Friday 19 March 2004

The Plough Vol 01 No 31

The Plough #31
19 March 2004

E-Mail Newsletter of the Irish Republican Socialist Party

1) The Misuse of the Term "Sectarianism" in the Irish Struggle
2) SIPTU Section Supports Colombian Coca-Cola Workers
3) Anti-Drugs Group Slams Drug-Sentencing Policy
4) Anti-Drugs Activity
5) Letter - Republican Prisoners Support Network
6) Letter - From the Family of Billy Lynch
7) Letter - Whatever Gave You That Idea?
8) Letter - President McCann???
9) 'Guttersnipes with Guns'
10) What's On?


Thee Misuse of the Term "Sectarianism" in the Irish Struggle

First of all, I think the word, "sectarianism" originally and
properly designates a continuing series of ruptures with mainstream
Protestantism on the grounds of an exclusive claim to truth about and
access to salvation. It became a metaphor for similar ruptures from
mainstream Marxism, but there can be no such use of it as a metaphor
in interpreting the Irish struggle. It is a total misrepresentation
equally of the imperialist oppression and of the anti-imperialist

When the UK media (at its most progressive!) referred (at all!)
to "sectarian" murders (giving the lulling impression, through the
eyes of the supposedly liberal and secular, impartial and of course
always decent and well-wishing English, that "one side's murders
were - quantitatively as well as qualitatively - as bad as the
other") they were camouflaging them and refusing to acknowledge them
as what they were - murders by loyalists (loyalism, like the Klan, is
spread among magistrates and police chiefs) of random Catholics
(labelled "innocent" - what does that make the others?).

As to England's being secular, note by the way that in 1859 there
were riots in England when Roman Catholic dioceses were set up and
named - none of them being allowed by the state church to be set up
in the traditional diocesan cathedral cities. The monarch - and Lord
Chancellor, and other officials - still by law cannot be Catholic.

To some extent the loyalists are maintaining Protestant supremacy,
burning Catholic churches to the ground, bombing Catholic graveside
services, throwing petrol bombs at people going to mass, ramming
Catholic church doors with cars - all that sometimes on explicit
religious grounds: one such mobster said a unionist politician should
be ashamed of himself for saying Catholics were going to a religious
service - "when his forefathers died to protest that that wasn't
religion, it was idolatry." (The motto on the UVF's badge is "For God
and Ulster").

But as the political economist Petty said frankly in the 17th
century, "one should not say Catholic and Protestant, but
dispossessed [by the English state over the centuries] and possessing
of the land".

There is a complex history of many Irish Protestants resisting
English domination, and many Irish Catholics, including Dan
O'Connell, accepting it. But the partition of Ireland in the 1920s
introduced a new chapter, in which all-powerful northern loyalists
were motivated by an unbelievable bitterness and hatred of everything
associated with the words Ireland and Irish, unmoderated by an
earlier all-Ireland Protestant sense of being Irish, even if
superior, pro-British Irish. (It is today astonishing to read the
words of a 1798 Loyalist ballad which begins "Ye loyal sons of

Contrary to the Loyalist programme, neither the nationalist
parliamentary response nor the Republican physical force response has
had anything to do with religion. In fact, they have been so governed
by the symbolism of their French-donated 1848 tricolour of green and
orange, and by the statement in Pearse's 1916 Proclamation of the
Republic that "the children of the nation" have been divided only by
the wiles of a foreign government, that they made "the principle of
consent" (in effect, the Unionist veto) the cornerstone of
their "conflict resolution" peace process - leading to the present
copper-fastening of imperialist rule. They do not see that Irish
Protestantism is to Orangeism as Judaism is to Zionism - that would
be an insight of Connolly socialism.

Nevertheless, they have been and are still being accused
of "sectarianism", for instance in relation to Stormont Assembly
voting. Once the six counties has been accepted, the only alternative
to traditional "Ulster" one-party majority rule (Paisley's sniggering
definition of, and now his plan for, "democracy") is weighted
Unionist and nationalist quota voting. Critics, even the IRSP,
wrongly call this "sectarian" - because there is in fact a rough
correlation between the Protestant and the Catholic communities and
Unionist and national votes. But to get the assembly out of a jam,
two Alliance Party members defined themselves as respectively
Unionist and nationalist - not Catholic and Protestant. As a matter
of fact that was an even dirtier trick than protesters thought,
because the Alliance [between Catholics and Protestants] Party is in
fact a unionist party‹the fraternal party of the British Liberal

A Worker's Party poster showed a fist throttling a snake with the
slogan "Smash Sectarianism!" That is of course typically and totally
abstract and meaningless, but what is implied (apart from "Smash the
Provisionals") is "Don't Raise the Divisive 'National' Question:
Unite Catholic and Protestant Workers on Bread-and-butter Issues".
The WP is the unpopular and insignificant rump of the Stalinist
Official" Republicans (!) -- but Trotskyists like Eamon McCann have
always said and still do say the same. The WP's scientific know-it-
all leaders, whose actual support and votes (no longer existent) came
only from the Catholic community, define imperialism as the concern
of science, an impersonal economic process, export of capital; any
concern with political imperialism is seen as (religious) "sectarianism",
and "green Hibernian nationalism" - if not fascism.

James Daly


SIPTU Section Supports Colombian Coca-Cola Workers
By Alan MacSimoin - Workers Solidarity Movement

SIPTU members in Trinity College have called for no investment in
Coca-Cola by the Trinity College pension fund (or by SIPTU's own
pension fund).

At Tuesday's annual general meeting of the union section - which
represents over 550 security, cleaning, catering, secretarial,
computer and other non-academic staff - there was overwhelming
support for the dis-investment motion.

The members heard that Coca-Cola is implicated in the murder and
intimidation of bottling plant trade unionists in Colombia. For this
company to stand idly by when they are quite capable of bringing
enormous pressure to bear on their bottlers is not acceptable.
This motion arose from the request of the Colombian Trades Union
Congress for concrete solidarity with the workers in the plants. As
we like to put on our union banners ŒAn Injury to One is the
Concern of All'.

Previously the section committee (shop stewards) had invited
representatives of the SIPTU bottling plant workers in Ireland and
the Latin American Solidarity Centre to meet with them.


Anti-Drugs Group Slams Drug-Sentencing Policy

COCAD demands implementation of 10 year minimum sentences

The national anti-drugs group Coalition of Communities Against Drugs
(COCAD) has endorsed the demand of Tony Gregory TD for the
implementation of the minimum sentence in cases involving possession
of large quantities of illegal drugs. Mr Gregory was commenting on
the case of John Paul Duff, a drug pusher who today received a 7-year

The National Secretary of COCAD, Cieran Perry, said "Barely a day
passes without a huge Garda seizure of illegal drugs, but once cases
come to court the average sentences work out at 4-5 years. With
suspensions and temporary releases the pusher will be out of jail in
half that time. This is no deterrent at all, neither is it a
punishment. A clear message is being sent out that drug dealing is
not viewed seriously in Irish courtrooms."

The law providing for a ten-year minimum sentence for possession of
drugs above the value of E12, 700 (£10,000) was enacted in 1999.
Since then it has actually been applied in just a dozen of almost 300
such cases.

Mr Perry continued: "Such ridiculous sentences make a mockery of the
justice system and of the efforts of voluntary anti-drugs groups and
parents struggling hard to keep young people away from drugs. The
reality is that this drug pusher will spend about three years in
jail, before being freed to wreak more destruction on our children
and communities


Anti-Drugs Activity

I remember that night back in 1997 when after an anti-drug meeting in
the Macusla Bingo Hall just off Sean Mc Dermott Street, hundreds of
anti-drug activists marched on the drug dealers in Hardwicke Street.
That night 19 drug dealers were marched on, 4 of whom were members of
the Duff family. It is correct to say that John Paul Duff did not
come back to Hardwicke Street but he did continue to ply his trade,
so I suppose while it was necessary to remove parasites such as John
Paul from that Community, in reality all it did was move the problem

I have the greatest admiration for COCAD activists such as Ciaran
Perry and Jimmy Mulhall who day in and day out through great risk to
themselves, campaign and highlight the parasites who offer nothing
but addiction, misery and death, to our respective Communities, and
for this life and death work they and their Colleagues don't receive
one cent from any Government agency and this deficit is something I
would like to see our over paid elected representatives such as Tony
Gregory campaign against.





Republican Prisoners Support Network

Six months ago, the Republican Prisoners Support Network (an
independent, non-aligned group of former Republican prisoners,
relatives and concerned individuals who campaign for the rights of
Republican prisoners, both sentenced and on remand) stated that it
would closely monitor the implementation of the Steele

Last week, the prisoners were moved to their own wing. We are worried
by the fact that conditions of detention have deteriorated in
segregated wings. The Republican prisoners now have to face the

- Sentenced and Remand prisoners are separated in contravention of
Steele Review recommendations
- they are held under almost total lockdown
- Only two prisoners are allowed out of cells at a time
- Restricted to cell leave based on whim of prison staff
- Denied Education provisions
- Denied facilities of any sort; no tables or chairs
- Forced to take exercise in a tiny yard alongside loyalists,
separated by short wire mesh barrier
- Forced to endure severe sectarian abuse at exercise
- Denied hot meals for last half of this week
- Denied hot showers
- Offered filthy, unsanitary washroom facilities
- Denied the right to housekeeping their own landings – criminal
prisoners from another house will be sent in to clean their living
areas - Faced with grave endangerment from such housekeeping staff as
loyalists may qualify for this housekeeping position
- Under 24-hour surveillance with CAMP X-Ray style microphones and
cameras in all parts of landings

This does not even take into account the continuation of closed
visits, the use of sniffer dogs and the despicable attitude of prison
warders towards the families.

The battle for political status goes on.

For the Republican Prisoners Support Network,
Leo Martin (Chairperson)
Eddie Duffy (Vice-Chair)
Liam O'Ruairc (Press Officer)


From the Family of Billy Lynch

The wife, son, father and family circle of the late Billy Lynch wish
to thank all his many friends who sympathised, sent cards, flowers
and supported them in any way.

Everything was greatly appreciated.

Old friends and new friends from all over the world sympathised
together. Billy would have enjoyed them all in the one place and as
he would have said "The craic would have been mighty".

Billy lived his life as a republican socialist from the early 70's
and never wavered or changed his viewpoint. He always said "I have
great friends in every camp" and we saw that was very true.

Billy only ever asked for a Starry Plough to be placed over him when
he died and we all felt very proud as he was carried from his home
with the flag over his coffin.

To our many great friends, from the bottom of our hearts, we thank
you. To all of Red Action it was great to see and hear from you all.
Billy always said we would never lose touch and we didn't, you will
hear from us often. To all his friends in Kansas City Ancient order
of Hibernians, I.N.L.A., I.R.S.P. Belfast, Dublin, Scotland,
I.R.P.W.A., Republican prisoners at home and abroad, Teach Na Failte
republican socialist ex-prisoners. 32 County Sovereignty, Continuity
I.R.A., Na Fianna Eireann Dublin, I.R.B.B., Working Class Action
Dublin, AFA Ireland and also Linda.

You are all in our thoughts and prayers.

Billy will be deeply missed and life will not be the same without

Patsy and Liam Lynch


Whatever Gave You That idea?

Dear Editor,

"Perhaps what the SEA is really about can be gauged from its
manifesto on its website. There are 7 pictures of Eamonn McCann. I
rather think that Eamonn, at least the old Eamon of the sixties and
seventies would have been extremely uncomfortable with this pushing
of the cult of Eamonn McCann."

Whatever gave you that idea? :-)

Comradely congratulations to John Martin and Colin Craig for their
principled response to the SEA and Eamonn McCann's long-standing and
disastrous but enormously influential partitionist politics, which he
has taken to ludicrous lengths.



President McCann???

I frankly have wondered for many years now, how the SWP's membership
could not be completely embarrassed by McCann's one-man-band approach
to politics. It sometimes seems like you can't pick up a periodical
in Ireland without finding a piece of reporting, an editorial, a
review of an album or live show, your daily horoscope, advice to the
love-lorn, or a relating of yesterday's football scores by Eamonn
McCann--few, if any, of which seem to reflect the politics espoused
by the SWP. Then there is the problem of McCann seemingly being able
to periodically leave the SWP, only to return a short while later,
immediately restored to its helm--I mean, why don't they just give
him some title like President for Life or something.



'Guttersnipes with Guns'


I read an article by SWP member Eamonn McCann lately, where he was
referring to the INLA as 'guttersnipes with guns' (a curious
Victorian-sounding sort of term - a stylistic barb designed to make
its author sound eminently respectable no doubt). I have also noticed
that the IRSP has been totally excluded from the SEA coalition or the
broader Convention of the Left, which recently took place in Derry.
Indeed, this is for precisely the reasons that James Daly lists-
total opposition to any mentioning of the 'national question' (and an
apparently concomitant labelling of anyone who raises that issue
as 'sectarian'). I certainly appreciate James' disavowal of using the
term to describe the nature or origins of the Northern Ireland
conflict - though it would be hard not to find quite a few sectarians
running around 'the province' (sic).

I think Eamonn McCann is acting in a most elitist, overly moralistic,
patronising and disrespectful way to the Republican Socialist
Movement. I don't see how (and perhaps I am wrong) he can justify
constantly moralising over and continually attacking the INLA,
portraying them as no better than loyalist death squads. He seems not
to have taken into account the concrete relations on the ground in
North Belfast (in particular, with regard to policing, the nature of
the police force in N.I. and the use of informers, etc.) or the
actual wishes of the people there (which is not to say the INLA
actions taken against anti-social types were wholly justified - I
don't really know).

The problem I have with the republican socialist perspective, in term
of actual political practice, is how on earth it is possible to build
socialist class-consciousness in working class protestant areas on a
republican (socialist) platform. Might not the SEA open up some sort
of space for dialogue and cross-class (instead of the usual old intra-
class) solidarity?

As I say, I don't think the latter cause is well served by demonising
and caricaturing republican socialists; I think the SEA has been
totally wrong to do this, in its attempt to build support amongst non-
Marxist organisations, in particular. Anyway, from what I've seen,
the SEA, like the N.I. Paisleyite government, seem totally adamant on
excluding any and all republican perspectives.

I don't think this will be conducive either to peace (which is what
we want) or progress.




What's On?


Dear friends,

Two important upcoming events have been organised for the next few
days. Firstly on Sat 20th {this Sat} from 10-12.30 at Clamill housing
Waring St. {just past the John Hewitt Bar} there is a clay-tile
creation morning. Teenagers and adults will get together to create
their own messages on tiles {these tiles may even be displayed!}. So
I would urge those who want to create a message or image on the tiles
to come along and have fun {facilitated also by local artists}. Lunch
will be provided. My partner and I are looking forward to this event
also; hope to see you there. If going can you also e-mail the network
and lets us know and as importantly circulate the details around to
let people know about it.

Secondly a film will be shown this Monday at Belfast Exposed {Donegal
Street} at 7.30pm. The film "Fear Eats the Soul" is a must watch.


D Carlin


Eye Witness Palestine and Iraq

The IPSC and the Queens University Friends of Palestine will be
organising two public speaking events on Palestine and Iraq, with
Caoimhe Butterley and Ewa Jasiewicz, next week, on Tuesday 23rd March

Peter Froggatt Centre Room 330,Queens University and if you cannot
make that, on Wednesday 24th March, 7.30pm Culturlann, 216 Falls Rd.,

Caoimhe Butterley and Ewa Jasiewicz have both recently returned from
Iraq and were previously in Palestine. Caoimhe is no stranger to
Belfast people having spoken here before about her experiences in
Jenin where she lived for over a year with local families. An RTE
Documentary was screened last year about her experiences in
Palestine. More recently she has been living in Iraq where she went
when the invasion started. Ewa is 24 years old, anthropology
graduate, fluent in 5 languages who lived in Jenin, Palestine for a
year with local families. She went to Baghdad shortly after the
invasion, where she lived in the Palestinian refugee camp. While
there, she participated in a hunger strike to draw attention to the
plight of the Palestinian refugees in Baghdad. This action received
widespread Arab media coverage. Ewa worked closely with the Union of
the Unemployed while in Baghdad and since the beginning of the
Occupation has worked alongside her friend, Caoimhe Butterley, with
the human rights organisation, Occupation Watch. Ewa and Caoimhe are
is currently in Ireland on speaking engagements to try to raise
awareness about the continuing Occupations of Palestine and Iraq and
about the appalling conditions under which the Palestinian and Iraqi
people are living.

Please support these events and those organised for-Eastern Cultural
Awareness week being held at Queens University from Mon 22nd -
Thursday 25th



International Workers Memorial Day on Wednesday 28th April 2004

Calling on all Trade Union Health and Safety Reps all over to promote
the Workers Memorial Day.

163 workers died in 2003.

To show our solidarity and have at least a minute's silence or the
planting of a tree, even the unveiling of a plaque in the work place.

Memorial day usually meets a total Press black out everywhere, so it
is up to the workers to get this point across. Recent reports of a
Chinese immigrant worker dying after stamping the word Samsung on
microwave ovens continuously for 24 hours has brought home the
horrors of overwork.

Working time was one of the key issues in which the unions were first
organised. We are now working longer and harder and the 1998 working
time regulations have had little or no impact.

Now the European Commission is consulting unions in a review of the
working time Directive. We must amend the Directives it offers
workers real protection.

Campaign for the Living
Remember the Dead



The Anti-Racism Network has organised the following programme of
events for European Anti-Racism Week 20-27 March 2004. The theme of
these events is participation, the joint participation by minority
ethnic communities and majority ethnic communities in an interesting
and fun programme of sporting, cultural, and artistic events.

We are inviting people to take part in as many of the events as
possible. Why not get a team together among your work mates, family,
or friends and join in the basketball, it doesn't matter if you've
never played before, it's for fun! Come along and roll your sleeves
up and take part in a fun arts workshop making tiles with a
difference, anti-racist tiles! Or if music and dance is your thing
you'll enjoy the Dress for the Dance event, an evening of traditional
costume, world music and dance. We also have a film screening in
conjunction with Cineniversity: "Fear Eats the Soul" by director
Rainer Werner Fassbinder, the film is about a Moroccan guest worker
in West Germany who strikes up a relationship with an older German
widow. It explores issues of racism, ageism, sexism and cultural

Join in Anti-Racism Week By participating in any of these events and
send out a positive message for cultural diversity in our society and
against racism.

Join in Anti-Racism Week By participating in any of these events and
send out a positive message for cultural diversity in our society and
against racism.

Tile Making Workshop Saturday 20 March 10am -12.30pm Clanmil
House, Waring Street

Basketball Against Racism Saturday 20 March 12 o'clock to
4pm Malone College, Finaghy Road

Fear Eats the Soul Film Screening Monday 22 March 7.30pm
Belfast Exposed, King Street

Dress for the Dance Friday 26 March 9pm Conor Hall, Arts
College, York Street

To register your interest in participating in any of these events
simply email


Anti Racist Network

Next meeting March 31 Multicultural Resource Centre 7pm


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