Interview with republican veteran George Harrison

g-harrisonTwo months before George Harrison died, he gave a lengthy interview to the Rustbelt Radical blog.  Rustbelt has a lot of really good stuff on it, and I thoroughly recommend the site.  The person behind it is an American Mid-West marxist.  Please do go and listen to the interview – here’s how Rustbelt Radical describes George Harrison:

George was an immensely humble and decent man, belying all the media images of an IRA gun runner. Immediately at ease as we had cake and coffee served to us, the 89 year-old gave us recollections of a long life well lived in a room full of manifestations of those memories. Pictures of hunger strikers, of Bernadette McAliskey and her children hung on the wall, posters and papers from the movement were on the tables. His nurse and friend Prissy was there, along with her daughter, and it is Prissy’s voice you will hear at the very end of the interviews describing the beautiful relationship the two of them had and his impact on her.

In this lengthy interview George talks about Read the rest of this entry

Frank Conroy commemoration, Nov 9, Kildare Town

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Blog plans and you. . .

imagesI had hoped, now that I’m unemployed, to have more time for the blog, but it’s amazing how the day fills up with other work.  Also, until a day ago, my only means of accessing a computer and the internet was by walking over the hill to the little port library which has five computers for public use.  Now, however, I have a laptop, although I currently can’t really afford to hook up to the internet.

Anyway, I have been thinking quite a bit about the future of this blog.

It did occur to me to wind it up, and offer anything I wanted to write about Ireland to the éirígí site, as some time ago I became a member of Clann éirígí and have been heavily involved in producing the Clann’s bulletin.

However, the site has a core group of readers and it does argue some politics of its own: for instance, I support a woman’s right to choose on abortion and I think that should be the party position.  I also think that the left-republican groups should form a united committee to plan for Easter 1916 events.  I think it would be bordering on criminal if each group simply organises its own events.

Imagine 1916.  Pearse leads the Irish Volunteers out one day in one place.  Connolly leads the ICA out another day in another place.  The two movements never speak or co-ordinate.  Crazy, huh?  Let’s hope that the left-republican groups don’t adopt such an approach to commemorative events, especially for the 100th anniversary.

Well, let’s not just hope; let’s argue for an ard comhairle of representatives of the various organisations to organise national events and, at local level, comhairle ceantair or cúigí to organise district or regional events.

Anyway, back to the blog and you.

As well as Read the rest of this entry

Seamus Costello Memorial Committee commemoration

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éirígí in Derry

éirígí now has a ciorcal (local branch) in Derry.  Its first public event took place last Friday night (October 10), with several dozen people coming along to hear a panel of speakers on internment.

The speakers included Francie McGuigan and Kevin Hannaway who were interned without trial in the early 1970s and also tortured by the British Army.

Sitting Belfast city councillor Angela Nelson spoke about being interned in her youth in the early 1970s, while éirígí’s Stephen Murney spoke about his recent imprisonment.

As well as relating their own experiences, speakers dealt with what has and hasn’t changed in the north of Ireland since the civil rights movement of the late 1960s and the subsequent beginning of armed conflict.

Francie McGuigan suggested that a bunch of names had changed – internment is now ‘detention’ and ‘remand’ and the names of the individuals and parties running Stormont have changed, for instance, but the fundamental system remains.  Kevin Hannaway suggested that the fight was worth it, but was also far from over because real freedom had not been achieved.

Seamus Costello commemoration

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Cork Volunteers Pipe Band, part two

This came from veteran socialist-republican Jim Lane in Cork, and is part two in his centenary year series on the history of the Cork Volunteers Pipe Band

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Women’s right to abortion: compromise is the losing option

by Anne McShane

The government hoped that the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Act 2013, which came into operation in January, would stifle the demand for change in favour of women’s rights. But the opposite has happened. There has been a new spate of protests over the first reported case under the new legislation. ‘Miss Y’, an asylum-seeker who arrived in Ireland early in the year, sought an abortion on the grounds that she was suicidal. Despite her clear desperation she was refused the procedure and forced to continue the pregnancy. Yet another victim of the misogyny embedded deep within the theocratic Catholic state and its institutions.

The 2013 act was reluctantly introduced by the government in response to immense pressure from the population. Opinion polls have consistently shown an overwhelming majority in favour of some abortion rights. One published in the Irish Times in June 2013 showed over 80% in favour where there is a risk to the health of the mother: ie, the British system. A similar number supported abortion on the grounds of rape, foetal abnormality and other difficult circumstances. Almost 40% supported the proposal that women should be able to access abortion on the grounds of choice. It was a population very clearly out of kilter with its government.

Suicidal

Clare Daly, then a Socialist Party TD, introduced a private members bill in November 2012 demanding legislative action for abortion. She argued that the government needed to implement the decision in the ‘X case’ – a leading high court judgment from 1992, which ruled that women should be allowed an abortion if their lives were at risk from suicide. She claimed that this was a way of getting the issue discussed for the first time by Leinster House; it was a step in the right direction. Certainly it did spur a major debate, with many women coming out for the first time to talk openly about their abortions. It coincided with outrage over

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Getting back on track

Regular readers may have noticed that not much has appeared on the site over the last month or more.  Rest assured, the blog is still very much a going concern.  Likely, however, it will be another two-three weeks before things get back to ‘normal’.

In the meantime, hopefully you’ll go back through particular categories and catch up on things you haven’t had the chance to read before.

Phil

Saor Eire activist Seamus Ryan, 1937-2014

by Mick Healy

The funeral took place on July 23, 2014 in Mount Jerome cemetery, Dublin, of former Saor Eire activist Seamus Ryan who died after a long illness in London.

Seamus was born in September 1937 in Dublin and as a teenager joined the Republican Movement. In 1956, like others of his generation, he emigrated to London to find  employment. He later became an accomplished photographer, creating hundreds of remarkable images which are a vital part of the history of the Irish  left-wing in Britain.

He later became involved  with the Trotskyist Irish Workers Group (IWG), along with his friends Liam Daltun, Frank Keane and Gery Lawless. Around  this time his photographs were featured  frequently  in the IWG monthly magazine, the Irish Militant.

In the late 1960s he forged links with Saor Éire, a militant Marxist-republican group which was set up in the 1960s by former members of the IRA and a layer of Trotskyist activists associated with the Fourth International.

Seamus was arrested in 1967 at Northchurch Road, Dalston, London and charged with possession of  Read the rest of this entry

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