Category Archives: James Connolly
A study/discussion group based on Connolly’s Labour in Irish History started a couple of weeks ago. With the lockdown across Ireland (and in other countries where socialist-republicans and supporters reside) many of us will have more time than we usually do for study, theory, political discussion, so let’s make use of it.
The studies have been initiated by Eirigi general-secretary Mickey Moran, but are open to any socialist-republican-minded people. They take place on zoom and are very easy to access. You can contact Mickey directly or, if you are shy, email me and I’ll put him onto you. He’s: firstname.lastname@example.org
The sessions take place on Wednesday nights at 8.30 (Irish time, and British time). If you’re elsewhere you will need to check what time that is wherever you are.
Last week we delved into two chapters where our political tradition begins to emerge, looking at the democratic and internationalist ideas of the United Irish movement of Wolfe Tone and at Emmet’s movement and the manifesto of the 1803 rebellion, which, if anything, was even more radical – for instance Emmet’s rebellion wanted to confiscate and nationalise Church property.
It was my privilege to do the introduction.
The next 2 chapters will be introduced by Fiona, as the sessions begin to move on from the great revolutionary democracy of the United Irishmen and Emmet, pre-runners of socialism, to the emergence of a more explicitly socialist politics in Ireland. These chapters are:
Chapter 10 – The First Irish Socialist – A forerunner of Marx; this looks at the views and work of William Thompson in the late 1820s and early 1830s
Chapter 11 – An Irish Utopia; this looks at the Ralahine commune in Co. Clare in the 1830s
Anyone who doesn’t have a copy of the pamphlet/book can read it on the Marxist Internet Archive, here.
Posted in 1798 - 1803, 1840s, Famine, Young Ireland & Irish Confederation, British state repression (general), British strategy, Catholic church/church-state relations, Commemorations, Democratic rights - general, Economy and workers' resistance, Fenians, Fintan Lalor, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Imperialism (generally), Ireland in 1800s, James Connolly, Political education and theory, Republicanism pre-1900, Revolutionary figures, Robert Emmet, Scabs, Secret police, Social conditions, Toadyism, Trade unions, Unionism, loyalism, sectarianism, Wolfe Tone, Women, Workers rights, Young Ireland
Interview by Mick Healy with Diarmuid Breathnach on the Save Moore Street Campaign.
Mick also did an earlier interview with Diarmuid on his decades of political activism:
Posted in 21st century republicanism and socialism, British state repression (general), Civil rights movement, Culture, Democratic rights - general, Economy and workers' resistance, General revolutionary history, Housing, Hunger strikes, Imperialism (generally), Internationalism, Interviews, Ireland and British revolution, Irish Citizen Army, Irish politics today, James Connolly, Partition, Political education and theory, Prisoners - past, Repression and resistance in 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, Republicanism 1960s, Revolutionary figures, Secret police, six counties, Social conditions, The road to the Easter Rising, Toadyism, Trade unions, twenty-six counties, Unionism, loyalism, sectarianism, Women, Women in republican history, Workers rights
Land ownership was a key political question for the Irish masses throughout the hundreds of years of British rule. For most of these centuries ‘the land question’ was essentially a rural/peasant issue. But with industrialisation and urbanisation, the landlord class in towns and cities became as much a problem for the new working class as the big landholders were for the rural peasant masses. In this 1899 article, James Connolly addresses the problems faced by Dublin workers due to private ownership by landlords of their homes. (It appeared in the Workers Republic, November 18, 1899) and is highly relevant today as, although housing conditions have improved, rents and ownership remain critical problems.)
In an early issue of the Workers’ Republic we pointed out that the Corporation of Dublin had it in its power to sensibly mitigate the sufferings of the industrial population in the City by a wise and intelligent application of its many powers as a public board. Among the various directions we enumerated as immediately practical outlets for corporate enterprise, there were two allied measures which, were they applied, might do much to at once relieve the most odious and directly pressing evils arising from the congested state of our cities. Those two measures were:–
- Taxation of unlet houses,
- Erection at public expense of Artisans’ Dwellings, to be let at a rent covering cost of construction and maintenance alone. 
The wisdom of the proposal to increase the funds and utilise the borrowing powers of the Corporation in this manner cannot be questioned. The housing accommodation of the Dublin workers is a disgrace to the City; high rents and vile sanitary arrangements are the rule, and no one in the Corporation seems to possess courage enough to avow the truth, or to face Read the rest of this entry →
In Review: Jeffrey Leddin’s “The ‘Labour Hercules’: The Irish Citizen Army and Irish Republicanism, 1913-23”
“If you or anybody else expect that I’m going to waste my time talking ‘bosh’ to the crowds,” James Connolly was heard to say, “for the sake of hearing shouts, you’ll be sadly disappointed.” He preferred instead to “give my message to four serious men at any crossroads in Ireland and know that they carry it back to the places they came from.”
This would prove to be more than just ‘bosh’ on Connolly’s part. A stiffening of the Irish Citizen Army (ICA) was noted in October 1914, upon his assumption of its leadership, with the announcement of a mandatory parade for all members. Rifles were to be “thoroughly cleaned”, anyone absent would be noted and latecomers refused admittance.
Meanwhile, articles by Connolly started to appear in the Workers’ Republic, critiquing the. . .
continue reading here.
Posted in 1913 lockout, Constance Markievicz, Counter-revolution/civil war period, Free State in 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Irish Citizen Army, James Connolly, Jim Larkin, Partition, Republicanism post-1900, Revolutionary figures, Social conditions, The road to the Easter Rising, Trade unions, War for Independence period, Women in republican history, Workers rights
Britain’s George V visited Ireland in July 1911. The protests against this visit were the first point we can see the coming together of the forces which would launch armed rebellion five years later. Crucial to the protests was the Socialist Party, whose leaders included James Connolly and Constance Markievicz.
Two years later, Markievicz would be a central founding leader of the workers’ militia, the Irish Citizen Army, and serve on its Army Council from then until the Rising. Connolly was living in Belfast at the time of the founding of the ICA in November 1913. He would return to Dublin and take over leadership of both the Transport Union and the ICA from James Larkin when Larkin departed for the United States in October 1914.
Below is the text of the leaflet issued in 1911 to Dublin workers by the SPI branch in the city.
THE ROYAL VISIT.
“The great appear great to us only because we are on our knees:
LET US RISE.”
As you are aware from reading the daily and weekly newspapers, we are about to be blessed with a visit from King George V.
Knowing from previous experience of Royal Visits, as well as from the Coronation orgies of the past few weeks, that the occasion will be utilised to make propaganda on behalf of royalty and aristocracy against the oncoming forces of democracy and National freedom, we desire to place before you some few reasons why you should unanimously refuse to countenance this visit, or to recognise it by your presence at its attendant processions or demonstrations. We appeal to you as workers, speaking to workers, whether your work be that of the brain or of the hand – manual or mental toil – it is of you and your children we are thinking; it is your cause we wish to safeguard and foster.
The future of the working class requires that all political and social positions should be open to all men and women; that all privileges of birth or wealth be abolished, and that every man or woman born into this land should have an equal opportunity to attain to the proudest position in the land. The Socialist demands that the only birthright necessary to qualify for public office should be the birthright of our common humanity.
Believing as we do that there is nothing on earth more sacred than humanity, we deny all allegiance to this institution of royalty, and hence we can only regard the visit of the King as adding Read the rest of this entry →
Posted in British state repression (general), British strategy, Constance Markievicz, Democratic rights - general, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Ireland and British revolution, Ireland in 1800s, Irish Citizen Army, James Connolly, Jim Larkin, Political education and theory, Public events - Ireland, Republicanism post-1900, Revolutionary figures, Social conditions, The road to the Easter Rising, Toadyism, Women in republican history, Workers rights
This month marks the anniversary of the murders of two outstanding revolutionaries.
Seamus Costello was murdered in Dublin on October 5 and Che Guevara in Bolivia on October 9. Che in 1967 and Seamus in 1977.
Come along and find out about these two great fighters for human emancipation.
Speaker: Dr Philip Ferguson
Friday, October 18, 6pm,
Seminar room, third floor, public library,
Moray Place, Dunedin (NZ).
Posted in Border Campaign/Operation Harvest, Civil rights movement, Free State in 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, General revolutionary history, Internationalism, James Connolly, Miriam Daly, Nora Connolly, Political education and theory, Public events - Australia and New Zealand, Repression and resistance in 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, Republicanism 1960s, Revolutionary figures, Seamus Costello
The article below appeared in the July issue of Socialist Voice, paper of the CPI, as an opinion piece under the headline “Provisional Sinn Féin, republicanism, and socialism: Some comments”.
by Eddie O’Neill and Mark Hayes
By any relevant psephological indices, it is absolutely clear that Sinn Féin did exceedingly poorly—perhaps disastrously—in the recent local and European elections; and the results have clearly precipitated some reflective introspection by various party members.
For example, a defeated Sinn Féin candidate in Dublin, Lynn Boylan, has called for dialogue and co-operation with other “left-wing parties” in future, arguing that competition for votes had handed seats to Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. She claimed: “I am a republican, I am a united Irelander, but I am a left wing activist.” Indeed she went on to claim: “That’s how we were able to stop water charges—it’s because the left came together and worked together.”
Let’s just leave aside Sinn Féin’s specific role in the campaign against water charges, which is contentious, and concentrate on the more significant ideological proposition about Sinn Féin and its relationship with “the left.”
Over the years the Provisional movement has undoubtedly flirted with socialism as an ideology. For example, the original Éire Nua programme articulated by the Provisionals had a reasonably well-defined social component, with the emphasis on a more equitable and decentralised distribution of resources. By the late 1970s, under a new “Northern” leadership, this trend was accentuated. This was perhaps most vividly expressed in Jimmy Drumm’s speech of 1977 (apparently written by Adams et al.) which stressed the need for social liberation and the importance of standing in solidarity with workers against British colonial rule and the “fascist” Free State. (The speech also, incidentally, rejected a reformed Stormont and power-sharing.)
In this period Adams not only criticised capitalism, he was fond of quoting Connolly, while Sinn Féin explicitly identified itself with the ANC, PLO, and Sandinistas. Some commentators even detected the influence of Marxism; and though this was hugely exaggerated, there was a sense in which Sinn Féin identified itself as an integral part of a global “left” movement. It undoubtedly established its radical credentials through community work and activism in working-class areas.
However, there was always another, more pragmatic and opportunistic dimension to Sinn Féin strategy. This could be detected during and after the Hunger Strike, when the process of politicisation sought to reconfigure Sinn Féin as an electoral force. It was confirmed in a very personal way to one of the writers of this article when a letter was smuggled out of Albany prison in 1983 (written by Eddie O’Neill and Ray McLaughlin, and signed by other Republican prisoners). This missive explicitly addressed “the left” and urged all comrades to show solidarity with the Irish revolution while calling for a “broad front” of left progressive forces to form a common platform against imperialism.
The correspondence was completely disregarded by the Republican leadership at the time. The writing was on the wall: Sinn Féin was moving towards conventional constitutional politics. It eventually came to see itself as the natural repository for middle-class Catholic votes and positioned itself as the successor to the SDLP as the primary representative of the “Nationalist” community.
In relation to the north, Sinn Féin eventually adopted the diplomatic strategy of. . . continue reading here. . .
Posted in 1981 hunger strike, 21st century republicanism and socialism, Anti-household and anti-water tax, British strategy, Economy and workers' resistance, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Imperialism (generally), Ireland and British revolution, Irish politics today, James Connolly, Political education and theory, Prisoners - past, Provos - then and now, Repression and resistance in 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, Revolutionary figures, Unionism, loyalism, sectarianism
The first edition of Constance Markievicz’s prison letters was put together by Esther Roper, the partner of Markievicz’s sister Eva Gore-Booth, to whom many of the letters were addressed. The editon was published by Longman Paul in 1934. Roper, with help from Hannah Sheehy-Skeffington, one of the executors of Markievicz’s will and longtime friend and fellow activist, wrote a substantial biographical essay for the book.
Over 50 years later Amanda Sebestyen worked on a new edition and wrote her own introduction. This edition was brought out by the feminist publisher, Virago, in 1987.
Thirty-one years later (last year, 2018) Lindie Naughton, the author of a new recent biography – Markievicz: a most outrageous rebel (Dublin, Merrion Press, 2016) – has put together a new edition. This edition returns the letters to their original form. (Lindie notes, “Consulting the originals in the National Library of Ireland makes it obvious that the published versions of the prison letters skirted around some sensitive issues and blanked out the names of people who quite possibly were still alive at the time of the original publication.”)
The prison letters come from her various stints in jail: May 1916-July 1917 in Mountjoy (Dublin) and Aylesbury (Buckinghamshire); June 1918-March 1919 in Holloway; June-October 1919 in Cork; September 1920-July 1921 in Mountjoy; and November-December 1923 in the North Dublin Union.
Moreover, this edition adds a bunch of letters that haven’t appeared in print before. These include letters to Read the rest of this entry →
Posted in British state repression (general), Censorship, Constance Markievicz, Counter-revolution/civil war period, Fianna, Fintan Lalor, Free State in 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Ireland and British revolution, Ireland in 1800s, Irish Citizen Army, James Connolly, Nora Connolly, Padraic Pearse, Political education and theory, Prisoners - past, Republicanism post-1900, Republicanism pre-1900, Revolutionary figures, Uncategorized
The article below was written by Connolly and appeared in the paper Workers Republic, October 30, 1915. The version below was transcribed in 1997 by the James Connolly Society and appears in the Connolly section of the Marxist Internet Archive.
The Irish Citizen Army was founded during the great Dublin Lock-Out of 1913-14, for the purpose of protecting the working class, and of preserving its right of public meeting and free association. The streets of Dublin had been covered by the bodies of helpless men, women, boys and girls brutally batoned by the uniformed bullies of the British Government.
Three men had been killed, and one young Irish girl murdered by a scab, and nothing was done to bring the assassins to justice. So since justice did not exist for us, since the law instead of protecting the rights of the workers was an open enemy, and since the armed forces of the Crown were unreservedly at the disposal of the enemies of labour, it was resolved to create our own army to secure our rights, to protect our members, and to be a guarantee of our own free progress.
The Irish Citizen Army was the first publicly organised armed citizen force south of the Boyne. Its constitution pledged and still pledges its members to work for an Irish Republic, and for the emancipation of labour. It has ever been foremost in allnational work, and whilst never neglecting its own special function has always been at the disposal of the forces of Irish nationality for the ends common to all.
Its influence and presence has Read the rest of this entry →
Below is the speech delivered by Jim Lane at the commemoration for Seamus Costello on the 5th anniversary of his murder by the pro-Moscow ‘Official’ IRA. Jim was a member of the central leadership of the IRSP at the time, becoming its national chairperson in 1983. The speech was delivered at Seamus’ graveside in Bray on October 3, 1982.
The original text had some very large paragraphs. I have broken these up, simply to make it easier to read. None of the text has been changed.
Special thanks to Mick Healy for passing the original text on to me and suggesting I put it up here.
Gathering beside the graves of our patriot dead is a long-established custom for Irish revolutionaries. In doing so, we honour our dead and seek strength and inspiration to help further the cause for which they struggled. Such strength and inspiration derives not alone in recalling the deeds of our dead patriots, but also in restating and clarifying our political philosophy, in terms of existing conditions. The deeds of our dead comrade, Séamus Costello, republican socialist and founder member of the Irish Republican Socialist Party are legion. This year in a fitting and timely tribute, such deeds have been recorded with the publication of a book by the Séamus Costello Memorial Committee. For an insight into the contribution that Séamus made to the revolutionary socialist struggle in Ireland, it is required reading, guaranteed to strengthen our resolve and provide inspiration. Therein can be found not alone an account of his life, achievements and writings, but an excellent collection of tributes from his friends and comrades. No words of mine spoken in tribute could match theirs.
Nora Connolly-O’Brien, recently deceased daughter of Irish socialist republican martyr James Connolly, considered him to be the greatest follower of her father’s teachings in this generation and hoped that his vision for Ireland would be realised in this generation.
For Tony Gregory, Séamus “personified more than any Irish man or woman, at least of our generation, the republican socialist – the revolutionary activist who organised and worked in tenant organisations, trade unions, housing action committees and cultural organisations.”
From the young men and women of the republican socialist movement, to whom he was friend and mentor, came the following tributes:
Gerry Roche – “Like Lenin, he was pragmatic in his tactics, and while recognising the corruption of the courts and parliament, he was quite prepared to use them as a platform while remaining totally inflexible in his politics.”
Seán Doyle – “Séamus Costello was a man of the people. He got his degree in working-class involvement, on the streets with his people, campaigning with them for justice.”
Niall Leonach – “He had an irrepressible dedication and energy to carry on with the struggle, to learn new lessons and to break new ground.”
Íte Ní Chionnaith – “Bhí a fhios aige in gcónai go raibh a bheatha i mbaol agus go mbeadh, an fhaí is a lean sé den obair a bhí ar bun aige ach níor lig sé dó sin cur as dó. Ba chailliúint gan áireamh é do phobal na tíre seo, thuaidh agus theas.”
And it was Miriam Daly, first chairperson of the Séamus Costello Memorial Committee and a member of the Ard-Chomhairle of the IRSP when Séamus was murdered, who highlighted the point that made him stand out as a republican socialist, when she said he never Read the rest of this entry →
Posted in 1981 hunger strike, 21st century republicanism and socialism, British state repression (general), British strategy, Commemorations, Economy and workers' resistance, Elections, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Imperialism (generally), Irish politics today, IRSP, James Connolly, national, Nora Connolly, Officials, Partition, Political education and theory, Public events - Ireland, Repression and resistance in 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, Repression in 26-county state, Republicanism 1960s, Republicanism post-1900, Revolutionary figures, Seamus Costello, six counties, Social conditions, twenty-six counties, Workers rights