Nora Connolly – a brief note on her life

nora2The following piece appeared on éirígí’s facebook page.  Now being unemployed, and living a quiet life in a place near the end of the world, I hope to have more time to write, especially as I only want to work part-time for the rest of my life.  Near the top of what I want to write is an appreciation of Nora Connolly.  As I’ve indicated before, too often in discussions re Republican Congress it is Peadar O’Donnell who is primarily remembered.  In my view, in the political fight that led to the effective break-up of Republican Congress, Nora Connolly was right in arguing for the transformation of the Congress into a revolutionary (socialist-republican) party and O’Donnell and his supporters (who wanted it to be a coalition of republicans, including attempts to involve elements of Fianna Fail) were wrong.  The pressing need at the time was for a revolutionary party; such a party might then help coalesce and lead a wider alliance, but the party was key. 

Nora, in my opinion, has never been given her full due, probably because she made the subsequent mistake of going off into the Labour Party and, later, serving as a De Valera-appointed member of the Seanad.  Those mistakes, however, don’t wipe out her impressive credentials from before the Easter Rising, through the Rising and war for independence, through the civil war (at one point n time she was acting paymaster-general for the IRA), the 1920s and the organising of Republican Congress.  It was only after the defeat of her arguments there that she ended up feeling she had nowhere to go and the fact that Labour had begun talking again about the ‘workers republic’ idea that led her into Labour.  To her credit, she didn’t stay and become an apologist for Labour, the way her brother Roddy did.  The formation of the IRSP and the apparent leftward development of the Provisionals brought her back into activity in her late 70s and early 80s, especially around the hunger strikes of 1980-81.

From éirígí on facebook, June 17:

The veteran Irish socialist republican, and daughter of the great James Connolly, Nora Connolly O’Brien passed away on June 17, 1981.

Nora lived her life in absolute dedication to the cause of Irish National Liberation and Socialism.

Nora was a veteran of the 1916 Rising, the Tan War and the war in defence of the Republic which followed. Like her father, Nora believed that the class struggle and the national struggle in Ireland were the same fight, and during the 1930s Nora was a key organiser in the left wing Republican Congress.

In the 1970s Nora described Seamus Costello as Read the rest of this entry

Some comments on the May 24 election results

This is a brief thing I wrote for the most recent issue of Poblacht na nOibrithe, the bulletin of Clann éirígí.  I didn’t think of putting it up here until just now:

The May 24 elections saw a massive surge of support for Sinn Fein in the south, while the party held its support in the north. It’s clear that the surge in the south came largely at the expense of the Labour Party and, to a lesser extent, of Fianna Fail. These two capitalist parties were punished by southern voters for their roles in the vicious attacks on workers since the collapse of the ‘Celtic Tiger’.

Moreover, Sinn Fein is now the dominant party in Dublin, as revealed at council level and Euro seat level. The Shinners hold 16 seats in Dublin, compared to 9 for Fianna Fail and 8 each for Fine Gael and Labour. Across the 26-county state, SF took 157 seats (up 103) to Labour’s 51 (down 81). The Shinners’ biggest achievement was, interestingly, in the Euro poll where they were not far behind Fianna Fail and Fine Gael. Labour lost all its Euro seats and won only 88,000 votes, while the Shinners took 3 seats (just one behind Fine Gael) and 323,000 votes (Fianna Fail won 400 more votes than Fine Gael but came out of it with only one seat).

Left of Labour constituency

Of course, there has always been a left-of-Labour constituency, but it has not been this large since the early 1920s. There are three reasons why Sinn Fein has been able to capitalise on disillusion with Labour. One is that they were the largest force to the (sort of) left of Labour, another is that Fianna Fail is also discredited so Labour votes didn’t drift back there, and the third is that the working class in the south is republican (with a small ‘r’). The republicanism of the southern working class, no matter how Read the rest of this entry

Revolutionary Women walking tour

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Gerry Conlon

Over on the Redline blog, I’ve put up a short piece about Gerry Conlon with a film of him speaking to the Maritime Union of Australia conference in Melbourne in 2011.  It’s headlined Gerry Conlon, 1954-2014: victim of British state terror, fighter for human rights.

See: http://rdln.wordpress.com/2014/06/25/gerry-conlon-1954-2014-victim-of-british-state-terror-fighter-for-human-rights/

 

Anti-internment protest, this Saturday (June 28), Newry

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Winners and losers in the ‘peace process’

partition1newThe following speech was delivered by Liam O Ruairc  at the ‘Nordirland: Einblicke in die linke republikanische Bewegung’ conference in Hamburg on May 30.

This year marks twenty years since the 31 August 1994 IRA ceasefire and sixteen years since the 10 April 1998 Belfast Agreement brought peace to Northern Ireland, if we are to believe the media.

I. WHO WON AND WHO LOST POLITICALLY

To sum up, these three points are what parties signed up to politically on 10 April 1998:

First British sovereignty over Northern Ireland remains intact

Second, historical adversaries in Northern Ireland agree to share power in a local Assembly

Third six cross border bodies between north and south of the island are set up to recognise the ‘Irish dimension’[i].

The first and most important question is who won and who lost here ?

The first time the IRA entered into negotiations with the British government during the 1968-1998 conflict was on 7 July 1972, when an IRA delegation -including Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness who later participated in the negotiations leading to the 1998 Agreement- was flown over to London to discuss with the British government. The three central political demands of Irish Republicans-Sinn Fein and the IRA-were :

First a British declaration of intent to withdraw from Northern Ireland within five years.

Second an all-Ireland constituent Assembly to democratically determine the future of the island.

Third the release of all persons imprisoned as a result of the conflict[ii].

But the British state’s alternative to the political demands of Irish republicanism in 1972/1973 were already the following three points:

First British sovereignty over Northern Ireland remains intact

Second, historical adversaries in Northern Ireland agree to share power in a local Assembly

Third six cross border bodies between north and south of the island are set up to recognise the ‘Irish dimension’[iii].

Based on that it is clear that the conflict has been settled on what were the British government’s terms and that Sinn Fein now accepts Read the rest of this entry

A further thousand hitter

The article on the Easter Rising and the myth of the ‘blood sacrifice’ has now gone over 1,000 hits – 1,017 as I write this.  It is at: http://theirishrevolution.wordpress.com/2011/07/08/the-easter-rising-and-the-blood-sacrifice/

Along with About (and, of course, Home Pages), below are the actual articles that have had over 1,000 hits:

The burning of the British embassy – 40 years on
Women’s rights and the national struggle, 1916-1922
Politics and the rise of historical revisionism
Saor Eire – Marxist and republican
The New IRA and socialist-republicanism in the twenty-first century
Nationalisms and anti-nationalisms in Irish historiography
A history of the Provisional Republican Movement – part one of three
The Easter Rising and the ‘blood sacrifice’

Some interesting articles

I’m involved in an independent Marxist blog called Redline.

Below are some recent articles that readers of this blog might be interested in:

Parliament does not exist: http://rdln.wordpress.com/2014/06/07/parliament-does-not-exist/

Capitalism continues to baffle the capitalists: http://rdln.wordpress.com/2014/06/08/capitalism-continues-to-baffle-the-capitalists/

India: behind the election results: http://rdln.wordpress.com/2014/05/28/india-behind-the-election-results/

 

Remember the Housing Action Committes – don’t we need them now?

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Pictures: above, Dublin Housing Action Committee protest, late 1960s; top left, homeless person in the six counties; top right, ghost estate

Pictures: above, Dublin Housing Action Committee protest, late 1960s; top left, homeless person in the six counties; top right, ghost estate

In the 1960s there were militant grassroots campaigns for access to housing, both north and south.  In Derry and elsewhere in the six counties they campaigned for equal access to housing and fought sectarian discrimination; they demonstrated and they occupied.  In Dublin they also demonstrated and occupied, demanding that more houses be built and that empty houses be provided to people who needed them.

Today there are 90,000 people on housing waiting lists in the south, while 14,000 houses and flats are unoccupied, including 700 ghost estates – and that’s not counting the ghost estates that have been bulldozed.  NAMA holds most of the abandoned properties and, while 4,000 of these have been earmarked for public housing, this isn’t exactly proceeding quickly.  Moreover, 4,000 is a ridiculously low number – in Kildare alone, for instance, there are 5,000 people waiting for homes.

Indeed, reports by the BBC and The Guardian in April 2010 suggested there were as many as 300,000 fairly new, empty properties in the south.  Karl Whitney reported, for instance,  “A recent report by the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Planning estimated that there were over 300,000 empty, newly built properties in Ireland’ (The Guardian, April 8, 2010).

In the north, the situation is, proportionately similar.  The Department for Social Development itself noted in its official action plan released last year, “as of December 2012 there were over 40,000 people on the Waiting List with approximately half of these applicants in housing stress”.  Not that Read the rest of this entry

Dublin mayoralty

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Veteran republican and working class fighter Christy Burke: more deserving than SF to hold 2016 mayoralty

I just heard that the Dublin mayoralty is be revolved among the five largest groups on the city council.  Christy Burke will be mayor this year as representative of the Independents.  In 2016 Sinn Fein will hold the mayoralty.  As the largest party on the Dublin City Council, I guess it’s fair enough that the Shinners get to choose when their person is mayor, but it does stick in the craw to think these renegades from republicanism will hold the mayoralty on the 100th anniversary of the Rising.  They bear much more relation to Arthur Griffith’s Sinn Fein of 1916 – which, of course, opposed the Rising – than they do to Connolly, Clarke, Pearse and their comrades.

On the other hand, Gerry’s united Ireland of 2016 will be not one step closer as a result of all the compromises made by him and his cabal.  Them holding the mayoralty of Dublin in 2016 – and I guess they’ll have the mayoralty of Belfast at the same time – is, in my view, likely to be the highpoint of New Sinn Fein (or should that be Old Sinn Fein, given they’ve reverted to Griffithism).  After that, where do they go?

Alternatively, they could make a big show of letting a Read the rest of this entry

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