Category Archives: Provos – then and now

After the Stormont election: the way forward

by John McAnulty

The common assertion arising from the latest election in the North of Ireland is that Sinn Fein now has the upper hand. That reform of the local settlement is now inevitable and Gerry Adams has gone so far as to assert that a united Ireland is now back on the agenda.

However the loss of the overall unionist majority is largely a profound psychological shock rather than a practical issue. The seats are:

DUP SF  SDLP  UUP ALLIANCE OTHER
(inc 2 Green, 1PBP) 
28  27  12  10 8 5

 

So The DUP remains the largest party and would nominate the first minister. The loss of the overall majority relies on the dubious idea that Alliance is not a unionist party – they have in the past designated themselves as unionist to save the assembly and until recently fulfilled a role as lynch pin for the sectarian setup by holding the justice ministry position.

In addition in the coming negotiations Sinn Fein will be facing the British government. They themselves have complained that the pro-unionist positions of the British secretary, James Brokenshire, should make him unsuitable as chair.  They will also be appealing to a Dublin government hostile to Sinn Fein that acts as an agent of reaction in both parts of the Island. 

The settlement in Ireland is not designed to lead to a united Ireland and the issue depends entirely on gaining permission from Britain to hold a vote restricted to the six-county area – permission that will not be forthcoming.  Read the rest of this entry

Martin McGuinness: a political obituary

by John McAnultydownload

Many commentating on Martin McGuinness’s retirement as a public representative for Sinn Fein will not be able to resist the cliché of his journey from IRA commander to central architect of the local peace process. Fewer will draw on the metaphor of his present state of ill health and the parlous state of the settlement that was to be his legacy.

My own clearest recollection of Martin is during the attack by loyalist imagesMichael Stone on the funeral of Sean Savage (in 1988 – PF), assassinated by the SAS in Gibraltar. Two grenades exploded at my back and a mourner beside me was shot in the leg. As I retreated with other members of my family I saw Martin and a group of unarmed young men rush past me towards Stone and drive him back.

McGuinness is an extremely brave and determined man. These qualities mean that he will pursue a strategy to its Read the rest of this entry

Very good Suzanne Breen article on Stormont

Very good piece in the Belfast Telegraph on Tuesday by Suzanne Breen on the demise of Stormont.  It’s rightly headed “Such is the cynicism, most couldn’t care less if lights never go back on at Stormont”: see here.

Willie Gallagher on 40th anniversary of IRSP

This is actually two years old, but I only just came across it.  It is a talk given by Willie Gallagher to the 2014 Irish Republican Socialist Party ard fheis in October 2014.

 

wullie gComrades,

the difficulty I had when first asked to give this presentation was ‘how do I condense 40yrs of our history into a 10 to 15 minute presentation. A definitive and detailed account would take many months, if not years, of research as well as interviewing scores of past activists. The following account is my no means definitive and of course is subject to criticism given the fact that it is laced with my own personal opinion and interpretation.

Even though this year is the 40th anniversary of our birth the Irish Republican Socialist Party can trace its roots back to James Connolly and the Irish Citizens Army.

After the border campaign in the 1950s, serious debate took place within the Republican Movement about how exactly it could become more relevant to the everyday needs of the people in an Ireland vastly different from the times of Connolly and the ICA.

The Republican Movement after the unsuccessful border campaign was not ideologically united and consisted of 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 

 

 

Remembering Tony Catney

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Workers and the way forward: a socialist-republican perspective

In order to get real action, the workers will need to act for themselves not rely on ICTU leadership

by Philip Ferguson

It seems a long time now since trade union members in the south of Ireland voted to reject Croke Park 11, a deal promoted by leaders of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions in partnership with the Fine Gael/Labour coalition government in Dublin.  The current coalition, like the Fianna Fail/Green coalition that preceded it, has sought to make southern Irish workers pay for the financial crisis of Irish banks and the meltdown of the so-called ‘Celtic Tiger’ economy.

For several decades the bulk of the union leadership has pushed tripartite deals with the bosses and the state, a ‘partnership’ model which has been held up by union leaderships as far afield as New Zealand as worth emulating.  But these tripartite deals did not deliver to workers even during the ‘good times’ of the ‘boom’ periods in the 1990s and early 2000s.  Now the boom has turned to bust the partnership model has simply locked unions into accepting responsibility for the financial crisis and agreeing to the austerity measures demanded by the Troika.

Rhetoric v resistance

The leadership of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions has engaged in some token rhetoric about ‘sharing the  burden’ of the crisis and they have marched workers up and down the hill and then sent them home a couple of times.  But, in general, they have acted as faithful lieutenants of the state and capital, serving more to Read the rest of this entry

The Irish counter-revolution in 2016

2000

Power in the streets

The article below is taken from the latest issue of the Socialist Democracy bulletin.  I think it’s an excellent article, although I disagree that the mantle of 1916 is irrelevant.

Words can’t describe the dreadful shambles of the 1916 centenary commemorations. At the heart of each new farce is the assertion of cultural and political relativism. The Citizen Army revolutionaries are the same as the constitutional nationalist Redmond who denounced them, as the British troops who shelled them, as the UVF sectarians who armed against an Irish democracy.

The Irish capitalist class presents this cultural stew because they are overcome with embarrassment and revulsion, forced to commemorate something they despise. They would much rather be drinking tea with the British royal family or selling off housing stock to vulture capitalists.

Because, after all, the main thing about the rebellion was that it was defeated. It sparked off broader struggles in Ireland that were eventually defeated. Those in charge of the centenary are not the inheritors of the revolution, but its gravediggers.

One outcome of the counter-revolution is that many of those claiming to be the opponents of the governing parties today have great trouble in applying the revolutionary message of 1916 today.

The rebels rose against imperialism, yet today imperialism is so deeply entrenched that it is invisible.

The Troika carries out regular inspections. The ECB and IMF issue warnings and instructions. In the midst of a housing famine NAMA sells off resources at knock down prices to vulture capitalists – a grotesque 21st century version of the Read the rest of this entry

Who drove the Rising?

imagesI’m well-disposed towards the 1916 Societies, so this short piece should be taken as a disagreement in a comradely spirit.

A recent article on their site says, “The driving force behind the Rising was the IRB; it was in effect a Fenian Rising.”  (See here.)

I think this is not only wrong historically but it has some important political implications for today too.

The IRB was not the driving force behind the Rising and nor could it be.  Connolly, Mallin, Markievicz and the Irish Citizen Army made up the driving force.  From the time the First World War broke out, Connolly determined on a Rising and began preparations.  The IRB position was rather more confused.  The left of the IRB – Clarke, Pearse, Mac Diarmada etc – also wanted a rising, but the situation in the IRB was far more complicated as the organisation contained far more equivocal figures, like Bulmer Hobson, and wavered continually.

The classic example is that the IRB capitulated to Redmond’s demand for a bunch of his sycophants – 25 of them I think! – to be added to the leading body of the Irish Volunteers.  If you are the driving force for an imminent rebellion you don’t agree to have a large number of opponents of such a rebellion being added to the leadership of what is ostensibly to be the main force of the rebellion.

And, utterly predictably, when war came, the Redmondite element of the Irish Volunteer leadership supported British imperialism and they and Redmond took the vast majority of the members of the Volunteers out of the movement and into the British Army and onto the imperialist killing fields in France.  The IRB leaders who were responsible for the capitulation of Redmond had not only made a serious political error, they had in effect sabotaged the Volunteers.

While the IRB floundered about, with its left elements wanting an insurrection but not really understanding how to proceed, Connolly was pursuing a consistent Read the rest of this entry

Belfast éirígí 1916 commemoration

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Several hundred people attended éirígí’s annual Easter Rising commemoration in Belfast on Monday 28th March.

Led by a seven-person colour party and young people carrying portraits of the 1916 leaders, party members and supporters paraded along the Falls Road shortly after one o’clock to Milltown Cemetery where a commemorative ceremony was held at the original Republican Plot.

The proceedings were chaired by Sharon Pickering. In her introductory remarks, Sharon made special mention of Belfast-born Winifred Carney who, along with Julia Grenan and Elizabeth O’Farrell, remained with the GPO garrison throughout the entirety of Easter week.

She added, “We must remain focused on our enemies and confident in ourselves. The struggle requires a systematic approach, it requires efficiency, sustainability, and we must continuously challenge and question ourselves.

“Strategies need to be Read the rest of this entry