Magherafelt public debate to focus on Irish nationalists and the First World War

World War 1
World War 1

Republicans will host a public discussion on the involvement of Irish nationalists in the First World War in Magherafelt on Wednesday night.

Liam Duggan who is secretary of the County Derry Centenaries Group which is organising the event in the Bridewell Centre said there had been a high level of public interest ahead of the discussion.

“Our event which will provide everyone interested in the history of the inter-imperial war as well as the future of politics and social development across Ireland, a respectful arena to discuss diverse viewpoints,” he said.

Making reference to the new Merlin publication, ‘Not Our War’, Liam continued: “We will recall the voices of those who came to oppose the war after reflecting on experience as well as others who opposed it on principle before a shot was fired. They may have been few in number, but gradually their influence rose.

“We will especially recall the words of Irish revolutionary, socialist icon and 1916 leader, James Connolly when he said: “We serve neither King nor Kaiser but Ireland...”

“Our event will recall the diverse voices of men and women who questioned and opposed the war - liberals, radicals and pacifists, anarchists and socialists, soldiers and non-combatants.

“As well as James Connolly we will no doubt hear of people such as Eugene Debs, Emma Goldman, Keir Hardie, Jean Jaurès, Louis Lecoin, Vladamir Lenin, John Maclean, Errico Malatesta, Sylvia Pankhurst, Siegfried Sassoon, et al., - American, Asian, British, French, German, Irish, Italian and Russian.

“We will be exploring the writings of James Connolly in relation to the inter-imperialist war and asking our panel comprising President of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, John Douglas, as well as Lynda Walker who is National Chairperson of the Communist Party of Ireland and emerging young Sinn Féin leader, Chris Hazzard MLA: “Where stands the Irish Left today?”

“Everyone is welcome to attend. The debate will start will start at 7.30pm sharp and tea and coffee will be served on arrival.”