Category Archives: Repression and resistance in 1970s and 1980s
I agree with most of this review. And the review is well worth reading and thinking about, which is why I’ve reblogged it. However, it also has a problem. Mike M notes that whenever catholic and protestant workers have united, the protestant establishment has played the Orange card, and this has always succeeded in getting the protestant workers to split and line up again behind their exploiters. Very true. Yet, at the end of the review, what does Mike suggest?
Well, he suggests protestant and catholic workers unting on economic issues! The reason is that the political tendency Mike identifies with has never understood the importance of the national question. At least, unlike the CWI followers in Ireland, they recognise that there is a national question; but they fail to integrate it into the reasons for the divisions in the working class in the north-east.
So Mike falls back into suggesting as a road forward something he has already identified as failing! Moreover, as Seamus Costello noted way back in the 1970s, you can’t trick the protestant working class into a false unity by ignoring the national question; they’re not stupid. You have to be honest with them on the national question. Instead of adopting a partitionist view which focuses on uniting wage-workers in the six counties across the sectarian divide, by ignoring the national question, it is necessary to counterpose the solving together of the national and class questions through uniting the mass of the Irish working class on an all-island basis. This points to an all-Ireland workers’ republic in which the protestant workers would be free, instead of being the alienated tools of imperialism. – P.F.
Aaron Edwards, UVF: Behind the Mask, Dublin, Merrion Press, 2017, £14.99; reviewed by Mike Milotte.
UVF: Behind the Mask is a vast if somewhat episodic account of the killings, feuds and internal factionalism of the loyalist paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force written by a lecturer at Sandhurst, the British Army’s officer training college. It would barely merit mention in this journal* were it not for its underlying, yet never fully argued thesis that Ulster loyalism is a genuine expression of Protestant working class discontent, while the violent conflict in Northern Ireland in which the UVF played such a significant part, was an “ethnic civil war”.
The author, Aaron Edwards, comes from an area of Belfast where the UVF was particularly active. During the “peace process” he befriended several leading UVF figures, one of whom persuaded him to write this book. While he rejects UVF violence, the book itself is permeated with a sense of Edwards’ high opinion of some of its worst perpetrators.
Socialists or pro-imperialists?
Edwards expresses sympathy for the views of former UVF men who have declared themselves to be socialists, but his key formulations are clearly at odds with the view of most left-wing activists and writers for whom working class loyalism is a form of Read the rest of this entry
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.
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
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
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