The Future Begins Today
by Eoghan O'Donnell
Irish republicans are facing a crisis. Despite the fact that we are
opposed to Stormont and want an end to British rule, we have no program
with which our long-term objectives can be achieved. Republicans do not
have a series of short-term achievable goals, only a distant one - that
of a united Ireland. In the absence of a republican network there will
be no movement towards this objective and without a strategy it will become
a mere aspiration. Without a strategy there is no political base from which
we can build a movement for Irish freedom. We all want a united Ireland
but it will only be achieved through the pursuit of clear, well-defined
objectives. The Irish Anti-Partition League proposes that the adoption
and execution of a boycott strategy should be the first step towards restoring
Irish republicanism. No struggle was ever sustained on hopes alone - only
a series of definite and precise objectives can support us on the road
The first step on the road to a united Ireland is unity. At present,
republicans are thinly dispersed and badly disorganised, lacking any immediate,
coherent and central focus that will bring us together as a force. Without
this focus republicanism remains vague, unreal and abstract. Without a
clear political basis, opposition to British rule then appears eccentric
and unrealistic and all of the manifestations and institutions of British
rule grow more normal, more acceptable, more enduring. As long as republicans
remain vulnerable, separated and alone it will be very easy for our enemies
to isolate and remove us. There is no victory in merely existing. We need
to achieve results. The Irish Anti-Partition League has been established
to deal firstly with this basic problem - our lack of unity. There will
never be any effective opposition to Stormont, never mind the advent of
national liberation, if republicans cannot agree on a basis from which
to rebuild a new republican movement. And there is no republican movement
at present, just a loose collection of individuals and tiny groups who,
although they want a united Ireland, are not even united among themselves.
The IAPL has been established to provide a non-party-political network
for everybody who wants a free Ireland. It can serve autonomous individuals
as well as already existing political groups. It is a network through which
connections can be made, discussion can happen, and from which serious
political action can be taken. It is a network for authentic republicans
who want to establish a real republic, for sincere and original thinkers
who want to turn the tables in this failing contest. It exists for seriously
minded people who want to make a free Ireland and not just talk about it.
The IAPL is filling the gap that exists in republicanism and is doing so
by combining the best political experience with the new and fresh perspectives
of young people who have been involved for a shorter time. The League is
radical, it is revolutionary and it is real. It is addressing the need
to replace old dogma with a genuine republican programme for freedom and
radical social change.
By unity, the IAPL does not mean conformism, but shared experience among
republicans as equals and as comrades. Unity means agreement and real comradeship
on fundamental issues, such as partition, socialism, free speech and free
thought, the right to organise and to protest and the right to a decent
wage. Issues that we need be uniting around are throwing themselves up
every day - the re-imposition of Stormont, Orange fascism, the curse of
low wages and desperate working conditions all over Ireland, Britain's
ongoing surveillance war, the Sinn Fein terror gangs and their beatings
- the list is endless. But without a reeal network that will allow people
to address these problems as free agents, they cannot even begin to be
discussed. Results will only ever be achieved through hard work and commitment,
not through tokenism.
Our message is straight and clear: it is time for everybody to be up
and helping - helping themselves, helping each other, helping their country.
The republican priority must be to replace factionalism with hard work
and results. The Stormont "peace" process has produced ruin, destruction
and submission but now is the time for a new start. Republicans can start
now by joining the network and working for freedom. Our political and cultural
identity as republicans is greater than any political party and by its
very nature defies the narrow categorization that political parties represent.
It requires a free and adequate debate and a cogent solution right now
because the republican experience is being erased from popular memory and
reconstructed as another dull version of constitutional nationalism.
The future begins today and this is the time for a new start. The republican
network is growing and is challenging the Brits, their collaborators, and
their lies. Although the situation might appear bleak there is a way forward
through serious thought and realistic planning. The first step for republicans
to take should be that of boycotting Stormont. The puppet assembly has
no real power and its only meaning is to disguise the colonial connection.
By developing a boycott campaign that we will carry into the next election
we can have an immediate impact and make republicanism real again. Boycotting
Stormont and its politicians will reduce their power, influence and control.
As a strategy it will give republicans the focus that they are lacking.
Most importantly, it will give people the space to think, and act, for
themselves, away from the thoughtless babble of Stormont politicians and
the meaningless rhetoric of the tiny parties that pretend to oppose partition.
Our situation is clear and only one way out of it presents itself -
unity. Until we unite there will be no freedom. Without a planned and coherent
strategy there will be no movement and, apart from the boycott plan, no
other strategy has been presented. With unity the strategy of boycott there
will be a start, and when there is a start there is hope. This crisis will
test the value of anybody who claims to be a republican because people
are judged by what they do, not by what they say. The first positive thing
that anybody can and should do is join the Irish Anti-Partition League,
extend the network and help rebuild the republican position.
Aggregate Document No.1
COLLECTIVELY DRAFTED POLICY/STRATEGY DOCUMENT
THE IRISH ANTI-PARTITION LEAGUE is dedicated to the traditional Irish
republican goals of eliminating the British military and administrative
presence from Ireland. British interference, not least their carefully
fostered, and institutionalized negative sectarian influences, will only
cease with the establishment of a 32-county republic: whereby the revolutionary
ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity can be finally adopted, embraced
and realized, within nationally endorsed democratic structures.
The IA-PL, in the summer of 1999, was created in Derry, the second major
city, within the six British-occupied northeastern counties. Our founders
are veterans of the civil rights movement and non-aligned republican and
socialist activists. Their collective desire is to create a truly democratic
and basically anti-hierarchical network. Within this network three categories
of association have evolved:
(1) Registered Societies;
(2) Associate Members
(3) External Correspondents.
Our founders' stated aims have necessitated ensuring collective dialogue,
at all times, on all major issues relating to policy, strategy and administration.
This document, and others (released on request), truly reflects such internal
The League is non-party political and totally free standing. It will
neither seek nor accept funding from an established political party or
any government agency, so as to ensure its total independence. It will
at all times pursue an internal self-financing policy, although donations
for central administration will always be needed and welcome from existing
societies, associate members, and other genuine sympathizers.
The League's work focuses on several fronts, including, Research &
Development (within and between networks); Culture & Learning; Heritage
Promotion; Humanitarian Concerns (including prisoners); Human Rights &
Civil Liberties; Media Interventions, and advancing specific working class
socio-economic issues. All involved should be regularly engaged on at least
one of these fronts.
Associate members are those who indicate their desire to receive regular
updates and who register by snail mail, verbally or via this workstation.
Registration presents an opportunity to study the IA-PL's immediate and
long-term concerns, before individuals, or fraternal organisations, commit
hemselves to more fully participate, on any chosen front, as part of this
pro-active network. Every associate member is expected to "report-in" at
least once, over a one-month period. Registered societies will additionally
be expected to present a more detailed report, on a periodic basis. Each
quarter, those failing to do so. are removed from our respective mailing
lists. Such periodic pruning is vital to maintain and advance the pro-active
character of "the network".
Associate members in any known geographical location will be encouraged
to form societies. Our primary concern is with issues and campaigns, not
solely the current policy stances of other anti-GFA groupings, parties,
publications or "personalities". Attaining total agreement between anti-GFA
groups, is we feel somewhat utopian, but co-operation and sharing joint
platforms, on ISSUES & CAMPAIGNS, is certainly the very least to strive
for in our daily endeavors.
Societies can be established with four (4) like-minded anti-partitionists.
All would be expected to accept the need for a pro-active approach in rejecting
both partitionist assemblies. Registration implies a clear recognition
that these institutions, established at the closing stages of the War for
Independence, were contrary to the will of the Irish people, as expressed
in the last all-Ireland election of December 1918. Designed to frustrare
the will of a national majority, Britian backed its unilaterial legislation
with overt threats, and overwhelmingly repressive force of arms. This same
pattern was adopted by both neo-colonial régimes, within jurisdictions
defined by Britain. Such created an artificial border, whereby Westminster
retained control of the six northeastern counties.
Within the IA-PL all major policy and strategy positions are worked
out ONLY between established societies. Such will solely be reflected in
jointly agreed statements that are issued via this workstation. However,
general media intervention e.g. letters to editors or press releases, does
not require that degree of dialogue or consensus. Providing the time and
means to obtain joint-agreement based on fraternal dialogue, is the central
function of this workstation. It will not be the practice of any society
to issue major action calls or statements without initially going through
this outlined process.
The IA-PL was set up to encourage a unity of purpose among those skeptical,
or opposed to what is termed "the current political process". Such has
produced another Anglo-Irish Treaty, wherein Britain, together with their
mainstream Ulster Unionist puppets have retained, and used their overriding
vetoes. As in 1920, these were reinforced, not diluted, by Westminster
statute, in latter days. Such "devolved powers", which can be unilaterally
abolished at any time, (as in February 2000) ensure the continuation of
British occupation, influence, administration and ultimate control. The
mask of "Pan-Nationalism" has slipped, and thereby considerably weakened,
as a London proconsul's powers remain absolute and supreme, contrary to
what was supposedly agreed on Good Friday, 1998. In time "Pan-Nationalism"
will be viewed as an almost irrelevance, vis-à-vis ending British
rule, even when backed by the power and collaboration of the White House
and Irish American politicians.
While there appears to be disagreements within the anti-GFA "NO" camp,
it would not be productive for the IA-PL to absorb its time and effort
towards pronouncing on this line or that, or take "sides" within such a
diversity of opinions. Such could hardly promote "a unity of purpose",
but would further deeper and wider any gulf that does exist, or is perceived
to exist within groups, or between groups.
The IA-PL, although growing, is still at an early stage of development,
wherein we all have a crucial role to play. One strategy, promoted in the
original draft of this document, before collective dialogue ensued, strongly
canvassed the promotion of broadly based collaboration in terms of an electoral
strategy. The co-operation then envisaged revolved around a proposed boycott
campaign. Such has since been collectively agreed. It must be organized
NOW, well before elections to Stormont or Leinster House, and not left
to when the date for polling is announced. The general intention is to
deny any degree of legitimacy to both assemblies, specifically designed
to maintain, and promote partition, and all that flows from such. These
assemblies merely preserve a status quo, which will never provide genuine
peace, or real stability based on economic democracy and social justice.