Category Archives: Workers rights

95th anniversary of execution of Rory O’Connor, Joe McKelvey, Dick Barrett and Liam Mellows

December 8 marked the 95th anniversary of the execution without trial of left-republicans Liam Mellows (1895-1922), Rory O’Connor (1883-1922), Joe McKelvey (1898-1922) and Dick Barrett (1889-1922).  The four had been taken prisoner after the surrender of the anti-Treaty forces in the Four Courts in Dublin on June 30.

In the ten months of the civil war the Free State would murder in cold blood more republicans than the British had in the almost three years of the war for independence (aka the Tan War).

 

Further reading (three chapters from my old MA thesis, written in 1995 and the first few months of 1996):

From Truce to Treaty: the pan-nationalist front divides

Civil war, counter-revolution and the consolidation of the Free State

Winners and Losers in an Unfree State

 

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Dublin launch of ‘History of Irish Working Class Writing’

Dear all,

A History of Irish Working-Class Writing, published by Cambridge University Press, will be launched on Friday 24 November, at 6pm, in Griffith College, Dublin. The special launch price at the venue will be €30.

I’d be really grateful if you could circulate this to contacts who may be interested in the volume, and do drop in for a glass of wine and a chat if you’re around Dublin on Friday evening.

Best wishes,
Michael

__
Dr Michael Pierse
Lecturer in Irish Literature
Queen’s University
Belfast
BT7 1NN

Link: https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/history-of-irish-workingclass-writing/408F6C590994812D02F7FBBF2EB9D75E

Statements from prisoners in 26-county state and six-county state to Saoradh ard fheis, November 18

Statement From Portlaoise Republican Prisoners, read by Ger Devereux

We the Republican Prisoners incarcerated in E3/E4 Portlaoise Gaol send solidarity greetings to our Revolutionary comrades in attendance today, and Revolutionary Socialist activists internationally, engaged in their numerous campaigns. We particularly applaud the unilateral declaration of independence by the Catalan parliament, but as the Catalonian people have now witnessed, colonial powers will never relinquish their illegal occupation voluntarily. History has thought us that it is not sufficient to affirm your independence through symbolic declarations or demonstrations- you must be prepared to defend them.

We would also like to commend our imprisoned comrades in Maghaberry Gaol for their continued resolve and discipline in the face of a sectarian aggressor. The oppressive measures being implemented against our comrades needs to be highlighted, but more worrying of late are the increased physical attacks occurring on a weekly base. As a small token of solidarity with our comrades, the Republican Prisoners in Portlaoise will embark on a 72 hour fast commencing this week, to highlight the ongoing sectarian attacks that they face.

Like all emerging Revolutionary organisations we have had our teething problems, but the party’s emphasis on principles rather than Read the rest of this entry

The 1932 Belfast Outdoor Relief riots and lessons for today

Seán Mitchell, Struggle or Starve: Working-Class Unity in Belfast’s 1932 Outdoor Relief Riots, Chicago, Haymarket Books, 2017

Does intense class conflict with bosses, cops and government necessarily lead workers to draw radical conclusions asks Barney Cassidy? To put the question another way, does struggle mean that the working class becomes conscious of what is in its own best interests?

In 1922 striking miners defending their jobs in the South African town of Witwatersand fought gun battles in the streets killing about 70 troops. The political conclusion those white workers drew from their experiences was that they needed a Nationalist-Labour Pact with the Afrikaaner Nationalist Party. This was despite the involvement of the newly founded Communist Party of South Africa in the struggle. Even intense and bloody class conflict is no guarantee that the working class will necessarily act in its own best interests.

That’s a lesson it’s worth holding in mind when reflecting on politics in the north of Ireland.

Seán Mitchell, a member of Read the rest of this entry

Public housing for all protest, Dublin, Monday, November 6, 5.30-7pm, City Hall

At the launching of Campaign for Public Housing

PROTEST! Monday, November 6 at 5:30pm-7pm, City Hall. Bígí Linn. 

Dublin City Council own 120 hectares of land – enough to build 12,000 homes. There are 20,000 people on Dublin’s housing waiting lists, and many more average income households who will never be able to afford private rent or mortgage. So why are we allowing private developers to make money off our land? Our city councillors CAN solve the housing crisis – by building mixed income public housing for all on public land. 

Campaign members Cllr. Éilis Ryan and Cllr Cieran Perry are putting a motion before Dublin City Council’s November meeting calling for a halt to ALL use of public land for private, for-profit housing. 

We are calling on all city councillors to support the motion to end the use of public land for private housing, and to support mixed income public housing on public land.

In review: UVF – behind the mask

I agree with most of this review.  And the review is well worth reading and thinking about, which is why I’ve reblogged it.  However, it also has a problem.  Mike M notes that whenever catholic and protestant workers have united, the protestant establishment has played the Orange card, and this has always succeeded in getting the protestant workers to split and line up again behind their exploiters.  Very true.  Yet, at the end of the review, what does Mike suggest? 

Well, he suggests protestant and catholic workers unting on economic issues!  The reason is that the political tendency Mike identifies with has never understood the importance of the national question.  At least, unlike the CWI followers in Ireland, they recognise that there is a national question; but they fail to integrate it into the reasons for the divisions in the working class in the north-east. 

So Mike falls back into suggesting as a road forward something he has already identified as failing!  Moreover, as Seamus Costello noted way back in the 1970s, you can’t trick the protestant working class into a false unity by ignoring the national question; they’re not stupid.  You have to be honest with them on the national question.  Instead of adopting a partitionist view which focuses on uniting wage-workers in the six counties across the sectarian divide, by ignoring the national question, it is necessary to counterpose the solving together of the national and class questions through uniting the mass of the Irish working class on an all-island basis.  This points to an all-Ireland workers’ republic in which the protestant workers would be free, instead of being the alienated tools of imperialism. – P.F.

Aaron Edwards, UVF: Behind the Mask, Dublin, Merrion Press, 2017, £14.99; reviewed by Mike Milotte.

UVF: Behind the Mask is a vast if somewhat episodic account of the killings, feuds and internal factionalism of the loyalist paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force written by a lecturer at Sandhurst, the British Army’s officer training college. It would barely merit mention in this journal* were it not for its underlying, yet never fully argued thesis that Ulster loyalism is a genuine expression of Protestant working class discontent, while the violent conflict in Northern Ireland in which the UVF played such a significant part, was an “ethnic civil war”.

The author, Aaron Edwards, comes from an area of Belfast where the UVF was particularly active. During the “peace process” he befriended several leading UVF figures, one of whom persuaded him to write this book. While he rejects UVF violence, the book itself is permeated with a sense of Edwards’ high opinion of some of its worst perpetrators.

Socialists or pro-imperialists?

Edwards expresses sympathy for the views of former UVF men who have declared themselves to be socialists, but his key formulations are clearly at odds with the view of most left-wing activists and writers for whom working class loyalism is a form of Read the rest of this entry

From the IRA to Saor Eire: Remembering socialist-republican Liam Walsh

Liam Walsh’s funeral cortege, Dublin, October 1970

 

by Mick Healy

Liam Pearse Walsh, who was born in Dublin in 1933, was totally committed to whatever he did: to his trade as a fitter-welder or the Socialist Republican struggle.  He was fiercely loyal to those around him: his comrades, family and especially his four young daughters.

Recruited into the Irish Republican Army by Liam Sutcliffe in 1954, Liam Walsh was active in Operation Harvest, the IRA border campaign of 1956-1962, eventually becoming the Commanding Officer of the South Dublin Unit of the IRA.

In 1957, he was interned without trial in 1957 in the Curragh Internment Camp in Co. Kildare.  His girlfriend, Jacqueline Barry, and his father, Joseph,visited him and brought food parcels and cigarettes.

Shortly after they were married in 1960, Liam and Jacqueline, like many of their generation, Read the rest of this entry

Where, oh where, is our James Connolly?

by Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh

“There is always some excuse ready for evasion. The difficulty is, that every party likes some part of the truth; no party likes it all; but we must have it all, every line of it. We want no popular editions and no philosophic selections—the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” —Terence MacSwiney, Principles of Freedom

SIPTU’s Head of Research publicly announced in 2001 that the union would be sponsoring “the publication in several volumes of all Connolly’s articles and letters”, which would “at last enable us to appreciate Connolly’s own originality and greatness to the full”.1 I happened to be sitting next to him on the platform, and in my own contribution I welcomed the announcement but hoped people wouldn’t take it as a signal to sit back and think all was now well in the world of publishing Connolly. I was aiming for that curious amalgam that goes under the name of ‘cautious optimism’, and probably came off as a moany old begrudger. In fact, I was guilty of being far too generous altogether.

Recovering Connolly

My presence on that platform was a result of the momentum that had been building up for five years previously. On the unveiling of a statue of Connolly in Dublin in 1996, I was allowed to point out in the programme that hundreds of his articles had never been made available since their original publication, and to republish the first Connolly work for twenty years.2 The year after, The Lost Writings was published, in which I assembled 65 articles of his unpublished since his execution. It never ceased to amaze me how many people were under the sincere impression up until then that all of Connolly’s work was available. The Collected Works title put on a reprint of previous Connolly selections in 1987-8 had been taken all too literally by many. Also in 1997 Red Banner began its ‘Hidden Connolly’ series, underlining that The Lost Writings wasn’t even the half of it.

A group including some prominent labour historians then tried to get an initiative off the ground which would assemble a team of researchers to publish all of Connolly’s works, an initiative which had the blessing of the Labour Party leader (dubious as that may be). But the SIPTU announcement cut the feet from under that. While ‘The Hidden Connolly’ continued to mine a seemingly inexhaustible seam, any impetus towards publishing Connolly’s complete writings was sucked into the Liberty Hall plughole.

The first fruit of SIPTU’s project appeared in 2005 in the shape of a Connolly biography by Dónal Nevin. It was a disappointing work, but promised Read the rest of this entry

1932 Open Letter from leadership of Irish Republican Army to men and women of the Orange Order

 

[This is the text as quoted by The Kerryman on 16th July 1932. It was published in An Phoblacht, the weekly newspaper of the Irish Republican Army, the same day.  It was largely written by Army Council member Peadar O’Donnell. Along with a covering letter from the IRA’s Adjutant-General, Donal O’Donoghue, the address to the Orange Order had been sent out to newspaper editors on July 8.  Most, even the Unionist Belfast Newsletter, published abridged versions as early as July 11, 1932. The formatting here is from The Kerryman version. The address was distributed as leaflets in Unionist districts of Belfast by IRA volunteers.]

AN ADDRESS FROM THE ARMY COUNCIL OF THE IRISH REPUBLICAN ARMY TO THE MEN AND WOMEN OF THE ORANGE ORDER (JULY 1932)

Fellow Countrymen and Women,

It is a long call from the ranks of the Irish Republican Army to the marching throngs that hold the 12th July Celebrations in North East Ulster. Across the space we have sometimes exchanged shots, or missiles or hard words, but never forgetting that on occasions our ancestors have stood shoulder to shoulder. Some day we will again exchange ideas and then the distance, which now separates us, will shorten. For we of the Irish Republican Army believe that inevitably the small farmers and wage-earners in the Six County area will make common cause with those of the rest of Ireland, for the common good of the mass of the people in a Free United Irish Republic. Such a conviction is forming itself in an ever increasing number of minds in North East Ulster.

The Irish Republican Army – within North East Ulster as well as in the rest of Ireland – believe that the mass of the Working-Farmers and Wage-earners must organise behind revolutionary leadership if they are to rescue themselves from a system within the few prosper and the many are impoverished.

It is our opinion, a conviction driven in on our mind by the facts of life around us, that capitalism and imperialism constitute a system of Read the rest of this entry

Stop The Vultures – Dundrum Demands Affordable Homes Now!

Rally: Saturday, August 19th, 2pm @ Dundrum Central Mental Hospital

Rents and house prices in the greater Dundrum area are out of control, pushing families into poverty and out of their own communities.

Developers, landlords and the banks are generating super-profits off the backs of ordinary families in Dundrum, Windy Arbour, Milltown, Churchtown, Nutgrove, Ballinteer, Sandyford and Goatstown.

The government are now attempting to hand over 800 plots of public land to the same vultures that created the current mess! The jewel in the crown of these sites is the 27 acres of lands currently occupied by the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum.

The government intend to Read the rest of this entry