The Plough #28
27 February 2004
E-Mail Newsletter of the Irish Republican Socialist Party
1. British State Educational and Institutional Discrimination
2. Suicide - The Politics of Health
3. The Left Convention and Lies
4. The SWP and "Psychopaths"
5. "VERY Middle Class Jobs and Income"
6. Show True Colours - Say No to Racism!
7. What's On?
The IRSP wish to express our deepest regret at the sudden and
unexpected death of Billy Lynch, a former member of the IRSP, a
former INLA prisoner, a voluntary worker for Teach Na Failte, and a
staunch supporter of republicanism. To his wife Patsy, son Liam, and
grandson Liam, we offer our sincere condolences. His funeral takes
place from his home 75 New Barnsley Park on Monday at 12.30. We can
ill afford to lose such a comrade and supporter. May he rest in peace.
British State Educational and Institutional Discrimination
The recent mainstream media smear campaign against the INLA, blaming
them for the recent spurt of suicides in North Belfast, is shallow,
tabloid sensationalism at its speculative worst, as if the INLA are
responsible for the atrocious living, social and economic conditions
in republican working class areas of North Belfast.
The facts of the matter are it is the British state which is
responsible through British state elitist bigotry against the working
British state educational and institutional discrimination against
the working class communities in terms of provision of recreational,
social, economic funding, and employment opportunities.
Throughout the educational system the working class are discriminated
against in terms of the educational institutions providing working
class or poor pupils with equality of educational opportunity.
Poor children cannot afford private tuition in order to enable them
to pass the 11+ and gain entry into grammar schools which offers
superior and intensive educational teaching and facilities. So poor
or working class children are shunted into the secondary educational
system with its lack of funding, and inferior tuition and facilities.
This is one way the British state denies working class/poor children
equality of educational opportunity, as secondary schools through
limited funding cannot make available or offer the same level of
courses, teaching, or facilities as grammar schools.
The system through the 11+ teaches us that the children of the rich
and well to do are cleverer than children of the poor, which is a
LIE. The children of the rich are not intellectually superior or
cleverer than a working class child living in Ardoyne, it is just
that a rich child's family can afford to pay for additional private
tuition in order to pass the 11+. So a rich child who passes the 11+
will gain entry to the superior grammar school system and gain access
to all the privileges, educational, and career opportunities that go
with it, to achieve qualifications which will enable them to go on to
university and gain employment easily.
A poor or working class child going to secondary educational school
will have to struggle with lack of text books, teachers, and
facilities, the courses on offer will be inferior to that offered in
It is only a tiny minority of working class/poor children who manage
to go on to vocational and economic success, despite the lack of
educational opportunities provided at secondary school, and most of
these have had to endure low pay, low status work for many years.
As Nelson Mandela use to say, in the township shanty towns of
Capetown, educational success was the only escape and way out for
slum kids from living the shanty towns.
For our working class poor who are condemned to a second rate
secondary education system which is substandard to that in third
world countries, there is really no hope, and no way out of the
spiralling council estates.
Is it any wonder that the 75% of the prison population are dyslexic
adults, whose special needs as children were not addressed or met
throughout their school days. Children with special needs are
disfranchised by the educational system which fails to incorporate
the simplest of adaptations to be inclusive in terms of providing
these children with equality of educational opportunities.
These children end up marginalised adults/youths, hanging around
street corners, and engaging in anti social activities and crime,
because of having no qualifications and a no employment prospects.
Children with special needs are not backward, they are not
intellectually inferior to their classroom peers, they only require
teaching and classroom resources to be adapted to include and allow
them to participate on an equal footing with their classroom peers.
Similarly, poor/working class children are not intellectually
inferior to rich children. Working class children only need equality
of access to the same intensive teaching, educational facilities, and
courses offered to the grammar school children of the rich.
Working class young people in North Belfast not only have to contend
with having a lack of educational and employment opportunities, they
also have to endure, the turmoil and upheaval of rioting,
intercommunal sectarian violence, social economic deprivation, and
grinding poverty. With lack of employment, economic, educational, and
social prospects is it any wonder people turn to topping themselves.
Suicide - The Politics of Health
In all the furor in the media about the INLA's supposed involvement
in the suicide of two young people, some salient questions need to be
The IRSP are calling on the ICTU to agitate for more funding for
services in suicide hotspots and an investigation into who sent a boy
home from the Mater Hospital and why, when he told his nurses if he
was discharged he would kill himself?
Questions need to be asked of the Board and Trusts of the local NHS
what is being done to tackle this outbreak of suicides. Statistics
prove that suicide can become a cluster phenomena and the North
Belfast thing seems to be a prime example of this. An intensive input
of funding is needed to study the situation and provide services such
as assertive and community outreach projects, Community Psychiatric
Nursing Teams day services, acute beds for those at high risk, and
extra specialist staff.
Look at all that working class areas in particular have been
subjected to all these years. A comprehensive study needs to be
conducted into the mental health needs of a community that's just
gone through a 30 year war, never mind Holy Cross, the pipe bombing
campaigns, and the pogroms. How many PhDs, and cutting edge ones at
that, could be done just on the long term effects on the collective
mental health of the war and false hope generated by GFA on Housing
Executive estates? And how many have been done? All those who
were so vocal in condemnation of the INLA should have been going to
the funders to ask for funds to set up drop-in's and outreach teams.
These could then tender for social services work and become self
Also elected representatives both here and those in power at the
moment, i.e. direct rule Ministers, need to be asked them how they
can justify the budget cuts that let these things happen? If there
was an acceptable policing service then people in the nationalist
communities would not feel the need to go to the armed groupings for
protection from anti social elements. It's a sad fact and the media
will never admit it but it is a fact of life within working class
communities and should not be brushed under the carpet. So-called
punishment attacks are only a symptom of this fact and we should not
be behind the door in saying it. How long have they had from the GFA
to make them acceptable and they've not managed it yet. That's not
the fault of the Republican Socialist Movement. The salient point in
all this is that the young lad went to the hospital for help and was
turned away. Someone had to decide that and if it was through a lack
of beds or funding then we should be looking for a head on a pole,
preferably the well paid fat cats at the head of the trusts.
Social services know of the statistical probability of cluster
suicides in cases like this. What were they doing about it? What
planning and contingency plans did the mental health team have in the
event of cluster suicides? Questions need to be asked not only of the
INLA but of those with ultimate responsibility for the health of the
The Left Convention and Lies
The following is from an SWP member writing on the Indymedia
website: "Far from being prevented from starting a debate, the IRSP
were given every opportunity but failed to make any coherent
argument, except in relation to need to include something on
political prisoners, with which the Convention agreed! Apart from the
woman who spoke about prisoners and a man called John who twice just
said 'what about partition?' without making any argument, the only
IRSP person who took the many opportunities to speak was Gerry Ruddy
who made a very vicious, personal attack on Eamonn McCann but did not
argue at all about what he/they would argue the SEA should be doing."
Let me say straight away this is a lie. It has been repeated in
Belfast that I made a personal attack on Eamonn McCann. Not true.
What I did say among other things was that I welcomed the
contribution from a previous speaker who asked awkward questions. I
said that up to then the convention had been a rally, not a debate.
That as republican socialists we could not ignore either the current
issue of segregation in Maghaberry not issues of repressive
legislation. But also that the whole issue of partition and
imperialism had to be faced and was being ignored at the convention.
Then speaking directly to Eamonn McCann, whom I have known and
respected for near forty years, I said: 'Eamonn, you stood for the
NILP in 1969 on a gas and water socialist platform. It didn't work
then. It won't work now.'
That is the heart of the dispute. The failure of the SEA's left
convention to confront imperialism. I also said that to unite the
left calling public conferences without exploring the issues face to
face before hand was a recipe for disaster. The programme was agreed
by the SEA before even the conference began.
"There were no platform speakers and co-chairs to make sure no one
abused the position of chair in any way. So, far from anyone being
prevented from speaking, the reality is the IRSP had no arguments."
On the contrary there were a number of platform speakers from the SWP
and the Communist Party who were invited to speak before anyone else
and took up a lot of time delivering prepared speeches. When
challenged from the floor by long time political and legal activist
Patricia Drinan about comments from one of the co-chairs that he
would refuse to work with the IRSP, the co-chair refused to answer.
Not only that Eamonn McCann himself failed to address any of the
issues that I raised and instead launched into his usual staccato
"Right from the beginning, the SEA has excluded any party which has a
If that is indeed the case why is this not explicitly stated in any
of the SEA's literature or on its web site? Is it a resolution? When
was it passed and why is it not publicised?
"VERY Middle Class Jobs and Income"
"If people in the IRSP used as much energy seeking funding for youth
projects or objecting to the fact that 16-17 year olds around here
have NO income - their parents do not get a brass farthing towards
their upkeep if they are not in full-time education or training -
there would be a lot less crime and anti-social behaviour. Of course,
in spite of all the talk of people like me being middle-class for
defending these young people's right not to be brutalised [I earn
£13,500 a year and live in that middle-class paradise called
Poleglass] the reality is that the so-called 'leaders' of the IRSP
would not know what it means to be poor. Some of them have VERY
middle class jobs and incomes and probably cannot imagine the stress
faced by the families these young people come from."
The above quote comes from Aine from Poleglass, who has launched an
attack on both the INLA and the IRSP on the Indymedia website. Fair
play to her. We ourselves have condemned the actions of the INLA in
Ardoyne when necessary and make no apology for doing so. Shooting 14
year olds is wrong. But Aine in her crude economistic attacks
on "middle class leaders of the IRSP" is simply wrong. All but one of
the elected members of the Ard-Chomhairle of the IRSP are from
working class backgrounds. Two have been on the executives of their
trade unions. Three have been imprisoned for their anti-imperialism.
Two at least have been shot, two others have had attempts made on
their lives. One participated in a number of hunger strikes. All live
or work in working class areas and know exactly what life is like for
the working class. Can the same be said of the leaders of the SWP
with which Aine is closely associated? The IRSP need no lessons from
the do-gooders who take the high moral ground and condemn from afar
while they get on with their social work. The reality is that the
young working class people need not youth projects or Mickey Mouse
educational projects but jobs - real employment. They will not get
that under capitalism. Join us, Aine, in fighting against an
imperialist system that creates the Ardoynes of this world.
The SWP and "Psychopaths"
The SWP presents the IRSM as a bunch of "lunatics" and "psychopaths."
Next time one of them brings that accusation, we should remind them
that DENIS NIELSEN, a psychopath responsible for the death of many
young men in England, was a supporter (perhaps not a member) of the
SWP. It is a fact that he was selling copies of Sociali