Category Archives: 1798

David Reed’s 1988 review of Republican POWs’ Questions of History

 

downloadby David Reed

The defeat of the hunger strike in 1981 was a severe setback for the Republican Movement. While initially, in the wake of the heroic sacrifice of the prisoners, certain political gains were made especially on the electoral front, the last few years have not seen any significant political advances by the revolutionary forces in Ireland.

The greater emphasis on electoral work and the decision to reject abstentionism in elections to the Dail has not led to the gains clearly expected. The work around ‘economic and social’ issues has not yet produced any substantial results. The revolutionary forces in Ireland have been unable to halt the growing collaboration between British imperialism and the puppet governments in the Twenty Six Counties. Finally, on the military level, the stalemate which has existed for some time between the IRA and the British and loyalist security forces remains.

Inevitably in such a period every revolutionary movement is forced to reassess and rethink its strategy if the impasse is to be broken. The Republican Movement is no exception. It is in this context that we should welcome Questions of History written by Irish Republican Prisoners of War and produced by the Education Department of Sinn Fein ‘for the purpose of promoting political discussion’. Part I has so far been made available and covers the period from Wolfe Tone to the Republican Congress (1934).

The book is a valuable historical document which uses the history of the Republican struggle as a vehicle for raising crucial Read the rest of this entry

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

coakley-t02271 (1)

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

Gay marriage referendum

I’ve written a feature-length article about this for another blog.  Because it’s written for a mainly non-Irish audience, it explains things that wouldn’t need explaining to Irish readers, but hopefully is still well worth a read by this blog’s readership.

You can find it at: https://rdln.wordpress.com/2015/04/07/irish-society-and-politics-and-the-referendum-on-gay-marriage/

 

 

Public talk: Oliver Bond and the King-killers of Pill Lane, the dissenters of Church St, 1798

unnamed

 

Fergus Whelan is the author of Dissent Into Treason, a book about “the hidden history of the Protestant Dissenters whose Dublin congregations were established by officers of Cromwell’s army and who went on to contribute their republican ideas to the revolutionary movement established in 1791, the United Irishmen.”

4.30pm, Saturday, February 15

Cobblestone Pub

Smithfield

Organised by Stoneybatter & Smithfield People’s History Project

éirígí New Year Statement 2014

imageséirígí extends New Year greetings to our members and supporters in Ireland and overseas.  We also take the opportunity to offer ongoing solidarity to all who stand against the exploitation and domination of capitalism and imperialism across the Earth.

During the course of 2013 our party members and supporters continued to be targeted by the forces of both the Six and Twenty-Six County states.  éirígí offers particular solidarity to all those who were harassed, assaulted, arrested and jailed in pursuit of the struggle for a Democratic Socialist Republic during 2013.  As has been the case for centuries past the determination and courage of the individual republican activist remains the greatest strength of our struggle, a human bulwark which has defended the integrity of the Irish Republican movement since the time of Wolfe Tone.

Our comrade Stephen Murney has now been interned in Maghaberry Jail for over a year.  He and others have been targeted by the British state because of their political beliefs and their political activism.  éirígí repeats its demand for the immediate release of Stephen Murney and all other internees, and again calls for the abolition of the legislation that facilitates the internment of political activist on both sides of the border.

2013 was another challenging year for the Irish working class as the austerity programme of the Leinster House and Stormont regimes heaped further misery upon communities the length and breadth of the country.  Unemployment and enforced emigration remained the tools of choice for a ruling class intent on driving down the living and working conditions of Read the rest of this entry

Who fears to speak of ’98? meeting, Dublin, Nov 9

fvbl

I wish people would ensure posters are proof-read (*led* not lead – twice!), but this looks like a great meeting.  I hope it goes really well.