Category Archives: Workers rights
Below is the speech delivered by Jim Lane at the commemoration for Seamus Costello on the 5th anniversary of his murder by the pro-Moscow ‘Official’ IRA. Jim was a member of the central leadership of the IRSP at the time, becoming its general secretary in 1983. The speech was delivered at Seamus’ graveside in Bray on October 3, 1982.
The original text had some very large paragraphs. I have broken these up, simply to make it easier to read. None of the text has been changed.
Special thanks to Mick Healy for passing the original text on to me and suggesting I put it up here.
Gathering beside the graves of our patriot dead is a long-established custom for Irish revolutionaries. In doing so, we honour our dead and seek strength and inspiration to help further the cause for which they struggled. Such strength and inspiration derives not alone in recalling the deeds of our dead patriots, but also in restating and clarifying our political philosophy, in terms of existing conditions. The deeds of our dead comrade, Séamus Costello, republican socialist and founder member of the Irish Republican Socialist Party are legion. This year in a fitting and timely tribute, such deeds have been recorded with the publication of a book by the Séamus Costello Memorial Committee. For an insight into the contribution that Séamus made to the revolutionary socialist struggle in Ireland, it is required reading, guaranteed to strengthen our resolve and provide inspiration. Therein can be found not alone an account of his life, achievements and writings, but an excellent collection of tributes from his friends and comrades. No words of mine spoken in tribute could match theirs.
Nora Connolly-O’Brien, recently deceased daughter of Irish socialist republican martyr James Connolly, considered him to be the greatest follower of her father’s teachings in this generation and hoped that his vision for Ireland would be realised in this generation.
For Tony Gregory, Séamus “personified more than any Irish man or woman, at least of our generation, the republican socialist – the revolutionary activist who organised and worked in tenant organisations, trade unions, housing action committees and cultural organisations.”
From the young men and women of the republican socialist movement, to whom he was friend and mentor, came the following tributes:
Gerry Roche – “Like Lenin, he was pragmatic in his tactics, and while recognising the corruption of the courts and parliament, he was quite prepared to use them as a platform while remaining totally inflexible in his politics.”
Seán Doyle – “Séamus Costello was a man of the people. He got his degree in working-class involvement, on the streets with his people, campaigning with them for justice.”
Niall Leonach – “He had an irrepressible dedication and energy to carry on with the struggle, to learn new lessons and to break new ground.”
Íte Ní Chionnaith – “Bhí a fhios aige in gcónai go raibh a bheatha i mbaol agus go mbeadh, an fhaí is a lean sé den obair a bhí ar bun aige ach níor lig sé dó sin cur as dó. Ba chailliúint gan áireamh é do phobal na tíre seo, thuaidh agus theas.”
And it was Miriam Daly, first chairperson of the Séamus Costello Memorial Committee and a member of the Ard-Chomhairle of the IRSP when Séamus was murdered, who highlighted the point that made him stand out as a republican socialist, when she said he never Read the rest of this entry →
Posted in 1981 hunger strike, 21st century republicanism and socialism, British state repression (general), British strategy, Commemorations, Economy and workers' resistance, Elections, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Imperialism (generally), Irish politics today, IRSP, James Connolly, national, Nora Connolly, Officials, Partition, Political education and theory, Public events - Ireland, Repression and resistance in 1970s and 1980s, Repression in 26-county state, Republicanism 1960s, Republicanism post-1900, Revolutionary figures, Seamus Costello, six counties, Social conditions, twenty-six counties, Workers rights
James Connolly (1868-1916) was a leading figure in socialist politics in Scotland, Ireland and the United States and a radical trade union leader in the USA and Ireland. In Dublin, he was one of the key leaders of the new Irish Transport and General Workers Union, through the massive Great Dublin Lockout of August 1913-February 1914. Later in 1914, Connolly became the leader of the workers’ militia, the Irish Citizen Army, that had been estaboished as a workers’ defence force in the lockout. Under the leadership of Connolly, Michael Mallin and Constance de Markievicz, the ICA was transformed into a revolutionary army.
He also wrote stirring songs of working class struggle.
In April 1916 the ICA and the republican Irish Volunteers launched an insurrection against British rule and declared an independent Irish Republic. After a week of fighting the rebels, under heavy British bombardment that was demolishing the centre of Dublin, were forced to surrender. Connolly and other leaders of the rebellion were tried by British court-martial and sentenced to death by firing squad. Connolly, who had gangrene as a result of a wound, couldn’t stand and was tied to a chair for his execution.
The Otago Socialist Society is hosting a talk on Connolly, not only to commemorate this great revolutionary working class leader but also to look at the continuing relevance of his ideas.
The speaker is a former activist in Sinn Fein in Dublin and a current member of Clann Eirigi. He will cover Connolly’s life; his perspectives on the working class and Irish national liberation; and his writings on revolutionary trade unionism.
Speaker: Dr Philip Ferguson
2pm, Saturday, June 2
Seminar Room, Third Floor,
Dunedin Central Public Library (Moray Place)
Posted in 1913 lockout, 21st century republicanism and socialism, Constance Markievicz, Economy and workers' resistance, Fenians, Fintan Lalor, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Irish Citizen Army, Irish politics today, James Connolly, Jim Larkin, Nora Connolly, Political education and theory, Public events - Australia and New Zealand, Republicanism post-1900, Revolutionary figures, Social conditions, The road to the Easter Rising, Trade unions, Unionism, loyalism, sectarianism, Women's rights, Workers rights
Thomas (Charlie) O’Neill was born in Drimnagh in Dublin on 20th December 1937 and was a dyer by trade. His family had fought with the United Irishman and the Fenians. He was a Socialist Republican with a sharp wit who loved classical music, the Irish Times, a glass of wine and, especially, his family.
As a young man, Charlie joined the Irish Republican Army where, with a large number of Dublin volunteers, he became involved with the breakaway Joe Christle group. In 1956 they joined forces with Liam Kelly’s organisation Saor Uladh in Co. Tyrone. Christle and Kelly were annoyed at the lack of action by the IRA, although the IRA leadership were actually putting together plans for Operation Harvest aka “the border campaign”.
Saor Uladh went on the offensive and attacked the RUC barracks in Roslea, Co. Fermanagh in 1955, custom post telephone exchanges, bridges, B-Special drill halls as well as demolishing lough gates at Newry. When the IRA began its own campaign in 1956, Saor Uladh was subsumed back into it.
With the failure of Operation Harvest, Charlie moved to Cork. He worked in a shoe factory there during the early 1960s and eventually bought a cottage in Crosshaven. He became good friends with many of the University College Cork socialists as well as Jim Lane and Gerry Higgins from Irish Revolutionary Forces. Charlie, Gerry and Jim attended an anti-Vietnam War protest, organised by the Cork Vietnamese Freedom Association, during the berthing of USS Courtyney in Cork harbour in 1967.
At this time Charlie also became good friends with the legendary Tom Barry who had commanded the IRA’s Third West Cork Flying Column during the Irish War of Independence, fought on the anti-Treaty side in the civil war and briefly became IRA chief-of-staff in 1937.
Upon his return to Dublin, Charlie was associated with the radical National Civil Liberties League. The NCLL agitated around industrial disputes and tenant and traveller rights. Later he became involved in the Saor Éire Action Group, a militant Marxist-republican group which included prominent former members of the IRA like Frank Keane and Liam Sutcliffe and Trotskyist activists associated with the Fourth International.
On October 3, 1968, shots were fired in a Read the rest of this entry →
Posted in 21st century republicanism and socialism, Anti-household and anti-water tax, Border Campaign/Operation Harvest, Commemorations, Democratic rights - general, Economy and workers' resistance, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Irish politics today, Partition, Prisoners - past, Repression and resistance in 1970s and 1980s, Repression in 26-county state, Republicanism 1960s, Republicanism post-1900, Revolutionary figures, Saor Eire, six counties, twenty-six counties, Workers rights
Protesting the activities of Turas Nua, Seetec and the Dept of Social Protection, in particular the way unemployed people are harassed and corraled into very low-paid work.
The protest is organised by the Dublin branch of United People. All welcome.
TRES BILLBOARDS FOR THE REPUBLIC: PRESENTED BY FRIENDS OF THE INTERNATIONAL BRIGADES IRELAND
A musical, artistic and historic celebration of Ireland’s International Brigaders with Jurama, a film about Charlie Donnelly, the Republican Congress veteran and poet.
We also present One Way or Another, a play on the life of Dinny Cody who was killed at La Rosas 1937, while historian James Durney will give a talk on the life of civil war hero Frank Conroy.
Finishing up the evening with music from the wonderful Sive.
Posted in 1913 lockout, 21st century republicanism and socialism, British state repression (general), Commemorations, Economy and workers' resistance, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Irish Citizen Army, Irish politics today, James Connolly, Political education and theory, Public events - Ireland, Republicanism post-1900, Revolutionary figures, The road to the Easter Rising, Trade unions, Unionism, loyalism, sectarianism, Women's rights, Workers rights
The article below is from the Irish revolutionary group Socialist Democracy, the successor current to the original radical student-based group People’s Democracy, which played a key role in the civil rights movement in the north of Ireland in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The Socialist Workers Party, one of the two main Trotskyist organisations in Ireland, has just dissolved as a party organisation. It is now just a ‘network’ which operates through, and rather bureaucratically controls, the People Before Profit Alliance, an electoralist and non-revolutionary formation.
On March 24th a meeting under the banner of “Remembering 1968: The Civil Rights Movement in Northern Ireland” was held as part of events organized by the Institute of Irish Studies. A supporter of Socialist Democracy attended under the impression that it was an academic symposium to discuss the origins of the civil rights movement.
It quickly became clear that the appearance of academic neutrality was cast into doubt by the role of Socialist Workers Party/People Before Profit. A PBP councillor, Matt Collins, opened the seminar with an exposition which displayed a common fault of his organization- viewing the past through the prism of the current political line of the organization. We can take it for granted that this is the first bird of spring and that political groups from all sides will shortly be presenting their own misremembering of the civil rights struggle. In fact the first shots have been exchanged in a dispute between Sinn Fein and Bernadette McAliskey about a fictitious role for Sinn Fein in the early struggle.
The SWP’s economism led to Matt portraying the revolutionary left organization People’s Democracy as resembling an early version of the Alliance Party. The presence of students from nationalist and unionist backgrounds seemed more important than their common commitment to the revolutionary overthrow of the Stormont regime.
The speaker could easily have clarified things by discussing with Socialist Democracy, the successor organization of People’s Democracy. However the SWP had closed that door with a “theoretical” document claiming that the success of their electoral opportunism in the North made their organization the inheritors of People’s Democracy.
Eamonn McCann could have, if he wished, corrected some of the misconceptions. However he arrived late and confined himself to anecdotes of the early days. Historian Brian Hanley added some gravitas to the day but was Read the rest of this entry →
Posted in British state repression (general), Civil rights movement, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Irish politics today, Partition, Political education and theory, Public events - Ireland, Repression and resistance in 1970s and 1980s, Republicanism 1960s, Republicanism post-1900, Trade unions, Unionism, loyalism, sectarianism, Workers rights
The issue of public housing played a key role in the Civil Rights movement during the late 1960s/early 1970s.
Prior to the creation of the Housing Executive in 1971, public housing had been allocated by local councils, and within unionist-controlled councils, discrimination in housing allocation was widely practiced against members of the minority Catholic community.
Indeed, the right to, and fair allocation of, public housing were key demands of the Civil Rights movement.
Through the creation of the Housing Executive, housing decisions were taken out of the political arena and placed in the hands of a neutral specialised organisation.
By 1983/84, public housing – almost all of which was controlled by the Housing Executive – accounted for 37% of continued here. . .
Excellent talk and discussion period – Ronan Burtenshaw at the James Connolly Forum in the little city of Troy, in New York state in March 2017. Troy, of course, is somewhere Connolly himself lived and organised – thus the name of this working class political forum group.
Posted in 21st century republicanism and socialism, Anti-household and anti-water tax, British strategy, Economy and workers' resistance, Elections, EU, Imperialism (generally), Internationalism, Irish politics today, Partition, Political education and theory, Provos - then and now, six counties, Social conditions, twenty-six counties, Unionism, loyalism, sectarianism, Workers rights
Not satisfied with the blow given to them by the Irish public, ‘Irish Water’ are again pushing for the commodification of Ireland’s water resources. This time they are doing it under the ruse of needing an extra two billion euro of tax-payers’ money to guarantee the greater Dublin areas water supply, by building a 170-kilometre pipeline to bring 330 million litres per day from the River Shannon to the area. This is all very convenient coming a few days after the announcement that Irish Water have plans in place to introduce excess water charges from next year.
According to Irish Water, excess use charges will not begin until January 1st, 2019, “at the earliest” while bills for excess use charges will not be issued until July 1st next year “at the earliest”. In order to make up for its losses and to fund these huge infrastructural projects Irish Water will be charging huge amounts on what it considers to be Read the rest of this entry →
Today, February 4 (2018) marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Constance Gore-Booth/Constance de Markievicz. To commemorate the anniversary, I’m putting up the text of her 1923 pamphlet What Irish Republicans Stand For.
I have had a copy of this pamphlet since the late 1980s – ie for about 30 years! – dating back to when I first began collecting her writings, many of which appear on this blog. I drew on her writings for my MA thesis which was written in 1995 and the first few months of 1996 – the thesis chapters also appear on this blog.
Ever since I started this blog in 2011, I have meant to stick it up here, but wanted to coincide it going up with some anniversary relating to her. I had intended, finally, to put it up on July 15, last year, the 90th anniversary of her death, but got caught up in other things and the day came and went.
However, the 150th anniversary of her birth seems an even better time. So, finally here it is. Nick Scullin typed up half of it from a photocopy of the original pamphlet; I typed up the other half.
At first, I thought it was published in 1924 but it appears that it is 1923. I don’t have access to libraries with copies of daily papers from that time so haven’t been able to double-check – Markievicz, for instance, cites several newspaper articles, giving the day of the month, so these could be looked up to verify 1923 is the year and not 1924.
The original includes the words, “Reprinted from Forward by courtesy of the Editor”. This was a left-wing Scottish newspaper, based in Glasgow. Revolutionary socialists such as James Connolly and John Maclean, plus others associated with ‘Red Clydeside’ wrote for it, as did a range of reformist socialists. After WW1, the paper was particularly associated with the ILP (left social-democrats). Although Forward had its own printing and publishing company, What Irish Republicans Stand For was printed by Civic Press Ltd of Howard Street in Glasgow.
We typed it up in line with the original pamphlet – ie where it used italics, bold, capitals etc, we left them in place and where headings were centred in the original, we left them centred. I have, however, put in gaps between paragraphs where the original simply indented a few spaces to indicate new paragraphs.
I’ve not corrected mistakes – eg Eamonn de Valera did not draw up the Democratic Programme (he, like Markievicz, was in prison in England at the time). Also, some of the language now seems quaint. Co-operative Commonwealth, for instance, was often used as a synonym for socialism. There was also the view that pre-Conquest Gaelic society was a pre-class society, so references to “Gaelic ideas” often referred to this; regardless of the exact nature of Gaelic society, certainly both feudalism and capitalism were imposed on Ireland from across the water.
It is also important to keep in mind the time in which this was written. A counter-revolution was taking place, reactionary elements within the independence movement were gaining control and imprisoning and murdering their former comrades, including people Markievicz had worked with. Although Markievicz staunchly opposed the Free State, the counter-revolution took a heavy toll on her and she died just four years after the end of the civil war.
The cover has a box with the following in it, just below the title and by-line. NB: the misspelling of Wolfe, Mitchel and Lalor are as on the cover.
“The conquest of Ireland has meant the social and political servitude of the Irish masses, and therefore the reconquest of Ireland must mean the social as well as the political independence from servitude of every man, woman and child.”
I offer this little leaflet humbly to the memory of Wolf Tone, of Mitchell, of Lawler, and of James Connolly to whom I am indebted for the faith and the knowledge that inspired it.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
WHAT IRISH REPUBLICANS STAND FOR
by Constance de Markievicz
Free State as Tool of British Capitalism
In these articles I am going to discuss Ireland and the “Irish Free State” from an economic point of view, and endeavour to show that this “Free State” is but a further attempt to force the English social and economic systems on a people who cling instinctively and with a passionate loyalty to the ideals of a better civilisation, the tradition of which is part of their subconscious spiritual and mental selves.
It was devised by the British Cabinet of imperialists and capitalists and accepted by their would-be counterparts in Ireland, whom they supply with money, arms, and men for the purpose of breaking up the growing movement towards the development of the Co-operative Commonwealth in Ireland. I claim that for this reason the Free State can never be acceptable to the people of Ireland, and, moreover, that this is the key that opens the door to a thorough understanding of the Irish question, and that there is no other key.
For 800 years Ireland has been devastated again and again by English armies and tricked by English politicians for but one object – the destruction of the Gaelic State to its last traditions and relics, and the establishment, in its place, of the feudal-capitalist state.
The military and political conquests were but means to this end, whole clans were massacred, dispersed or starved to death, whole provinces laid waste again and again for this one purpose – the forcing of an alien and repugnant civilisation on a civilised people.
It is only in latter years that the history of Ireland has been approached in a scientific manner, and that this has been made clear. Mrs Alice Stopford Green is the great pioneer in this work. For many years she has been digging laboriously into the past and bringing to light all that she has gleaned from the old documents that survive the systematic destruction of the records of Ireland’s greatness by the English.
James Connolly went further. A student of labour, viewed as a world question, from both scientific and historical sources, a man of practical experience as an organiser, agitator, and speaker in two continents, he mated his knowledge and experience with the facts disclosed by Mrs Green, George O’Brien and others, and has left us in his books a wonderfully comprehensive sketch of Ireland’s real struggle. Her past sufferings, her present slow awakening and struggle and her future hopes and aspirations.
I would appeal to my readers in his words: “The sympathetic student of history, who believes in the possibility of a people by political intuition anticipating the lessons afterwards revealed in the sad school of experience, will not be indisposed to join with the ardent Irish patriot in his lavish expression of admiration of his Celtic forefathers, who foreshadowed in the democratic organisation of the Irish clan the more perfect organisation of the free society of the future.”
Padraig Pearse also dwelt much on the Gaelic State. He emphasises his vision of an Ireland “not free merely, but Gaelic as well.”
The reason why the Republican movement was accepted by the people, and a Republic was brought into being by them at the price of such terrible sacrifice and suffering was that the ideals embodied in that Republic touched into life all that was most vital and most Read the rest of this entry →
Posted in British state repression (general), Constance Markievicz, Corruption, Counter-revolution/civil war period, Democratic rights - general, Economy and workers' resistance, Free State in 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Imperialism (generally), James Connolly, Labour Party, Prisoners - past, Public sector/cuts, Repression in 26-county state, Republicanism post-1900, Republicanism pre-1900, Revolutionary figures, Social conditions, The road to the Easter Rising, Toadyism, War for Independence period, Women, Women in republican history, Workers rights