Category Archives: Partition

Socialist Workers Network and civil rights: misremembering the past, promoting reformism today

People’s Democracy’s famous Belfast to Derry march, January 1969; the march was attacked by both loyalist and police thugs

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

Advertisements

The Adams legacy

Adams getting up close and personal with new friend

by Kevin Bean

One of the most frequently reproduced images of the Irish Republican Army’s 1994 ceasefire was of a Sinn Féin car cavalcade driving through west Belfast with tricolours flying and bystanders cheering. Its message was clear: the IRA was undefeated and the Provisional movement remained a force to be reckoned with. In a language that would become familiar over the next 25 years, the IRA’s statement announcing the ceasefire argued that republican objectives could now be pursued politically through “unarmed struggle” and dialogue as part of an Irish peace process. It continued:

Our struggle has seen many gains and advances made by nationalists and for the democratic position. We believe that an opportunity to secure a just and lasting settlement has been created. We are therefore entering into a new situation … determined that the injustices which created the conflict will be removed and confident in the strength and justice of our struggle to achieve this … We urge everyone to approach this new situation with energy, determination and patience.1

This statement and the orchestration of these events in the early stages of the peace process tell us a great deal about the politics and strategy that Gerry Adams and his comrades in the Provisional leadership would pursue in the future. For the next quarter of a century Adams would constantly repeat that political retreat was a form of Read the rest of this entry

Eirigi on the roots of the public housing crisis in the six counties

The Six Counties, like the rest of Ireland, is in the midst of a severe public housing shortage with supply far outstripping demand.

The issue of public housing played a key role in the Civil Rights movement during the late 1960s/early 1970s.

Prior to the creation of the Housing Executive in 1971, public housing had been allocated by local councils, and within unionist-controlled councils, discrimination in housing allocation was widely practiced against members of the minority Catholic community.

Indeed, the right to, and fair allocation of, public housing were key demands of the Civil Rights movement.

Through the creation of the Housing Executive, housing decisions were taken out of the political arena and placed in the hands of a neutral specialised organisation.

By 1983/84, public housing – almost all of which was controlled by the Housing Executive – accounted for 37% of continued here. . .

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.

Irish Marxists and the Civil War

Members of the anti-Treaty IRA in Grafton Street during the battle for Dublin, mid-1922

by Charlie McGuire

The Irish Civil War of 1922–23 is one of the most neglected events in Irish history. In contrast to the Tan War of 1919–21, a celebrated event about which a great deal has been written, very little attention has been paid to a conflict that not only exacted a heavier toll in terms of casualties, but was also more significant in shaping subsequent political divisions within the southern state itself.

Ken Loach’s acclaimed film The Wind That Shakes the Barley is perhaps the first film to look in any detail at the nature of the divides that existed within the Irish independence movement, and the manner in which these worsened after the signing of the December 1921 Treaty.

Leaving aside the predictable hostility from the armchair imperialists of the English Tory press, most serious critical comment concerning the film has been positive and has recognised the importance of opening up a debate on this important period in modern Irish history. It is as a contribution in this direction that this article on the experience of communists in the Irish civil war is intended.

The Communist Party of Ireland (CPI) was formed in Read the rest of this entry

Does Britain have a strategic interest in Ireland?

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.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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/

 

The Shinners, Fianna Fail and the state of southern Irish politics – a conversation

The other day I was talking to one of my long-time best mates in Ireland about stuff and thought chunks of the conversation – it was on messenger – would make interesting material for this blog.  My mate is a longtime (southern) republican and OKed the following.  We’ll call him ‘Eamon’.

The conversation actually began with other subjects, like the problem of (religious) sectarianism among some Shinners.  Then it moved onto a mixture of discussion about Sinn Fein and southern politics, interspersed with various personal recollections and comments, which aren’t appropriate here.

Eamon: A Shinner asked me today to delete my latest post on my facebook page!

Me: Typical.  Hey what did McElduff say?  I think FF and DUP love stuff like this, as it enables them to take the moral high ground, covering over their own sins.

SF has basically chosen in the north to be a catholic/nationalist party instead of a republican, let alone socialist-republican, party.  So McElduff is just doing what a bunch of Shinners (and some of their support base) is thinking.  The leadership will be fucked off because he is doing in public what they are thinking.

E: True. Hey, it looks like Mary Lou will get to be leader unopposed.

They knew what they were doing when Michelle O Neill was appointed leader in the North…..With McDonald being the president of Sinn Fein there would be no opposition from Belfast about the president been from Dublin with O Neill in the North…..Very clever move….

Me: Adams is nothing if not crafty.  A worthy heir to De Valera in that (horrible manipulative) sense.  O’Neill and McDonald are also lightweights, so Adams will be able to string pull after he retires.  SF have been reshaped entirely as an Adamsite party.  His creation.  Quite sickening really.

E: SF folk seem to think with Adams and Martin gone that they will fly it now in the South……That the IRA monkey is off their back……But they are wrong…..After all Adams topped the poll in Louth and brought in another SFer on his surplus.

The Irish electorate have long forgotten about Sinn Fein’s past……  Still, I would bet anybody a thousand euro that SF will not get more than 15% next election down south.

And 15% will not get them into government, even in a coalition.

The careerists in SF will not stay there forever in opposition….. I predict some will walk after the next election…

Me: Adams was contradictory in terms of popularity.  He was the Shinners’ biggest asset (gunman turned statesman, although he apparently never did fire a shot), but he was also their biggest liability.  Fine in Louth – and he would have been very popular in Monaghan and Donegal if he had’ve stood there – but of less use electorally in Dublin or Cork.

I think there is a reasonably big space for SF’s politics – the gap left by Labour and FF since they are discredited by imposing austerity.  But the closer the Shinners get to a whiff of “power”, ie Leinster House government, the more Read the rest of this entry

Book launch of Mick Ryan’s ‘My Life in the IRA’

Video on the book launch; the book I think concentrates on the years of the Border Campaign (Operation Harvest):

 

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

95th anniversary of execution of Rory O’Connor, Joe McKelvey, Dick Barrett and Liam Mellows

December 8 marked the 95th anniversary of the execution without trial of left-republicans Liam Mellows (1895-1922), Rory O’Connor (1883-1922), Joe McKelvey (1898-1922) and Dick Barrett (1889-1922).  The four had been taken prisoner after the surrender of the anti-Treaty forces in the Four Courts in Dublin on June 30.

In the ten months of the civil war the Free State would murder in cold blood more republicans than the British had in the almost three years of the war for independence (aka the Tan War).

 

Further reading (three chapters from my old MA thesis, written in 1995 and the first few months of 1996):

From Truce to Treaty: the pan-nationalist front divides

Civil war, counter-revolution and the consolidation of the Free State

Winners and Losers in an Unfree State