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Leftline Winter 2004

category national | anti-war / imperialism | opinion/analysis author Thursday December 16, 2004 15:02author by Dan - ISN Report this post to the editors

Latest issue of Irish Socialist Network publication Leftline, contains articles on Iraq, water charges, the Labour Party and the Easter Rising


As the situation in Iraq goes from bad to worse, it would be easy for anti-war activists to pat ourselves on the back and say “I told you so”. But the left has no reason to be smug or complacent; the last year has revealed its own glaring errors. Many individuals and organisations on the left have been found uncritically supporting reactionary groups, and failing to offer solidarity to the secular left in Iraq. While our comrades in Iraq have been fighting the battle of their lives against both imperialist occupation and the threat of a fundamentalist tyranny, too many socialists have ignored their struggles and offered support to bitter enemies of the left.

The roots of these disastrous errors can be traced back to the build-up to the invasion of Iraq. In this crucial period, not enough attention was paid to the voices of the Iraqi opposition. Many Iraqi exiles supported the proposed invasion, because they were understandably desperate to see the Ba’athist regime overthrown. The left was certainly not obliged to agree with them, but they deserved the courtesy of a response; instead, they were mostly ignored, or dismissed as lackeys of Washington.

Even worse, those groups in the Iraqi opposition who opposed the war were also ignored. Many opposition activists objected to the one-side slogans adopted by anti-war demonstrations in Europe and North America. As veteran British socialist Peter Tatchell wrote: “The Stop the War movement largely ignores Saddam's murderous human rights abuses. Its leaflets and placards rightly demand "Freedom for Palestine", but not "Freedom for the Iraqi people". This is a shameful betrayal of Iraqis struggling for democracy and human rights.”

Tatchell was quite right: by taking a one-sided approach, raising slogans that condemned the Bush administration but not the Iraqi regime, the anti-war movement left itself wide open to accusations of appeasement. This was compounded when the British Stop the War Coalition allowed George Galloway to become one of its leading spokesmen. Galloway had notoriously been filmed praising Saddam Hussein on Iraqi TV during a visit to Baghdad.

These errors were all the more senseless because there were totally unnecessary; simply by adopting the slogan “No to war, no to dictatorship”, the anti-war movement would have been well able to answer the hypocritical taunts of “appeasement” raised by conservative politicians and journalists who had themselves been guilty of appeasing the Ba’athist dictatorship in the past. But that wouldn’t have been enough: the left needed to offer a credible alternative; we needed to show how the vicious regime could be removed from power, without relying on American military power.

Writing in March 2003, Peter Tatchell offered one possible strategy: “With serious military aid, the Iraqi opposition can demolish Saddam's dictatorship. Why isn't the Left lobbying our government to arm the Shias and Kurds? The anti-Saddam forces desperately need military hardware to defend themselves and to bring down the regime. Instead, the Left aligns itself with an anti-war movement that merely urges "Don't attack Iraq" ... there are 70,000 Kurdish troops in the north, and 5,000 more Shia fighters in Iran. Both armies need more and better weapons. The left should be pressing the government to arm the Kurds and Shias so they can liberate themselves.” As he pointed out, there was a precedent for such demands: “When the Spanish Republican government was under attack by Franco's forces in the 1930s, the Left didn't demand "Stop the War!". It urged "Defend the Republic, Guns for Spain!".”

Whether or not you agree with Tatchell’s proposal, arguments like this should have been widely discussed by anti-war activists. Instead, the dominant tendency in the anti-war movement offered no alternative to invasion, other than doing nothing; this was an important factor in the erosion of support once fighting began, and it remains the crucial argument used by Tony Blair to defend the war, even after his claims regarding WMDs have been exposed as false.

The errors continued after the fall of the regime. The Iraqi left and labour movement quickly re-emerged from decades of repression and began to organise; they were entitled to expect solidarity and encouragement from their comrades in the west. Instead, many socialists took the easy option and became cheer-leaders for the so-called “resistance”. Of course, we shouldn’t just accept the view that all resistance fighters are former Ba’athists or Islamic fundamentalists; but there’s no denying that these elements play a large part. We can’t just pretend that Iraq has a pristine national liberation movement like the ANC or Fretilin. There should be no question of socialists giving uncritical support to “the resistance” without making clear that we have no time for either Saddam loyalists or fundamentalists. And it should also be made clear that we oppose any attacks on civilian targets.

Instead, we have the British Stop the War Coalition offering its support for “whatever means necessary" to end the occupation, while John Pilger tells an interviewer: “a resistance is always atrocious, it's always bloody. It always involves terrorism. You can imagine if Australia was occupied by the Japanese during the Second World War the kind of resistance there would have been.” Statements like this are totally senseless; they give the impression (whether or not it is intended) that anti-war activists have no problem with murderous assaults on Iraqi civilians. And they contrast sharply with the line taken by the Iraqi left, which has been united in its hostility to terrorist attacks.

Of course, the resistance is not homogenous, and not every group has been implicated in bloody carnage. But there is no denying the fact that most resistance militias are dominated by reactionary elements, whose vision for a post-occupation Iraq should be anathema to the left. The various strands in the Iraqi labour movement are sharply divided on many questions, but one thing that unites them is hostility to the “resistance”. It’s appalling to hear western socialists urge the Iraqi left to form an anti-imperialist front with Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army. We know from the experience of the Iranian revolution what the results of that strategy would be. There, the secular left underestimated the strength of reactionary Islamic groups and formed an alliance with the Ayatollah Khomeni; Khomeni and the mullahs used their naïve allies on the road to power, then imposed a brutal dictatorship that crushed the left just as ruthlessly as the Shah’s regime had.

This does not mean, of course, that we have to support the line taken by Iraqi socialists and trade unionists without any reservations. It’s perfectly fair, for example, to criticise the ICP and the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions for their overly tolerant stance towards the Allawi government. But words like “collaborator” and “quisling” have been thrown around far too casually. It’s quite possible that many Iraqi left-wingers would have taken a different line if they had been assured of the support of the western peace movement. The alliance that brought millions of people onto the streets to oppose the invasion could certainly have mobilised valuable support for the organisations of the Iraqi working class, support that would have been of incalculable benefit for them. Instead, they’ve been left to fend for themselves.

Despite this isolation, many Iraqi socialists remain totally opposed to the occupation force and its puppet government, but they’re in a desperate position. The willingness of some sections of the left to align themselves with reactionary fundamentalists is a scandal. The twentieth century saw the western left turn a blind eye to the crimes of Stalinist tyrants; this moral blindness is largely responsible for our present weakness. We shouldn’t repeat the same mistakes again.

The Irish left, for its part, should take a clear stand against both imperial occupation and fundamentalist terror, and offer solidarity to our Iraqi comrades. If a democratic, secular government with a strong leftist influence was to emerge in Iraq, against all the odds, it would be a huge blow to American imperialism, and undercut the growth of reactionary Islam. We should be doing everything we can to make this outcome more likely.

More information on the Iraqi labour movement can be found at www.iraqworkerssolidarity.org or at www.uuiraq.org

Daniel Finn


It is obvious to all but the most blind of observers that all around us there are the signs of the continued capitalist onslaught aimed at attacking the gains made by the working class after World War II. The attack on workers can be seen through low pay, job insecurity, privatisation, redundancies and 'flexible' working. Communities see it through the lack of decent social housing, the erosion of public services and profiteering in the health service and schools. Throughout the world the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer.

The most recent sign of this onslaught on working people is the imposition of service charges. Services that people took for granted, as being paid by the state from general taxation, are now being passed on to the ordinary taxpayer. In short, we are being asked to fund the tax breaks to the super rich. It is no coincidence that report after report shows increased inequality in society.

Dublin recently went through 'the battle of the bins'. In two council areas there is still a high level of resistance. In the UK, there is the embryonic signs of campaigning against the 'Council Tax'. In Northern Ireland they are facing the imminent introduction of water charges. The Minister with responsibility in this area is due to set down the charging structure early next year with a view to full implementation in April 2006. It is expected that the charge will be between £400 and £600. The Government is expected to offer a 25% discount for those claiming benefits. This is an exercise in deception. They are attempting to win support and gain political approval by pretending to show a compassionate face but in truth a 25% reduction will mean nothing to those who can’t afford to pay. On top of this it is expected that 900 jobs will be lost in order to centralise the service.

The Government claims that the charges are necessary and that the service must become self-financing. In all likelihood it will be sold as an essential exercise for preservation of the environment, in the same way as the bin tax in the south was sold. Of course they refuse to acknowledge the years of under investment in the service by central Government. This Government has in fact found no problem in finding money be it for going to war in Iraq in the search for non-existent weapons of mass destruction, the funding of PPP/PFI white elephants or follies like the Millennium Dome.

Northern Ireland is already a deeply poverty stricken area. Half a million are living in poverty according to statistics. On average household incomes are 20% below the UK average, 20% of households are dependent on benefits compared with 12% for the rest of the UK. Yet householders in the North are already paying on average 25% more for fuel, light and power than the rest of the UK.

ISN members in Belfast are in the process of circulating 10,000 leaflets door to door. Our literature advocates a policy of non-payment, which was successful in defeating both the anti-water charges campaign in the south and the poll tax in the UK. We would urge all of those opposing the water charges to come together and discuss the possibilities of a unified campaign. Already there are at least three different umbrellas groups for those campaigning against the charges. This can only lead to confusion and will be used by the right to divide and conquer. We also call upon the unions to organise and make a stand with the community. It will not be good enough for the unions to run a paper campaign of opposition and at the same time help with the implementation of the charge, as was done in the South during the bin tax battle.

There will be those who will buy into the Government spin of environmental responsibility. But these people are ignorant of the reality of life in working class communities. They fail to see that behind the popularity of the anti-water charges campaign lies a deep-rooted alienation and anger amongst communities that have gained little from economic growth. This is not a question of environmental responsibility but a question of who should pay for the water service. The Government will be paying the boss of the Water Service £150,000 plus bonuses to ensure they push this through.

This issue is a question of class. Whether the state provides water to the house of a working class family who refuse to pay their bill is the frontline of the class struggle. This will be the most intense period of class struggle in the North for years. It would be mad, not to mention unprincipled, for any section of the left to fail to engage in this struggle. The ISN believes that the only way to successfully defeat the charges is by advocating a policy of non-payment through a strong united campaign with deep roots in the communities. We say Can’t Pay – Won’t Pay, Together we can beat the Water Tax.

Paul Moloney


Labouring Under an Illusion:
No matter how many times Labour enters coalition government, breaks its election promises and fails to defend working people on even the most basic level, the party seems to recover after few years in the wilderness. The reasons for this pattern are complex, although the lack of a radical workers party to the left of Labour certainly plays a role in its cyclical recovery. The local election results of June 2004 were a partial victory for Labour despite the breakthrough for Sinn Fein and it is possible that the party may be in a position to form a government with FG and the Greens after the next general election. So it is important for socialists to analyse Ireland’s primary social democratic party.

Critical Marxists attempt to look behind the façade of election propaganda and media spin to dissect the real nature of a political movement. We look at its ideology and the policies that flow from this ideology, the class composition of its membership and voters, its activities on the ground and within the political and social institutions of capitalist society and its broader relationship to the various classes in that society.

Class Politics:
The Labour Party today is largely a ‘middle class’ organisation, in the commonly used (and inaccurate) sense of that word. Most of its members belong to the middle and upper strata of the working class i.e. white collar or professional workers. In terms of electoral support, the most recent data available reveals that Labour has roughly the same level of support amongst middle class and working class voters, contrasting sharply with Sinn Fein whose vote is almost exclusively working class. This class composition is reflected in the politics of the membership (as opposed to the cautious leadership) of the party. They are willing to take a radical stance on issues that are not overtly (though in truth these are profoundly tied to class struggle) linked to questions of class: a woman’s right to choose, the citizenship referendum, the anti-war movement etc. These same members are entirely absent from struggles that represent more obvious manifestations of class struggle, such as the Anti-Bin Tax campaign. The popularity of the darling of the Irish Times set, Ivana Bacik, amongst the grassroots is an indication of the true nature of the party: a left liberal organisation.

In most traditional urban working class areas, the party is almost non-existent in terms of active members, even in areas such as Finglas where they have public representatives. In these areas the party relies on a network of contacts in the community sector to pull out the vote when the time comes, but has close to zero visibility on the ground in between elections. The primary way Labour maintains a connection with the ‘traditional’ or blue collar working class is through its bureaucratic domination of the main unions. This is done largely through mafia-like anti-democratic practices: one only need recall the stolen election for SIPTU president that Carol Ann Duggan of the SWP won, and the (happily unsuccessful) plot by SIPTU leaders and Bill Morris of New Labour to oust left-winger Mick O’Reilly in the ATGWU.

What is the relationship of Labour to the capitalist class? Again it would be mistaken to see this relationship in too deterministic a way, but surely it is significant that Pat Rabbitte and others have gone out of their way to reassure the business elite that Labour is a safe pair of hands. They are trying to gain the confidence of the ruling class by assuring them that there will be no rise in corporation tax. Their message is: there’s no need to worry, Labour is not dogmatic about public services and privatisation - all that matters is the quality of service provided! This is classic Blairism: we can provide a better, more streamlined environment for business and as an added bonus we can keep the uppity workers in place through our control of the trade unions.

The Unfair Economy:
It is not possible in the space available to deal with the policies of the Labour Party. In any case paper policies are often nothing more than electoral hooks to attract voters which often bear little relationship to what a party actually does in practice. However Pat Rabbitte has done us a favour by recently outlining his ‘philosophy’ (and presumably that of the Labour leadership) in the document ‘The Fair Economy’. In essence Rabbitte argues for the ‘social market’ model long promoted by the ideologues of Blair and Clinton: it’s all about individuals being ‘enabled’ to find a useful role in the market economy. No radical transformation of society is possible, indeed there is no alternative to neo-liberalism so the best we can do is to ‘civilise global capitalism’ through the EU and give everyone the necessary rain gear to weather the storm (In the next issue of Leftline ‘The Fair Economy’ will be analysed in more detail).

A Labour Left?:
The Irish Labour Party is experiencing a strange phenomenon which has occurred in many social democratic parties: as the party shifts to the right the timid centre leftists such as Michael D. Higgins (remember the tax amnesties?) and Declan Bree appear extremely radical. Even more bizarrely the old ‘Springite’ right such as Ruairi Quinn and Brendan Howlin also move to the left by standing still. The emergence of old-style social democrats as guardians of the left arises out of the fact that Rabbitte and the old DL grouping value ‘pragmatism’ (i.e. short term political gain) over all else. This ruthless pragmatism is all they have inherited from the old WP tradition.

The absence of an organised left in the party is clearly shown by the lack of any open dissension on the question of coalition with Fine Gael. Of course in a party where power is seen as exclusively located in government, one could hardly expect any opposition to the idea of presenting an ‘alternative government’ in the next election. We can get a sneak preview of what the alternative programme will be by perusing the famous ‘Westmeath Accord’ drawn up by Labour and Fine Gael now that they control the council in that county: It is nothing but generalised waffle about better services which any politician left of Mc Dowell’s stromtroopers could subscribe to. Basically it proposes to make the Council more efficient and to lobby government for more funding. The few crumbs thrown at the ‘socially excluded’ along with other ‘reforms’ are to be financed from the Development Levy Fund and ‘more focused value for money approach’. There’s nothing there that Bertie or indeed any other Fianna Fail populist couldn’t subscribe to.

Unlike the parent organisation, Labour Youth has managed to win some genuine young activists over by its use of radical rhetoric. The fact that Labour Youth seems to be democratic in organisational terms, contrasting strongly with the authoritarian structure of the Leninist parties and their youth movements, is an added pull. The reality, however, is that what passes for “revolutionary” in Labour Youth is plain old-fashioned social democracy. This is not to denigrate those genuine socialists in that organisation; it is simply to indicate the results of the milieu they operate in. If LY members from T.C.D think poor people are lazy sods who should be forced to work, other members who simply defend the idea of a welfare state naturally believe that they are on the extreme left. Equally the idea that adopting the Starry Plough as a LY symbol automatically renders the organisation radical or challenges the right wing leadership, indicates a great degree of political naiveté.

Radical Socialists & Labour:
What should the attitude of radical socialists be towards the Labour Party? Firstly we must have no illusions: the Labour Party can never be an instrument for the transformation of society. We must work incessantly to build a broad, democratic party of the working class which will expose, challenge and overtake Labour. We must draw a clear line in the sand between socialism and social democracy. We do this not by preaching purity from the sidelines but by engaging in struggle for changes in the here and now, but in a manner that exposes the limitations of reforms. The emergence of such a movement would have the added bonus of forcing the Labour leadership to take positions which are more radical than they would wish to.

It would be mistaken however to dismiss all members of the party as Blairites. Many are genuine socialists, even if they still view socialism as a return to the Welfare State or a reforming government dominated by Labour. We need to convince this element to break with Labour, to help build a new party which would have space for them even if we disagree fundamentally on certain issues. Such a party will only succeed if it operates as a fully democratic space where the various strands of left thinking can compete openly to convince the members of the merits of their ideas. In such an atmosphere we are confident that the revolutionary, democratic and participatory socialist ideology espoused by the ISN would win over by strength of argument and by active example many of those who identified with either ‘Old Labourism’ and authoritarian Leninism, but most importantly the mass of people which such a party would bring into political activity for the first time.

Colm Breathnach


John Bruton has recently provoked another frenzy of historical debate in the media by claiming that the war of independence was unnecessary. This should remind us, as if it was necessary, that current political questions are very much affected by the attitude we take towards the Rising and the subsequent war. It also shows the need for socialists to have our own view, independent of either sentimental nationalism or conservative revisionism.

Firstly, Bruton’s claim that independence could have been achieved by following the strategy of Redmond and the Home Rulers won’t stand up to scrutiny. By 1914, the Home Rule party had been attempting to win self-rule by working through the structures of the British political system for decades. Despite the years of moderation, there was no faction of the British ruling class willing to support their demands on principle. The Liberals were willing to support Home Rule when they were dependent on the votes of Irish MP s, which was a very different thing. The Conservatives were violently opposed, and quite willing to subvert their own political system in order to defeat the Home Rule bill. Their leader Bonar Law openly encouraged armed resistance by unionists.

Even if the Liberals had had the guts to face down this opposition (including attempts to stage a military coup) and implement Home Rule, which is very unlikely, its continued existence would have been dependent on the vagaries of British political life. If an election had brought the Tories back to power, they would have cancelled Irish autonomy straight away. It took years of conflict before the British establishment was willing to concede the Treaty.

We should also recall that those, like Bruton, who praise John Redmond as a “man of peace”, ignore his active support for the British Empire in the First World War, a bloody imperial slaughter vastly greater than the national revolution of 1916-23. Redmond did not have a problem with all forms of violence, just anti-imperialist violence.

This doesn’t mean that the national revolutionaries don’t deserve criticism. With the exception of James Connolly and the Citizens’ Army, the Rising was launched by romantic nationalists who spent more time on composing heroic speeches than on hard-headed political calculation. Their insurrection could not have been successful; it would have made far more sense to continue with political agitation until they had broader popular support, then launch an armed campaign. Their lack of a social programme was another major weakness. But we should also remember that Connolly, for one, threw himself into the Rising in the hope that it might undermine the war effort and help end the unprecedented slaughter on the battlefields of Europe.

There’s a lot more that could be said about the national revolution (the left should certainly recall the role played by labour militancy in persuading the British to quit Ireland - standard histories keep very quiet about this side of the story). But when all is said and done, attempts to denigrate the armed campaign as a pointless bloodbath that achieved nothing should be firmly rejected. If, as Bruton and his ilk would have preferred, Ireland had slithered quietly out of the British Empire like Canada and Australia, then it would have had very little effect on that Empire’s stability. But by defying the world’s most powerful empire by force, and carving out some autonomy for themselves, the Irish revolutionaries set a powerful example; nationalists from Egypt to India took heed, and the demise of the great empire “where the sun never sets and the blood never dries” was accelerated.

In a world where imperialism is far from historical, it’s not hard to see why John Bruton regards this anti-imperial past as an embarrassment as he takes up his new post as EU ambassador to Washington. The sustained campaign by the Irish elite to integrate Ireland into the western military bloc and bring the Irish people to identify their interests with the main imperial powers was disrupted by the strength of anti-war protests. Our inconvenient history is another irritant they’d rather be without.

Finally, it has once again been claimed by Eoghan Harris and other prominent revisionists that if we condone the violence of 1916, we must also endorse the Provo campaign of 1970-94. This is a phoney argument, but a revealing one. In reality, there were always a powerful case to be made against the “armed struggle”, particularly against the way it was conducted; and nothing obliges us to condone PIRA attacks on civilian targets. But by demanding that republicans accept the bona fides of unionism and the British state, Harris and his allies in the southern establishment played their part in prolonging the war. If they had expended some of the energy they used to denounce the IRA speaking out against state abuses in the North and urging the British government to seek a political solution, the republican leadership might have been quicker to accept that there were alternatives to war, and pointless killings might have been avoided.

Of course we should resist attempts to glorify and whitewash the Provo campaign with the benefit of hindsight; the IRA committed its own atrocities, just as much as the British state, and this shouldn’t be swept under the carpet. But the likes of Harris and Conor Cruise O’Brien deserve no credit for the fact that most republicans came to realise that their campaign was a dead-end; if their advice had been heeded, there would have been no ceasefire.

Daniel Finn

Views expressed in these articles are those of individual ISN members, but not necessarily those of the ISN

Should you wish to hear more about the ISN, Phone 0879487554, or alternatively, Email irishsocialistnetwork@dublin.ie

author by Chris Bond - Labour Youthpublication date Thu Dec 16, 2004 18:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Dan at least when Labour criticise other political organisations we do so on a firm basis. First of all the Fair economy document does not accept that there is no alternative to neo liberalism, it actually denounces neo liberalism as a simple minded philosophy.The ISN document also refers to Labour as having a "right wing" leadership, well if being right wing is a strictly relative thing then we may as well discard the political compass as a mechanism of measuring political philosophy. As for "lack of dissension" on a possible coaliton, a motion of not developing transfer pacts with the blueshirts was passed at Labour Youth Conference. You state that the Labour party is a middle class organisation, in reality most of its voters are working class, Tallaght, Greenhills, Ballyfermot are Labour Strongholds. In the local elections Labour Gained support in working class areas.

author by Colm Breathnach - ISN personal capacitypublication date Thu Dec 16, 2004 23:20author email breathc at hotmail dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Chris points out for the need to criticise political organisations on a firm concrete basis but then proceeds to ignore most of the concrete points I made in the article but I will try to respond to his points.

Of course the term 'right wing' is relative, it simply locates a persons or organisations ideological position realtive to that of others. Within the spectrum of left politics or even just social democratic politics, Rabbittes leadership is well to the right of that spectrum, a fact many Labour activists would agree on, I suspect. I speak from experience, as I was a Workers Party councillor with him on DCC in the 1990s and even then his position on many issues was well to the right of the left, if you know what I mean!

Chris please re-read the piece on the class base of Labour: what I said was that the majority of LP members are from middle a class background, thats just an objective statement of fact. As for voters the LP gets roughly an equal amount of working class/ middle class votes, there is no distinct pattern. I base this on the most up to date research at hand: Book ( title alludes me) by M. Gallager on the 2002 General Election. Of course people in Tallaght etc vote for Labour, so do people in Raheny, Blackrock etc. I raised this point not as a 'prolier than thou' attack on individual members of the LP but becuse when marxists study a movement the first thing we try to identify is the class basis of that organisation, which has a profound influence on the nature of that organisation.

On dissent within the LP, I welcome the criticism of Rabbittes strategy by Labour Youth. However this criticism seems to be somewhat confused: you dont want a pre-election pact with FG but you dont have a problem with coalition with them. Now this is still old fashioned Social Democratic politics which bears no relation to a radical or transformative socialist position. Its no more than a difference over short term tactics not any major ideological difference.

On the Rabbitte document 'The Fair Economy', I have read it carefully a number of times and I intend to write an article for the next issue of Leftline giving an outline marxist analysis of this pamphlet. For the moment I will confine myself to this point: the thrust of the document is that the LP favours a kinder, gentler capitalism. To quote it in relation to relation to globalisation 'we must seek to build a social democratic society that remains competitive in a global context. Ultimately we will only achieve that aim if we work with our partners in the EU to create a European economy that is effective in civilising global capitalism'. Im sorry Chris but you will find it difficult to convince me that 'civilising global capitalism' is the same as opposing neo-liberalism.

Its a pity Chris ignored most of the points I made because I believe in conducting a reasonable dialogue with socialists within the LP, to try to convince them to break with Labour and play a role in building a new broad party of the radical left.

author by Donniepublication date Thu Dec 16, 2004 23:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Tell us Chris, did this oh so very radical motion to the Labour Youth conference take a principled stand against coalition with right wing parties?

Or did it perhaps express a minor tactical disagreement about announcing a particular coalition preference before an election?

I'm afraid I can't offer any of the rest of you any prizes for guessing the bloody obvious answer.

author by Hpublication date Fri Dec 17, 2004 01:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"resist attempts to glorify and whitewash the Provo campaign with the benefit of hindsight; the IRA committed its own atrocities, just as much as the British state"

So we are led to believe that the dead of Bloody Sunday and the might of the British state are not to blame for sectarian trouble, but it was the IRA, which was to blame. What a load of "Stickie" rubbish.
Oh and on Iraq, yeah those damn Iraq resisitance fighters should be following the ISN's 10 point plan for a soclialist Iraq, when the country is in a mess and the US in raining bombs on people. Of course people are going to resist in various forms. Who are the ISN to dicate to the Iraqi people what way they should resist. We should first stand with the Iraqi's and yes be critical, but always with them. Not fall into the trap the ISN have of "Fundalmentalists...terrorists" and the usual racist western thinking. What else would one do if you were under occupation and your family have been massacred- log onto Leftline and find out what the programme for resistance should be.
The ISN should be ashamed of the themselves.

author by Colm - ISN personal capacitypublication date Fri Dec 17, 2004 12:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If H has the decency and honesty to post under his/her real name I will repond to his/her criticisms, which bear no relation to what was written in Leftline. Its easy to hide behind the fense of anonymity, using childish terms of abuse, but frankly no serious activist pays a blind bit of attention.

So H when you muster up the courage to post under your real name and organisation I will gladly respond to your points.

author by Dan - ISNpublication date Fri Dec 17, 2004 18:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It's good if Labour Youth are critical of Rabbitte's strategy, but the criticism doesn't go nearly far enough. After the last election, when he was running for the leadership, Eamon Gilmore did raise the idea that Labour should form a left bloc with SF and the Greens, instead of allying with FG. But that was the last time, so far as I've heard, that a senior figure in the LP called for a strategy that doesn't involve coalition with right-wing parties (unless you count Mick O'Reilly, but Mick isn't really a senior Labour figure, he's a well-known left-wing union leader who happens to be a member of Labour). It's not enough just to reject a pre-election pact with FG, if everyone knows that Labour intend to enter government with them after the election.

As for our anonymous friend H, you can pretend VERY HARD that I said things which I didn't say, but don't expect anyone to take you seriously. If you want to have a serious discussion, post your name and organisation and we can talk.

If people haven't learnt by now that the left should always oppose the deliberate killing of innocent people, I doubt they're ever going to learn. I suppose that makes me some kind of petit-bourgeois moralist; fair enough, I'd rather be sqeamish than callous

author by Chris Bond - Labour Youthpublication date Sat Dec 18, 2004 02:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Dan, there is no evidence that Labour "intend" to go into governemnt with anyone.

author by Gypsey Daveypublication date Sat Dec 18, 2004 13:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Pat Rabbit has said he wants to provide an alternative. Now it is virtually impossible for labour to win a majority of seats. This means coalition with Fine Gael, they dont have to overtly say it. The issue of who they are going into coalition with is the real issue and lets not hide behind political phrases of "that noone overtly said it."
It also shows an interesting side to Labour : they are merely a Fianna Fail reaction. They want power and politics is being left behind. Surely no left wing parties would allow power to people like John Deasy, Olivia Mitchell or their ilk.

author by Dan - ISNpublication date Mon Dec 20, 2004 14:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Chris, I asked Rabbitte this question when he was speaking at a LY meeting in UCD back in September. He said quite clearly that in his view, coalition was necessary, a fact of life in Irish politics, and the sort of arguments that went on in the Labour Party back in the seventies about this were no longer relevant.

Since he has also said that he wants to see FF removed from power, this means going into government with Fine Gael. No senior figure in Labour is consistently arguing for a different strategy based on a left bloc with SF and the Greens. This is a matter of fact, and it's not churlish or sectarian to point it out.

Rabbitte seems quite happy to defend the idea of a coalition ("the Democratic Alliance") with FG. If you don't agree with this strategy, good. But that's not the position of your party's leader. I don't hold every LP member responsible for everything Rabbitte says, but I do hold Rabbitte himself responsible for what he says, and he's been very clear on the subject.

author by Tom Lubypublication date Mon Dec 20, 2004 17:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

You may be a fresh faced recruit to the ISN but some of the old WP hacks have a few questions to answer. How about the OIRA? Do messers Breathnach, O'Neill, Lewis really expect us to believe that they were unaware of the existence of the OIRA?

How about the OIRA protection rackets which terorised ordinary workers? To work on a lot of building sites in BElfast you had pay a % of your wages to the WP/OIRA. The same was true in Cork Docks, casual dockers had to hand over money to the OIRA. Why did your comrades never condemn these or other mafia type actions?

author by John O'Neill - ISN personal capacitypublication date Mon Dec 20, 2004 17:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

>How about the OIRA? Do messers >Breathnach, O'Neill, Lewis really expect us >to believe that they were unaware of the >existence of the OIRA?

Yes I was aware of the existance of the OIRA from reading the Irish Times, Magill, Phoenix etc. To my knowledge they didn't exist to any great extent in Dublin where I was a WP member. From media reports they seemed to be more active in Belfast. In my 10 years of attending WP meetings I never heard the OIRA mentioned once at any meeting.

>How about the OIRA protection rackets >which terorised ordinary workers? To work >on a lot of building sites in BElfast you had >pay a % of your wages to the WP/OIRA. The >same was true in Cork Docks, casual >dockers had to hand over money to the >OIRA. Why did your comrades never >condemn these or other mafia type actions?

I have never heard of either of these rackets. As a socialist I utterly condemn any such activities irrespective of who carried them out.

Although there are ISN members who were formerly members of the WP, none that I am aware held leadership positions in the WP. Maybe you should direct your question at messrs Rabbitte, Gilmore, De Rossa etc who were all on the Ard Comhairle of the WP or contact Gardiner Place?

I don't suppose that this response is going to satisfy you Tom but you asked for a condemnation and I have supplied one.

John O'Neill

author by Dan - ISNpublication date Mon Dec 20, 2004 17:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Everyone knows the WP had a dodgy record in all sorts of ways. That doesn't alter the fact that the PIRA bombed civilian targets, in the north and in Britain, repeatedly during the Troubles. It happened far too often to be written off as "mistakes". This was both morally wrong and counter-productive. That's what I mean when I say that we shouldn't allow people to whitewash the record of that campaign. At this stage, we should be able to leave behind the view that anyone who has a problem with the Enniskillen bombing must be some kind of crypto-unionist.

For what it's worth, I don't agree with the old WP orthodoxy on the north, I think hostility to the Provos distorted their position so that they became too soft on unionism. If you read the article above properly, you should be able to see that it wasn't a diatribe against the Provos; it was critical of people who denounced the IRA while remaining silent about state abuses and repression.

author by Amusedpublication date Mon Dec 20, 2004 18:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A cheerleader for the CIRA, giving lectures in criminality.

author by Colm - ISN personal capacitypublication date Mon Dec 20, 2004 19:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

'Tom Luby' is a another coward hiding behind a false name. I have no problem accounting for my time in the WP and admitting to the mistakes I made during that period, if my 'interrogator' uses his/her real name and the organisation tthat he/she belongs to. The problem is that being interrogated by an anonymous poster is a bit like being questioned by the cops: you dont know anything about who's asking the questions and they get to ask all the tough questions.

I will have a full and frank discussion with 'Tom Luby', if he/she uses her/his real name and organisation. Like H, given the abusive language of his anonymous posting, I doubt whether he has the (metaphorical) balls to do so. Of course implying that named individuals had some knowledge of violent paramilitary activity is a dangerous game given the implications this has for a persons reputation, hence the anonymity of these cowards.

author by Daithi O Conmanpublication date Mon Dec 20, 2004 23:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Actually, Tom Luby is a real person and a member of the Wolfe Tone/Tallaght cumann of Republican Sinn Fein. What irony, that a person who is a member of a party that has a viscious, criminal armed wing, the CIRA, should attack others for a past association with the WP.

Whatever you think of the ISN's politics they are a principled bunch of serious activists. Tom might not be aware, given RSFs no show in the bin tax campaign, that both John and Colm were imprisoned last year for defying a court injunction. I dont recall you or any other member of RSF playing any role whatever in that campaign.

Tom shows a complete ignorance of the ISN politics which is as far removed from the ideology of the WP as possible. In fact one of the problems of the ISN is their reaction to WP stalinism; they have thrown out the baby of democratic centralism with the bathwater of stalinism. But that, Tom, is not the same as being in a party which proudly boasts of its connection with a a violent paramilitary organisation. So when are you going to resign from RSF and admit your errors?

author by republicanpublication date Tue Dec 21, 2004 00:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Is this the same Tom Luby who has written in the Blanket magazine a number of times, always attacking Sinn Fein but never stating his own alternative? At least one of his articles appears on the Website of the Irish Freedom Committee, which is an RSF/CIRA support group in the USA.

author by Guesserpublication date Tue Dec 21, 2004 11:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"In fact one of the problems of the ISN is their reaction to WP stalinism; they have thrown out the baby of democratic centralism with the bathwater of stalinism. "

Perhaps they correctly identify the bathwater as being leninism.

author by Tom Lubypublication date Tue Dec 21, 2004 11:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I am not the RSF Tom Luby. John could hardly have been unaware of the building site rackets.In Belfast the Sticks were known as the Building Workers Party. How could he have been unaware of the Cork Docks scam? This got front page news coverage when a couple of dockers went on hunger strike to protest about this racket. The racket was run by the late "Doc" Doherty who was on the NEC of the ITGWU as well as being in WP and OIRA. This was really Mafia "On The Waterfront" stuff.

John was also in Republican Left for a few years. Was he also unaware of the gangsters in that group? Particularly in the Newry area RL were regarded as thugs.

Dan, what about Aldershot? Five working class cleaning women, a priest and a gardener killed by a no warning OIRA bomb.
OIRA bombs good!
PIRA bombs bad!

author by pat cpublication date Tue Dec 21, 2004 12:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

i wonder whats really going on here. could there be a hidden or new agenda at work? it seems hardly likely that pira, cira or rira or inla supporters are going to attack the ISN in this manner.

do you really think that anyone in ISN thinks that the civilian deaths at aldershot were a good thing. but the oira aldershot bombing took place at the para reg hq, outside the officers mess. the intention was to kill a large number of para officers. it was a military target. it also has be seen in the context of what it was: a direct response to Bloody Sunday.

the pira are not above criticism, even the ira itself would admit that some of their actions were carried out in a careless manner. they now admit that some civilian target bombings should not have taken place.

i almost became one of their mistakes. i was attending an ICTU conference in newcastle, county down. when a bunch of lads arrived with a faulty barrel bomb. smoke starting streaming out. they shouted "get out! get out!" then there was a CRACK which fortunately was only the detonator going off.

if the full bomb had went off then the bombers + hotel staff + lots of iCTU delegates would have become collateral damage. the hotel was a civilian target and should never have been bombed in the first place. the ira intelligence was faulty, they didnt even know the ictu conference was on. major bad publicity for the republican movement.

i dont think that the exWP members of the ISN deny their past. they are non sectarian anti imperialist socialists. mr luby is raising these issues with the wrong people.

author by Paul Moloney - Irish Socialist Networkpublication date Tue Dec 21, 2004 13:05author email irishsocialistnetwork at dublin dot ieauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Irish Socialist Network since it's formation has been involved in dialouge with groups and individuals from many political backgrounds. We don't claim to have all the answers or a perfect past but we don't think anybody else has.

Tell me Tom, what group have you been involved with in the past years? Because unless it was the Legion of Mary, I doubt that you have a past that couldn't be attacked by smears. So how about it Tom, are you up for dialogue? If as I presume, that you won't be up for the challenge here on Indymedia, why not contact us offline at the address above.

author by John O'Neill - ISN Personal Capacitypublication date Tue Dec 21, 2004 15:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In reply to your second post I will reply as honestly as I can. I am aware that there have been reports in the past of ALL republicans being involved in building site rackets. I don’t know if these reports are true or not. All I do know is that I have never been involved in a building site racket. I was not aware of any docks scam associated with the WP and if it hit the papers it must have been the Cork Examiner cause I never saw or read anything about it.

On Republican Left. I was expelled from the WP for supporting a group who were arguing for internal democracy within the WP. This group was largely NI based. I went along with them in the hope of forming a left political party. This never got off the ground. I was frustrated with the lack of progress in this group and left as I had been in contact with some former WP comrades in Dublin who were considering launching a left grouping. I don’t know much about the guys in Newry although I met them at meetings and they seemed ok.

They had a difficult time in Newry as the WP publicly disowned them and they were set upon by the PIRA and seemed to get involved in clashes with the remaining WP members. I had/have no interest in any such feuding as it achieves nothing.

Aldershot was wrong
Omagh was wrong
Kingsmill was wrong
Bloody Sunday was wrong
Bloody Friday was wrong
Ranger Best was wrong


author by pat cpublication date Tue Dec 21, 2004 18:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

heh! heh!

indeed ms lynch might tell us about her missing brother in law, a "note-worthy" printer by trade. he disappeared around the same time that forged notes were traced to a printing press on wp property. mr lynch was last heard of in "east" berlin. perhaps he hangs out in north korea now.

he might even be in league with sean garland, forging $100 bills. funny how the wp made no public response to the recent documentaries on sean garlands involvement with an ex kgb ring of counterfeiters.

so maybe some questions should be directed at present members of the wp and ex wp members currently in the lp.

author by Anorakpublication date Tue Dec 21, 2004 18:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I was wondering whether manus watch had lost it but lo and behold this from magneto aka manus (known Labour Party member). Really funny that the ISN critique the Labour Party and the only response is to throw mud. How about asking questions closer to home(i.e. Rabbite, Gilmore, McManus, Byrne, De Rossa, Lynch (she should know a bit more about Larry White) - ask them what they knew of OIRA or funding for their election campaigns) or more simply even try to respond maturely to the critique:
To Ex(?) Stick
by Magneto Wednesday, Jul 9 2003, 12:51pm

Did you disagree with the WP/OIRA protection rackets on building sites? Maybe thats why you left. Or it could have been because of counterfeiting or even their support for extradition.

Then again it might have been due to the protection rackets run by Doc Doherty on Cork Docks. Casual dockers had to pay money to the WP/OIRA if they wanted to work.

Or how about the deals done with prperty developers with the Cork and Dublin WP offices? In Dublin planning permission was refused foe luxury apartments because the WP had not included any provision for social housing.

How about the bank robberies or the shooting of Larry White? Did those put you off the WP?

The connections with North Korea?

Related Link: http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=60319
author by pat cpublication date Tue Dec 21, 2004 18:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

well done anorak! powerful stuff that auld indy search engine!

author by Colm - ISN personal capacitypublication date Wed Dec 22, 2004 13:07author email breathc at hotmail dot comauthor address author phone 087-9487554Report this post to the editors

Its really unfortunate that the anon. muckraker turns out to be a known member of Labour. Aside from the obvious cowardice of hurling personal abuse at people from behind a cloak of anonymity, is this all the response one can expect to a political critique the Labour Party?

If this person had any confidence in his own politics, he would openly oppose the points made in the article and the politics of the ISN. To be fair, as can be seen from the start of this thread, Chris Bond of Labour Youth, did just that. Its a pity 'manus/magneto/tom luby' couldn't do the same.

But of course he would'nt have the guts to imply that John or other members of the ISN were in some way party to raketeering etc. using his real name. Now that he has been exposed the whole thrust of his argument lies in tatters: He hurls allegations at the former WP members of the ISN who were minnows in the WP, while his party is led by the former Big Fish of the WP. It would be too much to hope this individual would return to this thread and apologise for this grossly sectarian behaviour but he can always contact me at the phone number or email given above. I am willing to engage in dialogue with any members of Labour, even one who engages in such nasty behaviour.

As a aside, an honest debate about the history of the WP and the role various people played in that party would be worthwhile but hardly possible on Indymedia if this thread is anything to go by.

author by Tom Lubypublication date Wed Dec 22, 2004 14:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I have in the past posted as Magneto. If you think you are such aces at the search then you will find I have made criticisms of Declan Bree which Manus would never make. The ISN refuse to deal honestly with their past in the WP. I cannot believe that you were ignorant of OIRA activities. Did you never hear anyone mention Group B?

The former WP members in Labour have totally broken with their past. They will condemn the OIRA and regret that they were ever in an organisation which had links with such a gangster group. The ISN seem reluctant to openly admit that they knew of OIRA actions.

author by Colm - ISN personal capacitypublication date Wed Dec 22, 2004 14:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Why dont you post under your real name? Why are you making cowardly allegations anonymously? If you really believe what you write why not do so under your real name? Why did you feel compeled to launch an attack on the integrity of John using an assumed name that you hoped would hide not only your identity but also your membership of Labour? Why did you launch this extremely personal attack on John instead of arguing against the points I made in the Leftline article?

I have no problem discussing the whole WP/OIRA question and my role in the WP but Im not going to debate with a coward who hides his identity.

author by Magneto watchpublication date Wed Dec 22, 2004 15:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Magneto is not just an ordinary member of Labour. He posted before on indymedia giving Labour head office as his address. Heres the evidence:

'Government Arrogance Forces Laffoy Resignation
by Magneto - Labour Party Thursday, Sep 4 2003, 1:00pm
head_office@labour.ie address: 17 Ely Place Dublin 2 phone: 678 4700'

The ISN could ring that number and ask for Magneto. Just for a bit of dialog eh!

author by Labour Hackpublication date Wed Dec 22, 2004 16:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Labour HQ details appear to have been used because it was a press release which the dread Magneto was reposting. LP HQ are not responsible for Magneto anymore than the SP are responsible for the Trolling by its Terrible Twins.

Personally I think the ISN members mentioned have nothing to apologise about. I also believe Pat Rabbitte should watch out for the beam in his own eye. Cut SF some slack. He knows how difficult it is to get rid of an armed wing and the OIRA never disarmed!

author by John O'Neill - ISN Personal Capacitypublication date Thu Dec 23, 2004 11:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

>The former WP members in Labour have >totally broken with their past. They will >condemn the OIRA and regret that they were >ever in an organisation which had links with >such a gangster group.

When was this? What was the context? Was it at a Labour conference or meeting? In a newspaper? Please tell me when any of the following have done so?

Pat Rabbitte
Proinsias De Rossa
Eamon Gilmore
(mad) Joe Sherlock
Des (jabba the hud) Geraghty
Judge Michael White
Judge Pat McCartin

BTW I would remind Mr Luby that all these people were members of OFFICIAL Sinn Fein that was the political wing of the OIRA and they were all members BEFORE 1972 and that was the year the OIRA declared its ceasefire.

I joined the WP in 1980, eight years after the OIRA ceasefire and just before SFWP became the WP.

author by Cynicpublication date Thu Dec 23, 2004 12:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I reckon you are genuine in your committment , your record in the ABTC alone shows that. But you must be very naive if you think there was an OIRA ceasefire in 1972. The last time the OIRA killed a British soldier was in 1973, OIRA members were KIA by the SAS in 1974.

Then theres the feuds, with the INLA (PLA) and PIRA. OIRA killed Seamus Costello in 1977. 'Doc' Doherty (OIRA/SFWP) threatened to kill another ITGWU NEC member in 1981 because that person was organising support in the ITGWU for the H Block Hunger-strikers. Joe Cahill had to visit WP HO on several occasions to make it clear that OIRA threats to individuals were not acceptable. The gangsterism went on and on long after 1980 (when you joined SFWP). Perhaps you didnt know about it but there is such a thing as wilfull ignorance.

This is all in the past. I would not even raise it if you did not insist on claiming ignorance of the OIRA in your WP years. You are not a stupid person. Be honest about the past and be proud of your personal record of struggle in the WP, RL and ISN.

author by Colm - ISN personal capacitypublication date Thu Dec 23, 2004 12:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Now the same anonymous Labour member (Magneto, Tom Luby, Cynic) using a different false name demands that John 'be honest'. The same person who has failed to answer any questions himself and who simply lies when his points are thoroughly dismantled.

So again I repeat myself: Why are you attacking members of the ISN from behind your comfort blanket of anonimty? Why are you so lacking in confidence in your political position that you wont make these points openly? Why, unlike other Labour members, are you unwilling to engage in real open debate? Why have'nt you raised these questions with the leaders of your own party, many of whom were members of the WP? Why did you lie about them acknowledging their past mistakes, when none of them have done so?

author by Cynicpublication date Thu Dec 23, 2004 12:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Do you really believe that I am Luby? I think you have more cop on than that. All of what I have raised in my comment above is true. You might not be aware of some details but you could not be ignorant of the substance of the matter. I just do not believe that you or John could have been ignorant of OIRA activity. Nor do I believe Rabbit, Gilmore or de Rossa were. But they are not posting articles here attacking the PIRA, you are.

I am a regular poster to Indymedia under the name Cynic and go to great pains to differentiate myself from other users of this name. I choose to keep my identity confidential as do many others including some Indymedia Editors.

author by scenicpublication date Thu Dec 23, 2004 14:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

theres as much chance of Joe C being in the sticks office as there is Adams not being in the RA

author by Cynicpublication date Thu Dec 23, 2004 14:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Joe was a man who was quite pro-active. On several occasions when people who were not in the Republican Movement were threatened by OIRA members, Joe paid a visit to the WP offices. The WP were left in no doubt of the consequences should their OIRA members take any further action.

author by Colm - ISN personal capacitypublication date Thu Dec 23, 2004 15:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Frustrating as it is, because I have never had a problem honestly discussing my time in the WP, I refuse to debate with an anonymous interrogator. I will gladly answer any question you put to me and give you my frank views on the OIRA etc. if you post under your real name. Or if you afraid to do so why not email me at breathc@hotmail.com or ring me at 087-9487554.

Please do so because I am confident that I can comprehensively demolish the whole basis of your petty/sectarian attack on the ISN.

author by Cynicpublication date Thu Dec 23, 2004 15:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I didnt start this up and I might not even have bothered to comment if it wasnt for John O'Neills rather mendacious attitude to the OIRA/WP links. But if people who once lived in glasshouses start throwing stones then they should expect to have their own past minutely examined. I do not accept that John was unaware of OIRA activity and only a fool would believe that the OIRA was on ceasefire from 1972. John is not a fool. He should not treat Indymedia readers as if they are fools.

You have taken the better attitude that Indymedia is not a forum in which the subject can be rationally debated. I dont want to debate the subject offline with you either. What would it acheive, you have moved on, you would not stand over what happened in the WP. I have a lot of respect for the ISN.

But if John is going to persist in spinning fairy tales about his WP days then this issue will go on and on.

author by Colm - ISN personal capacitypublication date Thu Dec 23, 2004 18:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

What a genuine debate would achieve would be to clarify the ideological position of the ISN to those who are not aware of it and clear the reputation of ISN members from your innuendos about our role in the WP. You have made a number of personal and political points which need to be answered but I, for one, wont respond to them, even though I'd love to, because you won't use your own name.

This is not nit picking on my part. How can anyone make an objective judgement about the claims we make unless they have a modicum of information about us, our respective political careers and current politics? How can I defend my position, if you can hurl any dirt you like at me? For example, you could be a former member of the WP yourself or you could be a member of Sinn Fein/Labour/SWP etc. If this were so, your attacks on ISN members would take on a very different hue.

Its a pity that you and others have stuck steadfastly to hiding behind false names, because I actually believe that the issue of how people deal with their political past is an important one. I also believe that ISN members have dealt with this issue far more honestly than many other former WP members.

If you were really interested in getting answers and clarifying the views of ISN members you would do so in an open and honest way. But you opt instead for mudslinging, innuendo, guilt by association etc tactics which ironically remind me of my days in the WP! It is obvious that your only purpose is to damage the ISN. I'd urge you to reflect about why you've done this and what it has acheived. One thing my years in the WP/DL has taught me is that the ability to admit that you were wrong and learn from your mistakes is a sign of political maturity not weakness.

author by John Meehanpublication date Fri Dec 24, 2004 00:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I agree completely with Colm on debating only with people who use their own names.

A suggestion made informally to me by an Indymedia supporter was the following :

Create a separate discussion list open only to contributors who use their real names. Leave the existing one to contributors who either insist on using pseudonyms, or are prepared to tolerate their use. Over time it would be established which forum was more satisfactory - I do not have much doubt what the result would be.

A friend who familiar with good practice in the world of print journalism suggested that using pseudonyms is OK, provided

a) the person's real identity is know to the publishers
b) the same pseudonym is regularly used by the same person
c) this practice is generally discouraged, but allowed for in cases where revealing a person's identity could endanger personal safety, their employment, etc

I do not know how practical it would be to set up a system like this. Other contributors might like to follow this up.

The "outing" here of magneto is as bit of fun. Most of the anonymista material is malicious - it is, after all, a facility wide open to the politicfal police.

Let's close the door - just a little, and in a sensible manner.

author by Cynicpublication date Fri Dec 24, 2004 11:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I fully accept that the ISN have no connections with the OIRA. I also accept that ISN members who were in the WP would no longer stand over much of what occurred there. I cannot accept that intelligent people were ignorant of the existence of the OIRA. No one who has the slightest knowledge of recent Republican Left history would state that the OIRA were on ceasefire from 1972 and expect to be taken seriously.

I have no quarrel with the ISN, I only commented here after John O'Neill made his rather silly comments about the OIRA. Be proud of the good things you did in your WP days, be proud of your present ISN record. Just dont lie about your knowledge of the OIRAs existence.

I find it difficult to take John Meehan seriously as he spends much of his time pursuing grudges with his former comrades in Sinn Fein. How sad it is when cheerleaders turn sour. He is in no position to jump on anyone else. Johns pompous ideas of how Indymedia should be run fly in the face of the whole ethos of Open Publishing. John apparently has no idea of the thinking involved in keeping this enterprise going. Even some of the Editorial Collective choose to remain anonymous and will continue to do so regardless of any edicts issued by John Meehan.

author by Colm - ISN personal capacitypublication date Fri Dec 24, 2004 12:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

John's sugestion is well worth exploring. Having an alternative more closely moderated section would encourage more serious debate and a lot less of the childish slagging. I dont think it would be in any way restrictive because those who like the way things are could stick to the existing format.

Just imagine how different this thread would be if it were conducted along the lines outlined by John.

How about it editors, is it a runner?

author by Cynicpublication date Fri Dec 24, 2004 12:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Do you really believe that the ISN should be able to condemn violence by the PIRA but comments about the past membership of the WP (which had an armed wing, the OIRA) of some ISN members should be censored? Is that your idea of glasnost and accountability? You seem to have retained part of the Leninist mindset. If you once lived in a glasshouse then think carefully before you start throwing stones.

No one, not even Magneto, suggested any member of the ISN was ever in the OIRA or even condoned the actions of the OIRA. But you did remain silent about those activities and it is not credible to suggest that you were not aware of the OIRAs existence.

author by Colm - ISN personal capacitypublication date Fri Dec 24, 2004 13:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This really is getting to be a joke. For the last time I wont debate or discuss any thing with an anonymous opponent. My views on the PIRA, OIRA, violence, racketeering, North Korea etc etc etc are a matter of record ( Agin em all!) No name, no debate!

Happy Midwinter Festival!

author by Cynicpublication date Fri Dec 24, 2004 13:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I accept your credentials, but John O'Neill has posted several comments here where he pretends that his only knowledge of the OIRA was through the general media and that the OIRA were on ceasefire from 1972. No intelligent person could take that seriously.

A happy holiday to you as well.

author by Chris Bond - Labour Youth(personal capacity)publication date Fri Dec 24, 2004 15:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Who gives a rats ass about the workers party`s connections with the OIRA or North Korea. My own father was in the workers party back in the 80s, and he like many other WP members he was only in it, for the politics. Being a member of the workers party doesn`t mean that you`re a terrorist or that you condone paramilitary acts.

author by Ciarán Ó Brolcháinpublication date Fri Dec 24, 2004 18:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Chris, does the same hold true for members of Sinn Féin, the IRSP, et al?

author by Chris Bond - Labour youth(pers cap)publication date Fri Dec 24, 2004 19:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Indeed i know many people in sinn fein and IRSp who are good people who dont have any link with paramilitaries.

author by Dan - ISNpublication date Tue Dec 28, 2004 19:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This argument is clearly going nowhere fast. But I'd like to emphasise this point again: the article I wrote was not a vicious diatribe against the Provos. It was mostly critical of John Bruton for trying to dismiss the national revolution as a pointless bloodbath. It was also critical of people in the southern establishment who spent years denouncing the IRA without saying a word against unionism or the British army.

In passing, I said that the PIRA had committed its own abuses, and that shouldn't be forgotten. This is a matter of fact - the Kingsmill massacre happened, whether people choose to remember it or not. Whether or not you believe the armed campaign itself was justified (not a debate I'm going to get into here, I don't have the time), there was no justification for killing civilians when it could certainly have been avoided - something that happened far too often.

If SF are at all serious about trying to convince Protestants to accept a united Ireland, they're going to have to face up to this part of their record. It'd be one thing if republicans said we should draw a line under the past and forget about what happened. But they've insisted (rightly) on digging up the truth about state abuses like Bloody Sunday and the killing of Pat Finucane. Other people are going to bring up Enniskillen and Bloody Friday.

I don't expect SF to turn around and say the whole campaign was futile. But if they're challenged about the past, as they will be, the best course is to say honestly that mistakes were made, innocent people were killed, and that was wrong, instead of ducking the question.

Otherwise unionists and southern conservatives will be able to manipulate people's emotions in order to serve their own purposes - not something that republicans should be comfortable with.

author by Chris Bond - Labour youth, UCD Students Union, Oxfam etc. (pers cap)publication date Fri Dec 31, 2004 12:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I agree Dan, whilst it is unnacepptable for provo activity to continue, it is completely ignorant to denounce Sinn Fein or the IRA as the sole cause of the troubles or the need for the good friday agreement. A few months ago on questions and answers John o donoghue made a populist swipe at the provos, denouncing them as the need for the good friday agreement. In doing so he was showing a wilfull ignorance to collussion, loyalist violence-which is still practised against ethnic minorties, jerry mandering, a biased police force, internment, institutionalised human rights abuse, and the problems of the whole political structure of northern ireland since 1920. Nonetheless The Provo movement has a lot to answer for.

author by PC 1 of IMCpublication date Sun Jan 02, 2005 16:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

to have an real name login-in only site would the antithesis of indymedia and open publishing (try politics.ie) Im not in favour of the suggestions put forward above but I thought it needed to responded to because it was one of the main questions that came up before on repsonses in the Indymedia criticised at IAWM conference thread. Risible described the situation very well then though... Being able to identify a particular poster as being the person they claim to be does have advantages though: it can allow us to direct our attention to someone that has established a reputation for not wasting our time, for being accurate (usually) or for having unique insights.

I am more concerned about individual posters being able to retain a consistent (anonymous or otherwise) identity in order to build such a public profile.

Im trying to do the GPG thing now to see how it works perhaps someone else could give it a go and use it... its easier then it seems so far...

IMC is about news more so then debate... and in the Mick Murhpy gone AWOL thread one can see that the trolling wasn't resovled until someone from the SP _finally_ made a statement about what happened... until then (apart from some informed clarifications of past events) there was no news on the thread... so its up to the genuine posters to search (ring someone! ) out verifible info which refute all trolling and mud throwing...

We want people to discuss this or other imc.ie policy's but you must use the http://lists.indymedia.org/mailman/listinfo/imc-ireland list...

Ill hide reponses to this subject on this thread as you should go the list.

author by Cahal Gpublication date Thu Jan 06, 2005 12:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

take a gander at the blanket and youll see that mr luby is on about the oira there as well. the RSF scitzo. Luby is a supporter of bombing and robbery. Will he denounce the rira and the cira and there carry on on the border were they smuggle and continue their war..

author by John O'Neill - ISN Personal Capacitypublication date Fri Jan 07, 2005 15:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I have not had the chance to get back to reply to any of the comments since my last contribution.

Firstly, can I make it clear that I am extremely proud of the time I was in the WP. I agreed with 90% of their policies and I think that they were the only political force that put class on the Irish agenda. The 10% I didn't agree with at the time was not enough to make me leave.

The fact is that the OIRA went on ceasefire in 1972. The same fact is that the PIRA have been on ceasfire for over 10 years now. Its a fact. Even though they have been active and carried out 'operations' the reality is that they are on ceasefire. Sure if say the RIRA or the CIRA or loyalists attempted to assassinate a member or attack an area they would respond but they would still be on ceasefire.

The OIRA existed and could still? Who knows or cares. I stated that the WP didn't discuss debate or acknowledge the existence of the OIRA. What I knew of them was from media reports or WP denials.

Anyway, if I am to be honest, I didn't care. So what? If they were there it was because the "North" had a multitude of militas and if you were to operate in working class areas and condemn other political forces, then it made sense to protect yourself. So what if they were robbing banks, the rich were robbing the people daily. FF were lining their pockets scamming from every angle and screwing the PAYE workers.

Paramilitarism was the nature of the North during the "Troubles" and to a certain extent still is. (take for example the attempts of the BNP to organise in Belfast and the response of the UDA/UVF). hopefully it will change in the future.

As for who is writing the comments I don't give a shit. If its a Labour member then obviously the ISN must be annoying them in some way and that makes me happy.

If its a unreconstructed provo (a dinosaur that hasn't become a stickie 30 years too late) I didn't support the Provo campaign so I won't be supporting the current one. I recall Goulding saying in a speech to the WP, We were right too early, the provo's were right too late and the others, well they will never be right.

If it is another leftie group, well, if they didn't have differences with the ISN there would be no need for the ISN to exist but it would make more sense for their credibility the stick to a political critique of the ISN rather than the WP/OIRA.

author by The Terminatorpublication date Fri Jan 07, 2005 15:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The real question John is,

Did Downing Street sanction the assassination of Mark O'Leary the OIRA 's Chief of Staff which led them into a cease fire thereby paving the way for the Provos to enter into a war with HMG in the hope that they could defeat the IRA once and for all, and that the Irish lobby in the USA would fall apart under the pressure from Nixon and with it support for 'The cause' . As we now know it never worked out that way and further splinter groups emerged thereby throwing the entire Province into a paramilitary shooting gallery.

The issue that concerns me is that the Ahern government has known all along that the PIRA will ultimately decommission despite the Tai Chi dance they are currently engaged in, but are still wrestling with how to deal with CIRA and RIRA.

author by Seanpublication date Sat Jan 08, 2005 01:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Who gives a fuck who magineto is? Just another indymedia wanker. Of much more inportance is the sticks and the oira. Is it possible for a working class alternative to exsist without the backup of a milita who will face down the drug dealers and the gangisters?

author by Republicanpublication date Sun Mar 27, 2005 14:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Actually, Tom Luby is a real person and a member of the Wolfe Tone/Tallaght cumann of Republican Sinn Fein. What irony, that a person who is a member of a party that has a viscious, criminal armed wing, the CIRA, should attack others for a past association with the WP."

There is no such member of the Wolfe Tone/Tallaght cumann of Republican Sinn Fein by the name of Tom Luby. Im a former member of it myself so I should know.

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