Sunday 8 October 2017


                                                          Comrade Sean Doyle


My name is Sean Doyle of The Costello Memorial Committee. It is a great honour and privilege to accept your invitation to speak and pay tribute here today about Seamus Costello a man who had such a profound influence on my thinking and I must say an enriched and gave the best sense of feeling alive I’ve ever known. I suppose in the Connolly phrase it was the “awakening of a slave”.

Speaking about Seamus Costello, Nora Connolly O'Brein, the daughter of James Connolly, said

"I regret that I never had the honour of meeting Seamus Costello in person. But, I have heard a lot of his speeches, and I admired so much all that I had heard about him. So it was a great horror to hear that he had been shot.

I had so much hope in him. To me, he expressed himself so much on my father’s line of thought that it was evident that he had been thorough reader of all James Connolly’s, writings.

He seemed to be the leader who would bring about an organisation such as my father wished to bring about. Of all the politicians and political people with whom I have had conversations, and who called themselves followers of Connolly, he was the only one that truly understood what James Connolly meant when he spoke of his vision of the freedom of the Irish people.

In him, I had hoped at last after all these years, a true leader had come, who could and would build an organisation such as James Connolly tried to do.

I dislike very much to have to use a phrase that it is a cliché- to say that he is “a great loss”. But there has been no greater loss to those fighting the same fight. Seamus Costello’s death was a loss to the cause of Irish freedom.

As Seamus Costello was a true disciple of James Connolly and his teachings, I can only hope that among those who were associated with him and who learned from him, there will be another disciple to take his place and build an organisation among the workers and people of Ireland that will be bound to bring Ireland James Connolly’s and Seamus Costello’s vision of freedom."

On Constitutional Nationalism, Connolly was clear. He wrote "The Home Rule Party were merely the ambassadors at a foreign court – ambassadors who remained powerless until the popular armies in Ireland had struck down landlordism in spite of evictions, battering rams, imprisonment and death. The extent of our indebtedness to the Home Rule Party can be gauged by measuring the relative achievements of the people who fought and won the fight on the land question- a fight fought and won outside parliament- and the people who fought and lost the battle of Home Rule- a purely parliamentary battle…

The Irish parliamentarians met the British politicians on their own their own chosen field of battle- and lost every move of the game. Every time the astute British politicians called for a sacrifice on the part of the Irish Home Rule Party that party yielded the point and sacrificed their principles. They yielded to sacrifice Ulster and divide their country, they yielded the control of taxation, and they yielded control over their post office, customs and excise: in short, they yielded everything that gives life and power in a nation. And finally, when their grandest opportunity came in the breath of war they yielded up countless thousands of the lives of their fellow-countrymen. And in turn they achieved- nothing.

The benefits that have been gained, and some of them are undoubted, have been gained by the heroic fighting and sacrifice of the Irish people, and a political party was only one, and not the most important one, one of the many weapons forged and used by the Irish people during that fighting, and as a result of their sacrifices. Landlordism in its worst phases was not abolished, the right of a tenant to security in his tenure was not secured, and the purchase of the proprietary rights by the tenantry was not accomplished by the mere presence of eighty-five spouters in the British House of Commons.

James Connolly was also clear on the role of Physical Force for Socialist Republicans. He argued "That some Socialists believe that force may be used to inaugurate the new social order only indicates their conviction that the criminal capitalist and ruling classes will not peacefully abide by the verdict of the ballot, but will strive by violence to perpetuate their robber rule in spite of the declared will of the majority of the people. In this conviction such Socialists are strengthened by the record of all the revolutions of the world's history.

It is a well-established fact that from the earliest revolutionary outbreak known down to the Commune of Paris, or Red Sunday in Russia, the first blood has been shed, the first blow struck, by the possessing conservative classes. And we are not so childish as to imagine that the capitalist class of the future will shrink from the shedding of the blood of the workers in order to retain their ill-gotten gains.

They shed more blood, destroy more working class lives every year, by the criminal carelessness with which they conduct industry and drive us to nerve-racking speed, than is lost in the average international war. In the United States there are killed on the railroads in one year more men than died in the Boer War on both sides. When the capitalists kill us so rapidly for the sake of a few pence extra profit it would be suicidal to expect that they would hesitate to slaughter us wholesale when their very existence as parasites was at stake. Therefore, the Socialists anticipate violence only because they know the evil nature of the beast they contend with."

In 1897 the British requested their Irish subjects to celebrate Victoria’s jubilee, mindful this was 50 years after the genocide.

James Connolly made a black coffin wrote British Empire on it and threw it into The Liffey.

Connolly said: “We must stop thinking in the lines and grooves our enemies wish us to think: For example: the 1916 Rising. When Connolly and his comrades called a ceasefire it was a military surrender to save civilian lives. From the moment it started and the reading of the Proclamation we became Irish citizens.

The Proclamation and the 1919 declaration is our claim as an independent sovereign state. The counter revolution aided and armed by the British to protect their financial and other interests and the murder of our revolutionary leaders.

The citizens were denied their inheritance; the subversion had taken place of our fledgling state aided by the British. They set up a committee to manage the affairs of the rich ruling class in Leinster House and the laws to protect their ill gotten gains.

Connolly said; “Knowing your history is like a lamp to the feet of the Irish worker in the stormy paths of today”. Seamus Costello knew his history and was determined that the Irish people would dislodge the robber barons by the same means he used.

Any other thinking would be utter folly. He also believed the national struggle and the national question were two inseparable strands of the same struggle. Connolly spoke about the awakening of the slave. Costello spoke about the power of empowerment and inspiration necessary for self rejuvenation and above all the power of collective actions.

The year he was murdered in 1977 by counter revolutionaries he had prepared papers and presented them for the broad front talks. I recall he said there was general agreement amongst the rank and file; the leadership was yet another problem.

No doubt a control issue as always dogging our chances of a unified approach little wonder his quote “I owe my allegiance to the working class”. Seamus honoured the Proclamation and the 1919 Declaration as I do. No vote on EEC, Maastricht and the Lisbon Treaty done twice until they got the result they wanted, The Good Friday Agreement, Articles 2 and 3 of our constitution, border polls will change anything other than give recognition to a false premise.

We claim jurisdiction over all of Ireland, no poll, no barter, it’s the property of the people as Connolly said “We must stop thinking in the lines and grooves our oppressors wish us to think”.

Leinster House is the HQ of subversion. If anyone is in any doubt ask yourself a century after the Rising the Proclamation and the 1919 declaration that committee has rendered us citizens as guarantors for banks and bond holders and speculative debts.

Seamus warned of this in his now famous 1966 Bodenstown speech incidentally the first time I heard him speak when he called for the nationalisation of banks, insurance companies etc. Little did we know what that Leinster House committee would feist onto us? He was no doubt a visionary but I believe his greatest vision was the realisation that only a free thinking people would have the motivation and determination to remove the parasites that feed and suck the life blood out of our people.

But his ability to empower people was remarkable and instilled hope in place of despair. I recall in about ‘68/’69 we worked with Seamus on a housing action campaign in Greystones, County Wicklow. He was so impressive a completely different mindset, gone was the subservient approach to the gombeen men and people empowerment was the order of the day. Street marches and demands for attendance in public galleries at council meetings to watch the performance of the so called elected representatives. I joined Sinn Fein as it was then with some of my friends until we resigned in block in 1974 to form the IRSP.

In 1978/1979 during the dirty protest before the first H-Block hunger strike we would stand outside Catholic and Protestant churches in silent vigil dressed only in blankets before holding our public meetings. I recall now with humour our preparation on the Saturday evening before we would go into a field with our public address system and read our speech while others listened and each week we would alternate a speaker. I suppose you could say we had collective leadership unwittingly.

That was all down to this amazing ability to motivate you to take the shackles and smash them that Seamus possessed.The electoral system has played havoc with the Republican movement down through the years.

In the earlier years of abstenstionism caused a major crisis for the movement.

I believe today that building a political party and a revolutionary movement are not compatible. Electoralism is predicated on populism. It shackles and gags and impedes honest talking and stifles development of a revolutionary movement. Only a revolutionary movement can take back what was stolen. Like Connolly spoke of the Home Rule Party they conceded everything that gives life and power to a nation.

In conclusion on behalf of The Seamus Costello Memorial Committee I want to announce we are launching The Seamus Costello School next year.

1 comment:

  1. Wishing you many more years of success. Went for a beautiful art exhibition at one of the spacious event halls for rent last week. Mom liked two of them for our living room. Prices were genuine. Also the staff serving beverages and cookies was cooperative. Host explaining specialty of the paintings and everything was quite knowledgeable.