Category Archives: Scabs

Connolly’s ‘Labour in Irish History’: study/discussion group

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:

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.

Connolly and the Provo leadership









Is there no depth to which the Provo leadership won’t sink in trying to prove to the British and Irish ruling classes what a reliable pair of hands they are?

And is there no amount of delusion to which their enablers won’t go in order to pretend that it is all part of some leadership cabal very clever master plan, mapped out by Adams and McGuinness and their clique several decades ago?  A master plan that will deliver a united socialist republic on the island.

It seems the more obvious it becomes to everyone else that their whole trajectory is in the opposite direction, the more the enablers drink the kool-aid.

Unveiling of ‘Walls of Remembrance’, Dublin, Sunday, April 3


As the controversy over the Glasnevin Trust’s ‘1916 Remembrance Wall’ grows, éirígí have announced plans to unveil their own ‘1916 Rising Walls of Remembrance’ outside the GPO in Dublin at 2pm on Saturday April 3rd. Unlike the Glasnevin Wall the temporary GPO walls will not contain the names of any member of the British military or ‘police’ forces that were killed during the Rising.

Speaking in relation to the initiative Cathaoirleach éirígí Brian Leeson said, “The proposed Glasnevin wall is nothing short of a national disgrace and a blatant attempt to further an insidious revisionist agenda. One hundred years after the 1916 Rising and 95 years after a successful counter-revolution the shoneen West-Brit mentality is alive and well in certain sections of Irish society. Read the rest of this entry

Connolly, the Dublin Steampacket Company dispute and the 1916 Rising


“The cause of Labour is the cause of Ireland; the cause of Ireland is the cause of Labour. They cannot be dissevered” – James Connolly

The article below is an extended version of a paper given to the Dublin Dockworkers’ Preservation Society on 23 May 2015.  Thanks to the author for sending this fascinating article to the blog.

by D.R. O’Connor Lysaght

All too often, James Connolly’s last months tend to be seen as a period in which he compartmentalised his tasks, dividing his time between preparing a military uprising and, to a lesser extent, performing basic trade union work. An extreme variation of this is that he followed the majority of his socialist contemporaries in abandoning the class struggle at least until the end of the World War, if not altogether, and that, in any case, he never organised an actual, or, anyway a major strike.

None of these assumptions is true. The full facts of his wartime career show him to have been acting as a socialist, even if, as he admitted, other socialists would not understand.

Guiding strategy

His guiding strategy was summarised in the last paragraph of the Resolution on War, passed in 1907 by the Socialist International’s Congress at Stuttgart:
“In case war should break out… it is the duty of the working classes and their parliamentary representatives to intervene in favour of its speedy termination and with all their powers to utilise the economic and political crisis created by the war to rouse the masses and thereby to hasten the downfall of capitalist class rule.”

This has been ignored all too often by those trying to explain Connolly’s first World War strategy. This ignorance is helped by the fact that Read the rest of this entry

Critiquing the construction of ‘dissident republicans’, pt 2: The Pinocchio Syndrome

Adams, Hume, Clinton, Trimble: a right rogues' gallery

Adams, Hume, Clinton, Trimble: a right rogues’ gallery

by Larry Hughes

When SF entered talks with the SDLP intent on consolidating a mass nationalist support base and harnessing the public sympathy generated during the 1981 hunger-strikes towards Sinn Fein’s project for Irish unity it was to prove a colossal miscalculation. Rather than lure constitutional nationalism to the assistance of republicanism, Sinn Fein would be lured into a process leading them to constitutional politics, non-violence and the acceptance of partition – although arguably exactly where the leadership wanted to go. Malachi O’Doherty has correctly suggested that the central aim of the armed struggle was to create conditions which would render an internal Northern Ireland settlement impossible thus forcing a progression towards Irish unification as the only option for policy makers. He sums up the IRA strategy as “a strategy of vetoing an internal settlement through the narrowing of options”.[1]

O’Doherty characterised republican strategy thus, “The campaign does not primarily force the British to leave Ireland through making their presence too costly, but it sets limits to their ability to resolve the conflict internally.”[2] Gerry Adams confirmed this theory and strategy himself, “Every British attempt so far has failed, and as each option is tried, knocked back, or falls of its own accord, they will have to consider the option of withdrawal.”[3] British containment and the burden of the prolonged conflict upon the Catholic community in which the IRA was based would eventually require a tactical reappraisal. This would take time. As Adams put it, “National self-determination is the democratic option which the British government refuse, at present, to contemplate. They will only concede it when their room to manoeuvre is narrowed down to that democratic option.”[4]

There were serious worries within the republican rank and file that any cessation of the war would only weaken the movement. “If the IRA called a halt to its operations, there would no longer be an Read the rest of this entry

Shinners sink to new depths. . . or just the same oul’ shite

McGuinness and Britain's chief 6-County cop George Hamilton

McGuinness and Britain’s chief 6-County cop George Hamilton

by Philip Ferguson

On the night of August 6, as part of Feile an Phobal, the West Belfast Community Festival, Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness shared a platform, and a warm handshake, with the head of the British state’s police in the six counties, George Hamilton.

Hamilton has obviously been well-schooled in the language of political correctness that they teach in police forces across the western capitalist world these days.  Thus, he said things like “Just because I am the chief constable does not mean that I am not prepared to accept that there were serious problems in policing in the past, I do.”

McGuinness and the British 'queen'

McGuinness and the British ‘queen’

And, “Fear does not make peace – courage, optimism, belief is where peace is made. . .

“I think we need to be brave and courageous, easy words to say. I think we need to believe in our ability to continue to build a safe, confident, peaceful society together.

“To do so we have to face our fears, to go beyond our comfort zones, to be selfless, to be generous, to be gracious, to be ready to listen to each other and to have challenging and respectful conversations.”

McGuinness and Ian Paisley

McGuinness and Ian Paisley

McGuinness meanwhile has exchanged the language of militant republicanism for the language of Read the rest of this entry

Who’s making nice with what?

Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley

Paisley to McGuinness: we won, you lost


Martin McGuinness make nice with British 'queen' in occupied six counties, 2012

Martin McGuinness makes nice with British ‘queen’ in occupied six counties, 2012

Martin McGuinness meeting his pal the British 'queen' at Windsor Castle in April 2014; he also took part in a toast to her at the banquet

Martin McGuinness meeting his pal the British ‘queen’ at Windsor Castle in April 2014; he also took part in a toast to her at the banquet

Gerry Adams makes nice with British 'prince' Charles, May 2015

Gerry Adams makes nice with British ‘prince’ Charles, May 2015

The ‘Socialist Party’ and the screws

I don’t usually bother commenting here on the gas-and-water socialists because I figure anyone serious about revolutionary politics, which are of necessity anti-imperialist, isn’t much interested in them or doesn’t have illusions in them.  However, the statement by the Republican Network for Unity (see below) raises an especially serious issue in relation to the Socialist Party of England and Wales (SPEW) and its relationship with screws.  This also casts a shadow over the Irish SP.

SPEW is the present-day manifestation of the old ‘Militant Tendency’ which spent decades deep in the British Labour Party and developed a weird amalgam of Fabianism and archeo-Trotskyism.  Although it initially opposed the entry of British troops into the north in 1969, it soon dumped that position and in the following decades went along with the British occupation.  In 1981 it not only opposed the demands of the hunger strikers but within the British trade unions and the Labour Party it staunchly opposed the adoption of any motions in support of the hunger strikers.  Having scabbed on the hunger strikes, it then went along with Thatcher’s war in the South Atlantic in 1982.  While most of the British left, even many of the Labour ‘lefts’, called for the withdrawal of the British fleet steaming down to the Malvinas/Falklands, these folks totally opposed that demand and called instead for the unionisation of the British imperialist forces.

SPEW’s involvement in the POA, then, isn’t an aberration; it’s part-and-parcel of decades of practice.  And, as a mate of mine said to me in July of the SP in Ireland, “they’re not revolutionary; they’re pink Unionists”.  Will they distance themselves from SPEW in relation to the POA?  Well, if they had an ounce of revolutionary spirit they would.  But don’t hold your breath.

N+Ireland+News+8-1RNU statement:

RNU have been made aware of the latest twist in the joint campaign by the Maghaberry Prison Administration and the Loyalist ‘Prison Officers Association’ to degrade and break the resolve of Republican prisoners in Roe 3 and Roe 4 of the Gaol. We understand that in the past few days, a regime of particularly strict controlled movement has been introduced onto both landings on Roe House using a ‘staff/prisoner ratio system’ in which the numbers of prisoners allowed out of their cells at any one time is limited depending on staff levels and quoting a fake risk assessment levels as an excuse.

The primary objective of this tactic is to deny prisoners access to fresh air, exercise and shower facilities; it is most commonly used during periods of particularly hot weather when cells turn into virtual sweat boxes.

The tactic has been used many times in the past ten years since the establishment of the Maghaberry Republican wing and is the brainchild of leading figures within the ‘Prison Officers Association’, which claims to represent the interests of Screws in the Six Counties, England and Scotland.

The ‘POA’ objected vehemently to the establishment of Roe House as a Republican wing due to the overtly Unionist political persuasion of its membership and indeed it organised a walk-out of staff when segregation was achieved by the Republican ‘No wash/Dirty’ protest in September 2003.

Since then the ‘POA’ have been central to creating tactics aimed at degrading and severely restricting the lives of Republican Prisoners. On a monthly basis POA-directed screws led by Finlay Spratt sought to create and exploit Read the rest of this entry