Category Archives: Catholic church/church-state relations

Galway march for right to choose, Sat, June 17

“Galway Pro-Choice will be holding a ‘Rally for Repeal’ on Saturday June 17th. We are asking the public to join us from 2pm at the fountain in Eyre Square.

“The purpose of the march is to call on the government to implement the findings of the Citizens’ Assembly in which an overwhelming majority voted to mandate the Oireachtas to legislate for abortion.

“We believe that the best way to implement the findings of the Citizens’ Assembly is to hold a referendum for the repeal of the 8th Amendment.”

 

The fight for women’s right to abortion in Ireland

thousands-take-to-streets-in-dublin-as-irelands-abortion-debate-heats-up-again-1443290602-1

Right to abortion march, Dublin, September 2015.  Pic: Amnesty International

by J. McAnulty

On 25th November thousands of activists demonstrated in Dublin calling for the abolition of the 8th amendment to the Irish constitution – a section that asserts equal rights to life between the mother and foetus (the wording refers to the “unborn” which assumes that that life begins at conception). The demonstration was in part was a celebration of the decision by ICTU, the Irish trade union congress, to support the call to repeal the 8th. In tribute to recent mobilisations by Polish women, many wore black – the main symbol for the Polish demonstrations.

Yet the two campaigns are very different, and the comparison shows up many weaknesses in the Irish movement. They are similar in that both involve the mobilisation of tens of thousands of women, fed up with church and state ruling over their bodies. However in Poland we had a spontaneous movement that took strike action and went onto the streets in an instant and successful counter to an attack by the right, designed to extend the law to prevent abortion under any circumstances. The Irish movement is based around a call for a referendum to remove a decades old element of the constitution and is heavily dominated by the trade union bureaucracy and the populist and reformist politics they espouse.

The colour and militancy of the demonstrations tends to disguise the fact that the repeal campaign, as with anti-austerity campaigns and protests against water charges led by the union bosses, is at its heart a lobbying campaign aimed at persuading the Irish bourgeoisie to change direction. This limits both policy and tactics.

Weak campaign

Of course the idea that the constitution poses such a direct threat to women is repulsive and should always be opposed, but it is the Read the rest of this entry

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

Red nationalism of the blood or cultural gesture?

by Liam Ó Ruairc 

The issue of support for Germany indicates some of the divergences between Connolly and Lenin. A major study written by a follower of Greaves was forced to conclude that Connolly “underestimated considerably the role of German imperialism. While understanding the roots of the war to be economic… he nevertheless overlooked the aggressive nature of German imperialism…Undoubtedly much of what Connolly wrote during this period was directly propagandistic…but his arguments concerning the imperialistic nature of the war lack the perspicacity and directness which are evident in Lenin’s articles of the same period” (Metscher, 1986).

Support for Germany aside, another problem indicating a divergence with Lenin is that a careful reading of Connolly’s articles in the Workers’ Republic newspaper reveals quite clearly the extent to which he had been influenced by what could be called a ‘red nationalism of the blood’. Shortly before the Rising, in an article entitled ‘The ties that bind’, Connolly wrote in the 5 February 1916 edition of the Workers’ Republic:

“Deep in the heart of Ireland has sunk the sense of the degradation wrought upon its people – our lost brothers and sisters – so deep and humiliating that no agency less potent than the red tide of war on Irish soil will ever be able to enable the Irish race to recover its self-respect or re-establish its national dignity in the face of a world horrified and scandalised by what must seem to them our national apostacy. Without the slightest trace of irreverence but in all due humility, and awe we recognise that of us, as of mankind before Calvary, it may truly be said: ‘Without the shedding of Blood, there is no Redemption'” (Yeates, 2015, 319).

Earlier, in the Workers’ Republic of 7 August 1915, Connolly had written an extraordinary article entitled 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/

 

 

Upcoming conference on radical agitation from 1968-2010: a call for papers

“From Civil Rights to the Bailout: Social movements, workers agitation, and left-wing activism in Ireland, 1968-2010”

Irish Centre for Histories of Labour and Class
NUI Galway
19-20 June 2015

From the Civil Rights Movement to contemporary protests against austerity, the years since 1968 have witnessed widespread and varied social movements in communities, workplaces and colleges throughout Ireland, North and South, that have fought for, and resisted, social change. These movements have spurred the growth of numerous organisations ranging from those advocating limited reform, to those advancing revolutionary change in society. However, despite its immediate relevance to an understanding of contemporary Ireland, the lack of historical research conducted in the agents and resisters of social change since 1968 is a noticeable gap in the study of class and politics in Ireland. This interdisciplinary conference hopes to address this.

We welcome scholarly contributions of 20 minutes from established academics to students on any issue that falls under the remit of the conference title. The conference also affords us the opportunity to preserve and generate sources for the benefit of future researchers. We hope to offer workshops on oral history and the preservation, including digitisation, of documentation such as leaflets, posters and periodicals. To this end, we especially want to hear from activists in movements and organisations from the period who may be interested in sharing their experiences and documentation in a friendly and open environment.

Possible topics for papers include but are not limited to:
* Civil Rights in Northern Ireland
* Trade union growth, activism, and change
* Workplace strikes/occupations
* Left Social Democratic groups (e.g. Socialist Labour Party, Liaison of the Left, etc)
* Socialist Republicanism
* Trotskyist, Communist, and other Leninist groups
* Anarchist and other libertarian groups
* Catholic Worker, Christian Socialist groups
* Left-wing periodicals
* Community campaigns (e.g. housing, drugs, hospital closures, water charges)
* Second Wave Feminism and Women’s rights (e.g. equal pay, access to contraception, divorce, abortion rights)
* LGBT rights
* Anti-globalisation movement
* Anti-war movement
* Solidarity campaigns on issues abroad (e.g. Nicaragua, Vietnam, Miners’ Strike, apartheid in South Africa)
* Student activism                                                                                                                         * Media representation of social movements, trade unionism, and left-wing activism

If you wish to present a paper, please send an abstract of no more than 300 words and a short biography including affiliation, if any, by 31 March 2015 to David Convery at david.convery@nuigalway.ie

If you were/are an activist in this area and are interested in attending, please let us know at the same address by the same date. We would be especially grateful if you could inform us if you are willing to share your experiences as part of an oral history interview and/or have documentation which would be of interest. All documentation will remain the possession of the owner.

For more information, please see the conference website at:  http://fromcivilrightstothebailout.wordpress.com

The birth of The Pill

Given the excitement caused in Ireland, north and south, by The Pill folks might be interested in this new book called The Birth of the Pill, reviewed by a friend of mine here: https://rdln.wordpress.com/2015/02/07/in-review-the-birth-of-the-pill/

 

3rd annual Frank Conroy Commemoration

Stewart Reddin (l), Frank Conroy (r)

Stewart Reddin (l), Frank Conroy (r)

by Mick Healy

The 3rd Annual Frank Conroy Commemoration was a huge success with a large crowd, including councillors Joanne Pender and Mark Lynch, attending the event at the Republican memorial in Kildare town, on Sunday 9 November.

Stewart Reddin (Stoneybater and Smithfield Peoples History Project) introduced Kildare historian and author James Durney.  Durney spoke about the search that located Conroy’s birthplace in Kilcullen. Conroy died in 1936 while fighting with the International Brigade defending the Spanish Republic.

He was born on 25 February 1914, in Kilcullen, Co. Kildare.  His parents were Michael Conroy (born in Co. Laois) and Catherine Farrell (born in Co. Dublin).  They were married in Dublin South in 1908.  Michael Conroy was a baker by trade and moved his family to Co. Kildare, probably for employment reasons, as there was a large bakery, O’Connell’s, operating in Kilcullen.

Durney said, “Frank Conroy, a former IRA volunteer and a member of the Communist Party, left for Spain on the Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead ferry on 13 December 1936 with about twenty-five other Irish volunteers of the International Brigade, including Republican Frank Ryan.  Within days six of them would be dead including Conroy.”

Spanish civil war historian Harry Owens was the main speaker at the commemoration.  He noted “that socialist Fr O’Flanagan (a relation of Ming Flanagan, MEP) who read the prayer that opened that first independent Irish Parliament, also stood here in Kildare in 1935, one year before the Spanish civil war, when he inaugurated this monument to seven workers shot Read the rest of this entry

Women’s right to abortion: compromise is the losing option

by Anne McShane

The government hoped that the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Act 2013, which came into operation in January, would stifle the demand for change in favour of women’s rights. But the opposite has happened. There has been a new spate of protests over the first reported case under the new legislation. ‘Miss Y’, an asylum-seeker who arrived in Ireland early in the year, sought an abortion on the grounds that she was suicidal. Despite her clear desperation she was refused the procedure and forced to continue the pregnancy. Yet another victim of the misogyny embedded deep within the theocratic Catholic state and its institutions.

The 2013 act was reluctantly introduced by the government in response to immense pressure from the population. Opinion polls have consistently shown an overwhelming majority in favour of some abortion rights. One published in the Irish Times in June 2013 showed over 80% in favour where there is a risk to the health of the mother: ie, the British system. A similar number supported abortion on the grounds of rape, foetal abnormality and other difficult circumstances. Almost 40% supported the proposal that women should be able to access abortion on the grounds of choice. It was a population very clearly out of kilter with its government.

Suicidal

Clare Daly, then a Socialist Party TD, introduced a private members bill in November 2012 demanding legislative action for abortion. She argued that the government needed to implement the decision in the ‘X case’ – a leading high court judgment from 1992, which ruled that women should be allowed an abortion if their lives were at risk from suicide. She claimed that this was a way of getting the issue discussed for the first time by Leinster House; it was a step in the right direction. Certainly it did spur a major debate, with many women coming out for the first time to talk openly about their abortions. It coincided with outrage over

Read the rest of this entry

Public Meeting: The Grangegorman Depot and the transportation of Irish convict women to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) 1840-1852

Organised by the Stoneybatter & Smithfield People’s History Project

Saturday 5th October @ 5.00pm in the Cobblestone, Smithfield, Dublin 1.

GrangegormanThe Grangegorman Depot, the first exclusively female prison in Ireland or Britain, opened in 1836, a decade after the passage of the Irish Prisons Act. The Depot held both ‘ordinary’ sentenced prisoners and those sentenced to transportation.

Following the loss of its North American colony in 1783, Australia became Britain’s penal colony. Between 1787 and 1868 a total of 162,110 convicts were transported from Ireland and Britain to Australia.

In the period from its opening in 1836 up to 1853 a total of 3,196 women were transported from the Grangegorman Depot. But who were these women?

Bláthnaid Nolan, who recently completed a PhD in UCD Women’s Studies, will tell the story of the women convicts of Grangegorman, who lived a life of poverty and destitution in Ireland, were convicted of petty crimes, before being transported into bonded labour on the other side of the world.

It promises to be a fascinating meeting. We hope you can make it.

You can join the event at the link below. Please share with your friends.

www.facebook.com/events/391561950972851/?fref=ts

Best,

Stoneybatter & Smithfield People’s History Project