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Tribute to Peggy O’Hara

Saturday 18th July 2015 saw Derry City centre come to a standstill as Republican Socialists from across Ireland assembled to say farewell to Peggy O’Hara, a lifelong supporter and activist in the Irish Freedom struggle and mother to three imprisoned Republican Volunteers, including H-Block martyr Patsy O’Hara, who died following 61 Days on Hunger Strike in May 1981 aged 23.

Peggy’s was a life immersed in the cause for Irish Freedom, a dedicated supporter of the Armed campaign against British Imperialism, she balanced the priorities of running a family with those which inevitably come with a National Liberation struggle, in this task she was faced many times with agonising realities and trials all of which she faced with courage and dignity.

Earlier in the week a firing party paid

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C.L.R. James on importance of James Connolly and Easter Week

C.L. R. James, 1901-1989

C.L. R. James, 1901-1989

The great revolutionary writer, activist and theorist C.L.R. James wrote the article below in 1941 (April 14) on the 25th anniversary of the 1916 Rising.  It appeared in the American left-wing paper Labor Action – James was living in the US and was a prominent figure in a Trotskyist group called the Workers Party at the time.  His party name was Johnson.  The piece is taken from the Marxist Internet Archive, having been transcribed and marked up by Einde O’Callaghan.  Not surprisingly, it contains a few small errors – such as numbers – and James is wrong to say “Easter week was the herald of the Irish revolution and the first blow struck against imperialism during the war at a time when the Irish revolutionary movement in Europe seemed sunk in apathy and the futile squabblings of exiles in cheap cafes.”  Hardly any Irish were political exiles living in Europe before the Easter Rising, let alone squabbling in cheap cafes.  


by C.L.R. James

Easter Sunday morning, 1916.[1] Three o’clock. James Connolly, Irish revolutionary leader, was talking to his daughter and. some of her friends, all asking why the revolt so carefully prepared had been countermanded.

Connolly knew that the arms from Germany had been intercepted, he knew that the arrangements had broken down, but he knew that the British government was going to strike. He could not let the revolt be stamped out without resistance. It seemed to him, and rightly, that the resulting demonstration would be too great. He would fight, come what may. There was a chance that if they held out long enough the whole country might rise. But, whether or not that happened, the blow had to be struck. It was in this spirit, long range revolutionary calculation, that Connolly sent the message to his followers calling on them to begin.

They prepared a declaration of the Irish Republic, signed by Thomas Clarke, Sean MacDiarmada, P.H. Pearse, James Connolly, Thomas MacDonagh, Eamonn Ceannt, Joseph Plunkett. About noon the next day a body of Irish volunteers marched down O’Connell Street, apparently on parade. In reality they were marching on the Post Office and they seized it. At that same moment, small detachments seized other key points in the city. A little over a thousand men, workers, and a few intellectuals at their head, had challenged the whole British Empire.

They held the center of the city for over five days. By Friday, 60,000 British soldiers were fighting 1,000 Irishmen while Dublin blazed in flames. The revolutionaries hoped that the country would follow them – but nothing happened, nothing at any rate that could then be seen and measured. On Saturday, President Pearse ordered the surrender. To even sympathetic observers it seemed that the Irish had merely once more shown themselves a brave but irrational and unpredictable people. Except Lenin, who wrote fiercely in their defense, not only as revolutionaries but in defense of the circumstances of their revolt.

A History of Bloody Repression

To understand this noble, but apparently futile heroism one must have some idea, however rough, of Ireland’s past at British hands.

It is customary to speak of Turks in the Balkans and Tsarism in Poland as classical examples of imperialist barbarism. Nothing in six centuries of European history has ever equalled the British strangulation of Ireland. To get some adequate idea of this, one has to study the Read the rest of this entry

Dublin Cole-Colley commemoration, Aug 29

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Death of Peggy O’Hara

In 2007 Northern Assembly elections Peggy ran as a principled republican, winning just under 2,000 votes

In 2007 Northern Assembly elections Peggy ran as a principled republican, winning just under 2,000 votes

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Irish National Liberation Army guard of honour at Peggy’s funeral

Peggy's coffin draped by the Starry Plough, the flag of the revolutionary working class in Ireland

Peggy’s coffin draped by the Starry Plough, the flag of the revolutionary working class in Ireland

It’s with great sadness we learned of the death of Peggy O’Hara.  Peggy was a principled republican to the end.  She saw no reason to bend to the wind – let alone hot air – of Provisional nonsense which pretended they hadn’t been beaten and co-opted.  She saw no reason to sell out her principles for some crumbs from the table of British imperialism.

We’ll write a proper obit to her in due course.

Kevin Bean on The ESRC Irish Republican ‘Dissident’ Project: Setting the Record Straight

I have been asked by Kevin Bean if I’d put up the following statement by him in relation to the Economic and Social Research Council taking a research project he was involved in and making material from it available to the repressive forces of the British, six-county and twenty-six county states:

The ESRC Irish Republican ‘Dissident’ Project: Setting the Record Straight

This statement is a summary of a conference paper that was presented at an academic conference at the University of Bath in June 2015: it also draws on papers and contributions to conferences in Galway, Maynooth, Liverpool and Dublin in 2014-2015.

In 2012-2015 I was a co- investigator, along with a number of other academics, on an ESRC-funded project into the politics of so-called ‘dissident’ Irish republicanism. The aims of the project were clear: to investigate the ideologies and strategies of those republicans opposed to the post-1998 status-quo, and to contribute to public understanding of the significance of these strands in political life throughout Ireland.

As an academic project supported by four British universities and a reputable independent research council, the project was subject to various ethical and peer-review procedures to ensure it met the highest standards of academic integrity. Furthermore, given the controversy surrounding the Boston College oral history project, the researchers were determined to ensure the confidentiality and security of any republicans who were interviewed and recorded as part of the ESRC project. Thus, strict security precautions were taken with these recordings. In particular, researchers were interested only in political and ideological positions: participants were particularly not asked questions about organizational matters and were advised not to talk about

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Celebrating Fenian hero O’Donovan Rossa on 100th anniversary of his death

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Irish solidarity with Greece

mqdefaultA great march of several thousand people in Dublin on Saturday in solidarity with the Greek people resisting austerity.

I’m involved in another blog, Redline, which is based in New Zealand.  That blog has a few new pieces on Greece, including several items from friends within Syriza.

Greece votes No to austerity, what now?

A great NO from the Greek people (from our friends in Syriza)

We need a NO vote (from our friends in Syriza)

We have a lot of other material on Greece, but see in particular our pieces on the Vio.me factory occupation in Thessaloniki, including our interview with an occupation spokesperson.

Fighting for marriage equality in the north

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éirígí party banner, with the Starry Plough, the symbol of the revolutionary working class, in rainbow colours: Belfast equal marriage rights demo, June 13.

It used to be that the south was seen as a conservative backwater and the north as more socially progressive, part of ‘modern Britain’.  This was never really true as progressive legislation passed in the British parliament was not extended to the six counties if it offended reactionary Unionism.  Attempts to extend the 1967 British reforms on abortion and homosexuality to the six counties were met with virulent opposition by Unionists, most famously Ian Paisley’s ‘Save Ulster from Sodomy’ campaign of 1977.

Today, of course, the twenty-six county state, despite its neo-colonial structure, has moved ahead of the north.  Instead of allowing a public referendum on gay marriage rights, at Stormont the conservatives have managed to keep then issue tied up in a parliamentary vote.  Shortly before the 26-county electorate voted decisively for equal marriage rights for gay couples, Stormont saw the narrow defeat of  a Sinn Fein bill for the same rights in the north.

One of the most interesting things about the gay marriage issue is that public support for the right of gay couples to equal access to marriage is pretty much the same on both sides of the border.  Another indication of how, in many ways, the populations of ‘north’ and ‘south’ are becoming more and more alike, while the British-imposed border tries to force them to be separate and different – and antagonistic.

Dublin South-Central 1916 Centenary Committee being formed; bigi linn

Dublin South Central has a rich wealth of history connected to the 1916 Rising.  From the local IRB circle to Na Fianna, from the local Irish Volunteers to the Irish Citizen Army and Cumann na mBan, many local residents took part in the Rising and local areas, including the Phoenix Park and the South Inner City ,saw important battles during Easter Week 1916. Join us as we organise community celebrations of the most important event in modern Irish history.

The Dublin South Central 1916 Centenary Committee has been formed by local residents to organise community celebrations of the 1916 Rising in Dublin South Central.  Its launch will take place at a public talk on “1916 and the Irish Revolution” by Dr Ruan O’Donnell on Saturday July 4, at 4pm, in the Bosco Centre Drimnagh. Bigi Linn; All Welcome.

In review: Maurice Coakley on how Britain under-developed Ireland

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Maurice Coakley, Ireland in the World Order: a history of uneven development, London, Pluto Press, 2012

I read this book a couple of years ago and meant to review it then, but other things got in the way.  To make up for the delay, I’ve done something bigger – basically a mix of summary and review:

Coakley begins with a brief survey of bourgeois and anti-capitalist attempts to explain uneven development, from Weber and Durkheim to Gramsci, Jack goody, Immanuel Wallerstein and Robert Brenner. Coakley is concerend, in particular, with the different patterns of growth exhibited in Britain (especially England but also Scotland and Wales) and does so by exploring the unequal relations between them from the medieval era onwards.

Imposition of feudalism

He notes that the Anglo-Norman conquest resulted in the division of Ireland into Gaelic and Anglo-Norman regions. While the boundaries and interactions were fluid, they possessed different social structures. In the Anglo-Norman areas, a manorial/feudal economy was developed, with the local nobility owing allegiance to the English monarch. The peasantry which worked the land for the new elite included a layer of free peasants (largely transplanted from England) and a larger layer of unfree peasants (serfs) of Irish stock. This latter group was less free than the unfree peasants (villeins) in England itself. For instance, they had no legal rights at all.

The crisis of feudalism throughout the 1300s in Europe, including Ireland, explains the decline of Anglo-Norman power and the English language. It also reduced free tenants to labourers. This produced a significant return to England by peasants wishing to avoid greater subjection. The lords in Ireland were then forced to make concessions to Irish peasants. This combined with the impact of the plague largely finished off serfdom by about 1500.

The economy, moreover, had shifted in the 1300s back largely to pasture. This meant a different form of social organisation to tillage, where peasants laboured for a lord. Pasture involved a more kindred pattern of social organisation. The Anglo-Normans were also becoming Gaelicised. But Anglo-Norman-Gaelic Ireland was a hybrid social formation because as well as the kindred social organisation the major feudal lords were more powerful than their counterparts in England who were checked by the king from above and a large lower aristocratic layer and yeomanry below. Even in the Pale there was no yeomanry.

In the distinctly Gaelic and predominantly pastoral areas of Ireland, land and cattle denoted power. Access to land was dependent on kinship, with collective inheritance. While cattle were individually owned they were also dispersed; for instance, through being loaned to poor members of a clan. There was no significant surplus product which might create and sustain a Gaelic ruling class and state comprised of bodies of armed men; rather, “the principle of reciprocity permeated every aspect of Gaelic society”, although this did not mean equality. Read the rest of this entry

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