O’Donnell Forum weekend of webinar to celebrate “War for Independence”

For anyone interested in politics, the last weekend in November’s online festival, organised by the Peadar O’Donnell Socialist Republican Forum, offered a wide range of views, some radical, and some a little less so.

Saturday night’s pre-recorded broadcast from the memorial to the Kilmicheal Ambush, whose centenary anniversary was the backdrop for the weekend, would have made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. So would Patrica Campbell’s references to Luke Kelly’s famous poem “For What Died the Sons of Róisín?”. The poignant remembrance ceremonies in Cork, Dublin, Sligo and Tyrone were a silent reminder of the lives lost for our freedom, a legacy that still remains unfulfilled.

The imperialism that wrought partition on this country almost one hundred years ago was discussed, but so was contemporary imperialism: Tommy McKearney pointing out the continued use of Shannon Airport by American troops, and the odious banking debt imposed by the EU on the Irish people. One discussion that caught this writer’s attention was “The International Context of the Black and Tan War”, chaired by Brian Forbes of the Mandate Trade Union. The internationally renowned author, Vijay Prashad, quoted Lenin, who said that the Irish, a small island nation, had given hope to the peoples of the world in their struggles against the imperialist powers.

Contributor Joe Jameson spoke of the fatal blow that the IRA had delivered against the rotten British empire one hundred years ago in Kilmichael. Patricia Campbell made a subtle point about how the southern state in Ireland would like people to be ignorant of the commemorations taking place this year and next year, on the centenary of the bloodiest period of the Tan War.

The final event of the festival on Sunday evening observed that “labour must wait no longer”, where two young female activists in particular stressed the need for collective action by working-class people instead of an individualistic approach to politics, the latter being challenged as of late by material realities such as the ongoing pandemic.

The abolition of the 1990 Industrial Relations Act was reiterated as being a crucial demand to rebuild organised labour.

Lastly, one could not have missed the session of music broadcasted on Saturday night. Pól Mac Adaim produced some wonderful rebel songs on the guitar, as did Mel Corry. Mick Blake’s performance brought home the deference of those who claim to govern in our interests to the capitalist class, personified by the billionaire hedge fund manager, the infamous David Tepper. Maybe one day it will be the working class who will have the last laugh of the likes of Mr. Tepper and his ilk. We shall look forward to it. Onwards and upwards comrades, and let’s build the resistance!