Author Archives: Admin

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.


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

Read the rest of this entry

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.


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

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


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.



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


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.


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:

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’


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 41 other followers