Wolfe Tone Society
The Wolfe Tone Society is an Irish republican support group based in London working in support of Sinn Feín which campaigns on the following issues:
The main areas of work in Britain include:
Contact Details for further information or joining our group:
Wolfe Tone Society, BM Box 6191, London WC1N 3XX
Tel: 020-8442 8778
Pat Doherty MP & MLA, Michelle Gildernew MP & MLA, Martin McGuinness MP & MLA, David Culliname Wexford County Councillor, Gerry Adams MP & MLA and Connor Murphy MP & MLA at negotiations, Downing Street Easter 2006.
The Wolfe Tone Society has been working in support of Sinn Fein for over 25 years. The type of work we have done has been varied throughout this period. But the underlying structure, and at the core of everything we do, is one thing: support for Sinn Fein and making the message of Irish republicanism heard in England. Sinn Fein does not exist as a party in England and so there is the need for a support group such as us.
A vital part of our work is giving support and solidarity
"I remember one of the first protests I went on. It was to protest about the release of Lee Cleg, a British soldier who had been convicted of murdering a young catholic in Belfast, and had just been released. It was the same day as the conservative leadership battle, so about 1993.We stood in front of the T.V. cameras and whoever they were filming on Westminster Green, we went in front of them and they had to cut the interview, as countries all over the world heard our voices and saw our placards.
What struck me more than anything was how that made people feel back in Ireland. We were told by many people that it gave them a real boost to see people in the “belly of the beast” doing this and raising voices for them. That has never left me." (Wolfe Tone Society member)
We also have an impact by the fact that we are based here in England mainly in London, our voices can be stronger because we near to the hub of Westminster and political influence. The north of Ireland is still under British jurisdiction and as such our voices can be used in bringing Sinn Fein arguments to the fore by lobbying, writing letters to papers, organising meetings etc. John McDonnell was once asked why he didn’t raise an issue that people were feeling strongly about and he said he would have if he had got even a few letters, but in fact he hadn’t received one.
Through our campaigns we have shown support and influenced change.
Some of our campaigns have included:
A protest every month, for four years, outside of Downing Street for the repatriation and release of IRA prisoners and also protesting outside of the prisons. We were at the forefront to get the SSu’s scrutinized by highlighting an Amnesty International report, which accused the government of “inhuman and degrading treatment”.
We have always supported the prisoners and continue to show our support to those in Castlerea by sending them books, C.D.s and whatever they request.
And as part of this we promote the Sinn Fein newspaper “An Phoblact”, and we publish our own newsletter Fuascailt (Liberation), the latest one which you can download on this website. It is again aimed at bringing word to our members about the ongoing situation in the north of Ireland, and it also gives us a voice and lets our members’ know what’s been happening and what is upcoming, part of the process of disseminating information that is often being suppressed or completely fabricated.
We are all aware that there is a smear campaign aimed at Sinn Fein and republicans generally. Not just by some politicians but by most of the media. We need to be able to challenge that where and when we can. The media have always tried to dehuminise the legitimate struggle by republicans. It was done at the time of the hunger strikes, before then and is being done as we speak.
We have the role of getting information across that is not being heard, and there are many in whose interests it is to ignore what has gone on, and continues to go on, in Ireland, and so it is the responsibility of the WTS to get our voices heard and to push for the truth and to get the Good Friday Agreement implemented.
We make ourselves aware of what is happening. Those in the WTS who have gone to areas such as the Short Strand and Ardoyne have been made more starkly aware of the situations there. So, we have shown videos and had speakers over from these areas to show people what was happening there with the loyalist attacks on them sometimes with the acquiescence of the PSNI.
And we brought over children from these and other areas, some of the most deprived in Belfast the in 2005. Ken Livistone’s office was very supportive and they laid on a fantastic workshop with food and drink. The children were also invited to Westminster and met by the MP's John MacDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn who held a question and answere session with the young people. We must also acknowledge and draw strength from those who work tirelessly to fight for Irish Human Rights whether in Ireland or here in England, like John McDonnell, Jeremy Corbyn, Ken Livingstone and several other members of parliament who have shown support for Irish Freedom over the Years.
We are also a regular part of the large St Patrick’s Day parade and it is vital that we show a large proud support for Sinn Fein on occasions like this.
We have made our voice heard in song and story. We performed the year of 1798, about Wolfe Tone himself, with veteran actor Kenneth Griffiths. We have also performed similarly with author Timothy O’Grady his book “I could read the sky”, here in this hall, as part of an event to celebrate Irish emigration. In 2001 we remembered the 20th Anniversary of The Hunger Strike by hold a picket outside Margaret Thatcher’s house and we took great pleasure in making her leave by the back door.
Last Year on the 25th Anniversary of the Hunger Strikes, we held a candle lit vigil outside Downing Street on the 1st March linking the anniversary of the hunger Strike to the ongooing blockage in the peace process, on the day Bobby Sands started his hunger strike. We held a sucessful Commemoration on the anniversary of James Connolly / Bobby Sands deaths. We also held a commeoration on the 10thanniversary of the death of Diarmuid O'Neill in September 2006 where we called for a Public Inquiry into his murder by the Metropolitan Police.
We hold the James Connolly/ Bobby Sands commemoration every year, but more than ever we should remember the sacrifices made by those in 1916 and 1981, and draw strength from battles they confronted head on. They are only remembered appropriately because people make that effort.
For many once the notion of peace came along it meant that they stopped listening to and supporting republicanism. But we cannot let apathy set in. It may be easy to get complacent and let others do the work, and to assume that it will organically morph into equality, peace and a united Ireland. A great deal needs to be done to see it implemented, we who know what has happened in the name of the British Government in Ireland cannot be complacent.
Aside from raising awareness we also raise funds for all the campaigns and also for Sinn Fein’s electioneering, and a few of us went to Limerick the other year to canvas for Maurice Quinliven an ex WTS member. And it is with the generosity and support of our members in the wider community we can keep on doing our work.
We sometimes work alongside other Irish Solidarity groups like Troops Out Movement and Connolly Association. We held a joint Ireland and Cuba night to fundraise for the Bloody Sunday campaign. We should also be looking at building links with student groups and other communities.
The remodeled Terrorism Act (ex PTA) is a draconian law that is revamped legislation that in its primary stage was directed at Irish people but has now been extended to other communities (e.g, Kurdish, Muslims, etc) who have been profiled and designated as a threat to the British State and the new world order
We need to support other struggles throughout the world. For example, Troops Out of Iraq, End Israeli War on the Palestinians', support the Basque struggle for Independence and many more.
Wolfe Tone Society members will be supporting Sinn Fein in the forthcoming elections by both providing funds for the election campaign in Ireland and physically going over to Ireland to help campaign with getting people to vote for Sinn Fein during March in the North of Ireland Assembly elections and May/June in the general election in the Republic of Ireland in 2007.
The Wolfe Tone Society will be organising an event around the James Connolly/Bobby Sands commemoration in 2007 to highlight on going events in Ireland, the Irish community in England's contribution to the struggle for Irish Freedom and on going concerns around collusion between the British security services and Loyalist Death Squads which Nuala o'Loan highlighted today in her report. We will be attending the Annual commemoration to Wolfe Tone himself in June, in Bodenstown.
When we took a large delegation to the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis in 2006, we heard Gerry Adams in his presidential address tell delegates that the party owed “a huge debt of gratitude” to its supporters in England. He also said that one of Sinn Fein’s 5 principle objectives was to build on the solidarity movement in this country.
The WTS has in the past and will remain in the future at the forefront of supporting Sinn Fein and to work with the party to build a support movement that will be heard more strongly than ever.
The struggle continues and as Bobby sands said:
"Everyone, whether republican or otherwise has his or her part to play.
No one is too old or too young."
Wolfe Tone Society, BM Box 6191, London WC1N 3XX
Tel: 020-8442 8778