Category Archives: Interviews
To mark the 50th anniversary of the civil rights movement in the six counties last year, Blindboy Boatclub of the Rubber Bandits hosted a podcast at Ulster Hall in Belfast on October 6th 2018. He interviewed veteran Irish revolutionary Bernadette (Devlin) McAliskey in front of a packed room. The podcast is over two hours long. In this part he poke to her about the loyalist attempt to assassinate her and her husband Michael on January 16, 1981. At the time, Bernadette was a key figure organising support for republicans being held in British prisons, including the blanket protest, the dirty protest, and the 1980 hunger strike. At the time of the attempt on her life, a new hunger strike was in the air – this was the famous hunger strike of that era, with ten prisoners’ deaths. The entire interview will be published on The Transcripts.
Blindboy: When we were backstage I was asking you about, we were discussing the nature of trauma and I was asking would it be okay if I asked you about the time you had an assassination attempt. And you said: Yes, that would be okay.
Bernadette: Uh-huh. Yep. That’s okay. That’s okay. Yeah.
Blindboy: Can we talk about that?
Bernadette: Yes, we can talk about that.
Blindboy: So – what was it like being shot nine times?
Bernadette: It was interesting. It was interesting. And it’s funny that I can talk about that much more easily than I can talk about that memory, you know, that memory of Bloody Sunday is more traumatic for me than the time that I was shot. And I think it was because, you know, as we were saying, it’s because I didn’t see Bloody Sunday coming. I didn’t see the 5th of October coming.
But by the time people came to our house and kicked the door in and held my two daughters, one at that time four and the other nine, at gunpoint while their parents were shot I knew they were Read the rest of this entry
Alan MacSimoin 1957-2018 was a long-time anarchist activist and a founder member of the Workers Solidarity Movement.
MacSimoin joined the Official Republican Movement (Official Sinn Fein) as a young man in the 1970s. He was involved in the Murray Defence Committee in 1976-77 to stop the state execution of anarchists Noel and Marie Murray for the killing of a member of the police.
He was also involved with the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement’s boycott of South African goods in Ireland and the Irish Anti-Nuclear Movement that stopped the building of nuclear power stations around the coast of Ireland in the 1970s.
Below is an interview my friend Mick Healy did with him a year or two back and has passed on to me . . .
The 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