Movement Statements

The Constitution of the Irish Republican Socialist Committees of North America
(Basic Document)

Constitution of the Irish Republican Socialist Committees of North America
(Adopted 2005)

I. Foundation

A. History

* There was discussion of whether to establish a distinct, partisan support group for the Irish Republican Socialist Movement from at least 1981 (October of that year was the first time someone was allowed to join the Irish Republican Socialist Party while resident in North America), but it had been agreed that a broad front type of formation best suited the needs of the movement at the time.

* With the growing and increasingly overt hostility of the Provisional Republican Movement toward the IRSM, it was determined by supporters in North America that it was no longer effective to attempt to work exclusively through broad front formations and the Ard-Chomhairle [National Executive] of the IRSP was petitioned for permission to establish a distinct support group for the IRSM.

* The founding convention of the Irish Republican Socialist Committees of North America was held in March 1984 in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

* Brigid Sheils Makowski from Derry represented the IRSP at the founding convention.

* Formal IRSP sanction and mandate was provided by the Ard-Chomhairle of the IRSP in a letter from the IRSP's then General Secretary in 1986.

* IRSP recognition of the exclusivity of the IRSCNA's mandate for North America was reiterated by the Ard-Chomhairle in 1987.

* At the 1998 IRSP Ard-Fheis [National Convention] it was resolved that the IRSCNA would be recognised as a component section of the IRSM and its members would be accorded the full rights of members of the IRSP, including participation in closed sessions of the Ard-Fheis and voting rights at the Ard-Fheis.

B. Purpose

The Irish Republican Socialist Committees of North America represents the IRSM in North America and struggles to build recognition of and support for the national liberation of Ireland and the victory of the Irish working class in its fight for socialism.

C. Irish Republican Socialist Tendency

Accordingly, we recognise the heroic contributions of William Thompson, James Stephens, Fintan Lalor, J.P. McDonnell and the Irish sections of the First International, Michael Davitt, James Connolly, the Irish Socialist Republican Party, Jim Larkin, the Irish Citizen Army, Peadar O'Donnell, Saor Eire, the Republican Congress, Frank Ryan, the Connolly Column and Irish volunteers in the POUM, Nora Connolly-O'Brien, those within the Official Republican Movement who refused the road to reformism, Seamus Costello, Thomas "Ta" Power, Gino Gallagher, and all who fought for the freedom of Ireland and its working class. We consider these organisations and individuals to represent a continuous republican socialist tendency within the ongoing struggle for Irish national and class liberation. As such, they are our forebears.

The Irish Republican Socialist Movement

* In the present epoch we hold the Irish Republican Socialist Movement (comprised of the Irish Republican Socialist Party, the Irish National Liberation Army, republican socialist prisoners of war who belong to either the IRSP or the INLA, any sections of the movement outside of Ireland, and the Republican Socialist Youth Movement) to be the current representatives of this tendency.

* We recognise the IRSP as the political leadership of the IRSM and as such we recognise the IRSP as representing the political leadership of the most advanced section of the Irish working class in this historical period.

* We recognise, defend, and support -- when appropriate -- the struggle in arms of the INLA against British occupation, loyalist terror, in support of national liberation, and in defence of the Irish working class. We reject the concept of armed struggle being a principle, but view it as a tactic to be employed when appropriate. We recognise the INLA cease-fire of 22 August 1998 as having the support of the membership of the IRSM and as a necessary tactical step.

* We recognise the republican socialist prisoners as political prisoners of war, guilty of no crime save opposition to the oppression of Ireland and the Irish working class. We are pledged to their active support, both material and political.

* We are in solidarity with all organisations throughout the world sanctioned by the IRSP to represent the interests of the IRSM. We recognise these organisations to form collectively, with ourselves, a section of the IRSM. We extend the same respect to the members of those other overseas sections as we extend to our own membership.

* Further, per the decision of the 1998 IRSP Ard-Fheis, we recognise full members of the IRSCNA or other like overseas sections of the IRSM to have the full rights of members of the IRSP, subject to party discipline.

* We provide direction and oversight to the Committee for Irish Youth, the international section of the Republican Socialist Youth Movement.

* We zealously defend our mandate as the sole legitimate representatives of the IRSM in North America.

E. International Solidarity

* Recognising the struggle of the working class to be international in nature, we acknowledge our duty to defend and support all those who fight against imperialism, colonialism, and capitalism; or for socialism and the defence of the working class.

* As residents of North America, we especially recognise the struggle of the indigenous nations of this hemisphere for sovereignty and justice.

* As nations also fighting for liberation from the British state, we extend special solidarity to the republican socialists of Scotland and Wales.

* Recognising their principled solidarity towards the IRSCNA since its founding, we embrace the comrades of the All-African People's Revolutionary Party as our sisters and brothers in struggle, and acknowledge their ceaseless dedication to socialism and pan-Africanism.

* We support all struggles for socialism and the liberation of oppressed nations, women, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered people, and all other oppressed groups of people.

* The IRSCNA recognise that all solidarity work carried out with struggles outside of Ireland is undertaken on behalf of the IRSM, acting as its diplomatic corps.

* The IRSCNA expect and demand support for the IRSM from all socialist organisations in their positions on the way forward for Ireland, and we will judge the legitimacy of these organisations on that criteria.

II. Authority

* The IRSCNA takes its political direction from the IRSP.

* The highest authority within the IRSCNA is its collective membership as expressed through periodic conventions.

* The authority of the IRSCNA arises jointly from its IRSP mandate and its own Constitution.

III. Internal Organisation

A. Chapter Designation

* Any metropolitan area where a member, either Full or Associate, of the IRSCNA resides that is more than fifty miles distant from another IRSCNA chapter shall be deemed a distinct chapter of the organisation, unless it successfully petitions the Coordinating Committee to affiliate with an existing chapter lying at greater distance than normally allowed.

* Each chapter designates a person, on a fixed or rotating basis, to serve as their liaison to the Coordinating Committee. This person will file a monthly report of activities (propaganda, organising, fund raising, etc.) of the chapter with the Coordinating Committee. The chapter liaison will also be responsible for collection and remittance of dues from the chapter's members. The chapter is collectively responsible for collection of dues and for information in the report.

B. Leadership Structure

* The North American leadership between conventions is vested in a duly elected five-person Coordinating Committee. Any vacancy shall be appointed by the remainder of the Coordinating Committee until the next election.

* The Coordinating Committee is elected every two years at a convention of the IRSCNA or, in lieu of such a convention, an online vote of the membership. Should the Coordinating Committee lose the confidence of the IRSCNA's membership, the members can petition directly to the Ard-Chomhairle of the IRSP to suspend the Coordinating Committee and select suitable replacements until the next election for that office occurs. The Coordinating Committee of the IRSCNA reports to the Ard-Chomhairle of the IRSP through liaisons appointed by the Ard-Chomhairle.

* The Coordinating Committee is responsible for communication with the IRSP Ard-Chomhairle, International Department, coordinators of other overseas sections of the IRSM, and any other body designated by the Ard-Chomhairle. All official movement communication should be channelled through the Coordinating Committee, with the exception of communication IRSCNA's Prisoner Welfare Officer with liaisons within Castlerea Prison, Portlaoise Prison, or any other prison where republican socialist prisoners are held, or with IRSP Ard-Chomhairle members charged with overseeing either prisoner welfare or Teach Na Failte; and the communication with any IRSP Webmasters by the IRSCNA Webmaster.

* The Coordinating Committee is the central clearing point for monthly reports from IRSCNA chapter representatives, and responsible for coordination of recruitment and propaganda campaigns between or amongst the chapters.

* Any administrative positions, such as Editor of any IRSCNA publications, Webmaster, Prisoner Welfare Officer, or any other position deemed necessary, shall be filled by members of the Coordinating Committee or IRSCNA members appointed by the Coordinating Committee.

C. Membership:

1) Full Members

* Full Members of the IRSCNA are deemed to be members of the IRSM, enjoying full voice and voting rights enjoyed by members of the IRSP. As such, Full Members of the IRSCNA are subject to party discipline and pay dues of not less than that paid by IRSP members.

* Anyone applying for Full Membership in the IRSCNA must pass a probationary period of not less than six months. During this probation, the probationary members will be expected to function as Associate Members of the IRSCNA. Probationary members are expected to develop their knowledge of the basic tenets of Marx, Engels, and Connolly; of Irish history; and of the history and politics of the IRSM specifically. At any time after six months of probation, these members can be made Full Members by the Coordinating Committee if they have successfully maintained the standards appropriate to Full Members in regard to discipline, effort, financial contribution, and internal communication. If such a member chooses, however, they can elect to remain an Associate Member after completing the initial probation. Should they later choose to become Full Members, they may reapply at any time and after a second, three month probation, transition into Full Membership.

* Full Members dues are on a sliding scale based on income. Any member three or more months in arrears in dues payment is subject to suspension of the rights, but not responsibilities, of Full Membership until such time as the arrears is made up in full. Fifty percent of each Full Member's dues is specifically designated as support to the IRSP, with the second fifty percent  designated as support to the IRSC North American organisation. The remaining funds are applied to support of republican socialist prisoners of war and other means of support identified for the IRSM.

*Under $1000/month - $6/month
$1000-$2000/month - $12/month
Over $2000/month - $25/month

* Full Members cannot be members of any other disciplined organisation, since it is impossible to be subject to two distinct dictates of political discipline at once.

2) Associate Members

* Associate Members of the IRSCNA are expected to represent the IRSM and to do so accurately. Associate members enjoy full voice rights enjoyed by members of the IRSP, but are not eligible to vote at an IRSP Ard-Fheis, or a North American Conference of the IRSCNA. Associate members are not subject to organisational discipline, but are expected to behave in a manner likely to build awareness of, and support for, the IRSM.

* Associate Members dues are also on a sliding scale. Any member three or more months in arrears in dues payment, is subject to suspension of the rights, but not responsibilities, of Associate Membership until such time as the arrears is made up in full. Fifty percent of each Associate Member's dues is specifically designated as support to the IRSP, with another fifty percent designated as support to the IRSC North American organisation.

*Under $1000/month - $5/month
Over $1000/month - $10/month

* Associate Members may be members of disciplined organisations, but can be suspended or expelled from active membership for executing another organisation's discipline within the IRSCNA in a manner that is likely to impact negatively on the IRSCNA or IRSM.

D. Mechanism for Suspension/Expulsion:

* Full Members may be suspended for actions unbecoming a member of the IRSM, being in arrears of dues for more than three consecutive months, engaging in public attacks on fellow members, engaging in public attacks on the Irish Republican Socialist Movement, or engaging in sectarian, racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic behaviour.

* Based on severity of the offence, one to three warnings may be issued by the Coordinating Committee after discussion, after which a full member may be placed on a one-month probationary period. After three such warnings in any given year, a full member may be suspended for a period of no more than six months at a time, each time followed by a three-month probationary period. Suspension of a member does not negate the responsibilities of membership, so obligations must still be met.

* If a Full Member has been suspended three times, or the objectionable offence is egregious enough in nature, they may be subject to expulsion. After expulsion, member must turn over all materials belonging to the IRSCNA. After any suspension or expulsion, the IRSP Ard-Chomhairle will be notified of the actions taken.

* A suspended member may petition for reinstatement at any time after the suspension period ends.

* An expelled member may petition for reinstatement one calendar year from the date of expulsion, and if cleared by the Coordinating Committee shall begin the full six-month probationary period as an Associate Member.

E. Appeals Process

* After suspension or expulsion, the member must contact the Coordinating Committee within one month and offer reason(s) why suspension or expulsion is not warranted. If contact is not made within that time, the Coordinating Committee's action will be deemed acceptable by the affected member.

* If member wishes to appeal a decision by the Coordinating Committee, they may bring the appeal before all paid up Full Members at a convention or in an online forum provided by the IRSCNA, with a simple majority vote being sufficient for suspension, two-thirds sufficient for expulsion.

* Once all other appeals have been exhausted, the member may appeal directly to the IRSP Ard-Chomhairle. That body's determination will be deemed final by all parties.

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