Free Dónal Ó Coisdealbha, oppose internment

Protest outside Leinster House, Thursday, May 12

“Freedom for Donal” protest outside Leinster House, Thursday, May 12

Last Thursday (May 12) saw a protest outside Leinster House against what is, in effect, the internment of republican activist Dónal Ó Coisdealbha.

This case is particularly appalling since he will be tried by a non-jury court (the Special Criminal Court) where the three judges can accept secret evidence.

Although three TDs (Clare Daly, Maureen O’Sullivan and Mick Wallace) have offered to put up bail and Dónal has agreed to house arrest and electronic tagging, he has been denied bail.

It’s in the interests of everyone concerned with basic civil liberties to oppose what amounts to the internment of this young activist.

 

 

 

The assault on Markievicz – as fact-free as it is malicious

Countess_MarkiewiczThe excellent piece below appears in this month’s issue of the journal Irish Political Review.  It deals with the extraordinary and malicious assault on the reputation of Countess Markievicz, an assault which has been ratcheted up in recent years by Ann Matthews.  Matthews seems to have decided to devote her twilight years to a personal vendetta against the revolutionary countess – indeed, the vendetta seems almost out-of-control now, in terms of what she says about Markievicz, making Matthews look somewhat obsessive and deranged.  She suppresses evidence, uses ‘evidence’ which is highly questionable, cherry picks evidence to suit her already decided upon line, claims to have ‘no theory’ as if she is just some impartial fact-finder, and writes books and plays which appeal to a particular type of audience (middle class, anti-republican) who lap up her fanciful ‘history’.  In reality, hatchet job as history.

I had been thinking of writing something about Matthews and her methods for a while, when I received the piece below from a friend of mine in Belfast.  What is most notable about the critiques of people like Matthews is how strongly evidence-based they are.  They show Matthews and her fellow revisionists to be short on facts and long on prejudice and not particularly scrupulous – and certainly not rigorous – when it comes to dealing with evidence.

Sometimes, however, you do just have to laugh.  For instance when Matthews refers to Markievicz as “eccentric” and “with a strong sense of her own self-importance”, I think this is what the psychologists call ‘transference’!

In a future short piece I’ll deal with Charles Townsend on Markievicz’s imaginary breakdown and with Fearghal McGarry’s complete misrepresentation of evidence from Barton & Foy’s book on 1916.  (Barton & Foy demolish the nonsense that Markievicz broke down at her court-martial and call the claim ‘scurrilous’, whereas McGarry pretends that they say the account of her breakdown was expunged from the official court-martial proceedings!) If I can summon the energy, I’ll also comment on Matthews shoddily-written Renegades, point to the shoddiness of the writing, suppression of evidence and some of her sleights-of-hand and double standards.  It’s hard to believe that her ‘work’ is taken seriously, so it’s hard for me to summon up the energy to deal with it.  She should have been taken to task for all this by her PhD superviser/s and marker/s.

Perhaps someone in Ireland or Britain doing honours papers could methodically go through Matthews’ ‘work’ and check her ‘references’ as well as her omissions and double standards.  It could be a model dissection of how a rather crude anti-republican propagandist goes about presenting their propaganda as merely truth-seeking historiography. 

 

Irish Political Review, May 2016:

“MURDERESS” MARKIEVICZ OR MALICIOUS MISOGYNY?

by Manus Riordan

From April 20 to May 2 of last year a Show Trial took place in the Headquarters of the Communist Party of Ireland. A year later, during this past month of March, the Show Trial resumed in CPI HQ, with the defendant scheduled to be extradited to Paris for the final day’s Court sitting on April 23. On trial for “murder”, and undoubtedly scheduled for a death sentence, gender considerations nonetheless signaled commutation. 

But no, the CPI has not been seeking to emulate any of the Show Trials that characterised Leninist rule in Eastern Europe. Indeed, the CPI has no responsibility at all for Madame de Markievicz on Trial. For understandable commercial reasons, the CPI shares its premises with the New Theatre. But just as I found it incongruous to pass through Connolly Books en route to finding out just how nauseating the theatrical character assassination of Connolly’s comrade-in-arms would turn out to be, I am sure CPI personnel found it even more nauseating to witness, on a daily basis, those audiences en route to lap up that Show Trial authored by one-time CPI-archivist Ann Matthews. 

There is little doubt in my mind that Constance Markievicz has been the target of systematic misogyny, irrespective of whether the character assassins be male or female. Professor John A Murphy, University College Cork’s Emeritus Professor of History, had certainly been prepared to play the role of nasty little man in the Irish Times of 22 October 2004 when, under the heading of “Markievicz and the Rising”, he gave vent to the following piece of misogynistic West Brit character assassination:

“The argument in your columns about Countess Markievicz’s activities in Easter Week 1916 recalls W.E. Wylie’s interesting account of her demeanour at the courts martial. Wylie was appointed to act as prosecuting counsel. He was impressed by some of the prisoners, notably Eamon Ceannt and John MacBride, but not by Constance Markievicz. According to him, the court expected she would make a scene and throw things at the judge and counsel. ‘In fact’, said Wylie, ‘I saw the General (Blackadder, court president) getting out his revolver and putting it on the table beside him. But he needn’t have troubled, for she curled up completely. ‘I am only a woman’, she cried, ‘and you cannot shoot a woman. You must not shoot a woman.’ She never stopped moaning, the whole  time she was in the courtroom.’ Though she had been ‘full of fight’ in Stephen’s Green, ‘she crumpled up in the courtroom’. ‘I think we all felt slightly disgusted. . . She had been preaching to a lot of silly boys, death and glory, die for your country, etc., and yet she was literally crawling. I won’t say any more, it revolts me still.’ Wylie’s memoir of 1916 was written in 1939 when he was 58. But is there any reason to think he was lying about Markievicz, or that his recall was defective?”

In my then capacity as SIPTU Head of Research in Liberty Hall, I submitted the following reply, which was published that 28 October: 

‘In the 1916 Rebellion Handbook, first published in that year by the Weekly Irish Times, there is a self-revealing observation on the Irish Citizen Army from ‘The Steward of Christendom’ himself, Dublin Metropolitan Police Superintendant Thomas Dunne. (This is the title of the play penned in his memory by Dunne’s great-grandson, Sebastian Barry – MO’R). He complains that it is a serious state of affairs to have the city endangered by a gang of roughs with rifles and bayonets, at large at that time of night with a female like the Countess Markievicz in charge’. Constance Markievicz’s reputation has indeed been bedevilled by a combination of misogyny and contempt for her association with the working class that this union set out to organise, and whom Superintendent Dunne chose to christen ‘the disorderly class’. All the more reason, then, to expect professional rigour to be applied when UCC’s Emeritus Professor of History, John A. Murphy, intervenes (October 22nd) in what he calls the ‘argument in your columns’ concerning Markievicz’s role in 1916. Surprisingly, however, he has nothing to say on the actual issue in dispute: that either Markievicz had shot Constable Lahiff at Stephen’s Green, as maintained by Kevin Myers (October 14th), or that she could not possibly have done so, being at that time at the City Hall, as evidenced by Claire McGrath Guerin (October 19th).” 

“Prof Murphy has instead chosen to open up a new line of attack, by endorsing, without any qualification, the character assassination of Markievicz offered in his memoirs by the death penalty Read the rest of this entry

Great night of music at the Connolly Festival

Anderson

Anderson

by Mick Healy

One of the highlights of the James Connolly Festival 2016 was the music night with Anderson and special guests Bad Sea and Ciaran Dwyer.

The concert in The New Theatre, Temple Bar, was probably the best show I’ve seen for a long time, with no set breaks as the performers cranked out tune after tune without a dull moment.

Ciaran Dwyer opened the show in without doubt his finest performance ever, singing a combination of sweet folk and country music, in this fantastic-sounding venue.  The headliner act, Anderson, who played an amazing  acoustic set from his album Patterns, took to the stage after Dwyer. This left it to the three piece Bad Sea to close the show with the most incredible performance from lead singer Ciara Thompson who lifted the roof with her magical voice. Great night of music.

Editor’s note: Mick is much too modest to mention it, but he was the organiser and the MC on the night – Phil.

Stormont Assembly elections and People Before Profit

Gerry Carroll won a massive victory in West Belfast

Gerry Carroll won a massive victory in West Belfast

The piece below is taken from a facebook commentary here.

Well done to People Before Profit capturing seats in West Belfast and Foyle. I don’t think anyone can doubt the sincerity of Eamonn McCann and Gerry Carroll and their solid record on a range of issues including, in Eamonn’s case, the rights of prisoners, such as around the Marian Price case.

Gerry Carroll’s result, topping the poll in what has long been the Provos’ strongest area, is especially impressive.

And what a shot across the bows of New Sinn Fein this is. So much for the invincibility of their hold on West Belfast. And so much for the invincibility of the Adams strategy.

It’s also good because it shows there is a significant space to the left of the NSF constitutional nationalists. NSF may be able to take over part of the old Stoop Down Low Party vote – namely, by becoming the new stoop-down-low party! – but they are now hemorrhaging support from the old republican base.

Having said this, People Before Profit, if they are serious about fundamental social change, need to start calling for British troops out, the shutting of the MI5 base in the north, and start Read the rest of this entry

The Irish counter-revolution in 2016

2000

Power in the streets

The article below is taken from the latest issue of the Socialist Democracy bulletin.  I think it’s an excellent article, although I disagree that the mantle of 1916 is irrelevant.

Words can’t describe the dreadful shambles of the 1916 centenary commemorations. At the heart of each new farce is the assertion of cultural and political relativism. The Citizen Army revolutionaries are the same as the constitutional nationalist Redmond who denounced them, as the British troops who shelled them, as the UVF sectarians who armed against an Irish democracy.

The Irish capitalist class presents this cultural stew because they are overcome with embarrassment and revulsion, forced to commemorate something they despise. They would much rather be drinking tea with the British royal family or selling off housing stock to vulture capitalists.

Because, after all, the main thing about the rebellion was that it was defeated. It sparked off broader struggles in Ireland that were eventually defeated. Those in charge of the centenary are not the inheritors of the revolution, but its gravediggers.

One outcome of the counter-revolution is that many of those claiming to be the opponents of the governing parties today have great trouble in applying the revolutionary message of 1916 today.

The rebels rose against imperialism, yet today imperialism is so deeply entrenched that it is invisible.

The Troika carries out regular inspections. The ECB and IMF issue warnings and instructions. In the midst of a housing famine NAMA sells off resources at knock down prices to vulture capitalists – a grotesque 21st century version of the Read the rest of this entry

Irish republicanism in the 21st century – public meeting, Dublin, Friday May 13

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Easter Rising executions. . .

In case you’re wondering why I haven’t been putting up stuff about them here, it’s because I’ve been sticking them up on Redline.  Redline usually has over twice the readership of this blog and its readership is overwhelmingly not Irish or Irish solidarity people – so more important to get info up there.

You can also follow stuff on the Phil Duncan facebook page and, of course, check out what éirígí and other anti-GFA groups, local community groups etc are doing.

And, if you’re anywhere in Ireland, or in Britain for that matter, get to the May 12 March for Connolly, taking place in Dublin.

If you’re in Dublin, please try to make it to the éirígí vigil this evening on O’Connell Bridge, 6pm, marking the 35th anniversary of Bobby Sands, IRA Volunteer and MP.  The event will commemorate all ten hunger strikers.

Saor Eire’s 1968 raid on the Hibernian Bank in Newbridge, Co. Kildare

by Mick Healy

photo: Mick Healy

After a raid on the National Bank in Kells, Co, Meath in 1969, Saor Eire issued their first official statement to the press claiming responsibility for the robbery and describing themselves as the Saor Eire Action Group. They signed the statement as Michael Price, using the name of the 1930s socialist-republican leader and claiming that the money would be used to finance a movement which would strive for a Workers’ Republic.

The organisation had already become partly known, however, for daring bank raids.  They had commenced expropriations from Irish banks with a raid on the Royal Bank in Drumcondra, on February 27, 1967. This was followed by raiding a Munster and Leinster Bank in Tallaght on April 11, 1968.

On Tuesday, June 20, 1968, three armed raiders wearing false beards including Sean (‘Ructions’) Doyle, a veteran from Operation Harvest (the 1956-1962 IRA Border Campaign), entered the Hibernian Bank in Charlotte Street, Droichead Nua (Newbridge).  Shouting “this is a hold-up”, they held the manager, Michael Waldron, and the bank employees at gun point while searching unsuccessfully for a Free State Army payroll that, according to their intelligence, was destined for the Curragh Army Camp. While one man guarded the door, his two comrades vaulted the counter and empted £3,474 of bank-cash into a large bag.

However, an employee at nearby Sloan’s Drapery shop, Cathal Henry, became suspicious of the strangers who entered the bank and he approached a man outside the bank standing beside the get-away Read the rest of this entry

Dublin 8 – revolutionary hub: public meeting, Friday, April 29

Tommy McKearney to speak at Dublin March for Connolly

The veteran socialist-republican Tommy McKearney will be one of the speakers at the March For Connolly on May 14th in Dublin City.

The March For Connolly will mark the hundredth anniversary of the execution of James Connolly on May 12th 1916. McKearney, a former H-Block hunger-striker, author, trade unionist and anti-austerity activist, has consistently argued that socialism is the key to achieving Irish national, economic and social freedom.

The March For Connolly represents a once in a century opportunity for citizens to send a message to the political establishment – Connolly may be dead, but his politics are alive and well in the Ireland of 2016.

Join the March For Connolly, assembling at 2pm on May 14th at the Wolfe Tone Monument on Stephen’s Green for Parade to the GPO. Other speakers will be confirmed in the coming days.

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