IRELAND: Interview with Macradh

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A graphic designed by Macradh

Interview with a supporter of Macradh by Siraj, a Supporter of MER-RSM Vancouver

Who are you and what is your organisational history?

Macradh Irish Socialist Republican Youth is a Socialist Republican organisation for those between the age of 15 and 25, and the youth wing of the Irish Socialist Republicans. We also believe in Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, believing that Irish Socialist Republicanism is how MLM is applied in Ireland.

Can you tell us a bit about the history of Macradh?

Macradh was formed in April of 2019 to coincide with the anniversary of the Easter Rising, as young supporters of ISR felt it was necessary to have a degree of autonomy to better engage working class youth. There is also a proud tradition of militant youth groups within Republicanism that we wished to draw from.

Macradh is a Socialist Republican organisation can you tell us what is meant by this?

There’s several aspects to it. Socialist Republicanism by itself is a trend that goes back even to the late 18th century. The famous Irish revolutionary Wolfe Tone appealed to “the men of no property” to help him break the connection with England and establish a sovereign Irish state, and there were figures like Jemmy Hope who were heavily influenced by the socialist trends in Europe. In the centuries that followed there have always been those who have recognised that the national question and the social question in Ireland are linked and cannot be separated. James Fintan Lalor in the 1840s, the Fenians in the 1860s, James Connolly in the late 19th and early 20th century and so on. All of these figures realised that you cannot break the connection with imperialism without also carrying out a socialist revolution, and that only mobilising the masses can achieve true freedom. As Fintan Lalor said: “Ireland her own and all therein, from the sod to the sky, the soil of Ireland for the people of Ireland”.

Socialist Republicanism also has another aspect, which is that using this label we express our loyalty to the All Ireland People’s Republic that was proclaimed in Ireland in 1916 through the Proclamation of Republic during the Easter Rising, and established in 1919.

As an organisation that believes that only the Irish working class can lead the struggle for National Liberation and socialism in Ireland, we stand in that tradition. Socialist Republicanism is the red line throughout the history of Irish struggle if you will. And there is the link to Marxism as well, in that the Fenians were observers at the 1st International and you can see a clear influence of Marxism, and that continues through groups and figures beyond that. That’s part of why we say that Socialist Republicanism is Marxism applied to Irish conditions. Connolly was the first to do so in real depth.

We believe that until Ireland is reunited and reconquered by the Irish working class there will never be peace in Ireland. This task means not only driving Britain out of the Occupied 6 Counties of Ireland, but also overthrowing the illegitimate Irish Free State in the southern 26 Counties of Ireland.

Are there any organisations or historical figures you take influence from?

As well as those mentioned above, we also take great inspiration from Seamus Costello. Costello was not only a military leader through his leadership of the IRA and the Irish National Liberation Army, but also a great political leader through his mass work and later being chairperson of the Irish Socialist Republican Party. Even at the age of 17 he was already leading grown men in the Border Campaign against British occupation, they nicknamed him the Boy General. We also see Seamus Costello as an anti-revisionist who fought to ensure that Socialist Republicanism wasn’t sullied by reformist elements in the Republican movement.

We are also inspired by other Republican youth organisations throughout, such as Na Fianna Eireann which has existed in various forms. It was first set up in 1909 by the socialist Constance Markievicz and others as an organisation to promote the cause of Irish republicanism, the Irish language and education, as well as Irish sports and exercise The Fianna became a militant organisation to aspire to, and existed in many iterations after.

Would you be able to discuss Macradh’s relationship to Anti Imperialist Action Ireland and the Irish Socialist Republicans?

Often we will work on joint campaigns with Anti Imperialist Action Ireland and Irish Socialist Republicans, in particular AIAI as it is a mass organisation aimed at mobilising the masses around the 1916 proclamation and the 1919 Democratic Programme to build alternative working class structures to the illegitimate states in the North and South of Ireland.

What issues does Macradh organise around?

Anti fascism, anti imperialism, fighting sexism and male chauvinism through dedication to proletarian feminism, mental and physical health. We also promote the Irish language through free lessons and encouraging those to use what little Irish they may know at every occasion. The Irish language has suffered immensely both from British occupation and colonisation, but also the efforts of Free State counter-revolution to destroy our heritage and the revolutionary history of the language.

Why does Macradh place an emphasis on positive physical and mental health among working-class youth?

The mental health crisis among young Irish people is very severe at this time, and is a direct result of the assault of imperialism and the Irish garrison class. Young Irish women in particular suffer the highest rate of depression in Europe. We see the promotion of healthy living and attitudes as a way to not only combat these issues, but also to allow more working class youth to begin fighting back against the system.

Are there any big campaigns or actions Macradh has taken part in or organised?

Lately the campaign against the Royal Visit has been a focus for Macradh, as William and Kate Windsor have been touring Ireland at the invitation of the Free State. In response Macradh has occupied the Department of Foreign Affairs and been present with Anti Imperialist Action in Howth. It’s a disgrace that these parasites should be welcome here while Britain’s forces still occupy our country.

Macradh also played a leading role in building the boycott to the recent Free State elections. The working class has nothing to gain from engaging with the parliament of the 26 County state, and we were out spreading this message through graffiti and propaganda.

We have also been present with AIA in targeting enemies of the people through the Bring it to their Doors campaign, where activists would go to the houses of Free State ministers, vultures and capitalists etc to highlight their crimes against the Irish working class.

Macradh activists have also been in the front lines against the British controlled fascist groups that have been popping up in Ireland, and helped drive off the fascists in Dublin on more than one occasion as part of the new anti-fascist front developing here.

What future work do you have planned out?

We hope to begin excursions that involve hiking, Irish sports and camping, as well as beginning self defense classes through the existing Starry Plough Martial Arts, that all members can benefit from. These classes will be important not only as part of promoting exercise and physical help, but also ensuring members are ready to combat fascists.

We are also looking to reach out to migrant groups, as many have been under attack both by the State and the rise of fascist thugs across the island. Many young migrants are stuck in horrendous conditions in Dublin in particular, stuck living 10 people to a room. That acute exploitation is something that cannot continue.

What sorts of strategies and tactics do you use in your struggle? How has Macradh been successful in organising working-class youth?

As we are a relatively new group, in some ways we are still working out the best way to organise. But the essential idea is that we are for the working class to reject all the structures of the state and build its own organs. Many working class youths have already seen that the state in the 26 counties and the occupation in the North do not represent them, many are already rebelling, what they need is a political focus and a direction which we are looking to provide by building a radical and militant movement.

If people are interested in learning more or getting involved where can they reach you?

At the moment we have a Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/MacradhISRYouth, and we have recently started a twitter page too, https://twitter.com/Macradh1. They can also contact isrmedia@protonmail.com

Any last words you want to say?

Any Irish person between the ages of 15 and 25 should look to get involved in Macradh, to reject reformism and build a real radical working class youth movement. And we would like to thank the RSM for conducting this interview, international solidarity has always been very important to the Socialist Republican movement, and we hope to learn from radical youth movements in Canada and around the world.

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