Volume 2, Number 18
20 December 2004
E-Mail Newsletter of the Irish Republican Socialist Party
2. The Third International Conference Against Isolation - IRSP Speech
3. Anglifying the Irish Republic
The recent resignation of David Blunkett, the British Home Secretary,
while a matter of satisfaction for many on the left should also be a
warning. Blunkett was once on the extreme left of the Labour Party in
the so-called socialist republic of Sheffield. He had no difficulty
moving across the spectrum from left to right. While his approach and
thinking may have changed, the arrogance sometimes associated with
those who "have" and "know" the "truth" didn't change. It was that
arrogance that ultimately led to his having to resign. Those of us on
the left and particularly the republican left have to be mindful that
we do not assume we know it all. The fact is that within Irish
republicanism there exists the mentality that somehow being a
republican made one better than others. Left republicans suffered from
that arrogance in jails during the 1980s and 1990s from Provisional
republicans. Recently the decision by Republican Sinn Fein that they
will have nothing to do with broad fronts is another example of that
arrogance. To affiliate with others might dilute their republicanism.
Given our recent history no republican can afford the luxury of
arrogance. Following the 1956-61 armed campaign defeat, republicans
blamed the people, for allowing themselves to be distracted from the
national struggle. Today, after the armed struggle of the past 30
years has failed, it is only right for the people to blame republicans
for that defeat. No amount of spin can convert a defeat into victory.
While not actually donning sackcloth and ashes, Irish republicans can
learn humility by actually listening to the people and learning what
they think. That for some would make a change from telling the people
what to think.
THE THIRD INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE AGAINST ISOLATION
[The Third International Conference Against Isolation took place in
Berlin last week. The IRSP, and the 32 County Sovereignty
Movement/IRPWA, attended this event, in which the Basque party
Batasuna, the Turkish DHKC, and Palestinians were also present. This
speech was delivered by Liam O'Ruairc and Gerard McGarrigle.]
We would like to thank the organisers of the third international
symposium against isolation for inviting the Irish Republican
Socialist Party to contribute its analysis at this conference.
What is the political function of isolation? Isolation is a weapon
used by the prison system and the repressive apparatus of the state to
weaken political militants psychologically and physically, thus
politically. It is used to prevent the emergence of any collective
organisation attempts by the prisoners, to destroy in advance the
struggle for the collective power of those in prison, as well as their
struggle for political and human rights. For the prison system, it is
imperative to isolate those who are not afraid to speak out, the
incarcerated political cadres, those who politically and
organisationally are prepared to work for the revolutionary movement
inside the prisons. The state's policy of isolation is not simply to
destroy the prisoners, but more importantly to destroy the politics of
their struggle. It is part of a strategy to portray any resistance
against the state as criminal. The state believes that if it can break
the resistance of the prisoners, it will demoralise and weaken the
revolutionary forces on the outside.
In 1976 the British government removed the right to political status
for Irish prisoners. This was an attempt to criminalise the struggle
for national liberation and socialism, both inside and outside the
prisons. The prisoners resisted this criminalisation through a series
of protests, starting with their refusal to wear prison uniforms, the
no wash protest, and culminated in the hunger strikes of 1980/1981
which resulted in ten prisoners – three of whom were affiliated
to our movement - giving their lives. Far from breaking the prisoners,
the 1981 hunger strike showed that they remained resolute and
eventually met most of their demands at the price of their own lives.
Paradoxically, if in 1976 the British government attempted to
criminalise the republican struggle, by 1981 the republicans succeeded
in criminalising the British government. However, the gains of the
1980/1981 hunger strikes were lost with the signing of the 1998
Belfast Agreement. The 1998 treaty effectively criminalises political
resistance, as political prisoners will not be segregated from either
ordinary criminals or reactionary loyalists. The struggle of the
prisoners is thus back to square one. The Provisional Movement (loyal
to the leadership of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness) supports the
1998 treaty and states that there are no more political prisoners in
jail. The truth is that there are currently dozens of political
prisoners in Ireland, including four affiliated to our movement. One
of them is Dessie O'Hare, who has been in jail for more than twenty
years and who should have been released years ago. The Provisional
Movement celebrates the struggle of the 1980/1981 hunger strikers, and
yet is silent about the present struggle of Irish political prisoners.
It is thus complicit with the media black out regarding the prison
issue. Our movement is totally committed to the struggle of all those
prisoners, irrespective of their affiliation. You have to remember
that our prisoners have suffered from a double isolation attempt:
first that of the British state, and secondly that of the Provisional
Movement inside the prisons, which in the past attempted to destroy
any collective organisation of our prisoners by denying them their own
wing and official recognition as a group.
We regret and reject the narrow and sectarian approach of some people
and organisations and call for a united front on the prison issue. The
Irish Republican Socialist Movement argues not simply for better
prison conditions, but for the collective self-organisation of the
prisoners, for the recognition of their political and human rights,
for the construction of an effective counter power within the prisons.
What is fundamentally at stake is a political, not a humanitarian,
issue. This is not just a matter of more humane conditions of
detention but of developing a revolutionary movement inside the jails
that questions the prison system. The function of politically advanced
prisoners is similar to that of advanced workers. Advanced workers do
not simply fight for higher wages or better working conditions, but
for the abolition of capitalism, similarly politically conscious
prisoners do not fight just for better prison conditions, but for the
collective self-organisation of imprisoned working class militants and
the creation of a counter power within the prisons.
British imperialism, either in the prisons or on our streets, will not
succeed in breaking us, instead it will have an adverse effect,
strengthening our resolve to resist domination is all its forms. In
the words of Terence MacSwiney, the republican Mayor of Cork who died
on hunger strike in 1920: "We have not survived the centuries to be
ANGLIFYING THE IRISH REPUBLIC
13 September 2004
Anglifying the Irish Republic
By Patrick West
When one hears the expression "cultural imperialism", one usually
thinks of the ubiquitous presence of Americana. Corporations such as
McDonald's, Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Disney are routinely charged with
trampling on indigenous industries, showing contempt for different
cultures and rendering our high streets bland, soulless clones. The
French may be the most vocal agitators in this area, but the British
are by no means averse to such protest, as the popularity of George
Monbiot and his legions of acolytes demonstrates.
However, while we grouse about the Americanisation of our culture, it
is worth remembering that the British can be cultural imperialists,
too. Eighty years after the south of Ireland finally bade farewell to
the British presence, the Brits are back. This time, the takeover is
not military, but corporate. Ireland's customs and urban landscape are
being Anglified. Much has been written in the past decade about the
economic miracle of the "Celtic Tiger". The Republic of Ireland has
been transformed in many respects — it has become more confident,
greedy and anti-clerical — but its consumer habits and the face
of its cities have also changed. This is because much of the business
in the country is now British-owned.
Take a walk through the city of Dublin (with apologies to James
Joyce). I start off at Tesco in Baggot Street. Heading west, I nip in
to a shop to purchase a packet of Walkers crisps and a copy of the
Irish Sun or Irish Mirror, before taking in a pint of Guinness
(British-owned) at the bar of the renowned Shelbourne Hotel
(British-owned). Refreshed, I continue, turning right into Dawson
Street, where I amble around Waterstone's and Hodges Figgis (both
British-owned bookshops). Then a left into Nassau Street and another
left to Grafton Street, to purchase a CD from the HMV store (British)
before getting my groceries from Marks & Spencer (ditto). While the
homogenisation of the British high street has been taking place since
the 1960s, the Anglification of the Irish high street has been much
more recent. Its most visible manifestation is the remarkable
penetration of Tesco, or "Tesco Ireland", as it brands itself. I
remember my Auntie May dragging me along, as a child in the 1980s, to
help her with her Saturday shopping at Quinnsworth or H Williams. Both
chains have now vanished, the latter having folded in 1987, the former
having been purchased by Tesco ten years later. Today, Tesco Ireland
is the largest food retailer in the republic, with more than 79
branches, employing more than 10,000 people. It has total sales of
1.79bn (pounds sterling 1.22bn) and remains in rude health: its growth
rate in 2002-2003 was 7.8 per cent.
Also back in the 1980s, a great treat for an English lad on his summer
holidays was tucking into a packet of greasy Tayto crisps. Tayto is
perceived to be as Irish as the Blarney Stone. Yet the firm has since
come under acute competition from Walkers. Walkers, starting in 2000,
rapidly made its mark in the crisps market and is now second only to
Tayto. Its aim is to take top spot, and it has the funds to do so,
spending 855,000 (pounds sterling 581,000) a year on advertising,
compared to Tayto's 778,000 (pounds sterling 528,000). Tesco's good
fortune has been mirrored by that of Boots the Chemist, which opened
its first Irish branch in 1998. Having purchased the HCR chain, it is
now the leading chemist chain in the republic, employing 1,200 staff
across 28 branches. More modest inroads have been made by Marks &
Spencer, which has four stores. Considering, however, the difficulties
M & S is having at home, not to mention its retreat from other foreign
markets, it is surprising that it has any presence at all in Ireland.
Elsewhere, both HMV and Virgin have opened outlets, providing
competition for the country's independent record shops and its
indigenous chain Golden Discs. BT's progress has been even more
impressive. It acquired the Esat Group in 2000, renaming itself "Esat
BT", and is now second only to Eircom in the country's
telecommunications industry. For a company that is manifestly British,
this is no mean feat.
Yet perhaps these developments are not so new. After all, since the
creation of the Irish Free State in 1922, its people have remained
resiliently British in their cultural appetites. The attempted
Gaelicisation of the country was a dismal failure. Newspapers such as
the News of the World and the Observer continued to muster a
substantial number of Irish readers, and the BBC came to be regarded
as an honorary home broadcaster, while Manchester United, Liverpool
and Celtic are perceived as honorary domestic clubs. This is not
something that many of an Anglophobic disposition have been keen to
admit, indulging instead in what Freud called the : narcissism of
minor differences": exaggerating trivial distinctions in order to mask
very obvious similarities.
Far from the ties with British culture gradually withering after
independence, as the founders of the Irish Free State hoped, the
reverse has taken place. There are now more than 180 British companies
operating in the republic. British cultural imperialism makes the two
countries ever more similar, and not just in where people go to shop
and what they buy.
Thanks to the British media invasion, it also involves what they read
and thus how they think. The success of Express Newspapers' Irish
edition of the Daily Star in the 1990s prompted Trinity Mirror and
News International to rebrand their Dublin editions as the Irish Daily
Mirror and the Irish Sun. The Irish News of the World followed, while
the Dublin edition of the Sunday Times commands a big readership. The
repackaging has been a triumph for all three media organisations, with
the Mirror selling 200,000 a day and the Sun close to 300,000 --
easily outselling the Irish Times and Irish Independent. Although
these titles do address domestic issues (and, since May, even Sky News
has been broadcasting special Irish bulletins), there is still
substantial coverage of British affairs. Some will regret this
development. Yet if it leads to better service and cheaper prices for
the consumer, surely it is not all bad. One may even look at it
positively on a cultural level, in that market forces are helping to
bring the two nations closer together. It's not as if the traffic were
all one-way. Manchester United is partly Irish-owned, Dunnes Stores
has several outlets in the north of England, Eason owns a 50-strong
chain of bookshops in Britain and the Independent is the property of
an Irishman. Still, I suspect that the likes of Padraic Pearse and
Eamon de Valera would have been horrified. To aesthetes and cultural
purists, this development is an abomination. But it should serve as a
reminder to those in Britain with an anti-American fixation, who
deplore the idea of taking their children to McDonald's to drink
Coca-Cola, that when it comes to cultural imperialism, Uncle Sam is
not the only culprit.
The Republican Resistance Calendar 2005, is on sale from the IRPWA
office in Derry.
Cost £7-00 inclu P&P.
Send Postal Orders to:
34B William Street
For further payment details telephone:
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The office is opened Monday to Friday 11am till 3pm.
"How Northern Donors Promote Corruption: Tales From the New
by Joseph Hanlon
Corner House Briefing Paper 33
Corruption is a worldwide and age-old phenomenon. In recent years,
Northern aid donors have become more and more vocal about the need for
Southern countries to clean themselves up. Yet they have refused to
change their own policies that encourage corruption, particularly
those policies requiring economic liberalisation and cutting back on
state expenditure and responsibilities.
In Mozambique, corruption was almost non-existent in the 1970s but
grew to high levels during the 1990s. At least two forms of corruption
-- "state capture" (taking control of ministries, judiciary or
regulatory agencies for personal or business interests) and
"administrative corruption" (making unofficial payments to get
officials to flout or to apply existing laws, rules and regulations)
-- are now rampant in the country.
Joseph Hanlon of the Open University, UK, who has written extensively
on Mozambique for over 20 years, outlines how increasing intervention
by international financial institutions, such as the World Bank, and
bilateral aid donors in support of economic liberalisation is one of
the primary causes of this growth in corruption.
Adding to the process have been tacit alliances between aid donors and
a section of the Mozambican elite.
Corner House Briefing Paper 33, "How Northern Donors Promote
Corruption: Tales From the New Mozambique" by Joseph Hanlon, is now on
The Corner House website on the home page,
http://www.thecornerhouse.org.uk/ and in the briefings section.
Please contact us firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to
receive a 12-page printed paper copy.
Larry Lohmann/Susan Hawley/Sarah Sexton/Nicholas Hildyard
The Corner House
An estimated 150-170 People attended the IRSP organised Christmas
benefit function in aid of republican socialist POWs and their
families in Saints and Sinners Public House, Dublin on Sat Dec 18th.
The well supported event was attended by family members of current
POW's incarcerated in Portlaoise and Castlerea, there was also a
number of ex-POWs present, including recently released Kevin
McLaughlin and Christy Magee. Balladeers on the night were up and
coming republican band Beggars Bush.
The main event of the night was the sponsored hair shaving where IRSP
members, ex-POWs and supporters had from a head shave to a chest and
beard shave, the barber on the night was ex-POW Gerard Wright, who
later made a presentation on the night to life long republican
socialist Tony Hade (Dublin).
The sponsored hair shaving event was followed by an auction of a
Portlaoise bodhran and a painting of Michael Collins, which was
donated by well-known local artist and great character Mr Eddie
Garland. Both items combined raised a total of 320 euro. Then followed
the fundraising draw for a number of items of prison craft, the result
of which are as follows:
1st Prize: Portlaoise Mirror tkt 0971: Brook O'Connor, Dublin
2nd Prize: Portlaoise Bodhran tkt 0148: N. Webb Co Ted, Derry IRSP
3rd Prize: Portlaoise Prison Craft tkt 0757: Sean O'Neil, Dublin
4th Prize: Castlerea Irish Harp tkt 0480: 48 Kevin Barry Flats, Dublin
5th Prize: Celtic Clock tkt 0824: Emma Clarke, Dublin
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who made this
benefit night a brilliant success, especially those who sold tickets,
raised sponsorship money and had there hair shaved, and to those who
attended and financially contributed to the benefit night, and a
special thanks to the management and staff of Saints and Sinners
Public House for there warm hospitality on the night. In or around
three and a half thousand Euro was raised, which perhaps is the most
prolific fundraising event in the thirty year history of the Irish
Republican Socialist Party, fair play to all concerned. Photos of the
event will be posted on to the forum in the next few days.
Is Mise, John Murtagh
New Hands Off Venezuela website
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