At Easter every year in every parish in Ireland and in many places around the world Irish Republicans gather to pay homage to those men and women who died in the struggle for independence. This year, 2012, will be no different. However, whereas 50 years ago there was only one Republican Movement, today there are at least seven different republican traditions that have emerged out of the northern struggle.

It happens every July – the marching season! Through the streets of cities in Northern Ireland and Scotland the Orange Walks take place, come rain or shine. With shoulders back and heads held high they march to the beat of bigotry, exhibiting their pride in their Protestant religion although many of them don’t see the inside of a Church from one year’s end to the next.

The compromise of the “Irish Free State” was too unsatisfactory to Irish Republicans and to the Irish in general, to survive. They wanted total independence. After years of sporadic violence and unrest, with the Treaty receiving some amendments, the 1921 Treaty was arbitrarily scrapped in 1948. John A. Costello, Taoiseach of The Inter Party Government, declared that, as of Easter Monday, 1949, The Irish Free State was to be known as The Republic of Ireland (Eire). [part 1]

Parnell’s Home Rule Party was divided by the exposure of his affair with a married woman, Kitty O’Shea. She left her husband before she ever took up with Parnell and was his mistress for ten years before her husband sued for divorce, citing Parnell as co-respondent. His enemies had a field day when the scandal became public knowledge and the Catholic Bishops in particular condemned him. Parnell died eleven months later, in October, 1891, aged 45. His Home Rule Party never fully recovered. [part 1]

Meanwhile the nineteenth century was proving to be another age of poverty, oppression and starvation for the mostly Catholic tenant farmers. They were still at the mercy of the landlords who charged increasingly exorbitant rents and would not hesitate to evict any family who could not pay. Keeping his tenancy was a matter of life or death to the farmer and his family. [part 1]

William of Orange allied himself to two popes: Pope Innocent XI (1676/89) and Pope Alexander VIII (1689/91). These two Popes were more than happy to support William III in his fight against the Catholic James II, and he was equally happy to support them in their war against France’s Louis XIV. [part 1]

When the Irish Catholic priest Fr. Hugh O’Donnell decided it was time to build a Catholic church in Belfast he had a problem: it costs a lot of money to build a church. The Catholic population of Belfast was too small and too poor to provide enough money, so if he had to rely on the Catholics alone it would take forever. He had to seek help elsewhere. So he asked the Protestants of Belfast to help him out. As you do.

As we approach the 95th anniversary of the Easter Rising many Irish socialists and republicans will go out as they do every year to marches to celebrate the anniversary of the episode which asserted Ireland’s right to national self-determination. It was, however, also a revolution which saw the working class prove itself in the words of Connolly as “the incorruptible inheritors of the fight for freedom in Ireland.”

We are reprinting this article because the arguments used by Connolly in answering the capitalists are as valid today as when they were written in 1901. Taken from the Workers’ Republic, May 1901.

We are publishing here a speech given by Phil Mitchinson at the 2005 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. Phil, who died tragically in 2006 at the age of 38 would have celebrated his 42nd Birthday on 25th February. His commitment to the revolutionary ideas of Marxism and his boundless optimism were an inspiration to the lucky few who knew him well. Phil needs no monument, his ideas and his spirit are testament enough. Phil was instrumental in the pioneering work that made this website possible and for that we are eternally grateful. We will finish what he started.

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