Category Archives: Imperialism (generally)
The article below appeared in the July issue of Socialist Voice, paper of the CPI, as an opinion piece under the headline “Provisional Sinn Féin, republicanism, and socialism: Some comments”.
by Eddie O’Neill and Mark Hayes
By any relevant psephological indices, it is absolutely clear that Sinn Féin did exceedingly poorly—perhaps disastrously—in the recent local and European elections; and the results have clearly precipitated some reflective introspection by various party members.
For example, a defeated Sinn Féin candidate in Dublin, Lynn Boylan, has called for dialogue and co-operation with other “left-wing parties” in future, arguing that competition for votes had handed seats to Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. She claimed: “I am a republican, I am a united Irelander, but I am a left wing activist.” Indeed she went on to claim: “That’s how we were able to stop water charges—it’s because the left came together and worked together.”
Let’s just leave aside Sinn Féin’s specific role in the campaign against water charges, which is contentious, and concentrate on the more significant ideological proposition about Sinn Féin and its relationship with “the left.”
Over the years the Provisional movement has undoubtedly flirted with socialism as an ideology. For example, the original Éire Nua programme articulated by the Provisionals had a reasonably well-defined social component, with the emphasis on a more equitable and decentralised distribution of resources. By the late 1970s, under a new “Northern” leadership, this trend was accentuated. This was perhaps most vividly expressed in Jimmy Drumm’s speech of 1977 (apparently written by Adams et al.) which stressed the need for social liberation and the importance of standing in solidarity with workers against British colonial rule and the “fascist” Free State. (The speech also, incidentally, rejected a reformed Stormont and power-sharing.)
In this period Adams not only criticised capitalism, he was fond of quoting Connolly, while Sinn Féin explicitly identified itself with the ANC, PLO, and Sandinistas. Some commentators even detected the influence of Marxism; and though this was hugely exaggerated, there was a sense in which Sinn Féin identified itself as an integral part of a global “left” movement. It undoubtedly established its radical credentials through community work and activism in working-class areas.
However, there was always another, more pragmatic and opportunistic dimension to Sinn Féin strategy. This could be detected during and after the Hunger Strike, when the process of politicisation sought to reconfigure Sinn Féin as an electoral force. It was confirmed in a very personal way to one of the writers of this article when a letter was smuggled out of Albany prison in 1983 (written by Eddie O’Neill and Ray McLaughlin, and signed by other Republican prisoners). This missive explicitly addressed “the left” and urged all comrades to show solidarity with the Irish revolution while calling for a “broad front” of left progressive forces to form a common platform against imperialism.
The correspondence was completely disregarded by the Republican leadership at the time. The writing was on the wall: Sinn Féin was moving towards conventional constitutional politics. It eventually came to see itself as the natural repository for middle-class Catholic votes and positioned itself as the successor to the SDLP as the primary representative of the “Nationalist” community.
In relation to the north, Sinn Féin eventually adopted the diplomatic strategy of. . . continue reading here. . .
Posted in 1981 hunger strike, 21st century republicanism and socialism, Anti-household and anti-water tax, British strategy, Economy and workers' resistance, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Imperialism (generally), Ireland and British revolution, Irish politics today, James Connolly, Political education and theory, Prisoners - past, Provos - then and now, Repression and resistance in 1970s and 1980s, Revolutionary figures, Unionism, loyalism, sectarianism
“The magistrate in his summing up said that he had no doubt whatsoever that I was politically involved. This should stand to my benefit at a later stage and should really nail the lie that I’m a gangster, a criminal”. – Frank Keane, Brixton jail, 14th August, 1970.
Frank Keane, who is now over eighty years of age, was born on May 8, 1936 in Peter Street, Westport, Co. Mayo. He was once regarded as a dangerous political opponent by the Irish establishment.
Frank was the eldest of three brothers and a sister and was educated at the local Christian Brothers School. In 1952 he moved with his family to North Road, Finglas in Dublin. The following year he joined the Jackie Griffith Sinn Fein Cumann. (The cumann was name after a republican activist shot dead by the Free State special branch in Dublin on 4 July 1943.)
Frank volunteered for active service during Operation Harvest, the IRA 1950s border campaign. With training/recruitment officers interned or on the run, he enlisted in the Read the rest of this entry →
Posted in Border Campaign/Operation Harvest, Civil rights movement, Commemorations, Economy and workers' resistance, Fianna Fail, Frame-ups, Free State in 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Imperialism (generally), Ireland and British revolution, Mairin Keegan, Partition, Peter Graham, Prisoners - past, Repression and resistance in 1970s and 1980s, Repression in 26-county state, Republicanism 1960s, Republicanism post-1900, Revolutionary figures, Saor Eire, Secret police, Uncategorized, Unionism, loyalism, sectarianism
The following letter appeared in the October 26 issue of the Belfast-based Irish News. Bernard Fox spent decades in the Irish Republican Army, including a stint on the Army Council, the IRA’s seven-person central leadership. He came to oppose the direction the Adams-McGuinness cabal took as they decided to become part of the political establishment across the island.
I commend The Irish News coverage of the emergence of the civil rights association and the events surrounding the Duke Street march 50 years ago. Leona O’Neill’s column (October 9) about her brave father’s involvement and decisions made then were made in response to what he experienced on the ground. However, at that time there were no easy decisions to make.
I was a 17-year-old in 1969 living in the St James’s area off the Falls Road. My interests were sport, the Beatles and girls. I was serving an apprenticeship in an engineering firm where I had many Read the rest of this entry →
Posted in British state repression (general), Democratic rights - general, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Imperialism (generally), Irish politics today, national, Partition, Political education and theory, Prisoners - past, Provos - then and now, Repression and resistance in 1970s and 1980s, Republicanism 1960s, Revolutionary figures, six counties, Unionism, loyalism, sectarianism
Seamus Costello in very first issue of ‘Starry Plough’ on differences between IRSP and the Officials
The following appeared in the very first issue of the Irish Republican Socialist Party’s paper, The Starry Plough. in April 1975. The IRSP was founded on December 10, 1974. A military organisation, the Irish National Liberation Army, was founded at the same time.
Q. What caused the present feud between the IRSP and the Officials?
As far as we can see, it is the fact that the IRSP is undermining the Officials organizationally, particularly in Belfast where the feud is most intense. During the past 3 or 4 months, since the party was launched on the 12th of December, the IRSP has taken some 200 members from the Officials in the Belfast area. This has led to a situation where, at the moment, the Officials in Belfast have only half the numerical strength of the IRSP. As a result of this, a request was made by the (Official) Sinn Fein Ard Comhairle to the Official IRA to prevent the organization of further IRSP branches in the Belfast area. Immediately after this request, starting on Dec. 12th, a number of our members were kidnapped in the Belfast area. From then until the murder of Hugh Ferguson, we have had dozens of people kidnapped, people beaten up, people wounded through shooting, houses petrol bombed, cars burned and so on. Undoubtedly the immediate cause of the feud is the fact that the Officials are losing members.
Q. What are the main ideological differences between the IRSP and the Officials?
The principal ideological differences would be their attitude towards the National Question as against our attitude. Basically, the position of the leadership of the Officials is that there is no hope of achieving National Liberation until such time as the Protestant and Catholic working class in the North are united and therefore there is nothing which can be done in political terms or in any other terms about this particular issue. Our attitude, on the other hand, is that the British presence in Ireland is the basic cause of the divisions between the Protestant and Catholic working class in the North. It follows from that, in our view, that the primary emphasis should be on the mobilization of the mass of the Irish people in the struggle for National Liberation. We believe, also, that the left in Irish politics should play a leading role in this struggle. Up until recent years, many of us felt that the Official Movement was capable of and willing to do this. Indeed the rank and file of the Official Movement had expressed their views on this at the 1972 and 1973 Ard Fheiseanna, where they rejected the position of the national leadership on the national question and put forward a policy which would have led to a more militant approach on this question.
However, the leadership disagreed with this policy and deliberately frustrated its implementation. The result of this was that the Official Republicans, who, at that time, were the largest single body of organized left-wing opinion in Ireland, deliberately divorced the working class struggle from the national struggle and gradually degenerated, taking a reformist position on a number of very important issues.
Q. What issues in particular?
The principal issues that come to mind immediately are the Civil Rights struggle, the Assembly Elections, the question of taking seats and the question of the rent and rates strike. In all these issues, the leadership of the Officials hesitated to take a stand. They have, for instance, regarded the Civil Rights struggle since 1969, as the only struggle worth taking part in. They ignored the presence of 15,000 troops on the streets. They ignored the torture and terror perpetrated by the British Army on the Nationalist population and they acted as though there was no change in the situation since 1969. In other words, they failed to realize the change in the nature of the struggle in Ireland, particularly in Read the rest of this entry →
Posted in 21st century republicanism and socialism, Civil rights movement, Economy and workers' resistance, Elections, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Imperialism (generally), Irish politics today, IRSP, Officials, Partition, Political education and theory, Provos - then and now, Repression and resistance in 1970s and 1980s, Republicanism 1960s, Republicanism post-1900, Revolutionary figures, Seamus Costello, six counties, twenty-six counties, Unionism, loyalism, sectarianism
Below is the speech delivered by Jim Lane at the commemoration for Seamus Costello on the 5th anniversary of his murder by the pro-Moscow ‘Official’ IRA. Jim was a member of the central leadership of the IRSP at the time, becoming its national chairperson in 1983. The speech was delivered at Seamus’ graveside in Bray on October 3, 1982.
The original text had some very large paragraphs. I have broken these up, simply to make it easier to read. None of the text has been changed.
Special thanks to Mick Healy for passing the original text on to me and suggesting I put it up here.
Gathering beside the graves of our patriot dead is a long-established custom for Irish revolutionaries. In doing so, we honour our dead and seek strength and inspiration to help further the cause for which they struggled. Such strength and inspiration derives not alone in recalling the deeds of our dead patriots, but also in restating and clarifying our political philosophy, in terms of existing conditions. The deeds of our dead comrade, Séamus Costello, republican socialist and founder member of the Irish Republican Socialist Party are legion. This year in a fitting and timely tribute, such deeds have been recorded with the publication of a book by the Séamus Costello Memorial Committee. For an insight into the contribution that Séamus made to the revolutionary socialist struggle in Ireland, it is required reading, guaranteed to strengthen our resolve and provide inspiration. Therein can be found not alone an account of his life, achievements and writings, but an excellent collection of tributes from his friends and comrades. No words of mine spoken in tribute could match theirs.
Nora Connolly-O’Brien, recently deceased daughter of Irish socialist republican martyr James Connolly, considered him to be the greatest follower of her father’s teachings in this generation and hoped that his vision for Ireland would be realised in this generation.
For Tony Gregory, Séamus “personified more than any Irish man or woman, at least of our generation, the republican socialist – the revolutionary activist who organised and worked in tenant organisations, trade unions, housing action committees and cultural organisations.”
From the young men and women of the republican socialist movement, to whom he was friend and mentor, came the following tributes:
Gerry Roche – “Like Lenin, he was pragmatic in his tactics, and while recognising the corruption of the courts and parliament, he was quite prepared to use them as a platform while remaining totally inflexible in his politics.”
Seán Doyle – “Séamus Costello was a man of the people. He got his degree in working-class involvement, on the streets with his people, campaigning with them for justice.”
Niall Leonach – “He had an irrepressible dedication and energy to carry on with the struggle, to learn new lessons and to break new ground.”
Íte Ní Chionnaith – “Bhí a fhios aige in gcónai go raibh a bheatha i mbaol agus go mbeadh, an fhaí is a lean sé den obair a bhí ar bun aige ach níor lig sé dó sin cur as dó. Ba chailliúint gan áireamh é do phobal na tíre seo, thuaidh agus theas.”
And it was Miriam Daly, first chairperson of the Séamus Costello Memorial Committee and a member of the Ard-Chomhairle of the IRSP when Séamus was murdered, who highlighted the point that made him stand out as a republican socialist, when she said he never Read the rest of this entry →
Posted in 1981 hunger strike, 21st century republicanism and socialism, British state repression (general), British strategy, Commemorations, Economy and workers' resistance, Elections, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Imperialism (generally), Irish politics today, IRSP, James Connolly, national, Nora Connolly, Officials, Partition, Political education and theory, Public events - Ireland, Repression and resistance in 1970s and 1980s, Repression in 26-county state, Republicanism 1960s, Republicanism post-1900, Revolutionary figures, Seamus Costello, six counties, Social conditions, twenty-six counties, Workers rights
Accordingly, I will be running material by Marx (and Engels) on the subject of Irish freedom and its interconnectedness with the British revolution, as well as material by and about James Connolly.
This year also marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of one of Connolly’s great co-workers, Constance Markievicz.
This blog already contains a substantial body of her writings and also articles about her. Most recently, I added her 1923 pamphlet What Irish Republicans Stand For.
Later this year, I will be putting up a substantial piece on her and the Irish revolution, something I began to write well over 20 years ago and put aside unfinished.
I will also continue my (so far rather haphazard) efforts to get up everything I have of Fintan Lalor’s writings and write something substantial on ‘Fintan Lalor and the Irish revolution’. I had made a load of notes for this last year and then lost them, so I have to start again; very frustrating.
I want to get something substantial up soon on Sean McLoughlin too, a kind of precis of the book by Charlie McGuire, a book I urge folks to go out and buy.
As always, I have a bunch of books – and it’s growing, also as always! – which I want to review. They go back to stuff published about five years ago now, I have been so lax in getting these reviews done. Aaaarrrggghhh!
And there are a few old articles from several journals that I want to get up here, but I have to type them up – a very time-consuming task.
Posted in 1798 - 1803, 1840s, Famine, Young Ireland & Irish Confederation, 21st century republicanism and socialism, British state repression (general), British strategy, Constance Markievicz, Democratic rights - general, Economy and workers' resistance, Engels, Famine, Fenians, Fintan Lalor, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Imperialism (generally), Ireland and British revolution, James Connolly, Marx, Political education and theory, Republicanism post-1900, Republicanism pre-1900, Reviews - books, Revolutionary figures, Unionism, loyalism, sectarianism
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.
Posted in 21st century republicanism and socialism, Anti-household and anti-water tax, British strategy, Economy and workers' resistance, Elections, EU, Imperialism (generally), Internationalism, Irish politics today, Partition, Political education and theory, Provos - then and now, six counties, Social conditions, twenty-six counties, Unionism, loyalism, sectarianism, Workers rights
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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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 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 →
Posted in British state repression (general), Constance Markievicz, Corruption, Counter-revolution/civil war period, Democratic rights - general, Economy and workers' resistance, Free State in 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Imperialism (generally), James Connolly, Labour Party, Prisoners - past, Public sector/cuts, Repression in 26-county state, Republicanism post-1900, Republicanism pre-1900, Revolutionary figures, Social conditions, The road to the Easter Rising, Toadyism, War for Independence period, Women, Women in republican history, Workers rights
The Provos have unquestioningly accepted the British state claim that they do not. The article below, which appears on the site of the Republican Network for Unity, suggests the British state continues to have a strategic, material interest in Ireland and keeping it partititoned.
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by Paul Maguire
The question of whether Britain has or has not a strategic interest in Ireland is not an academic question or one that is best left to political spin-doctors: it is far too important for that. The peace process has witnessed Sinn Féin accept British declarations of strategic neutrality with respect to Ireland. Thus, having abandoned the orthodox republican analysis, which holds that British interference in Irish affairs remains the primary obstacle to the attainment of national liberation and that the unionist veto is nothing more than an anti-democratic subterfuge through which Britain justifies its interference in Irish affairs, Sinn Féin now believes that unionism – and not the British state – is the major impediment to unity. But are such British declarations of strategic neutrality genuine? Is the British state is engaging in political duplicity? Is it in fact concealing a strategic interest in Ireland? And does this strategic interest outweigh the political whims of unionism? And what are the implications of any ongoing British state interest for Sinn Féin’s analysis and its vision of a constitutional path towards Irish unity?
The unity of this article resides in the belief that Britain has a strategic interest in Ireland. Evidence will be highlighted to support this analysis and – at the same time – undermine the current Sinn Féin analysis of British state policy in Ireland. However, at the outset, it is necessary to chronicle the vital importance which the debate surrounding Britain’s strategic interest in Ireland assumed during the formative stages of the Irish peace process.
The Sinn Féin narrative would have us believe that 1990 was the year in which. . .
read full article here: http://republicannetwork.org/britain-strategic-interest-ireland/