Wednesday 24 October 2007

The Plough Vol 04 No 23

The Plough
(Web site
Vol. 4- No 23
Wednesday 24th October 2007
E-mail newsletter of the Irish Republican Socialist Party

1) Editorial

2) The five "engines" for Socialism: meetings in support of the Venezuelan Revolution in Ireland

3) New EU Treaty

4) Letters

5) Media
a. Policing-physically and spiritually

6) Joe Hill

7) What’s On?


Tasks of the day?
Recent revelations that police intelligence files have gone missing so that the Police Ombudsman, Nuala O’Loan could not access them should surprise no one. Have not the RUC and now the PSNI always done that? Despite their acceptance by the bourgeois parties on the nationalist side the SDLP and Sinn Fein (p) there is still widespread distrust within the broad mass of nationalist people given the appalling record of the police since the setting up of the Northern statelet in 1920.
Also the sickening chorus of comments about the funding, not of the UDA but the Conflict Transformation Initiative, and the widespread reaction of the gleeful middle classes to the proposed withdrawal of funds shows up the hypocrisy of the politicians. Of course it may be technically against equality laws to direct funds specifically towards protestant working class districts but that never stopped the British government from directing funding towards working class catholic districts in a clear bid to buy these areas into the peace process. There never was reluctance by the British to bribe blackmail, or if all else fails assassinate those who pose a threat to British imperial interests.

Deprivation in working class areas transcends religion. Is it not ironic to hear protestant /unionist British politicians suddenly discovering protestant areas of deprivation. These same politicians ignored the conditions in working class areas for decades. Unionists controlled the north for 50 years and backed by the British discriminated against the nationalist population, ignored the social and economic conditions of the working class and then beat the big drum and waved the Union Jack to get the mass of protestant workers to back unionism when the need arose.

But it is not enough for republicans and socialists to simply sit back and make valid critiques of the current processes. Nor to simply raise “trouble” related issues such as policing or victims or the activities of M15. It is only by combining the class and the national questions and all the matters relating there to that we become relevant.

Too many think that they alone have the only correct road map to their republic or their socialist republic. For example for differing reasons both Republican Sinn Fein and the Socialist Workers Party will have little to do with the IRSP. Both Parties tend to have an absolutist view of the world even tho’ there are many good republicans and socialists within their ranks. (We have reprinted Socialism, The Highest Stage of Democracy and Republicanism from Critical Montages which poses some pertinent questions for those of us on the left)

Theory without practice simply leads to stagnation. Those who simply repeat the slogans of yesteryear without actually taking into account present day conditions will only repeat the mistakes of the past. Despite anonymous criticisms on the Internet The Plough makes no apology for its criticism of those republicans who think they can re-create Provo mark 2. The absence of republicanism from the every day struggles of working class people is a reflection not on the workers but on republicanism itself. We have said it before and we repeat it now until republicanism takes the lead in the every day struggles of the working class (and that is why the IRSP exist) it will remain elitist impotent and irrelevant.
But while we have our long-term goal the issue arises what are our short-term goals. What are the current tasks of the day? The Plough would argue that apart from the usual party building programme our wider strategic goal should be
1) The building up in the north an alliance of all radical forces to oppose the policies of the current power sharing administration which is dedicated to imposing a wide range of neo conservative policies including the privitisation of public resources; and
2) The re-energising of radical republicanism by a clear consistent programme of policies and actions that re-establishes places Irish Republicanism as an internationalist radical outlook and which puts imperialism and bourgeois nationalism on the defensive.
To achieve these goals will require a huge collective effort.


Socialism, The Highest Stage of Democracy and Republicanism

There is a tendency, found among secular leftists as well as liberals, to take a conspiracist view of the emergence of "Political Islam": the empire, its comprador ruling classes, or both implanted it among the innocent masses who were previously "just Muslims," just like that. That is a simplistic view. Islam as a mass political movement cannot be implanted from outside, just as socialism as a mass political movement cannot be implanted from outside. The ruling classes, foreign or domestic, can only help develop and deform what already exists among the masses, just as socialists can only help develop, reform, and revolutionize what already exists among them.

A conspiracist view of "Political Islam" slights empirical examinations of political and economic, social and cultural, conditions of working people who consent to it and make it their own. This neglect does not help secular leftists at all in any approach they may take toward any variety of Islam, in giving critical support to it, as the Lebanese Communists have been doing for Hizballah for instance, or in combating voluntarist and adventurist terrorist sects of Al Qaeda varieties as they must be, or in dealing with anything else (like the AKP, the Muslim Brotherhood, etc.) in any way.

Secular leftists must come to terms with a fact: varieties of Islam are an essential part of the culture of the national-popular masses of many nations, especially those who are the most crucial to the Great Game of the 21st century (an energy hunt in the context of the declining dollar hegemony), just as varieties of Christianity are in Latin America. And within the same religious worldviews of the masses there exist seeds of both liberation and reaction. When organic intellectuals on the Left, secular or religious, who are "conscious of being linked organically to a national-popular mass" fail to arise and create a national-popular ideology that does justice to the seeds of liberation in the religious consciousness of the masses, the ruling classes takes advantage of the seeds of reaction in the very same consciousness.

Secular leftists must learn to discard the illusion that religious working masses must be first secularized, and then and only then they will be receptive to the radical idea of revolution. Those who are tempted by this illusion need only look at Japan: the working class of Japan are perhaps the most secularized in the world, and yet they are also among the least revolutionary, as they have been for a long time.

History shows that authentic social revolution may come about through a secular ideology (France), a religious ideology (Iran), or a creative combination of both (Venezuela). Experiences of authentic social revolutions, whether they are religious or secular, Jacobin or Bolivarian, are more important in schooling masses in democracy and republicanism than authoritarian secularism imposed from above by enlightened despots (whether they are nationalists or socialists) or secularization molecularly effected by consumerist capitalism (the former tends to first pacify the masses and then eventually invite reaction when enlightened despotism degenerates into mere despotism, and the latter depoliticizes people and makes them passive more than any other ideology, religious or secular). And it is democracy and republicanism that we should aim for -- after all, what is socialism but the highest stage of democracy and republicanism?

Reprinted from "Critical Montages" -

The five "engines" for Socialism: meetings in support of the Venezuelan Revolution in Ireland

Hands off Venezuela, in co-operation with the Venezuela Support Group and the James Connolly Debating society in Belfast, organised two meetings in support of the Venezuelan Revolution in Dublin (8th October) and Belfast (10th October). The idea was also to continue with the campaign Hands off Venezuela – Ireland, already constituted after a first round of meetings held last April in two Irish Universities.

More than 35 people attended the meeting in Dublin (including activists from SIPTU and other unions, from the Connolly Youth Movement, éirígí, the Labour Youth, the CPI and others). The meeting in Belfast was hosted by the James Connolly Debating Society and had an enthusiastic audience of about 60 people from many different backgrounds.

The meetings intended to explain "the five engines for socialism"; the programme that the Venezuelan government will try to implement in the next future. 63 per cent of the population of Venezuela voted for that programme in the election held last December.

Carlos Fiorillo, member of the Unified Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and Hands off Venezuela – Ireland, presented for the first time in English translation some sections of three speeches about the "5 engines" that President Hugo Chavez made between the 8 th and the 17th of January 2007. Carlos said:

"The 5 Engines is the name of the procedure that is taking place in Venezuela in order to make the transition from a capitalist state to a new socialist state on behalf of the Venezuelan people, and to nationalize the resources for the well-being of the whole country; as president Chavez promised when he won the last presidential elections on December 2006."

The first engine, Carlos went on, is the enabling law. With that law the Venezuelan government will be able to nationalize all that was privatized; the second engine is a constitutional change to allow the people of Venezuela to go towards socialism. President Hugo Chavez, according to Carlos, said that, "Venezuelans [in the election last December] voted for socialism … [Socialism] is what people want … [Socialism] is what the country needs… Venezuela is free, we are not colony of anybody."

The third engine is national education on socialist values and solidarity, and access to education for all at all levels: "study is the debate of ideas in a permanent way." The fourth engine is a new "geometry" of power, based on popular power, in order to eliminate the differences between classes and the obscene privileges of the bureaucrats and the ruling class. The fifth engine, Carlos concluded, was the "explosion" of popular, revolutionary, socialist and democratic power through the creation of communal councils and federations of communal councils.

Jorge Martin, international secretary of Hands Off Venezuela Campaign, analysed the current situation in Venezuela. The political process unfolding in Venezuela, he said, has a socialist character and is fully democratic. It is not the first time that Hugo Chavez wins an election, but this time he got 63 per cent of the votes, he said.

The problem, Jorge argued, is that the imperialist powers don't agree with the nationalisation of the basic means of production in order to satisfied the needs of the people of Venezuela; it goes against their profits. This is so even when any nationalisation and expropriation has been carried out according to law and with payment of compensation.

So, Jorge continued, the imperialists will try anything they can to get rid of Chavez and put back into power the old corrupt oligarchy. They already tried with the US-backed military coup and the bosses lock out in 2002. This shows the hypocrisy of the US and European governments when they accuse Chavez of being undemocratic.

In the meeting in Belfast some people in the audience asked what people could do in Ireland to support the people of Venezuela and to stop the imperialist intervention. In Dublin, some also expressed the need to actively support the Bolivarian movement. Jorge Martin made clear, first, that the broadest possible movement in solidarity with Venezuela should be organised in Ireland. He made an appeal to all those who agree with three basic principles, full support for the Bolivarian revolution, against imperialist intervention and counteracting the lies of the media, should join Hands Off Venezuela.

The first thing to do, he said, was to tell the youth and the workers in our communities what is really happening in Venezuela. That is the only way to counteract the lies spread in the mass media, owned by a few large corporations, about the Venezuelan government.

This could be done by organising talks and projecting documentaries in colleges and in meetings with trade unionists, by passing resolutions in trade union congresses, by getting youth organisations and trade unions to link up with our solidarity groups, etc. He underlined several times the importance of getting the support of the working class in our communities through their trade unions.

Jorge Martin suggested raising funds and getting trade unions to sponsor delegations trips of Irish workers and students to Venezuela in order to witness what is really happening in Venezuela, and reporting back in their communities, trade unions, and study places.

We would like to thank all those who made these meeting possible.
P. Bowman (Dublin)

Contact Hands Off Venezuela Ireland ) or visit our yahoo group ( ).


The Government should set up the statutory Referendum Commission well in advance of the necessary Irish referendum on the Renamed EU Constitutional Treaty, which will be agreed in principle in Portugal today, so that citizens can be properly informed before they vote on it.

The eyes of Europe - maybe even of the world - will be on Ireland when we hold our referendum on this Treaty, for we are likely to be the only one of 27 EU Member States to have a vote on it. The good functioning of the Referendum Commission is vital to Ireland being seen to have a fair and democratic referendum process.

The five-person Referendum Commission is the body provided for in the 1998 Referendum Act with the function of informing citizens what a referendum is about and encouraging maximum turnout of voters.

Calling the Referendum Commission into being should be done months before Ireland's referendum, and not just a few weeks before as previously, so that the Commission members will have enough time, first of all to inform themselves, and then the Irish voting public, on the implications of this important and complex constitutional Treaty, for this could well be the last referendum that Ireland will have on the EU.

Former Chief Justice T.A. Finlay, who chaired the Referendum Commission for the two Nice Treaty referendums, was critical of the time the Government gave it to do its job in his reports on those referendums. He was implicitly critical also of referendums on complex EU treaties being held simulataneously with other referendums on quite different matters.

The Referendum Commission is more likely to give the objective and impartial facts about this Treaty than the partisan bodies on either side, such as the political parties, the European Movement, the National Platform etc. - important and essential though their role in the referendum is.

The Referendum Commission consists of the Clerks of the Dail and Seanad, the Ombudsman, the Comptroller and Auditor General, and a senior judge who is nominated by the Government as Chairman.

Although the Government amended the Referendum Act to remove from the Referendum Commission the function of informing citizens of the main Yes-side and No-side arguments on particular referendum propositions in order to help get the Nice Treaty ratified, the Commission still retains its functions of telling citizens what particular referendums are about and encouraging maximum voter turnout. But it needs adequate time and resources to carry out these important democratic tasks. It was given €3.5 million for this purpose in the 2002 Nice Two referendum, although it could have done with extra time even then. The setting up of the Referendum Commission does not need to wait until the referendum date is decided on. The importance of the upcoming referendum is shown by the following facts about the proposed new EU Treaty: -

What the Renamed EU Constitutional Treaty would do:

1. Giving the EU a Federal State Constitution: The treaty would establish a legally new European Union, quite different from what we call the EU at present, with the constitutional form of a supranational Federal State that would be separate from and superior to its Member States, just as the USA is separate from and superior to California, Texas etc. It would do this in three key legal steps: (a) establishing a new European Union with its own legal personality and distinct corporate existence for the first time; (b) abolishing the distinction between the supranational and intergovernmental "pillars" of the two existing European Treaties, so that all powers of government can be exercised by the new Union, either actually or potentially, through a uniform constitutional structure; and (c) making us all real citizens of this new Union for the first time, rather than just notional or honorary EU "citizens" as at present, for one can only be a citizen of a State.

2. Abolishing the national veto in 68 new areas or matters: the new Treaty would introduce qualified majority voting(QMV) on the EU Council of Ministers for 68 areas or matters for the first time - 48 of these referring to new areas of EU law-making and 20 to a shift from unanimity to majority-voting for existing EU legal bases. That would remove the national veto for these 68 areas or matters. This figure of 68 compares with 46 areas or matters moved to QMV by the 2002 Treaty of Nice, 24 by the 1998 Treaty of Amsterdam, 30 by the 1992 Maastricht Treaty on European Union, 12 by the 1987 Single European Act and 38 by the original 1957 Treaty of Rome and its associated Treaties. Each of these shifts of power from the national to the supranational level entails a shift from the Legislative arm of government to the Executive arm and from elected national Parliaments and citizens to Government Ministers and senior civil servants. They hollow out our democracy further.

3. Giving more voting power to the Big States: The new Treaty would introduce a new voting system on the Council of Ministers, making population size a key criterion, which would particularly advantage big States like Germany and reduce the influence of smaller ones like Ireland.

4. Removing the right to a permanent EU Commissioner: It would remove the right of each Member State to have an EU Commissioner for two out of every three Commission terms, i.e. for five years out of every 15. Big States would lose their right to a permanent Commissioner also, but they have other means of exerting their influence on this body which proposes all EU laws. Having a permanent Commissioner has always been recognised as much more important for smaller States like Ireland.

5. Giving the EU the final power to decide our rights: The new Treaty would give the EU the final power to decide our human and civil rights in all areas of EU law, including Member States when implementing EU law, which now constitutes the greater part of our laws each year. This would make the EU Court of Justice rather than the Irish Supreme Court, or the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, the final decider of our rights in many areas. The EU Court of Justice would be more remote, slower to work and more expensive for citizens to get to as they seek to establish their rights.

6. A self-amending Treaty: The new Treaty would contain a mechanism enabling qualified majority voting to be sustituted for unanimity in eight policy areas by decision of EU governments, without need for new treaties or referendums.


Anthony Coughlan

24 Crawford Avenue
Dublin 9
Tel.: 01-8305792

Thursday 18 October 2007


Dear Cdes,

I read with interest your recent criticism of my report of your ‘Alternative Processes’ meeting. I must say I am rather unhappy with a ‘cut and paste’ approach which enables the writer to ignore the majority of points I made and adopt a hostile and carping approach to my article.

The article was a critique, rather similar to an earlier critique that I made of the recent republican conference in Derry. A critique is not a criticism. Socialist Democracy are not hostile to republican regroupment and in fact we believe that a successful political regroupment would transform the situation. What we have to offer to the discussion is the observations that a new movement will have to overcome the fragmentation of the republicans, will have to have a programme of supporting the working class and exposing the contradictions in the current settlement and, above all, will have to explain the total and absolute collapse of republicanism that the current settlement represents.

Instead of a response we get an attack. More significantly, although the main agreement in the meeting was to hold further meetings, our name seems to have been left off the invitation list. When we send around notice of our own upcoming school and the opportunity for discussion that it represents the Plough, that routinely prints all that arrives, fails to print our notice nor does any member of the IRSP sign up to attend.

I note in passing that it was not I who initially objected to the SDLP and LP presence, but members of the audience. On the evidence so far, the reformist parties are to get more of a hearing than a revolutionary socialist current such as ourselves.

John McAnulty

Socialist Democracy

The Plough responds.

John doth protest too much. He actually does what he accuses “The Plough” of doing

‘cut and paste’ approach which enables the writer to ignore the majority of points I made”
He fails to acknowledge that the meeting was organised by the RYSM. He fails then to answer The Plough’s argument that

exposure to different ideas could only help clarify and lead to questioning?

Instead Comrade Mc Anulty goes off at a tangent and complains about not getting an invitation. None have as yet been sent out to The Plough’s knowledge. As regards the notice try not to be so petty. We don’t put everything we receive in because of space or because it is too far away from publication time. Anyway see below.

Please find a link to an inspiring story of bravery from a young Church of Ireland Priest:

Rev Bob was fighting the Fascist scum in Spain whilst the Bishops were blessing the brown shirts who fought for Franco, Hitler and Musollini.

The bravery of the International Volunteers will never be forgotten.
The fight continues.


WRA is a human rights organisation which specialises in fighting for Cymric freedom, works on behalf of those colonised and condemned for their republican beliefs and promotes liberty for all the people of Cymru/Wales.

From the Media

Policing-physically and spiritually

Below we reprint an article on the idea of Roman Catholic priests accompanying the local PSNI when they go on patrols in Strabane. One’s initial reaction was one of total disbelief in this lunatic scheme. But then on reflection its not so crazy after all. Both clergy and police have a policing role over the working class-the PSNI contol them physically and the clergy try to control their minds. Two sides of the same coin !!

ONE Strabane community activist has his own take on the ‘Faith in Policing’ initiative – it’s a propaganda stunt by the PSNI, he says.

Paul Gallagher said he would have serious concerns if local clergy were to go out on patrol with the PSNI. He is adamant that the independence of the clergy will be muddied if they were to take up the offer of going on the beat with the PSNI.

“The clergy would lose their independence. Is it going to be the case where people who confess in a confessional box in a local Church to a local priest will then be afraid of being pinpointed on the street because a priest is on patrol with the PSNI.”

When pressed as to whether this was a likely scenario Mr Gallagher added, “Will the presence of the clergy be used to convince vulnerable people to make confessions to the local police?

“Once the clergy loses its independence it will succumb to the institution and all the tools that go with it, including recruiting informers.

“The question has to be why are the PSNI doing this. What’s behind this. Why? The clergy are not travelling around in ambulances and fire engines, what’s the purpose of patrolling with the PSNI.

“It’s not so long ago that the police force in Strabane would not allow local priests into a field where three young men were shot dead.

“As far as I am concerned this is nothing but propaganda by the PSNI and the using and abusing of the clergy within our community.”

Fr Declan Boland, parish priest of the Church of the Immaculate Conception, welcomed the idea as a good one, but displayed caution.

“I am totally in favour of the initiative, it’s working very well and we are enjoying a good rapport with the local police force.”

Fr Boland then spoke of his concerns on the matter.

“It is essential though that we do not get side-tracked by the ‘optional
extras’, with the key word being optional. The specifics are thus: The
clergy initially got involved so we can maintain good relationships with
the police and the local community. The idea of chaplains to the forces
has been mooted and will be looked at. What we have looked at is that, if
a member of the clergy wanted to go out on patrol with the police they
could. This is as long as it is a one-off idea. I personally would do it
again as a one off. It is not our remit to go out every night with the
police on patrol. They wouldn’t want it and neither would we. That is not
why we were ordained. I do not understand what purpose would be served by

doing this.

“What is being lost in this is the wonderful initiative that is taking place, and I am totally in favour with that. We look forward to getting involved in the local community and with the police. We need stable law and order in the town. Let not the good energy emanating from this initiative be lost. We need to have this put in perspective.”

Fr Michael Doherty, parish priest of St Marys Church, re-iterated the stance of Fr Boland.

“Of the overall project idea I would be favourable. In the context with the new atmosphere of policing in the north, part of the idea is to have clergy of any faith is to have them available to them. This is the same way as any school or hospital would have a chaplain. The other part of the idea would see the clergy as being people who could be asked about the needs of the community regards policing and to make suggestions or criticisms of the interaction between them. They are also asking local community groups in the area to help with this.”

Like Fr Boland, Fr Doherty would not endorse going ‘out on the beat’ as it were.

“There’s no question, as far as I know, of anyone from this church going out on the beat with police. I think it’s a phrase that the media have picked up on. What the idea was, if the clergy wanted to see what life was like through the various areas in Strabane on a Saturday night, they could go along in a squad car. It’s not an idea that we would be in favour of in this church. It’s only a very small part of the initiative.

“In my mind there is no question of priests being on patrol, doing traffic
duty, or anything like that. The police do patrols, firemen attend fires,
and ambulance men attend accidents. Everyone has their own role to play
Faith in Policing initiative is propaganda – claim
By Paul McElwee

by Alfred Hayes and Earl Robinson

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
Alive as you or me
Says I, "But Joe, you're ten years dead,"
"I never died," says he
"I never died," says he

"In Salt Lake, Joe," says I to him,
Him standing by my bed,
"They framed you on a murder charge,"
Says Joe, "But I ain't dead,"
Says Joe, "But I ain't dead."

"The copper bosses killed you, Joe,
They shot you, Joe," says I.
"Takes more than guns to kill a man,"
Says Joe, "I didn't die,"
Says Joe, "I didn't die."

And standing there as big as life
And smiling with his eyes
Joe says, "What they forgot to kill
Went on to organize,
Went on to organize."

"Joe Hill ain't dead," he says to me,
"Joe Hill ain't never died.
Where working men are out on strike
Joe Hill is at their side,
Joe Hill is at their side."

"From San Diego up to Maine,
In every mine and mill,
Where workers strike and organize,"
Says he, "You'll find Joe Hill,"
Says he, "You'll find Joe Hill."

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
Alive as you or me
Says I, "But Joe, you're ten years dead,"
"I never died," says he
"I never died," says he

What’s On?

Public meeting

The Irish and Basque Peace Processes. The meeting will be addressed by the invited speakers listed below giving an outline of the two peace processes from a Socialist perspective, the recurring arguments in both countries and the difficulties facing those seeking a genuine alternative.

Speakers include:

Ibon Artola San Miguel
Editor of Euskal Herria Sozialista

Gerry Ruddy
Irish Republican Socialist Party

Belfast An Culturlann, Thursday 25th October at 7.15pm.

Strabane Fir Trees Hotel, Friday 26th October at 7.00.

Derry Sandinos, Saturday 27th October at 3.00

Organised by International Left Solidarity Committee

All welcome

Socialist Democracy Weekend School
"Irish society and economy today"
Fri 26th – Sun 28th October
Co. Wicklow

The accommodation only allows for a limited number of residential places and most of these have been booked. Already we have a wide range of socialist and trade union activists registered and the discussion promises to be the most open and wide ranging debate for some considerable time, involving a very extensive spectrum of views and opinions. If you are thinking of attending please let us know immediately so that we can reserve a place for you.
Friday 7-00 – 8-00. Introduction/registration
Saturday 10-30 – 12-30. Irish society and economy (Joe Craig)
Saturday 2-30 – 4-30. The working class in Ireland today (Norman
Saturday 8-00 on… Craic agus Ceol
Sunday 10-30 – 12-30. The national question in the aftermath of the general election (Anne McShane)
The agenda has been arranged to allow time to chat, socialise and chill out. The accommodation is linked to a large country estate with river and mountain walks.
Cost €50 waged and €25 unwaged. Transport available from Belfast and
Places are very limited – book now
Reserve your place by sending details to webmaster@socialistdemocracy.
Postscript: Call for papers.
We call on speakers, activists and on our readers who are interested but unable to attend to suggest background material that we can print and have available in advance. Material from a Marxist position on these issues is quite limited and we welcome contributions.

Lunchtime Talks on the Belfast Dockers Strike 1907

Tuesdays in October in Dublin City Hall

Dublin City Libraries in association with SIPTU are holding 5 lunch timetalks in Dublin City Hall, Dame St, Dublin. The talks take place on Tuesday 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 Oct from1.10pm to 1.45pm. Admission is free and all are welcome.


It’s a 100 years since 1907 and Dublin City Libraries are running a series of free lunchtime lectures in Dublin City Hall in October. SIPTU are sponsoring. The talks are on Tuesdays 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 Oct from 1.10pm to 1.45pm.


23 Oct: Belfast 1907: Context and Consequences by Henry Patterson, University of Ulster

30 Oct: Belfast 1907: Foundation stone of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union by Francis Devine, SIPTU College

More info from 01 2222204 or 01 6744996.


Wednesday 10 October 2007

The Plough Vol 04 No 22

The Plough
(Web site
Vol. 4- No 22
Wednesday 10th October 2007
E-mail newsletter of the Irish Republican Socialist Party

1) Editorial -Seamus Costello

2) Oration At the Graveside of Seamus Costello-30 years on.

3) Republican Socialist Youth Movement Seminar

4) Celtic Tiger stalls!

5) Israel/Burma- the connection

6) Depleted Uranium: WMD’s in Iraq

7) What’s On?


October 2007 is the 30th anniversary of the death of Seamus Costello at the hands of former Comrades in the Official IRA which was then transforming itself into the Workers Party. The Republican Socialist movement has always honoured the memory of Seamus Costello, not only for his leadership qualities but also because of his ideas. It is true you can kill a man but you can not kill an idea.
There were a number of key ideas that Seamus Costello advocated and that are still relevant today.

1/The link between the class and the national question.
When the IRSP was formed the Officials were moving away from opposition to the British Imperialist presence in Ireland. Indeed they moved rapidly to a position that embraced that same imperialism in opposition to a caricature of a reactionary Irish nationalism. The Provos themselves were very much anti-communists and distrustful of so called “alien ideologies” They were right wing nationalists (with guns). Only later under pressure from northern volunteers and prisoners did they make a shift to the left and cal themselves socialists. That description can no longer be applied to Sinn Fein (Provisional). They are now, a right wing nationalist organisation, (without too many guns) having shed their newly acquired radicalism, on the long march to Stormont. The IRSP argued and still do that the only struggle worthwhile is the struggle for a socialist Ireland. The only class capable of banishing Imperialism uniting the country and its people and creating a just and equitable society is the working class taking power and building a socialist society.

2/ The Broad Front.
Seamus argued that it was important to build a broad front of organisations that identified the continuing presence of Imperialism as the major contradiction in Irish society. Therefore it was important for unity in action while not compromising principles. Today the issue of a broad front is not on the agenda because of the set backs suffered by republicanism and the left. But there certainly is more scope for joint action among a wide diversity of organisations provided they can put aside their petty sectarian attitudes towards those with whom they disagree.

3/ The Protestant working class
Seamus Costello took a similar attitude towards the protestant working class as James Connolly. He was critical of those he called ring-road socialists who hide their republicanism in an attempt to curry influence with the protestant working class. He argued that republicans had to convince the protestant working class that their own interests lay in unity with catholic workers and that their long-term interests lay in the creation of a socialist Ireland. At the same time he was sensitive to their sense of identity. Within the RSM he argued strongly against any actions that could be construed as sectarian attacks against Protestants.

Seamus strongly supported the struggle inside the republican movement against the long-standing policy of abstentionism. He argued that abstentionism was a tactic not a principle and that republicanism itself had to move away from being an almost semi mystical set of beliefs towards becoming a vibrant activist political movement that was relevant to the needs of the working class today. He himself saw electoral politics as a means to activate the working class into political action and saw the debating chamber as just another area of revolutionary politics. Not for him a trust in elected politicians who only took account of working class interests when election time came around.

5/Armed Struggle.
Seamus as Chief of Staff of the INLA supported armed struggle but armed struggle that was directed against British imperialist forces. He saw it as another weapon in the armour of revolutionary struggle. Within the INLA itself he was an advocate along with others for acessation, before he was assassinated. He certainly saw a role for armed struggle but always within a political context and not just as a reflex action against the state. He would almost certainly have endorsed the Ta Power doctrine of politics in command had he been given the time to fully develop his ideas with the RSM.

With the passage of time one would imagine that the wounds of old battles would heal or at least be lessened in intensity. Not so when it comes to the personality and ideas of Seamus Costello. The Workers Party in their own partial history of their Party say;

-“that a minority opposition led by Seamus Costello over a two year period sought to reverse the May decision (official IRA ceasefire and at the same time frustrate the development of a disciplined socialist party. In this he was supported by Trotskyist and other ultra-left elements on the fringes of the Party and by sectarian adventurers, largely in Belfast. In 1975 they launched murderous attacks on key Party personnel, killing both rank and file members and leading figures in Belfast and severely wounding the future General Secretary Sean Garland.”

Of course the reality is that it was the Workers Party- to -be that launched a vicious armed assault on the IRSP in a failed effort to wipe it out at birth. That they failed must be still a major source of bitterness within the WP. Only as recently as last year Sean Garland gave a lecture on the 90 anniversary of James Connolly’s death. He could not resist the opportunity to once again launch a vicious attack on the memory of Seamus Costello. He accused Seamus of being responsible for the bitterness caused when the provisional alliance was being formed. He accused him of being in favour of a “sectarian terrorist campaign” of being “totally ruthless” and of “twisted aims”.

He does not mention that in the early seventies he himself was in alliance with Seamus in relation to armed struggle and that together they had been the two people most responsible for moving the republican movement to the left. No one doubts that Seamus Costello was a hard taskmaster. He did not suffer fools gladly. But he was not sectarian nor a mindless militant.

Clearly the reason for Garland’s attacks on the memory of Seamus Costello have more to do with both the failure of the Workers Party project and the increasing growth in the genuine revolutionary ideas of republican socialism. One has to wonder why those who call themselves, Republicans, Socialists, Marxists and Communists reserve their greatest hatred,venom and spleen for other Republicans, Socialists, Marxists and Communists? What agenda do they work to?

History will in the long run judge all but we are confident that the revolutionary ideas that Seamus Costello and the Republican Socialist movement espouse will long outlast the sterile, sectarian, Stalinism of the reformist Workers Party. We salute the memory of Seamus Costello.

Oration At the graveside of Seamus Costello-30 years on.

Friends and Comrades,

On behalf of the Irish Republican Socialist Party I want to welcome you all here today for this, the thirtieth anniversary commemoration of the assassination of Seamus Costello, the first chairperson of the Irish Republican Socialist Party and the first Chief of Staff of the Irish National Liberation Army.

Seamus was a native of Bray and never tired of battling for the needs of this town and it’s people. It is fitting therefore that before I begin I would like to pay tribute to the two local men, Brian Murray and Mark O’Shaugnessy, the two part-time firefighters who died while fighting a fire in Bray recently. Both were serving their community when they died and we offer our heartfelt condolences to their families and their communities on this very tragic loss.

Seamus Costello, if he was alive today and given our knowledge about his beliefs and his politics, would be screaming from the rooftops about this tragic incident and the fact that a town the size of Bray has to make do with a part time fire service. Seamus stood shoulder to shoulder with the workers and fought tooth and nail for the betterment of their safety and conditions.

It is a great honour personally for myself to be asked to give this oration on this milestone anniversary and it is very heartening to see how many have made the long journey from all parts of Ireland to honour Seamus thirty years after his death. This shows that the politics and ideals of Seamus live on in the membership and supporters of the IRSP.

Seamus Costello was someone who was involved in each and every struggle of the working class, not just in the town of Bray and in the county of Wicklow but throughout Ireland. He travelled the length and breadth of the country agitating and organising. His first involvement in Republican politics came in 1953 when he read of the arrest of Cathal Goulding following an arms raid on the Officer Training Corps School at Felstead in Essex. Costello on one of his many visits to Croke Park, bought a copy of the United Irishman and immediately applied to join the Republican Movement. However, he was told to “come back next year”. Costello did and was accepted into the ranks of the IRA and Sinn Fein in 1954.

The first Sinn Fein Cumann was started in Bray in the same year, comprised mostly from members of the Dun Laoghaire Cumann, their activity confined to ‘United Irishman’ sales. However, it wasn’t long before it was being sold in every area in Co. Wicklow. During the Border Campaign Costello, who was only 17 at the time commanded an active service unit in South Derry, their most publicised actions being the destruction of bridges and the burning of Magherafelt Courthouse. Those under his command described him as strict but radiating confidence. This time in South Derry earned him the nickname “the Boy General”

In 1957 he was sentenced to six months in Mountjoy. On his release he was immediately interned in the Curragh for two years. Costello, as a prisoner, was described by fellow internees as, quiet, rarely joining others in playacting, preferring deep discussion and reading. He was a member of the escape committee which engineered the successful escape of Ruari O’Braidaigh and Daithi O’Connell amongst others. He is remembered by one internee reading Vietnamese magazines and it impressed Costello, that peasants badly armed but with a deep political ideology could defeat their enemies.

In later years he always referred to his days in the Curragh as “my university days”. He took part in the critical analysis of the 50’s campaign, agreeing that it had failed due to lack of popular involvement as distinct from popular support. On the ending of internment in 1959 Costello assisted in the re-organising of the Republican Movement.

He became full time political organiser for Wicklow at this period and developed a strong link with every conceivable organisation in the county that dealt with the interests of the working class. He managed to involve the Bray Trades Council in the 1966 Easter Commemoration and helped found a strong Tenants Association in Bray. He also became involved with the Credit Union movement and farmers’ organisations. In 1966 he gave an historic oration at the Wolfe Tone Commemoration in Bodenstown which marked a turn to the left for the Republican Movement, the result of years of discussions within the Movement ably assisted by Costello.

He said: “We believe that the large estates of absentee landlords should be acquired by compulsory acquisition and worked on a cooperative basis with the financial and technical assistance of the State... our policy is to nationalise the key industries with the eventual aim of co-operative ownership by the workers... nationalisation of all banks, insurance companies, loan and investment companies...”

But Costello always maintained not only the right to use armed force but the necessity for workers to be armed and this remained his position up to his assassination. During the same speech in Bodenstown he said: “The lesson of history shows that in the final analysis the Robber Baron must be disestablished by the same methods that he used to enrich himself and retain his ill gotten gains, namely force of arms. To this end we must organise, train and maintain a disciplined armed force which will always be available to strike at the opportune moment”

These were the ideas that formed the basis for Seamus’ politics that led to him forming the IRSP and the INLA in 1974 following a split in the Official Republican Movement. He was a revolutionary in the true sense of the word. He believed in the strength of a unified and politically motivated working class and firmly believed that the Republican Socialist Movement was the organisation that would galvanise and combine the struggle for National Liberation and the struggle for Socialism. It was a position that was first articulated by James Connolly and is now proudly carried forward to the future within the membership and supporters of the IRSP. I could go on all day reminiscing about Seamus and the ifs and buts of that day in 1977 when that apolitical gunman cold bloodedly assassinated him. Instead it is our duty as revolutionaries to carry forward the struggle that Seamus was part of.

But that struggle has changed and we must acknowledge that fact. the 2007 Life and Times Survey showed that 85 per cent of Protestants and 22 per cent of Catholics in the north support Northern Ireland remaining part of the United Kingdom. Partly for those reasons, senior Irish government sources have stated that they do not expect Northern Ireland’s constitutional position to be raised again for “20 to 25 years”. The Dublin administration opinion comes after the British Secretary of State for the North told the News Letter: “I think that, in a sense, the constitutional question is parked.”

This does not mean that Republicanism has to be abandoned for some pure version of socialism. Given it’s historical weight and progressive content, it is impossible to build a progressive current outside it or independent of it.

This is the demarcation criterion between the IRSP and most other socialist organisations in Ireland. The fact that Republicanism is going through a marginalisation, sets limits upon and narrows the basis for Republicanism to develop, but opportunities, however minor, will arise. An example of this is the recent attempts to build republican unity of which the IRSP took part. These should be used to develop what is best in republicanism.

There clearly are a number of points on which all Republicans will agree.

First that Republicanism is in tension with nationalism rather than a version of it. Republicanism is neither based on ‘territory’ or ‘nationality’ nor on ‘identity’.

The core of Republicanism is democracy. This implies self-determination without external impediment, from which flows the rejection of the principle of consent and other parameters, imposed by external power unaccountable to Irish democracy.

It is not that Republicanism disregards the issue of Unionist consent to future political arrangements. Where it differs with other political forces like constitutional nationalism is that it refuses Unionist consent to be a prerequisite for constitutional change. While arguing that it is undesirable to coerce a ‘minority,’ republicanism contends that to give a guarantee to a ‘minority’ in advance against all coercion is to put a premium on unreasonableness and to make a settlement impossible.

Finally, Republicans can agree that the government of the 26 counties as much as the 6 counties retain their legitimacy by a denial and circumscription of political democracy. In other words the denial of democracy, aided and abetted by both regimes on this island and this is the major stumbling block towards national unity.

This is why the traditional republican position is to deny legitimacy to 6 and 26 county states. For the IRSP, it is clear that democracy is at the heart of the historical tasks facing the working class. Socialism’s lineage is also with democracy. Republicanism and Socialism are like cousins more than two sides of the same coin. It is possible to be a Republican or a democrat without being a Socialist.

This is why in relation to other Republican tendencies, it is imperative to emphasize not just the democratic, but also the internationalist, popular and egalitarian aspects of Republicanism.

The IRSP is best placed to articulate the social content of Republicanism and address the question of what social forces to mobilise in what Connolly called “The Reconquest of Ireland”. Comrades, our movement has taken huge strides since the dark days of the murderous attacks on our right to organise. Brave comrades of the calibre of Seamus Costello, were killed by our enemies in a bid to remove the radical voice of Republican Socialism from the political landscape. It would be a shame and dare I say it, a disgrace, if all here who proclaim to be followers of Connolly and Costello did not do all in their power to build the party to a position of real strength and influence so that the working class in Ireland can have a party that will truly represent them. I ask you all here to question yourselves and your commitment, not just to the party but to the working class.

Remember that when Seamus Costello was killed he was involved in all aspects of working class struggle in and around Bray. He was a member of Wicklow County Council, County Wicklow Committee of Agriculture, General Council of Committees of Agriculture, Eastern Regional Development Organisation, National Museum Development Committee, Bray Urban District Council, Bray Branch of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union, Bray and District Trade Unions Council, of which he was president 1976-77 and the Cualann Historical Society. He was also the chairperson of the Irish Republican Socialist Party and Chief of Staff of the Irish National Liberation Army.

We must take our inspiration from Seamus, look at what he was able to achieve and emulate that throughout the 32 counties of Ireland. Our task is not to use the struggles of the working class as a vehicle to promote and grow the party. Rather it is to use the vehicle of the party to further all the struggles of the working class. We must empower communities to tackle head on the hardships of life under the capitalist regimes north and south.

We should not be found wanting when it comes to opposing the selling of our natural resources to companies like Shell. We must defend our heritage and demand that this government re-routes the M3 motorway away from the Hill of Tara. We must oppose the parasitic drug dealers who prey on our young people and the implementation of the water charges in the north. We must build and strengthen so as we can become a realistic alternative to the corruption that reeks from the very top of the government at Leinster House and the petty sectarian jamboree at Stormont.

So I make this call on behalf of the leadership of the IRSP, get involved in the day to day struggles, follow the examples of James Connolly and of Seamus Costello and we can’t go very far wrong.

On to the republic comrades!

( Oration was delivered by Paul Gallagher from the Ard Comhairle)

Republican Socialist Youth Movement Seminar

An important seminar on the politics and ideas of Seamus Costello was held recently in Belfast. The event, facilitated by the Republican Socialist Youth Movement was aimed at increasing the consciousness of the politics and ideas of Seamus, with that in mind it was pleasing for all to hear the experiences of those present that knew Seamus personally and were alongside him during the crucial steps in the founding of the IRSP.

The main speaker on the day was Gerry Ruddy who touched on a variety of subjects with a sharp, clear analysis of the situation and conditions which the IRSP faced today and those similar conditions the party faces at present.

Gerry began “Seamus was an ideologically driven character, of which not enough has been written about by his former comrades. Seamus had a demanding personality and must have been a difficult man to live with but it is without a doubt he wouldn’t tolerate some of the people we have in this organisation today.”

The presentation continued tracing the Republican tradition Seamus’ native Bray and County Wicklow back to 1798 but that there had been little tradition or activity since the Civil War.

Following the border campaign Seamus was interned in the Curragh camp in Kildare. It was here that Seamus, as with many Republicans, referred to their time in prison as their “University days”. Seamus was in contact at the time with veteran Republicans from which he derived much of his political development but there was changes in the movement on the outside which had repercussions within the prisons.

At Bodenstown in 1966 the historic oration which signalled the Republican Movement’s shift to the left was delivered by Seamus. Seamus had been one of the main protagonists of the move to the left and while the oration may not seem radical today, it was phenomenal at the time.

Gerry continued that he met Seamus as a young student radical and as someone who disregarded and wouldn’t have had much time for traditional Republican values had clear differences with Seamus but what Seamus said then has continued to stand the test of time.

The critical issue was the issue of the relationship between the class and national questions, that the national liberation struggle must be led by the Irish working class.

Much has been written and spoken of the 1969 IRA split. The split was clearly a Left / Right divide in the Republican Movement coming to prominence at which attempts had been made to smooth over the years prior. It was very clear that the Provisional Republicans were anti-Communists but there had been some local co-operation between both military formations on the ground.

Splits inevitably lead to demoralisation and had often led to the dissemination of the organisations involved, this is particularly true for small left-wing groups. It was for this reason that during the 1969 split and the expulsions from the Official Republican Movement that Seamus maintained a good relationship with many parties involved and often tried to repair the damage.

Sean Garland, President of the Workers Party speaking at an event last year said that Seamus Costello’s role in the splits was to embitter and engender hatred in people. This is interesting because Sean had stood alongside Seamus in cajoling the movement back to revolutionary politics before jumping ship.

Sean Garland would not have criticised Seamus in the manner in which he did 29 years after his murder if his politics were not as relevant today as they were then. If Seamus’ politics were not a threat to the establishment then it would be safe to say they would’ve been already consigned to history along with the Republican Socialist Movement.

Gerry continued along this path charting the recent successes, growth and rejuvenation of the Republican Socialist Movement which is evidence enough that there remains a necessarily for a Republican Socialist party.

The floor was then opened to the audience and a lively discussion followed with many contributions from young people and former comrades of Seamus.

Celtic Tiger stalls!

The years of the booming Celtic Tiger economy in the 26 counties are coming to an end. Evidence exists that economic growth started to slow sharply some time around the middle of 2007 and that this trend will continue into next year. There is a shortfall in the Government’s tax returns due to a slow down in the building trade. The economy grew by 4.5 per cent in the first half of the year but due to the contraction in the building sector is forecast to grow less than 3% in 2008. This is on the assumption that there will be no major upsets to the world capitalist economy –an assumption that looks increasingly shaky given the run on the Northern Rock bank in Britain and the collapse of a major bank in the USA. Furthermore the instability in the Middle East and the increasing possibility of a strike by Bush’s USA imperialist forces against Iran makes for continuing instability in the financial markets.

Currently the dollar is falling and oil prices are hitting new heights. Against this background the 26 county Government will attempt to slow down spending in their next budget. Cutting the budget is another way of attacking the living standards of the working class. Even the Irish Labour Party recognize the signs and their new leader Eamon Gilmore, ex Workers Party, has ruled out any electoral pact with other parties before the next General Election. Usually the reformist parties move to the left when economic times are bad for capitalism. Gilmore recognises the signs and moves accordingly.

A study carried out for the Irish Association of Pension Funds (IAPF) found that the number of firms offering a defined benefit scheme has fallen from 67 per cent in 2002 to 37 per cent today. Basically what that translates as is that companies are increasingly offering inferior pension schemes to employees. So as workers in the private sector suffer so also do workers in the public sector. There will be a slowdown in health services with many posts unfilled as they management try to keep within the budget. This will mean that pressure will be exerted on the trade union bureaucracy to keep their membership in line as growth slows. Already there is movement within the ranks of the capitalist class for no general round of benchmarking increases for public servants. That class was disappointed by the lack of extra productivity produced by the first benchmarking process. So watch out for more attacks on the living standards of the workers while those in power despite tribunals, despite allegations of corruption, continue on their merry way to create the best possible conditions for the rich few to continue to get rich at the expense of the poor.


Israel/Burma- the connection

An Israeli company Elbit Systems, is involved in supplying weapons systems to the military regime in Burma. The Government of Israel has expressed concern about protesters being killed by the Burmese military.
Israel itself has killed ten Palestinians protesting the annexation of large sections of their farmland, and injured hundreds of others , including Israeli and international demonstators, who have been beaten, arrested and expelled by the Israeli military. Also a month into the second intifada, , Israeli forces had fired 1.3 million bullets at Palestinians, according to Yitzhak Laor, an Israeli columnist who often writes for Ha'aretz. This was before any armed attacks or shooting came from the Palestinian side.

The Israeli company Elbit also supplies electronics used in the separation wall that Israel is building illegally in the occupied Palestinian West Bank, enclosing up to 10% of Palestinian land on the "Israeli" side. It is ironic that Israel expresses concern about protestors being killed by the Burma military when Israel itself has done exactly the same.

(J M)

Depleted Uranium: WMD’s in Iraq

In the ten years between 1961 and 1971, during the Vietnam War, the defoliant known as Agent Orange was used to reduce the Vietnamese fighters cover by the United States. The effects of Agent Orange and of several of the other ‘Agents' developed has been public knowledge for many years. Yet, despite the plethora of evidence, it took Veterans of the war twenty years to receive compensation and thus recognition of the dangers Agent Orange poses. Vietnam veterans have still not received any compensation however. This demonstrates the extreme stubbornness of companies involved in weapon production to fully test and report their findings. Most likely their contract paid too well for such discrepancies to be duly noted. It also demonstrates their sheer arrogance when accused of wrongdoing. However, the lessons of Vietnam and Agent Orange were learnt and committed to the books of history to appear as a brief note in a school history class. But were the lessons really learnt or just acknowledged in an attempt to make the mistakes go away? Since 1991, in the first Gulf War, the United States and the United Kingdom (at least) have been using Depleted Uranium weaponry and the story has the potential to follow the same path as that of Agent Orange. Depleted Uranium (DU) is the by-product of processing Uranium ore for use in nuclear reactors (and weapons) and from re-processing spent reactor rods. It is 60 percent as radioactive as natural uranium and it is estimated that America has stockpiles of between 480 million to 680.4 million kilograms (1.058 billion - 1.5 billion pounds) in hazardous waste storage sites. Like all nuclear waste it is very expensive to dispose of. However, it has unique properties that make it ideal for bullet tips and tank armour at a cheap price and in high quantity. DU is a very heavy, dense metal. It is 2.4 times as heavy as Iron. If a warhead made of steel (an Iron based alloy) was replaced with the same weight of DU it would be half its cross-section area and being that much thinner doubles the warheads penetrative effect. It also has a similar density to Tungsten, a metal used in many "kinetic energy weapons", that is, a weapon that does not contain an explosive for penetration purposes, i.e. a bullet. DU is also the second hardest common metal to Tungsten. All these qualities make it almost as useful as Tungsten for use in weapon systems and when you consider that there is a lot of it lying in storage its is easy to imagine why it might be used over its rival metal. However, DU has one property that elevates it way above other possible metals. It is pyrophoric. This means that it ignites (at 500°C, generated when it hit its target) and burns (at some 2000°C) in ordinary everyday conditions. This not only adds massively to its penetration power but also means it is likely to ignite fuel or shells in a tank or storage depot for example. So far then, if you must wage wars, DU has all the properties to get weapon manufacturers, traders and government officials drooling. Except it is still radioactive and, as you might imagine, firing your nuclear waste at your enemies has its downsides. When a DU tipped shell or bullet hits a target and ignites it produces a fine black cloud of dust; a radioactive cloud of dust. The larger particles in this dust can settle and give the appearance of soot but more than 60% of the dust is invisible to the human eye and can be easily carried by the wind and be absorbed by rain clouds, etc. In the United States DU contamination was recorded up to 25 miles from one manufacturing site. The main form of radiation emitted from Depleted Uranium is alpha radiation, high energy but with a range of only a few millimeters. As a result it is largely harmless if slight precautions are taken, i.e. wearing gloves while carrying shells and bullets. However, if inhaled into the lungs the dangers are catastrophically greater, and as a dust cloud it is not hard to comprehend how this could occur. Inhaled particles get into the lymph and blood systems, bones and reproductive organs. The alpha radiation will then permanently damage nearby tissue. While research on the effects on humans is worryingly low (or at least unreleased) research involving mice and rats has shown that DU can result in cancerous tumors and genetic mutations, and pass from mother to unborn child, resulting in birth defects. Information collected in Basra hospital from 1991 to 2000 shows massive increases in leukemia's and other malignancies among children, some having increased as much as 600%. There are other theories as to these sudden rises but none can provide satisfactory evidence for such great rises in illnesses. The British government has even suggested these statistics can be entirely blamed on Saddam Hussein's mistreatment of his people, yet there are no claims of such a nature in Iraq. However, there is other evidence that DU is not as harmless as is claimed. Many U.S. soldiers who have served in the various wars involving the United States since the first Gulf War have been left needing constant medical attention for a wide array of grim illnesses and many claim it was due to exposure to Depleted Uranium without prior warning when searching old battle sites for "trophies" and "souvenirs". Their claims are still unrecognized by the U.S. government. In fact, the U.S. government has carried out tests on a pathetic 32 soldiers in its answer to the questions they faced. In the test they used outdated and obsolete testing methods and as a result concluded that there was no danger. The effort on behalf of the U.S. and U.K. governments to either question or acknowledge complaints has been nothing short of farcical. There have been numerous well supported motions in the U.N. to ban DU weapons but the U.K., U.S. and France, three of the permanent members of the Security Council, have constantly rejected these calls. The soldier's plight in turn highlights the dangers to the population of Iraq. Children are at risk from simply playing in areas where a tank or truck has been destroyed, the same goes for anyone else who may be in the area. DU has also been used in varying amounts in the Balkans and Afghanistan. It is estimated that the U.S. alone fired 118 tonnes of DU munitions in the latest Iraq war and 259 tonnes in Iraq and Kuwait in 1991. Additionally, while the U.S. and U.K. deny any ill effects of Depleted Uranium, the United Nations Environment Program identified 311 polluted sites in Iraq in 2005. The cleaning of these sites cannot commence until the fighting has ended which seems to very a long, long way off yet. And in case you were wondering, DU has a half-life of almost 4.5 billion years, that is 4.5 billion years until it is half as radioactive as it is today, so it isn't going anywhere soon. The official reason for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 (or at least one of them) was to topple the régime of Saddam Hussein and install order, democracy and freedom to the people of Iraq. All that has been brought is chaos and destruction, crisis after crisis and the ever increasing possibility of all-out civil war and the shattering of the country. Added to this they are polluting areas of Iraq in the most serious way. This does not constitute even the most distorted definition of the word freedom. While Depleted Uranium is not considered as a form of nuclear weaponry its has many of the hall marks on a smaller scale and its blasé use by governments of the world only underlines their complete disregard for the "ordinary people", workers of the world and even the soldiers who are doing their bidding. There is the very real prospect that we are facing an almost carbon copy of the Agent Orange events, it may take years for the truth to surface but eventually the isolated voices will grow to such volume that governments will have to take note and research their actions. By then it will be too late. Cancers and birth defects don't vanish with government apologies and compensation. More people need to be made aware of the untold crimes of the imperialists in their self-righteous wars to save humanity because, in the end, their may not be much of humanity left to save. Originally published in Defence of Marxism By Joe Boustead - Monday, 01 October 2007

From the Media

What’s On?

Meetings in support of the Venezuelan Revolution

Dublin: 8th October 2007, 7:30pm, Connolly Books New Theatre (Essex
St., Temple Bar, Dublin 1)
Belfast: 10th October 2007, 7:30pm, An Cultúrlann (Falls Road)

The Venezuelan Revolution has entered a new stage. After the election of December 2006, which the Bolivarian Movement won with 63% of the votes, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Frias proposed the unification of the different parties that constitute the Bolivarian Movement (Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela ? PSUV). He also launched the government?s new programme (?the five engines for Socialism?) with the intention of starting the transition to socialism and the Socialist Republic of Venezuela.

The Venezuelan working class is clearly at the forefront of the international struggle for socialism.

The revolution, however, has still to succeed. The mammoth and highly bureaucratic state apparatus inherited from the past and the international pressure from the imperialist countries and their corporations have still to be defeated.

An example of the obstacles facing the Venezuelan revolution is the long and difficult struggle of the workers of Sanitarios Maracay, who are running the factory, to get the state to expropriate the factory. This struggle is not over yet.

Jorge Martin, International secretary of Hands Off Venezuela Campaign, and CarlosFiorillo, member of the PSUV (Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela) and Hands Off Venezuela ? Ireland, will speak at both the Dublin and Belfast meetings.

Carlos will give an overview of the programme of the government, known as ?the five engines for socialism?.

Jorge will give a general overview of the new stage which the revolution has entered in Venezuela.

The Venezuelan revolution needs the support of the Irish working class. This can be best done by organising or joining support groups in Ireland; by joining or linking up with the international campaign Hands off Venezuela?; and by fighting for Socialism in Ireland.

Venezuela Support Group, Ireland
Hands Off Venezuela, Ireland (
James Connolly Debating Society, Belfast (

International Anti War Conference
Sunday, 14 October 2007
City Hotel Derry
1.00pm – 6.00pm

1.00 – 2.30 Imperialism, Resistance and Democracy in the Middle East
Speakers: Michel Smaha (Christian Lebanese MP); Mira Dabit (Palestinian activist); Colm Bryce (DAWC)

2.30 – 4.00 Iraq: the case for withdrawal
Speakers: Dr. Qousai Abdulawahab (Iraqi MP); Eileen Webster (DAWC) and others

4 – 4.30 Coffee / Tea

4.30 – 6.00 Ireland’s Role in the “War on Terror”
Speakers: Amnesty International; Eamonn McCann (DAWC); Green Party; Richard Boyd-Barrett (Irish Anti War Movement);

Plus film showings from Lebanon and Iraq

Lunchtime Talks on the Belfast Dockers Strike 1907

Tuesdays in October in Dublin City Hall

Dublin City Libraries in association with SIPTU are holding 5 lunch timetalks in Dublin City Hall, Dame St, Dublin. The talks take place on Tuesday 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 Oct from1.10pm to 1.45pm. Admission is free and all are welcome.


It’s a 100 years since 1907 and Dublin City Libraries are running a series of free lunchtime lectures in Dublin City Hall in October. SIPTU are sponsoring. The talks are on Tuesdays 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 Oct from 1.10pm to 1.45pm.


2 Oct: City in Revolt: Jim Larkin and the Belfast Dockers’ and Carters’Strike 1907 by John Gray, Linenhall Library Belfast

9 Oct: Women workers and Belfast, 1907 by Theresa Moriarty, Irish Labour History Society

16 Oct: The RIC and the Belfast Strike by Hugh Forrester, Curator, Police Museum, Belfast

23 Oct: Belfast 1907: Context and Consequences by Henry Patterson, University of Ulster

30 Oct: Belfast 1907: Foundation stone of the Irish Transport and GeneralWorkers Union by Francis Devine, SIPTU College

More info from 01 2222204 or 01 6744996.


International Brigade Memorial Trust
Annual general meeting
Belfast, 12–14 October 2007
Friday 12 October
6:30 p.m.
Reception and exhibition, Linen Hall Library; welcome by John Gray, Ciarán Crossey, and Peter Bunting (Irish Congress of Trade Unions)
Saturday 13 October
11 a.m.
Unveiling of the memorial in Belfast
Introduced by Kevin Doherty, Bob Doyle, and Margaret Ritchie (Minister for Social Development)*
12:45 p.m.
Civic reception and public meeting, Grosvenor Hall, opened by Councillor Jim Rodgers, Lord Mayor of Belfast, with the participation of Hazelwood College Choir. Guest speakers: Jack Jones; Amaya Ruiz Ibárruri (daughter of Dolores Ibárruri, La Pasionaria)*

Closing: Patricia McKeown (Irish Congress of Trade Unions)*

3:45 p.m.
Annual general meeting of International Brigade Memorial Trust

5:15 p.m.
Dinner, Grosvenor Hall

7:30 p.m.
Social event, Europa Hotel. Musicians and entertainers, including Brenda O’Riordan, Mel Corry and Pól Mac Adaim, Tommy Sands, Paul (the Brother) McGuire, Gerry Jones ands friends.

Sunday 14 October
10:45 a.m.
Bus tour of historic Belfast or film, To Die in Madrid, John Hewitt Bar and Restaurant

12:30 p.m.
Lunch, John Hewitt bar and restaurant, with local politicians and trade union and community activists. Booking essential.

2:45 p.m.
Close of the event

*To be confirmed.

During October there will be an exhibition of original material, letters, newspapers and photographs in the Linen Hall Library.

Changes may occur in the programme. However, all venues are firmly booked. Day’s Hotel is holding forty rooms for those who want to stay; phone (028) 90242494, e-mail, fax (028) 90242495; postal payment by cheque to Day’s Hotel, 40 Hope Street, Belfast BT12 5EE, and please quote the reference BTAGM when booking.

For further information about the AGM contact Lynda Walker, 077 51951785 or
For the International Brigades Commemoration Committee contact Kevin Doherty, 077 48148863, or Ciarán Crossey, 077 59393607.
For accompodation and travel information contact the Welcome Centre, 47 Donegall Place, phone (028) 90246609, e-mail