On Saturday September 25, a large crowd gathered in Dublin for the Socialist Republican Commemoration of the 1981 Hungerstrike.
Revolutionary Republicans from across Ireland had come together on the anniversary of the first Republican Hungerstrike Martyr Thomas Ashe to March to his grave in the Republican plot Glasnevin Cemetery, where there is also a monument to the 22 martyrs who have given their lives on Hungerstrike for Irish Freedom.
In what was a truly All Ireland gathering of Revolutionary Socialists Republicans, joining comrades from Dublin on the day were delegations from Armagh, Belfast, Donegal, Louth, Meath, Westmeath, Wicklow, Limerick, Tipperary, Cork, Kerry and Galway. There were a number of Republican Ex-POWs and veterans of the 1981 period in attendance, along with a large and noticeable number of young people.
Led by a lone piper, the Socialist Republican Parade made its way from Phibsborough Shopping Centre to Glasnevin, where the crowd gathered around the Republican Plot. To begin the event, the names of the H—Block Martyrs were read aloud and a minutes silence was held in honour of the men and women of every generation, who have fought and died for Irish National Liberation and Socialist Revolution. Following the traditional lowering of the flags as a mark of respect, wreaths were laid at the Hungerstrike monument and at the grave of Thomas Ashe.
The first speaker of the day, representing Westmeath Republicans, Alan McCabe, read a statement from the Michael Fagan Fenian Society and the Spirit of Freedom Society Westmeath, which gave an overview of the use of Hungerstrike by Republican POWs as a weapon against our oppressors, and called out former Republicans who have abandoned the struggle to become part of the occupation. Alan finished with a call for Republicans to work together, despite differences, to achieve the All Ireland Republic because a Unified Republican Movement is what British Imperialism, the Free State and former Republicans fear most.
The second speaker was Independent Republican Cáit Trainor from Armagh, who reminded the crowd that 40 years after the Hungerstrike, there are still Republican POWs in British and Free State Gaols, for playing a part in the same struggle for which the Hungerstrikers gave their lives and that Republican Prisoners continue to fight against Criminalisation. Cáit continued that no one was in gaol or had given their lives for constitutional politics but for the All Ireland Republic and said that if people want to see the end of Republican POWs they should play their part in ending the British Occupation in Ireland because until that day there will always be Republican POWs.
The next speaker was Mike Edwards a Socialist Republican from Munster, who gave an overview of Irish Resistance to British Imperialism, setting the 1981 Hungerstrike firmly within that context. Mike spoke about the importance of the Revolutionary Resistance in 1981 both inside and outside the jails and called out those within Republicanism at the time who used the Hungerstrike and movement built around it to surrender to British Imperialism and administer a system that continues to intern Republicans today. Mike continued by outlining his own involvement in 1981 and called on the Republican Resistance to be reinvigorated to continue the struggle to achieve our legitimate Republican objectives. Mike finished with the rallying cry, ‘Resist, Rebel, Rebuild and Irish Republic, Beir Bua!’.
The final speaker was the Wicklow Socialist Republican Sean Doyle, on behalf of the organisers. Sean stated that the Republican struggle is generational, and that each generation must take up were the previous left off. Young minds must be freed up to look at our history, learn the tactics that were successful and forget those that were not, and find new revolutionary solutions to advance the struggle for National Liberation and Socialist Revolution. Revolutionary solutions will not be found within the statelets of the 6 and 26, counties. Sean said the partitionist states have not failed, they are working exactly as designed by British Imperialism. Young Revolutionaries must find new methods for the class struggle outside of the electoral system which is designed to turn people into dependents. Sean finished on a defiant note of Revolutionary Optimism, stating ‘We will not sit down and negotiate what is ours by right. We must build a force to seize it, to take it back and bestow it to the people!’.
The commemoration was then brought to a close with the piping of Amhrán na Bhfian.
Those in attendance agreed that the event had been an important one, brining Revolutionary Socialist Republicans together from across the country and as was shown by the speeches, sharing a common platform of loyalty to the All Ireland Republic and a commitment for Revolutionary Republicans to work together to achieve our objectives.
40 years on from the 1981 Hungerstrike it was both fitting and inspiring to see a number of different Revolutionary groups come together at the event as a Broad front of Republicans, including Anti Imperialist Action Ireland, the Michael Fagan Fenian Society and the Spirit of Freedom Society, Irish Republican Resistance, Independent Republicans and the Anti Internment Group of Ireland.