Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Traitors to Ireland and the Working Class

Sometimes it can give an activist some smug contentment to say ‘I told you so’.
Many left-wing and republican activists have crowed loudly about how they predicted the economic bust and chastised people with memories of their unheeded warnings. While this may help the self esteem of the activist in question, it is a sad reality that this wallowing in self regard does nothing for the cause of revolutionary socialism. Instead, it puts people’s backs up and means that they only hear sneering when they should be being won over with arguments for resistance against capitalism and imperialism and the building of an alternative society.

Sadly, a similar ‘I told you so’ situation exists for Irish republicans and socialists with regard to British armed forces recruitment in Ireland. éirígí has been mobilising since its inception against the continued occupation of Ireland and the thousands of troops stationed here, representing Britain’s military domination of the Six Counties.

Also since its foundation, éirígí has warned against the British campaign to recruit Irish citizens into the ranks of British military organisations. In the last two years it has become clear that this campaign has had some success.

In May 2009, the British Ministry of Defence announced that they were increasing their recruiting targets in Ireland from the average yearly intake of 300 new soldiers up to 500. This target is in addition to the almost 450 people who are recruited annually to the British army’s reserve the Territorial Army. With recruitment suffering in England, Scotland and Wales, a major effort was being made to use the economic turmoil in Ireland as a recruiting sergeant.

This recruitment drive wasn’t to be confined to unionist strongholds and major efforts have been made to increase the numbers signing up in the Twenty-Six Counties. The Irish Times and other sections of the corporate media have played an important role in this in providing regular flattering articles on Irishmen taking part in British ‘adventures’ in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This recruitment drive has proven relatively successful. Between 2007 and ’08, 10 people with addresses in the Twenty-Six Counties joined the British army; then, in the year from 2008 to ’09, 50 signed on the blood soaked line; and between 2009 and ’10 the figure was 85.

éirígí has made a consistent effort to resist British recruitment. Protests against the RIR march through Belfast city centre and British navy vessels in Irish ports; pickets of British recruitment stalls at universities and job fairs; alongside letters, literature and posters have all made for a vibrant campaign of resistance. The simple truth, though, is that this is an uphill battle. The scale of the economic collapse is stark and the level of resources behind the recruitment campaign is vast.

The message must be got out loud a clear. Young Irish men and women who join the British armed forces are traitors. They are traitors to the memories of the thousands of Irish citizens killed, tortured or imprisoned directly by the British army as part of the occupation of Ireland. They are traitors to those Irish citizens killed by unionist militias who the British establishment resourced and directed.

They are also traitors to the thousands of Iraqi and Afghan civilians who die each year as a direct result of British imperialism. They are class traitors, for most of these recruits come from working class estates throughout Ireland and they, for a few hundred euro each week, choose to protect the interests of an economic system built to enrich the few.

‘I told you so’ is no answer. Active campaigning is.


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