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Bree criticises elements of the Irish labour movement for discarding its socialist values

category leitrim | anti-capitalism | news report author Wednesday January 04, 2006 21:39author by Kat H Report this post to the editors

Elements of the Irish labour movement are actively undermining its philosophy to keep establishment parties in power, a Labour Party stalwart has claimed. Declan Bree, a former TD and the current mayor of Sligo, made his comments while addressing a wreath-laying ceremony to mark the 60th anniversary of the death of the Leitrim socialist Jim Gralton on January 1.
His comments were widely seen as a thinly veiled attack on his party leader, Pat Rabbitte.

The two men have clashed over the party’s strategy of having a pre-election pact with Fine Gael and Mr Rabbitte’s support for the European Union constitution.
Last year, Mr Bree was subjected to an internal disciplinary hearing after criticising fellow Labour councillors for joining with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to vote down Sligo’s Traveller accommodation unit programme last June.
Mr Rabbitte was also subjected to a hearing after Mr Bree complained about a letter by Mr Rabbitte that appeared in The Irish Times. Mr Bree described as “false and scurrilous” the claims he had tried to relocate the accommodation unit from his own ward.
Speaking at the site of the Pearse-Connolly Hall in Gowel, Co Leitrim, Mr Bree said: “Today, people who would have us compromise would say that socialist activists like Jimmy Gralton and James Connolly were born before their time, that their ideas and philosophy were much too advanced or too radical.
“Unfortunately, people who hold such views and who would have us compromise on our principles can today be found in the ranks of our own movement.
“They are the same elements who consistently attempt to undermine our ideology and who would have the labour and socialist movement in Ireland discard its philosophy and its values and become mere props to keep the main establishment parties in power.
“Our challenge today is to make it abundantly clear to these elements that, like Connolly’s ideology, Gralton’s philosophy and Gralton’s values are fundamental to what our movement is all about.”
Mr Bree added: “We need to fight for the vision of an alternative Ireland, a society driven by values other than greed, environmental degradation and blind consumerism.”
Amid a red scare in 1933, the Free State government deported Jim Gralton.
He spent the rest of his life involved in the US labour movement and was buried in New York’s Woodlawn cemetery 60 years ago last week.

A Connolly Forum public meeting entitled Jim Gralton — the Leitrim Socialist will be held in the Trades Club, Castle Street, Sligo, on Wednesday, January 19, at 8.30pm.
Pat Feeley, the writer and former RTÉ radio presenter, will be among the speakers.

http://www.irishdemocrat.co.uk/news/2005/gralton-tribute/

author by Mark P - Socialist Party (personal cap)publication date Wed Jan 04, 2006 22:38Report this post to the editors

Fair play to Bree for the above statement. I wouldn't be a huge fan of Declan's record - his flirtations with Stalinism and his record in government for instance - but he is a genuine left winger in party that is nowadays inhospitable to socialist ideas.

Unlike most of what was once the Labour left, he hasn't sold out and he hasn't just opted for the quiet life and kept his head down. He has kept fighting away and it's that which has led him into conflict with the leadership of his party. I suspect that he won't be in the Labour Party much longer and I hope that whatever remains of a Labour left finds a bit of backbone and leaves with him when that happens.

author by deeplydisillusionedlabouritepublication date Thu Jan 05, 2006 03:57Report this post to the editors

> I suspect that he won't be in the Labour Party much longer

It doesn't look like it. On the other hand, neither will Rabbitte or his Stickie colleagues. They are, like almost all our TD's, old, decrepit and on their last legs - and they will be on their way when their strategies fail them - and I believe they are failing even now, before the election. The only reason Rabbitte is leader is because the majority of delegates at conference didn't wish to see the leadership battle that would have come about if they rejected his strategies.

The new breed of deputies will decide the future of the party no doubt...

> he hasn't opted for the quiet life

I wish he hadn't refused to stand for election while Rabbitte was leader - the best way to defeat people like Rabbitte is the refusal to be cowed by them. If he had stood, I'd have gone from Dublin to Sligo to help the campaign.

If Declan leaves and forms an alternative party, or joins one, I'd like to follow his lead, but as someone loyal to the party that holds Connolly up (not the party that Rabbitte, Quinn et al have subverted), I would also want to stay on and try to bring it back to what it should be.

Naive perhaps, but it's the party both my grandfathers were in as far back as six decades ago, and I'd like to try and honour their struggle as members of Labour, instead of letting what little remains of it crumble away and die at the hands of Rabbitte and his ilk.

author by Charles B.publication date Thu Jan 05, 2006 10:49Report this post to the editors

Declan Bree is not the current mayor, but a former mayor. One of the few true socialists left in this godforsaken land by the looks of it. Hats off.

author by Johnpublication date Thu Jan 05, 2006 11:00Report this post to the editors

There's a good reason why Labour should drop its socialist values, namely the fact socialism is a crap system that has been a total failure everywhere its been tried. Please name one socialist country in the world where life is better than in Ireland.

author by SHpublication date Thu Jan 05, 2006 12:08Report this post to the editors

Ireland has the second highest levels of poverty in the western world. We also have one of the highest levels of adult illiteracy. We have a third world public service, our education and health systems are farcical. Our government is corrupt, incompetent and utterly parasitical. So please name one country anywhere in the world where capitalism has benefitted all inhabitants?

author by Boxtypublication date Thu Jan 05, 2006 12:19Report this post to the editors

It was interesting to note Councillor Colette Connolly from Galway was in attendence at the Jim Gralton Commemoration in Leitrim.She is the current deputy Mayor of Galway and together with her sister Kathleen(last years Mayor of Galway) would be crucial in helping Michael D.get re-elected to the Dail.
Michael D's silence on this whole Bree saga is very disapointing and as a result maybe the Connolly sisters have an agenda of their own for their Galway constituency next time around.......who knows.
Pity a few more wouldent stand up and be counted.

NB....for the record,neither of Sligos other Labour councillors,Jim McGarry or Veronica Cawley showed up for the event.............are we surprised??

author by Ray - SFpublication date Thu Jan 05, 2006 14:50Report this post to the editors

It worth noting that the Connolly Forum group is essentially a new socialist party in Sligo in the making. It was set up around the time the controversial ex-FG Cllr. Jim McGarry joined the Labour party over two years ago and Bree and his supporters seem to be very active in it .... from what I have heard its meeting attract more members than the constituency Labour party, which has been essentially abandoned by Bree & Co. since the row over Traveller accomodation in the twon.

It has organised a number of talks and lectures in the Trades Club in Sligo over the past two years. Recently it had a Cuban Trade Unionist and MP speaking at a meeting before Christmas and it hosted the Miami Five Meeting and Film Show in the Model Niland Galley earlier this year. It also organised this years May Day demonstration in Sligo and other events including Anti-War, Rossport 5 meetings and numerous labour history lectures. It has also been supportive of the West Papua Support Group and the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign in the North West!

author by Corkmanpublication date Thu Jan 05, 2006 15:18Report this post to the editors

I read this story in Daily Ireland during the week. This isn't the first time they've ran with the Bree v Rabbitte row, it made front page a few weeks past.

Here's the full statement from Bree and the Connolly Forum http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=73600&type=eventnotice

Speaking at the Gralton commemorative ceremony in Leitrim on Sunday, the former Mayor of Sligo, Alderman Declan Bree, criticised “elements” in today’s Labour movement who he said would have the movement discard its philosophy to keep the main establishment parties in power.
Alderman Bree was speaking at a wreath laying ceremony organised by the Connolly Forum, at the site of Gralton’s Pearse-Connolly Hall in Gowel, Co Letirim, to mark the 60th anniversary of the death of the famous Leitrim socialist.

Mr Des Guckian, author of the book “Deported” also spoke at the event and floral tributes were laid at the site by: Mr John Rooney, on behalf of the Gralton Centenary Committee, Mr John Dunne on behalf of the Connolly Forum, and by Ms Connie Faughnan and Ms Fiona Morrison on behalf of the extended Gralton family.

Mr Gerry Bambrick, who presided welcomed those who had travelled from other counties for the event and he particularly welcomed the Deputy Mayor of Galway, Cllr. Colette Connolly. Mr Bambrick pointed out that when a massive Red Scare enveloped Ireland in 1933, Jimmy Gralton became the victim of a political witch-hunt and was deported as “an undesirable alien”. “He became the only Irishman ever to be deported and was never allowed return to his native country. He spent the remaining years of his life in the American Labour movement and was buried in New York’s Woodlawn cemetery 60 years ago this week.” he said.

The main speaker, Alderman Bree said: “Today, people who would have us compromise, would say that socialist activists like Jimmy Gralton and James Connolly were born before their time – that their ideas and philosophy were much too advanced. Others would suggest that their ideas were too radical.

“Unfortunately, people who hold such views and who would have us compromise on our principles can today be found in the ranks of our own movement.

“They are the same elements who consistently attempt to undermine our ideology and who would have the labour and socialist movement in Ireland discard its philosophy and its values and become mere props to keep the main establishment parties in power.

“Our challenge today is to make it abundantly clear to these elements that like Connolly’s ideology, Gralton’s philosophy and Gralton’s values are fundamental to what our movement is all about.

“Today the left in Ireland cannot afford to allow the opportunities now opening up to be exploited in the interests of those who wish to enrich themselves at the expense of the majority of our citizens.

“We need to fight for the vision of an alternative Ireland, a society driven by values other than greed, environmental degradation and blind consumerism.” Alderman Bree said.

“And that fight must be on both the political and economic fronts.

“After decades of so called “social partnership” and a doubling of the work-force, we must recognise that our trade union movement is now weaker than at any time in our history.

“Trade unions currently represent less that 30% of all workers in the private sector.

“Social Partnership, over-emphasis on full-time officials and the reduction in the role of shop stewards has led to the decline of the trade union presence on the shop floor.

“The outcome of the Irish Ferries dispute has ramifications for workers in all sectors of the Irish economy. The undercutting of workers wages and conditions will not stop at the private sector as our public services are continuing to open up under E.U. directives to compulsory competitive tendering.

“The reality is that if we are to succeed in our fight, and we need to succeed, and if the labour and trade union movement is to mean anything or to have a future, then we need to advance our struggle in a way that shows that we are determined and committed to real and radical change.

“Speaking at Jim Gralton’s grave in Woodlawn cemetery, New York, sixy years ago this week, John Mullally said of Gralton:- ‘He lived during two world wars and convinced many of his friends that wars and depression are not the way to solve the problems of mankind.

Stone monuments were built in memory of men in the past. This is not the kind of monument Jim Gralton wanted, but a world in which human beings can have security, be free from hunger and misery, with sufficient leisure time to study art and music; a world wherein there will be no wars, famine or depressions in the midst of plenty.’

“And Charlie Byrne, Gralton’s comrade said:- ‘Let all of us who believe in the principles for which Gralton stood, pledge ourselves anew to the continuation of the fight for the complete political, cultural and economic rights of the working classes in all lands, no crying, no weeping over his grave at Woodlawn. There is work to be done, so let us carry on; Gralton would have it that way.’” said Alderman Bree.

author by Socialist - Irish Leftpublication date Thu Jan 05, 2006 18:12Report this post to the editors

Goodbye Labour Party Hello Sinn Féin.
It will be great to see the continued demise of the Labour Party and the emergence of Sinn Fein as a party to lead the irish Left into power. Thtas where the irish left should be, in power not playing second fiddle in a coalition with the bueshirts!

author by Ivor Bellpublication date Thu Jan 05, 2006 18:23Report this post to the editors

I wish that were true. Reading Gerry Adams interviewed in the Guardian recently, where he happily accepted the journalist's suggestion that himself and Tony Blair had a lot in common, and praised Blair for making the Labour party "electable" ... I wouldn't be so sure

author by Wake uppublication date Thu Jan 05, 2006 18:24Report this post to the editors

The last poster needs to wake up, Sinn Fein have said thay will go into coalition with any party except the PDs, that includes Fine Gael, so what is the difference between them and Labour?

author by Frank - nonepublication date Thu Jan 05, 2006 18:44Report this post to the editors

I have to agree with Socialist, SF can be criticised left right and centre but to ask what separates from the Labour Party is perhaps the stupidest question i've ever heard!
SF look set to be the only party going into the next election who are prepared to raise taxes to improve public services. The Labour Party seem scared to say anything of the sort for fear of scaring Enda.
SF will fight the next election on thier own platform advocating Social and economic change and extolling the virtues of the All Ireland agenda. Labour will fight the next election extolling the virtues of FG as opposed to FF!

author by Correctionpublication date Thu Jan 05, 2006 18:48Report this post to the editors

"Sinn Fein have said thay will go into coalition with any party except the PDs, that includes Fine Gael"

Sinn Fein has said no such thing. A senior party figure said it but the party's position on coalition remains unchanged. Any proposed coalition would need to be approved by a Special Ard Fheis called by the party's Ard Chomhairle.

People in Sinn Fein are free to express their own opinions as to who or what the party would do in such a circumstance, but they are simply opinions.

author by SFwatchpublication date Thu Jan 05, 2006 20:04Report this post to the editors

So SF will basically go into coalition with any party going?! Real left wingers then!

SF are a right wing conservative nationalist party not a left party at all.

Just look at their record..
.. support for bin tax in Sligo
.. coalition with FF in tralee
.. in stormont their support for the closure of Omagh hospital
..McGuniness when in govt he put workers out on strike and privatised schools
.. they take donations from big business especially in the USA..

This all combined with their communalism and sectarian politics which makes no call for working class unity..

Any sane person can't call SF left wing.

author by SP Watchpublication date Thu Jan 05, 2006 20:12Report this post to the editors

This is just the same list you trot out everytime you attack SF. Some of the issues themselves are valid but due to your delivery style you come across as a shrill crank. People take as much notice of you as they would of the ravings of a streetcorner schizophrenic.

author by SF watchpublication date Thu Jan 05, 2006 20:17Report this post to the editors

Look at the issues raised, SF when in power have implemented a neo liberal agenda. On the ground they whip up sectarinaism and make no appeal to protestant workers. They are right wing sectarians, not lefts. This is fairly plain to anyone with half a brain, do you not agree?

PS
I'm not a SPer by the way

author by SP Watchpublication date Thu Jan 05, 2006 20:26Report this post to the editors

My apologies. But you come across like some of their more hysterical SY members. Even your response is full of bile. Criticise them by all means but in a rational analytical manner. Shouting out a list of sins does not work.

author by SFwatchpublication date Thu Jan 05, 2006 20:27Report this post to the editors

Everything i put up is fact. SF are a right wing sectarian party.

author by Mark P - Socialist Party (personal capacity)publication date Thu Jan 05, 2006 20:40Report this post to the editors

I get a bit sick of the kind of posts which can appear whenever someone mentions Sinn Fein or Labour. You know the ones I'm talking about: "...are not a workers party, they are a capitalist party, look at..." I get sick of those posts and I actually AGREE with them! It's just so fucking wooden!

That said, if various Sinn Fein supporters are going to post here claiming to be oh so much better and more radical than the Labour Party then it's not unreasonable to challenge them on SFs actual record and the statements of their own leading figures. I would personally class Adams and Rabbitte together as ex-radicals, now committed to slightly different versions of the status quo - but please, it isn't enough to just say that, we have to make a case for it as well.

author by SP Watchpublication date Thu Jan 05, 2006 20:44Report this post to the editors

Right, explain in a calm rational manner how SF are sectarian. Do they wish to close leisure facilities on Sundays? Do they want to exclude Protestants from public life? Do they wish to establish Roman Catholicism as a State Religion? In what manner do SF propose to discriminate against people on the grounds of religion?

author by SFwathcpublication date Thu Jan 05, 2006 21:19Report this post to the editors

I think it is quite obvious that SF are a sectarian party. They are so in their politics and their actions. They do not have support or seek support from protestant workers, at election time they do not canvass protestant areas, they simply don't orientate to them at all. Within the catholic areas they whip up sectarianism in may ways. They sell themselves as aparty that will fight better for catholics. They of course also have organised (in most cases unofficially) sectarian attacks and rioting. They also are uncritical of the IRA and their viscious attacks and killings of protestants simply for just being protestants. Look at Enniskillen, Kings Mills also in England, the guilford birmingham, manchester... bombings. SF simply do not appeal and will never appeal to protestants. They are a party that bases themselves on division.

SF are nationalists, How can anyone seriously think that Irish nationalism will appeal to protestants?!

Also because they are nationalists and not socialists they appeal to the capitalist class of southern ireland and of Irish America. How will any protestant worker realistically want to be part of a state that is ruled by Bertie Aherne, Eamonn rothwell and their class. This is what SF stand for.

author by Mark Ppublication date Thu Jan 05, 2006 21:25Report this post to the editors

Sinn Fein are "sectarian" not in the Paisleyite sense of howling religious bigotry, but in the more secular communal sense which can be found right across the mainstream political parties in the North. That is they represent and in practice seek to represent the views and interestes of one "community".

They are in competition with the SDLP to be the best advocates of Catholic communal interests, more facilities for Catholic areas, more patronage basically. In day to day politics Protestants are a rival group to be fought for scarce resources. The DUP, UUP, SDLP and Sinn Fein have in common an understanding that every gain for Protestants or Catholics can only come at the expense of the other community.

Of course the DUP express this understanding through a kind of vitriolic bigotry which is mostly absent or at least better masked amongst Sinn Fein politicians. Sinn Fein's rhetoric is smoother, conditioned by a self image as a national liberation movement and a greater understanding of their international audience. When they talk of their ultimate goals and aspirations what's interesting is just how little Protestants feature in any way. The story becomes one of heroic risen people fighting the evil British jackboot, the majority section of the Northern population become essentially stooges with little or no independent role to play.

But these ultimate goals and apirations have little or nothing to do with Sinn Fein's realpolitik North or South of the border in any case. In the North they are busy replacing the SDLP and before them the old Nationalist Party as the major communal representatives of Catholics. In the South they are treading the same path as Fianna Fail before them, trying to build themselves as a populist party. And like all populists they tell every audience what they want to hear. On a working class housing estate there will be radical words, but when Adams goes for a cozy lunch with the assembled capitalists of Dublin at the Chamber of Commerce, its all talk of pragmatic politics and business as usual.

author by seedotpublication date Fri Jan 06, 2006 01:48Report this post to the editors

"SF are nationalists, How can anyone seriously think that Irish nationalism will appeal to protestants?!"

Is this an acceptance of the way the world is or a desire for it to be a certain way?

I think in the desire to class nationalism as sectarian you have completely missed the story of Irish nationalism. How could anyone seriously think nationalism would appeal to Wolfe Tone or John Mitchell.

Mark P - are the SP a republican (not in the Irish 'after 15 pints' but more usual understanding) party in any sense? Where does the state claim its legitmacy from and how are its boundaries defined?

author by Mark P - Socialist Party (personal capacity)publication date Fri Jan 06, 2006 02:38Report this post to the editors

Are we republicans in any sense? Well if you use the term to simply mean opposed to Monarchy then I suppose we are. But we certainly aren't Republicans in what you aptly describe as the Irish after 15 pints sense.

Also, I think I would have a wider problem with terms like "legitimacy" when applied to capitalist states. I think that all states are instruments of class rule, whether they are Monarchies or Republics. I don't accept the "legitimacy" of any capitalist state, in that I want to get rid of all of them. As socialists our ultimate political goal is a socialist society - one without class division, or the attendant instruments of class domination including states.

That's a goal which Marxists and anarchists have in common. However, as a Marxist I differ with anarchists on the feasability of a direct and immediate transition from capitalism to a stateless socialist society. That's an outlook which we regard as utopian. Instead we argue that the working class will have to take political and economic power and create its own state to manage the transitional period and defend against the forceable reintroduction of capitalism.

Anyway that's an account so brief as to do actual violence to the ideas concerned but I'm off to see what George Galloway is up to on Big Brother before the inevitable row begins.

author by seedotpublication date Fri Jan 06, 2006 03:31Report this post to the editors

probably better to leave it to gorgeous george and the bimbettes ;-)

This was an honest Q cos I was reading the Connolly Walker debate recently for the first time and have been thinking about this. I think then it was easier to see socialism as a natural progression and a representative bourgeois republic being part of the progress of history or summat.

Thing is, even if you have to ignore the inevitable march to socialism stuff nowadays, it still seems inevitable to me we will federate together at different levels and the geographic unity of the island has relevance (so does the street and the city and the hemisphere). And a monarchy is not something I would feel comfortable federating to.

But I get the feeling that this level of republicanism in my politics makes me a sectarian in the eyes of some in the SP - and because those on the island who most vocally disagree are defined in part by their religion, republicanism is seen as religious sectarianism through no reflection of my religious beliefs or attitudes..

It's interesting to read of the birth of the party that yourselves left and Bree seems to be leaving, and the classification of partition as the cul de sac that Irish politics was about to go down. By defining the state in anything other than the obvious way you make this the overriding political issue which saps so much energy and prevents the working class uniting to claim or define or whatever you want to call it a 'legitimate' state. (in my opinion via the last book I read ;-) until this is dealt with SF will be able to implement all sorts of social and economic policies and still claim their radicalism.

author by Mark P - Socialist Party (personal capacity)publication date Fri Jan 06, 2006 04:19Report this post to the editors

I'm back from Big Brother because even with the Gorgeous One on it it seems to be as boring as ever. Anyway, seedot was saying:

"it still seems inevitable to me we will federate together at different levels and the geographic unity of the island has relevance (so does the street and the city and the hemisphere). And a monarchy is not something I would feel comfortable federating to. But I get the feeling that this level of republicanism in my politics makes me a sectarian in the eyes of some in the SP"

I can't speak for everyone in the Socialist Party, but what you are describing above is pretty much in line with Socialist Party policy. We take the view that a genuinely socialist society will be worldwide rather than national and that it will operate through federation at different levels, including at the levels of different localities, the island, the surrounding islands, the whole continent right up to a world scale.

This is what James Connolly was describing when he talked of an international free federation of peoples, in those very debates with Walker for instance. And it's what the Socialist Party is talking about when we describe a Socialist Ireland federated with a Socialist England, Wales and Scotland and when we call for a Socialist Europe or a Socialist world. The Socialist Ireland isn't counterposed to a wider federation.

This traditional socialist view is probably the single thing about the Socialist Party which most aggravates left nationalists, ironically enough. Well other than our total opposition to individual terrorism, that is.

author by seedotpublication date Fri Jan 06, 2006 04:33Report this post to the editors

would be a single unitary state.

Connolly saw orangism and unionism as a reactionary politics, designed to create divisions between irish workers. he believed in a republic on this island and attacked partition. He was attacking Walker for saying there should not be an Irish Labour party - that political direction would come from London.

(Walker had also signed some v. sectarian pledges when standing as a labour candidate in Belfast).

To say that Irish Nationalism is by its nature sectarian (I know you didn't but you didn't refute what smells like a comrade up above) and then claim Connolly (especially the Connolly in Belfast before the lock-out) was saying the same thing doesn't make sense to me. While you may not counterpose the socialist ireland to the socialist whatever else, you can't deny that Connolly and many other socialists (sorry, uninformed left nationalists) see the republic of (all) the people on this island as part of any solution. Just as we won't have the stateless socialist utopia any day soon, the world socialist government seems a bit of a way off as well. Or is progress in one state impossible as well?

author by Mark P - Socialist Party (personal capacity)publication date Fri Jan 06, 2006 05:33Report this post to the editors

I'm genuinely confused about which parts of the above you think the Socialist Party disagrees with, particularly in the first part of your post. Just to make some things clear:

We are against the partition of Ireland. We see Orangeism and Unionism as a reactionary politics designed to create division between Irish workers. We are for a unitary Ireland, although we would want that to be a unity from below based on democratic councils. We think that there should be an Irish socialist party, and in fact we organise as just such an all-Ireland party.

We don't think that there can be such a thing as a single socialist country - what you actually get are besieged islands in a sea of capitalism, still tied to the world capitalist market, desperately trying to survive and all too likely to end up devouring themselves in the process. We think that socialism is an international and not a national system. So we are linked to dozens of other socialist groups worldwide and we understand that socialism will have to spread or it will be throttled. That doesn't mean that "progress in one state is impossible", but it does mean that we have to keep an international perspective.

In an Irish context, Britain, our much stronger neighbour is obviously strategically key. A capitalist, imperialist, Britain will not tolerate a revolutionary or even socially radical island on its doorstep. The strengthening of a socialist movement, or more basically the workers movement, in England, Scotland and Wales is of incredible importance to Irish socialists. They are potentially our strongest allies. It doesn't mean we have to "wait for" them to do anything or for that matter that they have to "wait for" us. In fact radicalisation here could act as a spur to radicalisation in Britain or elsewhere in Europe. But it does mean understanding that our chances of overthrowing capitalism *and living to tell the tale* are closely interlinked.

author by SHpublication date Fri Jan 06, 2006 10:55Report this post to the editors

Utter nonsense. SF do canvass protestant areas and it is an utter lie to say otherwise, for example Alex Maskey ran in an area where he canvassed and got votes from protestants. The SP line is an utter farce and they are a tiny, irrelevant party in the North. They called the RUC and the British army "workers in uniform" and their "leader" in the North is a complete disgrace for an "activist", even informing to the RUC about activities of socialist activists during an occupation.

SF has many problems, but to describe them as a right wing conservative nationalist party is idiocy in the extreme. It insults peoples intelligence and is typical of the idiotic twins that are members of the SP. As for SF going into coalition, that decision is taken by the party members at a special ard fheis after any election. It is quite clear from even a brief reading of the letters pages in An Phoblacht that the members have no intention of voting to go into coalition with right wing parties.

Criticise Sinn Fein all you want, but do so for accurate reasons (and their are lots of them) and not the idiotic posturings of stupid r-r-r-revolutionary activists who believe the path to socialism lies in selling a paper and taking orders from their "leader".

author by SP Watchpublication date Fri Jan 06, 2006 11:17Report this post to the editors

Your criticisms of SF are much better put together but I still dont think you have proved that SF are a Sectarian party. Communal , yes, but this is largely due to the nature of the late War. Inevitably Protestants would view the killing of part time members of the RUC & UDR as sectarian. Not to mention Teebane, Kingsmills, Enniskillen, La Mon. SF would say that some of these were tragedies and that workers servicing Army/RUC bases were legitimate targets.

As SH has pointed out SF do attempt to canvass Protestant areas. It is not always safe to do this however. You must be aware that if Republicans entered certain areas then they would very likely be killed by the still armed Loyalists. Its like asking why dont the SP in England canvass votes from BNP members (I'm not comparing Protestants to the BNP, just trying to compare dangers).

SH also raises other points the SP have to face up to.

In the past you have described the British Army as Workers in Uniform.

You support the "Right" of the Orange Order to march through Nationalist areas. You refused to support the Catholic primary school children in North Belfast who had bombs and urine thrown at them by Loyalists. You described it as a sectarian turf war. One of your members on Indymedia suggested that it would be safer for the children to use the rar entrance! Back to Good Old Montgomery seat at the back of the bus!

When Loyalists besieged Harryville Church and attacked parishioners the SWP organised a demo in support of the parishioners; the SP condemned this as sectarian. Even Robert Saulter, Grandmaster of the Orange Order turned up to support the parishioners; I suppose he was sectarian as well.

When you address these issues perhaps you will be in a position to call SF Sectarian.

author by SP Member - Socialist Party/CWIpublication date Fri Jan 06, 2006 11:38Report this post to the editors

Firstly this thread start on the attitude of Declan Bree towards the LP. Positive development for what its worth. Bree's mistake was joining the LP when he did in the first place and then supporting coalition with FF in 1992. While he has managed to partially maintain some of his political ideas he has and continues to make some serious tactical errors, not leaving the LP and running as an independent left in the next election is clearly one.

Since the thread has now been diverted into a SF/SP discussion I need to make a couple of comments.

Yes the SP are a very small party in the North, but were instrumental in the campaign that forced scrooge employer Martin McGuinness to pay term time workers a decent wage, and will be to the fore in the current NIPSA pay battle. Alan Maskey may get a few votes from Protestants but this does not mean that SF has any appeal to Protestant voters. With regards the Trade Unions, which are still organised on a cross community basis, SF have practically no positions of influence, certainly a lot less than the 'tiny irrelevant' SP.

The 'workers in uniform' jibe is always trotted out when attacking the SP on the North. Yes the SP did and does describe soliders, not just British, as by and large economic conscripts (you will always find the exception to the rule). To suggest otherwise is simply wrong. The vast majority of the soldiers currently fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are exactly the same. There are very few who actually want to be there, just as there were very few British soldiers who wanted to be in the North over the past 35 years.

The SP has never described the RUC in the same way. The RUC are a sectarian police force.

In regards coalition, the reason SP members laugh at this thing about the ard fheis deciding is that we have been through all this before. Every election the LP used to say 'we will decide after the election' every election the vast majority of LP members were opposed to coalition and after every election when the opportunity arose the LP leadership got their way. SF has already been in coalition in the North and implemented neo-liberal policies. Have no fear it will be no different in the South.

Finally, SF are a nationalist party. SF are a sectarian party, the represent the communal interests of catholics and regard the protestant community as 'the problem'. While SF use left rhetoric they have implemented neo-liberal policies in government. Enough said.

author by Davy Carlinpublication date Fri Jan 06, 2006 11:41Report this post to the editors

I have heard this time and time again - that the SP called the RUC 'workers in uniform,

Can anyone confirm this and link me to it.

SH - As for the 'leader' in Belfast, I believe it is a case of an 'ingrained mindset that drives such do such.

He had also finger pointed me out for 'directing unlawful actions' - while the state forces and amazed activists looked on - at the time of the Anti War Movement, {Recorded else where}.

The result I believe of - Pure Political Sectarianism

Other similar Political Sectarianism I have recorded elsewhere and will be detailed in greater depth in the months ahead, as I believe such is important to learn from.

As for the Shinners I believe some of the points the SP make are over simplified {formula orientated and mantra} - re the North.

I would say though on various issues I enjoy reading Mark P's points { although not always agreeing} -he does though have a good head on him, and is more engagable I find to activists than that 'BOYD boy yoo'

If I find time will come back to elaborate re, point - SP and Shinners

author by SP Watchpublication date Fri Jan 06, 2006 11:44Report this post to the editors

"Enough said."

I'm afraid not. You didnt address Harryville, North Belfast, the OO marching through Nationalist areas or the propensity of Peter Hadden to name political activists in front of the cops. All of these issues are documented on Indymedia and there is such a thing as a search engine, so consider your reply carefully.

author by Fetishpublication date Fri Jan 06, 2006 11:57Report this post to the editors

Guys, all this socialist speak is quite amusing. I suppose i'm a capitalist in a way but may a aul 'Berti type' socialist in that the poor/disadvantaged should be looked after etc etc, but only to a point. I don't feel i should be out working hard to pay for some loser sitting in the pub drinking or the many people who are rippping off our welfare system and don't try to deny that is not the reality.
However, getting to my (and excellent) main point. Did any of you socialists watch the RTE documentary on North Korea??
Well, yous might want to rethink your thinking on the arguement for socialism as it is about as valid as a bus ticket on Xmas day!!!
Sorry to break the bubble chaps..

author by SP Watchpublication date Fri Jan 06, 2006 12:11Report this post to the editors

Neither the SP or SF would in any way support the North Korean regime. It is a brutal Stalinist Dictatorship. I think you must be confusing SF and the SP with the WP.

The Workers Party have fraternal relations with North Korea and regard it as a workers paradise. They dont care about the millions suffering from famine due to the mismanagement of the economy by the incompetent Stalinist Burocrats.

The WP will stick to North Korea, you can bet your bottom Superdollar on that.

author by SP Memberpublication date Fri Jan 06, 2006 13:25Report this post to the editors

I was replying to previous post not yours.

As for the other stuff - No matter how you try and distort or position, asked and answered numerous times previously. As you suggest use search engine.

author by SP Watchpublication date Fri Jan 06, 2006 13:48Report this post to the editors

No distortions, all of those actions or inactions by the SP occurred as I described them including Hadden touting to the PSNI/RUC. Davy Carlin can back this up.

author by Mark P - Socialist Party (personal capacity)publication date Fri Jan 06, 2006 14:29Report this post to the editors

I have no interest in debating with "SP Watch" about his/her various distortions of Socialist Party policies, all of which have been dealt with before at great length. Although I will stop to laugh at the sheer idiocy of any criticism of any organisation along the lines of "one of your members on Indymedia said". I mean for crying out loud, quite apart from the fact that any sizeable organisation has an occasional member who shoots their mouth off foolishly, anyone on Indymedia can say anything in the guise of anybody, it's the nature of the medium.

The Socialist Party, alone on the left (apart from the anarchists I suppose), has consistently opposed individual terrorism and fought for working class unity in Ireland. We bombed nobody and we apologised for nobodies bombings. We didn't write off Protestant workers and remain about the only political organisation in the North which draws its members roughly evenly from both communities. We don't play the sectarian game and we have nothing but contempt for those "socialists" who do.

The key point in your post, and the only one which rises above recycling left nationalist smears, lies and distortions is this one below, so that's the one I will reply to:

"Communal , yes, but this is largely due to the nature of the late War. Inevitably Protestants would view the killing of part time members of the RUC & UDR as sectarian. Not to mention Teebane, Kingsmills, Enniskillen, La Mon. SF would say that some of these were tragedies and that workers servicing Army/RUC bases were legitimate targets."

You will note that I never mentioned the issue of sectarian murders by Republicans. I preferred to base my analysis on less emotive ground in the hope of provoking a rational discussion with even the left cheerleaders for the Provos. However, since you bring them up, it is necessary to point out that the logic of your above point is somewhat lacking. What you leave out is that the Provisionals and other Republicans *chose* to launch sectarian attacks on Protestant workers. Kingsmill, Darkley and the like weren't tragic accidents, they were actions carried out by Republicans precisely because the Provos, the Irps and the rest are sectarian. For your reasoning to make sense it would have to instead start "Communal, yes, but this is largely because they carried out sectarian atrocities", which is hardly an argument that they are not sectarian!

But in fact I don't accept that the only reason that Sinn Fein are "communal" is because of IRA killings. They are sectarian because their whole policy and programme is based on advancing the interests of one community as defined against the other. The sectarian atrocities were results of that, not the cause. Their communal nature is not just a matter of being limited to Catholic support as a result of the war. If that was true then their number one objective now that the war has been over for a decade would be to redress that balance and win over Protestant support. Of course they do no such thing. Instead they consciously seek to be the best advocates of the interests of the Catholic community. The basis of their struggle with the SDLP is over which party can better represent the communal interests of Catholics.

I note by the way that you don't take up the issue of Sinn Fein's lack of social radicalism in government in the North or their early Fianna Fail style populism in the South.

author by former militant memberpublication date Fri Jan 06, 2006 14:47Report this post to the editors

Despite my criticisms of many things about the SP, I have to register support for Mark P above. Whatever the problems in the old Militant organisation and now SP, and there are many, it can legitimately claim to have consistently held an anti-sectarian and internationalist as opposed to nationalist position when many were rushing to sectarian positions. Militant analysed and showed at the earliest stage that the IRA campaign was doomed, when most on the left simply acted as their cheer leaders.

There were many reasons for this, but the completely inadequate analysis of the position of the Protestant population is one of the Republican movement's greatest weaknesses. In essence, they defined the problem entirely in terms of British sovereignty, and pretty much neglected to consider the question: how will protestant workers react to this? (And there is a difference between defending your area fro msectarian attack, and launching an offensive 'war' that was overtly sectarian on many occasions). Republicans I debated with years ago oscillated between two positions. The first was that in the event of a British declaration of intent to withdraw the Protestants would rush to the negotiating table and settle (I trust that numerous reactions and atrocities, including Greysteel and too many to list here, give the lie to that). The idea that loyalists would be any less tenacious in pursuit of their perceived interests than the Republicans is laughable. The second position many adopted was that, well, maybe a civil war is inevtable - but it would at least clear the air. This was an even more insane position than the first.

The SP historically has stood against this kind of nonsense - as I say, whatever other faults it may have.

I have still to see a reasoned analysis from a republican perspective of why they think their camnpaign failed, as it has. Mutterings about a treacherous leadership is not a serious contribution to debate - it would take more than that to derail a strategy that actually made sense.

author by Petepublication date Fri Jan 06, 2006 21:25Report this post to the editors

I wonder would any of SF and SP members comment on the possibility of Declan Bree and this new Connolly Forum organisation joining either parties.

It is also interesting to see the two Galway Labour Councillors Kathleen and Colette Connolly siding with Bree, could they leave the party too if he jumps ship. That would be a great coup for the Socialist Party.


It seems SF has reached its maximum vote in Sligo, the LP there held up well with the advance of SF, especially in working class areas which shows Bree has down his work on the ground. Howver it seems his radical politics has ruined his chances with the middle classes… this is probably one reason why Rabbitte and Co. wanted him out and this ex-FG Cllr. In!

author by Sean Philipspublication date Fri Jan 06, 2006 23:20Report this post to the editors

Declan Bree is only crying crocodile tears. If we examine his voting record you will see that when Albert Reynolds was elected Taoiseach Declan voted for him. He also voted for John Bruton. Declan was also a part of the governments that voted for a tax amnesty for criminals in big business and who were behind the nurses' strike over pay and conditions. Declan raised no criticism. When elected a TD Declan should have left the party THEN and set up a new party/formation or at least put up serious opposition to the right-wing policies of Labour. As a TD he could have had an impact. Why did Declan stick around for those 5 years backing up both FF and FG governments? After loosing his seat in 1997 Declan continued as a member of the Labour party with little criticism. Only lately has Declan spoken out! Why? In my opinion is because of careerist reasons and Dáil nomination reasons.

Lets be clear. Declan Bree and the other false 'rebels' are NOT serious lefts. They are only postering to the left for personal gain.

author by Mark P - Socialist Party (personal capacity)publication date Fri Jan 06, 2006 23:31Report this post to the editors

That strikes me as about the least charitable possible assessment you could make. My own view, as someone who has never met Declan Bree, is that he is a genuine "old Labourite, a reformist in a party that isn't hospitable to reformism any more.

There are plenty of things in his record I wouldn't support, but that would be true of pretty much any reformist and doesn't mean that they are lacking in sincerity or in it for personal gain. Yes he stuck around the Labour Party long after I think it was desirable or politically useful to do so, but again the fact that I think he got his analysis wrong doesn't make him insincere. Personally I want to see the remaining leftists in Labour make a break from that party and I don't see that needless personal attacks are likely to encourage that. The political criticisms are fair enough (assuming that they are accurate). The personal insinuations are entirely gratuitous and I suggest counterproductive.

author by Sean Philipspublication date Sat Jan 07, 2006 00:11Report this post to the editors

When it mattered Bree and the other 'radicals' in Labour were found wanting. Bree was a TD not just some ordinary member with little influence. Of course people can change and gain from experiences and new views. But I would not hold my breath Mark as these people are only waking up to Labour being rotten now in 2006 for goodness sake!

author by seedotpublication date Sat Jan 07, 2006 03:24Report this post to the editors

What particular year did the labour party turn rotten and everybody left was found 'wanting'?

What are the chances Bree could be joined by others reacting to the P.R.I.C.K. currently leading the labour partys 'Powellite' turn. While they may be reformist, any 'mass' party, in your language MarkP, must include reformists. Unless there are vocal disagreements by senior party members with the current labour leadership I think I would have to agree that despite the heritage and family and union ties, people are going to have accept that the party once known as labour is no longer a progressive force.

When these people leave - where will they have to go?

Will their departure affect the 'objective conditions' the SP speaks of?

Will Indymedia introduce a 'whatabouttery' tag, maybe pink italics so that we can have a discussion and skip the stuff we all know already, repeated ad infinitum?

*Next week - a home for the shinners who don't fancy Mary Lou or Denis Donaldson.

author by Katpublication date Sat Jan 07, 2006 12:35Report this post to the editors

It has to be remembered that Declan Bree was outside of Labour longer than he was a member.

I think he was first elected in 73/74 and was involved in the Connolly Youth movement since the late 60's, he only joined Labour in 1992. So his political life spans over 36 years, 14 of which have been spend in the Labour Party and only 5 as a TD.

It was a foolish move, as he would have got elected as an independent socialist in '92, having been a few votes short in in '89. On top of that he probably would have retained his seat during Labour downfall in 97 and kept it since. In fact he was very unlucky not to get re-elected then, I think his vote only dropped 1%, a lot less than the majority of Labour TDs at the time.

From the beginning he fell out with the Labour establishment, he had many row with Spring as leader and was close to getting the boot on a few occasions. From what i remembers a party member, he was always given a lot of rope by Spring and Quinn, probably because he was popular within the party, because they needed a strong presence in the Northwest and the fact that the organisation in Sligo was on of the strongest in the country. Ruiri Quinn was not impressed when he campaigned openly against the Amsterdam Treaty and Nice 1 & 2, even refusing to let the party put up posters in Sligo Town!

author by Hackpublication date Sat Jan 07, 2006 14:29Report this post to the editors

Why do the shinners seem to have this false dicotemy with regard to northern ireland of you either love Bobby sands or you support Ian Paisley or If you criticise Sinn Fein or anything the IRA has done over the past 30 years you clearly support British Army Collussion, the RUC and internment. Thats not the case, not everyone who is anti shinner is as pasleyite, im not a big fan of the socialist party but i believe that their stance on the north is solid.

author by Sean Williamspublication date Sat Jan 07, 2006 17:59Report this post to the editors

I thinks its obvious that Bree was a sell out. But this does not mean that he is insincere. If he is truly genuine he will recognise the mistakes he made. If he does this and stands on an independent working class left wing programme that is opposed to coalition with FF, FG, PD, LP and SF then he it is worth some consideration for critical support in the next election.

One of the most important things for workers over the next few years is a battle with the bureacracy in the unions and their political representatives in the Labour Party. I think that if Bree is genuine and not leaving for careerist reasons then it has to be welcomed and it is important that the rest of the handful of lefts in the LP as well as the unions leave the party.

author by Mickopublication date Sat Jan 07, 2006 21:22Report this post to the editors

Can anybody name any other Labour Party public reps more left wing than Bree. from what i here he's still a communist!

author by hspublication date Sun Jan 08, 2006 15:44Report this post to the editors

took a stand against his own party and leader in favour of some of the most mistreated in our society, for this he should be applauded. People can also change political direction, and as seedot pointed out any large party would have to include people like bree, then it's up to socialists within that party to try convince him towards socialist policies. If we aren't prepared to try to convince someone like Bree how on earth do you expect to convince anybody?

author by PPpublication date Thu May 31, 2007 21:40Report this post to the editors

After getting 1500 votes last week in sligo the labour party must take a good look at its self. Reading this thread after the election put a diffence spin on everything that was said

author by leftwatchpublication date Fri Jun 01, 2007 09:01Report this post to the editors

McGarry's result was dissappointing but it was not a punishment of the electorate for Labours treatment of Bree. That is a fantsy Bree would like people to believe. Bree and his small consortium of sychophants and yesmen had to go, Labour ousted him and thats the end of that.
Declan is now in a political wilderness with no options and is a bitter man indeed.

But most amusing is that he is under some sort of illusion that had he ran he would have done any better. Fact is he wouldn't.

Labour got squeezes nationally in all the 3 seater constituencies. There are a few other threads about this and the facts are all there.

Labour will now rebuild. And it is free to do so as it is back under the control of the local party not a narcissist like Declan Bree.

author by Left wing Govtpublication date Fri Jun 01, 2007 10:42Report this post to the editors

"Labour will now rebuild. And it is free to do so as it is back under the control of the local party not a narcissist like Declan Bree.

Free to stagnate in the festering swamp water of the centre-right, you mean. Weren't the LP party "rebuilding" in 2002 after their last "becalming"? They could aways save themselves a job by handing over the Sligo SP to SirIndaKinny as all it is is Blueshirt Lite anyway under control of a vaccuous chancer like McGarry.

author by leftwatchpublication date Fri Jun 01, 2007 12:00Report this post to the editors

"Weren't the LP party "rebuilding" in 2002 after their last "becalming"?"

No, they could not rebuild with Bree. He constantly drove off young and energetic socialists because they would be a challenge and a threat to his hegemony within the party in Sligo.

Labour is free to rebuild now without his devisive and non-cathartic influence.

The less old threads we have curiously ressurrected to have a dig at labour the better. If this is what Bree has to resort to we can conclude that the purge was a complete success and Bree is still fuming at being outsmarted.

Now Labour can rebuild and nurture good electable candidates. We haven't one in years and we all know who to blame for that.

author by boxtypublication date Fri Jun 01, 2007 13:36Report this post to the editors

In the last local elections the total Labour vote in Cllr McGarry’s own electoral area, (Sligo/Strandhill area) was 1,960. (Clr McGarry got 813 and Clr Bree got 1,147 a total 1,960)

In last weeks general election the total Labour vote in the same area was 764. This is a fall of almost 1,200 votes for the Labour Party in the Sligo/Strandhill area alone.

In fact Clr McGarry couldn’t even hold the 813 personal votes he received in the local elections i.e. he only got 764 this time.

Given that the Labour vote was up not only in some constituencies in Dublin and Cork but also in places like Mayo, Cavan/Monaghan, Galway East, and Galway West, why was there such a huge drop in the Labour vote in Sligo/Leitrim?

In fact the Green candidate Brian Scanlon who only entered the race 4 weeks ago, with little or no literature and 70 odd posters, nearly got as many votes as Clr McGarry.

In the Dromore West Electoral Area Brian Scanlon got 75 votes while Clr McGarry only got 48 votes.

In the Dromahair electoral area Brian Scanlon got 88 votes against Clr McGarrys 12 votes.

In the Manorhamilton electoral area Brian Scanlon got 106 votes against Clr McGarrys 67 votes.

Brian Scanlon was also ahead of the Labour candidate in the Ballymote and Tubbercurry y electoral area.

Is the Labour Party dead in Sligo/Leitrim?

Also why did Clr McGarry desert his Labour Party election workers at the Count on Friday? He never turned up. The least he could have done was to turn up at the count and stand by his comrades. All the other defeated candidates turned up as defeated candidates do at all elections. He did not even have the decency to phone the radio station to thank his election workers and supporters

author by leftwatchpublication date Fri Jun 01, 2007 15:08Report this post to the editors

Labour got hit in many many constuencies and where hit very hard in some, Sligo included. A lot of reasons for this, mostly to do with swing backs to FF and FG among a frightened electorate wary of the economy. Nothing to do with Bree.

Cake tapped into a latent Green vote. It was always there ready to be exploited and the Green party ran a very high profile campaign nationally. The fact that Scanlon barely canvassed is proof that the votes where for the Greens, not Brian Scanlon.

The locals are irrelevant in terms of Labour on a constituency level. You will probabaly find in 2009 Labour will poll the same as they did in 2004. People voting in the locals, vote for a whole host of reasons that are completely independant from national politicals and who runs the country .

Anyone using local election figures to demonstrate an electoral trend in General Elections is either very naive or trying to be show something that simply isnt there by dishonest means.

However the fact remains that McGarry failed to halt the slide in Labours constituency vote in General Elections. A slide that was been increasing since 1992. A slide instigated by Bree's ineffectual and suffocating approach to the local party.

Saying that labour are in a much better position to positively respond, now that the spats are dying on their knees and Bree is fading fast. Labour are now totally in control of their own destiny. They know what needs to be done and certainly do need to be lectured by a failed revolutionary turned Middle Class chatterer.

author by b spublication date Fri Jun 01, 2007 20:41Report this post to the editors

I do hope labour are on the bottom now and the only way is up . Please get rid of mc garry for everyone sake

author by Pioneer grouppublication date Sat Jun 02, 2007 08:30Report this post to the editors


'I do hope labour are on the bottom now and the only way is up'
Now that we are free from the oppressive stalinism of Bree, the sky the limit.. Watch this space.

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