This Easter marks the 85th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin (Ireland) against British imperialist rule. The outstanding leader of that movement was James Connolly. There have been many attempts to portray him simply as an Irish nationalist. But Connolly was, first and foremost, a militant workers' leader and a Marxist. He alone in the annals of the British and Irish Labour Movement succeeded in developing the ideas of Marxism.

The devolved assembly at Stormont was suspended for the fourth time six months ago in October 2002. Now Blair, Ahern, Adams and Trimble are attempting to raise it from its coffin once more. Democracy, or what passes for it in Belfast, can be switched on and off like a tap it seems. The Stormont assembly represents not an attempt to solve the problems facing ordinary working people, but a scheme to share power between representatives of the main sectarian parties.

In Southern Ireland the economic miracle is well and truly over. As we have predicted and explained for some time now, the Celtic Tiger phenomenon did not mean that capitalism had solved any of its contradictions. Now in the context of a declining world market the only road open to the bosses to protect their profits will be an assault on workers living standards.

After reading the recent report of the visit to the Basque country by leading members of the Irish Republican Socialist Party, and the introduction contributed to Alan Woods’ book Republicanism and Revolution by the IRSP’s Gerry Ruddy, there is a widespread interest in finding out more about the political ideas of the IRSP. Therefore we are publishing the following speech, delivered by IRSP member John Murtagh to a gathering of 200 members of the Republican Socialist Movement at Bodenstown, the burial place of the founding father of Irish Republicanism, Wolfe Tone.

The recent announcement that the Provisional IRA had decommissioned all its weapons has been drowned out by the blasts of the loyalist paramilitaries using theirs. The Good Friday Agreement is dead. Instead of peace we have a dramatic increase in extreme sectarian violence. More than ever the call for working class unity in the struggle for socialism is the only answer.

The recent declaration by the leadership of the Provisional IRA that the armed struggle is over has been reported in the media as an historic turning point and a fundamental departure in Irish politics. In spite of the rhetoric, however, there has not been one single step in the direction of a united Ireland. At least a section of the Provisional Republican movement will now be feeling demoralised and betrayed. They and many others, especially the young people who have just started to become involved in politics, will want to know - what next?

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