(Web site http://www.theplough.netfirms.com/)
Vol. 4- No 13
Wednesday 9th May 2007
E-mail newsletter of the
Irish Republican Socialist Party
2) The death of Johnny White
3) How clean are your clothes?
4) Work 360 days
5) Labour news
Recent arrivals urged to join trade union movement
6) IRSCNA MAY DAY MESSAGE
8) What’s On
IRSP National Hunger Strike Commemoration - 26th Anniversary
Sunday 20th May
Rosemount Factory, Derry
March to Republican Socialist Plot, City Cemetery
(Editor’s note. Due to technical difficulties ( i.e. editor’s inefficiency) some copies of The Plough Vol 4-12, which included an historical document called “The Republican Movement and Socialism 1950–70” and a hard hitting editorial on “true” republicanism and republican unity, may not have reached their destination. If you have missed out and want a copy please send me an e-mail headed simply
and I will send you a copy
This week saw the start of the new power sharing administration in the North of Ireland when both Paisley and McGuiness preside equally over an administration dedicated to running British rule in the north in a fair and equal manner while slavishly following the economic policies of the pro capitalist Labour Government in Britain.
While the great and good gathered at Stormont to pay homage to Blair and Ahearn the Chief executive of the Government-owned company running the Water industry announced workforce reductions of 500 jobs.as part of a three-year cost-cutting initiative,
The Transport and General Workers Union claimed they were given no warning before the direct rule ministers left their posts. Albert Mills of the Union said
"It seems they will all be compulsory and they`re all going to hit the industrial workforce,""The infrastructure, as they keep telling us, is falling down around our ears, but these jobs will go to the private sector and contractors.”
And that in a nutshell sums up what the economic policies of the new administration will be. Over the next few years more and more publicly owned assets will be sold of to the private sector in the name of efficiency but with the undeclared aims of enriching the pockets of the owners of industry. There is no serious opposition to what is now going to go on in Stormont. All the so-called mainstream parties now share the same basic economic outlook. Power is their priority not change.
Lest anyone is in doubt that the leadership of Sinn Fein (Provisional) is totally committed to the pursuit of power without ideological encumbrances then one has only to look at the shift in their position on corporation tax in the South.
ü Gone is the proposal to raise corporation tax to 17.5%.
ü Gone is the proposal to have a new tax band of 50% for incomes over €100,000
ü No commitment to lowering the tax rates from 20% to 18% or the higher rate from 41% to 40%.
ü Sinn Fein now want to reduce corporation tax in the North to the level in the South - so the same tax rate can apply on an all-Ireland basis.
ü Sinn Fein would oppose changes in stamp duty but would increase mortgage relief.
ü Sinn Fein would oppose the use of taxpayer’s money to fund private hospitals.
None of these changes pose a challenge to capitalism. On the contrary they are part of moves by the Sinn Fein leadership to move themselves into negotiating positions in the event of a hung Dail. Fianna Fail’s big objection to coalition with the Shinners was the rise in corporation tax. That is now gone. No doubt already the backroom boys in both FF and SFP are already talking a deal after the election.
These political shenanigans take place against an escalating situation with the dispute in the Southern health service. Further two-hour work stoppages are planned at facilities in Cavan, Cork, Dublin, Galway, Kildare and Kilkenny as the nurses' dispute continues. The Health Service Executive has written to unions confirming it would deduct 13% from nurses' salaries if the work-to-rule was not called off by tomorrow evening.
A special delegate conference will take place of the Irish Nurses Organisation and the Psychiatric Nurses Association will take place and three-hour work stoppages have already been planned for Friday.
No republican or socialist can afford to ignore the growing unrest in the industrial field. Workers are increasingly frustrated by the rise in the cost of living, the huge cost in home buying the lack of affordable social housing and the low wages and exploitation of the increasing migrant population in all of Ireland.
The IRSP has always said that the class and national question cannot be separated. That is the position we will take to the coming conference called by concerned republicans in Derry.
Of course we do want to build bridges with other republicans and have positive proposals to put forward to build bridges. We in the spirit of the broad front policy first advocated by our founder Seamus Costello will work with progressive forces on working class issues.
But we are very clear that republicanism has suffered a defeat. The war is over and those who have, any lingering thoughts on re-commencing with a view to victory are deluded. Class strugle is the only option Those who ignore the class question and stand alone on their “republican principles” stand condemned to remain in splendid isolation. The armed struggle is over. We now live in different times and the old certainties now no longer hold. We all on the left need to forget our petty differences and become relevant to the lives of the working classes in Ireland while keeping alive our vision of socialism.
That and that alone is the way forward for progressives from the labour, socialist and republican traditions.
The death of Johnny White
The republican socialist movement deeply regrets the death of Johnny White, founder member of this movement. Johnny was given a republican funeral attended by many of his old comrades and friends. An INLA volunteer fired a volley of shots over the coffin of our dead comrade. We publish below the moving tribute paid to Johnny by another founder member of the RSM, Terry Robson
Comrades and friends
We are gathered at this place to mourn the death and to honour and celebrate the life of our friend and comrade Johnnie White.
In celebrating his life, we are expected to say that he lived life to the full and that we are able to remember the good times as well as the bad. His family will be left to mourn a man of generosity, of simple pleasures who was most at ease in the company of his own family and of his friends. But we also know that Johnnie’s life since the death of his wife Maura was one of sadness and of loneliness. Although he was always comforted by the closeness of his sons and daughters, the light in his life flickered and never really recovered since the death of Maura.
But as many of you who stood at this same spot some three years ago will remember and who observed the effect on Johnnie of the deep tragedy of Maura’s death and the pain that was evident in his face, there was also a realization that we were probably witnessing the beginning of the end of Johnnie’s life as well.
There is a deep irony in claiming to be wise after the event, but there were those of us who knew him well who quietly looked at each other and understood instinctively that the man mourning the death of his wife was confronted by a deep and painful agony with which he was to grapple from then until now.
But just as it is important to express and make clear the hurt of this loss suffered by all of us and especially by his family, it is also important to make clear that Johnnie White was no ordinary man and that in our individual and collective grief we should be able to record for posterity, our admiration for his intellect, our respect for his political commitment and our gratitude for his loyalty and devotion to his friends and comrades.
This connection with Johnnie goes back a long way and in my case for almost forty years. During the heat of political debate and in the confrontations of street conflict, it was Johnnie White who made it clear to me and to others that what was taking place in the struggle for civil rights in the North was both a struggle for national self-determination and a struggle for the freedom of the Irish working-class.
To those of us in our confused and undeveloped way who believed instinctively that we were involved in a class struggle, it was to Johnnie and others who introduced us to the socialist republicanism of James Connolly and who made it clear that the national question and the class struggle were one and the same – not just two sides of the same coin – not separate, but related and everlasting. It was a view, which he held for all of his adult life.
It was the simplicity of the message we received in those early days when we all felt that we were riding on the crest of a revolutionary wave in which fundamental political change seemed inevitable, which made Johnnie so unique, so uncluttered, so reasoned and so consistent.
For him, society consisted of two great opposing classes and that the class interests of the minority were used to deny the class interests of the majority. This led him to declare in the tradition of Connolly his unapologetic support for the Irish working class and his hatred of bigotry racism, sexism and sectarianism. In so many ways this uncomplicated approach to politics was the mark of the man which set him aside from others and which demonstrated his talent and ability for leadership at critical periods in our history.
Johnnie White had a long and distinguished involvement as a republican fighter. But for those who still believe that Irish Republicanism is confined to the expulsion of the British presence and that the struggle for working class emancipation is a distraction, let it be said that Johnnie White represented a broader political consciousness, characterized by an internationalist perspective in which a rejection of exclusivity, of bigotry and of sectarianism would have been at the core of his political consciousness. He would have supported the tactic engaging in electoral politics, but he would never have agreed to an alliance with unionism. Johnnie never wavered from this view He was for all of us a perfect example of the disciplined professional revolutionary.
Such a distinguished political involvement brought him through the ranks of the republican movement; as a member of the IRA army council and to act as Officer Commanding the Derry Command, Official Irish Republican Army during the most critical periods following the erection of the barricades in 19769 and in 1971 and in response to the widespread use of internment powers by the Unionist administration Johnnie took part in several engagements against the forces of occupation.
But as important and significant as that particular role may have been, it needs to be remembered that Johnnie White was also central to many of the political initiatives which led finally to the collapse of the Stormont regime during his chairmanship of the James Connolly Republican Club.
He was a founder member of the Derry Citizens’ Defence Committee, established as a peoples’ response within Free Derry to the uniformed invaders of the RUC and B Specials and acted in defence of those barricaded areas.
He was active in the formation of the Derry Housing Action Committee, which highlighted the abuse of the landlord system and the sectarian mismanagement of local housing provision.
He took part in the many demonstrations of the Unemployed Action Committee, formed to highlight the problem of enforced emigration and long-term unemployment.
During all of this period whilst he continued to support the non-sectarian programme of the Civil Rights movement he argued forcefully for a class analysis of the situation in the North whilst forming alliances with other like-minded radical groups such as the Derry Labour Party, Derry Young Socialists and the Peoples’ Democracy, fore runners of the anti-imperialist broad front strategy.
After being forced over the border because of his leadership role as the most senior Official IRA man in Derry, Johnnie and his family continued to lead a life of permanent and perpetual harassment by the Garda Special Branch as they moved from Buncrana to Letterkenny and then to Dublin.
It was during this time when, in exposing the duplicity and hypocrisy of the Goulding-led leadership of the Official IRA, he joined with Seamus Costello and others in the formation of the Irish Republican Socialist Party serving for a time on its first national executive. The leadership of Costello and Johnnie White also resulted in the coming together of former IRA volunteers in a new revolutionary armed initiative, the Irish National Liberation Army, in which Johnnie served as its first Adjutant General.
It was also during this period that he and Costello were praised for their contribution during a conference in Amherst in the United States when they vigorously debated the political programme of socialist republicanism with representatives of unionism and loyalism.
But these were difficult times in the movement and the debates which took place within the IRSP in those early days on what he saw as the dominant role of the army in the democratic process led Johnnie once again to move with others in the creation of the short-lived Irish Committee for a Socialist Programme and the Irish Socialist Party. It was a move, which Johnnie was to deeply regret whilst for the fledgling IRSP it meant the loss of one of its most able organisers.
Since then he returned to Derry, involved himself in community work, acted as a welfare rights adviser, becoming active once again in trade union work.
His decision to give evidence at the Bloody Sunday tribunal with other former members of his IRA staff was to be no narrow contribution to a British established inquiry. On the contrary, Johnnie saw it as an opportunity to set the record straight – to confirm the defensive role of the IRA on that day, to expose the dishonesty of the British government and to reject the duplicity and hypocrisy of former priests that the ‘Officials’ were driven by an alien ideology and tainted with accusations of criminality.
Let there be no mistake, to the end Johnnie White was a man of principle whose primary aim was the creation of a party of the Irish working class. To many of us he was one of the real heroes of the struggle for freedom and democracy in Ireland. The fact that he suffered pain and loss in later years merely confirms a real sense of humanity of the man. He was one of us and we shall always remember him for his contribution, for his commitment and for his comradeship.
To those of his family, his daughters Patricia, Roisin, and Maria, sons Sean, Kieran, Liam and grandchildren, his brothers Tommy, Willie and Bobby and sisters Tillie and Kathleen, who have lost a father, a grandfather and a brother we extend our deepest sympathy.
We have lost many comrades in the past and we loved all of them. But this one was special and we loved him because of who he was and, especially, because he was one of us.
Finally, let me use the words of a another revolutionary on the death of Malcolm X, the champion of black liberation and socialism recalled by Bernadette McAliskey on the death of Johnnie’s friend and comrade, Seamus Costello:
"Without Johnnie, we feel suddenly vulnerable, small and weak, somewhat frightened, not by the prospect of death, but of life and struggle without his contribution, his strength and inspiration."
How clean are your clothes?
By Marion Baur
Amongst the many stalls at Belfast’s St. George’s market after the May Day rally, there will be a completely new one this year. For the first time ever the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) is going to be present in an Irish city. Just another campaign?
Far from it, the CCC is now the world’s largest campaigning group against sweat shop- and child labour and for workers rights in the textile industry. It is made up of over 250 trade unions, coalitions of consumer organisations, researchers, solidarity groups and other NGOs, world shops and in some countries church groups.
“We aim to improve working conditions in the garment industry worldwide. We inform consumers about the conditions in which their garments and sports shoes are being produced, we pressurise brands and retailers to take responsibility for these conditions and demand that companies accept and implement a good code of labour standards that includes monitoring and independent verification of code compliance.
We cooperate with organisations all over the world, especially self-organised groups of garment workers, including workers in factories of all sizes, home-workers and migrant workers without valid working papers…” (Quoted from the mission statement of the CCC).
Is this a new appearance of the old dream of making life better without changing the system? Some of the activists would probably look at the problems of child labour and the horrific conditions for workers from a purely moral point of view but as a whole the CCC is increasingly pointing the finger at the real cause of the situation, the rat race for profit by the capitalist firms.
“Same old story of exploitation” is the title of an article in their excellent booklet “workers voices”, a brutally true publication about the situation of women in the Eastern European and Turkish textile industries. If one reads it, he/she can’t but come to ask questions about the “coming of the free world” to the east of Europe.
The regular publication of the CCC is the newsletter “Clean Clothes”. With branches in Germany, Austria, Turkey, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK (where it is called “labour behind the label”), to name just the European ones, CCC is now able to publish in various languages and as the number of supporting groups and individuals increases, the ability to act against injustices is growing. In Germany for example, all the member-unions of the DGB (German association of trade unions) are now affiliated to CCC, counting 7 million members.
The campaign has been involved in dozens of projects during the last few years, the spectacular protests against leading sportswear brands during the Olympics, the boycott against German retail giant Tschibo’s selling of clothes from the “death mills” in Bangladesh and the struggle with and for the families of the victims of the factory collapses in Bangladesh, to name but few.
One of the frequently asked questions is the one about a list of “good” and “clean” garment brands, manufacturers and retailers. What sort of clothes should one buy?
I spoke about that to Christiane Schnura. The member of the Communist Party of Germany is a key figure in the CCC and works at the campaign’s German headquarters in Wuppertal (which is – by the way- run and financed by the protestant church, in indication of how broad CCC has got). Christiane says: “Unfortunately we don’t have a list of clean retailers. We don’t feel able to endorse or recommend any particular companies – they all have a long way to go. Recently there has been an increase in small companies that come from a fair trade or activist background and are trying to provide an ethical alternative for consumers. We have compiled a critical overview of ethical brands which can be seen on our website (www. Clean clothes. org.) We are urging consumers to keep asking questions about the origins and conditions which clothes are made under and we know that if there are answers at all, they will be frustrating in most cases. But if we keep asking, shop managers at some point seek answers from their suppliers. After all to them it’s the market that counts>”
Many people have been wondering why there have been no activities of the CCC in Ireland, a country with a strong textile industry until very recently. Part of the answer lies in the weakness of the trade union movement and its “not looking across the borders” attitude. Wherever the unions are strong and active, the CCC like other campaigns for workers rights get support. Another reason I would see in the introverted and week political left, Communists included. Had we directed more energy towards solidarity with people like the textile workers – here and in other countries – and less to senseless arguments amongst ourselves, we could not only have grown in strength but stopped some of the capitalists from destroying our own textile base by shifting production to countries like South Africa or Bangladesh.
The crying shame of Desmonds clothes manufacturers wrecking modern factories and axing hundreds of jobs in Derry, Swatragh and Dungiven is but one recent example. Did They go out of business? Of course not, they ran to Bangladesh and Turkey and were able do so almost unnoticed by the political left and against practically no principal opposition of the unions.
Had we stopped them – wouldn’t it have been the most shining victory for the left in a long time?
It can be done! There have been many cases in various countries recently where the capitalist greed was curtailed. In Greece, India, Germany, Indonesia and many others, the closure of mills has been prevented. The CCC played a good role in all of them. It is time to create awareness here and no better day to go public on the terrible conditions in the world-wide garment industries and on the struggle of workers for their rights.
Detailed information about the Clean Clothes Campaign of Marion Baur. firstname.lastname@example.org
Marion Baur is member of the NEC of the Communist Party of Ireland.
A weaver and textile designer, she owns Flax Mill Textiles in Dungiven, the first Irish manufacturer to support the Clean Clothes Campaign.
As a trade union activist and executive member in Germany, her country of birth, she campaigned many years for better conditions in the textile industry.
from the media
Work 360 days
We shop until Chinese workers drop
She was expected to work 360 days a year from 7.30am to 9.30pm with only a half-hour break
Published: 03 May 2007
Over the past decade, an old word once used in the Maoist gulags has come back to China. It is "gulaosi" - and it is used to describe the men and women who are literally being worked to death producing clothes, electronics and toys for you and me.
Wie Meiren was a standard-issue gulaosi, the kind you can find in every Chinese town. She was a 32-year-old woman with three kids who left her hungry village and travelled to Dongkeng, where she got a job assembling the toy cars for the British kids' market.
There, she was expected to work 360 days a year, from 7.30am to as late as 9.30pm, with only a half-hour break for lunch and fines for taking too long on the toilet. As in many Chinese factories, military drills were often yelled: "Long live the company!" If anybody argued back to the managers, they could be punched in the face.
One day, Meiren had a family crisis at home. She was forbidden by her bosses from going to take care of it - so she became angry and fainted. She forced herself to keep going to work for the next fortnight, but eventually she became so exhausted she collapsed - and died before she reached the hospital. The autopsy indicated gulaosi - heart and organ failure caused by extreme exhaustion.
Some 50,000 fingers are sliced off in China's factories every month. Tao Chun Lan was a 20-year-old woman from Sichuan province at the heart of China who moved to Shenzhen and got a job working in a handicrafts factory. One night, she discovered the factory was filling with smoke - and the workers were locked inside. Some 84 workers were burned or trampled to death. Lan jumped out of a window, irreparably damaging her legs. She has received no compensation. "They don't care if I am crippled for life," she says.
Last year, the Chinese dictatorship announced a new draft of labour laws designed finally to allow Chinese workers like her - too late - some basic rights.
The new law would permit people like Lan and Meiren to join trade unions. It would give them the right to a written contract. It would give them the right to a severance payment. It would give them the right to change jobs freely. Where previously China's labour rules were diffuse, dispersed and barely enforced, now they would be drawn together and backed with big fines.
The dissident-killing Chinese Communist Party didn't propose this change out of a sudden flush of benevolence. They did it because the Chinese people have in increasing numbers been refusing to be tethered serfs for the benefit of Western corporations. Last year, there were 300,000 illegal industrial actions in China, a huge spate of "factory kidnappings" of managers, and more than 85,000 protests.
The Chinese people were showing they did not want to leap from a Maoist gulag to a market-fundamentalists' sweatshop. They demanded a sensible compromise: strong trade and markets to generate wealth, matched by strong trade unions to stop markets devouring them. They want an end to grinding poverty, but one that doesn't kill them as they get there.
But they bumped into a huge obstacle. Groups representing Western corporations with factories in China sent armies of lobbyists to Beijing to cajole and threaten the dictatorship into abandoning these new workers' protections.
The American Chamber of Commerce - representing Microsoft, Nike, Ford, Dell and others - listed 42 pages of objections. The laws were "unaffordable" and "dangerous", they declared. The European Chamber of Commerce backed them up.
This is not the first time big business has militated to prevent basic freedoms from being extended to China. Bill Clinton came to office promising "an America that will not coddle dictators, from Beijing to Baghdad", and at first, he acted on this rhetoric, issuing an executive order that decreed trade with China could only grow if China in tandem increased its respect for human rights. Enraged American business executives subjected him to nuclear-strength lobbying - so Clinton ditched his executive order after a year.
Ever since, Western governments have been justifying business with the Chinese dictatorship by saying our corporations and trade would inevitably and inexorably bring greater freedom to China.
But now the corporations that they claimed would bring freedom and democracy are in fact lobbying to crush freedom and opposing the plain democratic will of the Chinese people. As James Mann, the former Los Angeles Times bureau chief in Beijing, puts it after years of observing the behaviour of big business in China: "The business communities of China and the United States [and, he might have added, Europe] do not harbour dreams of democracy. Both profit from a Chinese system that permits no political opposition, and both are content with it."
Their lobbying seems to have paid off. The (unelected) Chinese National People's Congress is due to vote on the new labour laws in the next month or so, but the proposals have already been massively watered down.
Scott Slipy, the director of human resources for Microsoft in China, bragged to BusinessWeek, "We have enough investment at stake that we can usually get someone to listen to us if we are passionate about an issue."
It seems that Maoism is fine so long as its dictatorial urges are put to the service of Bill Gates and other billionaires, rather than one psychotic dictator.
These Western corporations are explicitly seeking a China where a tiny number of extremely rich people are free to organise, but the vast majority of poor people are physically prevented from doing so by the state.
Of course, these market fundamentalist economists claim this situation is in fact good for the Chinese people, because this system is the best way to enrich them. The obvious response is: let them decide. If they don't want to join trade unions, if they don't want workplace protections, nobody will force them. But give them the freedom to choose. Or are these economists saying the Chinese people are too stupid to know their own interests?
The American and European campaigns showing that we are not all willing to accept their serfdom and profit from it have already had successes. The European Chamber of Commerce has been shamed into retracting its initial opposition to the laws. After lobbying from trade unions and human rights organisations, Nike has now denounced the position of the American Chambers of Commerce to which it belongs and backed the law. The remaining Wal-Martian corporations need to be damned one by one - and subject to legal sanctions - until they relent and accept the rights of Chinese workers.
For the sake of millions of people like Lan and Meiren, we need to show these corporations that we refuse to shop until they drop.
Johann Hari: The independent May 3rd 2007
Recent arrivals urged to join trade union movement
New arrivals in Fermanagh have been invited by the newly-established Enniskillen Trade Union Diversity Project to sign up and, having done that, to work actively to change people's mindset about globalisation, not as something to be afraid of, rather a challenge that could enrich everyone's lives.
The guest speaker at last Friday's launch in Enniskillen Castle Museum, Peter Bunting, Assistant General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, in a powerful and provocative address, quoted from some of the 'greats' in their field of human rights, Jim Larkin, Martin Luther King and US President, Thomas Jefferson.
At the outset, he referred to an ICTU Report that drew on qualitative research into the experience of migrant workers in Northern Ireland, and quoted instances where new arrivals were given misinformation by employment agencies, one of which tried to extract money from one immigré to pay for X-rays he needed for his job.
For that reason, he went on, he welcomed the establishment of the Enniskillen Trade Union Diversity Project, and he told its committee: "Your work will be vital for all of our futures and beneficial for all of our new friends. Activities, such as the Project, are at the core of the mission of the trade union movement".
Mr Bunting stressed that the new group was not 'an optional add-on': "This is at the core of our being as trade unionists. We preach internationalism. We advocate global solidarity. Let us practise these virtues at home. Let us reject the myth of displacement (replacing employees with others who are paid less).
"No one", he suggested, "craves exploitation save the exploiter. The one thing that they like more is a divided workplace".
He then referred to an answer to a recent Parliamentary question that revealed there are 57 'peace lines' throughout Northern Ireland separating Protestants from Catholics. If a society, he suggested, could tolerate that kind of situation, then he personally would 'sincerely worry for our future'.
"We cannot afford the irrelevant distraction of loathing our neighbour. Racism isn't only wrong, it is counter-productive for the racist. We cannot allow ourselves to think about our new fellow workers as being parts of some homogenous bloc, as we often do about 'Catholics' and 'Protestants'. Do all Polish plumbers think the same? Of course not, no more than a Catholic barrister is the same as a Catholic barman. We are the sum of all our parts. Unions make us strong, but unions are not unthinking collectives". It was in referring to Martin Luther King that Mr Bunting brought out the linkage between civil rights and the labour movement, and how the labour hater and labour baiter spewed anti-negro epithets and anti-labour propaganda, all at the same time.
He went on: "We have internationalism as one pillar and solidarity as another, but the strongest pillar, the one that cannot ever start to crumble is anti-facism. We in the trade union movement can expect to be changed ourselves. This is a challenge that can only make us stronger, Participation is the key.
"We seek and urge the active participation of migrant workers in the trade union movement. This is not about headcounts or union fees. We want your minds as well as your membership".
Mr Bunting told new arrivals in the audience they had much to teach the people of Fermanagh, about the facts of globalisation and that, crucially, they had much to teach their host communities about the hosts themselves.
(Fermanagh herald May 2nd 2007)
IRSCNA MAY DAY MESSAGE
5 - 1 - 07
This May Day the Irish Republican Socialist Committees of North America send out greetings to our fellow workers around the world. We would like to salute the rising tide of organising, from Dublin to Latin America and the USA, and everywhere else where labour is flexing its muscle in solidarity.
The only alternative to the reactionary anti-imperialism and imperialist massacres and theft is to build the basis for more mass workers’ actions and unity. Only the working masses can halt the war machine and isolate the reactionaries who divide the workers.
Let us hope that this time next year the working class are more united and steadfast in their determination to be free than ever before. As James Connolly once said, ‘in every enemy of tyranny we recognise a brother, no matter what be his birthplace.’
I read with interest your reprint of a 1989 article by Jim Lane entitled “The Republican Movement and Socialism” the core of which appears to argue that the Republican Movement from 1950 to 1970 was rabidly anti communist and socialist and that it only ‘grafted on’ a commitment to a “Socialist Republic” in the 1960’s to recruit from the growing popularity of socialism.
Might I remind your readers that Seamus Costello joined the very same movement (both the IRA and Sinn Fein) in 1955 at the age of sixteen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seamus_Costello
After his 19 years of affinity with “anti communists” like McGiolla doesn’t it follow, using Mr Lane’s logic, to presume equally that Costello was only using socialism to recruit to the IRSP?
Thank you John for your letter. I don’t think that Jim’s article argued, in your words “that the Republican Movement from 1950 to 1970 was rabidly anti communist and socialist”
Rather I think that what he was saying that those who once were anti socialist and later claimed to be socialists had a confused understanding of what socialism is. In that regard the leadership of what became the Officials took a reformist road while those who formed the Provisional were certainly anti-socialist and anti-communist in their early days. A movement does not become socialist simply because the leadership following a weekend meeting declares it is so. There were and there are many genuine socialists in the ranks of all those organisations that evolved out of the republican movement. It is what those organisations both say and do that
will define whether or not they are socialist.
In relation to Seamus Costello, as with any other individual, one does not suddenly arrive on the scene as a fully fledged Socialist or Marxist. One learns through theory and practice and no doubt Seamus’s ideas developed over the years.
But in my mind there is no doubt that a number of swings to the left by the republican movement in the past were done for opportunist reasons –witness the provisional republican movement in the early eighties- and compare where they now are.
Further to our invite to the James Connolly Commemoration on Saturday 12th May please find below an outline of the event. Our invited guest speaker on the day will be Bernadette McAliskey. Hope to see you there.
Assemble 3.30pm at the gates of Arbour Hill
March with Piper to the grave.
Welcome address from Eirigi Chairperson Brian Leeson
Traditional music by Cathal Mac Oireachtaigh
Reading from James Connolly by Actor Ger O'Leary
1st speaker: Eirigi spokesperson Daithi Mac an Mhaistir
Laying of wreaths and a minute's silence in memory of James Connolly, also remembering Hunger Striker Francis Hughes whose 26th Anniversary occurs on the same day
Lament on whistle 'Where is our James Connolly?'
Invited Guest speaker:
Socialist, Republican campaigner Bernadette McAliskey
Amhran na bhFiann
Hands Off the People of Iran
We hope comrades in Ireland will make sure they attend the HOPI launches in May:
Cork Wednesday May 9 19:30 Victoria Hotel, Patrick Street
Dublin Thursday May 10 - 19:30 Teachers Club, 36 Parnell Square
Belfast Friday May 11 - 19:30 Queens University
In the UK, the campaign has ambitious plans for a press launch of a new campaign pack in April, a 'teach-in' towards the end of June, and a full conference later in the year.
"The genuine anti-imperialist struggles in Iran are being waged by workers, teachers and students. The solidarity of the left and anti-war movement should be with these forces, not those of the reactionary regime"
Visit the HOPI website at http://www.hopoi.org/ to read more about our work and how you can get involved.
The Republican Socialist Youth Movement have called for a picket of Store Street Gardaí station opposite Busáras in Dublin over the continued brutality of the Gardaí, not only in regards to Republican and Socialist activists, but against members of the community.
In recent times, up to seven people have died in Gardaí custody or shortly after being released with one, Terrence Wheelock from Summer Hill being murdered in Store Street station. The state then instigated a cover up from the highest levels when they knew that their true image was to be exposed.
The picket is being held on this particular date as Tuesday June 5th will be the 10th anniversary of the summary execution of INLA Volunteer John Morris from Tallaght. Vol. Morris had already surrendered himself but was shot in the back of the head. The INLA later affirmed that John’s weapon was not loaded.
The picket will commence at 2 pm, Store Street Gardaí station, Saturday 2nd June.
Amnesty International, Campaigners from Guatemala and Mexico. Thursday 10 May
Campaigners from Guatemala and Mexico visit Belfast to speak out against violence against women
In Central America thousands of women face violence on a daily basis but their government often fails to provide them with a basic level of protection and security. Throughout much of the region police investigations into allegations of violence against women are rarely effective, the criminal justice system has frequently failed to take violence against women seriously and perpetrators are rarely punished.
During their visit hosted by Amnesty International, Guatemalan father, Jorge Velásquez and Mexican lawyer Neil Arias will continue to campaign for an end to the violence against women in the Central American states, Guatemala and Mexico and for perpetrators of such attacks to be brought to justice.
Talk followed by Question and Answer session.
Thursday 10 May,
Belfast Unemployed Centre,
45-47 Donegall St,
Friday 11th May
· Clifton Street Graveyard Tour - Respecting Local History
10am Assemble Minor Rooms GAA Club
Opened from 1797 this tour is an insight into the history of Belfast itself.
The Graveyard is a unique environment and is the resting place of many of Belfast’s most famous (and infamous) people of all classes.
It contains the remains of the founders of Irish Republicanism interred a few feet from a prominent 19th century Unionist MP, Catholics buried alongside Protestants, French soldiers close to American ambassadors, prostitutes amongst preachers and the richest of the city next to the poorest. Throw in two of the largest Famine graves in Ireland and you just have to go and see.
The tour is taken by Glenravel History Project, lasts approximately 90 minutes with a free booklet on the burial ground to everyone who attends
For further information contact John in the Minor Rooms at 90 748523
James Connolly Memorial Lecture
"Culture, Class and James Connolly"*_
A public lecture to be given by Prof. Terry Eagleton, (John Edward Taylor
professor of English literature, University of Manchester) socialist,
and critic. This is an annual event open to the public to encourage
discussion and debate both about the politics and legacy of James Connolly
and contemporary political issue in Ireland.
Topic: Culture, Class and James Connolly
Venue: Ireland Institute, 27 Pearse Street, Dublin 2:
Starting at 8-00pm. 17th May 2007
Phone: 01-6708707 for further details
*James Connolly Education Trust.
Below are some of the books written by Terry Eagleton.
* /Criticism & Ideology/ (1976)
* /Marxism and Literary Criticism/ (1976)
* /Walter Benjamin, or Towards a Revolutionary Criticism (1981)/
* /Saint Oscar/ (a play about Oscar Wilde )
* /Raymond Williams: Critical Perspectives/ (editor) Boston:
Northeastern University Press, 1989.
* "Crazy John and the Bishop and Other Essays on Irish Culture" (1998)
* /The Idea of Culture/ (2000)
* /The Gatekeeper: A Memoir / (2001)
* /The Truth about the Irish/ (2001)
* /Sweet Violence: The Idea of the Tragic/ (2002)
* /After Theory/ (2003)
* /The English Novel: An Introduction/ (2004)
* /Holy Terror/ (2005)
* /The Meaning of Life/ (2007)
* /How to Read a Poem/ (2007)
Michael O’Riordan Memorial Event
*Sunday 20 May, 4 p.m.*
*Seán Edwards * (National Executive Committee, CPI),
*Joe Deasy * (president, Irish Labour History Society)
With music and audiovisual presentations
Venue: New Theatre 43 East Essex Street, Temple Bar,Dublin 2
Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich Béal Feirste02890964180
"Ag Claí na Muice Duibhe/At the Black Pig's Dyke" Satharn 12 Bealtaine.
Saturday 12 May 8.00in £10/£5 Dráma de chuid Vincent Woods é seo "Ag Claí na Muice Duibhe/At the Black Pig's Dyke", a léiríodh den chéad uair sa Gate Theatre, Baile Átha Cliath, sa bhliain 1992. Tá an dráma suite i gceantar Chlaí na Muice Duibhe atá ar an teorann idir
Liatroim agus Fear Manach agus úsáidtear traidisiúin áitiúla na gcleamairí chun an scéal a chur i láthair.
Scéal grá is ea é agus feictear an toradh tragóideach a thiteann amach de bharr an teannais agus an amhrais a mhaireann idir muintir na háite. Dráma dubh é seo atá lán le fuath, grá, spleodar, foréigean, fuinneamh, ceol, damhsa agus greann.
Is ball de Chomhlachas Náisiúnta Drámaíochta iad Aisteoirí Bulfin.
The play is based in a border area The Black Pigs Dyke between Leitrim andFermanagh and the story is told by using the local tradition of the Mummers play.
This is a story of love and the tragic result which arises as a result of the tension and doubt which exists among the local people. It is a black play full of love, hate, craic, violence, energy, music and dancing.
Aisteoirí Bulfin is a member of Comhlachas Náisiúnta Drámaíochta
Cuban and European Music at the Bolivar Hall
THURSDAY 17 MAY 2007, 7.30PM
Bolivar Hall, 54 Grafton Way, London, W1 (Warren St tube)
A charity concert featuring four talented young Cuban and English musicians will take place at the Bolivar Hall in London in May to support the Music Fund for Cuba.
TICKETS £4 including free Cuban cocktail
Doors 7pm, Concert starts 7.30pm
More info at: