Monthly Archives: October 2020
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.