2021 Calendar – commemorating the 1981 hunger strike

Éirígí’s 2021 calendar is a very special one to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1981 hunger strike.
Including information, artwork, photos and key dates relating to one of the most important events in modern Irish history, these are not to be missed.

Available for just €10 each, all proceeds go to help fund our campaigns, including housing, natural resources, an Teanga and to build support for a new all-Ireland Republic!

Éirígí does not receive any funding from the state or wealthy donors.  And we don’t have the backing of any state or private media outlets.  Instead we are entirely reliant on the generosity of our party members and supporters who give what they can, when they can.

Copies of the calendar are available from Siopa Éirígí here.

In memory of republican veteran Donal Ó Sé, 1937-2020

The tribute below is from the Eirigi site, here.

Republican activists in South Dublin woke to the sad news last Thursday morning that the 1950s veteran Donal Ó Sé had passed away. Although Donal had lived in the same house on the Dundrum Road for the last forty years, his life story began far away in the village of Kilgarvan in South Kerry where he was born in 1937.

The hearse bearing the tri-colour draped coffin of Donal Ó Sé, flanked by a republican guard of honour, making the journey from Donal’s home to Milltown Church.
The hearse bearing the tri-colour draped coffin of Donal Ó Sé, flanked by a republican guard of honour, making the journey from Donal’s home to Milltown Church.

Donal’s earliest days on this earth were a time of simultaneous joy and tragedy for his family – joy in his arrival and tragedy in the passing of his mother who died in childbirth.

As was common with such tragedies at the time, family members stepped forward to help rear the infant Donal – in his case a childless aunt and uncle who had returned to Ireland after spending decades in the United States. While still a child tragedy again visited the young Donal’s life, with the death of his beloved Unlce Jim.

As the ten-year-old ‘man of the house’ Donal had to grow up fast, helping his adoptive mother Minnie with the many chores that came with running a small holding in 1940s Ireland. It was during these formative years that he developed both a strong work ethic and a deep hatred of injustice of every type.

The small holding where Donal Ó Sé grew up pictured today.
The small holding where Donal Ó Sé grew up pictured today.

His republican beliefs too developed as he moved through his teenage years – influenced by the rich republican history of his native county and by his adoptive parents who had supported the republican cause from America during the revolutionary period.

At some point in his late teens Donal joined the Irish Republican Army, a fact that became known to all when he was arrested along with 37 other republican volunteers during training maneuvers in Glencree, Co Wicklow in 1957.

Among the detained republicans were many who went on to become well-known national political figures including Seamus Costello, Sean Garland, Proinsias De Rossa and Peter Pringle.

Donal Ó Sé pictured in 2019 at the republican monument at the Cúl na Cathrach ambush site at Baile Mhic Íre
Donal Ó Sé pictured in 2019 at the republican monument at the Cúl na Cathrach ambush site at Baile Mhic Íre

Following a period of detention in Mountjoy Prison, Donal was moved to the internment camp in the Curragh, Co Kildare. The government of Eamon De Valera had introduced internment without trial earlier in 1957 in response to the IRA’s ill-fated ‘Operation Harvest’.

Unwilling to wait patiently for De Valera to release him, Donal took part in a mass prison break in December 1958. While many other prisoners were captured during the escape or shortly afterwards, Donal escaped the immediate area and remained at large until a general amnesty for all republican prisoners was introduced.

In the early 1960s he emigrated to England where he worked in the construction sector as a carpenter, until his republican activities attracted the attention of British police. A rapidly arranged trip back across the Irish Sea took Donal to Dublin where he gained employment with Dublin Corporation and met his future wife.

Donal Ó Sé remained a committed republican throughout the rest of his life as evidenced by his trade unionism, his love of Gaelic Games, traditional music and the Irish language. In the years leading up to his death Donal offered his support to Éirigí For A New Republic – the party he felt best represented the politics he believed in.

Eoin and Donal Ó Sé in happier times
Eoin and Donal Ó Sé

Donal Ó Sé was a quiet, unassuming man of few words. That quietness was not borne out of shyness or lack of confidence. Quite the opposite. It was a quietness borne of a deep understanding of the modern world and an absolute belief in Irish republicanism.

Donal had no need to shout from the hilltops about his exploits or his politics. He knew exactly who he was and what he believed in. Like thousands of other republican activists of his generation he did what he did because it was the right thing to do and he did so without any expectation of fame or fortune.

His republicanism manifested itself in the support that he offered to friend and stranger alike – in his instinctive rallying against injustice – in his support for oppressed people across the globe – in his political campaigning – in the unconditional love that he gave to his family.

Éirígí For A New Republic takes this opportunity to offer our deepest condolences to Donal’s wife Geraldine, his son Eoin and to their wider family during this most difficult of times. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Political activist and radical photographer Séamus O’Riain,1937-2014

by Mick Healy

“There are those of us who try to follow the path once taken by Casement, Pearse, Connie Green and O’Hanlon. We seek to put through the charter that was bought with blood of our glorious dead in 1916, which the Free State Regime failed to do, a charter that would make an All-Ireland Workers Republic.” – Séamus O’Riain, HM Prison Brixton, September 1967.

Séamus (Ryan) O’Riain was born into poverty on September 2, 1937 to Katherine Ryan in Dublin. When Katherine married a Tom Ryan, Séamus was fostered out to a family called Corbally; unfortunately he was to end up in Drainages children’s detention centre in County Offaly.  What’s more, he remained there for about three years before he was reunited with Katherine and step-father Tom at 51 Viking Road, Arbour Hill, Dublin. (Drainages treated the children more like slaves than children, stated a commission in 2009 that inquired into child abuse at the detention centre.)

O’Riain became an accomplished photographer; his employment for a number of years was with Jerome Photography Studio at 4 Henry Street, Dublin. He created hundreds of remarkable images which are a vital history of Republican and left-wing activity. Moreover, the photographs with his Phoenix Company in London featured Brendan Behan, The Dubliners and Tom Barry, the former  Commander of the IRA’s Third West Cork Flying Column during the Irish War of Independence. Tom Barry praised him in a letter dated 24, August 1977, “A hundred note of thanks for your splendid set of photos. They are the finest I have ever seen and I have, unfortunately, had hundreds taken.”

Seamus’ association with radicalism went back to his youth when he joined the IRA along with his comrade Liam Sutcliffe, during Operation Harvest (the IRA 1950s border campaign). Like others of his generation, O’Riain Read the rest of this entry

Socialist Democracy statement on the hunger strike and state suppression in Ireland and their assessment of the ‘modest victory’

Below are two pieces by the Irish Marxist group Socialist Democracy. The first is their statement of September 25 (“Harsh treatment of Palestinian prisoner and hunger strike blows the lid off state suppression in Ireland”) and the second is their follow-up piece on the outcome of the hunger strike and support protests around it.

What had been counted as a major intelligence blow against Irish republicanism has suddenly become a major embarrassment to the British and Irish governments and to a number of parties inside the Northern Executive.

In a major sting and entrapment operation nine Republicans were arrested following meetings that appear to have been organised by a long standing MI5 mole within their ranks.  All have been jailed on a variety of charges relating to conspiracy.

Subsequently Palestinian solidarity activist Dr Issam Hijjawi was arrested and charged with support for terrorism based on a claim that he offered to put the groups in touch with governments that the British say are “unfriendly”.

All the defendants are housed at Maghaberry gaol, the site of a savage struggle between Republicans and the administration in which the jailers have been using Covid-19 restrictions to hold prisoners in solitary confinement for two weeks on entry to the jail before releasing them to the Republican wing.

After this process was over Dr Hijjawi, who has a number of serious medical conditions,  was taken to hospital for tests and on return was again placed in solitary.  He immediately went on hunger strike and was followed by Republican prisoners in both northern and southern prisons.  These have been supported by solidarity hunger strikes, in Ireland and internationally, and by many statements of support from republican and anti-imperialist groups.

The Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association has announced a fast and solidarity encampment outside Maghaberry jail beginning on the 26th September.

The hunger strike lifts a veil on a massive surveillance operation aimed at Republicans and a constant suppression of those imprisoned.  Major sacrifices, such as hunger strikes, are required to avoid being utterly crushed.

The British and  Irish governments and Sinn Fein are united in denying that there is any Republican opposition.  Anyone who contradicts that narrative is by definition a terrorist. There must be no alternative to the corrupt sectarian settlement they have contrived.

The hunger strike and the fact that a Palestinian activist is involved can lift the lid on this silent suppression.  Solidarity should not end with the usual suspects.  A slew of organisations; Trade Unions, NGOs and community groups say they defend prisoners and they defend Palestinian rights.  They must not be allowed to stay in the shadows.

Socialist Democracy’s statement is taken from their site, here.

Éirígí speaker at housing protest in Dublin

Éirígí’s Brian Leeson speaking at housing protest in Dublin last Saturday.

Keep up with the struggle for Universal Public Housing by following the Éirígí site, from where I also have re-blogged this vid: https://eirigi.org/

 

Phil O’Donoghue and Operation Harvest

This is the story of Phil O’Donoghue who in 1954 joined the Irish Republican Army in Dublin and subsequently participated in Operation Harvest/the Border Campaign. On New Year’s Day 1957, Phil was a member of a military column during a raid against an RUC barracks in Brookeboroug, in which Seán South and Fergal O’Hanlon lost their lives. Along with 38 volunteers he was arrested at an IRA training camp in Wicklow and was imprisoned in the Curragh camp.

O’Donoghue became the National Organiser of the 32-County Sovereignty Movement that was founded on December 7, 1997.

This interview was done by Mick Healy who sent it on to me, along with the intro above.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYkW_l6VvnU&feature=emb_logo

Michael Flannery at The Untold Story of Clan na Gael

Veteran Irish Republican Michael Flannery’s contribution during the Q&A session at the Seán Cronin lecture, on The Untold Story of The Clan na Gael.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1oIX2BFZZY

Seán Cronin on The Untold Story of The Clan na Gael (1992 talk, New York)

Seán Cronin was originally an officer in the Free State army, who subsequently joined the IRA and became chief-of-staff planning and overseeing Operation Harvest (1956-62).  Later he lived in the USA and became US correspondent for the Irish Times.  He is the author of several books too, most famously Irish Nationalism: a history of its roots and ideology (Dublin, Academy Press, 1980).  Here he is in New York, 1992, speaking on Clan na Gael, the Fenian organisation in the United States in the 1800s and 1900s.

Connolly’s ‘Labour in Irish History’: study/discussion group

A study/discussion group based on Connolly’s Labour in Irish History started a couple of weeks ago.  With the lockdown across Ireland (and in other countries where socialist-republicans and supporters reside) many of us will have more time than we usually do for study, theory, political discussion, so let’s make use of it.

The studies have been initiated by Eirigi general-secretary Mickey Moran, but are open to any socialist-republican-minded people.  They take place on zoom and are very easy to access.  You can contact Mickey directly or, if you are shy, email me and I’ll put him onto you.  He’s: eirigigeneralsecretary@gmail.com

The sessions take place on Wednesday nights at 8.30 (Irish time, and British time).  If you’re elsewhere you will need to check what time that is wherever you are.

Last week we delved into two chapters where our political tradition begins to emerge, looking at the democratic and internationalist ideas of the United Irish movement of Wolfe Tone and at Emmet’s movement and the manifesto of the 1803 rebellion, which, if anything, was even more radical – for instance Emmet’s rebellion wanted to confiscate and nationalise Church property.

It was my privilege to do the introduction.

The next 2 chapters will be introduced by Fiona, as the sessions begin to move on from the great revolutionary democracy of the United Irishmen and Emmet, pre-runners of socialism, to the emergence of a more explicitly socialist politics in Ireland.  These chapters are:

Chapter 10 – The First Irish Socialist – A forerunner of Marx; this looks at the views and work of William Thompson in the late 1820s and early 1830s
Chapter 11 – An Irish Utopia; this looks at the Ralahine commune in Co. Clare in the 1830s

Anyone who doesn’t have a copy of the pamphlet/book can read it on the Marxist Internet Archive, here.

SD on the Dublin rump government and its economic survival plan

An interesting article, although I think the comrades might be somewhat optimistic about the level of class struggle they think will follow the pandemic.

by Socialist Democracy

When the Dublin government announced financial measures in response to the Covid 19 pandemic a local satirical e-zine, Waterford Whisper News, had a field day. The right wing Fine Gael government had gone communist. The country was now a Soviet. Ireland should be done with it and imprint a hammer and sickle within the tricolour.

There was reason for the satire. Many of the major issues of Irish society, claimed by the government to be insoluble because of the lack of a money tree, disappeared overnight. An army of homeless were ushered into empty hotels. For the first time in its history the Irish state conjured up a national health service by renting the large private sector. Individual payments to workers were ushered in and then increased when they proved insufficient. In the background a State that constantly misses all environmental targets and has no serious plan to deal with climate change suddenly saw the skies clear above the entire island.

Of course the Irish Soviet is a figment of the satirical imagination. Most government expenditure is directed towards the bosses. Payments to workers are in part an attempt to maintain the structures of production to speed eventual recovery. With this said, there are substantial funds assigned to ensure social peace, especially as the recent elections had demonstrated just how unpopular the leading capitalist parties are.

This is a rump government, the struggle to establish a new one is ongoing, and the issues that brought it down are the issues that it is now trying to temporarily resolve: a massive housing crisis, a health service in a shambles and large sections of the population under wage and pension pressures. The problem with their resolution is twofold. Firstly, how do you row back on the temporary concessions made today? Secondly, how do you present the bill for the extra expenditure to a working class still paying for the 2008 banking bailout?

The rump government has shaken off the shock of the. . . continue reading article on the SD site