United Wolfe Tone Commemoration
Time for hope – time for radical change
Oration: John Douglas of Mandate
2:30pm … 20 August 2017
As part of its continuing work to encourage better understanding, co-operation and unity of action among all those who wish to see real and meaningful change in the political, economic, social and cultural structures of our country, the Peadar O’Donnell Socialist Republican Forum is planning to hold a united commemoration at the grave of Theobald Wolfe Tone in Bodenstown, Co. Kildare, on Sunday 20 August at 2:30 p.m.
As you are aware, Tone was and is a towering figure in Irish history, someone who struggled hard to establish a better understanding of and bring unity to our people. His legacy is one in which the “people of no property” would be masters of their own destiny, uniting our people regardless of religious differences, believing that such unity was a central and essential element in achieving that goal.
The Peadar O’Donnell Socialist Republican Forum believes that this still is and must be a central goal of all progressive-minded individuals and organisations throughout our country. That is why we are extending an invitation to trade unions, community organisations, women’s and youth organisations to take part in this non-sectarian and indeed anti-sectarian celebration of the ideals of Theobald Wolfe Tone, the founder and inspiration of modern secular, democratic republicanism, in an increasingly diverse Ireland. We wish to make it a gathering of all those who feel that it is time to present a radical alternative to all our people, from Antrim to Cork.
We need to begin the difficult but necessary task that once again places first the interests of the “people of no property”: working people, the people who create all wealth yet wait in line for housing, health services, education, and social services, who daily experience cuts in the services they rely on—a movement that reflects the richness and diversity of our people, for building a society free from poverty and unemployment, for creating a society built on solidarity.
Throughout the country, working people witness and experience daily the growing disparity of wealth between the rich and powerful and those who struggle to make ends meet. We witness our families being scattered across the world through emigration. It is working people who are experiencing their wages and pensions being cut, who are the victims of zero-hour contracts and precarious employment.
We need to build a movement that will challenge external domination and control and the institutions and structures that restrict the capacity of Irish working people to exercise unfettered control over all economic and political decisions that affect their lives—a movement that seeks to build the unity of working people, regardless of past or present differences; a movement that brings unity to progressive forces and brings unity to our country.
We intend this to be a family event and would encourage everyone to bring a picnic on the day, weather permitting.
Tommy McKearney (Secretary)
E-mail: email@example.com … Phone: 00353 87 2390750
Forum begins training for trainers
The Peadar O Donnell Socialist Republican Forum has run the first of its Community Educator programmes. The workshop, run in Connolly Books, trained the first batch of Community Educators in the Freire principles. The participants were challenged in respect of their understanding of community education as opposed to the didactic methods of traditional education in which we have all been immersed. The participants performed exercises based on the Freire principles and dialogued both the exercises and the content. They learnt the importance of pre-workshop research, codification, generative themes, dialogue, identifying actions and reflection.
The first day of the workshop discussed the role of the Community Educator, the principles and methods of Freire . This was followed with some problem posing exercises and identified actions to address those problems. There then followed a section on lesson plans and delivery.
Day two began with a reflection on the previous day looking at the strengths and weaknesses of the workshop and its content. This was followed by a discussion on how participants would like to develop their skills. Finally two of the participants ran workshop segments on Class and on Global Monopoly Capitalism using Freire methods. A third day has been organised to allow other participants to prepare and run short segments on, the State, Class or Imperialism.
Discussing the impact of modern imperialism
Addressing the issues of class in contemporary society
Reflecting on the nature of the state
The participants plan to continue with their course into the new year.
Forum members distribute leaflet at demonstration
At the massive anti-water tax demonstration in Dublind on 17th September 2016, members of the Peadar O’Donnell Socialist Republican Forum handed out thousands of leaflets condemning the attempt to introduce TTIP and CETA into Ireland.
The leaflet outlined the threat posed by these one-sided treaties that will undermine our economic sovereignty and remove workers’ rights.
The leaflet advised peel to demand a referendum on the implementation of these treaties and to then reject them. At present, the Irish government is conspiring with EU bureaucrats to have these treaties passed in secret and to have their rules imposed by stealth.
It is important to identify what is intended and to inform as many as possible about the danger.
For more information on these treaties, read the leaflet Stop CETA/TTIP latest-leaflet-copy-4
Peadar O’Donnell Forum summer school
The Peadar O’Donnell Socialist Republican Forum held an excellent weekend residential in Co. Tyrone. The weekend brought people from a variety of individual groups and parties as well as individuals, with unity being a central theme.
Topics covered included the drive to privatize the NHS and its effect on patients, Imperialism as the specific monopoly stage of capitalism and how we can resist the effects of imperialism in our communities, Socialist Republicanism as an ideology, and how it can free our country and our people, Women and how the 2 failed states in our country have failed women and how socialist republicanism offers true equality for men and women, Communications and how to get our message to the people and the Trade Agreements being pushed on our people, such as CETA and TTIP and how they can be resisted.
In order to ensure we make these issues relevant to our people, at the end of each discussion an action was planned so we can make a contribution to these struggles.
Neart go cur le chéile
Peadar O’Donnell Forum celebrates Easter 1916
The Forum held a celebration of the Easter Rising in Wynn’s Hotel, Dublin on Saturday 12th March 2016. The well attended event included music, poetry and relevant contemporary readings. Among the many performers on the day was the celebrated folk singer, Evelyn Campbell, pictured below
The following statement read at the event highlighted the Forum’s analysis of the Easter Rising and its ongoing relevance today
One hundred years ago the Irish Republic was proclaimed in the 1916 Rising to embody the revolutionary demands for independence, sovereignty, and democracy. The revolutionaries understood these demands as the practical means of meeting the needs of the Irish people and the common good.
The Peadar O’Donnell Socialist Republican Forum believes that these principles remain of central importance today and should form the core of our political programme.
There have been many different interpretations of the meaning and significance of the Rising in the hundred years that have since passed. All too often those offering an analysis have created a narrative of the 1916 Rising that fits an agenda or particular viewpoint, a party or class interest. Some have seen it as a solely nationalist event, promoting a free, “Gaelic” Ireland, equal among the other nations of the world; others have added a social dimension to this vision of a free Ireland, appealing to the section of the 1916 Proclamation that speaks of equal opportunities and equal rights for all citizens. There are those who look exclusively at the fighting and the subsequent executions, to the exclusion of the political rationale that motivated the men and women who took part in the 1916 Rising.
From the beginning there have been those who opposed the Rising or who challenged its principles and its methods. Some of these have declared the Rising to have been undemocratic, or narrowly Catholic; others have argued that it legitimised the use of force by unrepresentative groups, giving impetus to much of the political violence in Ireland in the century that followed.
The Peadar O’Donnell Socialist Republican Forum believes that almost all these interpretations, both the positive and the negative, have ignored the core principles of the Rising: independence, sovereignty, and democracy. Some have ignored these principles because they do not understand their centrality to 1916 or their vital importance today; others reject the validity of these principles today or deny the possibility of realising them, while official Ireland considers that these questions have been settled and have no contemporary relevance.
Against these positions the Peadar O’Donnell Socialist Republican Forum insists that the struggle for independence, sovereignty and democracy remains as essential today as it was in 1916. While different classes could support the demand for sovereignty in 1916, and the achievement of an independent Irish state could benefit them in different ways, James Connolly sought to place the labour movement and socialism at the heart of the struggle for national democracy and against imperialism. If labour and the working class did not lead the struggle, their interests and needs would not be realised in an independent Ireland any more than under British rule.
In the revolution that followed the Rising the labour movement failed to heed Connolly’s lesson and supported the revolution from the margins, instead of placing itself at the centre of the struggle. For most of the republicans, on the other hand, the labour movement was one component of the Irish nation—an important one, whose support was expected—but not one whose interests should be given priority over other class interests.
The result was a revolution that neither achieved full independence, sovereignty and democracy nor implemented the social and economic programme of labour. The radical democracy and anti-imperialism of Pearse, Connolly and the other revolutionaries were given only lip service after 1922.
There are many difficult questions here for socialist republicans, and the Peadar O’Donnell Socialist Republican Forum aims to address them. We present this understanding of and our belief in the continued importance of the central thrust of the 1916 Proclamation—independence, sovereignty, and democracy—to all working people, north and south, to our people living abroad, and to all those concerned about the future of our people.
Those who take inspiration from the 1916 Proclamation and the struggle that followed to establish an independent, sovereign and democratic state need to understand the nature of the forces involved and the interests they served, and why the aspiration and vision of the revolutionary leaders were never realised but were defeated.
We need to learn from the experience of the past century, which has been a century of poverty, mass emigration, division and sectarianism but also a century of struggle for better working conditions, for the right of our children to attend school, to secure access to public health and housing, of a struggle to end sectarian discrimination in the North of Ireland. We have made advances, thanks to working people being independently organised.
If we are truly to realise the vision of the 1916 Proclamation, the interests of working people must be at the heart of all political, economic, social and cultural decisions. We have to realise that the cause of Ireland and the cause of labour are inseparable.
The Peadar O’Donnell Socialist Republican Forum will reassert the need for independence, sovereignty and democracy today if the interests and needs of the people are to be met and implemented. As long as Ireland is trapped in the present-day institutions of imperialism at the international level there will be no possibility of advancing democratic and social demands at home.
It is in this spirit that we relaunch the Forum today. Drawing on the vision of the 1916 Rising and the lessons of the Irish Revolution, the Forum will seek to develop an anti-imperialist politics for today that can be the basis for achieving our goals.
Peadar O’Donnell Forum conference
The Peadar O’Donnell Socialist Republican Forum convened an important conference in Dublin on 21 November 2015. The gathering which included socialists, republicans and communists from across the island discussed the means by which they (and their associates) could promote a shared and deeper understanding of socialist republicanism in the contemporary Irish context and how this analysis helps with a clearer understanding of the world we live in today.
Discussion ranged over a number of connected topics. Eugene McCartan opened the proceedings with a brief recap on why the Forum was established and outline the rationale for the strategic paper* presented earlier to attendees.
This introduction was followed as Pauline Conroy chaired a discussion led by Tommy McKearney exploring the centenary of Easter 1916 and asking how we might celebrate the Rising by examining its political context and how this relates to Ireland of today.
The second topic was chaired by Mags Glennon with a presentation from Eoghan O’Neill outlining the need to make coherent connection between various struggles such as provision of water and health, the campaign against the EU and imperialism while all the time placing these issues in the context of a wider vision for a different Ireland.
After lunch Eddie Glackin chaired a presentation by Gearoid O’Machaill and Colm Laighneach as they detailed the need to develop and deliver an agreed programme of political education that would challenge the current ‘received wisdom’ that neoliberalism and imperialism are a benign influence in Ireland and elsewhere.
The final session was delivered by Donal Higgins as he spoke on the value (and limitations) of modern technology and how the left might harness this technology in order to spread its message and communicate with a greater numbers of people than we do at present.
Steve Mc Cann drew the conference to a conclusion as he asked the gathering to nominate a national steering committee. A panel of twenty was appointed to fulfil this task.
Franky Quinn was last to speak when he delivered a word of thanks and appreciation to the Communist Party of Ireland for making its premises available for the event and for providing food for all present.
**** Summary of forum’s strategic paper
The Peadar O’Donnell Socialist Republican Forum was established in 2013 to promote the ideas of socialist republicanism (as best expressed by Connolly, Mellows and O’Donnell) in order to create a political and ideological base intended to facilitate the creation of an anti-imperialist movement capable of bringing about real social change in Ireland. Since its foundation the Forum has published a booklet entitled ‘Undoing the Conquest; Renewing the Struggle’ containing the group’s view of the core crucial importance of class, the state, imperialism plus a statement of its principles. As well as the publication it has conducted well-attended meetings in Dublin, Belfast, Derry, Galway, Wexford, Tyrone and Monaghan.
Having identified and set out its core principles, the forum is now addressing two further but related issues by elaborating what the forum seeks to achieve. Firstly, while remaining adamant that it is not a campaigning group, it is nevertheless necessary to emphasise that the forum is designed to contribute to the creation of a broad anti-imperialist, socialist republican movement capable of uniting in struggle around political and economic issues. An essential first step in this process has to be the attainment of a working agreement on a number of key issues and/or principles.So that the forum can also reach beyond party political activists, it is important that organised discussions consider the concrete conditions of the Irish working class within the context of socialist republicanism. Broadly speaking discussions should fit into three currents;
c) Guided study of the past (1916 centenary in particular) in order to look forward.
With the national and social questions remaining unresolved, there is a myriad of organisations (socialist, republican, socialist republican and communist) ostensibly committed to their ‘democratic’ resolution. The forum welcomes opportunities to exchange its assessment with a range of activists but adheres at all times to a Marxist /socialist republican analysis.
Finally, the forum takes an all-Ireland approach when dealing with issues except for the obviously local.
Eugene McCartan at Peadar O’Donnell weekend