Category Archives: Women

Protest Poem

Over 750,000 people are currently living in poverty in the South; the total population in the South is about 4.8 million

 

The poem below was read by its writer, Valerie Bryce, at the open mic night at The Cottage Bar in Letterkenny, on January 28.

 

PROTEST POEM

‘There but for the grace of God’, they say
‘Did you see on the news the aul woman in Dublin
Eating left over chips from a windowsill
And her living rough on the street and worse still
She’d dementia
God love her ‘tis awful, isn’t it?’.

‘It’s a national scandal’, they say
‘Having hundreds of patients waiting on trolleys
Sometimes for days
Pyjamas and drips all on public display
‘Tis inhumane’.

‘We’ve a right to the truth’ they’ll protest
When billions of public funds remain unaccounted for
And there’s no arrests
When facts about institutional abuse are withheld
To keep us in the dark and that tongues cannot tell
Of the manner in which Church and State are complicit
In protecting abusers
Making victims lives hell.

It’s a sure sign of madness, I say
To repeat the same thing again and again
Expecting a Read the rest of this entry

The blinding of Emma Groves – front cover of ‘Socialist Woman’, March-April 1972

I met Emma Groves back in the early 1990s, or possibly very end of the 1980s, as she came to Dublin to help support the campaign against extradition.  The story of her blinding by a British soldier, who deliberately shot her in the face at point-blank range with a rubber bullet, shocked people in Dublin and elsewhere in the south.  Many southerners were simply unaware of the harsh realities of daily life as experienced by northern nationalist working class people. 

This morning I was looking at a copy of a British left-wing women’s liberation journal from the early 1970s, Socialist Woman, and saw it had a short item on Mrs Groves’ blinding on the front cover of its March-April 1972 issue.  Here is the item:

Emma Groves, of Anderstonstown, Belfast lost the sight of both her eyes when a paratrooper fired a rubber bullet into her face at point-blank range.

The incident occurred on the morning of 4th November (1971 – PF) when yet another military search was taking place in her area.  One group of soldiers had completed their work and left, and then the paras moved in.

Mrs Groves opened her window.  She was told by a para to Read the rest of this entry

The Democratic Programme – as Gaeilge and in English

January 21 marks the 101st anniversary of the adoption of the Democratic Programme by the First Dail, the revolutionary Dail.  The Programme was not so much a specific programme of work for the Dail, which was soon driven underground by British state repression, as an indicator of where the revolutionary government and parliament was going – working towards a more equitable society where the rights of the masses came ahead of the interests of capital.

For the background, see the following:

Republicanism and the national independence struggle, 1916-1921

The working class and the national struggle, 1916-1921

Women’s rights and the national struggle, 1916-1922

Below is the text in both Irish and English.

First meeting of the First Dail, January 21, 1919.

Dearbhuighimíd, i mbriathraibh for-fhógra Saorstáit Éireann go bhfuil sé de cheart ag muinntir na hÉireann sealbh na hÉireann do bheith aca agus cinneamhain an náisiúin do bheith fé n-a riar, agus nách féidir an ceart san do bhaint díobh; agus fébh mar dubhairt ár gceud Uachtarán Pádraig Mac Phiarais, dearbhuighimíd gur ceart go mbeadh, ní amháin fir agus mná na hÉireann, acht adhbhar maoine na hÉireann fé riaradh an náisiúin, idir talamh agus gustal na hÉireann, gach Read the rest of this entry

Máirín Keegan commemoration, 1997

Commemoration in 1997, marking the 25th anniversary of the death of Irish revolutionary fighter Máirín Keegan.  Frank Keane is the main speaker.

In Review: Jeffrey Leddin’s “The ‘Labour Hercules’: The Irish Citizen Army and Irish Republicanism, 1913-23”

by Daniel Murray

“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.

SPI leaflet against 1911 Royal Visit

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.”

Fellow-Workers,

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

March with the Éirígí contingent on this Saturday’s March for Choice, Dublin

This Saturday (September 28) sees the first major right to abortion protest since abortion became legal in the south of Ireland.  The march is about ensuring that, in the words of the official advertising for it, “no one gets left behind when it comes to reproductive health care.”

I urge blog readers planning to attend to march with the Éirígí contingent.  Éirígí was extremely active in the referendum campaign, championing women’s right to choose.  At the same time, Éirígí recognises the crucial links between women’s liberation, workers’ liberation and the national liberation of Ireland.

The Éirígí contingent will be gathering outside the Mandate Trade Union Office on Cavendish Row, next to the Garden of Remembrance, at 1.15pm.  The march heads off at 2pm.

Please try to bring friends, family and comrades to join us on the day.

“What did it feel like to be shot?” Interview with Bernadette by Blindboy Boatclub

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

Joanne Pender not standing again in Kildare

by Mick Healy

“If we have learned anything from recent progressive changes in Irish society with the Repeal movement and the Water Charges campaigns is that it is through struggle, constructive participation and direct action that change really happens.”         
– Joanne Pender, February 2019.

During the people’s resistance against injustice in the North of Ireland, it was said that ordinary people did extraordinary things.  This could be said of socialist Joanne Pender, originally from the Curragh Camp but now living in Kildare Town with her husband and two children.

In February 2012, hundreds of people packed into the Hotel Keadeen in Newbridge for a meeting organised by the Anti-Household Charge Campaign.  The attendance included Joanne, who had never before considered Read the rest of this entry

Film Review: I Dolours

We asked former H-Block prisoner and blanketman Dixie Elliott for a review of this movie.  Dixie suggested we use something he had written that appeared on The Pensive Quill; so this is it with some slight editing to fit this site.

I Dolours, 2018, directed by Maurice Sweeney; produced by Ed Moloney; 82 mins.

by Dixie Elliott

I Dolours is a film about a committed and brave IRA Volunteer telling her own harrowing story.  What struck me was the haunted eyes of someone who, like her sister Marian, carried out orders without question and who did terrible things in the belief that what they were doing was right.  Who remained seated when asked to go and bomb England while others got up and walked out of the room, unable to do it.  Dolours couldn’t understand why they didn’t want to go as she wanted to take the war to the Brits’ door.

The Brits were waiting on them, she told us, and when asked if she believed there was an informer, she said “yes” without hesitation – in Belfast.

The actor who portrayed Dolours as a young IRA Volunteer is so like the older woman it’s uncanny, especially the eyes.

Dolours spoke about her staunchly Republican parents, her father who had bombed England in his youth, her aunt who lived with them and who had lost both hands and eyes in Read the rest of this entry