Category Archives: Republicanism 1960s

Charlie O’Neill, socialist-republican, 1937-2016

by Mick Healy

Thomas (Charlie) O’Neill was born in Drimnagh in Dublin on 20th December 1937 and was a dyer by trade. His family had fought with the United Irishman and the Fenians. He was a Socialist Republican with a sharp wit who loved classical music, the Irish Times, a glass of wine and, especially, his family. 

As a young man, Charlie joined the Irish Republican Army where, with a large number of Dublin volunteers, he became involved with the breakaway Joe Christle group.  In 1956 they joined forces with Liam Kelly’s organisation Saor Uladh in Co. Tyrone.  Christle and Kelly were annoyed at the lack of action by the IRA, although the IRA leadership were actually putting together plans for Operation Harvest aka “the border campaign”. 

Saor Uladh went on the offensive and attacked the RUC barracks in Roslea, Co. Fermanagh in 1955, custom post telephone exchanges, bridges, B-Special drill halls as well as demolishing lough gates at Newry.  When the IRA began its own campaign in 1956, Saor Uladh was subsumed back into it.

Charlie (on left) with folk musician Luke Kelly (on right) and others

With the failure of Operation Harvest, Charlie moved to Cork.  He worked in a shoe factory there during the early 1960s and eventually bought a cottage in Crosshaven.  He became good friends with many of the University College Cork socialists as well as Jim Lane and Gerry Higgins from Irish Revolutionary Forces. Charlie, Gerry and Jim attended an anti-Vietnam War protest, organised by the Cork Vietnamese Freedom Association, during the berthing of USS Courtyney in Cork harbour in 1967.

At this time Charlie also became good friends with the legendary Tom Barry who had commanded the IRA’s Third West Cork Flying Column during the Irish War of Independence, fought on the anti-Treaty side in the civil war and briefly became IRA chief-of-staff in 1937.

(Left to Right) Lucille Redmond with Republicans Charlie O’Neill, Simon O’Donnell and Bryan McNally.

Upon his return to Dublin, Charlie was associated with the radical National Civil Liberties League.  The NCLL agitated around industrial disputes and tenant and traveller rights.  Later he became involved in the Saor Éire Action Group, a militant Marxist-republican group which included prominent former members of the IRA like Frank Keane and Liam Sutcliffe and Trotskyist activists associated with the Fourth International.

On October 3, 1968, shots were fired in a Read the rest of this entry

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Richard Behal on escaping Limerick Jail in 1966

Belated congratulations to Richard Behal on his 80th birthday back in March.  An outstanding, principled, left-wing republican.

Below is a recent interview with cde Behal by Michael Healy, part of an ongoing series that Mick has been doing with republican activists, especially older republicans.  This is an invaluable series, especially since this generation is now passing on.

And don’t forget to check out Mick’s Irish Republican and Marxist History Project, here.

 

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

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):

 

Liam Sutcliffe commemoration

On Sunday (December 3) about 100 people attended a special political commemoration for veteran socialist-republican Liam Sutcliffe, who died on Friday, November 3 and whose funeral took place in Dublin on Tuesday, November 7.

See: Liam Sutcliffe: a revolutionary life

and Filmed Interview with Liam Sutcliffe

Liam Sutcliffe commemoration, Dublin, Sunday, Dec 3

 

 

Friends and comrades of Liam Sutcliffe have organised a commemoration to mark Liam’s passing and his contribution to Irish national liberation and socialism.

The commemoration will be starting at St Patrick’s Cathedral at 1pm on Sunday 3rd December and marching to Mount Jerome Cemetery.

This is an independent commemoration, so please no party political material, but all Republicans welcome.

The Liam Sutcliffe Commemoration Committee has set up a facebook page, here.

Repose and funeral details for Liam Sutcliffe

Liam by The Spire of Dublin, the monument which eventually replaced Nelson’s Pillar. Photo: Luke Fallon

 

Reposing at the Fanagan Funeral Home, Aungier Street, Dublin from 5pm until 7.30pm, Tuesday, 7th November, with family in attendance.

Requiem Mass at 11.30am on Wednesday, 8th November, in Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Whitefriar Street (Aungier Street), Dublin.

Funeral thereafter to Mount Jerome Cemetery, Harold’s Cross Road, Dublin 6W.

 

Liam Sutcliffe: a revolutionary life

Liam with other Saor Eire activists

by Mick Healy

Socialist-republican and former Saor Éire activist Liam Sutcliffe passed away suddenly at his home in Greenhills, Dublin on Friday 3rd November, 2017.  His wife Bernadette, to whom he was married for over 60 years, died in February 2016.

Liam came from an historic Dublin working class area, The Liberties, and was recruited into the Irish Republican Army along with Tomás Mac Giolla in 1954. Within a few months he was operating as an IRA agent in Gough barracks in Armagh, passing important information to the Republican Movement.

This was part of the preparations for Read the rest of this entry

Seamus Costello

October 5 marked the 40th anniversary of his murder by the Officials.

There’s a chunk of material on him here and some also on the other blog I’m involved in, Redline.

The stuff on this blog includes:

1975 interview with Seamus on the initial attempts of the Sticks to destroy the IRSP

Text of speech by Sean Doyle, a comrade of Seamus in Wicklow, on the 35th anniversary of the murder

Miriam Daly – successor to Seamus and murdered a few years later – on Seamus

1969 educational talk by Seamus on Democracy and the Mass Movement

Seamus Costello’s 1966 Bodenstown speech

There is also lots of material on particular commemorations re comrade Costello.  If you click into the categories section, you’ll find there is a Seamus Costello category and you’ll find much more stuff there.

From the IRA to Saor Eire: Remembering socialist-republican Liam Walsh

Liam Walsh’s funeral cortege, Dublin, October 1970

 

by Mick Healy

Liam Pearse Walsh, who was born in Dublin in 1933, was totally committed to whatever he did: to his trade as a fitter-welder or the Socialist Republican struggle.  He was fiercely loyal to those around him: his comrades, family and especially his four young daughters.

Recruited into the Irish Republican Army by Liam Sutcliffe in 1954, Liam Walsh was active in Operation Harvest, the IRA border campaign of 1956-1962, eventually becoming the Commanding Officer of the South Dublin Unit of the IRA.

In 1957, he was interned without trial in 1957 in the Curragh Internment Camp in Co. Kildare.  His girlfriend, Jacqueline Barry, and his father, Joseph,visited him and brought food parcels and cigarettes.

Shortly after they were married in 1960, Liam and Jacqueline, like many of their generation, Read the rest of this entry