Interview with veteran Irish working class and Marxist activist Kevin Keating

This is an interview that Mick did recently with Kevin Keating, a veteran activist in Dublin.  Kevin’s many years of activism go from the IRA to the fused People’s Democracy (merger of the original northern-based PD and the southern-based Movement for a Socialist Republic), which became Socialist Democracy in the later 1990s.

Kevin has very serious health problems these days.  Happily, this was one of his better days.

 

See also the interview with John McAnulty of SD.  John was a leading figure in People’s Democracy in Belfast over decades.  Mick spoke to him last October about the experience of 50 years of struggle.  See here.

Southern Irish election: Sinn Fein takes the lead

I wrote an article on the elections just after I saw the exit polls, then updated it earlier this morning (NZ time; Sunday night, Irish time).

by Philip Ferguson

With almost all the votes now counted, Sinn Fein looks like being the big winner in Saturday’s election in the south of Ireland.

Exit polls showed a three-way virtual tie between the main parties in the south of Ireland. Sinn Fein, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael were all on just over 22% of first preferences: FG on 22.4, SF on 22.3, FF on 22.2.  These polls indicated that almost 32% of 18-24 year-olds voted Sinn Fein.

But now, with 96% of the votes cast, SF is sitting on 24.1% of first preferences and both FF and FG are on 22.1%.  For the first time

SF didn’t expect to do so well, especially after suffering substantial losses in the Euro and local government elections last year, so ran a limited number of candidates – it looks like it will get less seats than it could have gotten if it had’ve aimed for two seats in more constituencies.  At the same time, its surpluses have transferred significantly to two Trotskyist parties, helping them keep their seats. . .

See full article at: Sinn Fein takes the lead

Statement on Sinn Fein and PSNI by families of republicans murdered by UVF, with police help, in Cappagh, March, 1991

On March 3, 1991, pro-British terrorists of the Ulster Volunteer Force attacked people drinking at Boyle’s Bar in the village of Cappagh in the six counties (“Northern Ireland”).    They shot dead four people, three of whom were IRA members (Cappagh is a staunchly republican village).  Tommy O’Sullivan (51) was the civilian and was in the bar; John Quinn (23), Malcolm Nugent (20) and Dwayne O’Donnell (17) were the IRA Volunteers, who were shot in a car arriving in the car park.  Local IRA leader Brian Arthurs survived as patrons barricaded the doors when they heard shooting outside.  This was one of the many occasions in which loyalist killers collaborated with state forces.  Representatives of the families of the Cappagh Victims have released this statement, as Sinn Fein has been embracing the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), which is riddled with people involved in collaboration with loyalist killers, collaboration that is integral to the whole repressive apparatus of the British state in the occupied part of Ireland. – P.F.

Statement by Representatives of Families of Cappagh Victims

“On Sunday 3rd March 1991, our sons and brothers were stole from us, brutally murdered by agents of the state.

“Like many families out there who have lost their loved ones to state agents, the past can never be the past until we have the truth, until we have vindication that these deaths were wrong. We deserve recognition that these horrible acts were perpetrated upon us and that it should never have happened. We, as families have a right to the truth and any denial of this truth is a further act of vengeance on us.

“Any attempts to investigate the murders of our loved ones are faced with obstruction. The government fails to disclose material it holds that would allow us the truth to be established, inquests, ombudsman’s inquiries, litigation and police reviews that have been dragged on for decades for the sole purpose of delaying the process.

“The initial inquest was a whitewash! The forensics were Read the rest of this entry

Protest Poem

Over 750,000 people are currently living in poverty in the South; the total population in the South is about 4.8 million

 

The poem below was read by its writer, Valerie Bryce, at the open mic night at The Cottage Bar in Letterkenny, on January 28.

 

PROTEST POEM

‘There but for the grace of God’, they say
‘Did you see on the news the aul woman in Dublin
Eating left over chips from a windowsill
And her living rough on the street and worse still
She’d dementia
God love her ‘tis awful, isn’t it?’.

‘It’s a national scandal’, they say
‘Having hundreds of patients waiting on trolleys
Sometimes for days
Pyjamas and drips all on public display
‘Tis inhumane’.

‘We’ve a right to the truth’ they’ll protest
When billions of public funds remain unaccounted for
And there’s no arrests
When facts about institutional abuse are withheld
To keep us in the dark and that tongues cannot tell
Of the manner in which Church and State are complicit
In protecting abusers
Making victims lives hell.

It’s a sure sign of madness, I say
To repeat the same thing again and again
Expecting a Read the rest of this entry

The blinding of Emma Groves – front cover of ‘Socialist Woman’, March-April 1972

I met Emma Groves back in the early 1990s, or possibly very end of the 1980s, as she came to Dublin to help support the campaign against extradition.  The story of her blinding by a British soldier, who deliberately shot her in the face at point-blank range with a rubber bullet, shocked people in Dublin and elsewhere in the south.  Many southerners were simply unaware of the harsh realities of daily life as experienced by northern nationalist working class people. 

This morning I was looking at a copy of a British left-wing women’s liberation journal from the early 1970s, Socialist Woman, and saw it had a short item on Mrs Groves’ blinding on the front cover of its March-April 1972 issue.  Here is the item:

Emma Groves, of Anderstonstown, Belfast lost the sight of both her eyes when a paratrooper fired a rubber bullet into her face at point-blank range.

The incident occurred on the morning of 4th November (1971 – PF) when yet another military search was taking place in her area.  One group of soldiers had completed their work and left, and then the paras moved in.

Mrs Groves opened her window.  She was told by a para to Read the rest of this entry

“Our choice lay in submitting to foreign lawlessness or resisting it, and we did not hesitate to choose” – Roger Casement on trial for his life

In his 1914 book The Crime Against Ireland and How the War May Right it, Sir Roger Casement wrote, “Sedition (is) the natural garment for an Irishman to wear”.  Casement wore it well. 

A participant in the preparations for the 1916 Easter Rising, Casement landed at Banna Strand (northwest of Tralee) in Co. Kerry on board a ship from Germany with a large consignment of weaponry for the rebels.  However the rendezvous did not take place and Casement was captured on April 21, 1916.  He was subsequently held in Pentonville Prison in London, tried in London over four days in May, and hung for treason on August 3.  At his trial, he made a speech from the dock; he had written the body of it while in prison.  Below is the text.  I have broken up some paragraphs which were huge in the original.

This text is longer than that often found on the internet.  I had to type up additional chunks of text from where I found this – I have it taken it from The Great Prisoners: the first anthology of literature written in prison, selected and edited by Isidore Abramavotich, New York: E.P. Dutton & Company, 1946.  Abramovitch lists the range of his Casement sources on p869.

I have added subheads to break up the text.

 

Roger Casement:

My Lord Chief Justice, as I wish to reach a much wider audience than I see before me here, I intend to read all that I propose to say. What I shall read now is something I wrote more than twenty days ago. I may say, my lord, at once, that I protest against the jurisdiction of this Court in my case on this charge, and the argument that I am now going to read is addressed not to this Court, but to my own countrymen.

There is an objection, possibly not good in law, but surely good on moral grounds, against the application to me here of this old English statute, 565 years old, that seeks to deprive an Irishman to-day of life and honour, not for “adhering to the King’s enemies”, but for adhering to his own people.

When this statute was passed, in 1351, what was the state of men’s minds on the question of a far higher allegiance – that of a man to God and His kingdom?  The law of that day did not permit a man to forsake his church or deny his God save with his life.  The ‘heretic’ then had the same doom as the ‘traitor’.

Today a man may forswear God had His heavenly kingdom without fear of penalty, all earlier statutes having gone the way of Nero’s edicts against the Christians, but that Constitutional phantom, ‘The King’, can still dig up from the dungeons and torture chambers of the Dark Ages a law that takes a life and limb for an exercise of conscience.

If true religion rests on love, it is equally true that loyalty rests on love.  The law I am charged under has no parentage in love and claims the allegiance of to-day on the ignorance and blindness of the past.

I am being tried, in truth, not by my peers of the live present, but by the peers of the dead past; not by the civilisation of the twentieth century, but by the brutality of the fourteenth; not even by a statute framed in the language of an enemy land – so antiquated is the law that must be sought to-day to slay an Irishman, whose offence is that he puts Ireland first.

The Government of Ireland by England. . . can evoke no loyalty

Loyalty is a sentiment, not a law.  It rests on love, not on restraint.  The Government of Ireland by England rests on restraint and not on law; and since it demands no love it can evoke no loyalty.

But this statute is more absurd even than it is antiquated; and if it is potent to hang one Irishman, it is still more potent to gibbet all Englishmen.

Edward III was King not only of the realm of England, but also of the realm of France, and he was not King of Ireland.  Yet his dead hand to-day may pull the noose around the Irishman’s neck whose Sovereign he was not, but it can strain no strand around the Frenchman’s throat whose Sovereign he was.

For centuries the successors of Edward III claimed to be Kings of France, and quartered the arms of France on their royal shield down to the Union with Ireland on 1st January, 1801.  Throughout these hundreds of years these “Kings of France” were constantly at war with their realm of France and their French subjects, who should have gone from birth to death with an obvious fear of treason before their eyes.  But did they?  Did the “Kings of France” resident here at Windsor or in the Tower of London, hang, draw and quarter as a traitor every Frenchman for 400 years who fell into their hands with arms in his hand?  On the contrary, they received embassies of these traitors, presents from these traitors, even knighthood itself at the hands of these traitors, feasted with them, tilted with them, fought with them – but did not assassinate them by law.  Judicial assassination today is reserved  only for one race of the King’s subjects, for Irishmen; for those who cannot forget their allegiance to the realm of Ireland.

Slide by Robert Ehrlich

The Kings of England as such had no rights in Ireland up to the time of Henry VIII, save such as reasted on compact and mutual obligation entered between them and certain princes, chiefs and lords of Ireland.  This form of legal right, such as it was, gave no King of England lawful power to impeach an Irishman for high treason under this statute of King Edward III of England until an Irish Act, known as Poyning’s Law, the 10th of Henry VII, was passed in 1494 at Drogheda, by the Parliament of the Pale in Ireland, and enacted as law in that part of Ireland.  But if by Poyning’s Law an Irishman of the Pale could be indicted for high treason under this Act, he could be indicted only in one way and before one tribunal – by the laws of the realm in Ireland and in Ireland.

The very law of Poyning’s, which, I believe, applies this statute of Edward III to Ireland, enacted also for the Irishman’s defence, “All those laws by which England claims her liberty”.  And what is the fundamental charter of an Englishman’s liberty?  That he shall be tried by his peers.

“Not a jury of my peers”

With all respect I assert this Court is to me, an Irishman, not a jury of my peers to try me in this Read the rest of this entry

The Democratic Programme – as Gaeilge and in English

January 21 marks the 101st anniversary of the adoption of the Democratic Programme by the First Dail, the revolutionary Dail.  The Programme was not so much a specific programme of work for the Dail, which was soon driven underground by British state repression, as an indicator of where the revolutionary government and parliament was going – working towards a more equitable society where the rights of the masses came ahead of the interests of capital.

For the background, see the following:

Republicanism and the national independence struggle, 1916-1921

The working class and the national struggle, 1916-1921

Women’s rights and the national struggle, 1916-1922

Below is the text in both Irish and English.

First meeting of the First Dail, January 21, 1919.

Dearbhuighimíd, i mbriathraibh for-fhógra Saorstáit Éireann go bhfuil sé de cheart ag muinntir na hÉireann sealbh na hÉireann do bheith aca agus cinneamhain an náisiúin do bheith fé n-a riar, agus nách féidir an ceart san do bhaint díobh; agus fébh mar dubhairt ár gceud Uachtarán Pádraig Mac Phiarais, dearbhuighimíd gur ceart go mbeadh, ní amháin fir agus mná na hÉireann, acht adhbhar maoine na hÉireann fé riaradh an náisiúin, idir talamh agus gustal na hÉireann, gach Read the rest of this entry

The French are revolting: public meeting on French strike wave, Dublin, January 18

Éirígí – for a New Republic: New Year Statement

Released January 1, 2020:

Today marks the dawning of not only a new year, but also a new decade.  The last ten years have been largely defined by the response of the Irish and British political establishments to the collapse of the private banking sector in 2008.

Both states chose to reward the malpractice and criminality of the private banks with unlimited political and financial support.  The cost of this support was transferred to the people at large in the form of vast public debts and the savage austerity programmes that were implemented on both sides of Britain’s border in Ireland.

Éirígí activists were heavily involved in the fight against the bank bailouts and austerity.  We take this opportunity to recognise and applaud the significant contribution that current and former party members made in these critical battles to defend the interests of the Irish people.

We also take this opportunity to thank all of those who have supported the party over the last decade,  by attending party events, through financial donations and by entrusting our election candidates with their votes.

The decision of the Dublin government to bail out the private banks in 2008 exposed the underlying ideology that has informed all important decision-making by all Dublin governments since the foundation of the state.  When faced with choosing between protecting the interests of capital or protecting the interests of the Nation, they have always chosen the former, at great cost to the latter.

Decades of blind, unquestioning, fanatical commitment to the concepts of private property, private capital and private markets has Read the rest of this entry

Frank Keane, veteran socialist-republican and former national organiser of Saor Eire, interview

Frank Keane is one of the living people I most admire and respect.  The questions for this interview were written by myself and Mick Healy, and Mick conducted the actual interview.  Mick has done more than anyone to retrieve the story of Saor Eire, which disbanded in 1973, and its significance and relevance.