Tuesday, 13 December 2011

éirígí Ard-Fheis November 2011 – Full Report

Saturday, November 26, saw upwards of 150 people participate in Ard-Fheis éirígí, November 2011. The daylong event, which took place in the Teachers Club on Dublin’s Parnell Square, saw activists from across the country come together to rededicate themselves to the struggle for a free Ireland.
An Ard-Fheis opened with an organisational report for 2011 delivered by Runaí Ginearálta éirígí Breandán Mac Cionnatith. Reports then followed from Daithí Mac An Mháistir, Ciaran Heaphey and Pádraig Ó Meiscill, the respective heads of éirígí’s Membership, Finance and Publicity Departments. A question and answer session then completed the organisational section of An Ard-Fheis.
Next on the clár was a discussion on the issue of abortion, which saw many members give their views on this potentially divisive issue. The hour-long discussion was particularly useful as it gave party activists the opportunity to hear the views of comrades from all parts of the country. The issue will now be discussed further within the party’s local Ciorcal (branches) before the membership will decide éirígí’s position on abortion.
The head of éirígí’s Irish language department, Ursula Ní Shionnain, then presented a comprehensive draft Irish language policy paper to An Ard-Fheis, before taking questions and comment from the floor. A number of activists took the opportunity to stress the importance of the Irish language in the wider struggle for a free and independent Ireland. As is the case with all important policy and strategy issues the draft language paper will be further discussed within local Ciorcal before a vote will be taken on the adoption of same.
The second item but one before lunch saw An Ard-Fheis discuss, and vote on, motions covering a wide spectrum of issues including International Solidarity, the British occupation of the Six Counties, the current economic crisis and the cutbacks to vital public services on both sides of Britain’s border in Ireland. The full text of all motions carried by An Ard-Fheis can be accessed here.
The final business of this morning session saw the seven national party positions filled as follows, Brian Leeson (Cathaoirleach), Rab Jackson (Leas-Chathaoirleach), Breandán Mac Cionnaith (Rúnaí Ginearálta), Ciaran Heaphey and Micheál Mac Neighill (Cisteoirí x 2), Pádraig Ó Meiscill (An tOifigeach Caidrimh Phoiblí) and Daithí Mac An Mháistir (An tOifigeach Ballraíochta).
After a short lunch break An Ard-Fheis resumed with the first of three external speakers, Hugh Corcoran of Na Croisbhealaí workers’ cooperative café in Belfast. Hugh spoke of the process of establishing a co-op, of the role played by co-ops in wider political struggles internationally, and of the importance of supporting such grassroots’ worker-led initiatives.
Daithí Mac An Mháistir then took to the stage to give a short presentation on the establishment of éirígí’s new supporters organisation, Clann éirígí. Daithí explained that Clann éirígí had been established to provide a relatively easy access point to the struggle for people in Ireland and overseas. He went on to detail how membership of Clann éirígí will targeted at four main categories of people, namely, those living outside of Ireland; students in universities and colleges across Ireland; those living in Ireland in areas as where there is no established éirígí organisation and finally those who wish to formally align themselves with éirígí but who are not in a position to commit to full party membership. More about Clann éirígí will follow on this website in the coming weeks.
The second external speaker addressing the packed hall was Phil Ferguson from New Zealand. In his contribution Phil explained his own background as a political activist who came to Ireland in the 1980s to play an active role in the Irish republican struggle.
The second éirígí presentation of the afternoon saw John McCusker give the rationale behind the recent launching of a fundraising drive for an éirígí national headquarters building. He explained that the party intends to purchase a premise which will become the physical centre for a resurgent militant Irish republicanism, a base within which a wide range of administrative, campaigning, publicity and educational activities can take place. Further details of éirígí’s National Headquarters Fund will follow on this website over the coming weeks.
The third and final external speaker, Irish language activist Tomás Ó Conghaile, then spoke to An Ard-Fheis. He spoke about the work of the Irish language movement, and the importance of the language in the context of the struggle for the reconquest of Ireland.
The final speaker of the day, Cathaoirleach éirígí Brian Leeson, was then introduced to An Ard-Fheis by éirígí Dublin City Councillor Louise Minihan. In his address, Brian looked back on the local elections in the Six Counties and the state visit of Elizabeth Windsor, both of which took place in May of this year. He congratulated and thanked those who voted for éirígí and those who took to the streets of Dublin to oppose the British royal visit.
Brian then went on to talk about the current state of republicanism and the socio-economic crisis that is gripping all parts of Ireland. He asked those present to consider the possibilities that the current situation might hold for the building of a revolutionary socialist republican movement and the role that they might play in realising that potential.
When Brian’s speech completed a rendition of Amhrán na bhFiann brought a memorable and successful Ard-Fheis to a close.
An Teanga
Motion No 1
This Ard Fheis
  1. Views the failure of the Stormont Executive to properly legislate for Acht na Gaeilge as a deliberate attempt to undermine the rights of Irish speakers and an attempt to stifle further language growth in the Six Counties.
  2. Believes that the current policies being implemented by the Dublin government will have long-term negative consequences for the promotion and potential growth of An Gaeilge and will threaten the future sustainability of existing Gaeltacht communities.
Motion No 2
This Ard Fheis
Accepts the reasons for the delay in the Ard Fheis mandated discussion on the issue of abortion/termination and welcomes the recent publication of internal party documentation as a prelude to a widespread discussion and debate within the party on this issue.
Policy Development
Motion No 3
This Ard Fheis
Commits éirígí to a process of ongoing policy formulation and mandates An Ciorcal Náisiúnta to oversee this important factor in the party's overall development as a matter of priority.
Motion No 4
This Ard Fheis
  1. Supports the proposed amendment to section 4.4 of Bunreacht éirígí to read:
    Through the contesting of elections where the contesting of such elections is deemed to advance éirígí's objectives. Decisions relating to the contesting of elections and participation in institutions to which members are elected shall be made by the membership at Ard Fheis or Ciorcal Aitiúil.
Motion No 5
This Ard Fheis
  1. Endorses the efforts made by An Ciorcal Náisiúnta to secure an éirígí national headquarters.
  2. Commits all members and party units to actively supporting those efforts.
Motion No 6
This Ard Fheis
Commits An Ciorcal Náisiúnta to organising a minimum of four major internal national party events annually.
Motion No 7
This Ard Fheis recognises the importance of popularising socialist republican politics and as part of this process proposes over the coming year to:
  1. Re-publish its position paper ‘From Socialism Alone Can the Salvation of Ireland Come’ and to distribute it widely at party events locally, regionally and nationally;
  2. Commence publishing pamphlets at regular intervals that encompass both historic events and issues as well as contemporary political, socio-economic, and cultural campaigns and issues;
  3. Encourages the party at local and regional level to holding publicly advertised meetings on a regular basis.
British Occupation
Motion No 8
This Ard Fheis
  1. Commends all of those who have supported éirígí's campaign for a British withdrawal over the last twelve months. Their steadfastness in the face of intense harassment by the forces of the Six and Twenty Six Counties is to be commended.
  2. Notes with deep concern the ongoing use of draconian legislation in both the Six and Twenty Six Counties and, in particular, condemns the clearly politically inspired targeting of our party members and supporters.
Motion No 9
This Ard Fheis
  1. Condemns the Dublin government for their display of grovelling servitude during the state visit of Elizabeth Windsor to the Twenty Six Counties.
  2. Pays tribute to the hundreds of citizens who joined with éirígí to oppose the state visit of Elizabeth Windsor to the Twenty Six Counties.
Motion No 10
This Ard Fheis
  1. Notes with deep concern the ongoing use of plastic bullets by the British police in the occupied Six Counties.
  2. Rejects the assertion that plastic bullets are a legitimate 'non-lethal' weapon.
  3. Reiterates its call for the immediate banning of plastic bullets across Ireland.
Motion No 11
This Ard Fheis
Pays tribute to the commitment and dedication of the family of the late Pat Finucane, the Ballymurphy Massacre Campaign and all others who campaign for the truth in relation to Britain's official and unofficial death squads in Ireland.
Political Prisoners
Motion No 12
This Ard Fheis
  1. Calls for the immediate release of all Irish republican political prisoners.
  2. Extends solidarity greetings to all Irish republican political prisoners imprisoned in Ireland and overseas.
  3. Calls for an end to the human rights abuse, including strip searching, of republican political prisoners in Maghaberry Prison.
  4. Supports the republican political prisoners in Maghaberry in their demand for the implementation of the August 2010 Agreement.
Natural Resources
Motion No 13
This Ard Fheis
  1. Condemns the recent granting of 13 offshore exploration licences in the Atlantic Margin, by Twenty Six County minister of Communications and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte, as a further surrender of Ireland's natural resources to private corporate interests.
  2. Recognises that under the current licencing terms, the state's take from its vast oil and gas reserves will be extremely low, offers no security of supply as companies can export these resources or sell them back to consumers on the domestic market at full market price
  3. Believes that the people of Ireland should control and enjoy the benefits of its natural resources and therefore calls for the nationalisation of Ireland's vast oil and gas reserves and the establishment of a state oil and gas exploration company.
  4. Pledges its continuing support for the Shell to Sea campaign and recognises the commitment and steadfastness of the community in Rossport and the Rossport Solidarity Camp in opposing the continuing occupation of north-west Mayo by Shell Oil.
Motion No 14
This Ard Fheis
  1. Reaffirms éirígí's position that the struggle for national, economic, political and social freedom in Ireland cannot be understood in isolation from the wider struggle for freedom and justice internationally.
  2. Restates its firm belief that the realisation of a just international political order can only be achieved through the overthrow of the global system of imperialism and capitalism and its replacement by a system based upon the fundamental tenets of socialism.
  3. Once again takes the opportunity to extend fraternal solidarity and revolutionary greetings to all of those individuals and organisations that struggle for national, economic, political and social freedom across the globe.
  4. Extends special solidarity greetings to the peoples and revolutionary movements of Colombia, Cuba and Venezuela.
Motion No 15
This Ard Fheis
  1. Reiterates éirígí's support for the Palestinian people in their struggle for freedom and self-determination
  2. Takes this opportunity to once again extend fraternal greetings and solidarity to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine as it struggles for the creation of an independent, secular and socialist Palestinian state,
  3. Calls for the release of all Palestinian political prisoners, and in particular, calls for the immediate release of Comrade Ahmad Sa'adat, General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Motion No 16
This Ard Fheis
Stands in solidarity with the Scottish people in their continuing struggle for national liberation, and views a positive outcome to the proposed 'referendum on independence' as one means of galvanising support behind the demand for full political and economic independence in the pursuit of the final goal of a Scottish Worker's Republic.
Motion No 17
This Ard Fheis
  1. Notes that a commitment given at the January 2011 Ard Fheis to organise a major public conference on an international theme was not fulfilled. Mandates the incoming Ciorcal Náisiúnta to ensure that at least one such conference occurs during 2012.
  2. Mandates the incoming Ciorcal Náisiúnta to continue its work to develop further links with relevant progressive individuals and organisations across the globe.
Religious Sectarianism and Racism
Motion No 18
This Ard Fheis
  1. Condemns sectarian attacks in general and the concerted sectarian attacks on the community of the Short Strand earlier this year in particular.
  2. Notes with deep concern the rise in racially motivated attacks across Ireland.
  3. Condemns all racially and religiously motivated attacks, from whatever quarter they emanate.
Motion No 19
This Ard Fheis
  1. Condemns the Dublin government for the ongoing cutback budgets, which penalise working class communities, the poor, the sick and other vulnerable sectors of society.
  2. Is appalled that public services are targeted to bear the brunt of the Dublin government's plans to reduce the public debt which resulted from the bail-out of banks and financial institutions.
  3. Rejects any notion that working people and their families should be subjected to severe austerity measures in order to pay for an economic crisis created through an unrelenting pursuit of super-profits by private financial institutions and property speculators.
  4. Commits éirígí to a campaign of vigorous and sustained opposition to the interference of the International Monetary Fund and the European Union in Irish affairs.
Motion No 20
This Ard Fheis
  1. Recognises that the introduction, next January, of a €100 household tax in the Twenty Six Counties represents yet another Dublin government attempt to force the working class to pay the private gambling debts of bankers and speculators.
  2. Acknowledges that this is simply the beginning of a series of new taxes that will be imposed on households in the Twenty Six counties as part of the EU/IMF deal
  3. Calls for a boycott of this unjust tax and pledges its active support for the No Household and Water Tax campaign
Motion No 21
This Ard Fheis
  1. Re-asserts the view that the primary purpose of the Stormont Assembly and Executive is to administer and implement British government policy in the Six Counties.
  2. Recognises that the Stormont Executive willing agreement to implement cut-backs in public sector expenditure amounting to over £4 billion will increase even further the already unacceptably high levels of unemployment and social and economic disadvantage in the Six Counties.
  3. Views as duplicitous and deceitful, the consensus within the Stormont Executive of actively advocating a reduction in corporation tax levels while penalising workers and the less well-off in society.
Motion No 22
This Ard Fheis
  1. Is deeply concerned at the lack of action by the trade union leaderships in campaigning against cuts which already have hit living standards extremely harshly, cost thousands of jobs and damaged public services across Ireland.
  2. Encourages the general membership of the trade union movement to actively reclaim their movement from a failed elitist leadership that shows little interest in defending the interests of the working class.
  3. Supports and endorses those calls from grass-roots trades unionists for strike actions as a means of fighting back against the austerity measures being imposed on the working class across Ireland.
  4. Re-commits éirígí to joining with trades unionists, community and voluntary organisations and other progressive groupings in building grass-roots opposition to the cut backs being imposed by the Dublin government and Stormont Executive that are targeting the less well off and most vulnerable in our society.

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