In recent days the Blueshirts and other members of the Free State establishment have been whipping up a frenzy around the anniversary of IRA Volunteer Ed O’Brien, from Gorey in County Wexford, who gave his life for the All Ireland Republic while on active service in London on February 18 1996.
The source of the Blueshirts meltdown was a proposed online commemoration organized by the O’Brien Family with the support of Sinn Féin. Poppy wearing members of Fine Gael fell over themselves to prove their subservience to British Imperialism by condemning the event and organizing a particularly vitriolic campaign of abuse online. Such was the frenzy caused that Leo Varadkar even raised questions about the event in Leinster House. Faced with the coordinated campaign of online and political pressure, Sinn Féin and the family felt forced to cancel the event. While this is a shameful act on behalf of Sinn Féin, the situation has highlighted the very real fear at the heart of the free state establishment invoked by the memory of Volunteer Ed O’Brien and at what this young militant republican stood for.
As Socialist Republicans, it is therefore important for us to investigate this incident on a deeper level and to establish and expose why it is that the free state continue to display a palpable fear of Volunteer Ed O’Brien, 25years after his death on Active service.
Ed O’Brien was born into a Working Class family in county Wexford. Intelligent, Ed demonstrated particular athletic ability and excelled at sports from a young age, being particularly talented in the GAA and as a boxer. After School Ed worked in a bakery, but his true passion was his countries struggle for National Liberation.
Ed joined the Irish Republican Army in the early 1990s while still just a teenager. Like so many before him he was deeply committed to ending the injustice of British Rule in Ireland. In the early days Ed sold An Phoblacht around Gorey and County Wexford, but he always wanted to do more in the fight for freedom. It wasn’t long before Ed Volunteered for Active Service with the English Department.
By the ending of the IRA’s first ceasefire on February 6 1996, Ed was in place and ready to prosecute the war for national liberation in the belly of the imperialist beast. At that time the IRA campaign was being aimed at military and economic and financial targets in the capitalist centers of England. The Volunteers involved had been meticulously picked and carefully trained in order to operate in hostile territory in a manner that reduced the potential of civilian casualties to a minimum. Ed O’Brien was one of these Volunteers. The IRA was not at war with the English Working class, but with British Imperialism.
On February 18 1996, Ed O’Brien was engaged on active service as a Volunteer Soldier of the Irish Republican Army. His motivation was to take action against the imperialist power oppressing his country. On that fateful day, Ed was engaged in legitimate action aimed at highlighting the ongoing injustice of the illegal British Occupation in Ireland a foreign power waging war on our People. His target in line with the other IRA actions during that campaign was likely economic. We can say with absolute certainty that Ed O’Brien was not targeting civilians.
Despite the smears of the British and Free State establishments and the corporate media, Ed O’Brien was not a terrorist or a bus bomber or targeting civilians. While making his way to the chosen target, armed and in posseion of an explosive device, that device tragically exploded prematurely killing Ed and injuring a number of passengers. While this was an accident, it is important to point out that no civilians lost their lives as a result of this tragedy. The blame for this action, as with all other Republican operations lies squarely in the hands of British Imperialism for the continuing illegal occupation of Ireland.
The occupation of Ireland by Britain continues to be an injustice, one that Volunteer Ed O’Brien was prepared to die to end. Partition and the capitalist system in Ireland remain as injustices today, injustices that Ed O’Brien gave his life to overthrow. This is why the free state establishment continue to fear him.
The free state elite smear the memory of Ed O’Brien because they fear his inspirational legacy. They fear the potency of his example, a young working-class Irishman taking up arms to fight against British Imperialism and the counter revolution in Ireland. The establishment fear the message of Ed O’Brien’s actions resonating with the working-class youth of Ireland today, a youth living with the reality of occupation, partition, counter revolution, unemployment, a perpetual housing crisis and a growing international economic collapse and they fear they youth will follow his example and take up the fight for National Liberation and Socialist Revolution.
Ed O’Brien is a hero of his country and his class. All the lies and smears of our enemies can never change that. Most of all they fear Ed O’Brien because he led by example and demonstrated that revolution is the only path to freedom in Ireland.
Socialist Republicans across Ireland will never shy away from honouring Ed O’Brien or any of the revolutionary men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the fight for Irish Freedom. We will never be afraid to say that we continue to be inspired by Volunteer Ed O’Brien and we will defend his memory against imperialists and counter revolutionaries.
The only fitting monument to Volunteer Ed O’Brien and all those who have given their lives for Irish National Liberation is the reestablishment of the All Ireland Republic proclaimed in 1916. And that is exactly what the British and the Free State Establishment fear more then anything else.
In the words of James Connolly, ‘The fight must go on!’