The 75th anniversary of General Franco's fascist revolt is a reminder both of the barbarism of reaction and the heroism of those progressives forces from Spain and across the world who rushed to the defence of the democratic Spanish Republic. The coalition of democrats, republicans, leftists, socialists and communists who fought fascism inspired a generation who joined them in the fight against fascism. While others downplayed the threat from the fascists, or sought to come to an arrangement with them, the defenders of the Spanish Republic understood the true nature of fascism. It could not be compromised with. They understood that it was the most vicious ideology the world had ever seen, and that its victory would mean decades of murder, torture and oppression for the working class. They understood that it was necessary to stand up and fight the alliance of Franco, Mussolini and Hitler before it was too late. Among the many tragedies of the Spanish Civil War, not the least is the fact that the bourgeois democratic governments of the UK, France and the US refused to join the Soviet Union in providing aid to the Republic.
Many of the best and the brightest progressives from across the world went to Spain to serve in the International Brigades. Hundreds of Irish people joined the Republican forces, many paying with their lives. We remember with pride those republicans and communists who went to Spain, including our comrade Paddy McAllister, who shared his experience and his politics with later generations of members of our Party. They fought on behalf of a common humanity and the vision of a brighter future. Their example remains an inspiration today for those of us who seek to build a democratic, secular, socialist society in Ireland.
We remember too that there were those who, inspired by the same poisonous mix of religion, nationalism and reaction as motivated the Spanish fascists, went to serve Franco. We remember the bishops and the clergy, the nationalists and the anti-communists, who denounced the International Brigades and who salivated for the destruction of the Spanish Republic, cheering the fascists on, raising money for them. We remember too that the forces of religious division and vicious nationalism remain all too powerful in our society today. In Spain the last remaining defence of capitalism was fascism. In Ireland today, capitalism has found a different way to violate democracy and save itself at the expense of the working class. The need for class consciousness and for unity to defend the democratic gains and rights of the people of Ireland, north and south, remains as strong today as it was in the 1930s.
The Workers' Party of Ireland salutes those people from Spain and abroad who fought against fascism and barbarism in defence of the Republic. Theirs was a titanic struggle in defence of great principles and of the workers of the world. There are those who would like us to believe that the days for such struggle are gone; that there is no need for ideology any longer; that there is no alternative. This is a lie. The struggle to build a better future future continues. It requires the same dedication and commitment shown by the defenders of the Spanish Republic. Socialism is the alternative. We can, we must, build that alternative.