Category Archives: Seamus Costello
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
The following piece appeared on éirígí’s facebook page. Now being unemployed, and living a quiet life in a place near the end of the world, I hope to have more time to write, especially as I only want to work part-time for the rest of my life. Near the top of what I want to write is an appreciation of Nora Connolly. As I’ve indicated before, too often in discussions re Republican Congress it is Peadar O’Donnell who is primarily remembered. In my view, in the political fight that led to the effective break-up of Republican Congress, Nora Connolly was right in arguing for the transformation of the Congress into a revolutionary (socialist-republican) party and O’Donnell and his supporters (who wanted it to be a coalition of republicans, including attempts to involve elements of Fianna Fail) were wrong. The pressing need at the time was for a revolutionary party; such a party might then help coalesce and lead a wider alliance, but the party was key.
Nora, in my opinion, has never been given her full due, probably because she made the subsequent mistake of going off into the Labour Party and, later, serving as a De Valera-appointed member of the Seanad. Those mistakes, however, don’t wipe out her impressive credentials from before the Easter Rising, through the Rising and war for independence, through the civil war (at one point in time she was acting paymaster-general for the IRA), the 1920s and the organising of Republican Congress. It was only after the defeat of her arguments there that she ended up feeling she had nowhere to go and the fact that Labour had begun talking again about the ‘workers republic’ idea that led her into Labour. To her credit, she didn’t stay and become an apologist for Labour, the way her brother Roddy did. The formation of the IRSP and the apparent leftward development of the Provisionals brought her back into activity in her late 70s and early 80s, especially around the hunger strikes of 1980-81.
From éirígí on facebook, June 17:
The veteran Irish socialist republican, and daughter of the great James Connolly, Nora Connolly O’Brien passed away on June 17, 1981.
Nora lived her life in absolute dedication to the cause of Irish National Liberation and Socialism.
Nora was a veteran of the 1916 Rising, the Tan War and the war in defence of the Republic which followed. Like her father, Nora believed that the class struggle and the national struggle in Ireland were the same fight, and during the 1930s Nora was a key organiser in the left wing Republican Congress.
In the 1970s Nora described Seamus Costello as Read the rest of this entry