For generations people in Scotland have worked in solidarity with the Irish people in their struggle for self determination. Over the last forty years throughout Scotland republicans have campaigned in support of POWs and against British involvement in Irish affairs. Over the last twenty years the political landscape has been transformed. In Ireland the historic IRA initiative in 1994 gave impetus to a peace process which has seen the republican struggle move forward at great pace. In Scotland the end of Tory rule brought with it Blair's devolution and all round strategy for maintaining British rule.
These political developments are of course related and offer republicans new opportunities to advance the struggle for Irish freedom. As the nature of the struggle has developed, so to must we develop the solidarity and resolution we offer. In Scotland there is huge potential for Irish republicans. Throughout the country there is a good will for the republican ideal. It is our responsibility to turn that passive support into political strength.
To enable republicans in Scotland to play a full and positive part in the struggle for a New Ireland a new national organisation has been formed. Cairde Na hÉireann is an umbrella group established to co-ordinate those forces campaigning for a united Ireland. As well as all Scotland's republican flute bands and established solidarity organisations like the James Connolly Society, Cairde Na hÉireann has groups in every major town and city in Scotland.
Cairde na hÉireann is the national structure for republicans in Scotland. Our work includes:
- To campaign for a united Ireland.
- To support sister organisations in Ireland.
- To promote a new Ireland based on the principles of justice and equality.
- To support initiatives aimed at improving the material conditions of the Irish community in Scotland.
- To campaign against racism and sectarianism.
The support for the republican struggle in Scotland exists within a hostile environment. The political context in Scotland determines that republicans must organise themselves in a coherent and disciplined manner. Cairde Na hÉireann will be organising marches and other public events throughout the country. All of these events will have an explicit political purpose. This is essential as we have seen the media and all of Scotland's political parties consistently misrepresenting republican marches as sectarian.
Such attacks do not happen in a political vacuum. Rather they are an attempt to portray the conflict in the north of Ireland as well as the republican movement in Scotland, as sectarian and therefore irrational. While this cynical attempt to confuse and deceive the public should be condemned it comes as no surprise. Those of us campaigning for maximum change in Ireland must ensure we organise ourselves in a way which challenges our political opponents.
Cairde Na hÉireann has also launched an information service which will keep the people informed of political developments and events in Ireland and Scotland. We also organise a political education course for members which will challenge the Scottish media bias and ensure the continuing development of activists. Regular visits to Ireland including meetings with political parties and community groups will give Cairde Na hÉireann members a unique insight into Irish political life.
From Aberdeen to Ayrshire and right across the central belt all those people who wish to play a positive part within the republican movement in Scotland, who struggle for an Ireland of equals should join Cairde Na hÉireann.
"Everyone, republican or otherwise, has their own particular part to play. No part is too great or too small. No one is too old or too young to do something." - Bobby Sands