Category Archives: Economy and workers’ resistance

Ronan Burtenshaw on the struggle for a workers republic in Ireland today

Excellent talk and discussion period – Ronan Burtenshaw at the James Connolly Forum in the little city of Troy, in New York state in March 2017.  Troy, of course, is somewhere Connolly himself lived and organised – thus the name of this working class political forum group.

More bad news for the Labour Party scumbags

In the 2016 election, these anti-working class scumbags, who had been involved in imposing vicious austerity on the working class in the south, lost most of their seats in the Dublin parliament. 

The latest Sunday Times Behaviour and Attitudes poll, published yesterday, show Labour is continuing to decline. Among the poorest 50% of people in the south, their support level is 2%, a mere one-tenth of the support for Sinn Fein and also smaller than the support for the Trotskyist bloc in the Dublin parliament.

34% of the poorer half of the population indicated they would vote for SF, the Trotskyists and independent leftists. 

Yesterday’s Sunday Independent published findings from the Kantar Millward Brown poll, showing total support for Labour at just 4 percent.

The Water War Goes On: statement by Éirígí

The following statement has been released by the socialist-republican organisation Éirígí:

Not satisfied with the blow given to them by the Irish public, ‘Irish Water’ are again pushing for the commodification of Ireland’s water resources. This time they are doing it under the ruse of needing an extra two billion euro of tax-payers’ money to guarantee the greater Dublin areas water supply, by building a 170-kilometre pipeline to bring 330 million litres per day from the River Shannon to the area. This is all very convenient coming a few days after the announcement that Irish Water have plans in place to introduce excess water charges from next year.

According to Irish Water, excess use charges will not begin until January 1st, 2019, “at the earliest” while bills for excess use charges will not be issued until July 1st next year “at the earliest”. In order to make up for its losses and to fund these huge infrastructural projects Irish Water will be charging huge amounts on what it considers to be Read the rest of this entry

Constance de Markievicz: What Irish Republicans Stand For (1923)

In Citizen Army uniform with her beloved revolver

Today, February 4 (2018) marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Constance Gore-Booth/Constance de Markievicz.  To commemorate the anniversary, I’m putting up the text of her 1923 pamphlet What Irish Republicans Stand For.

I have had a copy of this pamphlet since the late 1980s – ie for about 30 years! – dating back to when I first began collecting her writings, many of which appear on this blog.  I drew on her writings for my MA thesis which was written in 1995 and the first few months of 1996 – the thesis chapters also appear on this blog.

Ever since I started this blog in 2011, I have meant to stick it up here, but wanted to coincide it going up with some anniversary relating to her.  I had intended, finally, to put it up on July 15, last year, the 90th anniversary of her death, but got caught up in other things and the day came and went.

Addressking mass rally in Boston, during speaking tour in the United States

However, the 150th anniversary of her birth seems an even better time.  So, finally here it is.  Nick Scullin typed up half of it from a photocopy of the original pamphlet; I typed up the other half.

At first, I thought it was published in 1924 but it appears that it is 1923.  I don’t have access to libraries with copies of daily papers from that time so haven’t been able to double-check – Markievicz, for instance, cites several newspaper articles, giving the day of the month, so these could be looked up to verify 1923 is the year and not 1924.

The original includes the words, “Reprinted from Forward by courtesy of the Editor”.  This was a left-wing Scottish newspaper, based in Glasgow.  Revolutionary socialists such as James Connolly and John Maclean, plus others associated with ‘Red Clydeside’  wrote for it, as did a range of reformist socialists.  After WW1, the paper was particularly associated with the ILP (left social-democrats).  Although Forward had its own printing and publishing company, What Irish Republicans Stand For was printed by Civic Press Ltd of Howard Street in Glasgow.

We typed it up in line with the original pamphlet – ie where it used italics, bold, capitals etc, we left them in place and where headings were centred in the original, we left them centred.  I have, however, put in gaps between paragraphs where the original simply indented a few spaces to indicate new paragraphs.

I’ve not corrected mistakes – eg Eamonn de Valera did not draw up the Democratic Programme (he, like Markievicz, was in prison in England at the time).  Also, some of the language now seems quaint.  Co-operative Commonwealth, for instance, was often used as a synonym for socialism.  There was also the view that pre-Conquest Gaelic society was a pre-class society, so references to “Gaelic ideas” often referred to this; regardless of the exact nature of Gaelic society, certainly both feudalism and capitalism were imposed on Ireland from across the water.

It is also important to keep in mind the time in which this was written.  A counter-revolution was taking place, reactionary elements within the independence movement were gaining control and imprisoning and murdering their former comrades, including people Markievicz had worked with.  Although Markievicz staunchly opposed the Free State, the counter-revolution took a heavy toll on her and she died just four years after the end of the civil war.

The cover has a box with the following in it, just below the title and by-line.  NB: the misspelling of Wolfe, Mitchel and Lalor are as on the cover.

COVER PAGE

“The conquest of Ireland has meant the social and political servitude of the Irish masses, and therefore the reconquest of Ireland must mean the social as well as the political independence from servitude of every man, woman and child.”
-JAMES CONNOLLY

I offer this little leaflet humbly to the memory of Wolf Tone, of Mitchell, of Lawler, and of James Connolly to whom I am indebted for the faith and the knowledge that inspired it.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

WHAT IRISH REPUBLICANS STAND FOR

by Constance de Markievicz

Free State as Tool of British Capitalism

In these articles I am going to discuss Ireland and the “Irish Free State” from an economic point of view, and endeavour to show that this “Free State” is but a further attempt to force the English social and economic systems on a people who cling instinctively and with a passionate loyalty to the ideals of a better civilisation, the tradition of which is part of their subconscious spiritual and mental selves.

It was devised by the British Cabinet of imperialists and capitalists and accepted by their would-be counterparts in Ireland, whom they supply with money, arms, and men for the purpose of breaking up the growing movement towards the development of the Co-operative Commonwealth in Ireland. I claim that for this reason the Free State can never be acceptable to the people of Ireland, and, moreover, that this is the key that opens the door to a thorough understanding of the Irish question, and that there is no other key.

For 800 years Ireland has been devastated again and again by English armies and tricked by English politicians for but one object – the destruction of the Gaelic State to its last traditions and relics, and the establishment, in its place, of the feudal-capitalist state.

The military and political conquests were but means to this end, whole clans were massacred, dispersed or starved to death, whole provinces laid waste again and again for this one purpose – the forcing of an alien and repugnant civilisation on a civilised people.

It is only in latter years that the history of Ireland has been approached in a scientific manner, and that this has been made clear.  Mrs Alice Stopford Green is the great pioneer in this work.  For many years she has been digging laboriously into the past and bringing to light all that she has gleaned from the old documents that survive the systematic destruction of the records of Ireland’s greatness by the English.

James Connolly went further. A student of labour, viewed as a world question, from both scientific and historical sources, a man of practical experience as an organiser, agitator, and speaker in two continents, he mated his knowledge and experience with the facts disclosed by Mrs Green, George O’Brien and others, and has left us in his books a wonderfully comprehensive sketch of Ireland’s real struggle. Her past sufferings, her present slow awakening and struggle and her future hopes and aspirations.

I would appeal to my readers in his words: “The sympathetic student of history, who believes in the possibility of a people by political intuition anticipating the lessons afterwards revealed in the sad school of experience, will not be indisposed to join with the ardent Irish patriot in his lavish expression of admiration of his Celtic forefathers, who foreshadowed in the democratic organisation of the Irish clan the more perfect organisation of the free society of the future.”

Padraig Pearse also dwelt much on the Gaelic State. He emphasises his vision of an Ireland “not free merely, but Gaelic as well.”

THE REPUBLIC.

The reason why the Republican movement was accepted by the people, and a Republic was brought into being by them at the price of such terrible sacrifice and suffering was that the ideals embodied in that Republic touched into life all that was most vital and most Read the rest of this entry

1916 Cmdt-General Sean McLoughlin on how anti-Treaty forces could win the civil war

On the Friday evening, as the 1916 Easter Rising which had begun on the Monday morning was drawing to a close, 21-year-old Sean McLoughlin had so impressed James Connolly and other leaders that he was appointed overall military commander.  This was done due to the incapacitation of the badly-wounded Connolly, the original commandant-general of all the insurrectionary forces.  McLoughlin then led the break-out from the GPO and into Moore Street.

Below is an article that Sean McLoughlin wrote shortly after the civil war broke out in June 1922.  Along with Roddy Connolly and others, he had set up the shortlived very first Communist Party of Ireland and the article was published in the August 19th issue of their paper, The Workers Republic (named after James Connolly’s pre-1916 paper).

In the original, the second section (“Free State Methods”) was one huge paragraph.  I have broken this up into several; this is the only editing – I decided, for instance, not to change his use and non-use of commas and the bold, upper case subheads are as in the original.

This is the first of several of his articles which I will be getting up here, although I am also busy typing up more articles from the 1840s by Fintan Lalor, a project which got stalled for some time unfortunately.

The text here is taken from Charlie McGuire’s excellent bio of Sean McLoughlin – I thoroughly recommend this to all republicans, especially socialist-republicans.  Buy it!  Read it!  If you can’t afford it, get your library to buy a copy.

Social Programme for Republicans

by Sean McLoughlin

AN ABSOLUTE NECESSITY

Since the beginning of the present struggle against the forces of the Free State the Irish Republican Army in the field has been able to withstand all the attacks of its enemies, and at the present moment occupies a favourable position from a military point of view.  The positions held are being strengthened, supplies are good, and most important of all, the morale of the Army is splendid.  Yet these things while being fine achievements do not necessarily spell victory for the Republican forces.

In order to carry the war to a successful issue, it is essential that the Republican authorities seize every opportunity of any nature, that will Read the rest of this entry

Éirígí New Year Statement – 2018

As 2018 begins, Éirígí acknowledges and commends the significant political activism of our members and supporters during 2017. Your work, alongside the work of other progressive forces, offers hope to the Irish people in a time of global turmoil and widespread despair. For this you should be immensely proud.

In the coming year Éirígí will continue to work within our communities to fan the flames of hope and to provide a credible, coherent alternative to the failed politics of the past.

2018 will mark the centenary of the seminal 1918 General Election, the last occasion where the people of Ireland collectively voted as one Nation.

The subsequent formation of the First Dáil Éireann and adoption of the Declaration of Independence and Democratic Programme of the First Dáil on January 21st, 1919, represented the high point of the 1913-1923 revolutionary period.

The divided, unequal Ireland of 2018 bears little resemblance to the Republic envisioned by that First Dáil a century ago.

On January 20th, 2018, Éirígí will publicly launch ‘A Democratic Programme For The New Republic’, a major new policy document which will map out our vision for a future new all-Ireland Republic. Below we publish, for the first time, the opening section of that document.

The public launch of A Democratic Programme for the New Republic will take place at 4pm, Saturday, January 20th, Wynns Hotel, Abbey Street, Dublin. It’s free of charge and open to all. Bígí linn.

___________________________________________________

“To the people of Ireland,

In the words of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic, Éirígí declares the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies to be sovereign and indefeasible.

We assert that partition, the domination of private capital and the interference of foreign powers are collectively preventing the social, cultural, political and economic advancement of the Irish Nation.

The failings of the Six and Twenty-Six County states can be measured in the emigration of millions of citizens, in the escalating exploitation of workers, in the deepening levels of inequality, in the crippling levels of national and personal debt, in the destruction of our natural environment, in the collapse of gaelteacht communities, in the slavish obedience to the diktats of foreign governments and in the endemic corruption of the gombeen ruling class.

We reject these two failed states and commit ourselves to building a Read the rest of this entry

The New Republic we need – public meeting, Dublin, 4pm, Saturday, January 20

 

Public launch of a major new Éirígí policy document – ‘A Democratic Programme For The New Republic’ – 4pm, January 20th, 2018, Wynn’s Hotel, Abbey Street Lower, Dublin. Main speaker: Cathaoirleach Éirígí, Brian Leeson. Coinciding with the 99th anniversary of the adoption of the ‘The Democratic Programme of the First Dáil Éireann’, this event will also include a talk on that historic document by the renowned historian Dr Ruan O’Donnell.

The Ireland of 2018 is a pale Read the rest of this entry

Statements from prisoners in 26-county state and six-county state to Saoradh ard fheis, November 18

Statement From Portlaoise Republican Prisoners, read by Ger Devereux

We the Republican Prisoners incarcerated in E3/E4 Portlaoise Gaol send solidarity greetings to our Revolutionary comrades in attendance today, and Revolutionary Socialist activists internationally, engaged in their numerous campaigns. We particularly applaud the unilateral declaration of independence by the Catalan parliament, but as the Catalonian people have now witnessed, colonial powers will never relinquish their illegal occupation voluntarily. History has thought us that it is not sufficient to affirm your independence through symbolic declarations or demonstrations- you must be prepared to defend them.

We would also like to commend our imprisoned comrades in Maghaberry Gaol for their continued resolve and discipline in the face of a sectarian aggressor. The oppressive measures being implemented against our comrades needs to be highlighted, but more worrying of late are the increased physical attacks occurring on a weekly base. As a small token of solidarity with our comrades, the Republican Prisoners in Portlaoise will embark on a 72 hour fast commencing this week, to highlight the ongoing sectarian attacks that they face.

Like all emerging Revolutionary organisations we have had our teething problems, but the party’s emphasis on principles rather than Read the rest of this entry

The 1932 Belfast Outdoor Relief riots and lessons for today

Seán Mitchell, Struggle or Starve: Working-Class Unity in Belfast’s 1932 Outdoor Relief Riots, Chicago, Haymarket Books, 2017

Does intense class conflict with bosses, cops and government necessarily lead workers to draw radical conclusions asks Barney Cassidy? To put the question another way, does struggle mean that the working class becomes conscious of what is in its own best interests?

In 1922 striking miners defending their jobs in the South African town of Witwatersand fought gun battles in the streets killing about 70 troops. The political conclusion those white workers drew from their experiences was that they needed a Nationalist-Labour Pact with the Afrikaaner Nationalist Party. This was despite the involvement of the newly founded Communist Party of South Africa in the struggle. Even intense and bloody class conflict is no guarantee that the working class will necessarily act in its own best interests.

That’s a lesson it’s worth holding in mind when reflecting on politics in the north of Ireland.

Seán Mitchell, a member of Read the rest of this entry

In review: UVF – behind the mask

I agree with most of this review.  And the review is well worth reading and thinking about, which is why I’ve reblogged it.  However, it also has a problem.  Mike M notes that whenever catholic and protestant workers have united, the protestant establishment has played the Orange card, and this has always succeeded in getting the protestant workers to split and line up again behind their exploiters.  Very true.  Yet, at the end of the review, what does Mike suggest? 

Well, he suggests protestant and catholic workers unting on economic issues!  The reason is that the political tendency Mike identifies with has never understood the importance of the national question.  At least, unlike the CWI followers in Ireland, they recognise that there is a national question; but they fail to integrate it into the reasons for the divisions in the working class in the north-east. 

So Mike falls back into suggesting as a road forward something he has already identified as failing!  Moreover, as Seamus Costello noted way back in the 1970s, you can’t trick the protestant working class into a false unity by ignoring the national question; they’re not stupid.  You have to be honest with them on the national question.  Instead of adopting a partitionist view which focuses on uniting wage-workers in the six counties across the sectarian divide, by ignoring the national question, it is necessary to counterpose the solving together of the national and class questions through uniting the mass of the Irish working class on an all-island basis.  This points to an all-Ireland workers’ republic in which the protestant workers would be free, instead of being the alienated tools of imperialism. – P.F.

Aaron Edwards, UVF: Behind the Mask, Dublin, Merrion Press, 2017, £14.99; reviewed by Mike Milotte.

UVF: Behind the Mask is a vast if somewhat episodic account of the killings, feuds and internal factionalism of the loyalist paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force written by a lecturer at Sandhurst, the British Army’s officer training college. It would barely merit mention in this journal* were it not for its underlying, yet never fully argued thesis that Ulster loyalism is a genuine expression of Protestant working class discontent, while the violent conflict in Northern Ireland in which the UVF played such a significant part, was an “ethnic civil war”.

The author, Aaron Edwards, comes from an area of Belfast where the UVF was particularly active. During the “peace process” he befriended several leading UVF figures, one of whom persuaded him to write this book. While he rejects UVF violence, the book itself is permeated with a sense of Edwards’ high opinion of some of its worst perpetrators.

Socialists or pro-imperialists?

Edwards expresses sympathy for the views of former UVF men who have declared themselves to be socialists, but his key formulations are clearly at odds with the view of most left-wing activists and writers for whom working class loyalism is a form of Read the rest of this entry