1 January 2017
As we enter a new year, working people should look forward with hope and confidence. Around the country tens of thousands celebrated the Centenary of the 1916 Rising with pride. Despite decades of prolonged assault by the establishment and their pet academia, they have failed to undermine the importance of the 1916 Rising in the hearts and minds of working people throughout the country.
2016 was also a year of industrial resistance from the Luas and Dublin bus workers, who won important pay increases. We also witnessed ASTI taking a stand and demanding equal pay for equal work for all new teachers entering the profession. The election of more progressive left TDs is also to be welcomed. The occupation of Apollo House in Dublin by homeless people, with the support of housing activists and trade unionists, has raised the political profile of the growing homelessness and housing crisis.
Working people have driven the government and the establishment back as regards water charges, but we need to remain vigilant and to step up the pressure to ensure that the public ownership of water is enshrined in the Constitution. We cannot allow this important demand to be buried in parliamentary committees or parliamentary procedures. The mobilisation of working people in communities and on the street has brought the struggle this far, and these forms of struggle will ensure that we push our demands over the line to full victory.
We also need to step up the demand for a major public house-building programme, to guarantee the right to housing for all, and reduce reliance on heavy indebtedness to banks.
We witnessed the continued resistance of the Greek working class and intense working-class struggles in France and Belgium, as well as the British working class saying No to the EU, as further examples of the slowly but nevertheless clearly developing resistance by working people against austerity, low wages, precarious employment, longer working hours, and the loss of pensions.
2017 will present new opportunities for working people both here in Ireland and throughout the European Union. The EU is enmeshed in a growing and deepening crisis, not only economic but also political, developing into a crisis of legitimacy. Brexit can only hasten this; but we need to push forward the struggle for Irish national democracy and sovereignty.
A century ago, state power was seized by the revolutionary workers of Russia. 2017 will be a year for honouring this earth-shattering event and helping to energise and refocus the workers’ movement, here in Ireland and internationally.
Things can and must be different from the past; change is not just necessary but is possible and achievable.
Past generations of Irish working people struggled hard. Our people defeated an empire. Workers in Ireland have achieved much against great resistance from imperialism and its ally, the Irish ruling class. Nothing has been given to us: we extracted it by struggle from the Irish ruling class. Without struggle there can be no change. Without unity, the people will remain weak and ineffective.
Make 2017 the year of hope, confidence and resistance!
Build the unity of our people, from Belfast to Cork, from Galway to Dublin!