The Red Nation, Solidarity from the Irish Diaspora - Micheáilín DeBuitléir  | An Spréach

“Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it.”  - Frantz Fanon

Comrades, friends, and relatives,

From occupied Navajo/Dine territory in Turtle Island (aka Gallup, New Mexico, USA), I write to you all. I am a fifth generation Irish comrade on these lands descended from refugees who fled the British genocide of the 1800's. I am an organizer with The Red Nation, and I belong to a small loose network of Irish comrades who do anti racist and anti imperialist organizing for Irish liberation. I wanted to share some reflections upon the work that we are currently engaged in and the present state of organizing among the diaspora here in Turtle Island.

In 2018 we held several major events that we are hopeful are contributing to the struggle and the movement.  

On Saturday March 3, 2018 several comrades organized  a dialogue about Indigenous-Irish relationships and building solidarity on Ohlone Land (Present day Bay Area California). This brought together dozens of folks that included Irish diaspora, Indigenous activists, and others in Berkeley, California.  Presentations and speakers included : Corrina Gould (Chochenyo/Karkin Ohlone) who is a spokesperson for the Confederated Villages of Lisjan/Ohlone, the Co-Founder of the Sogorea Te' Land Trust and Indian People Organizing for Change, Melanie Yazzie ( Dine, Chair of The Red Nation), Mary Mclroy (Irish Republican Socialist Movement), Chas Jewett (Cheyenne River Sioux), As well as Dr. Sé Sullivan (Lecturer in Gender and Women's Studies, UC Berkeley) and Matt Horton (Co Author of the Irish Statement in Support of #BlackLivesMatter). This was the first event in Ohlone territory where Irish and Indigenous peoples have ever held conversations around mutual struggles and solidarity between peoples. 

On March 18, 2018 several comrades organized the St. Patrick's Day Irish Solidarity event in Pueblo Territories (Present day Albuquerque, New Mexico). This featured several speakers including Melanie Yazzie, Padraig O Fearghail (Anti Imperialist Action Ireland), Jerome Chavez (Chicano activist), and Adrienne Cabouet (All African Peoples Revolutionary Party). 

Also this past August there was an Irish and Palestinian anti imperialist solidarity panel at the 3rd Annual Native Liberation Conference organized by The Red Nation. This panel featured presentations and greetings from Anti Imperialist Action Ireland as well as the Irish Republican Socialist Party, and a room at the Conference was named the Free Tony Taylor Room. 

These events and organizing come off of work laid down in the previous years. In 2015, several activists came together in a critical moment and co authored the Irish Statement in Solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter. This statement was a catalyst that brought a new wave of folks into the fold of Irish diaspora organizing. This organizing is grounded in previous generations of activism including several of my own family members who came before me. And we try and maintain friendly relationships with all left and republican groups in Ireland and Turtle Island, offering platforms and support particularly for all of our comrades in prison, and not engaging in sectarianism. 

We engage in this work on many fronts participating in Irish language revitalization, cultural events, and political movement work. We see ourselves as on the frontlines of the Irish struggle in the belly of US imperialism and colonialism. We have no interest in merely doing  fundraising efforts for “the boys” back in Ireland. We see US imperialism as the main contradiction where we are, and the us settler colonial occupation including racist cops, ICE, weapons manufacturers, the banks, and resource extraction corporations as enemies of all good people of this earth. And in building off of the Irish and Indigenous connections and solidarity that has existed (countless examples abound ie Sinn Féin and the American Indian Movement visiting on many occasions, the Choctaw sending aid to the Irish during the “famine period”, and more recently several Irish delegations were present at the Standing Rock Uprising where the Starry Plough and the tricolour were flown alongside Indigenous Nations Flags), we recognize the Indigenous peoples of the lands where we reside, and which are currently occupied, as leaders of the anti imperialist struggle in our small part of the world,

We also unite with African/Black, Chicanx, and other liberation movements because we know that a victory for them is a victory for us. We are also openly, militantly, and unapologetically made up of LGBTQ, and we are Feminists. Many of us participated in work supporting the repeal of the 8th amendment and the referendum in support of marriage equality (all contradictions of the free state aside). 

We have out of relative obscurity discovered our mission given to us by the previous generations of Irish diaspora, and we are claiming our place. Our goal is to host a conference sometime in the next 2-5 years that will bring together the Irish Diaspora of Turtle Island to build for this new period of struggle that we all face, from global climate shift to sharpening capitalist crisis to debates about referendums etc. We want to work with all progressive forces and we want to encourage the participation of our comrades and relatives in Ireland and around the planet. It makes sense from a numbers perspective, with 80 million diasporans around the world, to engage in this work. This is a vision given to us by our late comrade Tom Hayden who wrote the book “Irish on the Inside: In Search of the Soul of Irish America”. 

I hope these reflections, dreams, and analysis open up further space for all of us to reflect and dialogue about our future and how to build struggle. I look forward to these conversations and to hopefully being in Ireland in the near future. 

From Issue 3 of An Spréach Magazine, Jan - Mar 2019