Cairde na hÉireann
Cairde na hÉireann’s logo consisting of an Irish Republican symbol.
Don’t wish for a United Ireland, work for it!
Irish Republicanism, Irish Free State,
A 32 County Socialist and a Republican United Ireland.
Sinn Féin, Scottish Republican Socialist Movement
Cairde na hÉireann (Irish: Friends of Ireland) is a republican organisation in Scotland best known for the annual James Connolly march through the streets of Edinburgh and for the Bloody Sunday march each January in Glasgow, both of which no longer take place. Since then the organisation has focused more in its anti-racism campaign and its other stated aims.
Aims and principles
Membership of Cairde na hÉireann is open to anyone regardless of faith, race, sex, sexuality, or nationality. The stated aims of Cairde na hÉireann are to:
campaign for a united Ireland;
support sister organisations in Ireland;
promote a new Ireland based on the principles of justice and equality;
support initiatives aimed at improving the material conditions of the Irish community in Scotland
campaign against racism and sectarianism.
The group in a submission to the Scottish Executive estimated in 2005 that it represents around 1,000 people, including 300 from the James Connolly society and a number of flute bands with between 10 and 20 members each. 30 people had attended their recent marches in Coatbridge.
Cairde na hÉireann was formed as a split from the West of Scotland Band Alliance (WoSBA) in 2004. The WoSBA are considered supporters of dissident Republicans and are not recognised by Sinn Féin.
In their first official statement to An Phoblacht (Republican News, Sinn Féin’s official monthly newspaper), Cairde na hÉireann said that their main aim is to concentrate on building a political base that would prove itself in the Scottish Parliament. They are organised throughout Scotland and northern England. They have demonstrations and marches all over Scotland and use these events as a platform to spread their pro-Irish nationalist message.
Marches and controversy
The organisation has been involved in discussions with the Scottish Executive over proposals to restrict and regulate marches in Scotland. The group’s national organiser at the time, Jim Slavin, said: “I think vetoes and banning marches is not the solution, I think dialogue is a solu