Category Archives: Repression and resistance in 1970s and 1980s

Video of the discussion period at Peter Graham commemorative meeting

Derry’s ‘March of the British Death Squads’ a calculated insult to Bloody Sunday dead

pol-torboid-on-extreme-right-at-recent-event-to-highlight-british-army-recruitment-in-irelandThe following was written before the Brits decided to call off their grubby imperialist parade: 

Éirígí has branded a planned march through Derry on Saturday, March 4 as “deliberately provocative” and a “calculated insult”. It is estimated that 100 serving and former members of Britain’s military forces will take part in the march.  The event is one of a series which will take place across Britain and occupied Ireland in opposition to any prosecution of British soldiers who have committed serious crimes in Ireland.

Commenting on the contentious march, Éirígí spokesperson Pól Torbóid said, “It is absolutely no coincidence that this event on the streets of Derry was announced just days after another very successful march commemorating the deaths of 14 innocent civilians on those same streets.”

“There is no doubt that the organisers of the March of the British Death Squads are being deliberately provocative to generate publicity for their event. This is nothing less than a calculated insult to the dead of Bloody Sunday and their families, as well as all the other victims of British brutality in Ireland.”

He continued, “Let us not forget that the British Army killed 14 civilians and injured another 12 in one afternoon in Derry. Many more have been killed and injured in Derry City and the surrounding areas by Britain’s official and unofficial death squads.  Éirígí is totally opposed to the March of the British Death Squads going ahead and is now consulting its members and others to identify the best way to oppose it.”

Peter Graham – revolutionary militant

Peter holding Young Socialists banner, Dublin 1968

Peter holding Young Socialists banner, Dublin 1968

by Mick Healy

“In 1966 we in Ireland celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rebellion (1916). The writings of James Connolly, which prior to then had been read little, and then only by the older hands’, began to be read more widely. The younger generation found through his writings that he was not quite as the Christian Brothers in school taught – “only the 7th leader’ of 19l6.” They found in his writings Connolly the revolutionary, the worker, the union organiser and Marxist”.
– Peter Graham, Workers Fight, June 1968.

download-1

Funeral of Peter Graham, Dublin, 1971; Tariq Ali at centre

Comrades who have read about the Irish Revolution know something about the contributions made by Nora Connolly O’Brien, Michael Davitt, Liam Mellows and Frank Ryan, but many do not understand the important contributions made by significant but lesser-known figures such as revolutionary Marxist Peter Graham.  Peter came from 46 Reginald Street in the Liberties of Dublin and attended Bolton St College of Technology. Working as an electrician in CIE he was a shop-steward for the Electrical Trade Union.  He joined the Labour Party, but discontented with their lack of radicalism shifted over to the Communist Party.  Disillusioned with their reformism, he left and became involved with Irish Workers Group and then the League for a Workers’ Republic, an organisation openly declaring itself revolutionary and Marxist, identifying with the Trotskyist current of Marxism.

With single-minded dedication he was the Read the rest of this entry

Peter Graham commemoration, Dublin, Feb 18

16298792_455270308195196_2193927372332732089_n

When gardai brutally attacked march on 1st anniversary of Bloody Sunday

Gardai attacking marchers at Garden of Remembrance

Gardai attacking marchers at Garden of Remembrance

by Mick Healy

There was a march in Dublin on the first anniversary of Derry’s Bloody Sunday.  The march started from the burned-out British embassy in Merrion Row. It included more than a thousand supporters of the Irish Civil Rights Association, including a large contingent from the People’s Democracy group.  The marchers aimed to walk peacefully through the city, carrying black flags to the Garden of Remembrance in Parnell Square, but at the Garden they were confronted with a cordon of over a hundred Garda wielding batons.

The main speaker from the People’s Democracy called for a minute’s silence and asked could the gardai lower the Tricolour in respect to the victims of Bloody Sunday, but the cops refused.  Ciaran McAnally of ICRA told the crowd that the gardai had refused to lower the flag and said they would not interfere with the flag.  He called for a peaceful commemoration, while noting that the Derry dead had been insulted by refusal to lower the Tricolour.

It did not take the Southern state long to get Read the rest of this entry

Brief vid of Mairin Keegan at Saor Eire/Frank Keane defence picket

 

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

On the Saor Eire Action Group, 1967-1975

Below is the talk given by Séan Ó Duibhir at the social/political history conference From Civil Rights to the Bailout organised in June 2015 by the Irish Centre for the Histories of Labour & Class.

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