Neither King nor Kaiser but Ireland

Neutrality and Irish republicanism have been connected throughout history. They go hand in hand and cannot be separated from one another but despite this, the so-called Republicans of Sinn Féin have seen it necessary to go to the British king’s coronation as if any Irish Republican should recognise such a pompous position. Writing on the British coronation in 1902, Connolly stated: “Were we able to follow our own inclinations in the matter we would be inclined to treat it with contempt as being of but little importance to the cause for which we stand, or to the workers with whose interests we are concerned. To us, as Socialists, it is but of little moment who may for the time being wear the trappings of royalty; that we are compelled to acquiesce in his rule by the bayonets of his hireling soldiery and police is for us sufficient; and to us, as workers, the personality of the head of the Capitalist system in these islands is of small concern when we realise that our exploitation by the master class would proceed apace even if King Edward VII were a Christian gentleman”.

Over 120 years later Connolly’s words can be applied directly to the coronation of Charles. In the same piece Connolly continued, “when Capital and its cringing slaves are united in adoration of the monarch who has been successful in uniting in his person, all the baser attributes of the mediaeval monarch and the modern stockjobbing capitalist; we also in imagination hasten thither in order to offer to King Edward, in the name of ourselves and our class, the only homage we owe him – OUR HATRED.” Republicans today must entirely oppose the monarchy. The occupied six counties saw the newly crowned king bring his force of 300 troops into Derry to patrol the Bogside only 54 years ago, the same troops who three years later took part in the mass shooting of unarmed civilians that resulted in 14 deaths. Do we really want to show the man who led the troops responsible for this our respect?

With the opposition to the monarchy from republicans, the Irish Citizens Army emblazoned on their banner “We serve neither king nor kaiser but Ireland”. This simple declaration of neutrality must be kept by every republican today with the encroaching possibility of the coalition government bringing Ireland into NATO. Even Sinn Féin have changed their stance on NATO and PESCO membership. PESCO was set up for furthering the military cooperation of EU member states but most of these states are already in NATO. 22 of the 27 EU member states are part of NATO and PESCO, with only Denmark not having membership in either. Is Ireland so endangered by other countries that we need to be involved in the growth of the military of Europe? The only country to have occupied Ireland and the country that continues to do so is Britain.

Sinn Féin has rightly shown support for the ending of the blockade on Cuba and for the current coalition to condemn zionist violence against Palestinians but when President Biden came to visit Ireland it seemed little more than a facade as they welcomed him with open arms. Words mean a lot, but they lose all meaning when the leader of the country that is funding Israeli apartheid and that keeps the sanctions on Cuba is welcomed with open arms. Neutrality is not shaking hands with the oppressors: it is saying that they have no right to be oppressors.