The Irish state today (16th January) marked the final act of the British colonial Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in handing over Dublin Castle – the seat of British administration and control – to the Provisional Government. This act was a follow-on from the signing of the “Articles of Agreement” on 6th December 1921, an agreement between a delegation representing the Government of the Irish Republic and the British Government, accepted by the signatories under the threat of an immediate and bloody war on the Irish by the British occupation forces. The “Articles” were promoted subsequently as an “Anglo-Irish Treaty”.
That agreement failed to deliver an independent Irish Republic as envisaged in the 1916 Proclamation, the 1919 Declaration of Independence, and the Democratic Programme of the revolutionary Dáil Éireann. But rather it reflected in its institutions the strategy of British imperialism to partition Ireland in order to secure and retain its economic, political and military interests and control over the people of Ireland. It was implemented by a brutal civil war against the defenders of the Republic and the establishment of a Free State in which the native capitalist class collaborated with imperialism.
The signing of the “Treaty” and the hand- over of Dublin Castle copper-fastened the betrayal of the struggle for national independence and sovereignty. The forces who accepted partition were happy to be subservient to the needs of imperialism in Ireland and remain so to this day.
The economic, political and sectarian landmines planted by the British colonial power to undermine and thwart the national goal of an all-Ireland sovereign independent democratic state, and they continue to explode. Our people have experienced two failed economic, political and social British constructs in our country. Both entities have blighted the lives of generations of our people since their establishment by force by the British and their colonial collaborators.
An estimated 1.5 million have been forced to emigrate. Our people have lived under the tyranny in the 26 counties of reactionary economic, social and moral policies while the people in the Six Counties have had to bear a century of institutionalised sectarianism, poverty, discrimination and repression.
Today our people across Ireland are experiencing mass homelessness, exploitative rents imposed by both the local landlord class and the absentee landlords of the vulture fund owners. Peoples experience a life of uncertainty at work amid oppressive working conditions and precarious health, a life which continues into a lack of proper provision in old age.
The great betrayal of a century ago continues to haunt the people of Ireland. The aspiration and goals contained in the 1916 Proclamation and the Democratic Programme remain unfulfilled.
The gombeen class may have gathered in Dublin Castle today to raise the tricolour and to self-congratulate themselves on a job well done. What they celebrate in Dublin Castle today is not the achievement of Irish independence but its abandonment and betrayal. But history and the lived experienced of working people from Derry to Kerry tells a different story.
In the present day, we are also exploited by the imperialist powers of the USA and the European Union, with the willing co-operation of the Irish capitalist class, which lives comfortably on the crumbs from the table.
We are reminded of the prophetic words of James Connolly “If you remove the English army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organization 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.”