Category Archives: Economy and workers’ resistance
Online discussion hosted by Socialist Democracy
Garda and RUC officers at the Irish border 1920s
100 Years of Partition
Counter-revolution and reaction
Speaker: Philip Ferguson (Irish Revolution blog)
23 March 2021
Register in advance for this meeting:
Philip Ferguson is a socialist activist based in New Zealand. He runs the Irish Revolution blog. A member of Sinn Fein in the 1980s and early 1990s; he is now a supporter of the socialist republican group Eirigi.
This year marks the 100 years since partition. Over that period, it has had a profound influence on Irish politics and society. It has been the foundation of imperialist rule in the north and of reaction across the whole of Ireland and has proved to be a severe impediment to the advance of the labour movement and to the development of socialist politics. The prediction of James Connolly that partition would usher in a “carnival of reaction” proved to be correct.
This discussion will examine the continuing legacy of partition and how it can be overcome. It will also consider whether there is any validity to recent claims that the decline of unionism and the dynamics of Brexit are advancing the cause of a united Ireland.
Posted in 21st century republicanism and socialism, British strategy, Democratic rights - general, Economy and workers' resistance, Free State in 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Ireland and British revolution, Irish politics today, James Connolly, Partition, Political education and theory, Public events - Ireland, Republicanism post-1900, Revolutionary figures, six counties, twenty-six counties, Uncategorized, Unionism, loyalism, sectarianism, War for Independence period, Women's rights, Workers rights
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 →
Posted in Border Campaign/Operation Harvest, British state repression (general), Economy and workers' resistance, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Political education and theory, Prisoners - past, Repression and resistance in 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, Repression in 26-county state, Republicanism 1960s, Saor Eire
A study/discussion group based on Connolly’s Labour in Irish History started a couple of weeks ago. With the lockdown across Ireland (and in other countries where socialist-republicans and supporters reside) many of us will have more time than we usually do for study, theory, political discussion, so let’s make use of it.
The studies have been initiated by Eirigi general-secretary Mickey Moran, but are open to any socialist-republican-minded people. They take place on zoom and are very easy to access. You can contact Mickey directly or, if you are shy, email me and I’ll put him onto you. He’s: firstname.lastname@example.org
The sessions take place on Wednesday nights at 8.30 (Irish time, and British time). If you’re elsewhere you will need to check what time that is wherever you are.
Last week we delved into two chapters where our political tradition begins to emerge, looking at the democratic and internationalist ideas of the United Irish movement of Wolfe Tone and at Emmet’s movement and the manifesto of the 1803 rebellion, which, if anything, was even more radical – for instance Emmet’s rebellion wanted to confiscate and nationalise Church property.
It was my privilege to do the introduction.
The next 2 chapters will be introduced by Fiona, as the sessions begin to move on from the great revolutionary democracy of the United Irishmen and Emmet, pre-runners of socialism, to the emergence of a more explicitly socialist politics in Ireland. These chapters are:
Chapter 10 – The First Irish Socialist – A forerunner of Marx; this looks at the views and work of William Thompson in the late 1820s and early 1830s
Chapter 11 – An Irish Utopia; this looks at the Ralahine commune in Co. Clare in the 1830s
Anyone who doesn’t have a copy of the pamphlet/book can read it on the Marxist Internet Archive, here.
Posted in 1798 - 1803, 1840s, Famine, Young Ireland & Irish Confederation, British state repression (general), British strategy, Catholic church/church-state relations, Commemorations, Democratic rights - general, Economy and workers' resistance, Fenians, Fintan Lalor, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Imperialism (generally), Ireland in 1800s, James Connolly, Political education and theory, Republicanism pre-1900, Revolutionary figures, Robert Emmet, Scabs, Secret police, Social conditions, Toadyism, Trade unions, Unionism, loyalism, sectarianism, Wolfe Tone, Women, Workers rights, Young Ireland
An interesting article, although I think the comrades might be somewhat optimistic about the level of class struggle they think will follow the pandemic.
by Socialist Democracy
When the Dublin government announced financial measures in response to the Covid 19 pandemic a local satirical e-zine, Waterford Whisper News, had a field day. The right wing Fine Gael government had gone communist. The country was now a Soviet. Ireland should be done with it and imprint a hammer and sickle within the tricolour.
There was reason for the satire. Many of the major issues of Irish society, claimed by the government to be insoluble because of the lack of a money tree, disappeared overnight. An army of homeless were ushered into empty hotels. For the first time in its history the Irish state conjured up a national health service by renting the large private sector. Individual payments to workers were ushered in and then increased when they proved insufficient. In the background a State that constantly misses all environmental targets and has no serious plan to deal with climate change suddenly saw the skies clear above the entire island.
Of course the Irish Soviet is a figment of the satirical imagination. Most government expenditure is directed towards the bosses. Payments to workers are in part an attempt to maintain the structures of production to speed eventual recovery. With this said, there are substantial funds assigned to ensure social peace, especially as the recent elections had demonstrated just how unpopular the leading capitalist parties are.
This is a rump government, the struggle to establish a new one is ongoing, and the issues that brought it down are the issues that it is now trying to temporarily resolve: a massive housing crisis, a health service in a shambles and large sections of the population under wage and pension pressures. The problem with their resolution is twofold. Firstly, how do you row back on the temporary concessions made today? Secondly, how do you present the bill for the extra expenditure to a working class still paying for the 2008 banking bailout?
The rump government has shaken off the shock of the. . . continue reading article on the SD site
Interview by Mick Healy with Diarmuid Breathnach on the Save Moore Street Campaign.
Mick also did an earlier interview with Diarmuid on his decades of political activism:
Posted in 21st century republicanism and socialism, British state repression (general), Civil rights movement, Culture, Democratic rights - general, Economy and workers' resistance, General revolutionary history, Housing, Hunger strikes, Imperialism (generally), Internationalism, Interviews, Ireland and British revolution, Irish Citizen Army, Irish politics today, James Connolly, Partition, Political education and theory, Prisoners - past, Repression and resistance in 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, Republicanism 1960s, Revolutionary figures, Secret police, six counties, Social conditions, The road to the Easter Rising, Toadyism, Trade unions, twenty-six counties, Unionism, loyalism, sectarianism, Women, Women in republican history, Workers rights
This article gives an overview and the Éirígí perspective on the recent General Election in the 26 counties; it appeared in last week’s issue of the French left-wing publication Informations Ouvrières. The author is cathaoirleach Éirígí.
by Brian Leeson
On February 7th voters in southern Ireland went to the polls to elect a new government for the first time since 2016. When the exit poll was released at 10pm that night it became clear that the electorate had delivered a major blow to the two dominant centre and centre-right political parties.
When counting concluded four days later the outgoing party of government, Fine Gael, had just 20.9% of the popular vote. Fianna Fail came in with the second largest share at 22.2%. And in a shock result, Sinn Féin won the largest share of first-preference votes at 24.5%.
The importance of this result can only be fully appreciated when it is placed in its historical context. In the century since the foundation of the state in 1922, no party has ever secured more Read the rest of this entry →
Posted in 21st century republicanism and socialism, Anti-household and anti-water tax, éirígí, Democratic rights - general, Economy and workers' resistance, Elections, Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Imperialism (generally), Irish politics today, Partition, Provos - then and now, Public events - Ireland, Public sector/cuts, Toadyism, twenty-six counties, Workers rights
(Mick wrote an article about Saor Eire which appeared on this site in 2011; this is an updated and expanded version of that article, including new material added by former Saor Eire members; the article has been proofed and edited by me – PF)
The 1960s was a time of upheaval and change in conservative Irish society; social attitudes, fashion and music, for instance, all changed dramatically. New social movements reflected the thinking of a new generation that, in particular, wanted more freedom. The huge student-worker protests of May-June 1968 in France, the Vietnamese struggle to remove the US, its allies and their Vietnamese toadies, the US civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements, and the national liberation struggles in Latin America and Africa galvanised opposition to the existing order. In Ireland, these events inspired people, especially the new generation, into action. This was especially the case around the civil rights movement in the north of Ireland. Among the new organisations which emerged here as a result of this new ferment and revolutionary idealism was the Dublin-based Saor Éire (SE) or, to give it its full name, the Saor Eire Action Group.
Saor Éire Action Group was established in the late 1960s by former members of the Republican Movement and newer young Irish political left activists coming together. As an organisation they claimed to have their roots in the Read the rest of this entry →
Posted in Border Campaign/Operation Harvest, British state repression (general), Civil rights movement, Economy and workers' resistance, Fenians, Fianna Fail, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Imperialism (generally), Ireland and British revolution, Officials, Other blogs, Partition, Political education and theory, Prisoners - past, Repression and resistance in 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, Repression in 26-county state, Republicanism 1960s, Revolutionary figures, Saor Eire, Social conditions, Uncategorized, Unionism, Women in republican history, Workers rights
This is an interview that Mick did recently with Kevin Keating, a veteran activist in Dublin. Kevin’s many years of activism go from the IRA to the fused People’s Democracy (merger of the original northern-based PD and the southern-based Movement for a Socialist Republic), which became Socialist Democracy in the later 1990s.
Kevin has very serious health problems these days. Happily, this was one of his better days.
See also the interview with John McAnulty of SD. John was a leading figure in People’s Democracy in Belfast over decades. Mick spoke to him last October about the experience of 50 years of struggle. See here.
Posted in 1981 hunger strike, 21st century republicanism and socialism, Anti-household and anti-water tax, British state repression (general), Democratic rights - general, Economy and workers' resistance, Elections, EU, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Hunger strikes, Imperialism (generally), Internationalism, Interviews, Ireland and British revolution, Irish politics today, Partition, Peter Graham, Political education and theory, Prisoners - past, Provos - then and now, Public sector/cuts, Repression and resistance in 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, Repression in 26-county state, Republicanism 1960s, Revolutionary figures, Social conditions, Trade unions, Workers rights
The poem below was read by its writer, Valerie Bryce, at the open mic night at The Cottage Bar in Letterkenny, on January 28.
‘There but for the grace of God’, they say
‘Did you see on the news the aul woman in Dublin
Eating left over chips from a windowsill
And her living rough on the street and worse still
God love her ‘tis awful, isn’t it?’.
‘It’s a national scandal’, they say
‘Having hundreds of patients waiting on trolleys
Sometimes for days
Pyjamas and drips all on public display
‘We’ve a right to the truth’ they’ll protest
When billions of public funds remain unaccounted for
And there’s no arrests
When facts about institutional abuse are withheld
To keep us in the dark and that tongues cannot tell
Of the manner in which Church and State are complicit
In protecting abusers
Making victims lives hell.
It’s a sure sign of madness, I say
To repeat the same thing again and again
Expecting a Read the rest of this entry →
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