Category Archives: Democratic rights – general

After the Stormont election: the way forward

by John McAnulty

The common assertion arising from the latest election in the North of Ireland is that Sinn Fein now has the upper hand. That reform of the local settlement is now inevitable and Gerry Adams has gone so far as to assert that a united Ireland is now back on the agenda.

However the loss of the overall unionist majority is largely a profound psychological shock rather than a practical issue. The seats are:

DUP SF  SDLP  UUP ALLIANCE OTHER
(inc 2 Green, 1PBP) 
28  27  12  10 8 5

 

So The DUP remains the largest party and would nominate the first minister. The loss of the overall majority relies on the dubious idea that Alliance is not a unionist party – they have in the past designated themselves as unionist to save the assembly and until recently fulfilled a role as lynch pin for the sectarian setup by holding the justice ministry position.

In addition in the coming negotiations Sinn Fein will be facing the British government. They themselves have complained that the pro-unionist positions of the British secretary, James Brokenshire, should make him unsuitable as chair.  They will also be appealing to a Dublin government hostile to Sinn Fein that acts as an agent of reaction in both parts of the Island. 

The settlement in Ireland is not designed to lead to a united Ireland and the issue depends entirely on gaining permission from Britain to hold a vote restricted to the six-county area – permission that will not be forthcoming.  Read the rest of this entry

Video of the discussion period at Peter Graham commemorative meeting

Peter Graham – revolutionary militant

Peter holding Young Socialists banner, Dublin 1968

Peter holding Young Socialists banner, Dublin 1968

by Mick Healy

“In 1966 we in Ireland celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rebellion (1916). The writings of James Connolly, which prior to then had been read little, and then only by the older hands’, began to be read more widely. The younger generation found through his writings that he was not quite as the Christian Brothers in school taught – “only the 7th leader’ of 19l6.” They found in his writings Connolly the revolutionary, the worker, the union organiser and Marxist”.
– Peter Graham, Workers Fight, June 1968.

download-1

Funeral of Peter Graham, Dublin, 1971; Tariq Ali at centre

Comrades who have read about the Irish Revolution know something about the contributions made by Nora Connolly O’Brien, Michael Davitt, Liam Mellows and Frank Ryan, but many do not understand the important contributions made by significant but lesser-known figures such as revolutionary Marxist Peter Graham.  Peter came from 46 Reginald Street in the Liberties of Dublin and attended Bolton St College of Technology. Working as an electrician in CIE he was a shop-steward for the Electrical Trade Union.  He joined the Labour Party, but discontented with their lack of radicalism shifted over to the Communist Party.  Disillusioned with their reformism, he left and became involved with Irish Workers Group and then the League for a Workers’ Republic, an organisation openly declaring itself revolutionary and Marxist, identifying with the Trotskyist current of Marxism.

With single-minded dedication he was the Read the rest of this entry

Very good Suzanne Breen article on Stormont

Very good piece in the Belfast Telegraph on Tuesday by Suzanne Breen on the demise of Stormont.  It’s rightly headed “Such is the cynicism, most couldn’t care less if lights never go back on at Stormont”: see here.

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

Where to for republicans?

Paddy Browne is 4th from right

Paddy Browne is 4th from right

by Paddy Browne (1916 Societies, writing in personal capacity; I took this from The Pensive Quill, here)

It was a campaign that sent shivers through the British establishment and rocked it to its foundation. The commitment and ingenuity of the Óglaigh in the IRA and INLA – and the price paid by both organisations and the community in general – will never be forgotten. And while they may not have achieved the ultimate goal they most certainly advanced it.

People have been trying to mimic the campaign from 1997 without major success. They need to realise it is not enough to profess to fight a war when it is far from a reality – when your greatest contribution is to send our young men and women to gaol.

I believe the success of republicanism will come from the trust of the community in which we previously relied – heavily – in the past. It is through them that we must present our argument, for approval, and it is them that we need to support in their time of need.

Before we have unity in Ireland, with substance, we need a social revolution that will Read the rest of this entry

When gardai brutally attacked march on 1st anniversary of Bloody Sunday

Gardai attacking marchers at Garden of Remembrance

Gardai attacking marchers at Garden of Remembrance

by Mick Healy

There was a march in Dublin on the first anniversary of Derry’s Bloody Sunday.  The march started from the burned-out British embassy in Merrion Row. It included more than a thousand supporters of the Irish Civil Rights Association, including a large contingent from the People’s Democracy group.  The marchers aimed to walk peacefully through the city, carrying black flags to the Garden of Remembrance in Parnell Square, but at the Garden they were confronted with a cordon of over a hundred Garda wielding batons.

The main speaker from the People’s Democracy called for a minute’s silence and asked could the gardai lower the Tricolour in respect to the victims of Bloody Sunday, but the cops refused.  Ciaran McAnally of ICRA told the crowd that the gardai had refused to lower the flag and said they would not interfere with the flag.  He called for a peaceful commemoration, while noting that the Derry dead had been insulted by refusal to lower the Tricolour.

It did not take the Southern state long to get Read the rest of this entry

Brief vid of Mairin Keegan at Saor Eire/Frank Keane defence picket

 

Seamus Costello interview (1975) on Officials’ attempts to destroy the IRSP

seamus-costello-sinn-fein-ard-fheisThe following interview was carried out in Dublin on May 16, 1975.  The Irish Republican Socialist Party  had been founded in December 1974, mainly by people who left the Official IRA and Official Sinn Fein as the Officials had abandoned both the national question and armed struggle against the British state’s intervention in Ireland and was moving rapidly into the political orbit of the East European regimes.  Costello had been a member of the seven-person IRA Army Council and vice-president of Sinn Fein and was the most prominent founder of the IRSP.

Shortly after its formation, the IRSP came under violent attack by the Officials.  The Officials, having been overtaken by the Provisional IRA in the six counties, seemed determined to destroy the IRSP because of the political threat it posed to them as they moved away from socialist republicanism.

 In October 1977, Seamus – by now the foremost representative of genuine socialist-republicanism – was murdered by the Officials as they continued to develop into an essentially pro-imperialist current, allied with the Soviet bloc regimes.  The interviewer was US socialist Gerry Foley and the interview appeared in the July 21 issue of Intercontinental Press, a weekly internationalist magazine connected to the Fourth International.

Gerry Foley: What happened to the truce that was in effect last time I was here, in early April?

Seamus Costello: What the truce consisted of was our people staying ‘offside’, not staying at home, not going to work, or not going to the Labour Exchange if they were unemployed.  We decided and the Belfast Regional Executive decided that the members would return to their homes and their jobs and resume party activity on a certain date, and we issued a public statement to that effect.  The night that they returned, one of them was shot – five bullets – by the Officials in the Andersonstown area.  So, that effectively ended the truce.

Gerry F:  What are the reasons for the escalation of the conflict since then?

Seamus C: It has escalated because the Officials chose to escalate it.  They have consistently ignored every single attempt at mediation made by people outside of both organisations.  We have consistently called for mediation and indicated our willingness to accept the various mediators who offered their services.  But the Officials refused, and this is the reason why it has got worse.

Gerry F: You said earlier that it was the policy of the Officials to physically smash the IRSP.  Do you think that is still their policy? 

Seamus C: At the moment I could not answer that question, since attempts at mediation are under way again.  A few days ago, Tomas Mac Giolla (president of the political wing of the Officials)issued a public statement calling for mediation.

This was the first declaration by any leader of the Officials that in any way indicated that they were interested in peace.  And it came four days after the attempted assassination of myself in Waterford.  There’s no doubt this caused a lot of support to be lost by the Officials.  People were very critical of it in many parts of the country.  This may have had something to do with the statement by Tomas Mac Giolla.  Since last Monday we have been in touch with mediators and it seems at the moment that there is some kind of intention to engage in peace discussions.

Gerry F: To what extent do you think the leadership of the Official IRA is in Read the rest of this entry

Speech by RNU’s Paul Crawford at July 3 Newry anti-internment rally

13393911_1728270154112192_6645445412543553767_n“I’d like to begin by thanking the organisers of today’s picket for asking myself to represent the Republican Network for Unity and our POW’s department Cogus here this afternoon. It’s a privilege and an honour to address you all.

“The fact that we are here for the 3rd year in a row is evidence that Internment as a tactic to disrupt political activity is very much alive but also that our opposition to Internment is equally alive.

“In order to oppose Internment we must first understand what it is and what it is used for. In many ways the word has been over used and as such has lost much of its impact and meaning. There are those who would say that everyone incarcerated by the British or the Free State are interned. There are those who would state that while all internees are political prisoners, not all political prisoners are internees.

“For our purposes, however, it is enough to state that the original definition of internment is correct. Those who are detained without charge for the political expediency of the state. People like my comrade Tony Taylor, a perfect example of internment by the state to prevent and hamper legitimate political activity.
Tony, like Martin Corey before him, has been remanded in custody at the behest of the British secretary of state. No semblance of a trial, no pretence of a trial. Secret evidence that can’t be disclosed and won’t be disclosed because it doesn’t exist.

“We have miscarriages of justice like the cases of the Craigavon 2, men who have been deliberately framed on the word of informers and Walter Mittys. Set up by the dirty hand of the British security apparatus and practically ignored by the political elite despite a growing realization that these men are innocent across the board. Read the rest of this entry