March 2013        

Launch of the Peadar O’Donnell Socialist Republican Forum

This month a group of socialist and republican activists from a variety of backgrounds throughout Ireland came together in Dublin to establish the Peadar O’Donnell Socialist Republican Forum. The concept of the forum arose from a series of seminars that in turn had their origin in a symposium on “Republicanism in the Twenty-First Century” hosted by the Communist Party in September last year.
      The aim of the forum is to promote the ideas of socialist republicanism, as best expressed by James Connolly, Liam Mellows, and Peadar O’Donnell. The forum is named after Peadar O’Donnell in recognition of his outstanding role as a union organiser, republican soldier, author, enemy of fascism, friend of the worker and small farmer, committed socialist, and lifelong activist for peace and against imperialism.
      At a time when our people are being ground down daily by the brutalities of the bankrupt capitalist system and the inability of the two failed states in Ireland to provide any solution to their problems, the Peadar O’Donnell Forum believes that the time has come for a decisive break with the present system—or, as Connolly so memorably put it, to set about the reconquest of Ireland.
      All Ireland is under the domination of global capitalism and imperialism, which exercises its control through the machinery of the European Union and IMF, the direct intervention of the British state, and overt and covert US influence. This control is exercised at every level and in every area of life—economically, socially, politically, ideologically, culturally, and environmentally—and is welcomed, endorsed and facilitated by the domestic capitalist class, north and south, who have long ago given up any thought of creating a society that would “cherish all the children of the nation equally.”
      Our children emigrate in their tens of thousands, while their parents labour ever-longer hours for lower wages—not to maintain jobs, health, education and essential social services for the people but to sacrifice those to further bolster the obscene wealth and protect the super-profits of global finance capital, the source and cause of the crisis.
      The Peadar O’Donnell Forum believes that ways and means must be found to challenge this reality, to devise and develop campaigns and policies that take account of all these factors and that mobilise the people to take control of their own destiny and bypass corrupt politicians and the failed systems that they represent and to set about building a 32-county socialist republic.
      Towards this end, the forum has set itself the initial task of organising a number of seminars around the country, which can provide an opportunity for those who subscribe to the principles of the forum to come together and discuss the application of socialist republican ideas to the problems that confront us. It is also intended to publish the papers from the original seminars.
      Support for these ventures is sought from all those who subscribe to the principles underpinning the forum and those that reflect the debates and discussion that have taken place:
• active opposition to the rule of imperialism in Ireland, whether exercised through the diktats of the European Union and IMF over Dáil Éireann and through the British state and its client assembly in Belfast;
• support for the maintenance and protection of Irish neutrality, and solidarity with all those struggling against imperialism for peace, independence, and social progress;
• recognition of the essentially anti-capitalist nature of our struggle: capitalism cannot and will not solve our problems;
• understanding that change can be brought about only by people themselves, in the first place by actively defending their immediate interests but more importantly by confronting and defeating this system and the forces and structures that defend it;
• accepting that, in the conditions existing in Ireland today, there is no place for militarism or the use of armed force and that the continued recourse to violence is harmful to the development and furthering of mass politics, playing into the hands of those who are opposed to Irish independence and unity;
• believing that our vision of a united socialist Ireland can be brought about only by the unity in action of the people, north and south, Catholic, Protestant, and Dissenter; this necessitates active opposition to all forms of sectarianism and racism and the promotion of equality at all levels of society;
• recognition of the centrally important role of the trade union movement, uniting as it does within its ranks half a million workers of all religions and none, north and south, in public and in private-sector employment; it must be won for active resistance to the current austerity and a return to the radical policies of Connolly and Larkin.
      Finally, we strongly affirm our belief that the unity we seek is fundamentally a unity of the people and not merely the territorial integrity of the island.

“We cannot conceive of a free Ireland with a subject working class; we cannot conceive of a free working class in a subject Ireland.”—James Connolly.

Peadar O’Donnell Socialist Republican Forum

Statement of principles

      1. The aim of the Forum is to promote the ideas of socialist republicanism, as best expressed by Connolly, Mellows and O’Donnell, which hold that the people of Ireland should own and control the country and its resources, politically, socially, and economically in advancing the cause of undoing the conquest of Ireland and building a socialist republic.
      2. Ending the dominance of imperialism requires the return of full control to the people over Ireland in all aspects. This can only happen in an Ireland that has regained its independence and sovereignty and that is fully democratic with the people in control of all decision making. In the socialist republic, society will be organised to meet the needs of the people and enable them to lead free and fulfilled lives. Full democratic control means that production and the economy will be entirely in the hands of the people.
      3. Ireland, North and South, is under the control of imperialism, a control which is exercised through the agencies of global monopoly capital, the intervention of the British State, the combined EU, US influence, the IMF and other instruments of control. This domination is welcomed, actively supported and facilitated by the dominant domestic capitalist interests North and South which are willing junior partners in imperialism. Thus to struggle to undo the conquest it is necessary to oppose and actively resist both the imperial interests and their domestic gate keepers. That struggle has the potential to draw into activity all those who suffer the effects of this dual domination. In effect, this means the vast majority of the Irish people.
      4. The control of capitalism and imperialism over our lives expresses itself at every level: economically, socially, politically, ideologically, culturally and environmentally. Therefore any organised resistance has to devise and develop campaigns and policies which take account of all these factors and must mobilise the people to engage actively at every level. The complexities of these tasks require open and honest debate among socialists and republicans and necessitate seeking maximum unity in creating networks and alliances.
      5. The Forum recognises the important role of the trade union movement as the biggest organisation of the working class. We should seek to promote and popularise class politics among its members and challenge ideas that limit its potential as a major agency for change.
      6. The Forum will provide an opportunity to discuss and publicise the application of our ideas to contemporary problems while popularising the reality that the system has to be changed and can only be changed by opening the road to socialism.
      7. The Forum believes that creating an anti-imperialist movement and effecting significant social change requires the unity of all working people, North and South, Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter. A crucial task will be to debate and analyse the nature and causes of sectarianism and to advance ideas for working-class unity.
      8. In the conditions existing in Ireland today, the Forum believes that there is no place for militarism or the use of armed force and that the continued recourse to violence is harmful to the development and furthering of anti-imperialist mass politics.
      9. At the heart of any attempt to build a modern movement to challenge imperialism and create a new Ireland must be a clear understanding that our struggle is but one strand of the global struggle for democracy, independence and sustainable social progress. The Forum declares its solidarity with all those around the world who are fighting for a better tomorrow and sees the protection and extension of Irish neutrality as a major responsibility.
      10. Equally, the Forum is clear about the essentially anti-capitalist nature of our struggle. The various sections of the Irish capitalist class, North and South, have failed over the past 90 years to build a society in which all the children of the nation are cherished equally. They have been tried and found wanting and no amount of tinkering with their failed system can achieve the changes which our people need.
      11. The lack of democracy in Ireland, North and South, along with the continuing sectarianism, discrimination, and inequality can only be successfully resisted by the development of a strong anti-imperialist movement with wide popular support. A political system must be built that reflects the class interest of the majority of people. The legacy of the lack of democracy in the Six Counties and its newer forms of repression must be countered by open campaigning of public opinion. All forms of institutional sectarianism and inequality must be resisted by involving the widest popular support.

Immediate tasks facing the forum

      1. To publish and distribute material from the first series of talks.
      2. To agree a timetable for convening meetings of the steering committee.
      3. To identify interested forum participants and arrange to contact them.
      4. To establish a mechanism to allow other, as yet unidentified but interested participants to contact the forum, e.g. through a web site, Facebook page, or postal address.
      5. To define the nature and content of introductory conferences to local groups. Forum participants will, of course, be encouraged to contribute views and opinions thereafter, but the first meeting is the explanatory session.
      6. To arrange a programme of introductory conferences throughout Ireland (we have already contacted potential hosts in Cos. Wexford, Sligo, Tyrone, Monaghan, and Donegal).

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