Category Archives: Unionism, loyalism, sectarianism
To mark the 50th anniversary of the civil rights movement in the six counties last year, Blindboy Boatclub of the Rubber Bandits hosted a podcast at Ulster Hall in Belfast on October 6th 2018. He interviewed veteran Irish revolutionary Bernadette (Devlin) McAliskey in front of a packed room. The podcast is over two hours long. In this part he poke to her about the loyalist attempt to assassinate her and her husband Michael on January 16, 1981. At the time, Bernadette was a key figure organising support for republicans being held in British prisons, including the blanket protest, the dirty protest, and the 1980 hunger strike. At the time of the attempt on her life, a new hunger strike was in the air – this was the famous hunger strike of that era, with ten prisoners’ deaths. The entire interview will be published on The Transcripts.
Blindboy: When we were backstage I was asking you about, we were discussing the nature of trauma and I was asking would it be okay if I asked you about the time you had an assassination attempt. And you said: Yes, that would be okay.
Bernadette: Uh-huh. Yep. That’s okay. That’s okay. Yeah.
Blindboy: Can we talk about that?
Bernadette: Yes, we can talk about that.
Blindboy: So – what was it like being shot nine times?
Bernadette: It was interesting. It was interesting. And it’s funny that I can talk about that much more easily than I can talk about that memory, you know, that memory of Bloody Sunday is more traumatic for me than the time that I was shot. And I think it was because, you know, as we were saying, it’s because I didn’t see Bloody Sunday coming. I didn’t see the 5th of October coming.
But by the time people came to our house and kicked the door in and held my two daughters, one at that time four and the other nine, at gunpoint while their parents were shot I knew they were Read the rest of this entry
“The magistrate in his summing up said that he had no doubt whatsoever that I was politically involved. This should stand to my benefit at a later stage and should really nail the lie that I’m a gangster, a criminal”. – Frank Keane, Brixton jail, 14th August, 1970.
Frank Keane, who is now over eighty years of age, was born on May 8, 1936 in Peter Street, Westport, Co. Mayo. He was once regarded as a dangerous political opponent by the Irish establishment.
Frank was the eldest of three brothers and a sister and was educated at the local Christian Brothers School. In 1952 he moved with his family to North Road, Finglas in Dublin. The following year he joined the Jackie Griffith Sinn Fein Cumann. (The cumann was name after a republican activist shot dead by the Free State special branch in Dublin on 4 July 1943.)
Frank volunteered for active service during Operation Harvest, the IRA 1950s border campaign. With training/recruitment officers interned or on the run, he enlisted in the Read the rest of this entry
The following article is from the July-August 1981 issue of the next step, a Marxist review published in Britain from the late 1970s to the early 1990s. It was put out by the Revolutionary Communist Party, who were the force behind first the Smash the Prevention of Terrorism Act Campaign and then the Irish Freedom Movement. I’ve added the word ‘British’ in a few places to make clear it is the BLP and not the (equally awful) Irish ones the article is about. Although it irks me that the Dublin regime is referred to as “the Republic” I have left the term as is, because that is how it was written in the original article.
by Dave Douglas
“Your Labour Party is the subject of jest in Ireland. You sent us a deputation, and one of its members was a member of the Government which shot Connolly, and all of them have been and are still silent on Larkin’s exile. Our memories are long: is it any wonder they are bitter? In a few days your Parliament will vote on the Military appropriations. Will your Labour Party oppose them, or will they vote payment for a military occupation of Irelan? Of what use is their hypocritical sympathy for us, their acts give the lie to their words.”
- Eamon Macalpine, “Open Letter to the British Workers”, in the Sheffield Worker, April 1920, quoted in Bill Moore, How we stopped the war against Russia but failed to free Ireland, Sheffield, Holberry Society, 1981.
A few days after the British Labour Party’s ‘Northern Ireland’ study group agreed that the party should accept a commitment to Irish unity, an overwhelming majority of Labour MPs voted for the renewal of Read the rest of this entry
Alan MacSimoin 1957-2018 was a long-time anarchist activist and a founder member of the Workers Solidarity Movement.
MacSimoin joined the Official Republican Movement (Official Sinn Fein) as a young man in the 1970s. He was involved in the Murray Defence Committee in 1976-77 to stop the state execution of anarchists Noel and Marie Murray for the killing of a member of the police.
He was also involved with the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement’s boycott of South African goods in Ireland and the Irish Anti-Nuclear Movement that stopped the building of nuclear power stations around the coast of Ireland in the 1970s.
Below is an interview my friend Mick Healy did with him a year or two back and has passed on to me . . .
Last week I watched a video of a public meeting at the CP’s Dublin headquarters marking the 50th anniversary of the explosion of the civil rights movement onto the streets of Derry and the wider six counties. One of the speakers was Tommy McKearney, someone whom I respect a great deal. To my unpleasant surprise, however, Tommy wheeled out the old Stickies and CP attacks on “ultralefts” going destructively ahead with activities which unnecessarily provoked violent clashes instead of listening to the advice of more seasoned folk like Betty Sinclair.
It’s hard to know where to start in responding to this, so I’m linking to two articles on the People’s Democracy organisation, the civil rights movement and Burntollet. One is by Matt Collins, from SWN/People Before Profit looking back on the events as a Marxist today and the other is by John McAnulty, a veteran of PD and the movement back then and an active Marxist still. John agrees with much in the Matt Collins article, which defends PD, while also noting a few things Matt got wrong.
Before linking to these, I just want to say something about Betty Sinclair and the question of ‘experience’. Tommy is dead wrong to say Bernadette Devlin, Michael Farrell, John McAnulty and the “ultralefts” should have Read the rest of this entry
The following letter appeared in the October 26 issue of the Belfast-based Irish News. Bernard Fox spent decades in the Irish Republican Army, including a stint on the Army Council, the IRA’s seven-person central leadership. He came to oppose the direction the Adams-McGuinness cabal took as they decided to become part of the political establishment across the island.
I commend The Irish News coverage of the emergence of the civil rights association and the events surrounding the Duke Street march 50 years ago. Leona O’Neill’s column (October 9) about her brave father’s involvement and decisions made then were made in response to what he experienced on the ground. However, at that time there were no easy decisions to make.
I was a 17-year-old in 1969 living in the St James’s area off the Falls Road. My interests were sport, the Beatles and girls. I was serving an apprenticeship in an engineering firm where I had many Read the rest of this entry