Category Archives: Unionism, loyalism, sectarianism

After the Stormont election: the way forward

by John McAnulty

The common assertion arising from the latest election in the North of Ireland is that Sinn Fein now has the upper hand. That reform of the local settlement is now inevitable and Gerry Adams has gone so far as to assert that a united Ireland is now back on the agenda.

However the loss of the overall unionist majority is largely a profound psychological shock rather than a practical issue. The seats are:

DUP SF  SDLP  UUP ALLIANCE OTHER
(inc 2 Green, 1PBP) 
28  27  12  10 8 5

 

So The DUP remains the largest party and would nominate the first minister. The loss of the overall majority relies on the dubious idea that Alliance is not a unionist party – they have in the past designated themselves as unionist to save the assembly and until recently fulfilled a role as lynch pin for the sectarian setup by holding the justice ministry position.

In addition in the coming negotiations Sinn Fein will be facing the British government. They themselves have complained that the pro-unionist positions of the British secretary, James Brokenshire, should make him unsuitable as chair.  They will also be appealing to a Dublin government hostile to Sinn Fein that acts as an agent of reaction in both parts of the Island. 

The settlement in Ireland is not designed to lead to a united Ireland and the issue depends entirely on gaining permission from Britain to hold a vote restricted to the six-county area – permission that will not be forthcoming.  Read the rest of this entry

Martin McGuinness: a political obituary

by John McAnultydownload

Many commentating on Martin McGuinness’s retirement as a public representative for Sinn Fein will not be able to resist the cliché of his journey from IRA commander to central architect of the local peace process. Fewer will draw on the metaphor of his present state of ill health and the parlous state of the settlement that was to be his legacy.

My own clearest recollection of Martin is during the attack by loyalist imagesMichael Stone on the funeral of Sean Savage (in 1988 – PF), assassinated by the SAS in Gibraltar. Two grenades exploded at my back and a mourner beside me was shot in the leg. As I retreated with other members of my family I saw Martin and a group of unarmed young men rush past me towards Stone and drive him back.

McGuinness is an extremely brave and determined man. These qualities mean that he will pursue a strategy to its Read the rest of this entry

Very good Suzanne Breen article on Stormont

Very good piece in the Belfast Telegraph on Tuesday by Suzanne Breen on the demise of Stormont.  It’s rightly headed “Such is the cynicism, most couldn’t care less if lights never go back on at Stormont”: see here.

Willie Gallagher on 40th anniversary of IRSP

This is actually two years old, but I only just came across it.  It is a talk given by Willie Gallagher to the 2014 Irish Republican Socialist Party ard fheis in October 2014.

 

wullie gComrades,

the difficulty I had when first asked to give this presentation was ‘how do I condense 40yrs of our history into a 10 to 15 minute presentation. A definitive and detailed account would take many months, if not years, of research as well as interviewing scores of past activists. The following account is my no means definitive and of course is subject to criticism given the fact that it is laced with my own personal opinion and interpretation.

Even though this year is the 40th anniversary of our birth the Irish Republican Socialist Party can trace its roots back to James Connolly and the Irish Citizens Army.

After the border campaign in the 1950s, serious debate took place within the Republican Movement about how exactly it could become more relevant to the everyday needs of the people in an Ireland vastly different from the times of Connolly and the ICA.

The Republican Movement after the unsuccessful border campaign was not ideologically united and consisted of Read the rest of this entry

David Reed’s 1988 review of Republican POWs’ Questions of History

 

downloadby David Reed

The defeat of the hunger strike in 1981 was a severe setback for the Republican Movement. While initially, in the wake of the heroic sacrifice of the prisoners, certain political gains were made especially on the electoral front, the last few years have not seen any significant political advances by the revolutionary forces in Ireland.

The greater emphasis on electoral work and the decision to reject abstentionism in elections to the Dail has not led to the gains clearly expected. The work around ‘economic and social’ issues has not yet produced any substantial results. The revolutionary forces in Ireland have been unable to halt the growing collaboration between British imperialism and the puppet governments in the Twenty Six Counties. Finally, on the military level, the stalemate which has existed for some time between the IRA and the British and loyalist security forces remains.

Inevitably in such a period every revolutionary movement is forced to reassess and rethink its strategy if the impasse is to be broken. The Republican Movement is no exception. It is in this context that we should welcome Questions of History written by Irish Republican Prisoners of War and produced by the Education Department of Sinn Fein ‘for the purpose of promoting political discussion’. Part I has so far been made available and covers the period from Wolfe Tone to the Republican Congress (1934).

The book is a valuable historical document which uses the history of the Republican struggle as a vehicle for raising crucial Read the rest of this entry

IRSP challenge British capitalist Labour Party’s attempts to organise in occupied Ireland

The article below appeared on the IRSP site on October 2:

Paid activists of the British Labour party (joined by supporters in the pacifist Belfast left) today attempted to use the guise of an anti-Tory austerity protest to promote efforts to organise electorally in the six counties, an intention which flies in the face of basic Socialist doctrine and traditional Labour claims to be ‘Anti-Imperialist’.capture-pngddewSporting a banner proclaiming ‘Ireland did not vote for Tory cuts / break the connection with England’ IRSP activists distributed leaflets to all those in attendance, focusing on the traditional Socialist aspiration of Irish independence and encouraging the Belfast left to return to the cause of National Liberation as espoused by Marx, Lenin and James Connolly.

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British Labour Party banner at City Hall

In recent months British Labour activists have been hosting meetings across the six counties aimed at building support for standing candidates in occupied Ireland; they have been supported in their efforts by the self styled ‘Socialist party’ formerly ‘Millitant Labour’ a dissident Labour party splinter group who effectively support the partition of Ireland and stronger links with the British left as a safe alternative to traditional Marxist aspirations towards Irish Freedom.

IRSP hand out leaflets to the pacifist left, urging them to adopt the socialist position

IRSP hand out leaflets to the pacifist left, urging them to adopt the socialist position

At a gathering at Belfast city hall, the IRSP in a civilised fashion gathered alongside the Labour activists with a view to offering the traditional Republican Socialist message, reminding them that Ireland was a subjected nation which has never had a chance to vote either for or against Tory cuts and promoting the wider cause of Irish independence as the principled socialist response to the continued economic and political oppression of our people.

Paid New Labour workers refused to speak to IRSPers

Paid New Labour workers refused to speak to IRSPers

The IRSP attempted to engage those in attendance in debate on the importance of the issue and while some younger members of the Socialist Party admirably agreed to do so, the full time Labour workers refused, appearing un-confident in their purpose and showing physical distain when told that they were speaking to the IRSP.

capture-pngffeww The Irish Republican Socialist Party holds to the traditional Labour principle of full Irish independence and anti-imperialism and promises that any attempts to dilute that principle under a false flag of Socialism will be challenged and exposed.

The leaflet urging those in attendance to return to the Socialist position.

The leaflet urging those in attendance to return to the Socialist position.

History it ain’t – the attempt to stitch up Cork IRA of independence war as ‘sectarian’

The following is a letter sent to the Sunday Times in Dublin on October 13:

Sir,

There appears to be a small-scale effort to undermine the UCC project attempting to document those executed by the IRA during the War of Independence. Kevin Myers, Tom Carew  (both 2 October) and now Gerard Murphy (9 October) have had a go. Murphy in particular questions the professional standards applied. UCC historian Andy Bielenberg answered convincingly on the project’s behalf last week, 9 October.

Given the standards applied in Murphy’s much-panned The Year of Disappearances (2010), his allegation is surprising. To give one example: in chapter 50 (of 58) Murphy alleged that six unnamed, untraceable, though, paradoxically, ‘well known and prominent’, Cork Protestants were disappeared by the IRA on St Patrick’s Day, 1922. No hard evidence was advanced. Instead the Peter Hart-inspired author cited Cork Protestants in business soon afterwards condemning attacks on Catholics in Northern Ireland, and ‘deny[ing] that they have been subject to any form of oppression or injustice by their Catholic fellow citizens’. Murphy then speculatively observed, ‘for southern Protestants in general, suppression was the price of survival’. To borrow a phrase from Professor Paul Bew in another context, ‘history it ain’t’.

Murphy’s research was not reliable. He should refrain from throwing stones at others.

Yours etc.,

Niall Meehan

 

Remembering Tony Catney

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Workers and the way forward: a socialist-republican perspective

In order to get real action, the workers will need to act for themselves not rely on ICTU leadership

by Philip Ferguson

It seems a long time now since trade union members in the south of Ireland voted to reject Croke Park 11, a deal promoted by leaders of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions in partnership with the Fine Gael/Labour coalition government in Dublin.  The current coalition, like the Fianna Fail/Green coalition that preceded it, has sought to make southern Irish workers pay for the financial crisis of Irish banks and the meltdown of the so-called ‘Celtic Tiger’ economy.

For several decades the bulk of the union leadership has pushed tripartite deals with the bosses and the state, a ‘partnership’ model which has been held up by union leaderships as far afield as New Zealand as worth emulating.  But these tripartite deals did not deliver to workers even during the ‘good times’ of the ‘boom’ periods in the 1990s and early 2000s.  Now the boom has turned to bust the partnership model has simply locked unions into accepting responsibility for the financial crisis and agreeing to the austerity measures demanded by the Troika.

Rhetoric v resistance

The leadership of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions has engaged in some token rhetoric about ‘sharing the  burden’ of the crisis and they have marched workers up and down the hill and then sent them home a couple of times.  But, in general, they have acted as faithful lieutenants of the state and capital, serving more to Read the rest of this entry

Don’t mention the north!!! Actually, mention it as much as you can!

10262227_1152202581458824_9135873135625383263_nThis year being the centenary of the 1916 Rising there is a certain amount of discussion of what the 26-county state looks like.  Many commentators have pointed out that it falls far short of the vision of the 1916 leaders in terms of equality.

What isn’t discussed much, however, is that it also falls far short in terms of population and territory.  Indeed, one thing that seems off the discussion table is ‘the north’.

It’s safe enough to talk about socio-economic inequality in the south, but the carving out of part of Ireland and its continuing occupation by the British state, including British troops, is to be avoided in ‘polite’ society.  We are simply supposed to forget that Ireland is all 32 counties, all of all four provinces and that you can’t build socialism in a neo-colony.

Let’s bring the north into the discussion.  And not as an add-on, but as a central talking point.  As Connolly noted when partition was being mooted before WW1, such an outcome would be the worst possible option as it would put the most reactionary forces in power on both sides of the border and create a ‘carnival of reaction’.  Connolly also suggested that labour in the north should resist partition, by arms if necessary.

Today, the connection between partition and the abysmal nature of the political and economic realities in the six- and twenty-six county states has been Read the rest of this entry