Thursday 19 April 2007

The Plough Vol 04 No 12

The Plough

Web site

Vol. 4- No 12

Thursday 19th April 2007

E-mail newsletter of the Irish Republican Socialist Party

1) Editorial

2) The Republican Movement and Socialism 1950–70

3) Cuba Update

4) Labour news

5) Letters

6) What’s On

IRSP National Hunger Strike Commemoration - 26th Anniversary

Sunday 20th May

Assemble 2pm

Rosemount Factory, Derry

March to Republican Socialist Plot, City Cemetery

All Welcome



"We Irish Republicans believe that the Republic exists. At times it does appear intangible but we believe that it is the legitimate government of Ireland and that its authority resides with the Continuity Army Council and Executive. That is why we are often frustrated by others who claim to be republican yet who do not believe this. There are some in Ireland today and indeed within the Republican Movement itself that propose what is known as the “Broad Front”. Their misleading suggestion is that there is strength in unity. This is simply untrue. Any such proposal would obviously be a drain on the resources of the Movement and would only be of assistance to those who have not the same faith as us. By weakening ourselves and rising others up we endanger the All Ireland Republic. Can we risk all for a temporary benefit? Furthermore some of these other groups actually claim that they are the Republican Movement and that they represent its authority. For we true Republicans to suggest such an alliance is heresy and should be avoided at all costs."

(Speech at Republican Sinn Fein 2007 Wexford Easter Commemoration)


“The 1916 Rising against British rule in Ireland meant (a) the re-assertion of the right of the Irish people to national independence; (b) the re-birth of Christian idealism – the idea and (c) the emergence in the 20th century of the anti-colonial and anti-imperialist movement which was to spread world-wide”

(Speaking at the GPO, Dublin, on Easter Monday, April 9, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, President of Republican Sinn Fein,)


“Republican Sinn Féin represents the sole political alternative capable of providing this, coming from a position of solid and unequivocal Irish Republicanism. Other groups or organisations may attempt to hold this ground but Republican Sinn Féin are the only political organisation to uphold the right of the Irish people, acting as a unit, to national independence, who reject both partitionist states and their respective assemblies and with policies capable of delivering a New Ireland for all of the Irish people.”

(Easter Sunday April 8 Republican Sinn Féin Vice President Des Dalton speaking in Derry)

The above quotations illustrate the narrowness, arrogance and elitism of Republican Sinn Fein. The Republic of Pearse and Connolly does not exist. The IRSP do not recognise any legitimate Government resting in the Continuity Army Council and Executive. No one need be frustrated by this. Our allegiance our cause is not to some intangible make believe but to the Irish working class. That is where our allegiance lies and to no other. Nor do we ever attempt to equate either the 1916 Rising or the republican struggle to the Christian religion. Not for us talk of ‘Christian idealism’, ‘heresy’ nor mumbo jumbo about ‘intangible’ republics. We have seen historically how unquestioning faith can lead young men and women throwing their lives away in the hope of paradise. Too many of our young people have bravely sacrificed their freedom or their lives in the armed struggle without any clear political perspective to achieve that republic. We do not claim to know all the answers but this we do know if the struggle is not based on the bed rock of the working class and guided by a socialism based on an objective analysis of material conditions then it is doomed to repeat the failures of the past. Can Irish Republicans not learn from the past failures?

1922- 1923 Civil War- Defeat

1939-40 S Plan or "Sabotage Campaign" or "England Campaign"- Defeat

1956-61 The Border Campaign or Operation Harvest- Defeat

1970-1997 “The Troubles”-Defeat

Seamus Costello, our founder and former leading member of the Republican Movement before it irrevocably splintered into differing traditions from 1969 onwards, advocated the Broad Front policy, so dismissed contemptuously by RSF. Seamus having participated in the 56-61 armed campaign and watched the so called leftist drift of the movement during the sixties had come to the clear conclusion in the early seventies that the so called swing to the left by what was then the Officials was indeed a sham driven not by revolutionary principles but by reformist aspirations. He recognised the genuine revolutionary aspirations of many rank and file volunteers within the provisional movement but had enough experience of the elitism of former comrades, who took upon themselves the mantle of leadership of a non existing Republic, to know that such was not the way to liberation and socialism. So he advocated the Broad front policy as a way of bring together all anti-imperialist forces. Tragically Seamus was taken from us before he had fully developed the strategy.

Today we operate in very different circumstance from when Seamus lived. We believe that the participation of Sinn Fein (P) in running the northern state far from advancing republicanism shows the extent of the republican defeat. Yes, Northern nationalism based on a sectarian headcount has advanced but don’t let anyone pretend that that is a victory for Republicanism. It is not.

Talks are taking place between various republicans as to the best way forward. The IRSP will happily take part in such talks but we will not be party to recasting a Provo-model Mark Two. We will bring our class politics to any such meetings, maintain a critical eye on proceeds and will work for genuine unity in action with others while continuing to build up the party’s strength.

This edition of the Plough carries an historical article examining the so-called swing to the left of the Republican Movement during the sixties. It exposes that myth. Based on the experiences of our own comrades during the late sixties and early seventies, the RSM never, as such, had illusions in either the Officials or the Provisionals as vehicles for revolutionary change. Both of those organisations swung to the left to soak up working class discontent and replenish their membership. Then as circumstances changed drifted to the right.

The recent history of the Sinn Fein (P) with its rapid accommodation to a British imposed settlement may have surprised some republicans. It did not surprise the IRSP. We have always held firmly to the view that the centrality of the working class in the struggle was the only way that imperialism could be defeated. True there were times when this movement slipped and departed from the revolutionary path. But no movement was ever formed fully mature and knowing all the right moves to make. Experience is hard earned and as our movement learns from its experience we are better placed to plot the way forward for class politics.

During the 1980’s the leadership of Sinn Fein posed as leftists, advocated socialism and persuaded many international based socialists that they were a genuine revolutionary force. At the same time these “socialists” were demonising our own movement. Those who were fooled then, need like us, to learn the lessons of history. One shallow does not a summer make and saying one is socialist does not make one so.

Read the following article by Jim Lane and beware those who would proclaim their socialism only as a means to fool the working class.

The Republican Movement and Socialism


[First published in a supplement to the Starry Plough (organ of the Irish Republican Socialist Party) Dec. 1987. This edition was published in 1989.]

Much mythology attends developments within the Irish Republican Movement in the 1960’s and because it has been purveyed ad nauseam, it has been accepted as fact by many, even by republicans. Basically, the mythology informs us that the Republican Movement moved significantly towards revolutionary Marxism after the failure of the Border Campaign. In a recent book by some latter-day Workers’ Party intellectuals, we are told that a

“radicalisation…followed the defeat of the IRA’s previous military campaign, that of 1956–62”, and that Cathal Goulding saw the engendering of

“social revolution in the Republic”

as his priority during the 1960s1

What follows is an attempt to set the record straight and demolish some of the well-cherished misconceptions about the ‘left-wing drift’ of that decade. Hopefully, it will help place those who later formed the leadership of the Workers’ Party in an historical perspective.

Cold War

The late 1940s and the 1950s was a period of great hardship in the lives of the working class and small farmers of Ireland. Mass unemployment gave rise to poverty, hunger and emigration. It was also the era of the Cold War when pulpit and press gave forth on the ‘evils’ of communism. Nationalist parliamentary politicians studiously ignored the plight of the people. With all attempts to build an ‘independent’ Irish capitalism behind tariff barriers failing, they now concerned themselves with promoting an Anti-Partition campaign and with declaring the 26 Counties a republic. With the IRA declaring that

“the aim of the army is simply to drive the invader from the soil of Ireland” 2

and Sinn Fein (recently reunited with the IRA) stating that it was not

“and never was a political party”3 workers had no reason to expect help from that quarter.

Indeed, when McCarthyite witch-hunts were being conducted by the Catholic Standard newspaper, the IRA took care to distance itself from the communists who had earlier been interned with its volunteers in the Curragh.

It charged, in fact, that the interning of communists with republicans was part of a Fianna Fail plot to influence the IRA with materialist ideas!

An editorial in the United Irishman in 1949 stated:

“The IRA have as constantly opposed communism as they have opposed British domination and have ever denied to communists and imperialists alike a voice in their councils or a plank on their platforms…even if communists were sincere in their advocacy of Irish independence, we could never accept their Marxian creed. Communism is a foreign ideology just as unsuited to Irish character and temperament as British imperialism” 4

Later in that year the same paper explained the tenacity of Irish republicans in quasi-religious terms.

“Every Irish leader”, it stated, “has asserted that in order to gain the Republic we must maintain our spirituality as it is the very quality that has kept our movement the shrine of our National heritage. Ireland’s cause is essentially one, which appeals to saints and martyrs.5

No room for materialistic communists here, even if they be advocates of Irish self-determination.


By 1957, unemployed workers under the banner ‘Emigrate, Starve or Fight’ had begun to make their presence felt, despite witch-hunts and lack of support from the unions. In Dublin, in an effort to bring their protest in to the Dail chambers, they succeeded in getting one of their leaders, Jack Murphy, elected. In Cork, Sinn Fein reaction was to order any of its members who were involved in the Unemployed Protest Movement (UPM) to leave. It was contended that the UPM was a Free State political organisation, because it had a member in the Dail. The reaction of Sinn Feiners was generally to leave the Republican Movement rather than the unemployed movement. One man who defied the order was given a show-trial, as an example to others, and promptly dismissed.

Even before the UPM became ‘contaminated’ by using Leinster House as a platform to air its grievances, Sinn Fein had taken a hostile attitude to it in many areas. At one stage, a group of about 40 unemployed, locked out of Cork’s Carpenter’s Hall due to a mistake in booking arrangements, had proceeded down the street, expecting to be facilitated in the nearby Sinn Fein hall. They were refused, however, because local Sinn Fein leaders claimed that they were communist inspired.

When a member of Sinn Fein, Norman Letchford, wrote and published a pamphlet, “Lives, Loves and Liberties - The Heresies of a Protestant Republican,” he was dismissed ostensibly for not having sought permission to publish. In fact, he had submitted a manuscript to his local Comhairle Ceanntair. At his unsuccessful appeal hearing, he was condemned for criticising the role of the Catholic clergy during the Great Famine.

To back up his dismissal, members were later informed that he was a communist infiltrator and a former member of the Connolly Association. The trials and tribulations of the Irish working class found little place in the considerations of most Irish republicans in the 1950s; they were too busy being ‘saints and martyrs’.

This then is the Republican Movement in which the future ‘left-wingers’ cut their political teeth. This is the movement that they joined and the movement whose policies they never fundamentally disagreed with until the failure of the border campaign necessitated an internal rethink. Even while they were supposedly undergoing a process of radicalisation in the prisons, the bourgeois politics frequently shone through. Tomas MacGiolla, for example, while in prison in late 1950s, spent some time defending Franco’s Spain against the verbal attacks of his more enlightened comrades.

New Leadership

Following the failure of the 1956–62 armed campaign in the 6 Counties, the leadership of the Republican Movement was deposed and a new leadership installed. Cathal Goulding assumed the leadership of the IRA and Tomas MacGiolla took over as acting president of Sinn Fein. Goulding’s involvement with the IRA reached back to the 1940s and he was held in high esteem by his peers. MacGiolla came to Sinn Fein in the early 1950s from the Anti-Partition League. From a Free State background, he was a nephew of T.P. Gill an Irish parliamentary member at Westminister. He had served on the Ard Comhairle (National Executive) previously in 1956. With the ending of the campaign, Goulding and MacGiolla were released from Mountjoy Jail on 20 April 1962. Sean Garland, also destined to play a major role in the coming years, was released from Belfast Jail in July.

These men, along with some others, have been credited with leading the Republican Movement to socialism. It is held that the failure of the armed struggle to win appreciable support brought about a realisation by republicans of the need to involve themselves in agitational activity associated with the struggle of the exploited. We are told, primarily by the Workers’ Party, that this process, which began within the prisons, led to the adoption of revolutionary socialism by the Republican Movement in the early to mid 1960s.

What is never examined, however, is the reason why republicans decided to involve themselves in agitational activity. It had to do with amassing support that they hoped would rebuild the Republican Movement and hold solid when they again launched an armed campaign. It had nothing to do with an ideological change in their thinking with regard to the working class. It was simply a change in tactics. Offering little or no threat to the capitalist system, it found favour with most republicans.

This tactic of republican involvement in social protest in order to win support for their petit bourgeois anti-partition objectives needs to be understood by all those who strive for socialism and national liberation. The working class is not there to be used, and workers have shown on countless occasions that they resent being used and are pretty astute at identifying and rejecting users. That is precisely why Sinn Fein today has made little inroads in electoral terms in southern Ireland. Despite its recent interest in social issues, its priority, indeed only real objective, remains the ending of partition.

That there was no fundamental change in the Republican Movement’s ideological stand was evidenced later in 1962 when MacGiolla gave his presidential address at the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis. He declared that:

“In so far as the communist menace is a battle for men’s minds, we should undoubtedly be playing a leading part in the fight against it, as we should be in the fight against materialism of every blend. Our greatest weapon in the fight against all material philosophies is our essential spiritual nature.”6

He then went on to outline a six point programme to

“fight communism or any other social or political ill of our day.”

Sinn Fein presidential addresses represent the view of the entire movement. Obviously, spiritual Ireland was alive and well and entrenched in the Republican Movement. The United Irishman commented:

The president of Sinn Fein has dealt with our place in the struggle against communism in his presidential address. It is the only honourable and reasonable contribution which we as a small Christian nation can make towards the progress of civilisation and the cause of peace.7

The movement’s anti-communism was later given further expression in an article reviewing the position of communism in Europe:

“Poland has recently thrown off Soviet domination, has drawn away from doctrinaire communism and has adopted a more conservative system…The Hungarian revolution has resulted in severe setback for communism in that country…With so much internal trouble and unrest, these countries in Eastern Europe are a danger to nobody except themselves.”8

What should be noted here is that it was not the style of ‘communism’ that existed in these countries that was being attacked, it was communism itself. The Republican Movement clearly wished for the installation of bourgeois democracy in Eastern Europe rather than a real system of socialist democracy. Years later, when asked by a journalist if “the policy adopted in 1962/3 was explicitly a socialist revolutionary policy”, Cathal Goulding replied that it was.9

Despite the movement’s conservatism, a small group of people formerly associated with the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB), the Connolly Association and the Irish Workers’ Party, found its way into the Republican Movement or into its front organisations. They were in time to exert a major influence on the thinking of some of the republican leadership. That they could survive in such an anti-communist movement only goes to show the extent of their reformism.10


In pursuance of their policy of agitation, republicans began to involve themselves in the everyday struggles of the workers and small farmers. IRA volunteers were instructed to join trade unions, but by 1965 it was admitted Sinn Fein itself had failed to develop an active organisational structure. There was much dissatisfaction with Sinn Fein and the IRA wished its role to be confined to publicity and election work.

Whatever about the IRA curbing Sinn Fein, its president, Tomas MacGiolla, was still given free rein to deliberate on communism:

“Communism…as it has manifested itself in many countries…is not an ideology which would commend itself to the Irish people”11

The ambiguity of this statement is apparent. Was he issuing a blanket condemnation of communism? Or was he merely condemning the distorted form of communism that manifest itself in the ‘socialist’ countries?

Coupled with the ritual condemnation of capitalism, the Republican Movement, in attacking communism, seemed, like the Catholic Church, to want something suspended between both. In reality, again like the Church, they wanted capitalism with something of a social conscience. They sought economic in-betweenism and frequently used James Connolly as a basis for their utopian concept. The economic policy promoted by Sinn Fein was immeasurably removed from any stand James Connolly ever took. It was nothing more than a bizarre mixture of re-hashed Proudhonism and Social Credit theories.

In 1965, what MacGiolla described as the ‘essential spiritual nature’ of the Republican Movement was greatly in evidence. The movement spearheaded opposition to the use of English in the Roman Catholic Mass. In a front page leading article, entitled ‘Demonstrations in Churches?’ the United Irishman announced:

A chapter is likely to be added to the history of republicanism and Roman Catholic church relations when the change to the vernacular in the Mass comes into force…for the first time since the coming of St. Patrick to Ireland the English language is not only to be given a place an official status in the very heart of Church affairs, the Mass, but also, over most of our country, a position of complete dominance. This, in the eyes of many, is the consummation of the conquest and the end of hopes for spiritual and intellectual independence, the first facet of republicanism. 12

In the event, good sense took over and except for some more articles in subsequent months, we were spared the demonstrations. Strange, however, to find such Catholic-nationalist sentiments in an allegedly socialist revolutionary organisation.

Going into 1966 with MacGiolla defending a free enterprise economy and suggesting the co-operative movement as an alternative “to either, capitalism or communism”,13 it was understandable that Ruairi O’Bradaigh could state emphatically during the Westminster election campaign that the Republican Movement was not socialist.14 At the Easter Commemoration in Cork City that year, MacGiolla launched into an attack on communism emphasising that it was an ‘alien ideology’.

In May 1966, an editorial in the United Irishman, contemplating who republicans should support in the Free State presidential election, said of candidate T.F. O’Higgins, that he had “very little to condemn him personally.” Supporting fascism as a member of the Blueshirts in the 1930s was not to be held against him. Such liberalism!

By 1967, as Goulding revealed in an interview in 1970, the Republican Movement was dormant:

It wasn’t active in any political sense or even in a revolutionary sense. Membership was falling off. People had gone away. Units of the IRA and the cumainn of Sinn Fein had become almost non-existent. We felt that something dynamic was needed or the movement was going to break up and splinter into pieces. We called a meeting of the Republican Army’s local leadership at the end of August that conference of 1967 we started on a Friday night and finished on a Sunday evening…they suddenly realised that they had no movement at all. They only thought they had a movement. Out of this conference there came a number of recommendations. The first was that we should openly declare for a Socialist Republic. That was now the objective of the Republican Movement: to establish a Socialist Republic as envisaged by Connolly and in keeping with the sentiments of the Proclamation of 1916.15

A Native Product

With a moribund movement, badly in need of a shot in the arm, the tattered remnants of the leadership had got together for one weekend and come up with the good old Socialist Republic. The Republican Movement clearly thought it worthwhile to cash in on socialism’s new-found popularity in the late 1960s, so it jumped on the bandwagon. By November, Sinn Fein had tailed the IRA and amended the party constitution to read that its objective was a Socialist Republic. The army had decided the matter and the party had followed. Truly indicative of a socialist vanguard party!

However, the Republican Movement now had that ‘something dynamic’.

“Socialism has nothing to do with either atheism or totalitarianism, as is evident from a superficial reading of Connolly”, MacGiolla told the faithful in January 1969. He continued:

Neither is it a philosophy which must be imported. It is part of the Republican tradition since the founding of the United Irishmen, was deeply rooted among the Fenians, and was the driving force behind the 1916 rebellion.16

A few months later, socialism became even more acceptable when he claimed that

“the revolutionary movements of the past all… recognised that socialism was a native growth on Irish soil.”17

This nonsense hardly deserves comment, but it helps to show the reader the level of mumbo-jumbo prevalent in the Republican Movement at the time. Mythology has us believe that it was guided by advanced Marxists. But when the heady days of armed conflict arrived, people like MacGiolla lost their heads altogether. The notorious anti-communist, MacGiolla, in an interview in July 1970, informed us that if things happened as he hoped, he would be the Fidel Castro of Ireland.

“Yes!” he said, “we have the same revolutionary style and objective. Mind you, not that I have any personal ambitions to be an Irish Castro. As a man I regard him as overemotional.”18 I wonder did Castro, like ‘Ice Cool’ MacGiolla, realise that socialism was a native growth of Irish soil?


This then was the Republican Movement of the 1960s. It was a movement that never strayed from reformism. It indulged in revolutionary posturing and phrasemongery when such activities were popular, but it never genuinely attempted to forge a Leninist-type revolutionary Marxist party. This is not to say that there were not some genuine Marxists within the movement, struggling for a way forward.19 What it does mean is that the Workers’ Party is nothing less than the natural, and expected, product of policies formulated by the so-called ‘left-wingers’ of the 1960s. They had always dismissed real revolutionary politics; it was only a matter of time before they openly rejected revolutionary methods.

Today’s Workers’ Party, true to its creators design, does not seek the overthrow of capitalism and the building of a socialist society. Rather, it seeks simply to ‘ameliorate’ the lot of Irish workers by working within the system. It is nothing more than a second Labour Party in Ireland. What is truly needed is not another Labour Party, but a Marxist party that makes the achievement of social revolution its inviolable objective. Only with such a party will an Irish Workers’ Republic be built ( Jim Lane, Cork, 1989.)

Cuba Update 16 April, 2007

1.Barclays asks Cuban outfits to close accounts

2.Austrian bank tells Cuban-born customer to go elsewhere

3.Cuba condemns Posada possible release

4.Cuban music legends to play London

1. Barclays asks Cuban outfits to close accounts

Move follows scandal over Hilton Hotels

16 April 2007

Duncan Campbell

Monday April 16, 2007

The Guardian

Barclays Bank has told the London branches of two Cuban organisations to take their accounts elsewhere in what is seen as the latest example of pressure exerted by the United States on British companies to enforce its embargo of the island. MPs are to discuss the controversial embargo at a special meeting in the House of Commons next month.

The long-standing accounts held by Havana International Bank and Cubanacan, a state-owned travel organisation, are understood to be healthy. But they have been told to take their accounts elsewhere. A spokesman for Barclays said: “We operate in a number of jurisdictions around the world and that requires careful monitoring to ensure compliance with different regulations.”

A spokesman for the Cuban embassy in London said: “We are aware of the intensification of US pressure in various countries in order to make them comply with the regulations of the blockade imposed on Cuba. These pressures include the banking and financial system.”

The Hilton hotel group was at the centre of a row this year when their Oslo hotel cancelled a Cuban trade delegation booking. After the Guardian published details of a similar ban operated by the group in Europe, the company said it could not ask staff to break British law forbidding discrimination on the grounds of nationality.

The Hilton Hotels Corporation in London wrote to the government, stating: “As a US-based company, we face a legal dilemma, with a strict ban on trading with Cuba imposed by the US government”.

Ian Carter, chief executive of Hilton International, is due to attend next month’s meeting of the all-party parliamentary group on Cuba to discuss the embargo.

Colin Burgon MP, a member of the group, said: “This is totally unnecessary. We have on the statute book robust legislation that protects UK citizens and visitors from discrimination.”,,2057886,00.html


2. Austrian bank tells Cuban-born customer to go elsewhere

Blockade is being applied to all Cuba nationals abroad

14 April 2007

VIENNA, Austria - An Austrian bank recently bought by a US-led consortium acknowledged Friday that it told a Cuban-born client to take her business elsewhere and suggested that Washington’s ban on commerce with Havana was behind the decision.


3. Cuba condemns Posada possible release

Main topic of conversation in the island

13 April 2007

Havana, Apr 15 (Prensa Latina) Cubans’ condemnation of Luis Posada Carriles’s release and President Fidel Castro’s denunciations of the US government support for the terrorist were the main topics of conversation in the Caribbean Island this week.

Posada Carriles’s possible release on bail in Texas was condemned by millions of Cubans, who demand that the terrorist be tried in the United States or extradited to Venezuela.


4. Cuban legends to play London

La Linea Festival at the Barbican

Eliades Ochoa

Friday 20 April,7.30pm


Israel López ‘Cachao’ + Omar Puente & Robert Mitchell

Sunday 29 April, 7.30pm

Barbican Cente, London

0845 120 7515

More info at:


Cuba Update is the news and information bulletin of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, UK. Reports in this bulletin are from various sources on the web and may contain opinions and phrasing that do not reflect the views of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign.



Cuba Solidarity Campaign

c/o Red Rose Club,

129 Seven Sisters Rd,

London N7 7QG

Tel. 020 7263 6452 Fax. 020 7561 0191


If you are not already a member of CSC please join today.

Labour news


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 to read more about our work and how you can get involved.

What’s on?

What’s James Larkin About?

Friday 20th April@8.00PM in the CYMSI CLUB Antrim Road Belfast-Life size sculpture of James Larkin on display.

Guest speaker John Grey (Historian)

Admission £5.

Sunday 15 April 2007

The Plough Vol 04 No 11

The Plough

Web site:

Vol. 4- No 11
Sunday April 15th 2007

E-mail newsletter of the
Irish Republican Socialist Party

1) The Easter Statement from the leadership of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement. 2007

2) Easter statement of the Republican Socialist Youth Movement

3) IRSCNA Easter Statement

4) Derry Commemoration statement

5) More sectarian than ever before

6) Labour news

7) Letters

8) What’s On


This edition carries the main statements of the movement for Easter 2007. Easter is especially important for republicans because it is an opportunity to not only pay homage to the men and women of 1916 uprising, honour all those who died in the struggle for a Republic but also to outline the way forward. A quick reading of the leadership’s statement point out clearly the direction the republican socialist movement should take.

>??The structures of the movement remain intact.

>??Neither a return to arms nor the parliamentary road is an option

>??Class struggle is the way forward

>??Abstract appeals to class unity will not work.

>??Collective leadership not individualism is the way forward

>??Our task is to build the party

>??The primacy of politics is paramount.

If all comrades abide by these points then the road ahead while it may be difficult will be rewarded with success.

The Easter Statement from the leadership of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement. 2007

To all comrades, volunteers, ex-combatants, ex-prisoners, families of our dead volunteers, friends and supporters the leadership sends its revolutionary greetings on this the 91st anniversary of the remarkable uprising by the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army against the then greatest Imperialist power in the world.

Occasions such as these are a time for mourning, for reflection and for looking forward. We mourn for those who paid the ultimate price in the struggle to finish what 1916 started. We reflect on personal memories of our lost comrades and the sufferings that so many families have had to endure. And unfortunately we reflect on the set back that the republican struggle has suffered after decades of armed campaigns.

British rule is still intact. Ireland is still bitterly divided not merely by an imaginary line through a map but by bitter divisions between the descendants of the Planter and the Gael. These divisions have been cleverly exacerbated by the British to perpetuate their rule and to allow unfettered capitalist exploitation of both catholic and protestant workers.

In the March elections held in the North there was no fundamental economic differences between all the main parties. They have in essence all signed up to the neo liberal economic agenda that will privatise as much as possible of all socially owned resources. In short to take back for capitalism all the gains that centuries of working class struggle had achieved.

All these parties will introduce and implement the economic policies dictated by the British Government and which have their origins in the policies of the international capitalist bodies such as the IMF and the World Bank.

When this leadership took up a principled position of opposition to the Good Friday Agreement we were vilified by some on the left and by Sinn Fein (P) as warmongers and anti –peace. But we clearly indicated we opposed the GFA because it endorsed the British policy of divide and rule. It institutionalised sectarianism, cemented British rule in a part of Ireland, and endorsed partition.

Others took a different and wrong road. They decommissioned, entered Stormont, worked British rule in the North, implemented privatization policies, bowed the knee to USA war lord George Bush, colluded in the doing away with the political status gained by the heroic deaths of 10 hunger strikers and belittled and demeaned other republicans who rejected their reformism.

For our part, whilst our analysis on the present situation is clear in regards to armed actions/struggle, nevertheless we will retain our structures, our weapons and our republican socialist principles and credentials. To do otherwise at this present time would be foolish in the extreme.

Comrades and friends we say very clearly neither the parliamentary road nor the armed road is the way forward for the working class. Both positions ignore or downplay the class struggle. They have forgotten every thing James Connolly wrote about!

He said “Imperialism would still rule you if you do not set about building the socialist republic”

The national question will be solved with the victory of socialism and not before. But in working for socialism we do not forget that the working class is deeply divided and stuck into two sectarian camps. Ignoring or downplaying the reality of the sectarian divisions by abstract appeals to class unity has not and will not work.

For our part this movement will continue to do what it has been doing over the past 11 years, while others stood idly by waiting for our collapse. Driven as we are by the passion of Costello, the ideas of Ta Power and the energy and commitment of Gino Gallagher, this leadership has implemented the policy of the primacy of politics. That we were able to do so was because everything we did, everything we said, was the collective voice of the Party, the collective voice of the movement.

The result has been the re-emergence of the IRSP as a credible revolutionary party. Throughout our history the revolutionary soldiers of the INLA fought and in many instances gave their lives not only to defend the absolute right of this movement to exist and to organise but also in a battle over militarism wrapped in a green flag, the soldiers of the Peoples Army paid a heavy price to ensure that each of us here today can march behind the banner of the IRSP as we celebrate and remember the lives and ultimate sacrifice of our dead volunteers.

It is now up to each and every comrade and volunteer to pick up the weapons of today, the weapons of class struggle, the weapon of agitation, the weapon of political education, the weapon every day involvement in the struggle of the class. Each and everyone of us has a responsibility to politically educate ourselves in the struggles of the working class for it only by the collective actions of the mass of the people that we can transform society and build the Socialist Republic But comrades and volunteers beware of individualistic tendencies in the movement. No individual is greater than the movement.

The leadership of the working class is not self appointed or proclaimed. It is not handed down. It has to be earned in the white heat of everyday battles. By our theory and practice this movement will one day earn the right to be considered the advanced section of the working class. But that day is a long way away. It is up to us all here to earn that right.

In the meantime we are slowly building a credible left revolutionary force advocating the Connolly /Costello road to revolution. And we are prepared where necessary to step in and defend vulnerable working class areas from sectarian attacks. But our main push, our main drive, our overriding consideration is the need to push positive policies, approaches, and ideas from an anti-imperialist and socialist perspective.

That would be the best way to honour and acknowledge the sacrifices our volunteers made, the sacrifices their families made and the sacrifices ordinary working class families made to support the anti-imperialist struggle.

We remain unrepentant republicans, bloodied but unbowed, steeped in the socialism of Connolly and implacable opponents of any settlement of the Irish question that falls short of the Socialist Republic. For National Liberation or Socialism. Victory to the Irish Working Class!!!

Easter statement
Republican Socialist Youth Movement
The following speech was delivered by a representative of the Republican Socialist Youth Movement Ard Comhairle at the national Republican Socialist Movement Easter commemoration held in Belfast on Easter Sunday, 2007. /

A chairde agus comrádaí,

We stand once more to commemorate our working class martyrs. Socialist and Republican revolutionaries that selflessly pursued the Socialist Republic. The Socialist Republic that these revolutionaries fought and died for has still to be realised and it remains to this day the goal of the Republican Socialist Movement.

1916 may seem to be a relic of the past to some but the ideals that drove those revolutionaries, in particular the Irish Citizen Army are still held dear by our movement. We salute all of those who made sacrifices for the Socialist Republic, many of those are not able to join us here, their dedication sealed their fate.

The strength of this movement today is testament to all of our comrades hard work but the struggle has just begun. Anti-Good Friday Agreement Republican organisations will soon find ourselves under the utmost scrutiny as we have already seen since the acceptance of the PSNI by the largest nationalist party. The PSNI are out to prove themselves. From this point in time, things can only prove to be more difficult.

The Irish people have suffered much under the imperial yoke, too much to sit back and accept the very principle of the Unionist state and their veto. The Union is firmly cemented; the Good Friday Agreement contains no mechanism to grant Irish unity. The British leaving Crossmaglen is heralded as a great victory, what is not mentioned is that the British will maintain a permanent garrison here in Ireland. The number of troops permanently stationed here will be larger than the number of troops they used to invade Iraq.

Too much was lost, too much was sacrificed. There can be no shortcuts to our objectives, half measures have always ended in compromise and compromise has always ended in defeat and surrender. Those who compromise find themselves acting contrary to what they originally intended to achieve.

It will be by the merit of our work and our effort to convince the working class of the virtue of our politics that represents the current struggle. The British, capitalist class and their armed defenders still remain the enemy but the methods have changed.

Anglo-American companies, encouraged by their own imperial governments are flooding this country with capital to pacify our people. They have succeeded to a large decree, but there will always be those who can never be purchased. Some of those who brought successive British governments from crisis to crisis are today in alliance with that same government.

They benefit from a capitalist Ireland and have the most to fear from a Socialist revolution, which occasionally they will dress up their politics as representing. Let us not be distracted, there is an unsurpassable margin between the careerist and the revolutionary.

Comrades, there is much more work to be done. Let it be embraced for us to move forward and develop this movement into a fortress built upon the foundations of the working class.

Ní saoirse go saoirse lucht oibre.

8 - 4 - 07

On the 91st anniversary of the Easter Rising, the Irish Republican Socialist Committees of North America send greetings to our comrades in the Irish Republican Socialist Party, Teach Na Fáilte, the Republican Socialist Youth Movement, and the Irish National Liberation Army.

We would like to applaud the great efforts of our comrades in the IRSP and RSYM, and all other comrades of the IRSM who have succeeded in implementing the political strategy of our movement. Recently the movement did an outstanding job of aiding the campaign of Peggy O'Hara and upholding the republican socialist position in the face of a massive sell-out. The RSM has done fantastic work speaking truth to power, even when it was not popular to do so. The tremendous work of our Party and Youth section in fighting the neo-liberal attacks on the workers of
Ireland, and connecting that struggle with the issue of national oppression is also to be commended. Your efforts to remain unbowed before a British-backed colonial police force is an example to all freedom loving people. The visibility and obvious energy within our Movement is inspiring to see.

We proudly reaffirm our commitment to the leadership of the Irish Republican Socialist Party and to the political alternative to the US-brokered pacification process that they represent. We pledge to do all we can to aid our RSPOWs, our Party and our Youth Movement as they continue to show the way forward.

The IRSCNA is justly proud of our twenty-three years of service to the movement and we pledge ourselves once again to continuing our efforts to build recognition of and support for the Irish Republican Socialist Movement, the national liberation of Ireland, and the liberation of the Irish working class from the shackles of capitalism.

Once again the "men of no property" are left as the true inheritors of the Easter Rising tradition; those republicans and republican socialists who continue the fight against British occupation and those republican socialists who continue to fight for James Connolly's dream of an Irish Workers' Republic.

Irish Republican Socialist Committees of North America
PO Box 8266
Austin TX 78713-8266

Derry Commemoration statement

Friends and Comrades,

On Easter Monday ninety-one years ago, men and women of the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army marched into the streets of Dublin to confront the British occupation forces. Their shared goal was the liberation of Ireland once and for all from British control. The ICA, led by Marxist trade unionist James Connolly, had the ultimate goal of creating an Irish Socialist Republic, a republic of and for the Irish working class. The great revolutionary V. I. Lenin later recognised the ICA as "the first Red Army in Europe."

The Irish national liberation forces held out against the British for a week before they were forced to surrender. The leaders of the Rising, including Connolly, were executed but the spirit of the Rising was an inspiration for the continuation of the national liberation struggle. Although this struggle won partial independence in 1921, six northern counties remained under direct British occupation while the twenty-six southern counties formed the comprador Irish Free State. As Connolly had predicted in 1914, the partition of Ireland led to a carnival of reaction in both statelets.

We can state here today to the DUP and others that this fitting memorial to our fallen comrades will not be moved, dismantled or decommissioned in any way. The Republican Socialist Movement and the families of our dead comrades will not be jumping through hoops for the DUP.

Although we are here today to honour the dead of the Republican Socialist Movement and the men and women of 1916 we also honour and salute all republicans who gave their lives in the struggle for national liberation and our thoughts and love are with their families today.

There is one person who is missing from this gathering today and that is our friend and comrade, volunteer Davy McNutt, who passed away in December. We salute Davy’s memory and we will always hold him dear to our hearts.

Ninety-one years after the Easter Rising, the members of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement continue to be inspired by the example of the Irish working class marching into battle under the banners of the Irish Citizen Army and the Starry Plough flag to join with others bent on ending foreign domination of Ireland, and ultimately to press forward for the greater liberation that socialism means for our class, the working class.

The true inheritors of the Easter Rising tradition are those republicans and republican socialists who continue the fight against British occupation and those republican socialists who continue to fight for James Connolly's dream of an Irish Socialist Republic.

“Let the fight go on”

More sectarian than ever before

A new book Belfast:Segregation, Violence and the City‚ (Pluto Press 2006)
by Peter Shirlow and Brendan Murtagh has been called a ground breaking
analysis of the present state of Irish society and one of the few studies on
society in Ireland in the period following the Good Friday Agreement. To
Republican Socialists, it confirms what we‚ve been saying for years.

According to the authors, there are as many as 26 peace barriers in Belfast,
some have stood longer than the Berlin wall did with a handful going back as
far as the 1830s. The authors argue peace lines and barriers fail to prevent
sectarian attacks and murders. Their basis for this conclusion is that 70%
of killings during the recent conflict were within 500 yards of a peace

Alone in North Belfast, there were 6623 sectarian occurrences from 1996 to
2004. North Belfast is deeply divided, according to the authors, less than
one in five Protestants will refuse to use the shops in Catholic Ardoyne,
and 82% of Catholics will refuse to use the nearby leisure centre in

This is not a phenomenon unique to North Belfast; we have seen similar cases
in East and West Belfast with people travelling considerable distances into
areas where their religion is numerically stronger for essential services.
This mentality hampers any prospect for integration, Shirlow comments „You‚d
see a playground on one side of the fence, and it was out of bounds for the
kids on the other side of the fence. Generation after generation is growing
up like this.‰

Even more worrying is the fact that 11% of Catholics and 7% of Protestants
have settled in mixed areas. Catholic neighbours on the opposite side of the
barriers now have greater opportunities in terms of employment which they
never once had. This attitude has further exacerbated feelings of isolation
and abandonment for Protestants. These feelings openly antagonise and give
rise to the Loyalist „siege‰ mentality.

As a consequence of this, sectarian and racist attacks are on the increase.
Loyalist paramilitaries have expanded their traditional links with rightwing
organisations in Europe and Britain. In the north, we had 41 racist
incidents in 1996 but that had risen to 936 in the past year. In a survey
published in July 2006 showed 33% of Protestants admitted to being
prejudiced, compared to 18% of Catholics.

According to Paul Doherty, in his book ŒEthnic Residential Segregation in
Belfast‚, a decline in levels of segregation in terms of living was only
noted after 25 to 30 years. Currently, the only signs of a decline in
segregation are in exclusively middle-class areas where people are less
likely to vote for either Sinn Fein or the DUP. Belfast now has a façade it
never once had; trendy clubs, restaurants, bars, avenues lined with
expensive shops are a common sight but serve to mask the true nature of the
state. The price of fuel and food compared to the UK is higher and 8 out of
10 of the UK‚s lowest paid black spots are in the north.

Seán McGowan, Belfast
Republican Socialist Youth Movement.

Friday, 30th March 2007.

Labour news


We're seeing more and more cross-border union activity these days, often using the web.

* General Motors workers all over the world now have a blog of their own, thanks to the European Metalworkers Federation. The blog is located at and is subtitled "Fighting back makes a difference."

* Coca-Cola workers in different countries mobilized this week in support of their brothers and sisters in the US. Here's the report from the IUF:

* The United Steel Workers have launched a multilingual website in support of ExxonMobil workers around the world, entitled "Global Network for ExxonMobil Workers' Solidarity". View it here:


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 to read more about our work and how you can get involved.

What’s on?

Hands Off Venezuela meetings.

The occupied factory movement in Venezuela".
Maynooth on the 17th april, 6.30-8.30 pm,
JHL2, Hume Building, North Campus, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Co. Kildare.

The meeting in the UCD will be on the 18th April, at 6pm.17th, at 6pm.

Sunday 1 April 2007

The Plough Vol 04 No 10

The Plough

Vol. 4- No 10
Sunday April 1st 2007

E-mail newsletter of the
Irish Republican Socialist Party

1) Editorial

2) Province of permanent instability ‘normalises’

3) Phantom Peace

4) Letters

a. In defence of RSF
b. Editorial response

6) What’s On?

This edition carries a piece written before last Monday’ agreement between Paisley and Adams by Liam O’Ruaric. He correctly predicted more humiliations for the Adams republicans and so it has come to pass. Pressure is being mounted for the Army Council of the PIRA to be dissolved. Who knows what other hoops Adams may be forced to jump through in the pursuit of political power under British jurisdiction. It should be noted that Adams sees little difference between the policies of the DUP and Sinn Fein (Provisional) In a recent interview he said

"I don't think there need necessarily be a battle-a-day between us and the
DUP on social and economic issues."
Quite! What a stunning victory for the British!!
We also continue the correspondence between the Plough and a reader. This correspondence raises important issues about debate within and between republicans. We hope others join in this debate for it is always good to talk.

Province of permanent instability ‘normalises’
On March 7, electors in the Six Counties went to the polls to elect 108 members of the legislative assembly (MLAs).1 The elections are unusual in the sense that voters are asked to elect representatives to a devolved institution whose future existence is conditional upon the approval of Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party - something far from guaranteed at the present moment.
The London and Dublin governments are attempting to resurrect the Stormont assembly and construct a power-sharing executive “to underpin the gains that have already been made and to provide the basis for long-term stability”2 and therefore normalise British rule in Ireland. Both prime ministers are working hard to achieve a breakthrough - Blair because he will be retiring this year and wants to go down in history as the one who ‘brought peace to Ireland’ rather than war on Iraq; Ahern because he has a tight election to fight before the summer.
The business community is also arguing that Northern Ireland needs its own stable government to help its companies and people compete on the world stage. Frank Bryan, chairman of the Ulster branch of the Institute of Directors declared:
“Northern Ireland is now presented with an opportunity to turn a talking shop at Stormont into real government - and if our political leaders are looking for the key to a better future, let me offer this simple analysis: it’s the economy, stupid. As Northern Ireland competes to win vital new investment and open up new world markets, stable political institutions are a prerequisite.”3
The results were a triumph for the DUP and a spectacular defeat for the Ulster Unionist Party. The DUP now has 36 MLAs - a gain of six seats since the 2003 elections. In contrast, the UUP only succeeded in getting 18 MLAs - a loss of nine.
In its election literature, the DUP boasted that it had been successful in getting: “unionists setting the political agenda”; a “DUP veto over all major decisions”, including “cross-border relations”; and what it called “republicans jumping first” and their “support for the police, the courts and the rule of British law”. It promised “a unionist-dominated executive” and unionist first minister and that is would “keep republicans under pressure”. It also pledged genuine devolution, “which will mean that the party will be able to stop legislation such as the Irish Language Act”.
According to Henry McDonald, writing in The Observer the huge increase in the DUP vote leaves unionism stronger:
“For more than a decade, one of the consistent ironies of the Irish peace process has been unionism’s inability to comprehend its own strengths ... Both the Good Friday agreement of 1998 and latterly the St Andrews accord are grounded in the consent principle. That is, that there can be no change to Northern Ireland’s constitutional status without the say of the majority: ie, the unionists.
“Republicans used to call this the ‘unionist veto’, denouncing it as an undemocratic maintenance of partition by a ‘national minority’ on the island. Now, the very people who once were so vocal in opposing the principle of consent, Sinn Féin, embrace it. This is a historic 360-degree turn by the republican movement, which no amount of verbal gymnastics or over-emphasis on relatively weak cross-border bodies can contradict.
“The fall-out from last week’s assembly elections also leaves unionism stronger. Unionists now control a majority of the ministries should the DUP choose to enter into a power-sharing coalition with nationalists, including Sinn Féin. They will hold six portfolios, compared to the four held by nationalists. By taking up Peter Hain’s offer to restore devolution, Paisley will also preserve, among other things, academic selection. Unionism’s middle classes are particularly fond of Northern Ireland’s renowned grammar schools; the DUP is tantalisingly close to saving them and claiming the glory for doing so.”4
With its increased share of the vote, then, the DUP is likely to impose even more humiliating terms on the Provisionals.
On the nationalist side, Provisional Sinn Féin increased its share of the vote, with 28 MLAs returned - a gain of four seats compared to 2003. Its rival, the Social Democratic and Labour Party, continued its decline, losing two seats and returning 16 MLAs.
If, however, the increase in DUP votes leaves unionism stronger, the same cannot be said for republicanism:
“The more effective that Sinn Féin is as an electoral force, the more impotent it becomes as an ideological one. Every deal it strikes with Tony Blair legitimises the British presence in Northern Ireland. Every concession it secures that advances the economic and social standing of ordinary Roman catholics in Ulster weakens the argument that it is only through Irish unification that those material interests can be realised. With every step that Ulster takes towards becoming a ‘normal society’, what Sinn Féin officially regards as an ‘interim settlement’ becomes more deeply entrenched.
“This is the outlook for Republicanism. A larger and larger number of nationalists in both the north and the south will vote for Sinn Féin - but more because they regard it as the best vehicle for representing them in a divided Ireland than out of support for a united one. Nor will it make much difference if catholics finally outbreed protestants in Ulster. Even at the height of the troubles a substantial percentage of nationalists preferred the status quo to the upheaval of unification.”5
Or, as Anthony McIntyre puts it,
“To claim that there are more republicans in Ireland today than ever before because of the electoral strength behind Sinn Féin is on a ludicrous par with the claim that there are more socialists in Britain because of the Labour Party vote. Labour is as socialist as Sinn Féin is republican.”6
Nowhere is that better illustrated than by the fact that if is there is a power-sharing deal, Sinn Féin will go down in history as the party that put Paisley in power!
The big losers in the election are the traditional republicans. For the first time, six candidates stood for Republican Sinn Féin, who gathered an average of 1% of first-preference votes in the constituencies contested. Oppositional votes went mainly to Labourite ventures that ignored the national question. The People Before Profit candidate in West Belfast polled over 700 votes compared to RSF’s 437. In Derry, Eamonn McCann received over 2,000 votes, compared to 1,789 that went to Independent Republican Socialist candidate Peggy O Hara. The fact that oppositional politics are now reduced to what Connolly called ‘gas and water socialism’ is in itself an indication of how successfully normalised the north has become.
What was striking about the election campaign was that, contrary to the claims of international media that it was ‘historic’, it “has been one of the most low-key in living memory”.7 Late in February, The Irish News noted:
“The election campaign which should now be reaching a climax has actually become one of the most low-key in recent memory ... no single new issue has emerged over recent weeks which has the potential to capture the imagination of the wider public.”8 Only 63% of the electorate bothered to vote - a turnout lower than 1998 and 2003. The BBC Northern Ireland political editor claimed that an election campaign had never been “so dull”.9
Also, significantly,
“the border question - for so long the only issue that mattered - has for the first time disappeared from the electoral agenda”:10
“Politics now seem to be about how much additional expenditure party leaders can jointly secure from the treasury ... A new politics based on butter, not guns, in Ulster is a massive improvement.”11
These two facts prove how successful the British state policy of normalisation has been:
“The result is a kind of hyper-normality, in which there can be no real policy disagreements because everyone is going to end up on the same side, governing together. It means Northern Ireland is about to jump from civil war to soggy consensuality, without ever passing through democratic, adversarial politics.”12
That is because all parties elected to the Stormont assembly adhere to the same neo-liberal agenda:
“Sinn Féin’s original aim of a 32-county socialist republic now appears closer to a six-county capitalist monarchy. Those who included the ‘Labour’ in the SDLP’s title have long since gone ... The DUP’s christian influence might have led it to oppose society’s more obvious inequalities. But poverty could never quite stir the faithful to the same degree of indignation as homosexuality. The UUP has always been unashamedly capitalist. It opposed the introduction of the welfare state into the north”.13
Even worse, from a UK point of view, by arguing for an all-Ireland tax rate of 17.5%,
“Sinn Féin is standing slightly to the right of the Conservative Party and the Confederation of British Industry in wanting the north’s rate for this tax slashed.”14
The DUP and the Provisional movement are now supposed to reach an agreement, following which a devolved power-sharing government will be restored on March 26. The British government has told them that their choice is devolution or dissolution by that date. Which means that the DUP is caught between two imperatives:
“Political deadlines have been missed, rather than met, in Northern Ireland. And, in the past, republicans frequently failed to step up to the mark. This time, things are different. The IRA has disarmed and Sinn Féin, in the words of Martin McGuiness, has declared ‘wholehearted support for the PSNI’. The party desperately wants to enter government. But the DUP appears determined to impose a period of political quarantine. Nothing but ritual and humiliation can be served by such an approach.”15
On the one hand, ritual humiliation of nationalists has been central to DUP agenda. But on the other, as Dean Godson, the shrewdest analyst of unionist politics noted, Paisley’s agenda has always been about his own personal power which might motivate him to secure a deal with the Provisionals by March 26.16
The concluding words go to Ed Moloney, whose analysis written six months ago is more relevant than ever:
“As I write this, the peace process, its beginning dated by the first ceasefire of 1994, has lasted nearly three times longer than World War I, almost twice as long as World War II, and virtually as long as American involvement in Vietnam. Not only is the peace process in Northern Ireland one of the longest in human history, but the political stability it promised is as far off as ever, and in its stead extremism has triumphed.
“Moderate unionist trust in the process has evaporated, and protestants have flocked to support a party whose founder and everlasting leader combines the worst elements of religious and political extremism - one who built his career on bigotry, division, fear and conflict and many of whose apparatchiks behave like mindless, loyal bullies.
“The majority of nationalists now support a party that is morally bankrupt, whose leaders lie outrageously and who stand accused of the most heinous deeds - from disappearing a widowed mother to contriving the deaths of hunger-striking comrades - to advance their own political ambitions. Each has grown fat on the back of community division spawned by a peace process that seems never to end, spurred on by two governments whose leaders behave as if they care less for the sort of society they are helping to create, and much more about their own place in the history books.
“Fundamental to the political prosperity of Sinn Féin and the DUP has been the failure of the peace process to produce political stability. The pattern has been repeated endlessly, to the benefit of both.”17

Liam O’Ruaric (originally printed in the Weekly Worker

1. For detailed election results check: .
2. David McKittrick The Independent March 7.
3. Nigel Tilson Belfast Telegraph February 9.
4. Henry McDonald The Observer March 11.
5. Tim Hames The Times August 1 2005.
6. Anthony McIntyre The Blanket .
7. Editorial The Irish News March 6.
8. Editorial The Irish News February 26.
9. Mark Devenport, BBC, March3, .
10 David Sharrock The Times March 5.
11. Editorial The Times March 5.
12. Jonathan Freedland The Guardian March 7.
13. Patrick Murphy The Irish News December 23 2006.
14. Marc Coleman The Irish Times March 6.
15. Editorial The Irish Times March 10.
16. Dean Godson The Times March 13.
17. Ed Moloney The peace process and journalism in Britain and Ireland: lives entwined Vol 2, London 2006, pp77-78.

Phantom Peace

Historical events are getting easier to come by in Northern Irish Politics. The last few days have seen an embarrassing climb-down by the British Government effortlessly evaporating the deadline "set in stone" when a troubled Paisley won the tête-à-tête with Peter Hain. The Stormont limbo has been extended again to May to placate DUP hard line "delayniks" who want to see a quarantine period for the new "improved" PSF. No doubt concessions have been given to the increasingly accommodating Adams leadership, which may in the future prove to be useful tools for the DUP to delay and scupper Devolution if PSF don't jump through the required hoops.

Such is the nature of the "hamster wheel" peace process in the North of Ireland: continuous limping in ambiguity and uncertainty. A strategy designed by British Labour Government to pacify and normalise a deep-seated social and political conflict. It is also a scenario that has served the two majority nationalist blocs in the Northern Statelet. As long as there is uncertainty in the political future in the North, the two extreme poles found votes gravitating toward them.

Hence we see the Vice and Versa of Stormont politics sitting together in a headline-grabbing pose. The hackneyed buzzwords of "peace" and "historic" are spiralling in the media. Brian Feeney rather fancily compares the latest developments to Francis Fukuyamas "End of History" concept. Just as Fukuyama is being increasingly discredited for his naive assumptions, it seems likely that Feeney will be discredited in his new-found role as PSF cheerleader. Everyone else claims Feeney is simply "Ya-booing” about "basic principles". (1)

Fukuyama failed to foresee the socio political upheaval in Latin America, where self-determination rights are again being expressed by peoples of many countries who were historically subject to US parasitic policies. Likewise, Feeney fails to see how pruning the leaves of the Northern Irish tree will do little to heal it rotten roots. Peace is a wonderfully emotive word but Peace is inalienable from Justice. In Ireland, the issues of self determination are left un-reconciled in many levels of society on both sides of the border and many people will not find peace in today’s post Adams Paisley tea party; not today and not in the foreseeable future.

In the unsustainable statelet of the North that suffers from a £14 Billion infrastructure deficit and "boasts" a £5 billion annual budget gap, where is the peace for the 530,000 people who are currently "economically inactive " or unemployed in real terms. (2) Where is the peace for youth, so alienated from a society that offers no employment stability and social security that they self-destruct in crime, alcohol and suicide? Where is the peace for the young couples that can't compete with the property speculators for access to a decent home? Where is our peace?

Our latest historic event will prove to be another adrenalin shot for a process that suits all involved parties to avoid a definitive end. For PSF, a conclusion will expose them for the centrist Capitalist party that can offer nothing to cure the social ills in a Society becoming more class defined as a result of the finance boom. For the DUP, it will expose the ridiculousness and unmanageability of the failed statelet the so cherish.

(1) Brian Feeney "North needs a new political vocabulary" Irish News, Wednesday March 28th 2007

(2) John Murray Brown "Finance issues will face N Ireland" Financial Times March 26th 2007

(Tomas Gorman)



In your response to my letter I don't know how many times you used the term 'elitist'. I found this somewhat ironic, because the whole tone of your reply came across as very elitist, both towards myself and rsf. As I said you come across very elitist in your attitude whilst vainly trying to couch your own elitism in either explicit or quiet condemnation. I find your use of misleading innuendo annoying at best. Making statements like, 'let's have a bit of honesty here" is an obvious attempt to try and make out I favour hiding the truth whilst you are the straight shooter. Shame on you. In my letter to you I merely stated, "I don't believe your negative comments towards RSF candidates is very helpful in regards to seeing a united Ireland free of British imperialist rule." and you then turn that into an obvious attack on my character. I would suggest from your response to my letter that it is you that is the underhanded one here not I. Further, you misrepresent the facts in claiming sf and rsf were on even terms as far as the media was concerned. You know better than this and if you don't then there is no helping you. Also, it is obvious to even the most unscholarly student the reasons sf did as well as they did. Could it have been that most Catholics (I won’t call them republicans because sf is anything but republican) seen sf as the only legitimate alternative to an otherwise worse fate. Initially, rsf had not even considered fielding candidates but at the last minute they did so to allow an alternative for some that couldn't with good conscience vote sf.

As far as you asking me to clarify rsf's position as to being linked to any military group. I again, say shame on you. First of all, I would have no idea one way or the other, and secondly, if I did, I certainly wouldn't be ignorant enough to clarify that position. What do you take me for a fool or a tout? You, know full well that throughout the troubles even until this day certain parties were always trying to link sf with the provos. This link was always denied. Oddly, enough isn't it that these accusations generally came from Ian Paisley's camp? Makes one wonder where your loyalties lay doesn't it?

Concerning your statement that using the term English "…downplays the role British regiments played in the suppression of republicans including those made up of Scots and Welsh soldiers." This statement makes little sense as how could the term English downplay the role British regiments played in the suppression of republicans? First of all none were Scots or Welsh soldiers. For some, that may well have been their nationalities, but these regiments were all British regiments. All of these soldiers’ duties were carried out under the union jack and the crown.

Further, regarding the following statement made by you, "Those who elevate armed struggle to a strategic level regardless of objective conditions just do not understand revolutionary politics no matter how many posters of Che they have on the wall. One cannot separate either Che or Mao from their politics. Both were committed communists and both also engaged in building socialism as well as having engaged in armed struggle. Armed struggle with out politics is the road to defeat demoralization and destruction."

First, before Che was killed in Bolivia in October 67, he did in fact, elevate armed struggle to a strategic level regardless of objective conditions. He did this and he did understand revolutionary politics. Loosely quoting Che, "I don't care if I die as long as someone picks up my gun and shoots when I die".

From reading your posts I have to wonder if you are at all familiar with rsf’s eire nua or saol nua. If you are familiar then you are less than honest when you try to parlay to your readers that rsf does not endorse the principles and policies of James Connelly and hence socialism. Ruairi O’Bradaigh and rsf stands on the very principals and dogma of socialism and republicanism.

Below is a partial extraction of Saol Nua dogma

We need a new system of economies which would put human beings and human development before the interests of finance and maximisation of profits. Major changes are now needed in order to promote the true long-term interests of people and social justice. We need to create a new vision of the Ireland we want, lay our plans accordingly and give our people a sense of direction and purpose.

It is apposite to recall here the prophetic words of the Irish patriot, James Connolly: "If you remove the English army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle unless you set about the organisation of the Socialist Republic your efforts would be in vain.

"England would still rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs.

"England would still rule you to your ruin, even while your lips offered hypocritical homage at the shrine of that Freedom whose cause you had betrayed."

James Connolly and Patrick Pearse died but the system they sought to change continues in existence to this very day. This system has forced 2,000,000 Irish people to emigrate since 1916.

Here in this document Sinn Féin Poblachtach seeks to outline the principal elements of its Social and Economic Programme. We are of a firm belief that a continuation of the present system, whether on the basis of the partition arrangement or in some form of united Ireland, within or without the EU, cannot bring about the human, social and economic development which would promote freedom, equality, justice and the happiness of each community and each individual person in it.

Centuries of colonialism and decades of high emigration and unemployment have produced a psychology of defeatism in Ireland. To accept these problems as inevitable is to lower our standards of national achievement. The politicians who advocate closer integration into the EU see this body as a mere mechanism of escape from their own ineptitude and failures.

Something new, based on a set of human values and on policies designed to promote these values, is needed. These values and policies are outlined below, and indicate the road to a new society in Ireland - Saol Nua.

Saol Nua dogma end

"Anyone that trembles with indignation at any injustice, that person I call comrade"- Che

By the way, my walls aren't covered with flags of Che but I believe I had a better understanding of the man than you do.

And you can keep your olive branch as it is covered with thorns.


Joe McDaid

PS: While you seemed to take great pleasure in condemning rsf I have yet to see rsf condemning irsp in any of their forums.

Also I like to add that I don't speak for rsf as I am not even a member. I replied to your earlier letter simply because it seemed unfair to me.

Editorial response

Joe thanks for your response. I have no desire to let this contact degenerate into a personal slanging match so if my response came across as elitism or personally insulting to you may I apologise immediately.

Let me try to answer your points and hopefully at the end we can at least agree to disagree.

“In your response to my letter I don't know how many times you used the term 'elitist'.”

Twice, Joe, I used the word twice, and the reason I use it particularly in relation to RSF but also in the past with regard to the PRM was because of experience s of our own movement at the hands of the PRM. Our prisoners were demonised by the PIRA in jail and treated as criminals by other republicans even after the hunger strikes of ‘ 81 One of the reasons I believe they had this attitude was because the leadership of the provisionals particularly in the seventies considered themselves the legitimate Government of Ireland having been passed on the power from the last surviving members of the second Dail. For that I believe is the reason why RSF will have little or nothing to do with other republicans (see their resolutions below).They and nobody else or the “true republicans” I call that attitude “elitist” Personally I deny any organisation the right to say I am not a republican. That is the clear implication of their stance.
That this Ard-Fheis reaffirms its commitment to the long-standing policy of Sinn Féin as set out in the statement issued on September 1, 2006. We reject alliances or any cooperation with groups or organisation who claim to represent or give leadership to Irish Republican opinion in Ireland or abroad other than the true Irish Republican Movement.

Go n-athdhearbhaíonn an Ard-Fheis seo cuspóir seasmhach Shinn Féin a foilsíodh í ráiteas Mhéan Fómhair 1, 2006. Diúltaíonn muid aon comhaontas le grúpaí nó eagraíochta a cuireann i gcéill ceannas a thabhairt do tuairim Poblachtach in Éireann nó thar lear ach amháin do fíor Ghluaiseacht na Poblachta.

Ard Chomhairle
Cumann Cill Chuillinn, Co Chill Dhara

17. In light of recent press speculation in relation to the setting up of broad fronts that this Ard-Fheis reiterates the Republican Sinn Féin stand outlined in a statement by An tUachtaráin Ruairí Ó Brádaigh on September 1 last.

Mar gheall ar an spéacláireacht le déanaí sa mheán cumarsáide maidir le comhaontas a bhunú le heagraíochta eile, go n-athdhearbhaíonn an Ard-Fheis seo an ráiteas atá curtha amach ag an tUachtaráin Ruairí Ó Brádaigh ar an t-aonú lá de Mhéan Fómhair seo caite.
Ard Chomhairle
Cumann Cill Chuillinn, Co Chill Dhara

18. That this Ard Fheis repudiates any attempt to involve Sinn Féin Poblachtach in any broad front.

Go gcáineann an Ard-Fheis seo aon iarracht chun Sinn Féin Poblachtach a bheith páirteach le comhaontas leatan le eagraíochtaí eile.
Cumann Wolfe Tone, Tamhlacht, Baile Ótha Cliath
Cumann Seosamh Mac Domhaill, Baile Ótha Cliath

Media coverage

“Further, you misrepresent the facts in claiming sf and rsf were on even terms as far as the media was concerned. “

I did not misrepresent the facts Joe. Read again what I wrote

”They were also controlled by the same elements when provisional Sinn Fein first entered the electoral field.”

It should be clear from that I’m talking about the early 80’s when PSF first entered the electoral field. Of course in the recent elections PSF were well courted by the media precisely because they accept the neo-liberal agenda. Anti-Good Friday Agreement candidates were always at a disadvantage,


“As far as you asking me to clarify rsf's position as to being linked to any military group”.

Joe, you know as well as I do, that was a rhetoric question and my intention was to draw out the failure of RSF to support all political prisoners. Everybody with any sense knows the real situation. Again this goes back to our own movement’s experiences in jails north and south with other republicans. They, RSF only support those prisoners connected to the Continuity IRA. See the resolution below passed at their last Ard-Feis.

“That this Ard-Fheis congratulates the RPAG on the sterling work they are carrying out on behalf of the Continuity POWs and pledge them whatever help necessary to aid them in the struggle for political status.”

Go dtugann an Ard-Fheis seo bualadh bos don RPAG maidir leis an obair dian atá déanta acu ar son na cimí Leanúnach agus geallann muid dóibh aon cabhair is mian leo ar son troid stádas polaitiúil a bhaint amach.

The point you make about regiments does not make sense to me. I repeat my point that to use “English” instead of “British “ is to downplay Imperialism and pander to a narrow nationalism that plays on anti-English feeling. This is not something that a organisation claiming to be internationalist,
“Republican Sinn Féin is internationalist. We have a sense that we all have a common identity as human beings, as members of the great family of peoples.”

I feel should be doing.

Armed struggle

“before Che was killed in Bolivia in October 67, he did in fact, elevate armed struggle to a strategic level regardless of objective conditions.”

That was Che’s mistake. His guerrilla warfare theories proved inadequate to deal with the realities of South American life. That is not to dismiss Che. I have his portrait on my own wall and his writings about the relationship between man and socialism are brilliant. But on the topic of armed struggle I prefer to take my line from James Connolly. He wrote,

“Ireland occupies a position among the nations of the earth unique in a great variety of its aspects but in no one particular is this singularity more marked than in the possession of what is known as a “physical force party”-a party that is to say whose members are united upon no one point and agree upon no single principle except the use of physical force as the sole means of settling the dispute between the people of this country and the governing power of Great Britain”

Connolly went to point out that the “hillside men” had elevated into a principle “what revolutionists in other countries had looked upon as a weapon”.
He then pointed out
“We neither exalt it into a principle nor repudiate it as something not to be thought of “
If all republicans took this stance then the possibilities of renewing the radicalism of republicanism would be greatly improved

Ruairi O’Bradaigh

“If you are familiar then you are less than honest when you try to parlay to your readers that rsf does not endorse the principles and policies of James Connelly and hence socialism. Ruairi O’Bradaigh and rsf stands on the very principals and dogma of socialism and republicanism.”

You claim that RSF and Ruairi O’Bradaigh are socialist and followers of James Connolly.You may well be right. I that simply point out many years ago O’Bradaigh denied that the republican movement was socialist.

“Going into 1966 with MacGiolla defending a free enterprise economy and suggesting the co-operative movement as an alternative “to either, capitalism or communism”,it was understandable that Ruairi O’Bradaigh could state emphatically during the Westminster election campaign that the Republican Movement was not socialist.” [1] An Phoblacht, May 1966. Organ of the Irish Revolutionary Forces - better known at the time, as the “An Phoblacht Group”.

Finally on the issue of criticism may I say that there is a clear distinction between political criticism and what you call “negative comments”. I have no time for negativity for its own sake. Political criticism is intended to draw out the differences and allow people to make a decision on the basis of the arguments. Too many republicans and for that matter socialists have covered themselves with the mantle of “true this” or “real that” and put forward no policy no politics no positions as if they are so pure they don’t have.
We in the IRSP are not above criticism. But neither is anybody else and given the state of the republican traditions and the poor showing of the left maybe it is time we had a serious critique amonst all on the republican left without tip toeing around so called sensitivities.

Fraternally John Martin