Category Archives: Interviews

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

Hardtalk interview with Kieran Conway

I knew Kieran a bit in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when he was the main IRA person liaising with the Irish Anti-Extradition Committee, of which I was the secretary/organiser at the time.

I liked his book Southside Provo and I like his frankness in this interview.  He said he left in 1993 the night of the Downing Street Agreement.  This was the last straw for me too.

When I saw (and then read) his book earlier this year I was surprised that he had left that early as he always gave me the impression that he was a dour, politically conservative militarist.  I was really surprised to learn that he joined the IRA as someone who identified with revolutionary socialism.  And that he had a sense of humour.

One of the things that he says in this interview is that by the time of the Downing Street Agreement the IRA was beaten.  It was heavily infiltrated, boxed in and beaten.  He also mentions that no-one in the Army was supposed to say that.

It struck me at the time that the armed struggle was in a cul-de-sac and that it may well have been necessary to replace it – by the replacement needed to be militant unarmed struggle and NOT an accommodation with British imperialism, let alone being integrated into the institutions of continuing British rule in the six counties and manoeuvring into position in the establishment in the twenty-six.

Anyway, here is the interview: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04d5ffs 

 

 

Richard Behal interview, pt 3

I was sent the following by my friend Mick Healy.  Mick sometimes writes pieces for this blog, but is also the main person behind the Irish Republican and Marxist History Project site.

 

Interview with Jim Lane, Irish socialist-republican, pt 3

Part 3 of Mick Healy’s interview with veteran Irish revolutionary figure Jim Lane.

Check out the Irish Marxist-Republican History project:  https://irishrepublicanmarxisthistoryproject.wordpress.com/

 

 

The story of veteran republican Richard Behal

Interview with republican veteran George Harrison

g-harrisonTwo months before George Harrison died, he gave a lengthy interview to the Rustbelt Radical blog.  Rustbelt has a lot of really good stuff on it, and I thoroughly recommend the site.  The person behind it is an American Mid-West marxist.  Please do go and listen to the interview – here’s how Rustbelt Radical describes George Harrison:

George was an immensely humble and decent man, belying all the media images of an IRA gun runner. Immediately at ease as we had cake and coffee served to us, the 89 year-old gave us recollections of a long life well lived in a room full of manifestations of those memories. Pictures of hunger strikers, of Bernadette McAliskey and her children hung on the wall, posters and papers from the movement were on the tables. His nurse and friend Prissy was there, along with her daughter, and it is Prissy’s voice you will hear at the very end of the interviews describing the beautiful relationship the two of them had and his impact on her.

In this lengthy interview George talks about Read the rest of this entry

Interview with Jim Lane: veteran socialist-republican – part two

Irish Republican and Marxist History Project

At present Mick’s interviews and various pieces of video footage of left-republican funerals, commemorations and so on are quite scattered.  They’re on youtube, many (but not all) are on this blog.  Mick’s daughter Rachel has set up a new blog, so they can all be together in one spot, although many of them will continue to be added here as he produces them.  The new blog is the Irish Republican and Marxist History Project.  Take a look at it, visit it regularly and please do whatever you can to support it.

Interview with Jim Lane: veteran socialist-republican

A couple of comments on the introductory words on the video as they contain a few small errors.  Saor Eire (Cork) was not involved in forming the Cork Workers Club, but some SE (Cork) members were.  (And, of course, the Cork group was entirely separate from the later group of the same name which emerged in Dublin.)  The Revolutionary Armed Forces’ An Phoblacht wasn’t a newsletter, it was a paper.

The interview was conducted and filmed by Mick Healy; Bas Ó Curraoin did the editing; Jim Lane supplied the photos; and the music is by The Tinkers.

I should add that the Cork Workers Club’s reprints of important socialist works on Irish history helped educate me in socialist-republicanism and they remain relevant today.  I’m hoping over time to get some more of them up on the blog.

Interview with Liam Sutcliffe – veteran socialist-republican

The interview below with Liam Sutcliffe, an IRA activist in the 1950s and 1960s and a leading figure in Saor Eire, was conducted and filmed by irish revolution contributor Mick HealyBas Ó Curraoin did the editing and added photos and music.  There’s a point in the interview about Liam Walsh’s death and whether it was 1970 or 1971; it was in October, 1970 (he died in a premature explosion).

We’ve also been working on doing an interview with Frank Keane, who was O/C Dublin Brigade during part of the 1960s and a founding leader of Saor Eire.