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Bree criticises elements of the Irish labour movement for discarding its socialist values
Wednesday January 04, 2006 21:39 by Kat H
Elements of the Irish labour movement are actively undermining its philosophy to keep establishment parties in power, a Labour Party stalwart has claimed. Declan Bree, a former TD and the current mayor of Sligo, made his comments while addressing a wreath-laying ceremony to mark the 60th anniversary of the death of the Leitrim socialist Jim Gralton on January 1.
His comments were widely seen as a thinly veiled attack on his party leader, Pat Rabbitte.
The two men have clashed over the party’s strategy of having a pre-election pact with Fine Gael and Mr Rabbitte’s support for the European Union constitution.
Last year, Mr Bree was subjected to an internal disciplinary hearing after criticising fellow Labour councillors for joining with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to vote down Sligo’s Traveller accommodation unit programme last June.
Mr Rabbitte was also subjected to a hearing after Mr Bree complained about a letter by Mr Rabbitte that appeared in The Irish Times. Mr Bree described as “false and scurrilous” the claims he had tried to relocate the accommodation unit from his own ward.
Speaking at the site of the Pearse-Connolly Hall in Gowel, Co Leitrim, Mr Bree said: “Today, people who would have us compromise would say that socialist activists like Jimmy Gralton and James Connolly were born before their time, that their ideas and philosophy were much too advanced or too radical.
“Unfortunately, people who hold such views and who would have us compromise on our principles can today be found in the ranks of our own movement.
“They are the same elements who consistently attempt to undermine our ideology and who would have the labour and socialist movement in Ireland discard its philosophy and its values and become mere props to keep the main establishment parties in power.
“Our challenge today is to make it abundantly clear to these elements that, like Connolly’s ideology, Gralton’s philosophy and Gralton’s values are fundamental to what our movement is all about.”
Mr Bree added: “We need to fight for the vision of an alternative Ireland, a society driven by values other than greed, environmental degradation and blind consumerism.”
Amid a red scare in 1933, the Free State government deported Jim Gralton.
He spent the rest of his life involved in the US labour movement and was buried in New York’s Woodlawn cemetery 60 years ago last week.
A Connolly Forum public meeting entitled Jim Gralton — the Leitrim Socialist will be held in the Trades Club, Castle Street, Sligo, on Wednesday, January 19, at 8.30pm.
Pat Feeley, the writer and former RTÉ radio presenter, will be among the speakers.