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.

Voters in the north of Ireland have delivered their verdict on the Stormont Assembly. As we have consistently explained the Good Friday Agreement, and the institutions of devolution associated with it, could never begin to solve the problems facing ordinary working people no matter what their background. Indeed the divide between Catholics and Protestants has never been wider. The election result itself demonstrates a further polarisation in the shape of Paisley's DUP becoming the main Unionist Party, while Sinn Fein overtook the SDLP as the main Nationalist party.