On 12th May 1916 James Connolly was executed by firing squad in Kilmainham Jail, Dublin. Seriously wounded during the Easter Rising, he was tied to a chair to face his executioners. Workers’ Party President Michael Finnegan believes the Citizens’ Army leader’s legacy is vitally important today.
James Connolly was shot 94 years ago, not simply because he was one of the leaders of the 1916 Rising, but because throughout his life he was an implacable opponent of capitalism. When it looked like the British would leave Connolly to die as a result of his wounds, the leaders of Dublin’s business elite began baying for his blood, and newspapers such as William Martin Murphy’s Irish Independent demanded that James Connolly be shot. Even on the verge of his death Connolly was a threat to them, and they wanted to make sure he was eliminated. However, like Joe Hill before him, Connolly did not die – he went on to organise and we must do the work that he left us behind to do.
Far too much lip service has been paid to the memory of James Connolly, both by politicians who despise his socialist politics and by trade unionists who pay homage to Connolly’s name, but refuse to live by his principles.
Connolly’s teachings are as relevant today as when he was alive. His socialism is ageless and we as socialists and trade unionists must strive to ensure that his legacy is kept alive in Ireland today and in the future. Connolly would never have accepted the dictum from the bourgeoisie that “labour must wait”. Labour has waited in vain for 90 years. Now, as capitalism is in deep crisis, the Left has the opportunity to fulfil Connolly’s dream. We call on the entire Left in Ireland, including the Labour Party and the ICTU, to come together to sweep this inept government out of the Oireachtas and, for the first time in our history, install a left-led administration.