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Independent Republican Candidates Take A Stand

category national | elections / politics | feature author Thursday April 21, 2005 22:02author by Barry Report this post to the editors

The Growth Of A Republican Socialist Alternative Within The Republican Base

From The Newswire: The emergence of a number of independent republican candidates in this years northern council elections has highlighted a growing discontent within the traditional republican base vote which Sinn Fein could previously have taken for granted.

Although small in number, the fact that these independent candidates have emerged from within working class republican communities across the entire 6 counties, indicates that a growing number of republicans no longer feel that Sinn Fein articulate or represent their ideological beliefs, whether republican or socialist, and that this dissent exists across the entire occupied area.

It also appears that their decision to contest the elections and oppose Sinn Fein's stranglehold within the republican base has been spontaneous and not part of any organised electoral effort by any political grouping.

A number of republicans who recently left Sinn Fein on ideological grounds are prominent among those standing for the council seats. Sitting Newry and Mourne councillor Martin Cunningham recently parted company from Sinn Fein in a bitter dispute concerning republican prisoners.

Cunningham had highlighted the cases of a number of his neighbours who had been fitted up by the RUC with the active assistance of a British intelligence agent and the planting of forensic evidence by British soldiers. As a result of his support for these men, who were acquitted after their legal team uncovered what had happened within the corrupt policing system, Cunningham found himself on extremely poor terms with the Adams leadership .

Martin Cunningham had also raised concerns internally about the direction the party had taken, primarily its acceptance of the GFA and Stormont. Unsurprisingly this marked him as a "dissident" within the party structure, which he then parted company with on less than friendly terms. This has led to his criticism of the Adams leadership as being "stalinist" in its inability to tolerate internal party debate (which is virtually non-existent) .

Since then he has gone on to highlight the cases of others who were stitched up as well as lending his voice to calls for the reintroduction of political status for jailed republican activists which was abolished under the GFA . He is also prominent in highlighting the hardships faced by small farmers in his rural South Down constituency.

Just recently Cllr. Cunningham found himself on the recieving end of a bitter and personalised smear campaign organised by Sinn Fein following his expression of personal support for the sisters of murdered Belfast man Robert McCartney .

Attending a meeting of Newry and Mourne council soon after meeting them in Belfast, he was barracked and loudly heckled by Sinn Fein councillors, his former colleagues. The Sinn Fein councillors branded him an "informer" due to his public support for the sisters. Posters also accusing him of being an informer were distributed throughout the council chamber, posted on walls and distributed on every seat.

In an ironic twist it has just recently emerged that the leader of the heckling councillors , Sinn Féin's Conor Murphy, was himself secretly meeting with senior PSNI/RUC figures behind closed doors during that very period. So far none of his colleagues have branded him an informer, despite the fact he was meeting the crown forces in secret .

Also standing in Antrim Town are Aine Gribbon and Tish Murray, two former Sinn Fein members and prominent activists within the Rathenraw community, which was the focus of a bitter dispute last year. Antrim Town's local Sinn Fein cumann resigned en masse after accusing the Sinn Fein leadership of being linked to criminality and corruption as well as abandoning the republican position of rejection of British rule in Ireland.

The local Rathenraw Tenant's Association, of which both women were prominent members had transformed an area which was once a byword for drugs and anti-social behaviour which families were desperate to leave, into a community / family orientated estate which people actually wanted to move into.

The dispute, which originally centred round certain leading provisionals' support for the family of a major drug dealer who had moved into the estate, came to a head when the local Sinn Fein cumann resigned virtually en masse.

The leadership response to the mass resignation was to bus in 100's of heavies from Belfast (among them the murderers of Robert McCartney), who then patrolled the area in mobs, harassing and threatening the residents of the nationalist housing estate in a bid to silence them. It was reported at the time, that among those threatened with death by the provisionals was an 8 months pregnant woman and a former political prisoner.

Both mothers and those who took a stand with them made clear they would not be intimidated or silenced. They are now standing on a republican platform of allegiance to the principles of Irelands' Declaration of Independence, and in support of their local community which is being victimised and harassed by the PSNI and the local unionist controlled council. Among the issues they are highlighting is the targetting and monitoring of nationalist homes by CCTV cameras that the unionist council have placed there with the PSNI.

Perhaps what is most telling about the Antrim situation is that both sitting Sinn Fein councillors, including the high profile Martin Meehan, will not be seeking re-election following the provo leadership's failed attempt to intimidate the republicans of Antrim. Their position has simply become untenable and 2 new "weak" candidates have been put forward instead.

In North Antrim well known local activist Bertie Shaw is standing as an independent republican in the loyalist stronghold of Larne. Both he and his family have been the frequent targets of attacks by loyalist death squads as well as harassment by crown forces. In the early 90's his father was murdered by loyalists and both himself and family members have been injured and survived a number of murder bids.

Another prominent candidate standing in Armagh City is former blanketman and H Block hungerstriker John Nixon. A commited socialist and former INLA POW, Nixon is widely respected in his local area and articulates a clear left wing viewpoint which has been sadly lacking of late within Sinn Fein.

In Co. Tyrone independent republican Paul Gallagher is standing in the nationalist stronghold of Strabane, while in Co. Fermanagh Kevin Barry Nolan also stands on an independent republican ticket .

Finally, a hard fought battle is expected in Derry city as local republican Gary Donnelly takes a stand in the cityside ward which encompasses the Creggan and Bogside . Well known locally as a republican activist with a hardline, uncompromising position towards British rule, Mr Donnelly is actively highlighting local job discrimination, pointing to the fact that funding for local community employment is virtually confined to members of Sinn Fein as "jobs for the boys". This is contrary to everything the people of Derry fought for when they demanded their rights. Employment should not be the preserve of a political clique on Derry city council.

Donnelly is also utterly opposed to the PSNI and any participation on local DPPs, which Sinn Fein are expected to fully endorse once the elections are over. Perhaps one of the biggest obstacles facing Gary Donnelly is the fact that prior to his decision to run as a candidate many Derry republicans. who would instinctively vote for him him as an alternative to Sinn Fein. have previously refused to register for a vote in order to prevent it being stolen. There has since been a frantic scramble by many in the cityside ward to get themselves registered following his decision to run .

However what is most important about these candidates standing is not whether they are successful in being elected, but the fact that they are highlighting republican and socialist issues within the republican base that Sinn Fein are either ignoring completely or to which they are simply paying lip service. They represent the forgotten constituency: the republicans and radicals who have decided that the Sinn Fein leadership has gone down a path which is contrary to their convictions and for whatever reason no longer represents them. It now seems that this constituency is larger and more widespread than many had assumed, simply due to the fact it had been successfully kept out of sight . Whether it continues to grow and to organise itself remains to be seen, but how well these candidates perform will be an interesting diversion from the tug of war within the constitutional nationalist establishment of Sinn Fein and the SDLP .

USEFUL RELATED LINKS
Slugger O'Toole
The Blanket
Wikipedia Definition Of Republicanism
Wikipedia Definition of Socialism

author by micheailin o'cinnsealachpublication date Thu Apr 21, 2005 03:06author email saoirse32 at fastmail dot fmReport this post to the editors

Excellent article, Barry. I hope you will continue to cover these candidates and the issues.

author by W. Gallagherpublication date Thu Apr 21, 2005 08:12Report this post to the editors

While I am not a republican it is undeniably an encouraging development that republicans are now breaking off from Sinn Fein to pursue a different course than monotonous, mainstream politics being advocated by the Adams/McGuinness leadership. Hats off to all involved, even if it’s only for having the guts to disagree with the Provisional leadership in an area like South Armagh (my own part of the country incidentally).

However, you title this article the “growth of a republican, socialist alternative within the republican base”. Where exactly are the specifically ‘socialist’ politics on offer from the respective candidates here? Harking back to the Declaration of Independence and highlighting the rights of dissident republican prisoners in Maghaberry, while honourable, is unlikely to strike a chord with many Protestants.

I do accept John Nixon will be standing in Armagh city on clear left-wing credentials and he did pull a strong vote in 2001 but this is a country where people tend to have long memories and a much smaller capacity to forgive and forget. Unfortunately I cannot see a former member of the INLA (a group which only a few miles away from where he is standing for election murdered innocent Protestant churchgoers in Darkely) making much electoral inroads into the working-class Protestant community in the city.

Before I get the old allegation being a ‘gas and water socialist’ fired at me, I am no such thing. I am a socialist who believes in the establishment of a socialist republic in Ireland. It is up to socialists to endeavour to take Protestant workers out of the blind alley of loyalism, just as it is equally up to us to break Catholic workers away from the narrow minded simplicity offered by Irish nationalism. Dealings with all sections of the class – Catholic or Protestant, north or south – should take place on the basis of complete honesty as to our position. That was Connolly’s position a century ago and it should be ours today.

I don’t doubt that some – if not all – of the candidates mentioned here see themselves in some shape or form as socialists. Where the problem arises is that they are campaigning on a basis of socialism with considerable nationalist baggage. Haven't we seen this somewhere before? To be perfectly frank it’s just not going to achieve anything if all they win over are ‘Catholic socialists’, or to be more accurate irritated Shinners. It’ll be a hard pill for some of them to swallow but honestly lads, you can be sound on the national question without wrapping yourselves in the tricolour.

Finally, could I ask just why has it taken so long for these people to make the break with Sinn Fein? Gerry Adams said “socialism is not on the agenda” in 1986 – twelve years before the Good Friday Agreement and nineteen years before the current batch of people to leave Sinn Fein departed.

Well, at least we’re getting somewhere…slowly!

author by barrypublication date Thu Apr 21, 2005 14:15Report this post to the editors

Ill do my best to answer WGs questions , but please bear in mind that I dont speak for these candidates (only one is known to me personally ). All are standing independently of each other and not as part of a bloc , and as I pointed out their actions are spontaneous and not organised . Their backgrounds differ .

The quote about "socialism not being on the agenda " was actually said by Martin McGuinness . Most of the people standing from a former Sinn Fein background were themselves only teenagers when this statement was made . Not only was it not given much coverage in the press at the time , within the republican movement under Gerry and Martins stewardship people were encouraged to believe we had a clever leadership who could say one thing and mean another . Basically such a comment , like so much else , could be shrugged off as a mere ruse , part of the great plan which would lead us to the democratic socialist republic in the sky . And after 86 in particular you knew not to ask questions or make criticisms , strictly verboten . You were undermining the struggle .

As for why it took some people so long to leave Sinn Fein , firstly for many there are other issues involved as well as not trusting a leadership . For some time after McGuiness comment there was an armed struggle as well as 100s of POWs in various jails . To walk away from Sinn Fein meant to turn your back on all that as well .

I would also point to the recent experience of Clr Cunningham , falsely branded a police informer by Sinn Feins councillors in Newry and Mourne council chamber simply for disagreeing with them . What do you think happens outside of the council chamber ?

Take the instance of another candidates husband , ex POW Paddy Murray . Upon resigning from Sinn Fein his home was attacked almost immediately and repeatedly . His property was burned , a hoax bomb placed under his car . He was attacked on the street by Provos ( only to have the RUC on his doorstep warning him not to retaliate hours later )Masked men with baseball bats appeared outside his home in a campaign of intimidation organised by the Sinn Fein leadership . Senior Sinn Fein spokesperson Martin Meehan gave newspaper interviews branding him a criminal and declared "the republican movement " would be taking action against him very shortly . The next night Meehan actually admitted to being present while masked thugs patrolled the estate , smashed windows and daubed graffiti about Mr Murray on the roads . Mr Murray was threatened with death , as was his wife .

Its never simply a matter of just resigning and walking away when your dealing with facist , criminal thugs .

And did any establishment politicians make a fuss about this blatant facism which was taking place openly , with an elected representative even publicly bragging to the media about what they were doing ? NO . Because Paddy Murray was then an outlaw in the eyes of the establishment , a suspected " dissident " , and the basic rule of the GFA is that any republican who doesnt support it is to be squashed under foot .

The British establishment , as well as the nationalist parties North and South are quite content with this state of affairs . We "dissidents" arent entitled to any rights , and deserve everything we get , full stop .

For some of these candidates to stay loyal to their revolutionary republican ideals , to put Irelands Declaration of Independence over Britains GFA is not a matter of " wrapping the flag around them " for electoral purposes . Its quite literally a life and death decision .

As it carries profound personal consequences its done for profound ideological reasons . Anyone doing so must implicitly believe in the words expressed otherwise its simply not worth putting yourself and your family through such an ordeal . For such people the words laid down are not misty eyed aspirations but concrete political objectives .

The Declaration of Independence , just like the 1916 proclamation , implicitly links Irelands sovereignty to its resources and wealth producing processes , as well as utterly rejecting sectarian tribalism . Both documents were formulated with the input of socialists such as Connolly and Mellowes and anyone genuinely standing on such a platform carries genuine left wing ideals .

The election manifestos of Gary Donnelly , Trish Murray and Aine Gribbon carry a clear republican socialist message . Both Murray and Gribben are long standing community activists with a track record in serving their community on a voluntary basis , confronting drug dealers , assisting young people as well as being involved in local education and community projects . Both have been instrumental in utterly transforming the quality of life for the residents of the Rathenraw estate , now quite a nice place to live when Sinn Fein arent sending the goon squad in . Both have made it clear they believe in " people power " as well as identifying how the political establishment fear an empowered community and do all in their power to keep us disempowered and dependent on them . Both women are actively campaigning against the forthcoming plans for water privatisation and recently helped organise a community forum against priatisation in Antrim Town - no other political group bothered to turn up as ALL the parties know full well they will implement water privatisation , Sinn Fein included .

Both women also highlight the total waste of funding in the area , and the refusal of the local council to initiate community employment projects even though EU money had been allocated . They opted to fund the local " Ulster - Scots "society instead.

Derry republican Gary Donnelly also highlights similar issues in his manifesto .
He goes on to specifically identify the sectarian petrol bomb attacks on the protestant community in the Fountain estate , utterly condemning them and pledging to work with local young people on an ongoing basis to put an end to them. Donnelly also identifies attacks on immigrant workers , the gay community and others as contrary to Irish republicanism , in particular the 1916 proclamation .

Donnelly is campaigning against the political cronyism which is rife on Derry city council and the fact that although millions of euro have been allocated in structural funding to the area it has been confined to the local party elites and used to keep their friends and relation in well paid jobs , while the ordinary people , including ex - pows with no prospects of employment go without . He also makes a stand against the petty harrasment of the unemployed by the statutory bodies over issues such as benfit fraud and tv licences , while the rich and powerful laugh all the way to the bank .

While the candidates I have mentioned here make no apologies for their utter opposition to British rule in Ireland , it is clear they are standing on grass roots local issues and in the best interests of their communities , not for any personal benefit. They are highlighting the need forindependent voices which are not constrained by party hierarchies and the need to horse trade with the rights of their constituents.

This is very different to what Sinn Fein and the SDLP have to offer and I wish them the best of luck .

ps I dont have all the candidates election manifestos available so Im only able to highlight some of what they are saying .

author by Eibhlinpublication date Thu Apr 21, 2005 15:24Report this post to the editors

I agree with W Gallagher that I have seen this somewhere before i.e. The Blanket Online Journal and I think that due credit ought to be afforded to this publication for breaking this story as such.

Re the candidates - It has always been my belief that it is possible to say you are a socialist and definitely not an Irish republican, However, it is impossible in my understanding for anyone to claim they are an Irish republican without meaning they are also a socialist.

While it is clear that there are many within Provisional Sinn Fein who really ought to be in the SDLP or elsewhere. The objectives of Sinn Fein do state loud and clear that PSF and Oglaigh Na hEireann seeks to create an Irish Socialist Republic.

PSF's emphasis on socialism has seriously diminished with excuses of how the word socialism upsets Irish Americans and the AOH in America and also the comfortable classes in Ireland

The same AOH that welcomes gays and lesbians to the St Patrick's day Parade but insist on no banners or said another way be Irish but not gay. Do we really need money from such intolerant people. Surely as Irish Republicans we should be standing with our lesbian and gay brothers and sisters and demanding equality - parity of esteem.

Many former members of PSF including those who are running would probably be the first to admit how suckered they were by such crap and the only excuse myself included can offer is we are loyal, trusting and placed our power into the wrong hands. The independents who are standing deserve encouragement and support from all freedom seeking people and free thinking Irish Republicans for their courage to stand and their humility to say they have woke up.

This is not a massive blemish on their socialist credentials. It is a mere human blemish that I would ask whoever is not guilty to cast the first stone.

End the arrogant elitism within PSF by not voting for them this is all they are listening to now - votes.


Eibhlin

Related Link: http://lark.phoblacht.net/smca1904051g.html
author by Brian (QUB student)publication date Thu Apr 21, 2005 15:34Report this post to the editors

I live in Belfast does anyone know if Independent Republicans are standing in South Belfast?

Where can I obtain or read the Independents' manifestoes ? Are there any online anywhere????



Brian (QUB)

author by Emerpublication date Thu Apr 21, 2005 15:39Report this post to the editors

Brian there are a few published in the Blanket see hyper link enclosed.

Related Link: http://lark.phoblacht.net/gdem1904052g.html
author by an imcerpublication date Thu Apr 21, 2005 15:49Report this post to the editors

Indeed this info came from blanket originally in the form of a cut and paste on the newswire. an imcer asked barry who had cmmented on it to write an original article covering same info so the story could stay within guidelines. the original Blanket article by Sean McAughey which was cut and pasted and since hidden is here: http://lark.phoblacht.net/smca1904051g.html

author by pjpublication date Thu Apr 21, 2005 19:17Report this post to the editors

the quote about socialism not been on agenda was adams.

'In 1985 Adams had suggested that it might not be a good idea for Sinn Fein to overtake the SDLP electorally, as it would result in a dilution of social radicalism, by November 1986 he was telling Irish Times that socialism was not on the agenda.'

sure mcguinness agrees tho!!!

http://lark.phoblacht.net/lor2801053g.html

author by W. Gallagherpublication date Thu Apr 21, 2005 21:22Report this post to the editors

Thanks for the reply, Barry. There are obviously things we will not agree on though I had a look at Gary Donnelly’s local election manifesto and it is immeasurably better than anything Sinn Fein has put out in recent years. A strong showing at the polls by these candidates would be a step forward. Unfortunately I am going to be a killjoy and make a few criticisms which are directly linked to what I said in my first piece.

First of all, regardless of who said it, a leading member of the Provisional movement claimed in 1986 that “socialism is not on the agenda”. Your response to this was that “people were encouraged to believe we had a clever leadership who could say one thing and mean another. Basically such a comment…could be shrugged off as a mere ruse, part of the great plan which would lead us to the democratic socialist republic in the sky”.

The point I was trying to make is that this didn’t just happen in 1986. The history of Irish republicanism is a tale of popular uprisings followed by a ‘shift in strategy’ which in truth turn out to be nothing more than betrayals of the grassroots and submergence by the movement’s party political manifestation into the capitalist system of parliamentary democracy. What I am asking is just how many more times are the republican grassroots going to fall for it?

The Treaty of 1921 was sold by Collins, Griffith and Cumman na nGaedheal to the Irish public as being a ‘stepping stone’ to freedom. In reality Cumman na nGaedheal morphed into the centre-right Fine Gael and have been enemies of any movement which has strove for reunification ever since. De Valera sold the Fianna Fail party to his anti-treaty followers several years later on the basis that they were going to somehow change the system from within and bring down partition. What resulted was the establishment of a conservative 26 county political party which turned the south into a Catholic state and drove it into decades of poverty. Clann na Phoblachta offered little alternative again in the forties and fifties, entering coalition with Fine Gael. More ‘sell outs’ came with the Official republican movement ditching arms and drifting from pro-Soviet policies in the 1970’s to Blairite New Labourism inside the Labour Party today. And then there was the latest expression of republicans jumping from the revolutionary ship with the Adams/McGuinness leadership of Provisional Sinn Fein (I’ll leave it up to the reader to decide whether the ‘sell out’ took place in 1986, 1994 or 1998).

Now, I am sure you and many others will disagree with me on this point, but these betrayals have taken place in the past and – even if there is another appearance of popular, radical republican sentiment in the future – it will happen again. It is an inherent part of republican ideology. The reason as to why they are an inherent part lies in what republicanism objects to.

The Republican Movement’s objection has always been to the presence of the British state in Ireland. Even at the height of their armed campaign there was never a hint from the Provisionals that they sought anything more than the establishment of a united Ireland. In fact, what they did propose in the 1970’s was Eire Nua – a fairly tame framework for a federal set-up on the island. And nor in other eras did republicans fight for anything more than a 32 county republic. They didn’t in 1916. They didn’t in 1919 to 1923. They didn’t in the on/off campaigns of the thirties, forties, fifties and sixties. And they didn’t in the most recent armed phase. Even the Continuity IRA today say that they would end their ‘campaign’ in the wake of a British declaration of intent to withdraw from Northern Ireland, though I can safely say that will not be taking place in the near future.

There were of course promises of a fight for some greater goal in the distant future. Republican strategy is and has always been one of putting socialism on the backburner – a dangerous course to take for anyone with a knowledge of 20th century history. ‘United Ireland first, socialism later’ is a course of action almost 100 years old and it’s time for a rethink. Limiting your ultimate aim to the achievement of an all-Ireland parliamentary democracy also means that the door is left slightly ajar for your political leaders at some point in the struggle to pronounce that their entry into the British parliamentary system at Westminster and Stormont is merely a crafty masterstroke and part of a long-term strategy to overthrow the system.

Haven’t we seen all this somewhere before? Cunning policy changes designed to outwit the Brits? Of course we have. Collins, Griffith, Dev, MacBride, Goulding, Garland, Adams…you could go on forever. Every generation of Irish republicans in the 20th century had the indignity of seeing it. What still astounds me is the unflinching loyalty of so many to a cause which needs to fundamentally adapt to the challenges of the 21st century.
The candidates standing in the local government elections are good people but they are not standing for anything new but RETURNING to old positions which will lead back to the very same path. If it’s broke, fix it. Go the extra mile and oppose both the British state in Ireland and the capitalist state, and don’t be afraid to articulate the latter. It is no good paying lip service to Connolly’s Marxist ideals every Easter Sunday if you do not spend the other 364 days of the year attempting to bring them to fruition. I realise what you say about things like public ownership being contained in the Democratic Programme and the Declaration of Independence, but achieving control of the means of production, distribution and exchange will not be attained through the thorough reading of these historical artefacts but through organisation of the working-class behind firm socialist principles.

Eibhlin makes a few intriguing comments regarding the ideological intricacies of socialism and republicanism. She claims that it is possible to be a socialist and not a republican, but an Irish republican will always be a socialist. This is certainly an odd interpretation. As a socialist I cannot think of standing for any other form of government than a republic. On the other hand, Michael McDowell visited Belfast this week boasting of his republican credentials. McDowell a socialist? Eamon de Valera certainly considered himself a republican no matter what you may think of his particular brand of republicanism. De Valera a socialist? However, Jacques Chirac is a republican. Jean-Marie Le Pen is a republican. George W. Bush is a republican. I don’t think any one of those three would be considered left-wing. While there are undoubtedly various varieties of socialism, from that practiced by Blair, Rabbitte and the Socialist International to that of Eamonn McCann and the SWP, the term republican has an even wider currency and is used by fascists, socialists, liberals, communists, conservatives – just about every area of the political spectrum is covered in some shape or form. I disagree on that point.

Finally, I’d like to state again that I do want to see the independent candidates to get a strong vote on May 5th. I just hope that they can move towards the correct path and help to build a united left in Ireland.

author by C Ó Brolcháinpublication date Thu Apr 21, 2005 21:57Report this post to the editors

"Re the candidates - It has always been my belief that it is possible to say you are a socialist and definitely not an Irish republican"

How can one be a socialist without being anti-imperialist?

author by jack whitepublication date Thu Apr 21, 2005 22:50Report this post to the editors

hey barry,
thats a pretty good article but I'd like to see some references or something to back as much of it up as possible. If Cunningham was accused of being a police informer by Sinn Feins councillors in Newry and Mourne council chamber would there be a record of this in the local paper? Could you provide a reference to the mass reignation of Antrim town's SF branch? Where did Martin Meehan admit " to being present while masked thugs patrolled the estate , smashed windows and daubed graffiti about Mr Murray on the roads". I've never seen any of this stuff before and I spend far too much time on the internet!
I'm not doubting that what you say may be true but some references would make this a much more solid story and if half what you say is true i'm sure you could dig a few up.

author by barrypublication date Fri Apr 22, 2005 05:12Report this post to the editors

Jack , im still a bit shit at this internet lark , so please bear with me . Try these links which are the best I can do at the minute .

http://lark.phoblact .net/gooseam15102g.html

http://lark.phoblacht.net/rathenrawthreatam.html

http://lark.phoblact.net/am210205lg.html

http://www.morrigan.net/irsm/plough53.html

hope they work


As regards WG, thanks again to responding to the piece in a constructive and analytical manner . You have correctly identified those who sold out and collaborated with the occupying force , betraying the republican socialist programme . Where i believe you are totally wrong is in laying the blame for this at the door of republicanism as an ideology or philosophy .

This I believe is extremely short sighted . One cannot dismiss socialism because of the antics of Pol Pot , Stalin or Ceaucescu . An ideology cannot be dismissed as failed simply because of the actions of corrupt power mongers who claimed allegiance to it .

I firmly believe as a result of a thorough political and historical analysis by those of us still commited to republican ideals , that the failures of the past and present were not due to a failure of the republican analysis , but because of a much more simple explanation . The total and utter lack of an accountable democracy within the republican movement as a whole .

This lack of democracy has been evident in every single departure from republican ideology . At every stage we have had the emergence of a personality cult , the (working class ) republican base being dictated to by a charismatic leader . At every stage these leaders have demanded that republican ideology be compromised . Every single one of these compromises dilutes our rights and dignity as Irish citizens and free human beings .

To compromise on the demands (not aspirations ) expressed in the Declaration of Independence , the right to our sovereignty as a nation ,simply means we sell ourselves as a nation , not only to a foreign power but to another economic class , one whose interests are inextricably linked to foreign capital and imperialism .

At every stage of these betrayals we have seen the charismatic leaders resort to armed co -ercion and state sanctioned murder in order to silence the base . As you have identified , in the 1920s we had 77 state sanctioned executions of prisoners . Under DeValera we had the Broy Harriers and more state murders . De Rossa and Garland brought us more internecine killing and now Adams and his crew have trod the same bloody path . My own friends , relatives and comrades have suffered abduction , torture , beatings and in one sad case brutal murder at the hands of Adams militia . This is combined with British and Free State repression of an historic ideal .

Yet despite this the demand of the republican base has remained constant - an end to Britain determining the future of the Irish nation . Even the establishment parties still claim adherence to this ideal , no matter how hypocritical their position .

Why is this ? I believe this is simply because the true republican analysis is the correct one , and as such is the only one with the power to motivate individuals into worthwhile revolutionary action . While you may dismiss the Declaration of Independence as irrelevant , remember this . It is the only framework for democracy ever ratified by the Irish people as a whole . It was formulated by radical socialist republicans as the cornerstone of our rights as a nation , including our social and economic rights . The Declaration of Independence was only silenced by British guns and colonial intrigue , not by Irish democracy .
Tell me as a socialist one single line of this document ( which was accepted by the majority of the Irish nation ) that you disagree with .

It is not republicanism which has failed , but that political leaders have failed republicanism . The answer to this is a republican movement which is dedicated to the DOI as a document and blueprint for democracy on this island , and which is led by its base , not from the top down .

Thankfully a number of these candidates have grasped this as a progressive republican alternative to constitutional nationalism and the sectarianism inherent in the GFA .

author by Eugenepublication date Fri Apr 22, 2005 07:21Report this post to the editors

Brilliant writing Baz. It is very interesting and convincing to see the position of true republicans put so eloquently and from an educated knowledeable position.

The clarity and calm focussed approach in your words give me hope for Irish Sovereignty and that this will be brought about in a powerful and equitable way for all Irishmen and women. Due to the current 'representation' of Irish Republicans (ie. under SF), I haven't had that sort of optimism for a long time now but I have not had the confidence to voice my opposition to SF because I have seen the barbaric repercussions for those who have gone against the grain. (And it's all the more hurtful and damaging when it comes from a group that should be one of your own!).

I also have hope that the independent republican candidates will receive the positive support that they deserve and that Irishmen and women will recognise the opportunities for a brighter future that these candidates offer.

Not to blow steam up yer ass but thanks for the words.

author by GreenPartyMike - Green Party USApublication date Fri Apr 22, 2005 09:56Report this post to the editors

First I would like to commend Ireland's Indy Media for giving this story such prominence.
Fair play to you all.

This is, quite frankly one of the most hopeful things to come out of the north (and the south) in quite some time.

Barry, I have been following your posts with some interest for a while now. Your analysis has, in my humble opinion, been quite accurate and telling.


But W. Gallagher has, again in my own humble opinion, one of the best thought out understandings of Irish Republicanism that I have seen in quite some time. Mr Gallagher, please excuse this yanks musings but you have mirrored my thoughts almost exactly.

Barry, I understand what you say and what you are saying but I honestly feel that W.Gallagher most closely represents what James Connolly would have thought, if present in todays society.

As for $inn Fein (sorry cant make the pound sign, I'm a yank..lolol) and their political leanings, well after hearing over and over "trust the leadership, I know it looks bad but trust the leadership" and watching as $inn Fein makes political hay with the likes of US right wing politicians such as Representative King from New York and that piece of shit George Bush and even that kow-towing political coward Senator Kennedy, well the Bush and Kennedy ones did it for me.

As my mother, born and bred in Coalisland, Co Tyrone, would have said " show me your friends and I'll show you what you are." In our household Bernie Devlin was always refered to as "St Bernadette."

As a thought, this article must be making the "lets support the Zapatistas" in one breath and "fookin IRA Nazi scum, I want to just stand idly by" crowd north and south frigging nuts.

Again fair play to Ireland's Indy Media

author by Catepublication date Fri Apr 22, 2005 13:18Report this post to the editors

I have found some of your approaches and attitudes repulsive in the past Barry but that is a really good article. Sinn Fein has grown into a tribe of monsters who are just as bad if not worse than the occupiers. At least you know what to expect from the occupiers.

Good on you and the independent republicans for making a sensible stand against Sinn Fein but more importantly for providing alternatives that look like they will work.

author by Socialistpublication date Fri Apr 22, 2005 14:52Report this post to the editors

These people that are "independent republicans" are in no way an alternative for the people o Northern Ireland. These people do not condemn the tactics of the IRA, they do not attempt in any way to build links with the protestent working class. In fact, they actually think that Ulster protestent workers are the enemy! They should not be supported by any leftists. The way forward is CLASS UNITY between catholic and protestents on a SOCIALIST programme.

author by Badmanpublication date Fri Apr 22, 2005 18:00Report this post to the editors

Isn't it amazing the way that some people have a slogan for every occasion. I mean how can the above poster can make such sweeping generalisations about these candidates when I'd bet my wooden leg that he knows nothing about them beyond the word 'republican'. Oh, I forgot, he's a minion of haddock and his brain has been gradually replaced with a slogan-repeating device.

author by Hill XVlpublication date Fri Apr 22, 2005 18:08Report this post to the editors

Looks to me like "Socialist" is more likely to be a bigot than the republicans he or she condemns.

author by professor-ratpublication date Fri Apr 22, 2005 18:14Report this post to the editors

This would be through total abstention from all representational political games in any statist form, solidarity with the international multitudes and work for change through direct revolutionist action. Over 100 years of marxist malarky and social democrat bilge has altered not very much for the underclasses when the pace of change today requires nothing less than global revolution.

Chuck whoevers in power out - rinse/repeat. Learn how to speak true death to power if you want to be free of all who would set themselves up over you.
A socialist republican is an oxymoron. A republican socialist is just a moron.
Whoever place's their hand on me to govern me is my enemy.

author by Barrypublication date Fri Apr 22, 2005 22:10Report this post to the editors

Mike , thanks for your comments. While I agree with Mikes historical analysis , as do other republicans , he has not identified what is intrinsically deficient in the republican analysis . He has identified leaders who have twisted and abandoned the analysis . He hasnt identified the mechanism or structural weakness which allows this to happen .

As for "socialist " your contribution to this debate is utter nonsense . Please state where these people have identified working class protestants as the enemy . Youre talking shite , no harm to you .

author by barrypublication date Fri Apr 22, 2005 22:30Report this post to the editors

I meant to say W Gallaghers historical analysis . told you i was shit at this internet.

author by realistpublication date Fri Apr 22, 2005 22:33Report this post to the editors

The undesirables in Rathenraw were intimidated out, to move across the road to Stiles. Not very socialist, neither is their usual "socialist" graffetti "kill all huns". Wolfe Tone would be impressed.

author by jack whitepublication date Fri Apr 22, 2005 22:45Report this post to the editors

Barry, i nearly allways enjoy your posts and i'm glad that stories like this make it to indymedia but jaysus, i really don't dig your politics...

"While I agree with Mikes historical analysis , as do other republicans , he has not identified what is intrinsically deficient in the republican analysis ."


How about the fact that most protestants in the north identify as being British (to some extent) and so see calls for a British withdrawal as threatening to them? Even if a military struggle forced the British government to leave the six counties and they could somehow be made to try and 'convince' the unionist / loyalist population you'd have a very large minority on the island who would reject the idea of a 'United Ireland'. Provo SF seem to be looking at the future and an eventual shift in demographics but I wonder how big a demographic shift is needed. Would 50% of the population +1 achieve a peacefull (or even violent) transition?
As an anarchist I advocate the abolition of both states, north and south, but I reckon thats not going to happen today or tomorrow : -) So what should those seeking a united ireland before an anarchist revolution do? I don't know exactly what the answer is but I reckon trying to bring unionists towards the idea, or trying to build cross community working class power might be more productive in the long term than advocating a political programme which seesm doomed to never be able to cross the religious divide. (actually giving religion a hammering whenever possible is also a good idea imo).

author by Barrypublication date Fri Apr 22, 2005 22:45Report this post to the editors

The "undesirables" in Rathenraw were not intimidated out , although they had done a fair bit of intimidation themselves . They were confronted by non- violent direct action , pickets outside their doors and being firmly told that drug dealing and anti - social behaviour , such as burning down houses were unacceptable to the local community . Some drug dealers agreed to stop dealing and stayed , others left . If the residents of the Stiles estate have failed to tackle their behaviour then more fools them . Theyve been shown the correct way to deal with it .

As for some eejit spraying a sectarian slogan on a wall in Rathenraw , what has that got to do with the candidates ? Are you saying that they did it , or that they endorse sectarianism ?

What is your point exactly ?

author by Barrypublication date Fri Apr 22, 2005 23:33Report this post to the editors

You state that Irish attempts to end Britains stranglehold on the future of this nation makes Unionists feel threatened . Fair enough , they are unionists after all . An end to the British occupation is bound to make them feel threatened on some level .

But what about those of us currently being occupied by a foreign power ? Ive got armed British soldiers traipsing round the place with the heavily armed PSNI , helicopters in the sky and military fortifications on the hills and villages in my locality . Friends and relatives are in their jails . Ill not even get into how my familys home was invaded and raided down the years like 1000s of others . How threatening do you think this is ? Am i and other republicans supposed to just lie down , stay quiet and take the occupation of Ireland up the ass without complaint ?

The reason for the sectarian divisions on this island is that they have been deliberately fostered and manipulated by the British in the first place . The GFA has been identified even by the Green Party as having institutionalised sectarianism .

While the British government continues to claim sovereignty over part of this nation northern unionists will simply remain entrenched behind bigoted and insular attitudes . There is no political incentive for the situation to change . Almost 11 years after the provos embarked upon a peace process we have seen Ian Paisley take pole position within Unionism .

While building support for a united Ireland through some popular socialist movement sounds great on paper , it will simply never happen while the British occupation remains . While Britain remains here the future of this nation is in the hands of whitehall and westminster , not the Irish people .

Sectarian vetoes are the very antithesis of republicanism , democracy and socialism . Our rights to national sovereignty are enshrined under international law , just as the demand for national sovereignty free from foreign dominion is enshrined in the DOI .

The right to a nations sovereignty , and all that entails is a national imperative . It shouldnt be abandoned on the grounds that it threatens unionists , especially reactionary religious bigots who simply wont live in peace with the rest of us ..

author by spongebobpublication date Sat Apr 23, 2005 00:22Report this post to the editors

Excellent article Barry. Let’s hope a couple of the candidates score well. It's a sad reflection on the ""dissidents" that none of them, IRSP, RSF or Reals, have the ability or foresight to put up candidates. No wonder the shinners think they are untouchable.

author by Barrypublication date Sat Apr 23, 2005 01:33Report this post to the editors

The 32s arent a political party . The organisation is precluded by its own constitution from standing in elections .

author by jack whitepublication date Sat Apr 23, 2005 01:42Report this post to the editors

I'm afraid this is going to be a quick enough reply, I'll try to get back to it again in the next coupla days though.
(I'm putting one of these '>' in front of quotes from you)

> An end to the British occupation is bound to make them feel threatened on some level .

If they consider themselves British what does an end to British occupation mean? That they all have to leave too?

>But what about those of us currently being occupied by a foreign power ?... Am i and other republicans supposed to just lie down , stay quiet and take the occupation of Ireland up the ass without complaint ?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not pro partition or anything and I'm certainly not pro the British Army walking down streets, cops harassing people and all the rest of it. I'm not saying you have to take anything up the ass, I am questioning whether 'dissident republican' politics can bring about any meaningful change though. I think that without some kind of development the best you can hope for is to be the dominant force among nationalists.

>The reason for the sectarian divisions on this island is that they have been deliberately fostered and manipulated by the British in the first place. The GFA has been identified even by the Green Party as having institutionalised sectarianism .


It's obviously true that the British state and ruling class has fostered sectarianism, I'm not arguing that fact but I don't think that unionists / loyalists are only messing or something when they call themselves British, its not like they're just trying to see how long they get away with it.
And yeah I also think that the mechanisms of the GFA do reinforce and institutionalise sectarianism, as far as I can see the whole system of the Assembly is based on it.

>While the British government continues to claim sovereignty over part of this nation northern unionists will simply remain entrenched behind bigoted and insular attitudes. There is no political incentive for the situation to change.

Its not like I think that partition was a good thing, it was obviously a scam to set up a sectarian state with an inbuilt and undemocratic majority. But do you think that the removal of the British state will automatically result in a united Ireland? How do you see it coming about?

From talking to a Shinner I know they at least have the idea that unionists have to be brought around to wanting to be in a united Ireland, he reckons it'll come about when sectarianism on the ground is broken down in working class areas and people see that they have common interests as well as when economics mean that being connected to the UK will be a disadvatage.

> Almost 11 years after the provos embarked upon a peace process we have seen Ian Paisley take pole position within Unionism .

Almost x amount of years of militant armed struggle republicanism we have seen Paisley take pole position within Unionism.


>The right to a nations sovereignty , and all that entails is a national imperative . It shouldnt be abandoned on the grounds that it threatens unionists , especially reactionary religious bigots who simply wont live in peace with the rest of us.

Even if I thought that all unionists were religious bigots what do you do with them after a british state withdrawal, have another super repressive police force to keep them down? I'm not arguing that the status quo is a good thing Barry, I'm just asking how you plan to deal with unionists - do you think they'll all change their mind? Do you have some idea of how to bring them to a consensus?


as an aside, during the war of independence, when armed force republicanism was at its highest point I don’t think there was loads of activity in the 4 northeastern counties (though I could be totally wrong and am open to correction there) what was the plan back then?

Connolly seemed to recognise that Protestants would have to be won to the idea of a united Ireland, in ‘Labour in Irish history’ he said that “ the presence of a common exploitation can make enthusiastic rebels out of a Protestant working class, (and) earnest champions of civil and religious liberty out of Catholics, and out of both a united social democracy."

author by Barrypublication date Sat Apr 23, 2005 02:43Report this post to the editors

I dont propose to " do " anything with unionists . The job of reassuring them they wont be marched into the nearest chapel with an armalite in their backs , and forced to recite a decade of the rosary ( as gaelige ) is the Irish nations as a whole .

Republicans do not demand that the British government withdraw from this country overnight , simply that it declares its intent to withdraw within a specified timeframe (eg 5 -10 ) years . There is ample time within that timeframe to ensure security for individual citizens and for the people of this country to sit down and figure out a harmonious way of living together .

At the conflicts height in the early 70s for example the extremes of unionism and loyalism believed for a period that a British withdrawal was imminent . Ian Paisley as well as elements within the UDA leadership declared that in the event of withdrawal they would prefer UDI . If UDI was unacheivable then they were prepared to accept the alternative of a federally based solution . Providing their Ulster identity was assured and that the Catholic church was to have no role or influence in govt then they believed that was a solution they could live with . The extreme Unionist and Stormont home affairs minister John Taylor declared his willingness to travel to Munster and meet republicans who also favoured a federal solution . The day before he was due to travel he was ambushed and shot in the face by members of the Official IRA ( these were the same people who advocated it was wrong to confront the crown forces and argued that a socialist programme was needed to unite the working class in the north !!!) .

I am not advocating federalism , what I am pointing out is the historical precedent of extreme unionism being prepared to engage with the rest of the nation and discuss their future in the event of a British withdrawal . The mechanism which activated this was the imminent likelihood of a British withdrawal .

Unionists have no incentive to change their position and step away from sectarianism while the British occupation remains in place .While it is the duty of every republican to be positively anti -sectarian as opposed to non-sectarian , we cannot do this and recognise the validity of a sectarian veto . Its a contradiction in terms .

The job of reassuring the unionist population that we have no wish to dominate or oppress them is the responsibility of the people as a whole , not just republicans or one single grouping .

author by Realistpublication date Sat Apr 23, 2005 03:10author address Antrim TownReport this post to the editors

The Civil Rights movement achieved more in 6 months than dissident "Republicans" did in 50 years. By 1970 they had managed to have the RUC disarmed. Dissident "Republicans" got them rearmed.

Some of the candidates wouldn't know what a Socialist was, never mind a Republican. Cromwell was a Republican, and I suppose a bit socialist. I cannot think of too many others in Ireland. There have been an awful lot of Nationalist Socialists however.

Other candidates would be better emigrating to Scotland with their supporters and saving on fares to Celtic matches. Take all the wannabe Scottish Celtic and Rangers supporters out of the country, and maybe then we could have Republican Socialists.

If we believed Barry, you would think that some of the candidates were interested in politics, which believe me, is a long way from the truth.

author by Eugenepublication date Sat Apr 23, 2005 03:18Report this post to the editors

What?

What are the candidates interested in then, in your 'realistic' opinion which is not necessarily the 'truth' as you seem to consider it.

This term 'dissident' republicans as it has been applied more recently has not been around for 50 years anyway - what are you talking about?

author by realistpublication date Sat Apr 23, 2005 03:36Report this post to the editors

Just finished reading all of Barry's comments. There are many amazing claims but two stand out.

Firstly, how did it take you so long to realise that Sinn Fein and the IRA were fascist thugs. Most people knew that in 1970.

And you mention that some candidate was ex INLA and a Socialist. Now that is impossible, the two things just do not go together. Unless he saw the light, left INLA and became a Socialist.

Socialism is about creating a caring society, where workers are fairly treated. INLA was about killing workers, especially Protestant workers.

author by Eugenepublication date Sat Apr 23, 2005 03:47Report this post to the editors

I'll let Baz answer the queries put to him or regarding his comments but I think socialism is about a little more than creating warm fuzzy caring societies. Bit more substance to it realist.

author by seedotpublication date Sat Apr 23, 2005 12:15Report this post to the editors

.. and some of the discussion is interesting.

When W. Gallagher talks about each successive generation of republicans selling out and being co-opted, he limits his analysis to the 20th century - But the pattern continued al through the 19th as well. Parnell supposedly took the Fenian oath, O'Connell was a radical in the 1790's when the UI made the transition to physical force republicanism. Tieing mass agitation into parliamentary poitics was an irish invention.

There does seem to be a pattern here whether or not it is due to a deficiency in the republican analysis. If you contrast with Islam, groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood seem to have followed a different path staying true to their bases even as they move away from violence. Hezbollah in particular have taken on large aspects of the running of the Lebanese state with schools, hospitals and other services being provided in an islamic framework.

Why has Irish republicanism not done this? Maybe the belief that the only strategies available are the Ballot Box OR the Armalite - with the possible innovation of combining the two. In the mid 1990's I visited a group of ex-POW's in Belfast who were building houses just above Ballymurphy. They talked about co-ops and providing services to their community, of restorative justice and employment and a new form of withdrawal from the state. I don't know where any of this went - but could I suggest that maybe standing for elections is the problem - or at least the focus of this could be the problem.

Having said all that - Good luck to these candidates and if some of them do get onto councils maybe they could look at breaking this unhealthy cycle within republicanism rather than pushing PSF more into the arms of the state.

author by Mark H - Socialist Party (personal cap)publication date Sat Apr 23, 2005 16:15Report this post to the editors

This has been an interesting discussion. In particular W. Gallagher's outline of the Groundhog Day repetitions of Republican history has been useful.

However I think that the single most revealing passage in the entire thread came at the end of one of Barry's postings. For all the talk of socialism, when pushed he gave us the following statement:

--------------------------
"While building support for a united Ireland through some popular socialist movement sounds great on paper , it will simply never happen while the British occupation remains . While Britain remains here the future of this nation is in the hands of whitehall and westminster , not the Irish people .

Sectarian vetoes are the very antithesis of republicanism , democracy and socialism . Our rights to national sovereignty are enshrined under international law , just as the demand for national sovereignty free from foreign dominion is enshrined in the DOI .

The right to a nations sovereignty , and all that entails is a national imperative . It shouldnt be abandoned on the grounds that it threatens unionists , especially reactionary religious bigots who simply wont live in peace with the rest of us ."
--------------------------

Each of those paragraphs tells us something important, none of it encouraging for people who would like to see Republican dissidents as genuine socialists. Taking the paragraphs one by one:

1. The first paragraph is a straightforward summary of the republican position on socialism and the working class since De Valera. Labour Must Wait. First we get the British out, then we can work out those pesky details like whether the capitalists or the working class control society. The problem is that these "details" are what is of primary interest to socialists as opposed to republicans. And strangely enough, that some other day in which socialism will be on the agenda never seems to come.

Far from being something which we can relegate to the future, it is only a "popular socialist movement" which can actually win working class Protestants away from unionism. Nationalism, or its more radical variant Republicanism, offers them nothing and can never win them over. For socialists, Protestant and Catholic workers have a fundamental class interest in common. Of course that is of little iimportance to those who themselves have little interest in the Protestant sections of the working class, a point I will return to in paragraph 3.

2. The second paragraph appeals to international law as a basis for national sovereignty. But what is "international law" and where does it come from? Isn't it just the current working arrangement of the major capitalist powers. It is profoundly non-socialist to imagine that "international law" is there to protect the interests of either small nations or more importantly the working class. This kind of stuff is of a piece with illusions which pacifists commonly hold in the United Nations. It is particularly ironic that this kind of bilge should come from people who make a nationalist "anti-imperialism" the cornerstone of their politics.

3. The third paragraph is particularly enlightening because it displays most openly the real attitude of republicans, "dissident" or otherwise, towards Protestant workers. If they object to nationalism they are "reactionary religious bigots who simply won't live in peace with the rest of us". Either way, their interests, fears and attitudes can't be allowed to interfere with our "national imperative" and so what if they feel threatened? This isn't an approach which any socialist can accept.

The Protestant working class forms a majority of the working class in the North and a substantial minority of the working class on the island as a whole. Without winning substantial sections of them over to socialist ideas and a socialist programme there will be no socialism anywhere on this island.

I am categorically not saying that people can't break from Republicanism and become socialists, but the important word in this sentence is "break". Left republicans will often make very telling criticisms of the Provisionals and of other right wing republicans but they have not themselves fully broken from their mistaken political approach. This is not an argument that they themselves are bigots or that they are personally anti-Protestant. A few may be, but in my experience most left republicans are not personally bigoted. It is an argument that their politics can never make headway amongst Protestant workers.

The response to that can either be a shrug and a continued indifference to working class Protestants or it can be a more thorough reevaluation of the limits of republicanism. The choice is one for people like Barry to make.

Finally a word to "Socialist" who may or may not be a member of the same organisation as me. You don't convince anybody by popping up to denounce them and then disappearing again. It isn't enough to just say that Republicanism is a dead end. You have to explain why it is such. The point of taking part in a discussion is to convince (or learn from) others after all.

author by Barrypublication date Sat Apr 23, 2005 17:32Report this post to the editors

Seedot a great post . Believe it or not virtually every single word your saying there is nearly identical to what was dicussed , debated and analysed at the at the outset of 32csm .

The cycle of betrayal has indeed existed within republicanism for centuries , and what was recognised immediately in 98/99 was the importance of it being broken as an historical necessity .

"maybe the problem is standing for elections in the first place" - EXACTLY .

This cycle within republicanism which yourself , WG and Mike have discussed was and remains a serious issue within 32csm . To simply repeat the same process , electoral boom - ideological bust was seen as an inevitability if our movement didnt make a conscious attempt to identify the process and break out of the historical cycle right from the outset .

People were adamant that if concrete steps werent actively taken to break out of this cycle from the very beginning then they would simply not be participating in yet another doomed republican project , never mind encouraging others to do so .

Thats why the firm decision was taken from the start not to organise along the lines of a political party and to preclude the movement from standing in elections of any kind , ever.

Armalite and ballot box , while an undoubted personal success for power hungry politicians was and is an utter disaster for the republican position .

Therefore another conscious attempt to break the cycle was the recognition that the objective of all political parties , particularly Sinn Fein , is to acheive power .The 32csm objective is national sovereignty . Once this objective has been acheived the movement must dissolve itself , not seek to remain on in a position of power .

An issue currently being discussed among republicans also is only allowing leaders to remain in place for a specified time span . After a certain amount of time - adios . Every attempt must be made to firmly take us out of this disastrous cycle and all avenues continue to be actively explored.

One working example of this was the decision to actively empower the membership base . For too long the republican base was simply used by leaderships as voting fodder or to docilely rubberstamp the decisions of a leadership clique , who always knew best .

A few years back certain leadership figures and personalities (whom the media had portrayed as 32csm personified) attempted to take the movement down a path of their own choosing for their own selfish reasons . They fell flat on their faces almost immediately, chiefly because the membership base was empowered - the structures and ethos of democratically accountable decisions being the prerogative of the base had been put in place and emphasised from the beginning . Rather than following high profile personalities as before, the base opted to stick with the analysis and the issues at hand .

Throughout republican history a leadership about face would have resulted in an inevitable split and the probable implosion of our position (which the media and others confidently predicted) . For the first time ever in republican history it simply didnt happen - we successfully broke the cycle . The overwhelming majority of the base stuck with the issues and rejected the personalities . The days of follow the leader were over for our base , and it is now recognised within the movement that empowerment of the base is probably our greatest internal strength . That lesson in turn has made them more confident and assertive and even less likely to allow themselves to be manipulated in the future .

I also agree fully in your analysis of the experience of radical islamist groups . However what I believe is a major factor in their ability to resist is cultural cohesion and with that , national consciousness (Im a fan of Frantz Fanon on this point) . Its obviously much easier for an arab / muslim to correctly identify a white , english speaking foreign meddler for what he is - a thief and an oppressor . In white , english speaking Ireland we have to believe hes our friend , otherwise were just xenophobic extremists .

Our native culture has been virtually eliminated and with it our national consciousness has been almost totally eroded . Today we are in a process were we even tell ourselves that what little remains of Irish national consciousness is harmful , backward and sectarian . Take for example the debate on Croke Park , the hysterical reaction to the burial of Kevin Barry and his comrades , as well as the political importance attached to the ramblings of revisionist historians . With our native culture and consciousness eroded to such an extent , those who actively oppose Irish freedom are now simply in the process of sterilising what little remains in order to render it tame and worthless . All in the name progress and the peace process , while in reality they just want every last vestige of Irish national consciousness eliminated so the occupation stays unopposed , not even regarded as an occupation .

You also identify the limits within traditional republican strategy , basically either armalite or ballotbox , or a hybrid of the 2 . Thats why we adopted a completely different departure. For the first time ever in republican history we incorporated into our strategy UN declarations on sovereignty and colonialism , and highlighting Irish rights under international law , again in an attempt to break out of the same cycle .

While I believe WGallagher , Mike and others are totally sincere about their belief that socialism alone is the way forward , their position places little value on issues such as national consciousness , anti -colonialism or Irish sovereignty . These issues are essential for any successful revolutionary struggle . Nobody had a better more coherent socialist programme than the viet cong yet they were totally unable to convince their fellow countrymen in the south for the need for an end to colonialism . They simply had to get rid of the invader first before they could convince them of anything . Why would Ireland be any different ? While socialists accuse republicans of putting socialism on the back burner in pursuit of national rights , they in turn demand republicans put national rights on the back burner while we wait for socialism .
My argument is that while westminster exercises its control on our nations future forget about acheiving either national or economic rights . Neither will happen , and they have the GFA to ensure we stay divided .

Try telling Hugo Chavez and his supporters that sovereignty , which they and many on the revolutionary left are directly linking to a nations resources and wealth producing process , is only a side issue . Or that Bolivarian expressions of Independence are just an "historical artefact" . I know what their answer would be to that !!!!

By the way thanks to everyone again for all the worthwhile contributions made towards this post . Very enjoyable .

author by Barrypublication date Sat Apr 23, 2005 17:42Report this post to the editors

Sorry Mark , I didnt notice your piece until after I posted . Some good points which ill reply to at some stage. Need to get me a life !!!

author by joe (Holy lands) - former ogra Shinn Feinpublication date Sat Apr 23, 2005 21:03Report this post to the editors

I believe this article below from NUZHOUND belongs here re the breaking up of a Provisional Sinn fein Cumann in the Market / Ormeau area Belfast. My reasons are as follows:

The grass roots or the base have been ignored, sacrificed , blamed, scapegoated and dumped by an elite leadership which i argue sounds familiar throughout this thread.

Former PSF elected councillors are leading this challenge in the Market area - i.e. Sean hayes. Albeit edging his bets.

There is implicit criticism of the current PSF political elected representatives i.e. Alex Maskey. (part of the leadership elite). This is flagged up by the "badly needed representation" comments by Hayes in the article.

Finally I am hoping that wakening up even when it is the wrong reasons can lead to wakening up for the right reasons in good time. The awakening in the Market area and Lower ormeau is attributed fully to the PSF leadership's PR exercise surrounding the murder of robert Mc Cartney. But it indicates how expendable the people are as far as power seeking politicans are concerned. The growing discontent demonstrated by former PSF members in the Market area is a sense that is repeated throughout the six counties towards a party that claims to be republican socialist and democratic.

Nuzhound article
or
www.irelandclick.com

Anger as Sinn Fein members step down
South Belfast News 23 April 2005 page 3.

Sinn Fein representative and community worker in the Markets, Sean Hayes has blasted what he described as the “dis-enfranchising of local voters following his suspension and that of several other South Belfast members by the party.

Also among those suspended was local council candidate, Deirdre Hargey, who had planned to run alongside current Sinn Fein councilor, Alex Maskey, in the forthcoming elections for laganbank but has now been forced to step down.

It is believed that a further seven also resigned in protest at the suspensions.

Mr Hayes said “Thanks to this, the party in south east Belfast and the Ormeau Road has been effectively shut down.

“We are really annoyed. People in the Markets were expecting big things from Deirdre, who is young, dynamic and has no baggage whatsoever.

“She would have been a real force for good for the Markets and given badly needed representation for the community in council.

“What the party has done here is wrong. We have now been removed from the scene of these elections and it is this community which will suffer,” he added.

The decision by Sinn Fein to suspend members follows revelations that they were present in Magennis’s Bar on the night of the murder of Short Strand man, Robert Mc Cartney.

Both Mr Hayes and Ms Hargey deny witnessing the murder on the evening and say they were not present when it happened.

“We have to stop punishing people for something they didn’t do. It will get to the stage where as soon as a republican walks into a bar they will be attacked or accused of something.”

Mr Hayes added that residents in the Markets were “angry” about the party leadership’s decision but stressed the importance of people still voting Sinn Fein.

“Of course it’s natural for people to get angry about this. I have had many people who supported Deirdre approaching me and saying that they are not going to vote for Sinn Fein now.

“But whatever has happened, Sinn Fein are still the only party who can deliver services and resources to the community.
“We must now work on rebuilding local membership and strengthening our grass roots base.”

Related Link: http://www.nuzhound.com/index.php
author by Barrypublication date Sat Apr 23, 2005 21:14Report this post to the editors

You raise a number of very good points , I actually agree to some extent with some of what you say as fair criticism of republicans over the years .

When I dismissed a purely "socialist" popular movement , I did so on the basis of what the left in Ireland generally puts forward as their vision . - Armed struggle is divisive and sectarian , lets have unity among the religious groups first before we even talk about a British withdrawal, essentially put revolutionary republicanism on the back burner and wait for ideal (utopian) conditions first before we resist or even demand an end to colonial occupation. - Maybe this is an oversimplification but you get my drift . Am I supposed to wait for Peter Hadden and God knows who else to join the fray , seriously ?

What you dont understand is that although 32csm isnt a political party its members are permitted to join other political parties and organisations . Some of our leading and most active members , including those currently jailed were formerly members of hard left groups .

Absolutely nowhere does our position state that socialism must wait , simply that we are not going to hang around and wait for the left to get its act together . We know full well wed be here till doomsday . Members of 32csm can continue advancing their socialist beliefs within and without the organisation . They dont have to put them on the shelf .

Because our organisation is led by the base no-one can prevent anyone from advancing or advocating socialism . In fact anyone actively seeking to stifle or prevent such a debate would be subject to disciplinary procedures and likely dismissal . It may well be that in the future our movement adopts or places more emphasis on the promotion of socialism , essentially thats down to the base itself . Anyone wishing to argue that point can make it , and many do .

What we are simply not willing to do is put the demand for an end to occupation on the back burner for anyone , not for anyone or any reason . James Connolly didnt either .

While its understandable that many among the left in Ireland couldnt care less about debate within 32csm (especially as they spend most of their time slagging off each other) other serious players on the international left most definitely have been paying attention . Most notably the Turkish DHKP , representatives of the Nepalese Maoist movement and others within the hard left in Europe .

We came away from both local meetings and international symposiums hailed by these socialists as a progressive force , the main reason being that our own membership is able to incorporate a number of radical as well as broadly left wing viewpoints but still agree to work together and take action on one central issue - the absolute necessity for an end to British occupation . The myriad left in Ireland wont even talk to each other yet they lecture republicans on the need to build unity !!

We are under no illusions either about the nature of International law or the UN . In fact we probably have a better first hand working knowledge of these institutions , and their inbred hostility than most groupings here , simply by dealing with the UN in the first place .

The UN submission is simply an attempt to break out of the usual Armalite/ballot box cycle as well as raising the focus of Britains occupation to an international level . Its simply an attempt to expose the illegality of Britains actions and expose the contradictions of the imperialist position by whatever means are at hand . Just like some of these candidates who Im sure have very little faith in local councils for changing anything , we are seeking to highlight an issue through an international arena .

This is a bit lengthy for a post , but this is just one example of ongoing debate which has been taking place -

Planning for freedom ? Why Socialism may hold the key to victory .

" For as long as the term socialism has been in use , the issue of class struggle has caused friction within the Irish Freedom Movement ; assassination conspiracies against Larkin , The IRB abduction of Connolly , the crushing of the Limerick Soviets , the rise of the Republican Congress , the antics of the Officials , the Long Kesh book burnings , all manifesting itself in continuing friction taking us nowhere .

One contemporary manifestation of this friction may well have been the 2002 debates within the 32CSM on the single issue principle .Even some left-wing thinkers within the movement had doubts about the wisdom of dropping the single issue position from the constitution .Nevertheless some thought that the single issue effectively prevented us from organising around social and economic issues and instead let us concentrate only on International recognition of Irish sovereignty . The constitution was however changed by a vote at the AGM and members were then free to organise themselves as a revolutionary force ( as opposed to a pressure group) concerned with the protection of sovereignty and its defence against all attacks on it , whether political or economic .
The actual ability to build a revolutionary force may well depend on how the movement approaches the ultimate overall social and economic question ( something which socialism itself appears to provide a definitive answer for)

Far from being a seperate issue from the "Brits Out" objective , socialism is vital when planning for freedom . In terms of Sovereignty it can mean the difference between Iraqi style freedom and Cuban style freedom ; both countries are recognised by the UN as sovereign nations but only one is a free and independent country . Cuba enjoys true freedom not because its Sovereignty was recognised by other countries (for a long time it wasnt )but because it fiercely asserted it in the face of cruel sanctions , both military and economic .Free Cubas survival was totally dependent upon its ability to build a socialist economy and as such avoid massive starvation and poverty which would have befallen itspeople had itremained capitalist and maintained a privileged business class .

No capitalist country is truly free . Its policies principles and decisions will always revolve around the economic demands of foreign business . For any Irish person who doubts this fact they need only ask why 125,000 US troops were allowed to pass through Shannon airport on their way to invade Iraq despite the Free State govts claim to be a nuetral country . The very real threat of economic sanctions from Washington (which would have had the potential to collapse the economy overnight ) was enough to force the hand of a so-called Sovereign govt without firing a shot . A socialist economy could survive such sanctions , and as such retain the ability to make its own decisions . This is the very concept of true Sovereignty and the very essence of freedom .
As far as tactics go the class issue may also prove vital for the Irish freedom movement . The antics of the Officials did no favours for genuine socialists within Irish republicanism . But it must be understood they could hardly be considered true socialists . Their rhetoric was as empty as that of their idols in Moscow , and their retreat from armed struggle , their failure to confront Loyalist incursions and descent into criminality made them a disgrace to both Republicanism and Socialism . In reality they ought to be forgotten about when debating more serious issues .

The reason why we ought to consider socialist principles is not hard to understand . In order to acheive Irish freedom then clearly we ought to become a significant force rather than an eternal underground group . It is not enough in the long term to be akin to nothing other than a public order problem where British intentions are concerned . We must instead be a direct and credible challenge to their overall ambitions and their ability to govern and suppress us .

To grow we should aim to appeal to 3 groups of people ; the catholic working class , the protestant working class and to a degree the English working class . The catholic working class have carried and sustained Republican struggle through the highs and lows of the 20th Cy . Without their support republicanism is effectively redundant .

The protestant working class is the missing piece of the jigsaw . Simply put we will not have a united Ireland without them and anyone who thinks they can be ignored or isolated is not living in the real world . Furthermore they have been and could be again a real asset to republicanism .They could play a significant part if seperated from Orangism . That seperation can only occur if the protestant working class can be convinced that they have more in common with their Catholic counterparts than the British state or the Orange business class. Socialism is the key message as it offersthem more than a crown to idolise or a sash to wear ; it offers them a stake as equals in the Irish nation .

Support from the English working class would be an obvious advantage and the key to their support is the socialist message . When Karl Marx tried to organise the English working class he first told them to rid themselves of notions of empire and superiority . Such was the strength of his message that he managed to mobilise over 100,000 people at a London rally in support of Irish independence and all this in the middle of a Fenian bombing campaign .Marx was an ardent supporter of the Fenian Movement . Such support has never manifested itself again .

The character of the Irish freedom struggle has by and large been nationalist . However well meaning and sincere this may be the refusal to adopt social and economic issues has seen Republicanism ignore untapped wells of support .There is no better way to mobilise a people than to offer them a reward for their efforts . A capitalist Ireland offers nothing to a worker but a flag . A socialist republic offers them direct ownership of the country itself .

Much of what has been proposed here is not new thinking and has constantly been a bone of contention within the Republican Movement . - which is precisely why we need to confront it . Former republicans have used the issues of socialism and sectarianism to retreat from the fundamental tenets of Republicanism and fatefully slam the progression of the Irish freedom struggle into reverse . The Officials used the excuse of uniting protestant and catholic workers to cease armed resistance to the British occupation , whereas the Provisionals in reaching out the hand of friendship to the unionist community have in reality backed a deal which is profoundly sectarian in content and capitalist in nature . The lurch to the left by the Proviisionals in the late 70s and early 80s is now clearly seen as a tactic rather than being prompted by any genuine ideological considerations . The left wing card was simply an Adams ruse to sideline the southern based leadership and their Eire Nua proposals which Adams and his faction called " a sop to Unionism" . Ironically today we are in a situation where they have totally abandoned Socialist rhetoric in favour of support from corporate America . Alongside this they have abandoned resistance to British occupation in return for ministerial roles within the British state .

Refusal to have this debate because others in the past have had similar arguments without resolution leaves us in a very real danger of "throwing the baby out with the bath water". We should investigate why there remains such friction between the 2 strands of thinking within the true Republican movement . Republicanism and Socialism , far from being mutually exclusive may well be inextricably linked and the failure to recognise this or act on it may well be another factor holding us back ."

Ciaran Cunningham, South Armagh (Irish republican Prisoner of War , former 32csm executive member and member of Unison trade union)

I sincerely apologise to all for the lengthy nature of that post , but it clearly illustrates the level and nature of debate within 32csm and the republican movement as a whole . Positions and attitudes cant be explained with mantras and soundbites.

While this is readily accepted as proof of our progressive ideology by genuine leftist revolutionaries internationally , all too often on the Irish left the national question will simply not be touched with a 50 foot pole. As yet none have even attempted to engage or to sound out our stance , which is basically unsurprising . When the radical socialist who wrote this piece was on dirty protest living in his own shite , being strip searched and abused they were nowhere to be seen on our pickets .

(As to anyone on the left still calling us Celtic supporting Fianna Fail wannabes, all I can say is " Eamon DeValera , my hairy Fenian arse - hole !!")

author by eeekkkkpublication date Sat Apr 23, 2005 22:42Report this post to the editors

Do write some more whenever you have news. You (and others on the thread) don't have to ask permission or be asked as I'm hopeful you realise after hanging around so much in the last while. And a question . What array of tactics do the 32 csm advocate to achieve their aims at present?

author by Barrypublication date Sun Apr 24, 2005 22:54Report this post to the editors

Up until recently 32 CSM strategy had primarily focussed on the legality of British occupation under international law . A submission had originally been made to the UN on Irish sovereignty and followed up with an addendum . This decision to incorporate principles of international law into our strategy wrongfooted our opponents who had assumed we would either retreat into blind militarism or the minimalist abstentionism and republican histrionics of RSF . While they could misrepresent and censor us , they couldnt enter into a debate with us - and win it .

The US then designated us as a terrorist group ( a lie , we are an open and transparent political organisation ) . This ,obviously , made it impossible for our members to actually travel and visit the UN in New York , as well as preventing us from organising among the diaspora in the US , were we have a good degree of support .

This extreme reaction to our position only demonstrates the potential threat we pose to our enemies , and we actively welcome it . If we werent banned from America wed be on the wrong road entirely .

International strategy then switched to the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva . Through active co - operation with NGOs we successfully secured speaking rights in Geneva and our Chairperson Francie Mackey was able to challenge British government representative Gerald Kaufman personally on Britains occupation . It is through the active assistance of NGOs and some interested legal figures we intend to secure further acesss to the UN in New York in the future and continue to highlight Britains illegal claim to our territory .

In ongoing attempts to highlight the fact of British occupation internationally we also participated in a number of international conferences , such as the European Social Forum in London and the Anti - Imperialist camp in Assisi in 2004 which was also attended by representatives from Palestine ,Turkey , Iraq , Nepal ,Venezuela , Mexico , Bolivia, the Basque country and Kashmir , to name but a few . Our addresses to these conferences highlighting the ongoing occupation of the Irish nation went down very well with the radical anti - imperialist groups present who were heartened to see that there were still those of us left prepared to resist imperialism in Ireland . These groups have also been asked to assist the Irish struggle in anyway they can .

At home our strategy has mainly focussed on attempts to open up the debate on Irish sovereignty and British occupation amongst our local communites and at a national level . At least thats what we are supposed to do . In reality our movements efforts for the last 6/7 years have been mainly focussed on our own basic survival , both political and physical .

While at a local level we have been fairly successful in building up and educating our base in a number of areas , the movement has been under constant and unwavering attempts by the state forces north and south ( and also the US) to silence and scatter us and drive us into oblivion . Raids , arrests , intimidation , censorship , beatings , abductions , smear campaigns and black propaganda have been a constant feature of our everyday political life .

Despite all this we 've successfully resurrected the movements newspaper , The Sovereign Nation which not only articulates our position but acts as a forum where other republicans and radicals can put their views forward for consideration and debate by republicans . A website along with discussion board is also up and running in an attempt to facilitate more debate .These are part of our ongoing attempts to open up a genuine debate among republicans and radicals on the way forward which has been actively stifled by both Sinn Fein and the state , North and South . This debate is a key objective and absolutely vital in our efforts to oppose colonialism , hence the concerted attempts to suppress it .

Our activists have also attended protests such as at Shannon airport , the Bush Blair summit in Hillsboro as well as the anti - globalisation protests in Dublin . A key part of our message is that Globalisation is nothing more than the internationalisation of capitalism . By basing our movement upon Irelands declaration of Independence - which clearly states that " the nations sovereignty extends , not only to all the men and women of the nation , but to all its material possessions ; the nations soil and all its resources , all the wealth and wealth producing processes within the nation and... we reaffirm that all rights to private property must be subordinated to the public right and welfare " - we have consciously chosen to place ourselves inside the anti - capitalist , anti globalisation and anti - imperialist camp just as much as remaining a principled republican organisation.

The abandonment of Irish sovereignty and neutrality , as evidenced by the use of Shannon warport is an example of how much the sovereignty of individual nations can be eroded when multi - national companies and foreign capitalists take control of a nations workforce and economy .

American warplanes and troops south of the Border , and British helicopter gunships and troops north of the border are a clear indication that none of the nationalist parties are defending either sovereignty or neutrality . Capitalism is the key component of both these expressions of armed colonialism , and Adams , Ahern , McGuinness and McDowell are all in thrall to capitalism . Hence their capitulation to it and their betrayal of Irish sovereignty and neutrality .

At a national level we havent as yet made any serious impact although we are actively attempting to do so . Unsurprisingly others are actively attempting to prevent us from making any impact.

In the last couple of weeks the homes of numerous 32 csm members were raided across the 26 cos . Its clear the intelligence gathering raids which took place in Louth , Dublin , Kildare , Cork and Limerick were sanctioned at the highest level and came after months of petty harassment by the Special Branch .

This is simply because the Free State administration is aware that the 32 csm executive has been preparing various strategy and policy documents on the issue of Irish democracy and national unity .

Just last month members of the movements national executive were detained by Special Branch just south of the border as they returned from a meeting in Belfast which was part of the latest initiative at formulating both policy and strategy .

The branch were clearly looking to intercept documents relating to the current strategy and tactics within 32 csm in order for the state to assess exactly what the current level of thinking is within the movement . Vice chairman Joe Dillon and Dubliner Phil O'Donaghue (Phil was present on the Brookeboro raid with Sean South and Fearghal O'Hanlon incidentally) simply refused to hand the documents over . The branch then intercepted another executive members car and successfully retrieved similar documents from the boot .

Its clear therefore that the the branch are very anxious to find out exactly were our policy documents are directed so they can alert other parties such as Fianna Fail , Sinn Fein etc and give them advance warning of the issues and questions we intend to raise , and how we intend raising them , in the coming weeks and months .

The nationalist establishment will no doubt attempt to counter our efforts with another well constructed and finely worded fudge to confuse people on the issue of unity and sovereignty , as per usual . Proof of this was the pre - election debacle when both the SDLP and Sinn Fein held press conferences ,shortly after the 32csm documents were intercepted , calling on the Free state government to release a white paper on Irish unity ( which bore more than a striking resemblance to certain issues dicussed within the seized strategy documents ).

The government reply was the GFA was the only basis for unity available and that it didnt need to formulate any strategy . Clearly then utter confusion reigns . NONE of the nationalist parties have even the remotest plan or strategy in this regard except for clinging onto the failed GFA .

Its safe to say that 32csm will be launching a new strategy initiative in due course . Our opinions and suggestions as to the way forward will be open to public scrutiny and debate , while at the same time republicans will be seeking to hold others to account on the basis of debate on their analysis .

When these policy and strategy documents are made public Indymedia readers will be among the first to read them.

(providing the branch dont nick them first)

author by spongebobpublication date Mon Apr 25, 2005 01:26Report this post to the editors

Barry, you appear to be one of the more intelligent posters on this site. Anyone who can handle the middle class anti republicans and the ‘non dissident’ republicans of Sinn Fein on this site deserves respect. But, I’ve a couple of questions. If the 32’s aren’t allowed contest elections how do they intend to gather support and spread their message? Please don’t give me some shite about ‘building from below’ or other airy fairy nonsense. Practical examples please. I think this is a copout to disguise a lack of support or an excuse not to have to debate with the working class (much the same as the anarchist argument against electoral politics). I think the idea of ‘withdrawal from the workings of the state’ discussed by republicans in the late 70’s is genuinely revolutionary but can’t see that happening in the present climate and especially by the 32’s. Surely the fact that a significant section of the Reals are involved in drugs to some degree will impact on any progress you would hope to make. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see a genuine republican alternative to the SF sell out. The left in Ireland are an irrelevance, if any left alternative is to present a genuine threat they will have to totally rediscover what the fuck socialism was meant to be about. I wouldn’t hold out much hope. Not since James Connolly’s time has socialism been to the forefront of any real struggle against the state. Republicanism has led that struggle by default because the ‘socialist’ leaders didn’t recognise the validity of the national question to ordinary people.

author by barrypublication date Mon Apr 25, 2005 05:54Report this post to the editors

Im more than willing to engage in frank and full debate with you or anyone else .

First and foremost clarify your accusation about drugs .

Where is your evidence for this , even anecdotal ?

Explain yourself .

To make such an outrageous suggestion about any republican group and not even supply the slightest shred of evidence is totally astounding . It seems to me despite your compliment this is more a case of you being well fucked off with my posts and putting a very cynical spanner in the works . Wheres your evidence , provide a link or even tell me your " rumour" .

Stop speaking in forked tongues and debate the issues.

author by W. Gallagherpublication date Mon Apr 25, 2005 14:08Report this post to the editors

Apologies, Barry. You put a question to me a couple of days back but I didn’t get the chance to see it over the weekend.

You ask as a socialist what part of the Declaration of Independence do I not agree with. The answer – none. And neither do you. And, as you point out, neither does Bertie Ahern or Enda Kenny. Now, doesn’t that last part emphasize what my opposition is to including the Declaration in contemporary debate? It’s not that I am set against anything in particular that is contained within the text but the fact that the text does not go far enough. It is a minimum programme asserting Ireland’s independence.

We have to be relevant to our time and, as Connolly once said, “this is not 1782, it is 1908.” Connolly stated that any movement which wanted success “must express itself in terms of present conditions, or on the lines of future developments.” So, that means as a socialist I don’t appear on someone’s doorstep in Crossmaglen or Ballymena and start preaching about the finer points of the Paris Commune and republicans don’t get dragged into tired historical debates at crucial stages on the Declaration of Independence or the Democratic Programme. This does not downplay the role of history. The history of any revolutionary movement – and most crucially history of the mistakes of any revolutionary movement – are important, but what we must always realise is that the significance lies in where we are at and where we are going.

Moving on.

Spongebob claims that socialists have never recognised the validity of the national question for ordinary people. That is incorrect. The ISRP of 1896 was quite plain on where it stood on the issue of an independent Ireland. Connolly maintained this clarity until his death. Marxists continued their active support for the independence struggle through the war of independence, the civil war and onwards. The SWP, the CP and the Socialist Party have published an abundance of documents over the decades which deal with directly that issue and today, while there are many differences between each regarding strategy, there is nonetheless a universal desire to see the end to partition and a socialist Ireland. On that the left has been virtually unanimous. (The British and Irish Communist Organisation were supporters of the ‘two nations’ theory but their tiny membership and historical irrelevance has made me already question why I’ve even bothered to mention them!)

I also find his remarks about the left in Ireland being an “irrelevance” as strikingly naïve. Has he not been keeping his eye on the Dublin West TD Joe Higgins’s sterling work on behalf of the GAMA workers in recent days? Or the ARN members who protested at the Minister for Justice’s visit to Belfast last week? Those are very recent examples and there are numerous other examples such as that of the constant work that people on the left have been doing in the struggle against water charges in the north and the bin tax in the south, against racism across the island, participation in the trades unions, the anti-war movement, in defence of the health service as well as organising initiatives which highlight attention at the plight of workers in other parts of the world – Iraq and Palestine to name but two. We may be irrelevant if you confine your reading to the mainstream-politics-meets-celebrity-gossip of the daily columns of the ‘Irish Independent’ and the ‘Belfast Telegraph’, and electorally the left may only have a few seats in Dail Eireann and several councils north and south, but on a daily basis the work is being put in. “An ounce of struggle is worth a tonne of votes”, as a great man once said! The foundations are already there for the alternative that would provide the much needed votes. The proper vehicle just hasn’t been produced. (Unfortunately people have been discussing how to create the appropriate vehicle since before I was even born).

This opens up the question as to how that alternative will manifest itself.

In my humble opinion the new brand of politics that has to open up in the north has to be a ‘socialist alternative’ that properly addresses the national question within its programme, rather than a solely ‘republican alternative’ that first and foremost addresses the national question, only partly addresses the various social questions and struggles with gaining the support of Protestant workers. This path would only end up producing a slightly redder version of Provisional Sinn Fein; a Provisional Sinn Fein Mark 2.

The Protestant working-class are integral to the building of any radical movement. I don’t think that this should be considered an innovatory insight on my part as it has been touted for years. Republicans will find this difficult to achieve but shouldn’t shirk from the task of immersing themselves in a wider movement than can help achieve the type of Ireland that them and many on the left aspire to.

The Official republican movement grasped the need for the support of Protestant workers in the seventies but drifted too far down the reformist path, as displayed last year by the WP’s support for John Gilliland in the NI European Election. The Provisionals will simply never win over Protestant workers and are today more concerned with gaining support from the burgeoning Catholic middle-class. Republican Sinn Fein refuses to contest elections in the north because of a political test oath and rarely contests them in the south while people there view their insistence on refusing to recognise the Dail as preposterously out of date (incidentally a motion passed at the 2004 RSF Ard-Fheis forbid members from being involved in “political broad fronts”). The IRSP have had many esteemed individuals in their ranks over the years, such as Seamus Costello and Miriam Daly, but sectarian attacks by the INLA such as the Darkley massacre, allegations of criminality and feuding (both internal and with other organisations) in 1987 and 1996 have severely damaged that movement’s integrity.

The 32 County Sovereignty Movement appears to have put themselves into a cul-de-sac with their insistence on being a single-issue pressure group. Unfortunately mainstream politicians and the media will always attempt to neutralise any sensible, constructive debate with them by carring the Omagh bombing into the discussion but the politics of the 32CSM raises a few interesting questions. However, they do suggest lobbying the United Nations to encourage them to declare British rule in Northern Ireland illegal under international law. Fair enough. But the United Nations made similar declarations against Israel nearly forty years ago and they have had no effect whatsoever. Would it really be any different if the UN passed a resolution against the British government? I doubt it. Organising people in a coherent fashion will bring around the change you desire, not convincing the apparatchiks in New York to pass unenforceable laws against a major global power, especially when that same institution refused to do anything constructive to prevent or punish the British and the United States from pursuing an illegal war against Iraq.

In short, there is no future for republican movements concerned solely with the establishment a simple united Ireland. As far as I am concerned the future lies in principled, radical republicans submerging themselves into a wider anti-sectarian, left-wing movement with its goal as a socialist republic on the island.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it?

author by lucy82publication date Mon Apr 25, 2005 14:55Report this post to the editors

ok having just got back from cuba, i have decided definitively cuba is shit. the whole country is the plaything of one man.

people get paid by the state in pesos which are literally worth less than toilet paper because pesos cannot be spent in the shops so effectively have no value. the whole country runs on the convertable peso which replaced the dollar and the only way people can survive in cuba is to work the black market to get convertable pesos. the whole country runs on the black economy.

people are paid by the state if they work but they are not paid enough to survive (and as i just said, they are paid in a worthless currency) so everyone steals from their employer (ie. the state) for goods to sell on the black market. the penalties for this are serious with long terms of imprisonment if you get caught but it is impossible to behave according to the dictates of the state in cuba and survive.

the only graffiti is state graffiti. "forward from the glorious revolution to our future together" and other slogans. however, the divide between those who have and those who have not is massive. in havana people live in the crumbling grandure of old colonialism. these houses have beautiful facades but behind the facade they are shacks. you have to be a good hustler in the black market to get by.

there is free healthcare but no drugs in the clinics. there is free education but no way of legally earning enough money.

here are some examples of castros cuba. people who truck cement around the country are some of the richest people because stolen cement is worth a lot of money. waitresses (who can get convertable pesos off tourists) are richer than doctors. if you are a farmer you cannot kill your own cattle for meat because meat is produced on special state farms. if your cow is elderly and you think it might die, you have to go to the goverment building for a permit for your cow to die otherwise you will be penalised. you can own your house but not sell it (which effectively keeps people in their place of origin) unless, of course, you sell it illegally. ordinary people are forbidden from having internet access and there is one newspaper. cubans know nothing about castros life except the snippets of info tourists bring in. unsurprisingly, castro does not want people to talk to tourists. cubans are not allowed to travel.

anything you want to do, for example farm a piece of land (80% of land is state owned), means applying for a permit. this process can take twenty years or more and there is no guarantee you will get it although you are more likely to finally achieve it, if you have friends in high places which most ordinary people don't. it is dangerous to say too much in cuba. there are secreat police on the streets. if you give money to people as a tourist, that person can be taken away by the time you've turned the corner and again, prison sentances are lengthy and punishment severe.

castro forcibly tested 85% of the population for hiv and those who tested positive had to move to a particular area of havana which they are not allowed to leave. works fine as social policy. hiv rates across the country are low. at what cost?

i have every respect for cuban people but i hate castro. true, i haven't mentioned the american embargo. but it seems to me that the american embargo played into castros hands as it created conditions which made it easier for castro to repress "his own" people. imagine the buzz. ultimate power and a whole country to play with. cuba is no democratic socialist republic. effectively, the entire country of cuba is one big prison.

author by not a castro fan butpublication date Mon Apr 25, 2005 15:15Report this post to the editors

but with regards to the aids situation you should read

http://www.counterpunch.org/krales11112004.html

anf if there are no drugs in the clinics as you suggest, it may have something to do with the fact that many "pharmaceutical companies are given a choice between selling in Cuba's market of 11 million people or in the US market of 250 million." I would imagine there is only a limited amount of generic drugs that cuba itself can manufacture.

author by Joepublication date Mon Apr 25, 2005 15:31Report this post to the editors

Don't want to derail this thread but I have to agree that holding up Cuba as a model for freedom is a little odd. That articles on Cuba and HIV linked to is interesting but the authro is far too uncritical. In part it reads like a response to the criticism Cuba received for instance its hard to take the expression 'required to take a several-month course ' seriously except as an evasion.

"In the '80s, a Cuban diagnosed with HIV was required to take a several-month course at a sanatorium about the impact of HIV and what to expect from the illness physically, emotionally and socially. ... The purpose of going to a sanatorium is educational, not punitive."

Well whatever that is it is not freedom - more like the relationship between a parent and child who does not want the medicine the parent deems good for it.

author by Barrypublication date Mon Apr 25, 2005 19:16Report this post to the editors

WG , thanks for your reply . First and foremost let me point out what you obviously missed in that communication I posted by Ciaran Cunningham on the issue of Socialism . 32CSM is NOT a single issue pressure group .

In 2001/2002 a protracted debate occured within 32csm on this very issue . At our 2002 AGM after thorough discussion the majority of republicans present opted to drop this clause from our constitution and link the issue of Sovereignty directly also to our opposition to multi national exploitation of Irish workers and resources .

Their activities are every bit as much an attack on national Sovereignty as Britains illegal claim .Thats is also the Declaration of Independence definition of national Sovereignty . (many on the revolutionary left in Latin and central America also highlight a similar position referring to their own countries Declarations also) .One example would be opposition to Shells exploitation of Irish resources off the Mayo coast . They bought the rights to our resources for a pittance from a corrupt capitalist establishment . They are stealing OUR wealth and resources and my attitude to their pipeline would be very similar to an Iraqi watching his wealth being stolen . I would favour an Iraqi type response to this theft as well .

I didnt claim the likes of Enda Kenny etc couldnt disagree with the DOI, I said they paid lip service to the ideal of a United Ireland , theres a huge difference . Our members are required to uphold the principles of the DOI in " word, deed and spirit" This includes its insistence on the right of the Irish people to control their own resources and private property being subordinate to the public welfare .

We also reference the DOI in our opposition to McDowells law to deny citizenship to children born on this island . Leaving aside the immoral aspect of what McDowell did , our position is that his referendum was only carried out in the 26 cos, not amongst the Irish people as a whole . Therefore his denial of citizenship is basically illegal as well as morally wrong and racist . As illegal as the British occupation .

The British and the free state establishment seek to confine all political debate and action on irelands future within the GFA ( the citizenship referendum included). We identify the primary cause of colonialism , including the GFA as being capitalism . An international dimension is vital to break out of this sectarian and colonialist cul de sac . By upholding the DOI we make clear that the only time the Irish nation has ever voted as a unit it did so for full independence and sovereignty . The denial of this democratically expressed wish was acheived by the use and threat of force , which is expressly illegal under international law .This is the only legal means of challenging Britains ongoing occupation . Without the democratically expressed will of the people contained in the DOI there is no legal basis under international law to challenge the occupation . The only option left then is armed struggle and blind militarism .

Again, like many on the left, you seem to miss the point . The 32csm stands for a socialist republic , but it is not a political party . Our programme and constitution includes for dual membership . The model we envisage is various republicans , radicals and socialists uniting on the issue of sovereignty and anti-imperialism (including the definition of sovereignty which incorporates an end to exploitation of our people and resources) . We envisage members retaining their membership of other groups whether they be trade union , environmental or socialist. ( the prisoner , Ciaran Cunningham currently serving a 6 year sentence in Maghaberry, is himself a former member of the SWP). We would like to see a similar situation in Ireland as exists in the Basque country were a myriad of leftitst groups put their differences aside and unite on the sovereignty issue . They certainly dont put their socialism aside for one second and nobody here should either . (a similar situation existed in Germany with the RAF and in Greece with November 17 )

We do not seek to create a simple nationalist republic, we are clear in our demand for a socialist one . Nor do we seek to confine socialism or inhibit its promotion or debate . But what we are absolute on is that there will be NO socialist republic without an end to British occupation .

While the left has talked about their support for a united Ireland they have offered no programme at all for acheiving it and have no desire to become involved in actively confronting the forces of occupation or directly challenging the sectarian GFA . We are the only movement out there with a coherent challenge , as well as being committed to defending Irish sovereignty in all its forms .

As regards the fact that Omagh has been used to stifle our message , thats obvious and Im convinced that is exactly what its intention was . Our position on these attempts is basically straight forward . Senior members of our movement , including Chairman Francie Mackey have called for a full and open independent public enquiry into Omagh . I would fully support this and believe republicans should put ALL cards on the able in such an event . The critics seem to go very quiet when we say this , the fact being that they have more to hide on the issue than anyone .

Id suggest maybe you should become more familiar with 32csm, perhaps from reading its newspaper before writing it off entirely .

Thanks again for open and honest debate .

author by spongebobpublication date Mon Apr 25, 2005 20:02Report this post to the editors

Barry, my compliment was sincere. I am certainly not “fucked off ” with your posts, quite the contrary. I rarely contribute to internet websites but I found your comments on the debates within the 32’s very interesting. I’ve always found that republicans have always had the commitment to their beliefs but were lacking the politics whereas the (modern) left never had the commitment but had the politics.
On the drugs issue my only experience is south of the border. I know an open website such as this isn’t a good forum to discuss this issue but we are both semi anonymous and the Branch know all this already. Down south all paramilitary groups have members tied up in the drugs trade. The reals, the inla, the cira and even the provos. I don’t know if the members are freelancing or if the organisations are turning a blind eye. In the case of the inla I suspect the latter. I know people involved in all four organisations who I would consider 100% sound but I also know those involved in the drugs trade. Some use the drug importers to smuggle weapons into the country, some are involved in drug pushing and some use drug dealers to carry out their dirty work. I don’t intend to name names but a leading member of the real’s in Dublin was heavily involved. Does the name ‘traveller’ mean anything to you? The real’s have used a gang with serious drug links to rob cars for their operations. Some of their alleged members in the south inner city, north inner city and ballybrack (mostly ex members of the provos) certainly wouldn’t grace any republican organization.
My original question was in the light of the on going debate within the 32’s, how do you intend to build? This is why I brought up the drugs issue. You certainly won’t build in working class communities with that in the background. I can’t see you building on the back of the armed struggle. Your military wing is generally considered to be tout infested and singularly unsuccessful in actually killing any of the occupying forces. As a regular vistor to Belfast the 32’s don’t appear to be making any inroads into the republican support obviously out there. This was the point I made in my original post, any alternative to SF is being provided by independents not the irsp, 32’s or rsf. If the provos are so corrupt and hated, how come none of the others feel confident enough to challenge them in the elections?
I know all this sounds very negative, I don’t mean it to be but people have to be realistic if they are serious about their intentions.

author by spongebobpublication date Tue Apr 26, 2005 01:02Report this post to the editors

WG, fair play to you for taking the time to debate. Unfortunately your arguments are the standard leftist arguments which have not gained any credence among working class people over the last 50 years.
In my comment on left support for the national question I should have been clearer. NO group on the left in Ireland supported the armed struggle, even when it was obvious that there was no alternative ,and more importantly, when the northern nationalists were engaged in a war with the british state. In typical lefty bollocks talk, the alternative offered was some airy fairly notion of working class unity between the oppressed nationalist working class and the state supporting protestant working class. As a long term option class unity is the answer but when the state and the (british state run) protestant paramilitaries were killing nationalist, supporting the oppressed is the only option. While the swp attempted to appear more radical that the others by offering ‘critical’ support, in the end it didn’t matter, you either supported the oppressed or you didn’t. The Workers Party actually took a unionist position and the Socialist Party weren’t much better. This is the reason all three have little or no support in the 6 counties.
Interestingly, when a small Marxist-leninist group of republican prisoners based around the League of Communist Republicans broke from the republican movement over policy, support from the left was nowhere to be seen. The LCR tried to make links with the left but only a small number of people bothered to respond. If the left was genuine in its criticisms of republicanism here was a perfect opportunity to have a dialogue with republicans who had actually fought the war and now considered themselves socialists.

WG, I fully agree that Joe Higgins and his highlighting of the GAMA scandal has been important but to claim it as an example of the relevance of the left is clutching at straws. Your other examples don’t hold up- the battle against water charges hasn’t been fought yet and if we are depending on the left I wouldn’t hold out much hope. Isn't there already a couple of different campaigns? The battle against the bin tax in the south is largely over and a huge responsibility lies with the dominance of the left in the campaign at the expense ordinary people. The lefts struggle against racism has been spectacularly unsuccessful, just look at the result of the referendum. Assuming, as a socialist, you believe that people are not inherently racist, how come the left had no impact on the result of the referendum (except possibly to increase the yes vote!). Incompetence? Irrelevance? Bad luck? Trade Unions are recognised by almost everybody, except the most naive leftist supporter, as being barriers to industrial action. The partnership model has effectively muzzled any militancy among workers. The anti war movement, despite huge popular support, has had absolutely no effect on Ireland’s participation in the yankee war effort. Incompetence? Irrelevance? Bad luck? I won’t even bother commenting on the success of the left on the Health Service – fat pig Harney ready to try and privatise it all.
None of this is to say that people, or even the left, shouldn’t be fighting on all of the above. But at least be honest about the relevancy of the left. Face up to the fact that the left has little or no support in Ireland and analysis the reasons for this. At least then there is a chance that things could change in the future.

author by Badmanpublication date Tue Apr 26, 2005 01:32Report this post to the editors

All that crap about the bin tax and the left's failure as if there were thousands of people breaking down the door to fight against it. The left had the lead in the campaign because nobody else was interested. If republicans were such bloody heroes, why did they do nothing?

After 3 decades of bloody and futile war, it amazes me that anybody believes that this type of simplistic sloganeering about the armed struggle still washes.

author by codpublication date Tue Apr 26, 2005 01:52Report this post to the editors

The co-mingling, as you have attempted, of any claim of drug trafficking/supply/use/association etc with genuine political debate, as is taking place here, is malicious. You would be aware that the effect of co-mingling these two topics serves to taint the discussions &/or the parties involved.

You make an extremely damaging claim, were there a shred of truth to it, that a “significant section of the Reals” are “involved in drugs”. When challenged on this point and in an effort to disguise the malignant nature of your unfounded assertions, you post that “an open website such as this isn’t a good forum to discuss this issue”.

You have presumed to place yourself in a position of knowledge of not only ‘Reals’ participants/supporters and their movements and actions but also those of “all paramilitary groups" – albeit "down south”. Yet, quite aside from the ‘politics’ discussed, you have not provided anything even giving the appearance of credible evidence to support your audacious assertions.

I have a couple of questions for you:

1. As you have placed yourself in a position of allegedly possessing intimate knowledge of the workings of quite a number of ‘paramilitary groups’ (at least such as to know for sure that they are ‘involved in drugs’), how is it that YOU have such knowledge or connection as your claims would necessitate?

2. How are you in a position to make a claim about a ‘significant section of the Reals’? Do you have access to credible details of numbers of supporters/participants and in each of the 6 counties and the South? This would surely be the only way that you could make a remotely credible claim about a ‘significant section’ – if you had in your possession comparative details and numbers???

I cannot see anything in your posts to indicate that you have any proof, or that there may be even a scent of truth, to support your allegations and the associated insinuations of condoned 'institutional' drug associated conduct. I would imagine that you attempted to the old shit slinging, because some of it may just stick, in an effort to taint an excellent series of debates and comments.

Isn’t it threatening to witness the 32csm’s issues and position presented in an intelligent, feasible and persuasive manner? The people who have been discussing the future for Republicans here, for the most part, have presented decent, concrete and convincing arguments in favour of their positions and your attempt to besmirch these is, in my opinion, salacious and desperate.

author by Mark P (formerly Mark H} - Socialist Party (personal capacity)publication date Tue Apr 26, 2005 02:34Report this post to the editors

It's funny how Republican criticisms of socialists' attitude towards "the national question" can boil down to a question of who "supported the armed struggle" so quickly, isn't it? At least spongebob is honest enough to quickly follow that with a blunt writing off of the Protestant section of the working class. He has done us all the favour of dropping the platitudes we sometimes hear from left republicans on these issues.

Spongebob complains that nobody on the left supported "the armed struggle". Unfortunately that's not quite true, some groupings were foolish enough to offer critical support of some kind or other or actually get involved in their own armed adventures but it is certainly accurate when it comes to the Socialist Party and to various anarchist groups.

The thing that astonishes me is that this is put forward, after the "armed struggle" has been proven to be every bit as bloody and ineffectual as socialists said it would be. That spongebob still thinks that not supporting individual terrorism was some kind of failure. Socialists argued from the very beginning that a campaign of individual terrorism - bombings, shootings, occasional bluntly sectarian murders - would not achieve a united Ireland. Still less would it achieve a socialist Ireland.

Socialists argued that individual terrorism is an inherently elitist idea, reducing the working class to more or less passive support for the actions of the "heroic" few. It is incapable of defeating the might of a modern, urbanised capitalist state. In the context of Northern Ireland it would serve mainly to deepen and widen sectarian divisions in the working class. It would simultaneously provide the British ruling class with the opportunity to introduce and greatly build up an enormous repressive apparatus. It would waste the activity and lives of large numbers of potential fighters for the working class. It would serve up an endless supply of maimed and bloodied corpses. And of course, it would fail and fail utterly.

Three and half decades later every word of that criticism has been proven time and time again. Yet with invincible stupidity the likes of spongebob continue to berate the left for the crime of having been correct. Spongebob demands that the left analyse where it has made mistakes - and he's right, we should. The thing is though that on the issue of "armed struggle", the left have nothing to apologise for to the slow learners in the class.

Much of the rest of the rest of his most recent contribution consists of an ill-informed and inaccurate diatribe against the left on the issue of its supposed lack of relevance to the working class. As a member of the Socialist Party I think that the role of my organisation in such things as the Gama dispute, the Term Time workers fight, the Bin Tax and two different battles against a water tax speak for themselves. We are a small organisation, with only small support and we are honest about that. However we consistently punch well above our weight politically. I'm less familiar with the detail of the activism of other sections of the socialist or anarchist left, but I find it difficult to imagine almost any part of it coming off worse in a comparison with the "relevance" of the activity of dissident republicans.

There are plenty of problems with the socialist left, I'd be the first to admit. But opposing individual terrorism, fighting on things like the bin tax (unlike republicans) and refusing to write off Protestant workers are not amongst those problems.

author by barrypublication date Tue Apr 26, 2005 07:35Report this post to the editors

Interesting to see that quote from James Connolly on the Socialist Party website "Apostles of freedom are crucified in life and sanctified in death " .

Theirs is a party website which on the one hand eulogises Che Guevara and his tiny band of 80 men who engaged in hit and run guerilla attacks in Cuba , yet refers to Irish revolutionaries who did exactly the same thing as "terrorists" . Che Guevara himself died a lonely death leading a small cell of what in the socialist partys' handbook would be a "terrorist group", certainly not in the midst of any mass uprising . The yardstick seems to be whether you win or not . Dont back a loser (unless its a safe popular one from long ago such as Connolly or Guevara)

To have revolutionary socialist men and women like Bobby Sands , Patsy O'Hara , Mairead Farrell , Brendan Hughes and Marion Price described as "terrorist" tells me all I need to hear about the socialist party . Their definition of a freedom fighter is no different to Thatcher , Bush , Blair and McDowell .

The burning of the British Embassy, Free Derry and the no-go areas ,The Hungerstrikes , the Brighton bomb , Airey Neave, Mountbatten/Narrow water, Ambassador Ewart Biggs ,100, 000 at Bobby Sands funeral , the attack on Downing street, right wing judges and death squad members executed , the absolute shite repeatedly blown out of Londons financial heart , a rocket directly through the window of MI5 hq . These are all irrelevant as revolutionary acts, yet an admittedly popular issue such as the bins is the only worthwhile revolutionary act committed in Ireland since 1932 .

Christ on a bike !!

I spoke to republicans in Dublin at the time of the bin protest and asked whether they planned to get involved . They reckoned the "lefties" organising the protests would find the contents of the bins less malodourous than the presence of a republican , especially a dissident . People generally tend not to go were they are unwelcome , especially people with serious worries on their minds. Ive yet to meet a republican who has an aversion to socialism , but nearly all utterly distrust "lefties" of the Irish variety.

. As the SP clearly view people of a republican persuasion as "terrorist" .ie criminal , then Im not surprised people avoided them . Interesting as well to see that while Wolfe Tone vowed to "break the connection with England" the SP want Ireland to voluntarily link up with it . The SPs political orbit and thinking appears to be more aligned to the British left than the Irish working class.

I honestly dont want to introduce bitterness into one of the best political debates Ive seen on this board in a while , but given Irelands history and the fact that people starved themself to death rather than be accept the states definition of terrorists , the SPs deliberate and repeated use of that insulting terminology can only be seen as intentionally provocative and offensive . Its a shame because before reading that I had a lot of admiration for Joe Higgins . He undoubtedly has an admirable social conscience but I dont see anything revolutionary there at all ..

While i agree with some of what the SP says, when it comes to them telling the working class the conditions under which they are allowed to resist imperialism , Im frankly not impressed . The fact is that 99.9% of the 32csm membership , leadership and support base are most definitely working class , both urban and rural . There are one or 2 lower middle class types knocking about though . I reckon the only people Ive met in our movement with a degree got it in jail , I dont have one as I was forced to give up my studies a long time ago and get a job (unemployed single parent background , no rich mummy or daddy to help pay the bills). The demand for revolutionary armed struggle against imperialism comes directly from within the Irish working class , not from lofty intellectual perches or right wing armchair generals ..

While the SP and others decry the fact that talented people who could fight " the workers struggle" are either dead or in jail , those very same working class revolutionaries know , instinctively, that those who class them as terrorists and fools, showing not a breath of sympathy or empathy whatsoever are of little use to any revolutionary struggle .

Genuine revolutionaries know only too well that if the state views you as a threat then its dirty tricks , imprisonment and death . The only people ever identified by the state north and south as actively seeking its overthrow have been republicans . I can guarantee the SP in the unlikely event of the state ever viewing them as a potential threat to its existence they will be firmly squashed underfoot long before their vision of class unity ever materialises .

When the wind of revolution blows through Ireland again these people will theorise and analyse and simply come up with more excuses to stand back . The reason why many people joined the IRA in the early 70s wasnt even to hit back , but simply to physically defend their homes and streets which were under direct attack from large elements of the protestant working class (including trade unionists) and their British Army allies . This wasnt done out of sectarianism or xenophobia but simple physical necessity . When the unionists, the RUC and the British army engaged in a terror campaign against the catholic population , an armed force of men and women was most definitely needed. Much of the early economic bombing campaign in Belfast was done to tie up as many soldiers and cops as possible and keep them from saturating nationalist areas. While this doesnt fit neatly into the SP vision of how one should conduct an uprising against the state (with their obvious experience in such matters) its simply the situation under which the state forced them to live . The SPs bland dismissal of these conditions shows they are as blind to realities as anyone they criticise .

Thanks anyway to Mark for taking the time out to engage in debate , but I dont envisage the SP ever playing a role in any revolutionary struggle . Thats not an insult (unlike designating someone a terrorist) but more a realisation that its horses for courses in this instance .

author by npublication date Tue Apr 26, 2005 10:15Report this post to the editors

When we debate the past and future of republicanism I think it would be useful to remember some facts.

The war was lost.

The leadership of the RM sold out.

No major section of the RM left over the sell out.

United Ireland is off the agenda.

Devision in the north has been increased.

The RM has dropped socialism.

Like it or not this is the outcome of the 30years of armed struggle. The question is was the tactic of armed struggle wrong all along?

author by tomas o'cadhainpublication date Tue Apr 26, 2005 14:20Report this post to the editors

great article and debate that followed...... this has been one of the best that i have seen here in a long time.

author by Mark P - Socialist Party (persnal cap)publication date Tue Apr 26, 2005 17:27Report this post to the editors

Individual terrorism is the name Marxists have used to describe the tactics of bombings, shootings, assassinations and so on for the guts of a hundred years. It's an approach which Marxists have consistently opposed, right back to the days of the Narodniks in the Tsarist empire. I realise that many proponents of such tactics find the terminology offensive, although I'm not much concerned with accomodating to their preferences. Personally I find euphemisms like "armed struggle" or "revolutionary war" to be offensive. Individual terrorism, as far as I am concerned perfectly describes the tactics used by clandestine groups, carrying out bombings and so on.

The point is though that whatever name you choose to describe these tactics, a critical one like "individual terrorism" or one which serves to glorify them like "armed struggle", the criticisms remain the same and retain their validity. You could go through my above posting and replace every use of the words "individual terrorism" with "the armed struggle waged by republicans in Northern Ireland" and it wouldn't change the strength of the critique in the slightest.

Barry's equation of the tactics used by rural guerillas in peasant countries, which can have a certain utility even if they cannot bring about genuine socialist transformation, with the tactic of individual terrorism in modern, industrialised, urban capitalist states serves to confuse rather than clarify. Socialists explained from the beginning of the Troubles why the campaigns of the IRA and other republican paramilitary groups would not work. That they would not just fail but would be actively counterproductive. Every word of those warnings has been proven true over and over again through thirty five years of bloody failure. Thirty five years of a widening sectarian chasm in the working class, of wasted activists, of wasted lives, of an every increasing machinery of state repression.

Yet what do we get from most Republican dissidents? A proposal to repeat the experiment, except this time starting from a much lower base of support and with a much weaker and more compromised organisation. Do you really think that the CIRA or the RIRA are going to run a better more effective campaign than the PIRA did? To even ask the question is to answer it - and despite their dedication and relative sophistication the PIRA failed and failed utterly.

We would do neither republicans nor the working class any favours by accomodating to republican obsessions with a counterproductive strategy. We would do nobody any favours by retrospectively glorifying failures which we predicted from the beginning. I have enormous respect for the courage, dedication and even heroism of many republican paramilitaries over the years. That makes it all the more important that we refuse to lapse into even a tacit acceptance of tactical and political stupidity. If people who are Republicans are to make any useful contribution to the struggle for socialism on this island.

On a final note, it appears that Barry and I have fundamentally different conceptions of what revolutionary politics are. For me the action of ten thousand workers going on strike or a couple of thousand taking direct action in their communities is a bigger contribution to revolutionary politics than any number of assassinations of government officials or bombings or sectarian massacres. The former serves to raise the consciousness of the working class of its own power as a class, the latter to relegate it to the role of passive observer of the actions of a "heroic" few. When Barry begins to understand that then he might begin to be a socialist.

author by W. Gallagherpublication date Tue Apr 26, 2005 17:42Report this post to the editors

Barry, I accept know that I was mistaken in my choice of words to describe the 32 County Sovereignty Movement. I’ll admit to still being slightly bewildered as to the nature of the organisation. I’ll brush up on my reading next time! In the meantime, perhaps you could answer a few questions for me:

1. The 32CSM is opposed to British rule in Northern Ireland. Does it accept the legitimacy of the Leinster House administration?

2. The constitution of the organisation provides dual membership for radicals, socialists and “various republicans” uniting on the issue of sovereignty. However, you also say that the 32CSM do not stand for a simple united Ireland but a socialist republic. For an organisation seeking the broadest level of unity is this not a contradictory statement?

3. To what extent is dual membership practiced? I’m not looking for precise details, but are there many people in the 32CSM active in political parties?

I disagree with Spongebob that the left somehow let itself down during the troubles by refusing to support the Provisional IRA’s campaign “even when it was obvious that there was no alternative.” That is simply a matter of opinion. There is nothing to say that the armed struggle was the correct path to take at the beginning of the 1970’s nor that it was the only alternative. Even if sections of the left had offered their unconditional, uncritical support you have to ask yourself what effect would it have had? In the seventies the Provos had quite a conservative leadership with old abstentionist Federalists such as O’Bradaigh and O’Connaill at the helm. They would have been most likely horrified by any offers of support from Marxists.

I do not, however, concur with Mark’s ridiculous categorisation of the republican struggle as terrorism. Barry hits the nail on the head – using this narrow, Trotskyite analysis you end up with revolutionaries such as Che Guevara being condemned as terrorists. Absurd. While I have had a lot of respect for the Socialist Party in the past I have found some of its ideas a bit perplexing, not least its concept of a ‘socialist federation’ of Britain and Ireland.

Again, in reference to Spongebob, I do recognise that the left has small numerical support in Ireland; it’d be daft to argue otherwise. But irrelevant? That depends on your definition of irrelevance but I know a lot of people on the left who work hard on a broad range of issues. Don’t write them off that easily. Also, don’t write off Protestant workers. To dismiss them as “state supporting” is a bit harsh. The blind loyalty that once existed within the Protestant community has been eroded and, in my opinion anyhow, there is a sizable minority of Protestant workers out there who are open to suggestions about the way forward.

I would say that Barry’s original intention was to stimulate debate on the independent candidates in the forthcoming election. Since that we’ve covered a lot of ground, from definitions of socialism/republicanism through to HIV in Cuba. To return to the subject of building an alternative alliance, I came over a quote by James Stewart of the Communist Party written in 1988. It stated:

“Despite imperialism’s successes to date, the contradictions in its position remain and there are concrete conditions for beginning the process of building an effective all-Ireland anti-imperialist movement around the issue of national unity and self determination, democratic rights, social and economic conditions and neutrality. The leadership and members of the IRA can make an effective contribution to this process—without the gun!”

There is an alliance out there which is achievable and would see a coalition of the left and radical republicans unite behind a common programme based on clear socialist principles and an end to British rule. If it is going to happen the right to armed struggle, despite there being many legitimate ground on which to wage it, should be waived.

Lastly, I have always felt that there is a kind of ‘snobbery’ emitted from certain sections of both the left-wing and republicans respectively. There seems to be an element of republicans who view the left as coffee-shop student layabouts who never threw a stone in their lives. The flipside of this elitism is a segment of the left that constantly views itself as more politically sophisticated than the sectarian, partition-obsessed Fenian simpleton. Even in a civilized, considered debate like this one you can still see this tendency rear its ugly head.

author by R. Isiblepublication date Tue Apr 26, 2005 17:44Report this post to the editors

_The Defence of Terrorism_ - Trotsky

author by R. Isiblepublication date Tue Apr 26, 2005 17:55Report this post to the editors

Trotsky argues in this 172 page booklet that "terrorism" is usually seized upon by the hypocritical "moralists" of the ruling classes and ultimately detracts from achieving the longterm aims that the revolutionaries aim for:

"methods of compulsion and terrorisation down to the physical extirpation of its opponents have up to now advantaged, and continue to advantage in an infinitely higher degree the cause of reaction, as represented by the outworn exploiting classes, than they do the cause of historical progress, as represented by the proletariat. The jury of moralists who condemn ‘ terrorism’ of whatever kind have their gaze fixed really on the revolutionary deeds of the persecuted who are seeking to, set themselves free. The best example of this is Mr. Ramsay MacDonald. In the name of the eternal principles of morality and religion he was unwearied in condemning violence. But when the collapse of the capitalist system and the sharpening of the class struggle made the revolutionary fight of the proletariat for power an actual and living question for Britain also, MacDonald left the Labour camp for that of the Conservative bourgeoisie with just as little bother as when a passenger changes from a smoking compartment to a non- smoking. Today the pious enemy of terrorism is keeping up by the help of organized violence a ‘peaceful’ system of unemployment, colonial oppression, armed forces and preparation for fresh wars."

author by Mark Ppublication date Tue Apr 26, 2005 18:05Report this post to the editors

The publication which R.Isible mentions was a polemic against Karl Kautsky concerning the right of a revolution to use force ruthlessly to protect itself against counter-revolution by a deposed capitalist class. While it is of a certain interest itself it has nothing to do with the subject at hand here, what Trotsky called "individual terrorism" - campaigns of bombings, assassinations and so on carried out by small groups.

His main writings on this subject were the essays "Why Marxists Oppose Individual Terrorism" and "The Bankruptcy of Terrorism". They can be found at the Marxist Internet Archive and also below collected with more recent articles by the Socialist Party on such things as the 9-11 attacks. Also of interest in this regard are the writings of Lenin on the subject of the Narodniks in Russia. Lenin's brother was a Narodnik and he completely empathised with their outrage at the Tsarist regime. Still, he firmly opposed their bombings and shootings because ultimately they were counter-productive. These too can be found on the Marxists Internet Archive.

http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/Trotsky/againstterrorframe.htm

I don't much like arguments based on the authority of great socialists of times gone past, so I didn't initially intend to discuss them here, changing my mind only because of R.Isible's mention of the publication above. In an Irish context today the best argument for the Socialist opposition to individual terrorism and our analysis of its shortcomings is the recent history of this island. The Socialist Party (and to give credit where it is due anarchists and many other socialists) have consistently pointed out that the methods of the "armed struggle" would fail and would in fact have dreadful, counterproductive consequences. We argued this for thirty five years and I think it's pretty clear that history has backed up our arguments.

author by Mark Ppublication date Tue Apr 26, 2005 18:11Report this post to the editors

It's a long time since I've looked at "The Defence of Terrorism" and I may be mixing it up with something else. Sorry if I've got that wrong R.Isible.

Anyway, the rest of my post above is clear enough.

author by R. Isiblepublication date Tue Apr 26, 2005 18:16Report this post to the editors

Mark P writes: "While it is of a certain interest itself it has nothing to do with the subject at hand here, what Trotsky called "individual terrorism" - campaigns of bombings, assassinations and so on carried out by small groups."

Well, Trotsky apparently did based on the quote that I give you above. It's exactly relevant because Trotsky argues specifically that individual terrorism is wrong, not because it's immoral, but because it's counter-productive.

On the other hand, he had no problems with State terrorism as directed and conducted by the right sort of Marxists against the wrong sort of opponent, whether that was Social Revolutionaries, anarchists, Social Democrats or whoever.

The relevance of Trotsky is that while you are adducing the evidence of the failure of armed struggle to oust the British occupiers in the north against the theoretical basis of republican socialism, you are ignoring the mote in your own eye of the failure of Trotsky and Lenin's political theory which embraced state terrorism.

author by Mark Ppublication date Tue Apr 26, 2005 18:31Report this post to the editors

R.Isible, I absolutely support the right of a revolution to defend itself against counter-revolution, which was what Trotsky also argued for. A revolution which holds otherwise will be a very short-lived revolution.

I'm sure that we differ widely on the rights and wrongs of the experience of the Russian revolution, and the role of the Bolsheviks and other worker or peasant based political movements. I take the view that the Bolsheviks in the time of Lenin and Trotsky made mistakes but were generally correct in their approach despite being repeatedly faced with some very ugly choices in extremely difficult circumstances. However there have have been a large number of threads on Indymedia concerning such matters and I don't see any pressing need to divert this already wide-ranging thread into yet another one.

author by R. Isiblepublication date Tue Apr 26, 2005 19:06Report this post to the editors

I have no desire to diverge from the topic and to have a rehash of the Bolsheviks-Anarchists-Trotskyists-Kronstadt-Yadda-yadda debate that has been covered /many/ times before. I'm sure that some editor will delete any contributions that are not relevant information.

On the other hand, while you are arguing that the Republican Socialist perspective is theoretically flawed and this is proved from X years of history viewed through _your_ theoretical lens it raises questions about your theoretical lens and which historical successes/failures can be counted as evidence.

Republican Socialists can surely argue that this phase of the armed struggle is of relatively short duration and that it is hard to say whether or not its a failure. They can surely point to divergences from what they consider to be the true path and claim that they are in fact correct and that it is not shown that the reaction of the occupiers to resistance is definitive and succesful.

author by Mark Ppublication date Tue Apr 26, 2005 19:40Report this post to the editors

I am not a pacifist. I'm against needless bloodshed, but I do think that sometimes sadly violence is necessary. My problem with "armed struggle" / individual terrorism is not necessarily that it involves violence but as I've outlined above that it always has the same counterproductive effects.

I point towards the actual experience of individual terrorism as a tactic whether here or elsewhere because it illustrates the argument well. The experiences of the Border Campaign, the Provisionals, the INLA, the RIRA, the CIRA, ETA, the Red Brigades, the Red Army Faction, the Weather Underground and limitless other examples of similar campaigns in modern urban capitalist states have all ended in bloody, counterproductive failure. Most importantly they have failed in exactly the ways Marxists predicted they would fail.

The problem for say the 32 County Sovereignty Movement in countering this is that their criticism of the end of the Provisional campaign is really only of its end. The first quarter century of bloody failure is what they support emulating, although as I've pointed out the RIRA attempt to do so with a tiny fraction of the support and the resources that the PIRA enjoy. In the circumstances I think it's for advocates of "armed struggle" to explain how it will work this time.

It is important to note though that support for "armed struggle" and left republicans are not synonymous. There are left republicans who reject individual terrorism as a tactic or who accept it but don't at any given time use it. My critique of left republicanism is not limited to its embrace of this counterproductive tactic. It extends to their blanket dismissal of the Protestant sections of the working class and to their total inability to understand the concerns of those workers and win sections of them over.

By the way, I think that it is perfectly fair to use the same line of thinking to point towards the distinct lack of succesful socialist revolutions in the world to use as an evidence of the futility of revolutionary socialism. That's an issue which I do think that socialists of all strands have to consider and deal with - and it is something which Trotskyists have considered at times in some detail. Perhaps for another thread?

author by Barrypublication date Tue Apr 26, 2005 19:43Report this post to the editors

Quoting Trotsky and nardoniks is all well and good , but totally inapplicable in an Irish context . Russia was not occupied by a foreign power . The issues there were about using armed force within a purely internal political conflict .

The Irish struggle is an anti colonial one as well as for socialism . Part of this nation is illegally occupied , a foreign power determines the destiny of this entire nation . The left either does not confront this fact or seeks to shy away from it . ANY occupied country has not just the right but the duty to identify the FACT of occupation, and confront it . It is the singular failure of the Irish left to take a firm stand on the national issue which makes them irrelevant in the eyes of many , especially in nationalist working class areas . Their failure to develop any real national consciousness , or to get hot under the collar at all about British occupation makes it hard for republican socialists to take them seriously .

In any other country in the world which was facing foreign occupation such an approach would be laughed out of town by revolutionary forces, and quite rightly so .

I agree with W Gallagher that the traditional attitudes of cowardy custard lefties vs dimwitted fenian rednecks is pointless and even depressing . Thats why I made a point of trying to critically analyse the SP stance rather than blindly insult anyone , rendering credit were credit was due . Despite this neither myself or anyone who thinks like me is a socialist according to them , so theres not much point debating any further there .

In reply to WGs points as far as we are concerned Leinster House is a partitionist asssembly, and an obstacle to Irish freedom, we afford it no legitimacy . We are more than prepared however to engage the free-state government and any other party in debate and analysis . We are not simply blind abstentionists . We recognise the fact of their existence but we conciously choose to have no interest in playing any part in their internal workings .

Its a mistake to say we seek to achieve the broadest level of unity . We dont want a situation as in the past were nationalists with a bee in their bonnet or militant catholics joined the republican movement . What we demand is that our membership is ideologically committed to Republicanism , to broadly left wing politics and an end to colonialism on this island once and for all .

As regards other parties/ groupings , while we envisaged dual membership unfortunately other parties dont permit it . The only party which has shown any willingness at all to even talk about the concept at least is the IRSP .Our membership comprises former Sinn Fein , RSF and Irsp . Our former executive member from SArmagh Ciaran Cunningham is formerly SWP as are one or 2 others , and I thinks theres even former Red Action bods knocking about too . As well as that there are a number of others who would basically have been non-aligned or independent republicans as well as young people who missed out on the previous struggle but who find our approach and analysis superior to anything else on offer .

Our approach to other groups and independents is simple . If our members think they are worthy of support then well help them , simple as that . There are others in our constituencies who may not be totally ideologically within our orbit but have taken a stand on issues such as prisoners rights etc and have worked along side us on such issues and we actively welcome such support . Internally however we dont seek numerical strength at this stage (boom and bust) and recognise that it is vital for the republican movement to be rebuilt on concrete ideological ground , not with will-o-the wisp nationalists .

As regards the 70s what Id point out though to WG (and others) is that the demand for armed struggle came organically from within the republican movement as a whole , not just from from OBradaigh and OConnaill . Remember it was Adams and co who derided themm as being weak on armed struggle for having called 2 ceasefires in the 70s . I also feel that the traditional portrayal of both men as conservative Catholic types isnt correct . This was the image portrayed by Adams and co in their cynical bid to undermine them . While Id have definite criticisms of OBradaigh he isnt a rosary jiggler by any means .

author by seedotpublication date Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:24Report this post to the editors

I don't see any point in trying to portray 200+ years of resistance as "individual terrorism". Perhaps more fruitful questions would be why radical politics in Ireland has focussed so much on the constitutional issue, why republicanism has felt armed struggle to be a valid option so often, why the Irish left has been classified by it's various attitudes to republicanism for so long.

At the Irish Social Forum last October there was a really interesting plenary which started with an anarchist/socialist/academic/left republican debate about partnership but soon moved into a more general discussion on the state of activism and the left. There was a lot of talk about the 1880-1920 period and how cultural and other bodies played a huge role in coalescing a movement. Another point that was made was that only when the left finds common cause with the republican tradition can it really be strong in Ireland. This was made by someone who was fairly prominent in the Connolly Youth in the 60's so it obviously wasn't a new realisation for them but it was strange how this was accepted in a group that I would not have seen as in any way republican before the meeting.

Rereading Barrys response to my earlier post certain phrases jump out:

"republican base was simply used by leaderships as voting fodder "

"base was empowered - the structures and ethos of democratically accountable decisions being the prerogative of the base "

"The days of follow the leader were over "

which seem to imply a libertarian influence. Openly debating on a forum such as this can also be seen as a positive political move away from the 'vanguardism' that Mark etc. criticise above. This comes across all the more strongly when contrasted with reports of the state of debate within PSF. Speaking of which, it would be good to know if the discussions that led to the formation of the 32csm had any link to debates on TUAS and whether a more grassroots activism that seemed to be proposed at that time has remained an option within the wider RM.

Final point re dual membership - I'm sure some of our militant comrades could advise on dealing with "we envisaged dual membership unfortunately other parties dont permit it". Since the IWU has resurrected entryism in the trade union movement, maybe we might see the emergence of a republican faction within the party that is provisionally sinn fein. ;-)

author by Chekovpublication date Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:43Report this post to the editors

Barry mentions "the definition of sovereignty which incorporates an end to exploitation of our people and resources"

and

"The cycle of betrayal has indeed existed within republicanism for centuries"

It seems to me that the first statement goes a long way towards explaining the second. Most people do not understand the phrase 'national sovereignty' to imply socialism. Most people would believe that a country that is not colonised and has a government made up of people of the same nationality enjoys 'national sovereignty'.

There is a long history of republicans using phrases like this and telling their socialist base that their definition of the phrase _really_ means socialism, but then when push comes to shove and when the cushy jobs get handed out, the socialism bit evaporates and the 'national sovereignty' ends up meaning exactly what most people understand it to mean.

If you fight for 'national sovereignty' and you end up with FF or SF in the dail, you've only yourself to blame. Remember we have a 'foreign' government in Leinster house too, no matter what nationality they may have.

author by Barrypublication date Wed Apr 27, 2005 14:24Report this post to the editors

What Ive enjoyed here is the fact that virtually the entire debate has centred around the issues , whether republican, strictly socialist , pacifist etc.

For years the entire debate was closed . As the British and free state governments , the US administration and the nationalist parties as well told everyone - there is no plan B ,no alternative to the GFA . Which of course is total and utter rubbish intended to keep people dumb and dumber . Theres always an alternative , numerous alternatives .

The fact that these candidates from differing backgrounds are standing shows that the debate is beginning to open up on the ground . While powerful people will undoubtedly do their best to stifle that debate their attempts have to be resisted and highlighted.

Just because someone is anti gfa doesnt mean they are anti - peace. there are a number of vocal republicans who oppose a return to armed struggle but despise the gfa and everything it stands for .

The GFA stands for institutionalised sectarianism and corruption . It doesnt address peace because it simply upholds British occupation and a sectarian veto . Differing religious backgrounds are now 2 official seperate tribes, under legislation . To me thats a disgrace and a million miles away from everything genuine republicanism and socialism stands for . That cant deliver peace or unity but only more division .

To have the likes of Bill Clinton and GW Bush lecture Irish people about peace ....words escape me . Free state politicians have lectured for years about how those who provide logistical assistance to armed republicans are just as guilty as those who plant a bomb and pull a trigger . These oft repeated statements should play a part in the debate on shannon . They are complicit in mass murder.

Even the great radical hope for change in the 26 cos , Sinn Fein has proven itself to be in the pocket of the establishment and their corporate Amercan backers . Adams has pointedly refused to play any part in the Shannon protests and lined up to shake the hands of Bush and Blair in hillsboro . Among his US backers are the right wingers Peter King and John McCain . There is no radicalism whatsoever in their leadership , just rhetoric and a lust for power at any price .

Hopefully some of these candidates can get themselves elected and start pointing some of these things out . In the meantime id encourage anyone whose taken part in this discussion to make an effort to engage with others and help continue on with this debate outside of Indymedia .

author by Stickiepublication date Thu Apr 28, 2005 20:11Report this post to the editors

I have noticed with curiosity some of the remarks made in the course of this debate about the history of the Workers Party and its forerunners from the official republican movement.

First of all The Workers Party should be applauded for never allowing themselves to be dragged into the sectarian quagmire that the Provisionals, the IRSP/INLA and the IPLO let themselves be dragged into. As far back as 1972 Tomas MacGiolla stated in an address at Carrickmore in county Tyrone that you “cannot bomb one million Protestants into a united Ireland”. His words proved to be true. After 25 years of killing what did the Provos achieve? An internal settlement with increased sectarianism among the working-class and Ian Paisley’s DUP as the largest party in Northern Ireland. Peacewalls have sprung up over the years bringing partition from something that existed on a national level to something that could divide housing estates. Both sections of our class now have a more reactionary leadership and entrenched attitude than ever before. The cause of a united Ireland has been smeared, it has been put back for many years and the social and economic problems that existed in the north in 1969 exist in it in 2005. What a successful freedom struggle.

The alternative offered back in 1972 by Official Sinn Fein/Republican Clubs was not revolutionary in its short-term but it would have helped lay the path for revolutionary politics. Which while we're on the subject was a much better option than those being proposed by the Provos and Costello’s gang. It is worth imagining where we would be today if they had followed the example of the Official IRA who said that more violence would only lead to “sectarian civil war”. They did not and we are where we are. Bernadette McAliskey said a few years back that while she wasn’t a supporter of Cathal Goulding at the time he was a lot better than what Adams is today and he of course had better politics. The WP grown to be the fourth largest party in the south by the early 1990’s with seven seats in the Dail, had seats on a number of local councils in the north and was an integral part of the international socialist, workers and communist movement. It was truly a mass working-class party. While it suffered badly in the DL split its politics remains and more importantly the working-class remains.

WG lumps the Workers Party in with Collins and de Valera in the long history of republican sell-outs. I cannot see how this is so. The Workers Party is to this day committed to a democratic, secular, socialist republic. Maybe his idea of a sell-out takes place when you decide to stop shooting people. This is similar to Barry who states that the Officials failed to halt what he calls loyalist incursions. In this context the proper Marxist response was not to trigger war between the Catholic working-class and the Protestant working-class but to convince both sides to lay down their arms and encourage progressives, socialists and republicans to pursue a war of ideas. This is what we termed working-class unity. Sadly Barry claims this was an “excuse” used to call a ceasefire. This is a very myopic analysis of our politics and again shows the blinkeredness of some republicans who permanently need a consignment of guns and semtex in their hands to justify their existence.

Barry highlights some of the great “revolutionary” actions carried out the Provisional IRA and their offshoots. In this he mentions the “absolute shite being repeatedly blown out of London’s financial heart”. It is nice to see such a sophisticated scrutiny of his movement’s tactics. While he is on the subject of the Provos campaign in Britain perhaps he can also mention the slaughter of five workers shopping in Harrods and the murder of nineteen people drinking in a Birmingham pub. Does he really believe that the British government give a damn about these people? Is he also one of those nationalists who believes that if Thatcher had’ve been killed in Brighton that history would have been turned on its head? Or is he a realist who sees that someone with more repressive measures would have replaced her and the only people capable of changing society are the working-class, not tiny paramilitary groups acting on behalf of entire nations? I have many criticisms of the Socialist Party in the past but for once I agree with what Mark has said: “For me the action of ten thousand workers going on strike or a couple of thousand taking direct action in their communities is a bigger contribution to revolutionary politics than any number of assassinations of government officials or bombings or sectarian massacres.”

Perhaps while he is on the subject of revolutionary strikes against the imperialist tyrant he can also mention the bravery displayed by Provisional volunteers in the Enniskillen bombing, the Bayardo Bar bombing, the Kingsmill shootings, Darkley, the Shankill Road massacre and Teebane. It is amazing too how the Provisionals have been allowed to rewrite history virtually without ever being challenged. I noticed their election broadcast on UTV during the week in which Mr. G. Adams noted how Irish people had struggled for change through the civil rights movement. Funny how the Provos rejected this back in the sixties when Rory Brady trumpted such slogans as “damn your concessions England, we want our freedom.”

As for offering alternatives these candidates in Antrim and elsewhere offer nothing. Just like the 32 County group and RSF they are the re-emergence of the Provisionals from the early years of the troubles. Only back then the Provos posed a serious threat with their brutal campaign. The current campaign of un-exploding firebombs being waged by dissident gangs really does prove Marx’s adage that history repeats itself “the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce”.

author by Barrypublication date Thu Apr 28, 2005 23:51Report this post to the editors

The reference to the Officials failure to prevent loyalist incursions was made in a letter from a political prisoner I posted here , not strictly by myself . Why do you refer to loyalist actions in inverted commas ? The attacks for example on Bombay street , short strand, Springhill etc were most definitely incursions . The sticks , despite being armed to the teeth (why ?) stood back and let these things happen unopposed .
This stick notion that people defending their own homes and streets from attack are acting in a sectarian manner is one of the reasons why an argument on their contribution to political struggle is an irrelevance . They were and are a disgrace . From their Stalinist attepts to control working class districts through fear and arrogance ( much the same as the provos do now) . From cynically murdering young men such as Charlie Hughes , Jim Bryson , Tommy Toland and many others , their own slaughter of cleaning women in Aldershot , their decision to embark on murderous pogroms against the newly emerging IRSP , what did they offer which was so worthwhile to the Irish people ? All they did in practice was accept the role as apologist in chief for the British state .

Having been unfortunate enough to have been related to a number of very bitter and twisted sticks, Im well aware of their twisted analysis of "my enemies enemy is my friend" which saw elements of their leadership willingly assist the occupying forces and demonstrate their non - sectarian credentials by supplying guns to loyalist elements . Im also well aware like most people of their total and utter descent into organised crime and cynical gangsterism .

Like the Kremlin tyrants they once idolised the Workers Party (plc) is just another distasteful footnote in history , which today has no relevance outside of its own drinking clubs , save for a number of its former members propping up local DPPs .

The candidates which "sticky" so obviously despises are free from the taint of cynical gangsterism , not to mention collaborating with the crown forces or shooting both their own neighbours and former comrades in the back . If the activities of the workers Party over the years can be defined as socialism , its a definition of socialism most people would be better off avoiding completely .

author by john throne - labors militant voicepublication date Fri Apr 29, 2005 07:10Report this post to the editors

Coming late to this thread I hope I still have something relevant to say. I see that there has been quite a bit of talk about the "cycle of betrayal" of the leadership of republicanism. There is also a history of a cycle of betrayal in the history of the trade union movement. Whenever you get such a cycle then you have to consider what is wrong with the theoretical ideas and policies involved. In the case of the labor leaders it is their belief that they can solve the problems of the working class on the basis of capitalism. This not being possible they end up making a deal to accomodate to capitalism. The rank and file worker cannot accept this and have a decent life and so rises up in struggle and so the leadership ends up suppressing the membership and doing the capitalists dirty work. This could only be avoided if the labor leaders based themselves on the position that only by overthrowing capitalism could the problems be solved and then going on to organize to achieve this. There are some lessons here for republicanism.

The cycle of betrayal in republicanism is also based on the incorrect theoretical base and policies of that movement. Republicanism believes that British imperialism can be thrown out of Ireland and the country united on a capitalist basis. This is impossible. Southern Irish capitalism has paid lip service to the idea of Irish unity but at no time taken up the struggle against imperialism and for the unity of the country. Trotsky has been mentioned now and then in this discussion. Trotsky's theory of the permanent revolution can help us here. He explained that the bourgoisie in a country that is dominated by imperialism could not carry through the tasks of the bourgeois revolution. That is end feudalist relatons on the land, unify the national territory and develop a modern economy and internal market. He explained that the weak national bourgeois were too tied to imperialism and too frightened of their own working class to be able to lead the national struggle, the bourgeois revolution, to a successful conclusion. They would always betray and suppress their own working class and peasantry and make a deal with the imperialist bourgeois.

This theory of the permanent revolution is crucial to understanding the development of Irish history and the cycles of betrayal in republicanism even though things worked out in a more complicated manner than Trotsky's theory laid out. When a class cannot carry out its own tasks then these tasks can at times be taken up and carried through by an other class. The landlord class and with it feudal relations on the land in Ireland were ended in the last three decades of the 1800's by the land acts carried through by the British parliament, that is by the Brisish bourgeois. They did this under the pressure of the rising working class in Britain and increased opposition of the peasantry in Ireland, the Land League etc. The economy has only become a modern economy with a developed home market in the last 40 to 50 years and this through foreign investment and EU membership. So what is left of the tasks of the bourgeois revolution. What is left is unifying the national territory. The unifying of the national territory is a remnant of the national or bourgeois revolution in Ireland. Just as the national bourgeois could not end feudal relations on the land, that is landlordism, just as they could not develop a modern economy, the national bourgeois cannot unify the national territory. They cannot carry out this remaining task of their revolution. In other words the country cannot be united under capitalism.

The reason for the cycle of betrayal of republicanism is that they confine their struggle to capitalism again and again they come up against this hard unyielding fact. On the basis of capitalism the country cannot be united. When they do they come up against this obstacle instead of trying to learn the lessons the leadership try to make a deal. They do not start from the point of view that only the working class in Ireland North and South fighting on a socialist program and a program of unity of the country on a socialist basis, that is overthrowing capitalism north and south and spreading the socialist revolution to Scotland, Wales, England, the USA etc. Instead the struggle is confined to Ireland, to capitalist politics and to what is acceptable to the bourgeois in the South. As a result the struggle always ends in a dead end and the cycle of betrayal is repeated.

In the early 1970's when there was a semi mass movement into the republican movement it was pushed to the left and there was much discussion about socialist revolution and marxism. Unfortunately stalinism had a big influence in republicanism before the split and it committed it to the two stages theory, rather the three stages theory, first a democratic North, then a democratic united Ireland and then a socialist Ireland. After the split many rank and file republicans, including the Provisionals considered themselves revolutionary socialist. However the movements policies and actions were not based on these ideas. A generation of the most courageous and self sacrificing of the catholic youth were killed, jailed and brutalized in the armed struggle. Some I knew would be horrified to see where Adams is today. But Adams is there today because the fundamental theory of the movement was wrong from the beginning, the clear understanding that under capitalism the country could not be united was not understood, and so, with the Provisionals fought to a stalemate, Adams is now negotiating to get as much from British Imperialism and the Southern nationalist bourgeois as he can. The cycle of betrayal when it is repeated again and again in a movement is not an issue of personal qualities rather an issue of theory and policies that do not correspond to reality on the ground. When this happens reality on the ground imposes itself on the forces involved.

As a secondary point there has been discussion about Trotsky and terrorism, mention of state terrorism and individual terrorism. But trotskyism also spoke of mass terrorism of which he was in favor. This was the mobilization of the masses around a program and policies that called for an end to rule by the ruling class and the taking over of their property into collective ownership and the running of this on a collective basis. The civil rights movement in the North as in the US had elements of mass terrorism even though it is not a good idea to use this terminology too much today. But it is true that it was the mass movements in both places that put some terror in the ruling classes in both the USA and Britain that forced them to make some changes in the laws and practise that were so repressive and discriminatory. John Throne.

Related Link: http://laborsmilitantvoice.com
author by Old ex-stickpublication date Fri Apr 29, 2005 10:15Report this post to the editors

"their own slaughter of cleaning women in Aldershot ,"

I thought you left the spinning to PSF. Why did cleaning women get killed in Aldershot. I'm not saying I approve but at least give the context.

author by Stickiepublication date Fri Apr 29, 2005 11:22Report this post to the editors

Before I say anything I reckon it is reasonable to say that Barry and I are not going to agree on much. That is life. What I would like to do is go a bit further and offer a few thoughts on what has been said so far.

1. First of all the events of the August 1969 have been glossed over countless times. Thirty-six years have passed. The goings-on of that time have left the realm of present day debate and are now being taught in history classes. They are also so black and white that you either concur with what I’m saying or you are in total disagreement. What I disagree with is Barry’s point that our position makes us ‘an irrelevance’. Nobody’s argument is irrelevant and it is arrogant to say otherwise. While I disagree with Barry I do not consider what he says to be immaterial.

2. The purpose of my comment was to ask how there is almost universal acceptance on the left of Irish politics that the path of the Workers Party has been the wrong path. Why? What is that makes the path chosen by the Provisionals or the dissident organisations for that matter so correct? Why is it that Barry, W.Gallagher and co. all believes as if it were written in tablets of stone that WP adopted a reformist position? There is a marked difference in a movement seeking reforms and being a reformist movement. Cathal Goulding stated that there was nothing wrong with reforms being fought for by revolutionaries as long as they were committed to carrying forward the revolution long-term. Or is the answer to wait for the workers to spontaneously rise up? As yet only one person in this debate (n on Tuesday 26th April) has had the pluck to say the war was lost, a united Ireland is off the agenda, the Provisionals have dropped all pretensions to being socialist, division is worse than ever in the north and has posed the question was ‘the tactic of armed struggle wrong all along?’ To say that the WP was or is pro-British because it refused to support an armed campaign is feeble. George Gilmore, a giant of socialist republicanism, rejected the Provisional campaign. I don’t think George Gilmore would be considered a dupe of imperialism. Now if violence had come to a halt in 1972 and republicans had engaged in political struggle would things in 2005 be any better? That is something worth asking yourselves.

3. Alot of what has been written on this page regarding the Party is information which has been voiced for years by many groups and individuals and is without any foundation. One example is the assertion that the WP ‘idolised’ the ‘Kremlin tyrants’. I presume this is a reference to the Party making unyielding alliances with other socialist, communist and workers parties on the international left, many of which continue to secure the votes of tens of millions of workers right across the world. What would the other supposedly correct path have been? To align ourselves with insignificant Trotskyist ‘internationals’ with a few dozen members who split every few years because one of their egotistic leaders has disagreed with another eccentric during an abstract quarrel on permanent revolution? Or maybe the Party should have sought associations with the sectarian paramilitaries of ETA who bomb civilian targets and take pride in their distinct genetic differences from Spanish people? In forming bonds of solidarity with real left-wing parties fighting real struggles in various corners of the world The Workers Party made the proper choice.

4. More dangerous allegations are levelled at the movement and they too are without foundation. These include claims that there was collusion in certain murders as well as a ‘descent into organised crime and cynical gangsterism’. Whereabouts does this information come from? Please name your sources. Genuine sources. No references to common knowledge or the dogs in the street.

5. Mention of drinking clubs and control freakery I won’t get entangled in. It’s simply senseless. As for the relevance of the Party? Well, I consider them more relevant than many of the comments posted by ultra-leftists and dogmatic nationalists whose political analysis ceases at 1918.

6. John Thorne is of the impression that the answer to our ills lies with the theory of permanent revolution. I really doubt that this would be advice welcomed by people standing in a dole queue in Dublin or Belfast. The irrelevancy of Trotsky’s comments is one particular area where I would agree with Barry. Like many on the extreme left John comes down on the side of the Provisionals and states how a generation of ‘Catholic youth’ were sacrificed and killed. What of the Protestant workers? Why have they been written out of your historical insight? Is it a pro-British sentiment to ask about the fate of one million fellow countrymen? And what of the millions of Catholic workers who along with Protestants rejected absolutely the counter-revolutionary Provo campaign? I have never been a fan of Mr.Trotsky. When so called Marxists endeavour to hold that person up as a model of a revolutionary I like to remind them of his infamous pronouncement that the “entire edifice of Leninism…is built on lies and falsification and bears within itself the poisonous elements of its own decay.” Marxism?

“We are sustained by the deepest conviction that ideas are worth more than weapons.”
Fidel Castro

author by Barrypublication date Thu May 05, 2005 19:03Report this post to the editors

I wrote Bobby Sands RIP on my voting slips and put them in the boxes . No - one in my area worth voting for .
Hard to believe its been 24 years . No doubt tonight the Shinners will be totally absorbed in the election results for yet another sectarian head count . Bobby Sands and his comrades miserable deaths wont play much part in the conversations .

Neither will the fact that today Irish republican prisoners are still criminalised in British jails ( the SF leadership complicit in this) . British rule accepted , republicans criminalised , next great step forward is to join the cops and go into co-alition with Fianna Fail .

10 men died for nothing .

author by rorypublication date Wed May 11, 2005 15:43Report this post to the editors

jesus christ im not gerry's biggest fan either but give him a break. at least hes on for trying something a bit different. it beats banging on about that fucking 1918 election any day. get over it.

well its nice to see you voted for bobby. im sure the provos had enough dead people voting for them last week.

author by Eimearpublication date Thu May 12, 2005 21:47Report this post to the editors

You are probably right I have no sense but a sequel to this debate has commenced on the indymedia board. After the elections. It looks like our friends from South Down hadn't the courage to stand by their convictions before the elections.

Related Link: http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=69783&con...07493
author by socialistpublication date Thu May 12, 2005 22:10Report this post to the editors

Gerry Adams is a right wing hypocrite. In the 3 May Irish News he said people shoudl pay their water charges next year as 'to break the law is wrong'!!

So putting bombs in British shopping centres with the aim of killing innocent young working class kids, coldly killing people at an Enniskillen memorial because they are protestants or savagly murdering robert McCartney is ok but opposing neo liberalism is wrong!

Gerry you are a right wing sectarian.

author by Chuck south downpublication date Thu May 12, 2005 22:45author address CrotlieveReport this post to the editors

Sinn Fein are opposed to the water charges I find it hard to believe that Gerry Adams would say any differnet.

I suppose you are one of those Independent Nobodys who is riled by our victory in South Down. Get a life!!!!!

Related Link: http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=69783&con...07493
author by Waterboypublication date Thu May 12, 2005 22:58Report this post to the editors

Socialist is right about Sinn Fein and the water charges. They went along with them when the Assembly was operating. Then after it all collapsed they, like the DUP etc decided they had been against them after all.

So their current position is to oppose water charges BUT and this is an important but, Sinn Fein do not support non-payment.

author by Chuck south downpublication date Thu May 12, 2005 23:25author address Crotlieve County DownReport this post to the editors

Fair point waterboy I have assumed opposed means opposed full stop. I will check this out with the party echeleons in South Down.

I could be in for a shock as I have not heard any SF members say no payment- apologies to socialist I thought he was part of the Independent Irish republican defeated gripe brigade in South Down.

Related Link: http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=69783&con...07500
author by Barrypublication date Fri May 13, 2005 10:05Report this post to the editors

Might it just not occur to you that the very fact Sinn Fein were sitting in Stormont doing things like collaborating with British government plans to introduce water charges in the first place might ( just might now) prompt people to become Independent republicans , 32csm etc in the first place ?

Hello ?

author by realistpublication date Sun May 15, 2005 01:51Report this post to the editors

What happened. 28 and 49 votes for two women worshipped in Antrim. The liberators of Rathenraw.

So what happened?

author by Barrypublication date Sun May 15, 2005 04:23Report this post to the editors

They got stuffed is what happened !!
But to know theres 80 true republicans in an orange hole like Antrim isnt a bad thing . At least theyll not be signing up to the PSNI in a month or 2 . What about yourself ? Whats your opinion of people joining the peelers or passing on information about republicans ?

author by William Orrpublication date Sun May 15, 2005 14:05author address The Folly AntrimReport this post to the editors

Man held after drugs seized

Drugs worth £500,000 have been seized in Antrim.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/3086963.stm

http://www.morrigan.net/irsm/plough53.htm


http://lark.phoblacht.net/antebellumantrim.html

http://lark.phoblacht.net/rathenrawam.html


Links to some accounts of what happened in Antrim - read them and weep. PS let Gubba "articulate" this for us all. Does articulate mean soberly, verbally and clearly explain? I hope not!

Related Link: http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=69783&con...07670
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