of property will not support us, they must fall. We can support ourselves
by the aid of that numerous and respectable class of the community, the men of no property”
As the daily attacks on workers and their families continue,
and those who were only spectators at the Celtic Tiger festival are weighed down with the burden of repaying the debts of
the elite in our society, Tone’s assertions are as relevant today as they were then.
As we glance over our shoulder into history, we know it is
working class families who pay the highest price for the fragmentation of the Left. Now more than ever there is a need for
a unity of the Left – as in Tone’s time – with guiding fundamental principles that put the interests of
the working class to the fore we must build on the basis of what unites us.
Those on the Left, who portray the Trade Union Movement as
the enemy, betray the interests of workers – the place for every worker in Ireland – regardless of their religion, nationality or gender is
in their Union. Workers are not weak – too many of them are unorganised. The working
class are not weak – we too are unorganised – now is the time to change that.
As we stand here in the shadow of Wolfe Tone, let us inhale
the inspiration to follow in his footsteps and continue the struggle to unite catholic, protestant and dissenter in the defense
of working class families.
I now invite our main speaker, comrade Ultan Gillen, to the