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?

We are publishing here a speech given by Phil Mitchinson at the recent international Marxist school in Barcelona. Dealing with the history of the centuries old struggle for freedom in Ireland, and the part played in that history by republicanism and socialism, as well as the political developments that have led to the current impasse, this should serve as an introduction to a major article analysing the recent declaration of the end of the armed struggle by the Provisional IRA which we will be publishing later this week.

The Irish Republican movement has been struggling for a united Ireland for decades. Today it is no nearer this objective than when it was founded. Marxists understand that a united Ireland can only be achieved on a socialist basis. So long as capitalism dominates Ireland there will be division and strife. Therefore it is time to take stock of the past of the Republican movement and to draw a balance sheet. Only by such means can we build the revolutionary movement urgently needed to prevent a further descent into sectarian chaos and achieve instead the historic task of overthrowing capitalism and constructing the 32 county Socialist Republic.

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