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Dublin - Event Notice
Friday April 21 2006
01:00 AM

Public Meeting: James Connolly, 1916 & the fight against Empire today

category dublin | history and heritage | event notice author Tuesday April 18, 2006 16:14author by Kevin Wingfield - SWPauthor email info at swp dot ieauthor phone 01-8722682 Report this post to the editors

Friday 21 April 8pm Cassidys Hotel, Parnell Square
Speakers: Kieran Allen (Author: The politics of James Connolly);
Lorcan Collins (Author: The Easter Rising);
Conor Kostick (Author: Revolution in Ireland, Popular Militancy, 1917-23);
Helena McNeill

The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, has claimed that ‘the proclamation of the Republic on Easter Monday was a cry of radical idealism that shook the world in 1916 and still challenges us today’.

It certainly challenges the political establishment - then and now. The 1916 rebellion was a blow against imperialism which scandalised to the Home Rule leaders and terrified the respectable classes.

Its legacy haunts a government that is actively collaborating in yet another imperialist war to oppress the people of Iraq. With more than 300,000 US troops flying through Shannon each year, Ireland has become the main European staging post for this war. The lies and attempted cover-up about how Shannon was used to transport Apache attack helicopters which attack Palestinian homes shows the depths to which this government will stoop. Bertie Ahern and John Redmond certainly share a lot in common.

The 1916 Proclamation was a mildly radical document but there is no evidence that its promise ‘to cherish all the children of the nation equally’ has had any impact on modern Ireland. Instead, we have become one of the most unequal societies in the industrialised world, spending for example, far less on social protection than the EU average.

The best way to honour those who fought in 1916 today might therefore be to examine what they actually stood for instead of staging a military parade. In particular, we might look at the ideas of James Connolly who explicitly warned against an Ireland where “the green-coated Irish soldiers will guard the fraudulent gains of the capitalist and landlord from the ‘think hands of the poor’ just as remorselessly and just as effectually as the scarlet-coated emissaries of England”.

Part of the myth-making of official Ireland was that James Connolly was a mainstream Irish nationalism with some vague social concerns. Connolly was in fact a revolutionary socialist, a Marxist whose explicit aim was ‘to confiscate the property of the capitalist class’ and to establish a socialist republic. Unlike the former tyrannical regimes of Eastern Europe, Connolly identified socialism with workers’ control rather then just state ownership.

For all these reasons, his ideas are more relevant today than they were even in 1916. To assess those ideas, the Socialist Workers Party is sponsoring a public meeting on James Connolly and 1916

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