Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Spirit of Freedom: RCL Statement on Ireland

First Published: Class Struggle, December 1982
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.

The following is the full text of a policy statement by the Revolutionary Communist League of Britain concerning the building of an Ireland Solidarity Movement. It was distributed as a document of the conference called on November 20 by the North and South London Irish Solidarity Committees. A shortened version was presented to the conference in a speech by a representative of the RCLB.

17 November 1982

The Revolutionary Communist League of Britain (RCLB) bases its view on the struggle in Ireland both on the particular relationship between the revolutionary processes in Britain and in Ireland, and on our understanding of the leading role played in world revolutionary struggle today by the movements of the oppressed for their national self-assertion.


The Irish people’s struggle is a part of the broad movement of the vast majority of the people of the world to oppose imperialism, colonialism and hegemonism. The struggle of the Irish people has continued for centuries in which time an unconquerable spirit of freedom has built up amongst the Irish people, and invaluable lessons have been accumulated both for the Irish people’s struggle, and for revolutionary struggle throughout the world.

Since the October Revolution of 1917,the national liberation movements of the oppressed have formed a definite part of the world proletarian socialist revolution. The struggle for national liberation in Ireland is fully a part of this historical movement, indeed the Easter Rising of 1916 can be said to have prefaced it. Today this means that the Irish Revolution is fully a part of the movement sweeping the world that has seen the birth of a risen Third World. The Irish people are waging the same struggle – people’s war – as the peoples of Palestine, southern Africa, Eritrea, El Salvador and Afghanistan, to name but a few, and they are bringing that struggle right into the heart of Western Europe where it holds a dagger to the very throat of British imperialism. Therefore, the Irish Revolution is an advanced representative of the trend of our times which has been so admirably expressed by the leader of the Korean revolution, Comrade Kim Il Sung.

Ours is an age of independence when the oppressed and humiliated people have appeared as the masters of the world and are pushing the wheel s of history with vigour according to their own will and demand. The people of the world oppose all forms of domination and subordination and call for independence, and many countries are taking the road to national independence and sovereignty. This is the main trend of our times which no force can stop.


The particular relationship the revolutions in Britain and Ireland was cogently explained by Karl Marx when he said,

After occupying myself with the Irish question for many years I have come to the conclusion that the decisive blow against the English ruling classes (and it will be decisive for the workers’ movement all over the world) cannot be delivered in England but only in Ireland.

In our view this statement remains as valid today as when it was first written, in spite of the continual attempts that are made to pronounce it as “out of date” by the revisionists of various hues.

Similarly, we take as our own the revolutionary standpoint of the Communist International that,

The British socialist who fails to support by all possible means the uprisings in Ireland, Egypt and India against the London plutocracy – such a “socialist” deserves, if not to be shot, then to be branded with infamy, but in no case merits either a mandate or the confidence of the proletariat.

Revolutionary developments and opportunities in Britain have always reached their highpoints in conjunction with, and with identification to, highpoints in the struggle to free Ireland from British domination. Furthermore, to be consolidated they have to be brought into the closest active co-ordination with the Irish revolution. This is an historical materialist law of the British revolution. And, indeed, Irish workers have always been in the forefront of the class struggle in Britain. As James Connolly observed,

O’Connor was one of the first of that long list of Irish fighters in Great Britain whose unselfish sacrifices have gone to make a record for an ’English’ labour movement.


The momentous events of 1981 illustrate very clearly the above-mentioned historical materialist law. That year saw the enormous political advances made by the Republican movement in Ireland (and its initial reverberations on the Irish community in Britain) in the context of the heroic martyrdom of 10 hunger strikers. It also saw the open emergence of real forces for revolution (and hence potential allies of the Irish revolution) here in Britain, namely the Black Youth, and section s of the white youth under their leadership who, town after town, took the insurrectionary road, the Irish road, and rose up against the racist and imperialist British state.

In the precursor uprising of 1980 in St. Paul’s, Bristol, the youth said, “We are the Black IRA”. We must particularly note the mutual expressions of solidarity between these two struggles, because this is of immense practical significance to our work of building the solidarity movement. This mutual solidarity was clearly shown in two recent letters published in “An Phoblact/Republican News” and reprinted in “Class Struggle”.

Tariq Mahmood Ali, one of the Bradford 12, wrote,

It was heart-warming to receive telegrams from comrades in Ireland as, indeed, it is heart-warming to hear that the IRA have carried out yet another successful operation… On many an occasion whilst in prison on remand, I gained strength from the martyrs of the Irish struggle. They may be buried a long way away in Ireland, but their spirit of resistance shone through into my life in prison .. To all those who have sacrificed their lives and are continuing to sacrifice themselves for the unification of Ireland I send revolutionary greetings and fraternal salutations.

Gerry McLochlainn, the framed Irish Prisoner of War, wrote with reference to the Black Youth,

Such youth will provide a layer of republican sympathizers (in the real sense) in Britain who, far from being ’horrified’ by IRA successes, will take heart from these and will redouble their efforts in their own struggle for justice ....As they experience for themselves the pressures which drove the nationalist youth of Ireland to war in the first place they will provide a natural base .... Demonstrations by these forces will help to draw the lessons of the Irish war and its connection with their fight for their rights, giving confidence and inspiration to the oppressed people of Britain, as well as exposing the nature of the Brits’ war in Ireland. This is the revolutionary way toward the winning of the hearts and minds of the oppressed people of Britain.


In view of all of the above, the RCLB holds it is both possible and necessary to build in this country a solidarity movement that explicitly supports the Irish Revolution, a movement that calls for “Victory to the Irish People!”, and that gives unconditional support to the Irish people’s revolutionary struggle and to its Republican leadership.

Further, we hold that the only mass base where that movement can take root, grow and develop is amongst the most oppressed, who have grasped, or are beginning to grasp , the imperialist nature of the British state, and who have no illusions in British “parliamentary democracy” and its various institutions, such as the police, courts, etc. These sections are the poorest sections of the working class, first and fore most the national minorities, mainly the Irish community and black people, and in particular the youth.

We do not rule out utilising, neutralising or wining over any middle forces, or exploiting any contradictions in the enemy camp that can usefully be exploited . But even this can only be done in a stable and effective way, if it is done from a self reliant mass base amongst the most oppressed.

The argument s against this view all too often proceed from a standpoint that replaces genuine support for the Republican Movement with the notorious Trotskyite doctrine of “critical support”, that attempts to foist on the Republican Movement the programme of this or that British sectarian organisation, that has illusions in the imperialist Labour Party, and does not realise that the solidarity Movement can only be built in the course of a struggle against the British state. Most fundamentally, they are all too often proceed from a middle class distain for the oppressed which does not grasp that there has always been, and still are, working class forces in Britain that will steadfastly support the struggle of the Irish people.

Historically these forces have been mobilised by such great revolutionaries as Karl Marx, Jenny Marx and John Maclean. More recently, they were mobilised by organisations such as the Irish National Liberation Solidarity Front and the Prisoners’ Aid Committee. Today they are being mobilised by organisations such as the Glasgow Irish Freedom Action Committee and the North London Irish Solidarity Committee (NLISC). Whenever the NLISC goes out onto the streets it witnesses the support for Irish liberation that exists amongst the working-class. To date, over 10,000 working-class people have signed its petition that recognises the right of the Irish people to self-determination and calls for the immediate withdrawal of British troops.

A recent RCLB Conference resolved that our work in the Ireland Solidarity movement will aim to build that movement, and in an open, principled and above-board way will seek to unite that movement (organisationally and politically) around the principles outlined above.

In summary, we will work to build a principled and united solidarity movement that supports the Republican Movement and which is solidly based amongst the most oppressed. This is a key task in the class struggle in Britain and is essential to the building of a revolutionary working class movement and a real, living revolutionary Communist party.