Category Archives: Historiography and historical texts
The latest issue of History Ireland (Vol 26, no 3, May/June 2018) available yesterday (May 1) has some very interesting articles.
One of the most interesting is by Niall Meehan and Margaret Urwin who reveal a new British agent, Alexander Forsey, in relation to three bombings in Dublin in late 1972 and early 1973.
Forsey was handled by John Wyman MI6, who was also the handler of Read the rest of this entry
Belated congratulations to Richard Behal on his 80th birthday back in March. An outstanding, principled, left-wing republican.
Below is a recent interview with cde Behal by Michael Healy, part of an ongoing series that Mick has been doing with republican activists, especially older republicans. This is an invaluable series, especially since this generation is now passing on.
And don’t forget to check out Mick’s Irish Republican and Marxist History Project, here.
The article below is from the Irish revolutionary group Socialist Democracy, the successor current to the original radical student-based group People’s Democracy, which played a key role in the civil rights movement in the north of Ireland in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The Socialist Workers Party, one of the two main Trotskyist organisations in Ireland, has just dissolved as a party organisation. It is now just a ‘network’ which operates through, and rather bureaucratically controls, the People Before Profit Alliance, an electoralist and non-revolutionary formation.
On March 24th a meeting under the banner of “Remembering 1968: The Civil Rights Movement in Northern Ireland” was held as part of events organized by the Institute of Irish Studies. A supporter of Socialist Democracy attended under the impression that it was an academic symposium to discuss the origins of the civil rights movement.
It quickly became clear that the appearance of academic neutrality was cast into doubt by the role of Socialist Workers Party/People Before Profit. A PBP councillor, Matt Collins, opened the seminar with an exposition which displayed a common fault of his organization- viewing the past through the prism of the current political line of the organization. We can take it for granted that this is the first bird of spring and that political groups from all sides will shortly be presenting their own misremembering of the civil rights struggle. In fact the first shots have been exchanged in a dispute between Sinn Fein and Bernadette McAliskey about a fictitious role for Sinn Fein in the early struggle.
The SWP’s economism led to Matt portraying the revolutionary left organization People’s Democracy as resembling an early version of the Alliance Party. The presence of students from nationalist and unionist backgrounds seemed more important than their common commitment to the revolutionary overthrow of the Stormont regime.
The speaker could easily have clarified things by discussing with Socialist Democracy, the successor organization of People’s Democracy. However the SWP had closed that door with a “theoretical” document claiming that the success of their electoral opportunism in the North made their organization the inheritors of People’s Democracy.
Eamonn McCann could have, if he wished, corrected some of the misconceptions. However he arrived late and confined himself to anecdotes of the early days. Historian Brian Hanley added some gravitas to the day but was Read the rest of this entry
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the civil rights movement as a mass movement on the streets of the north-east of Ireland.
A peaceful movement was met with fierce repression by the Orange state – peaceful protesters were assaulted with police truncheons and tear gas. Sections of the Special Powers Act, legislation jealously admired by the apartheid regime in South Africa, were used to try to ban marches and other civil rights activity. Orange mobs, protected by the Royal Ulster Constabulary, were also unleashed on the nationalist population.
As the nationalist working class began to effectively defend its areas with barricades and street fighting, the British government sent in troops to “restore order”, ie put a risen people back in their place.
An array of repression
Over the following decades the British used a whole array of repressive measures against the nationalist people: batons and tear gas, along with stun guns, live rounds, rubber and then plastic bullets, internment, non-jury Diplock Courts, supergrass frame-up trials and shoot-to-kill (ie execution) policies were all deployed. While the British state widely used terror Read the rest of this entry
by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh (21 March 2018)
I had great expectations from this documentary. Its own publicity said it was the first documentary to deal with the events of March 1988 and that it included footage and interviews with people who had never spoken about the events before. That much was true; there are new interviews included. On that level the documentary lived up to the hype.
It included interviews with RUC officers in charge of security on the days in question, loyalist paramilitaries, republicans and relatives of those killed. Some of the interviews are informative and many of the interviews with republicans and relatives are poignant and they are allowed speak for themselves. The technique employed by the documentary maker is to let the interviews to speak for themselves, with very little input or voiceover. This is supposed to lend an air of objectivity or neutrality, but it doesn’t. The infrequency of commentary and discussion serve only to highlight the bias and the political position of the documentary. This is, we are told, a documentary about a time in the north when Protestants and Catholics were fighting each other – there is no mention of the British state as part of the conflict. We are introduced to a Read the rest of this entry
This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx and the 135th anniversary of his death; also the 170th anniversary of the Communist Manifesto. Marx and his political partner and friend Frederick Engels were staunch supporters of the struggle for Irish freedom against British political rule and economic exploitation.
So, over the course of this year, I’ll be sticking up various bits and pieces of Marx (and Engels) on the Irish national liberation struggle – and also on its relationship to the British revolution.
Anyway, here’s an extract from a letter by Marx to Engels, December 11, 1869:
“As to the Irish question. . . . The way I shall put forward the matter next Tuesday is this: that quite apart from all phrases about “international” and “humane” justice for Ireland – which are to be taken for granted in the International Council – it is in the direct and absolute interest of the English working Glass to get rid of their present connection with Ireland. And this is my most complete conviction, and for reasons which in part I cannot tell the English workers themselves. For a long time I believed that it would be possible to overthrow the Irish regime by English working class ascendancy. I always expressed this point of view in the New York Tribune. Deeper study has now convinced me of the opposite. The English working class will never accomplish anything before it has got rid of Ireland. The lever must be applied in Ireland. That is why the Irish question is so important for the social movement in general.”
Unfortunately, most of the British left, especially in England, have never really grasped Marx’s work on Ireland and the British revolution. Instead they Read the rest of this entry