On Saturday November 9th Saoradh hosted their annual Ard Fheis in Newry, electing this year’s National Executive:
- Chairperson: Brian Kenna
- Vice-Chairperson: Mandy Duffy
- National Secretary: Ger Devereux
- PRO: Paddy Gallagher
- Resource Officers: Sharon Jordan and Denis McFadden
- Education: Davy Jordan
- National Organiser: Kevin Murphy
- Co-ops: Stephen Murney, Olly White, Alan Lundy, Dee Fennell
Debates and voting took place as forty motions were passed on a range of issues.
Speeches included a letter of support by POWs, a piece on the terror register, a letter of solidarity from a Palestinian comrade, another from the Ireland Information Group of Sweden, a speech from an Éistigí representative, a speech from our comrades in Scotland, Mandy Duffy’s speech and Brian Kenna’s speech. All can be found below.
Brian Kenna (Chairperson)’s speech
A chairde agus a chomradi,
It is with the deepest honour that I address you today at our annual Ard Fheis, having been re-elected as the National Chair of our revolutionary Party. I totally commit myself to perform this role to the best of my ability throughout the year. I have absolutely no desire or compunction to sit as your Chair for longer than necessary and wholeheartedly believe that the Party next year should elect a new Chair as we collectively stand against the insidious cult of personality that dominates.
I would like to thank the outgoing National Executive for all the excellent work they engaged in on behalf of our revolutionary Party in the year just past. As well as their own responsibilities in their local areas N.E. members were available on a continuous basis across the length and breadth of the country.
It would take too long to single out all of the N.E. for mention but without doubt my task as Chair was made infinitely all the more easier as a result of their dedication. Mandy Duffy as the outgoing vice-Chair deserves a special mention in view of the enormous role she played, particularly in relation to Administration, operational and Constitutional matters. Her republican credentials and vast experience made the difference on more than one occasion.
I would also like to pay special tribute to our inaugural Chairperson, Davy Jordan. Having served as chair for Saoradh’s first two years, Davy’s stepping down led to my election to the post. As a result he may have been forgiven had he melted into the sidelines in some form of political semi-retirement but on the contrary, was an ever-present support to me and the N.E. and was always on hand to offer advice, guidance and political and ideological direction.
To the general membership of Saoradh I offer my fullest thanks and admiration for the outstanding political and community activism they embarked upon over the last twelve months. Their unselfish dedication to the cause of Irish reunification, revolutionary socialist principles and community empowerment stands head and shoulders above any other across the political spectrum on this island and in stark contrast to the capitalist, self-serving, clientelist, gombeen mentality of so-called elected representatives.
You have MLAs, absent from their self appointed posts for close on three years now but still pocketing wages and vast expenses and down south in the biggest doss house of them all, TDS playing musical chairs and voting for their absent mates who are supping pints five hours drive away. I could say shame on them but they would ask me to spell it. In the most hostile of environments under the lash of state oppression and through daily instances of home invasions, stop and search, visits to our places of employment and constant harassment our activists
Go out to represent the working class, the disenfranchised and the marginalized, not for the gold and silver coveted by mealy mounted MPs, TDS and MLAs but for the greatest prize of all, the reunification of our country, freedom and a socialist republic.
Welcome to the Unfinished Revolution.
Saoradh’s ultimate objective is the overthrow and replacement of the ideological concepts which underpin the imperialist capitalist states. Modern politics are inseparable from economic conditions. James Connolly’s correct analysis was that partition would serve to divide the working class and foster a climate of reaction. Just look at the sectarian headcount we witness in the occupied six counties during the occupiers’ Westminster elections. Saoradh seek to effect an end to Britain’s illegal occupation of the Six Counties and to ensure the equal distribution of the islands wealth and wealth-producing resources via public ownership of all the means of production. Our Party advocates the complete rejection of the prevailing capitalist power structure and the status quo. We desire to change the mechanism of society. Saoradh believe that there is little point struggling to end the illegal occupation, if the sole result of that struggle is for the working class to be subject to new masters and exploiters under the banner of an Irish Republic, like the 32-county green Free State the bourgeoisie desire. James Connolly was very clear as long as the capitalist system remains in place the Irish people can never be free. The struggle for national liberation cannot and will not be separated from the class struggle. Our short term objectives may be similar to other groups but our long term political objectives are very different. We believe in the establishment of a revolutionary socialist republic which we believe can not be achieved through participation in bourgeois means. Saoradh has no interest in some form of cosmetic change.
Saoradh support an exit from the super imperialist EU, this has been a long-standing revolutionary position. We see Brexit as a defeat for the business and political elite of Britain, Ireland and Europe. Saoradh reject the position adopted by former Republicans and constitutionalists, what’s the difference?, who have sided with the oppressor in the form of the EU, British and Irish elites against the working class. We are opposed to the usurpation of national sovereignty and self-determination by the European capitalist and imperialist superstate.
Imperialism has undoubtedly tried to stop us: yesterday our Revolutionary Hub, Junior McDaid House, in occupied Derry, was raided by heavily armed thugs of the Crown Forces, along with three homes of Party activists where Christmas presents, children’s schoolwork and savings were cruelly stolen and one of our comrades was arrested for absolutely no clear reason, not that the occupier needs a reason—it’s clear that the agenda of the Crown Forces, of the British imperialist government and of the corrupt 26-county neo-colonial state is one of ongoing harassment of revolutionaries in a bid to stop us from making our voice heard.
Well, they didn’t succeed and they won’t ever succeed.
In fact, we are here today proudly showing an increasing and vibrant membership, as many are joining us and many will in the months ahead.
We have had the honour to establish new Criobhanna in South Derry/North Antrim, South Leinster and Scotland, a clear salient fact that clearly shows we are getting stronger and stronger throughout this island and abroad as well.
As further demonstration of this, we are proud to announce the upcoming opening of a new office in Newry.
And we have done all this despite the occupiers and their neo-colonial cohorts ongoing policy of stop and search, the draconian ‘ border and security act’, arresting and gaoling our Party members, to whom we extend our deepest solidarity, in particular Gavin Coyle who is now going into his third year of administrative detention in the occupiers Maghaberry and for the sake of whom we will continue to strive for the freedom of all Revolutionary Republican Political Prisoners so that they can join us too, free from draconian bail terms and free to return to their distraught families.
Still the occupying Crown Forces are not content, and are trying to undermine our membership targeting our members through corrupt imperial agencies including the social services, as we witnessed only a couple of weeks ago when a Republican was challenged by social services falsely accusing them of radicalisation, but they were then forced to back off when confronted as no evidence whatsoever was found. We have witnessed Party members in the occupiers’ interrogation centre in Musgrave Barracks being questioned about alleged dole fraud with information being very willingly supplied by the DHSS, a new form of insidious collusion.
In our struggle for freedom, we can’t forget our comrades in other parts of the world fighting for the exact same fight, and I am obviously referring to our Palestinian comrades whom the Party fraternally met and are in the process of forging links with, as we will continue to forge fraternal bonds with all like-minded groups global wide.
Saoradh are unbent and unbroken and will continue to strive for the Unfinished Revolution and a Socialist 32-County Republic.
‘EITHER YOU’RE PART OF THE PROBLEM OR YOU’RE PART OF THE SOLUTION. THERE IS NOTHING IN BETWEEN. THIS SHIT HAS BEEN ANALYSED FOR DECADES AND GENERATIONS FROM EVERY ANGLE. MY OPINION IS THAT MOST OF WHAT HAPPENS IN THIS COUNTRY DOES NOT NEED TO BE ANALYSED ANY FURTHER.‘ Eldridge Cleaver
Go raibh mile maith agaibh agus beirigi bua.
Mandy Duffy (Vice-Chairperson)’s speech
A Chairde, Comrades
It has been an honour to serve as the vice-Chair of Saoradh this past year and I thank you for bestowing on me that responsibility, the position of vice-Chair has presented me with a unique insight into the Party over this past year, the challenges we have faced, the adversity we have overcome, the new members we have welcomed and the activism we have engaged in. On behalf of the outgoing National Executive and officer board, we salute you the membership.
The 2019 National Executive was mandated last year to hold a series of all-day conferences to debate and form a consensus on policy regarding the issues of Drugs, Abortion, Housing and Elections. The National Executive fulfilled that mandate, produced reports, motions and or recommendations for strategy and activism.
Our National organising team has for this past year sought out and met with Republican activists, potential new members and sought to push the Party’s representation into every corner of Ireland and indeed the Irish diaspora, to this end new Craobh and members have come on board in many new and existing areas. Decisions to hold commemorations such as the centenary of the First Dail in Soloheadbeg where the Party wasn’t necessarily strong has helped us expand and find new ground.
Easter 2019 proved a very difficult time for the Party and for Irish Republicanism, the death of Lyra McKee killed tragically by the IRA while defending a Derry community under siege by the British Crown Forces was swiftly and cynically used against Irish Republicans, in particular, the British and 26-county states and the gombeen media sought to lay the blame at our door, under this assault and propaganda campaign Saoradh took to the streets of our capital city for the Unfinished Revolution Easter commemoration, despite attempts by the media to place attendance in the low hundreds upwards of fifteen hundred activists braved state and media hostility to put on a display that shook the state and elicited statements of hyperbole from the Blueshirt elite. A special thanks must be extended to the Dublin Craobh for the time and effort put into this year’s commemoration making it the success it became and all our thoughts and admiration are with our Derry comrades who have weathered a continued repressive campaign at the hands of the British Crown Forces.
In the aftermath of Easter, Saoradh was targeted in an unprecedented campaign of censorship, our website, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts were all deleted and members banned or suspended. Certain journalists set out to hound our members falsely believing their own propaganda that Saoradh was finished that we were broken and in disarray. Comrades, they were wrong, even through the worst oppression we continued to grow, despite the onslaught by both the state and the media we dug in and demonstrated that Saoradh is resilient and isn’t going away. We have rebuilt our website, like daisies in a garden our pages continue to pop up defying the social media censors, to this end we owe a debt of gratitude to the PR department who have been engaged in an information arms race across the Internet in an effort to get our uncensored message to the masses.
Brexit the great calamity of the British ruling class witnessed every major global media organisation in the world cutting a path to our door for our analysis again it was the PR department that worked tirelessly facilitating these requests, fulfiling print, radio and TV interviews.
When Saoradh was formed we set out our stall as Socialist Republicans, but we recognised that claiming to be Socialist and actually being Socialist are two very different things, to this end the National Executive set up a sub-committee on ideology with a view of solidifying our socialism, while this remains a work in progress a document was drafted and circulated to the membership. It is very important that you, the members and activists, begin to incorporate our ideology in your activism, that you think critically before you act. Everything we do as activists must undermine the existing systems while building the Party for victory.
In Ireland, at present, there are two competing classes: the working class and the ruling class who we call the “bourgeoisie”. All wealth is created by the working class, who receive only a fraction of the wealth usually in the form of a wage, the rest is hoarded by the bourgeoisie; the boss, the landlord, the banker.
We are repeatedly told we live in a democracy, when we speak of Socialism we are told that that is a dictatorship, but look around you at those in political power today, they all owe their positions or their party’s positions to the wealth of the bourgeoisie, who ensure that the interests of capitalism supersede the interests of the working class, who of course are in the majority, is this democracy?
Saoradh wants freedom for the people of Ireland to benefit from the wealth they create, in a land increasingly rich in natural resources Irish people sleep on the streets or are denied access to healthcare. When we speak of Irish freedom it goes much deeper than changing British rule with Irish bourgeoise rule (Connolly’s famous changing of flags analogy). Saoradh seek real freedom and that freedom must be economic as well as political this is what we mean when we say we are a Revolutionary party.
Saoradh seeks the abolition of the entire exploitative system in Ireland replacing it with one that will hand the ownership of Ireland to the people of Ireland. That is what we mean when we speak of a Socialist Republic.
it is important that our activism goes beyond that of traditional republican politics that our activism empowers the working class at the expense of the bourgeoisie through this activism we avoid the cul-de-sac of existing bourgeois structures such as electorialism, it is important as a Saoradh activist that you know your class enemy, we do not come from a community that is a capitalist construct, we come from a class, it is important we know this and we represent our class’ interests. Remember this when you are setting out to engage in activism: it must dovetail with our ideology and a national strategy that is currently being constructed.
Comrades, our future is in your hands, with your commitment and activism we will grow and fulfil our goals and objectives. It’s imperative every member is on the ground engaging in activism in the year ahead in the words of Volunteer Bobby Sands
“Everyone, Republican or otherwise, has their own particular part to play. No part is too great or too small, no one is too old or too young to do something.”
Comrades, go raibh maith agaibh.
The Republican Prisoners incarcerated in Portlaoise, Maghaberry and Mountjoy gaols send Revolutionary greetings to all in attendance today.
We also take this opportunity to offer our solidarity to Revolutionary Socialist activists worldwide who continue to fight in the face of imperial aggression.
We wish to commend the outgoing National Executive and indeed Saoradh Chairperson Brian Kenna for all the hard work they have done throughout the year. That admiration extends to all in Saoradh who continue to campaign on behalf of Irish Political Prisoners, be it in relation to Gaol conditions, the administrative framework on which the deprivation of our liberty is based upon or highlighting matters such as Extradition and Supergrass trials.
It is this activism on the ground which has helped Saoradh evolve into the Revolutionary vehicle it is today.
Prior to the Party’s first Ard Fheis, Republicans and Republican Prisoners quite rightly debated the merits of another political platform emerging in an already over-inflated melting pot where so many others had failed and asked, why would Saoradh be any different? However, since its formation, Saoradh has gone from strength to strength, leading the way in Revolutionary Socialist activism on this island. In what has been a particularly challenging year in some aspects, Saoradh has continued to grow, with Craobhs opening right across the island, all against the backdrop of constant Free state and Crown Force harassment and a biased media backlash.
Soaring numbers at demonstrations and commemorations show Soaradh’s appeal to both young eager Republicans and those of a more experienced generation alike, whilst also being the only revolutionary Republican party endorsed by the Republican Prisoners.
Although still in its infancy Saoradh has already faced many stern challenges but has shown a maturity and determination to overcome such challenges.
As Irish Republican Prisoners imprisoned for our own activism, we continue to develop our own political ideology and learning, with a view of taking this to the streets upon our release, just as Saoradh does today. We also envisage the same level of political and ideological development from Saoradh, all of which will be essential to advance the Republican cause and achieve our objectives.
Portlaoise, Maghaberry, Mountjoy
Dr Issam Hijjawi’s speech
I do apologise not being among you in your annual Ardesh for forced reasons upon me and my family.
On Saturday 26 October 2019 I embarked on a journey to Lima / Beru to attend a four-day annual Palestinian cultural festival for the Palestinian Communities in Latin America and Caribies, a family-oriented festival where the Palestinian culture and heritage is celebrated mainly to keep the new generation of the Palestinians in Diaspora aware of their roots and national cause.
On arriving in Lima on Sunday 27th at 4 am following a 24-hour flight, I was refused entry for undeclared reasons with my 13- and 10-year-old sons, I was deported to Madrid the next available flight, so as a compensation for my kids, I spent the week in Madrid.
On returning to Heathrow airport on Sunday 3 November 2019 at 6 pm for a connection flight to Edinburgh me and my kids were picked up by inelegance services and Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act was applied, facing arrest or complying with questioning, following a 3-hour detailed questioning, searches, and profiling, already lost my connection flight and returned to Edinburgh next day on Monday, it did not ended here, so on Wednesday 6 November while at work, receiving a phone call from people masquerading as a research group wanting to interview me about the upcoming UK election on Thursday, which turned up to be MI5 agents.
They attempted again on Thursday 9 November with threats of police and home office agents turning to my house, place of work, arrest, confiscating my passport and restricting my travel.
Why I’m saying all that to you?
It’s the obvious, what they called my Irish connection, ironically admitting the parallel between the Palestinian and Irish causes, which does bring me to the core message to you on your annual Ard Fheis.
I’m aware that your headquarter was sacked by the security forces in the north part of Ireland a few days ago, so where we do go from here?
Always , the imperialist powers dealt with the national legitimate aspiration of occupied people from a security perspective, where the Nationalist movement fighting to determine their future and destiny are tarnished as a terrorist movement, this happened all over the world, from the pacifist movement in India — Gandhi — to the armed movement of Nelson Mandela African Congress, from the Easter uprising of the Irish people in 1916 to the Palestinian revolution in 1929 and the cold-blooded execution of the leaders of both by the hands of the imperialistic power of the old British empire.
So what does history teach us through reflections on the facts on the ground?
Looking back on the international events during the last 30-40 years, we can see the clear picture: the failure of the Good Friday Agreement, the failure of the Oslo Agreement, the failure of the Fark-Colombia Agreement, the failure of the Cashmere Agreement, and so all agreements which meant to bring a peaceful end to national struggle in different parts of the globe, and more to that, what we are witnessing now in the Middle East and Latin America, where the ordinary people revolting in the streets of Beirut, Baghdad, Algeria, Palestine, Chile, Colombia, Brazil, all these historic events do prove one clear fact: as long as the core issue of national causes are not addressed, people will continue to revolt despite the brutality of the corrupt or colonising regimes.
Comrades, be assured that we are on the right side of history, whether in Palestine or Ireland, the nearly century-long struggle for freedom, self-determination, dignity and social justice will prevail, and the imperialist, colonialist powers sooner or later will be defeated, it’s just a matter of time.
Wish you all success in your Ard Fheis.
Long live a free, just, united 32 Counties, long live free 28 Km Square Palestine.
Dr Issam Hijjawi
Spokeperson of the Palestinian Democratic Forum in Europe
9th November 2019
Jude Macrory (Éistigí)’s speech
I would just like to start by congratulating the Party membership and the National Executive for yet another successful Ard Fheis, it is always a revitalising event that brings together comrades from not only every corner of Ireland, but the globe, united under one roof.
I would also like to commend each and every individual member of the party for yet another year of steadfast determination in the face of increasingly aggressive oppression, harassment and attempts to deter Saoradh activists.
On Thursday of this week, two days prior to this Ard Fheis, the British Crown Forces ransacked our parties national headquarters in a clear calculated attempt to disrupt this event for the second year running. More importantly, comrades, what is unrelenting, is the Republican Revolutionaries in this room who are engaged in a legitimate struggle to overthrow the ruthlessness of imperialism and capitalism, no matter what obstacles or deterrents are put in our way.
At key moments in history, younger generations have repeatedly acted to overthrow and dismantle systems of oppression and injustice. Today, youth-led collective action is proving decisive in combating global challenges. From fighting for the environment to campaigning for the rights of women and those within the LGBT community and demanding economic justice, young people are consistently at the forefront of change.
These issues are all symptoms of greed and capitalist exploitation and the youth within Éistigí and the youth within working-class areas of the 32 Counties must join this growing worldwide struggle that questions capitalism itself and exposes it for being the root cause of crisis and misery. For this task, the youth, who have the most to lose, are perfectly suited. For young people who espouse Revolutionary politics, it is common to hear that we are ‘Johnny come latelies’; that the struggle is over, and that the Good Friday Agreement was the end of history.
However, they overlook the theory behind our Revolutionary Republican Socialist ideals. Our struggle is for freedom, and we can never be satisfied with a so-called free Ireland that would be based upon systemic exploitation and oppression. Indeed this idea transcends all national boundaries, we want freedom for the oppressed peoples of the world. We wish to end the class structure which provides for the exploitation of one class by another. Our ideas are not those of bourgeois nationalism — our anti-imperialism is based on the knowledge that we cannot have freedom whilst Ireland is occupied by one of the world’s foremost imperialist and capitalist entities. Our struggle is a class struggle, as Marx and Engels remind us: “the youth has not come late to anything: the struggle in which we find ourselves is age-old — the struggle between oppressed and oppressors.”
Within this struggle we can not hold that the youth, while vital, are more important than any other participant, we are among the distinct quarters which make up the working class, and we have unique characteristics in this regard. The capitalist system and its agents go to great lengths to condition those who live under it. It influences beliefs, education, outlooks and views. It intimidates us as we grow to ‘behave’ or face the repercussions of a life without employment and living in deprivation, or even imprisonment. This is why so often the fervour and enthusiasm of youth is seemingly lost to age. The capitalist system is preserved by influencing youth, and by ensuring that rebellious youths become compliant adults. In the eyes of the capitalists the young are the clay which they hope to mould into future workers, we are the ones they hope will remain entrapped in poverty whilst they hoard wealth, we are the potential rabble-rousers that the system waits to crush, the minds of the youth are the battleground of ideas which will ultimately shape the future of Ireland and the world.
Thus the youth have a unique stake in the future, and in the words of Fidel Castro, “revolution is a struggle to the death between the future and the past”. These realities must be applied to our approach to youth in this struggle. It serves no purpose to simply become a directionless vehicle for those who are disaffected by the society in which we live. If we simply promote the ideas of disaffection in desperate and scattered terms, we allow for the continuation of class differences and the inherent oppression born out of them.
To deflect from the reality of class struggle with aimless fist-shaking is fruitless: it can never bring about freedom. Youth must be conscious of the class struggle and their role within it. They must be conscious of the fact that it is through the unity of the oppressed, the conquering of the structures of oppression, the destruction of these structures and the building of a revolutionary society that we will achieve freedom. The importance of this was put in simple terms by Lenin, one of the great ideological minds of a revolution which saw a definitive breaking of the chains of oppression by organised workers, when he said: “give me just one generation of youth and I’ll transform the whole world”.
Comrades, the perfect revolutionary does not exist. In particular, youth will make mistakes, but it is imperative that they are guided, educated and shown the way by older and more experienced members of our Party: this will only boost our younger members confidence by tenfold if corrected and will help transcend mistakes into lessons. Youth, although need nurtured, should never be flattered or mislead, Revolutionary activism and struggle isn’t easy and should not be portrayed as such to those who seek to join such a struggle at a young age.
Young people need to be made aware that they face unprecedented hardship and attacks when engaging in a struggle to overthrow a powerful oppressor like Britain. It is the habit of the state and its lackeys to target those who they deem “the next generation”, we as Irish Republicans know this only too well and evidence of this is the continuous targeting of Éistigí activists across the Occupied Six Counties and the 26-county state.
Historically, it was frequently the brave, young and enthusiastic volunteer soldiers of the Irish Republican Army who were the target of Britain’s shoot-to-kill policies, who endured the hungerstrikes, and it was brave young women and men like Tom Williams who knew the road to freedom is paved with suffering and hardships.
The youth of this Party need to be at the fore of everything Saoradh does, from platforms to political debates and community engagements, to encourage, educate and to instil experience in our young people. If everyone here today truly believes in fulfilling our goals and everyone truly believes in the preservation of a Party that can provide a vehicle to lead in the future, we must concentrate our efforts to the youth of our Party and the youth within the working class.
After all who will sit on these seats in years to come? Who will stand at these podiums and who will be responsible to rejuvenate and re-energise this party as we do today? The more we increase and encourage the active participation with young people, the better we serve them, the better we serve Saoradh and the better we serve the future of Ireland.
Let us in this Party recognise that the struggle for freedom is a class struggle, let us realise the role of the youth within this struggle, and let us endeavour to transform the whole world.
Speech on State oppression by Sharon Jordan
I would like to thank the Saoradh membership for giving me the opportunity to raise awareness amongst you all of the use of the so-called ‘’Terror Register’’ imposed on former Political Prisoners in the Occupied Six Counties upon completion of their sentences.
This address is intended for the attention of all those in Ireland and, indeed, throughout the world, who are concerned with human rights and state oppression.
Throughout Irish history the use of oppressive penal and judicial measures has been a key weapon in the British arsenal. The Special Powers Act, internment without trial and brutal interrogation and torture techniques are among the various tactics used throughout the past few decades alone that draw ire and criticism from many quarters in our society. Yet it seems that this new draconian legislation is being all but ignored by these same elements.
Indeed so free from challenge and criticism this legislation has been, that this will be new to many who hear what we have to say today. It will undoubtedly shock many that this legislation has been put in place with the full acquiescence of their so-called political leaders.
Before we deal directly with the terror register, it must be noted that the terror register is not the sole issue. For the general public, it has been a common belief that individuals who are arrested and convicted spend a term and gaol, and are to be released to resume their lives having served that time. This, however, has proven insufficient for successive British conservative and labour governments. Through their economic, political and social policies they have run the working people in the UK into the depths of desperation.
They couldn’t even fathom the ideas of social equality or economic redistribution to deal with the so-called crime which inevitably arose from this. Instead, they began enacting increasingly draconian legal measures. This included indeterminate and extended sentences, and post-release licenses. The people of the Six Counties too have been faced with this. Of course, it is not the white-collar criminals who have fleeced the public of millions who face these conditions, it is the young women and men of working-class communities.
This punitive approach was enthusiastically applied then to Political Prisoners. Indeterminate sentences which the EU ruled as “arbitrary and unlawful” in 2012 are sentences which can see someone sentenced to only two years in prison yet they can then be held indefinitely for life. Extended sentences similarly see people convicted for short periods, and then held instead for many years after a preliminary release date. Post-release licenses which have been revoked in a number of cases are also a means of re-imprisoning political activists without charge or even bringing them to a court. This system has proven flawed in several recent occasions when the PSNI and Stormont officials, and indeed MI5 have been found to have lied as a basis to have licenses revoked. The license conditions too have been further restricted with released prisoners being tagged and also subjected to requirements to present themselves daily at barracks.
This is the legislative and penal environment in which the so-called terror register has grown. The 2008 introduction of the terror register and the intensifying of its draconian tenets in 2019 has demonstrated the relentless determination of Britain and its lackies to implement harsher legislation as a means of dissuading those who may challenge the status quo. It is important for political activists from various shades to remember that this legislation was initially couched in terms of combating so-called Islamic fundamentalism. It wasn’t long however before it was being used against Irish Republicans. Similarly, there is a wide range of activists, from social, environmental, and rights agitators who could find themselves falling foul of this legislation and finding themselves being subject to its draconian stipulations for ten years.
The terror register provided for annual photographing, fingerprinting and also informing the PSNI of addresses and travelling for more than three days outside the jurisdiction. This was in addition to license conditions. The 2019 additions to the existing restrictions have been even more archaic and cruel in their nature. They have seen the additional requirement of bank details — which has already seen the unexplained suspension and closure of accounts; car registrations, any travel information — now even if leaving the jurisdiction for one night, and passport details. It has also increased the power of the PSNI to enter the homes of and also imprison those subject to the register on a whim. Those who don’t comply with these barely believable conditions will be subjected to massive fines and imprisonment.
It’s hardly imaginable to most people that they would be expected to sacrifice the most private details of their lives to the State. This has a massive detrimental impact in psychological terms, with the constant pressure of being surveilled and watched. The emotional pressure resulting from this impacts not only those subject to the conditions but their children, families and loved ones. Employment, education and social lives are disrupted or ruined completely.
This is the most regressive and draconian legislation to be implemented since the Special Powers Act. Indeed it is reflective of oppression internationally which is oft-criticised by those who remain silent at home. In Palestine, former Political Prisoners have been subjected to exclusion orders, notification orders and administrative detention. There is a clear trend in the tactics of international imperialism.
As for Ireland, the trend of international resistance to this imperialism will remain steadfast. We would urge the public to assess the potential implications of these measures and to oppose them accordingly. We would encourage the public to ask also where the opposition to these measures is from the parties throughout Ireland who so often moralise and preach to the media. We will be clear here today in any case that Political activists will not be deterred by these methods or any others from achieving our goal of a Socialist Republic — the British empire could not silence us in the past and their efforts today will similarly be in vain!
Ireland Information Group of Sweden speech
The Ireland Information Group of Sweden wants to send our best wishes for the coming year to Saoradh on your annual Ard Fheis.
This last year has been a year where we have seen an increase in harassment against the Republican Movement in general, and against Saoradh and your members in particular. We have also seen how you, in spite of these harassments, have kept the Revolutionary flag flying high and never wavered in your struggle or ideals.
The struggle for the United Socialist Republic goes on, north and south of the British border. With or without Brexit. In both the Occupied Six Counties, where the Brits show no intent of withdrawing, and in the illegitimate Free State, where the neo-liberal agenda takes its toll on the working-class community as well as on the elderly, the sick, or otherwise disadvantaged.
The struggle goes on for a Republic in accordance with the proclamation of 1916 with “religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens”, and also in the words of James Connolly that even “if you remove the English Army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organization of the Socialist Republic your efforts will be in vain. England will still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs.”
We are glad to see Saoradh stand fast in that struggle, and are proud to stand by your side in international solidarity.
We are very happy that we were able to meet representatives from your Party during the Easter Commemoration this year, and are thankful for the great hospitality you showed us. We are also very happy to have been able to establish further contacts with you and look forward towards further co-operation with you in support of the Republican Struggle in the coming year.
In international solidarity
Ireland Information Group of Sweden