Oration

by Laura Duggan

National Executive Committee, Communist Party of Ireland
James Connolly Commemoration, Arbour Hill Cemetery, 12 May 2019


It has been 103 years since James Connolly was murdered by the British state, tied to a chair and shot in cold blood for daring to challenge an empire. His body cast into a pit, they tried to bury his ideals, his principles and his cause with him—they didn't succeed.
     We are testament that the ideals that he gave his life for continue to live on. His commitment to the working class here in Ireland as well as internationally continues to inspire, motivate and guide us.
     The struggles we face in 2019 are not so different from those that Connolly battled: poverty, hunger, insecure work and the return of slum landlords besiege our class. People feel powerless; fear and deprivation have been weaponised against us to keep us afraid, tame and obedient.
     These people, our people, seek protection in the institutions of governance—no longer confined to the British Parliament but now Stormont, the Dáil, the EU, and euro zone—which all serve the interests of capitalism, as well as acting as bulwarks against our class exercising any meaningful democratic power.
     Rearranging who sits within them, or notions of bargaining with them or changing them from within, are misguided at best. These institutions serve imperialism and protect their own class; our duty is to ours.
     James Connolly warned us of the danger that would arise if we misunderstood this: “If you remove the English army tomorrow and hoist the Green Flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organisation of the Socialist Republic your efforts would be in vain. England would still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs.”
     This year also marks a hundred years since the establishment of the Limerick Soviet. Although it only lasted fourteen days it was the first of over a hundred soviets that spanned this country. The first, where the workers, inspired by the victories in Soviet Russia, faced down the might of the British army, the capitalists of Limerick and the church. These workers did not wait to be saved or expect to be by anyone but themselves.
     For fourteen days workers controlled the fourth-largest city in Ireland, armed only with a vision of a better world and an unwavering belief in their power when united as a class. The achievements of the Limerick Soviet in just fourteen days are a reminder to us all to believe in our ability as workers and the strength of our class.
     Today we remember Connolly and all those that have given their lives in class struggle; but it is not enough just to recall these men and women: we must take the mantle from them and continue to fight for the liberation of our country and the liberation of our class.
     The Irish people will only be free when they own everything from the plough to the stars.

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