Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is very disappointed in you. He and Charlie Flanagan wanted to commemorate the RIC, the old protectors of the British Empire. They wanted to honour those people, many of whom, according to Flanagan, “served with distinction” in the force.

You were all immature, kicking up a fuss about the violence and the repression and the murders committed by the RIC from their inception in 1822 right through to the War of Independence.

You were so childish about the whole thing that you wrecked Leo’s commemoration. Now we’re “a little bit further away” from a United Ireland, he says.

We have to ask: What kind of a United Ireland would that be, Leo?

What kind of an Ireland would venerate a violent outpost of British imperialism? What kind of an Ireland would celebrate the police force that forced through evictions, that baton-charged striking workers, that burnt down entire towns? What kind of an Ireland would look fondly on those that defended the interests of the obscenely wealthy while ordinary people lived in tenement slums?

Fine Gael’s Ireland, it would seem. The tax haven Ireland of vulture funds, exorbitant rents and modern day evictions. The Ireland that leaves people to die on trolleys in our hospitals. The Ireland that has ordinary workers living paycheck to paycheck while the wealth of billionaires soars.

The reality is that behind Leo Varadkar’s condescension is a deep desire to revise the radical history of the Irish Revolution. If people look too deeply at the ideals of people like James Connolly who fought for real freedom and equality, they might start thinking about bringing these ideals into practice in the present day.

He therefore dangles the idea of a United Ireland in front of us like a teacher threatening to cancel the school trip. Do this Fine Gael’s way or forget about it!

But while Varadkar wants to talk about a “shared history” with British imperialism, the reality is that no Unionist worker in the North would ever want to be part of Fine Gael’s Ireland. Why on earth would they?

We want a different kind of United Ireland, one that looks after everyone who lives here. That’s why we have been out on the picket lines with striking health workers in the North this week and why we joined the nurses in the South last year. It’s why we’re fighting the housing crisis on both sides of the border. It’s why we have fought for abortion rights North and South for decades. It’s why we’re fighting for radical climate action in the midst of an environmental crisis that knows no borders.

If you want to help us in this fight, get involved with People Before Profit.

Find out more at www.pbp.ie/join

Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin is the People Before Profit candidate for the Dundrum ward in Dublin Rathdown. He is a musician, a Psychology graduate and a native Irish speaker. Eoghan is part of a newly politicising generation of young activists who are no longer willing to accept a political system that allows thousands of people to remain homeless, that leaves tens of thousands of people on hospital waiting lists, that leaves asylum seekers languishing in the glorified prisons that are the Direct Provision system, and that is doing nothing to stop an existential threat to the human species due to climate change. The water charges and repeal movements have shown over the last few years that people power can win positive changes, and Eoghan believes we can draw inspiration from these victories in other struggles. As a Psychology graduate, Eoghan has a major interest in mental health, and is particularly concerned with a system that is a breeding ground for mental distress. With people now being forced to work longer hours, experiencing mortgage distress, paying exorbitant rents, childcare and other costs, and with almost 800,000 people living in poverty, it is little wonder that we are experiencing a mental health crisis. While the increased awareness of mental health issues in recent years is welcome, it has not come with any significant action on the part of the government to improve the situation. Eoghan believes the fight for improved mental health is two-faceted: We need to fight for better services, but we must also fight for a better society that provides people with their needs and allows them to flourish, explore their own creativity, and enjoy their lives. Eoghan has been heavily involved in campaigns for housing, repeal of the 8th amendment, ending direct provision and many other issues over the last few years. He believes that real change can only come through grass roots campaigns from below and if elected, he will use his position as a platform for progressive ideas and to further build these campaigns.

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