Not just ending partition but undoing the Conquest

Speech by Laura Duggan at the celebration of the first Dáil Éireann
26 January 2019

Partition is the political arrangement created by British imperialism as a solution to the colonial crisis caused by the Irish Revolution.

Partition and its institutions serve only the interests of imperialism, and we should not invest them with any other significance. This division of our country is built on the centuries-long colonial domination of Ireland by Britain, the plantations and deliberate promotion of sectarian antagonisms—all for the imperialist need to secure a stable Ireland in which capitalism could thrive.

Partition has left a scar on our country, and the division of our people has left a legacy of discrimination, fracturing us along falsely created religious divisions. It has divided working people and their organisations, which for nearly a century has hindered our ability to build more effective resistance against the ills of capitalism: mass unemployment, poverty, poor housing—the list could be endless.

It was intended to divide democratic forces and the working class, bringing the Revolution safely to an end without the social transformation that it threatened. As a result we are denied any real democracy, sovereignty, or independence. All the institutions of governance today—no longer confined to the British Parliament: it now includes the Stormont Executive, the Dáil in Leinster House, the EU, and the euro zone—serve the interests of capitalism and act as bulwarks against the people themselves exercising any meaningful democratic power.

These institutions should not be mystified by republicans and socialists. Rearranging who sits within them, or notions of bargaining with them or changing them from within, are misplaced. They protect their own class and serve imperialism equally well with our participation.

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.”

While we resolutely oppose partition, we must beware of answers that will leave Ireland firmly trapped within the system of imperialism, such as the pursuit by some of a united Ireland within the European Union. A country united under the rule of another still is not free.

The European Union and its institutions were constructed to protect and advance the interests of European banks, finance houses and corporations at the expense of the people. This is reflected in the EU-imposed debt upon the people of this state. Our people have been forced to carry 42 per cent of all EU banking debt. For republicans and socialists, our goal remains a truly democratic, sovereign, independent and whole Republic, and this is the only means by which to secure the interests of the working class.

This domination is welcomed, actively supported and facilitated by a subservient economic elite, north and south of our divided country—willing junior partners in imperialism. The challenge we face is not just to end partition but to undo the Conquest, to end all manifestation of imperial domination, be it the intervention of the British state, the combined EU and US influence, or carried out through institutions like the ECB and IMF. Ultimately, our goal is the dismantling of all the structures and institutions of imperialism and domestic capitalism. They are all part of the one struggle.

Historical experience over the last century confirms that truth. Radical change is required if we are to fulfil the aspirations of the Fenian and Easter Proclamations and the Democratic Programme that we celebrate today. National democracy and sovereignty cannot remain abstract demands but must become the tools required if we are to own and control all natural resources, to determine all economic and social policies that favour the majority of the people, to end partition and unite our people.

The imposition of partition by the British has succeeded in its goal of limiting our ability to gather the forces and create the unity required to bring about radical change. We must continue to fight against this action in our efforts to bring about a united socialist Ireland.