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This document issued by the Workers’ Party in 1986, and containing the Presidential Address by Tomás Mac Giolla to the Árd Fheis, is of particular interest for a number of reasons. In his speech he references the Anglo-Irish Agreement and the party response to that, other aspects of the conflict in Northern Ireland, and RTÉ coverage of the Workers’ party.
I had expected attacks like this from the right wing press and their Provo fellow-travellers who like to whitewash the Provos by lashing in to the Workers’ Party, but being a very naive sort of person I thought our national television station would be above that and would at least uphold certain standards of professionalism and integrity. But I had forgotten that Tanaiste Dick Spring directly intervened in RTE last summer and threatened to change Labour Party policy towards public service broadcasting unless things were done his way. It was then this programme was born.
He has harsh words in the following:
I must seriously question John Hume’s commitment to peace. He is of course against being involved in violence himself bu l he i quite prepared to allow a situation develop where others are involved in violent activity while he sits by to grab the political power. He is quite happy to see the Protestant people in turmoil…
All our of worst fears and reservations in regard to the Anglo-Irish Agreement are now coming to pass. …Are the Taoiseach and Peter Barry prepared to sit back and allow John Hume’s scenario unfold with all the death and misery it could bring? It is time they acted. It is time they forced John Hume to act -to open discussions on devolution of government and on a political road to peace rather than confrontation. Why not suspend the Inter Governmental Conference for a few months? Or if they prefer the term, let-them go into recess as the Dail does. This would immediately open the door to dialogue. If the Taoiseach doesn’t take such action, and take it rapidly, then we can only assume he does not want to halt the inevitable slide to anarchy and slaughter.
Interestingly his address quotes a speech he gave in 1976 to the Official Sinn Féin Árd Fheis:
0ur repeated call has been for peace. It is the most revolutionary demand at this time. We want peace that will lift, in the North, the daily burden of British, Loyalist and Provisional terror that has been loaded on top of the daily burden of wage robbery. Peace that will give the Catholic worker a pause and a chance to identify the parasites that feed on him. Peace that will allow the Protestant worker a pause to identify the real causes of his present misery. Peace, not in the woolly hope that Protestant and Catholic will come together by supernatural dispensation. Peace, not in the sick fantasies of the ultra-left, where the Protestant is to be beaten by Nationalists on a Monday and told to behave like a Sqcialist by the same people on a Tuesday. The peace they need and the peace they want and the peace our Party is now committed to giving them is the peace to think and plan how to lift the burden of bigotry, sectarianism and terror, both of the Catholic and Protestant middle class, once and for all from their backs. We want a peace that removes the British jackboot, the Hibernian gunman and the Orange bomber, so that all our people can join in the struggle for the re-conquest of Ireland • from the Bankers the Profiteers and the ecxpoiters… that is the National Question which faces us.