The Plough #45
27 June 2004
E-Mail Newsletter of the Irish Republican Socialist Party
1) Bodenstown 2004 Speech
2) There May Be Trouble Ahead
3) NIPSA Strike Update -- Pearson Gets a Home Visit
4) NIPSA Watch Committee
5) What's On?
BODENSTOWN 2004 SPEECH
Delivered by IRSP Ard-Chomhairle member Gerard Foster
Friends and comrades, in 1966, Seamus Costello, founder and leader of
the IRSP and the INLA, stood on this very spot, the most revered
grave in Irish republican history. He delivered one of the most
prophetic orations ever delivered here in Bodenstown; we make no
apology for revisiting his oration here today. 38 years ago Costello
said of the Six Counties:
"In the North, the destinies of one and a half million of our
countrymen are controlled by a puppet regime whose existence for some
45 years has depended on the support of British armed forces. This
regime has found to its apparent delight that one of the simplest
ways of ensuring its continued existence is by the furtherance of
bigotry and sectarianism. Ample evidence of this policy can be found
in the recent antics of a certain reverend agent provocateur. These
then are the means by which the British imperialists intend to
maintain the people of the North in perpetual slavery. These are also
the means by which the working classes are divided against their own
material welfare. The pro-British capitalist classes who control the
economy of the North know very well that, when the people reject
those who foster sectarianism, their next step will be to demand a
just share of the wealth, which they create. These are the real
reasons why one section of the community are led to believe that it
is in their interest to discriminate against another section. Never
are they told that the standard of living which they enjoy, at the
expense of their victimised neighbors, is theirs by right -- rather
are they tricked into believing that these natural rights are a
reward for their support of the regime. These tactics serve to ensure
that a large section of the population of the North remain loyal to
the regime and at the same time do not insist on having a bigger
share in the wealth."
Costello was highlighting how Britain maintained its rule in Ireland
by sectarian division and social division. Of course Britain could
not only have done this by force of arms alone. There are native
capitalist classes both North and South of the border that have
facilitated British rule because it allowed them to profit. They
serve no master but money. They have been a constant block to the
No matter what guise they went under, or what republican name they
choose to call themselves -- such as Fianna Fail-Soldiers of Destiny
-- so long as they were in defence of existing property relations
they were and are a block to the Republic. In every generation there
have been those who have compromised their principles, endeavouring
to partially liberate Ireland from the yoke of the British through
negotiation that first required the concession of equity instead of
We regard the Good Friday Agreement as one such effort. Sinn Fein
have reaped electoral rewards as a result. They are now the largest
nationalist party in the North and have built a base in the South
that seems impressive. But in so doing they may well have forgotten
the lessons of history. The Workers Party once had similar success in
the South. Where are they now? When a political movement ditches its
principles it may well have short-term electoral reward but in the
long term it will be no longer what it was.
It would be remiss of us at Bodenstown not to highlight that Wolfe
Tone, over whose grave we stand, believed in Liberty, Fraternity,
Liberty includes the freedom to express your views without fear or
favour. We call on all who call themselves republicans to recognise
the right to dissent, the right not to agree -- the right to
articulate minority views. And we call on all republicans to condemn
anyone or any organisation that tries to stifle political opinions
they don't agree with. We in the Republican Socialist Movement have
endured bitter times in the past. We have learnt that the way to
resolve differences is not to take up the gun against our opponents
but to respect their views while not agreeing with them.
We have strong differences with other republicans over such issues as
the Good Friday Agreement, abstentionism, armed struggle and so on.
But we must not allow those differences to embitter us or to demonise
our political opponents. If we call for the unity of the working
class so also should we call for the unity of republicans on issues
on which we can agree. That is why we welcome the growing openness
among all shades of republicanism to sit down together and discuss
issues. We have long called for a broad front. A few years ago we
pushed the idea of a republican forum where republicans could discuss
differences in an open and fraternal way and debate how best to move
towards the Republic. Therefore we can but only welcome calls for a
republican congress. This movement will play a constructive role in
helping to bring that about.
But what is unique about our analysis of the political situation is
that we assert that the Republic will not emerge under capitalism.
Unless the working class as a class take the leading role in the
national struggle fighting for social freedom then the end result
will be a neo-colony in thrall to international capital. The forging
of links between the different sections of the working class is
critical to the successful struggle for socialism in Ireland.
As republican socialists we support the continuing dialogue with
sections of the unionist working class. However, that dialogue must
be an exploration and examination of working class communities'
views, fears and most importantly politics. LIBERTY, FRATERNITY AND
EQUALITY for PROTESTANT, CATHOLIC AND DISSENTER are principles which
remain the cornerstone of republican socialism. They also represent
the best formula for uniting our class.
Seamus Costello recognised in an article that engagement with
unionist working class was and is important but equally so there can
be no exclusion of republican socialist politics from any agenda
concerned with working class politics such as that practicised by the
Socialist Environmental Alliance in the North's European election.
"Connolly was totally in opposition to this approach. He categorised
them as gas and water socialists. Today in Belfast we have what we
call ring-road socialists. They are exactly the same type of people.
They are, in fact, the leadership of the Official Republican Movement
in Belfast. We maintain that any co-operation with the Protestant
working class must be on the basis of a principled political
position. It must be on the basis of explaining fully to the
Protestant working class what all our policies are, not just our
policy on the ring road. We must try and politicise them,
simultaneously with conducting a political campaign to get rid of
Britain. It will be primarily an educational function, or an
educational campaign directed towards Protestants in the hope at
least that some significant section of the Protestant working class
In reaching out to all sections of the working class, including the
recent arrivals to our country fleeing economic or political
oppression, we must not be afraid to face up to issues. We are told
by the administrations in Dublin, Belfast and London, and we are also
told by some republicans, that the failed Belfast/Good
Friday/Stormont Agreement somehow will provide not only a pathway to
peace on the island but is also a stepping stone to a democratic
socialist republic. Like Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, this
We are being asked to believe in a new Republican slogan, LIBERTY,
FRATERNITY AND EQUITY.
Equity means fairness. It does not mean equality. Equity is not part
of my definition of republicanism.
EQUITY CAN NEVER LEAD TO EQUALITY. At its very best equity will
maintain the status quo of discrimination of rich over poor,
Protestant over Catholic, white over other ethnic groups. And so will
the Good Friday Agreement. Importantly, for republican socialists the
current political dispensation will maintain, nurture and propagate
the divisions in the working class. Irish republican socialists will
never endorse any political settlement between Ireland and Britain
which has at its heart the destruction of Irish working class unity
and the promotion of greed and avarice.
As republican socialists we reject this process as flawed. Already in
the North we have major funders of community infra-structure charged
with targeting social need talking about a 'benign apartheid reward'
(Urban 2 Inner North Belfast, Community Empowerment Partnership, 9th
June 2004). This is at the behest of reactionary unionism led by the
DUP and unchallenged by supposedly progressive unionism within the
loyalist community sector.
'Benign apartheid' like 'secondary discrimination' is a direct result
of the sectarian social equity being delivered by the Good Friday
Agreement. Supporters of the status quo would have the working class
believe this is acceptable because the apartheid and discrimination
that results from equity is not the primary motivation but merely an
unavoidable secondary outcome of the process. In other words,
Northern working class Catholics still remain twice as likely to be
unemployed and homeless as they were ten years ago! But that's okay
as in the bad old days of unionist domination discrimination was
direct and intentional; today discrimination is merely a benign by-
product of a flawed political process. So that's okay then!
Meanwhile today, working class Catholics are twice as likely to be
unemployed and homeless!! We are asked to accept that this secondary
discrimination is benign. If this is the case where is the strategy
to combat secondary discrimination?
Discrimination either primary or secondary can never be benign or
harmless; it can only deliver the continuation of inequality and
division. Both are anathema to republican socialists.
James Connolly referred to 'gas and water' socialists, Seamus
Costello referred to 'ring road' socialists in the 1970s and today we
have the 'equitable' socialists or 'stepping stone' republicans. The
titles may change but the politics remain the same. All the above
require unacceptable compromises of basic republican principles.
The core values of republicanism as articulated by Wolfe Tone and the
United Irishmen, that of liberty, fraternity and equality, were then
and remain now the most progressive form of political thought and one
that we in the IRSP fully endorse and principles that we hold dear.
We remain determined to insure that republican socialism will be a
core plank of any progressive agenda that sets as its goal the
liberation of our class, our country and common humanity.
In his 1966 oration Seamus Costello laid out the path to the
"This in effect means that we must aim for the ownership of our
resources by the people, so that these resources will be developed in
the best interests of the people as a whole. Some of you may feel
that these aims are impossible to achieve until such time as we have
an independent all-Ireland government. It is certainly true that some
of these aims will not reach fruition until such time as we have an
all-Ireland parliament. However, in the meantime, you as republicans
have an extremely important part to play in the furtherance of this
policy. It is your duty to spearhead the organisation of a virile co-
operative movement among the farming community. It is also your duty
to use your influence as trade unionists to organise a militant trade
union movement with a national consciousness. In short, it is your
duty to become active, hard working members of each and every
organisation that is working for the welfare of all the people and
towards the reunification of the country."
As it was in 1966, so it is today.
Comrades and friends here today, get out there and work for the
liberation of your class and your country!
THERE MAY BE TROUBLE AHEAD
We bring to the attention of our readers this recent article: "A
survey by computer services outfit Cap Gemini and investment bank
Merrill Lynch has estimated that the 26 counties' 15,000 highest 'net
worth' people control assets of more than 43 billion Euros. This
breaks down to an average of almost 2.9 million Euros per
person...One in every 260 (or almost 4 in every 1,000 people) in
Ireland has, according to the survey, the necessary loot. In an Irish
town with a population of, say 20,000, between 75 and 80 people on
average would have the money to propel them into the richest 15,000
individuals of the state...The average wage in the 26 counties is
around 27,000 Euros a year. Working for hundred years and saving
every penny, a person on such a wage wouldn't make the list of the
wealthiest 15,000 people. Given even radically pared-back living
costs, the average person would have to work for a few centuries to
join the rich set and buying even an average house would dramatically
prolong that time."
The article goes on: "Aside from grossly unequal distribution...a
large part of the problem generated by coalition policies is that
they make this state a wealthy slum. In terms of infrastructure such
as housing, public transport and roads, or social provisions like
healthcare, education and social welfare, Ireland lags behind the EU
average...But infrastructure and social provision interest few of the
wealthy. Naturally everybody would approve if roads, public transport
and communal amenities were better. Yet in an economic climate that
so exalts competition and pits people against each other, the
prospects for improvements in communal enterprises are gravely
weakened...Anyway, if you are one of the wealthiest four-in-every-
thousand, you are more likely to approve of current government
policy. If, on the other hand, you're working every hour to pay for
an absurdly overpriced house, perhaps your disillusionment is
growing. There may be trouble ahead." (Eddie Holt, 'Rich People, Poor
State', Irish Times, 19 June 2004).
NIPSA STRIKE UPDATE -- PEARSON GETS A HOME VISIT
As of yesterday (Friday) 505 NIPSA members were on selective strike
These include the ongoing strikes at the MOT offices and the Pensions
Centre, Derry. In addition, and as part of a new strategy, those who
process teachers and Health Service pay in Derry have also come out.
This newly "engaged" strategy initiated by the recently elected left-
wing NIPSA Civil Service Executive led to amusing scenes in Dudley,
West Midlands last Friday. Dudley, the home constituency of Brit
minister Ian Pearson, witnessed his weekly constituency surgery
picketed by 10 NIPSA members, with support from the local trades
council who are seeking Pearson's de-selection from his parliamentary
seat. Pearson called the police (who didn't turn up), and the NIPSA
members in protest staged a "white line" (i.e. middle of the road)
picket. This produced a massively positive response from passing
Dudley motorists. Pearson's days do indeed appear to be numbered.
Yesterday over 15000 NIPSA members staged a half-day walkout from
offices throughout the North. In Belfast around 2000 people, members
of NIPSA and other trade unions, marched to the city hall to re-
affirm the commitment of the whole labour movement in the North to
support the industrial action of civil servants to a successful
NIPSA WATCH COMMITTEE
The import of scabs into the Derry Pensions Centre continues. It is
particularly disturbing that two NIPSA activists have taken
the "King's shilling" and betrayed their erstwhile comrades. For the
record the WC would like to point out that those concerned are: K.
McClean (Portadown) and K. McVeigh (Kilkeel).
PROTEST JULY 3RD: WHITE LINE PICKET IN CASTLEWELLAN, SOUTH DOWN.
THERE WILL BE A WHITE LINE PICKET IN CASTLEWELLAN, SOUTH DOWN ON
SATURDAY 3RD JULY AT 3.00PM. THIS PICKET WILL BE IN SUPPORT OF THE
REPUBLICAN POWS IN MAGHABERRY GAOL AND A PROTEST AT THE CONTINUED
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES THEY ARE CURRENTLY BEING FORCED TO ENDURE. ALL
ASSEMBLE UPPER SQUARE.
SATURDAY 17th JULY 3PM: WHITE LINE PICKET AND RALLY
Meeting @ entrance to Falls Park.
Speakers to be announced.
"(We) call on all groups and concerned individuals to attend the
above protest to highlight the ongoing harassment and abuse of
Republican prisoners in Maghaberry Jail.
"Despite achieving the hard won but moderate demand of segregation
from Loyalists and criminals the POW's in Roe House are still under
pressure from the Prison Administration and vindictive screws. This
includes the continuation of forced strip searches, denials of basic
amenities, the intensification and lengthening of lock-up time plus
the humiliation still being endured by visiting family members,
friends and political representatives.
"We urge everyone to stand behind these men and their families by
coming out onto the streets in the coming weeks and making their
voices heard once more."
Wednesday 7th July, 2004
Professor Arend Lijphart
The de Borda Institute has invited Professor Arend Lijphart, a well
recognised protagonist of consociationalism and a patron to The de
Borda Institute, to conduct a seminar on voting procedures in The
Linenhall Library at 10.30 - 12.00 on Wednesday 7th July, 2004.
All welcome on a first-come-first-served basis, but places are
limited. Further details from The de Borda Institute:
Friday 9 July
Honouring anti-fascist fighters
A monument to the eleven Waterford men who fought in defence of the
Spanish Republic, 1936-38, will be unveiled at the Mall, Waterford.
The work of the acclaimed artist Michael Warren from Gorey, it will
be unveiled by the International Brigade veterans Michael O'Riordan
and Jack Jones.
Aoine 9 Iúil
In onóir trodaithe frithfhaisisteacha
Nochtfar leacht i gcuimhne ar an aon fhear Port Láirgeach déag
a throid i gcosaint Phoblacht na Spáinne, 1936-38, sa Mheal, Port
Láirge. Saothar de chuid an ealaíontóra mholta Michael
Warren as Guaire is ea é, agus is iad Michael O'Riordan agus Jack
Jones, seansaighdiúirí de chuid na Briogáide
Idirnáisiúnta, a nochtfaidh é.
[from CPI website]
Friday, July 30th
Democratic Dialogue is organising a seminar, in conjunction with the
Institute of Governance at Queen's University Belfast and the de
Borda Institute, on 'The Difficulties of Democracy Building, Identity
Formation and Ethnic Nationalism in the Balkans'. The seminar is to
be led by Rory Conces, an assistant professor of philosophy and
member of the International Studies faculty at the University of
Nebraska at Omaha, who is also editor of the International Third
World Studies Journal and Review. The event will take place on
Friday, July 30th, at 11.00am in room 101 Lanyon North (first floor,
Lanyon Building), at Queen's (directions from the porter's lodge at
main entrance). Prof Conces has lectured in China, Croatia, and
Kosovo; as well as having been a Fulbright Scholar in Bosnia and
Herzegovina. Approaching issues of ethnic identity from a political-
philosophical standpoint, his talk will be of considerable resonance
to Northern Ireland.
Further information from email@example.com.
1) Resistance and Hope Assisi, August 2-7
Call for the Anti-imperialist Camp, Assisi, Italy, August 2-7
Mankind is travelling in fear on a train towards the abyss. This
abyss is the mercilessly waged global war. The train is steered by
the United States of America, to be precise, by a group of
adventurers dreaming of a dead and mute world with one single God,
the dollar; with one single banner, that of stars and stripes; with
one single language, that of American oppression.
These adventurers are driven by a vision which neither admits
compromises nor half ways: the clash of civilisations not only with
Islam but also with anybody who believes in the co-operation between
the peoples and who consider peace as the holiest of all values. They
have given a name to their doctrine: "permanent and pre-emptive war"
which not only displays the warmongering character of the North
American regime but also the idea that the US were a superior nation
with a special mission namely to exercise the global predominance at
any cost. The alibi, which this doctrine builds on, is the terrorist
threat. Those who employ indiscriminate force against defenceless and
innocent civilians, those who consider a person guilty if it does not
believe in their God, might believe to be on a straight way to
paradise but surely contribute to the transformation of this world
into an inferno without hope. The only remaining hope of the world is
the Resistance, the struggle of the peoples for freedom and self-
The American aim is not only to subjugate the poor and oppressed
nations but also those who still enjoy some liberty. The Patriot Act
and the anti-terrorist Black Lists show that the most elementary
democratic rights are at stake also in the West and particularly in
the United States. Virulent racist and chauvinist crusades attempt to
criminalise the anti-imperialist and revolutionary forces as well as
the organisations of immigrants. They even want to silence the peace
The anti-imperialist Resistance has indestructible roots and dates
back to the very beginning of the imperial North American ambitions.
Where there is oppression there will always be revolt as well, where
there is dictatorship there will always be the struggle for
democracy, where there is injustice there never will be peace.
Today the Iraqi people is testifying for the Resistance keeping up
their heads against the American war criminals and their paranoid
designs to Guantánamise the world. The Iraqi resistance has taken
the way paved by the Palestinian Intifada. By building a united front
of all the fighting forces it will gain further strength transforming
itself into a national liberation war. This front, the embryo of a
future government of a liberated Iraq, will be able once the
invaders are driven out to call upon the Iraqis to elect a
democratic constituent assembly exercising the full and undivided
sovereignty of the Iraqi people.
The future of humanity depends on the outcome of the battle raging in
Iraq. The heroic town of Falluja, having chased away mercenaries
armed with the most sophisticated weaponry, shows that the Iraqi
people are able to win as the Vietnamese people won. The decisive
factor in war even more than in peace is not technological
superiority but what motivates the people to fight.
We have to unite with the Resistance of the Iraqi people to help
mankind to liberate itself from the North American menace.
The future of the world depends on the victory of Iraq!
2) Iraqi presences and programme of Assisi
This year's Anti-imperialist Camp will have its focus on the Iraqi
resistance. The Iraqi Patriotic Alliance (IPA) will present its
efforts to build a common political front of all forces struggling
against occupation. For the Iraqi Democratic Communist Current, which
is a component of the IPA, Ahmed Karim will be present and for the
Iraqi Communist Party (cadre) Nori al-Moradi.
A global meeting of all the forces and committees in open support of
the Iraqi resistance is scheduled. The preparation of the
international day of action for the resistance scheduled for
September 25 will be one of the topics on the agenda.
The preliminary programme:
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