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The Irish Times: The media wing of Éirígí? July 29, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin, The Left.
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I wonder are we seeing some massive shift in the IT psyche as it barely, just about, perhaps, maybe, comes to terms with the fact Sinn Féin isn’t going to go away anytime soon and therefore it needs something else… something more Republican than Republican, more socialist than socialist… something scarifying and with just a hint of an organised conspiracy against the state… you know what I mean. A sort of Workers’ Party c. 1988, but without all those nice articulate near-middle class spokespeople, some of who would later be ushered into the circles of the great and the good. A sort of Joe Higgins like cohort… but more sinister, as strident but not as cuddly. An IRSP without the bloody splits and general mayhem. You know what they mean. You know what they need… they need someone who means it…maaaaan!

So, hot on the heels of Fionnuala O’Connors musings about Éirígí replacing Sinn Féin in the South comes another missive, this time from Dan Keenan about that ‘emerging and distinctive’ group.

Feel the fear…

Éirígí sees itself as a genuine republican revolutionary organisation, steering itself away from endorsement of violence and denying links with any armed group. It shuns also what it sees as the trap of representative politics Stormont-style. It further denies the oft-repeated claim that it is little more than a split from Sinn Féin over the issue of endorsing the PSNI.

Note the denying… and feel more fear…

Founded in 2006, the organisation, whose name translates as “Arise”, claims to have followed the organisational precedents set by the Fenians and Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez. For them there is little point in a broad-based membership if activism is limited to selling ballots and circulating An Phoblacht. Better to have small and committed “circles” of activists committed to clear political themes. “There are no inactive revolutionaries,” says one.

No ‘inactive’ revolutionaries… but… but… that means there are active revolutionaries!

Let the fear choke you up and wash you away, at least until you take a trip out to IKEA.

Brian Leeson, Éirígí national chairman, claims that since the Belfast Agreement there has been “a massive realignment within Irish republicanism”.

“In real terms this means that thousands of republican activists have transferred their allegiance from Sinn Féin to other republican organisations, such as Éirígí. A proven track record of political campaigning, combined with an unambiguous socialist republican platform, has enabled Éirígí to attract large numbers of existing left-wing republicans.

“massive realignment”… “Irish republicanism”… “thousands of republican activists”… “transferring allegiance”… erm… how many to Éirígí? Don’t worry, or rather do worry.

“In addition a new generation of activists, who are attracted by Éirígí’s message of revolutionary national and socio-economic change, is now emerging. Éirígí’s decision to directly challenge the establishment parties within the electoral arena has further boosted our credibility as a coming political force.” The organisation believes Sinn Féin’s rush towards the nationalist centre ground may have drawn in former SDLP voters, but the shift is costing Gerry Adams his republican soul.

“A coming political force”… Jeekers… although memo to Éirígí: Keep it perhaps a tad lower key comrades… rhetoric has to have substance. Otherwise that way disappointment lies. Remember, it took effectively over thirty five years, effectively half a life time for Sinn Féin to get to where it is today… you may not like where that is but it does point up the scale of any project to move towards state power (and note that that is true only for the North, the project in the South hasn’t been faring quite so well…). And you’ll be far from the only Republican party to wind up with a restless activist base, although, crucially, you’ll still lack the trappings of power that help to calm the nerves.

Éirígí sources, speaking to The Irish Times in the wake of the Ardoyne riots, claim there is a new furrow to be ploughed in the territory between violence and Stormont constitutional politics.

A new furrow? In what way is this different from ‘dissident’ Republicanism in the past two years, or from the plethora of groups who loosely fall into that category.

And so on…

Three sentences stand out for me in the piece…

First…

That’s why recruits to the movement must serve out a probationary period, to prove revolutionary credentials, before being fully accepted.

Second…

A proven track record of political campaigning, combined with an unambiguous socialist republican platform, has enabled Éirígí to attract large numbers of existing left-wing republicans.

Well, we’ve had the posters. Then we’ve seen the ‘events’ (those of us who check out indymedia). Now we have the Irish Times – the most unlikely recruitment wing one could think of. Pity Éirígí, dressed up as the fire next time. It can surely only be a matter of months until we hear the dulcet tones of one E. Harris opining on their malevolence, and inevitable rise to power… and what a pity the Cruiser has departed this vale of tears or else he’d be arguing that they were only a step away from making common cause with Rome and Islamd, or is it Islam and Rome, to drag down the pillars of western civilisation and cause yet further harm to the plain people of Ulster.

Third…

They are not yet registered in the North as a political party and their first tilt at an election may yet be some way off. They say it is better to get it right than get it soon.

All that said, still some way to go though, I’d have thought.

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Comments»

1. steve white - July 29, 2009

don’t the irish times like setting up their new enemy think declan ganley by giving them more coverage then they deserve

this reporter had obviously done no research so could only repeat eirigi lines

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2. Dr. X - July 29, 2009

It used to be only the NME that would ‘build them up just to knock them down’. SF are of course suffering from the old ‘difficult second album’ problem.

Shorter Irish Times on the Rise of Eirigi: ‘OMG CATS AND DOGS LIVING TOGETHER’.

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3. Blissett - July 29, 2009

Find that article a little odd more than anything else.

If anything eirigí need more time in the shadows. Three years in existance and they have not a thing in the third largest city in the country, cork. Wouldnt say that augurs well for the revolution.

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4. John O'Neill - July 29, 2009

I have heard Erigi speakers at a few events and their contributions usually contain standard seventies socialist/republican fare. Can’t work out any significant difference between them and the IRSP.

I have been told that they were involved in organising the protest at the RIR parade in Belfast and ‘asked’ organisations participating not to bring any banners, and then unfurled their own, giving the impression that they were the only organisation involved.

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5. coc - July 29, 2009

Can’t work out any significant difference between them and the IRSP.
Not even one? Ah, come on now, I’d say you can think of a few …

It would be crazy, nay criminal, to suggest Eirígí were the same as IRSP. Indeed I’d wonder what sort of drugs anyone who thought that was taking. Moreover the very suggestion is so implausible it’s killing me. LOL.

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6. Pete - July 29, 2009

Politically the Erigi and the IRSP are very, very similar – the motor of their exisitance is also the same, a revolt against realistic reformism – organisationally and personell wise the two groups are of course very different – their the same baby born in different eras

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7. John O'Neill - July 29, 2009

COC please enlighten me, list the few

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8. alastair - July 29, 2009

Ehh – aren’t the IT simply trotting out the Erigi sales pitch?

I’m not getting the scaremongering implied.

All I get from Erigi is the whiff of Judean People’s Front. Not scary in the least.

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9. Joe - July 29, 2009

Ask a man how his horse will do in a race and you’ll hear it’ll do great.

Eirigi took days to come out with a response to the McCarthy report. 4-5 days.

How long did you take Cedarlounge? About 15 minutes. Same as irishelection. 30 mins later they had the document torn to shreds and parsed with some solid analysis

Selling a radical angle is all well and good but dont be the last ones to turn up. Young organisation with some ground to go but they still have some ground to go.

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10. Samháin - July 29, 2009

They’ve done a fair amount of damage to Sinn Fein in Dublin. They can be proud of the fact that by removing a solid cohort of activists from Sinn Fein in 2006 they helped to stall that party’s growth in the city in 2007.

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11. WorldbyStorm - July 29, 2009

I myself don’t want to criticise Éirígí, from a friend who remained in SF I know there are good socialists and Republicans in them – although l’d agree that their leaving hasn’t necessarily helped SF and beyond that the left in any clearly functional way. Just I don’t think that the sort of rhetoric above is a great and… re the IT carrying this, I think it’s worthy of some note that they’ve run two pieces in two weeks which see Éirígí as the coming thing however absurd that seems to some of us on the ground. I draw my own conclusions from that. Others may see it differently.

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12. Lonestar - July 29, 2009

Maybe every revolutionary republican socialist whatever organisational name they go by should start our revolution by forcibly retaking all that these sell out so called provisional republicans stole from the people they represent no one and have betrayed the very ideals of the workers republic and now actively seek to subvert the revolution to their british paymasters as for their fate
That should be for the people to decide at court martial NO CEASEFIRE IN THE CLASS WAR – ARM THE PEOPLE -

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13. tom luby - July 29, 2009

so some sticks never change, do they? the message running through this piece is vintage harris: root out the terrorist sympathisers in rte, sorry the irish times. or is that you are feeling nostalgic for the days when your media cumann ruled the roost in d’olier street and gageby would ask how high when the sticks asked him to jump?

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14. WorldbyStorm - July 29, 2009

Man, you’re way over analysing this, unless you’re kidding. The piece is meant to be a reasonably light-hearted analysis of the possible (and probably not likely) bourgeois fears of the Irish Times, not a slag on Éirígí. But by all means check in your sense of humour when you enter the CLR, and check it out on the way out, if that’s what you want to do.

Re the comment previous to that, Ok, but first we have to convince the people. Big job that I’d have thought.

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15. Wednesday - July 29, 2009

They are not yet registered in the North as a political party and their first tilt at an election may yet be some way off. They say it is better to get it right than get it soon.

My obviously impartial take on it is that they recognise (indeed a few years ago some of them were the first to point out) that the poor performances of small republican groups in the North has damaged those groups’ credibility as an alternative to SF and so they don’t want to get involved in elections until they can be assured of a credible performance. I also suspect there is some internal dissent over the idea of participating in elections to begin with.

Interestingly though, there’s no evidence that I can see of them trying to build support around any potential candidates in the 26 Counties except perhaps one person in Sligo. Their press statements seem to be issued anonymously or in Brian Leeson’s name and at their commemorations the main speaker is always some well-known non-aligned republican from the North. Which strikes me as a pretty poor electoral strategy given the nature of politics in this state. However, I know they’ve made serious efforts to recruit certain sitting SF councillors so I suppose that’s how they’re hoping to make inroads into electoral politics in the South. Of course that would require recruiting SF councillors who would actually have a chance of being re-elected as Éirígí councillors…and on their one successful recruitment to date, they have their work cut out for them.

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16. sonofstan - July 29, 2009

There seems to me to be good ideological reasons for not going down the road of electoralism at all in the North, or wholeheartedly in the Republic – from both a republican and a socialist POV. The travesty of even minimal democratic niceties enshrined in the GFA for a start: one could argue that no socialist should take part in such a sectarian headcount.

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17. Wednesday - July 29, 2009

Speaking as someone who refused for most of my life to have anything beyond voting to do with electoral politics, I don’t disagree with you. But don’t make the mistake of thinking ideological reasons are what’s motivating them to stay out of it.

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18. sonofstan - July 29, 2009

Yeah, i don’t know anything, just speculating…… but there doesn’t seem to be any percentage in trying to get elected to the assembly, either for pragmatic reasons – they won’t win – or because getting there won’t do anyone any good: them as a party or their prospective voters.
I can’t see any way to offer a socialist electoral alternative in perhaps the only place in the developed world where, if there were an election tomorrow, the economy wouldn’t dominate the campaign.

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19. WorldbyStorm - July 29, 2009

sos, I know where you’re coming from re the minimal democratic niceties, but I can see utilitarian reasons for same… anyhow, that’s a different discussion. That’s interesting Wednesday about the poaching thing. By the by, can I ask, did other people think like tom that this was in some way unfair?

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20. Mark P - July 29, 2009

Has Louise Minihan actually joined Eirigi? I can’t see any announcement or even any mention of her on their website. If she does actually join them, that would seem to ensure that they will be standing candidates in the next locals.

I agree with Wednesday that they haven’t been showing any obvious signs of gearing up to stand in elections, but they have made a formal decision to do so at some point in the future. The last locals in the South would seem to have come too soon for them and if they were planning to stand in the next general election you might expect that they would be trying to build a profile for candidates by now. The next locals though – five years is plenty of time to get candidates in place and working.

They do have an opportunity at the moment. They are getting near the sort of critical mass that would make them a viable and obvious place for disgruntled Provos to go.

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21. WorldbyStorm - July 29, 2009

Is the critical mass you speak of Mark P in terms of membership numbers or something else?

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22. Mark P - July 29, 2009

Just in terms of membership and visibility. It’s a small group still, but it’s already looking a lot more credible than the other Republican splinter groups.

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WorldbyStorm - July 30, 2009

Interesting…

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23. shea - July 30, 2009

a friend of mine helped set up the IRSP apparently they got an editorial in the irish times when they formed.

is that article recyled. bits of it seem familier. but think hands down eirigi’s strenth is there pr, they present them selves very well, made great use of the internet to the point where the IT seem to be playing 3 year catch up.

i thick there was one or two councilers that left SF but where sort f on the fringes. of eirigi i think donegal monaghan fermanagh. maybe valid reasons why the individual clrs don’t join remain independent maybe valid reasons why eirigi don’t want them to join but would say minihan would do the same. from there point of view if she did join would she have to be fast tracked up the ranks? or they’d need to commit resourses to holding that seat, can’t see them doing that at this moment in time.

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24. Wednesday - July 30, 2009

It hasn’t been announced that she’s joining them but given her personal ties to them (via her partner), the fact she’s turned up at their events in the past and the fact that her statement was obviously written by them points in only one direction. Apparently they made their first-ever appearance at a Cherry Orchard Hospital protest last week. However, she herself didn’t turn up at it so perhaps things aren’t going to plan.

Shea, who are you thinking of in Monaghan?

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Wednesday - July 30, 2009

Never mind, just figured it out.

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25. Vladimir Lenihan - July 30, 2009

For the most part this is a weird piece by a scared stick, with a number of responses from some petty provos and some more sticks and ex-sticks. History can be a cruel teacher. The fear is here on this thread. The fear is that Eirigi might actually get right some of the things you two got wrong. Good luck to them. Maybe journalists are only now cottoning on to something that has been happening away from the spotlights shone by the SF PR dept. When the sinners were briefing their own people that they’d take up to 14 seats in the 2007 GE, an Eirigi member I know stated categorically that they’d be hard pushed to keep their seats in Dublin, and that there would be no landslide. Anyone else predict this?? That says something about their analysis/understanding of the contradictions/dynamics of SF. Wednesday, you are a scared little girl aren’t you? Apologies to other contributors for the rant but provos annoy me so much now.

p.s. – Whatever about the short number of days it took to respond to McCarthy, do you have any comment to make on the substance of the 2 articles they produced?? I didn’t think so. Sure that’s not important……

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26. shea - July 30, 2009

wednesday in monahan, i think. a clr left round the time of policeing. guessing the clr up in strabane at the moment as well.

would agree that louise would be gratitating towrds eirigi in dublin especily since non of the two cummans went with her, not one member and the reasons you said but from eirigi’s point of view, i don’t know, if i was them at this point in time whould it be more of a hinderance to bring her on board? just speculating but it’s almost two weeks and no follow up statement on indymedia. think shes on her own, officialy any way.

vlad everyone and every thing gets over analyised on this site. there all pinko lefto intullectuals, no badness in it, i don’t think.

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27. Pete - July 30, 2009

Vladimir Lenihan – great name I look forward to your post NAMA work on “the dictatorship of the lumpen bourgeoisie.”

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28. Mick Hall - July 30, 2009

Éirígí really do need to dip their toe in electoral waters, otherwise they might end up missing the boat. I think they have greatly underestimated the importance these day for the left to engage in electoral politics. If we look at countries like Venezuela, Bolivia and Lebanon, etc, bourgeois politics has been used successfully by radical political groups and once they gained a toehold they have gone from strength to strength. Someone commented the éirígí were so 1970s, whilst I do not agree with this they do appear to have a 1970s hang over about not engaging in electoral politics.

Yes, the Stormont Assembly is a mockney democracy, but there is room in it for an opposition to create merry hell. Were éirígí to gain a foothold in Stormont it would dwarf most of its recent propaganda exercises; and in the process I believe éirígí would do a great deal of good, as SF would be forced to answer question directly put by the Republican left.

As éirígí stands it is little more than an irritant to Adams SF, he will only worry if it begins to challenge SF at the ballot box. If as éirígí claims they are gaining recruits from SF and the Republican Diaspora, then I cannot see why they are unable to target the odd winnable constituencies. If the aforementioned is just a media boast then they need to set out their future strategy.

For whilst it is possible to keep an organization intact on protest politics alone, it is going no where fast and in all probability apart from its leadership core the membership will be of the revolving door type as practiced by the some of the UK Trotskyist groups. It is impossible not to ignore the fact that the only Trot group that has engaged successfully in electoral politics, the SP/Militant, keeps it membership as they are engaging in what most people regard as real politics.

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Vladimir Lenihan - July 30, 2009

Patience Mick. I don’t know where this ‘hang over’ about non-engagement with electoral politics you refer to is? éirígí adopted a position of tactical engagement with elections and elected institutions at its Ard Fhéis in May of this year, which you can read about here http://www.eirigi.org/latest/latest200509.html They have however ruled out participation in the Stormont puppet parliament.

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29. Pete - July 30, 2009

As far as I can see Eirigi offers nothing but rehashed Provo/IRSP tripe to the majority community in Northern Ireland and as such does little to benefit Republican Socialsim

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Vladimir Lenihan - July 30, 2009

The contradiction at the heart of your statement sticks out a mile. And. That would be a work on the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’, and the need for it today as much as at any time previous

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30. Pete - July 30, 2009

you’re right – I mean the majority “ethno-religious defined” community in Northern Ireland – Eirigi is quite clearly placing itself in the the nationalist camp – simply question would prefere
a) Being treated by the Harney Health service.
b) the NHS
c) or waiting to die of your aliment awaiting the eirigi all kinds of everything health service.
– until this can be answered in a positive manner you can STICK your united Ireland where the sun don’t shine.

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Vladimir Lenihan - July 30, 2009

Why does the creation of a Socialist Republic equate with a choice between the (not so great) NHS and the (even worse) ‘Harney Health service’ in your mind. You obviously don’t get it??

And your STICK point re: (the, I presume, democratic/’national’? rights of) “the majority “ethno-religious defined” community in Northern Ireland” betrays a complete failure to grasp the inherently undemocratic and ‘carnival of reaction’ nature of the 6-counties. But sure I suppose you would know better.

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31. Pete - July 30, 2009

the book I would like to see written is
“the ten cleanest and quickest methods of exterminating the lumpen bourgeoisie.”

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Vladimir Lenihan - July 30, 2009

I don’t understand your term “lumpen bourgeoisie.”

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32. WorldbyStorm - July 30, 2009

Wow Vlad, that’s some achievement to combine conceit, insults, condescension, implicit (or is it explicit) sexism and down right silly stuff – ‘scared stick’…. I don’t know if you represent Éirígí in some form or fashion. From what I’d heard they’re better than that. But do continue. Please. It’s an education.

BTW, generally the CLR is an abusive rhetoric free zone. It has to be since we get a wide array of people on the left, Republican and otherwise posting here. Go look at our moderation policy and think long and hard about what you’re trying to say, who you’re trying to say it to and how.

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Vladimir Lenihan - July 30, 2009

WBS

My post was a reply to your article which itself contains no small measure of ‘conceit’, ‘insult’, and ‘condescension’. Just re-read your opening paragraph. Whether you are aware of this or not, and the fact that you completely misinterpret the intent of the IT article (lazy journalism yes, what you impute to it, no) is a matter for you.

For the ‘down right silly stuff’, refer to your assertion (a number of times) that the article somehow implied that Eirigi was something to be feared (whether in actuality a realistic proposition or not on the part of Keenan): “Feel the fear…” “… and feel more fear…” That prospect that Eirigi should in anyway shape or form (political?) be feared is something that you (by your tone and attempt at analysis) indicate that you find to be risible. Maybe this is because Eirigi rankles somewhat with your highbrow ‘intellectualism’. If you and your like couldn’t do it sure what hope Eirigi…..

As to the ‘sexism’. The fact is that Wednesday is a girl. Go and have a think about your definition of what it is that constitutes sexism. It is a fact also that she has played her role in attacking Eirigi and dissembling with regard to people who have joined Eirigi or have recently left the Shinners and are talking to Eirigi/sympathetic. I should know. I have listened to them all for long enough. The Shinners are very scared about the prospect that Eirigi represents. Anyone with a modicum of decency in SF would recognise that. Rest assured WBS, don’t let what you have heard about Eirigi be contradicted by an angry malcontent like me. I’m not yet a member. I am a recently resigned provo. Yeah. It all is still a bit raw. Doesn’t detract from what Wednesday et al. are though, and what Eirigi might yet become

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WorldbyStorm - July 30, 2009

You understand irony? The concept of sarcasm? In each instance I was making an ironic point about how the Irish Times suddenly has latched onto Éirígí in the last two weeks. I have no beef with Éirígí whatsoever, my point was, semi-seriously, that the Irish Times is always on the lookout for something that the middle classes and our betters can fear and that it seemed they were fitting up Éirígí for precisely something they can paint as a sinister threat, hence my ironic use of the words ‘fear’, ‘feel the fear’… ‘feel more fear’… hence my mention of how they (IT readers) could go and get retail therapy in IKEA afterwards.

It has nothing to do whether I think Éirígí should be feared or not. It’s all about the Irish Times. As to whether I misinterpret the article. How the hell can you say one way or another. Neither of us wrote it. It’s an interpretation, they’re usually subjective.

It’s pretty simple really.

The only criticism I had of Éirígí was the point, and it’s a valid one IMO, particularly given the interventions of you and tom, that the language used by the Éirígí spokesperson was entirely overblown… God, politics 101, don’t refer to yourself as ‘the coming thing’. It’s sounds arrogant and is too easily dealt blows by reality.

As for my high brow intellectualism, well thanks, I think (see, that’s being ironic), but I’m very middlebrow really. My tastes are ordinary enough. Doesn’t worry me in the slightest. And me and my like? What does that even mean?

I don’t speak for Wednesday, she’s well able to speak for herself, I speak for the use of language on this website and the use of it against others. You call someone a scared little girl, and indeed called me and others scared sticks, and you don’t think that’s demeaning, that it’s insulting, that the first crawls close to sexism and the second is plain silly.

That you’d say it at all tells me most of what I want to know.

Time to get real, perhaps time that you go and have a little think. And by the by, this is a website I run, I think I have every right to try to keep it as courteous as is possible. I’d be happy to have voices from Éirígí here. Calm, courteous, thoughtful voices who don’t see all this as an opportunity to get the digs in at others on the left but instead want to engage with the actual enemy. Think about that too…

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33. WorldbyStorm - July 30, 2009

Oh yeah, fyi… I’m not a stick.

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34. EamonnCork - July 30, 2009

Is there one of those cute internet icons for foaming at the mouth? Because I think there’s someone on this thread who could do with it.

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35. WorldbyStorm - July 30, 2009

It’s one of those day EC… it’s one of those days… :(

Ah, but on the bright side, it’s the weekend tomorrow, I saw Frost/Nixon last night for the first time and found it pretty damn fine, the sun is shining…

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36. EamonnCork - July 30, 2009

You’ll know for the next time that all matters concerning Irish politics must be discussed without even the hint of levity or humour. Did Tom Barry employ sarcasm at the Kilmichael ambush? You don’t know whether he did or not WBS? That is BECAUSE you are A STICK West Brit CLEVER CLOGGS.

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WorldbyStorm - July 30, 2009

That’s me all over… ;)

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37. Mark Mc - July 30, 2009

If people are looking at likely Cllr defections to éirígí from former SFers I’d have Bernice Swift at the top of the list. She has been at the last two Ard Fheisenna, speaking at the most recent and a fair few of their events.

It seems clear they will be having a tilt at Council elections across the island at some point as a minimum. But as a small group with no real recongition factor in public consciousness they’ve a mountain to climb.

Getting a few defectors in to boost their profile in ‘normal’ voters eyes would probably be a big benefit.

But as noted above I’d have a sneaking suspicion some of their members particularly in the north may be extremely wary of electoralism as many former shinners that say the things important to them disgarded in the chase for greater electoral (not political) strength

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WorldbyStorm - July 30, 2009

Of course the big problem, nay, the massive problem is that the next local council elections are five years away. That’s a lifetime for any group, but particularly one on the smaller side… and having been involved in the Gregory group over quite a while I have a fair idea of how the dynamics work. There seems to be a belief abroad that getting cllrs elected is somehow ‘easy’. I don’t know how that grew up given we’ve just exited an election a few short months ago, but it’s bloody difficult, requires massive effort on the ground and profile building, often across two or more election terms, look for exhibit A at Cieran Perry, fighting the good fight for well over a decade now up in Cabra and only now getting a seat. I’m delighted for him and the group around him, but it was tough and difficult and took years.

Add to that the possibility, just an outside one at the moment, that the McCarthy Report recommendations may eviscerate further local government and representation, and I’d wonder if we’ll ever see quite the number of local cllrs being returned again. And that being the case that’s bad bad news for not merely Éirígí if it does take the path you describe Mark Mc, but the entirety of the left.

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Mark Mc - July 30, 2009

Don’t know. From my limited knowledge of éirígí I’d guess 5 years to them is a very short planning period. They seem determined to build an activist base, policies and profile before rushing into any electoral arena. Sound enough plan.

I have no idea if they’ll make it to critical mass of any sort but am pretty sure given a lot of their current members they are more than aware of how difficult getting a candidate elected is.

As you say likely changes in councils not just in the 26 but coming in the north too will make it much more difficult for any small party to get a toe on the electoral ladder – perhaps another reason to treat it as a fruitless path and try to build within other areas (not entryism btw)?

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38. Eamonn Dublin - July 30, 2009

“My obviously impartial take on it” said wednesday. Impartial are you and you taking the yankee dollar for big Gerry. Its also interesting how the IT never mentioned the real elephant in the room, the previous membership of Collie Duffy and the McGlincheys in Eirigi and their sudden departure after the pizza delivery cancellation. What route was Eirigi going down then?
I see on other sites constant attacks on Minihan for ditching the shinners. This farce says as much about SF as it does Minihan. While it is unfair of her to take a seat ubder false pretences it is funny that the shinners were so politically limited that they had to let her run. When the leading light of left wing SF gets only 500 votes and comes last in the recent elections (O’Brien) you can see why Eirigi are steering clear of running candidates. Poaching is quicker!!

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39. Mark Mc - July 30, 2009

ED,

The departures WERE before subsequent allegations. The elephant to me is éirígí being unable to even utter the name of former friends/comrades suffering under legislation (28 day detention) and lengthy remand periods that they are very active in opposing.

Your point on O’Broin – 1.He is a newish candidate to the area (think 2007 was his first run?) and would be identified by voters mainly by their normal views of SF not his left stance 2. In Ballybrack the left vote is very much in the control of PBP (Lewis)

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40. Mark P - July 30, 2009

O’Broin’s repeated failures in DL and Ballybrack are interesting in their own way. It was bad enough having Boyd Barrett wipe the floor with him, but having the not exactly substantial Lewis do it too is a bit embarrassing.

He seems entirely unable to compete with the PBP. In 2004, Michael Nolan got nearly three times the vote of the SWP’s Dave Lordan in Ballybrack. How things have changed now – Lewis got more than 2,000 first preferences while the SF vote halved. I have to suggest a few factors here:

1) The soft, all things to all people, profile of the PBP is evidently a much better vote getter than the harder profile of the SWP. By dropping the explicitly socialist and class based stuff and presenting themselves as leftish community activists the SWP appear a lot less threatening.

2) Boyd Barrett’s personal popularity helped a great deal. I suspect that many of his General Election vote went to Lewis as a kind of proxy.

3) Lewis is a local and a much more presentable and amiable candidate than Lordan was.

But even taking these issues into account, there still must be more to it. O’Broin is a talented and experienced guy and he has party resources at his disposal. He should be able to compete with the SWP on the ground, but he apparently isn’t.

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WorldbyStorm - July 30, 2009

Much easier for a PBP candidate to pass through the electoral eye of the needle than an SFer to do so there. You say it yourself in points 1 and 2.

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41. Mark P - July 30, 2009

Mark Mc:

The point is that O’Broin has been active on the ground at least as long as Lewis (who had his first electoral outing in the last locals) and he inherited a bigger party vote from the previous local candidate than Lewis did.

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42. Wednesday - July 30, 2009

Eamonn, I was joking with the “obviously impartial” bit. Kind of surprised I have to point that out.

Vlad – have I said anything that isn’t accurate?

And which Éirígí members have I “dissembled” against?

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43. Mark Mc - July 30, 2009

Mark P,

My take would be that RBB’s excellent local profile building over a period of time developed a vote that attracted not just left voters. He and PBP became credible in not just Dún Laoghaire but across the entire council area – the 2007 results showed just how strong their position is in the area compared to SF’s. To me it looks like Lewis picked up a protest and left vote due to ‘party’ position/RBB (no point in going into the front debate)and therefore O’Broin wasn’t even on the radar as credible for people voting for left reasons when they had something so much more likely to win.

Just my take, I’m no expert on the DLR area.

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44. WorldbyStorm - July 30, 2009

That’s a very interesting analysis, and add to that the residual but continuing difficulty for SF in gaining transfers, etc… I can’t see how even O’Broin who is by all means a presentable candidate could get a win there with any degree of ease.

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Mark Mc - July 30, 2009

It does look like a hopeless contest for O’Broin but SF may have seen RBB’s profile and thought a local left candidate could potentially have ate into that. However, it seems as if the parish pump politics and BB’s know credential’s won the day and maybe pulled in voters for Lewis at Council level.

Strange to even consider that PBP may have benefited from pump politics more than a much more established SF.

But good candidates with a broader profile can/do pull up the votes of neighbouring candidates – sure don’t they all get the same paper. People voting for BB in 2007 who may have been previous SF voters in the ward went for the more credible party?

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WorldbyStorm - July 30, 2009

True indeed. I should go back and look at the vote. PBP is really the unsung story of the election in many ways.

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45. Vladimir Lenihan - July 30, 2009

WBS

You have every right to run your website as you see fit. Absolutely.

The problem with all this however is that you have seen irony, and employed sarcasm to an article that (whatever its value or otherwise) doesn’t merit either. Maybe the IT has latched on to the Eirigi story for reasons other than the very tendentious ones you assume. Where do you get this sense of heightening ‘fear’ from?? I am at a loss to understand. I think you have badly misinterpreted the article. It is your website but that doesn’t mean that I have to agree with the nonsense you write at times.

You understand irony? The concept of sarcasm? In each instance I was making an ironic point about how the Irish Times suddenly has latched onto Éirígí in the last two weeks. I have no beef with Éirígí whatsoever, my point was, semi-seriously, that the Irish Times is always on the lookout for something that the middle classes and our betters can fear and that it seemed they were fitting up Éirígí for precisely something they can paint as a sinister threat, hence my ironic use of the words ‘fear’, ‘feel the fear’… ‘feel more fear’… hence my mention of how they (IT readers) could go and get retail therapy in IKEA afterwards.

It has nothing to do whether I think Éirígí should be feared or not. It’s all about the Irish Times. As to whether I misinterpret the article. How the hell can you say one way or another. Neither of us wrote it. It’s an interpretation, they’re usually subjective.

It’s pretty simple really.

The only criticism I had of Éirígí was the point, and it’s a valid one IMO, particularly given the interventions of you and tom, that the language used by the Éirígí spokesperson was entirely overblown… God, politics 101, don’t refer to yourself as ‘the coming thing’. It’s sounds arrogant and is too easily dealt blows by reality.

As for my high brow intellectualism, well thanks, I think (see, that’s being ironic), but I’m very middlebrow really. My tastes are ordinary enough. Doesn’t worry me in the slightest. And me and my like? What does that even mean?

I don’t speak for Wednesday, she’s well able to speak for herself, I speak for the use of language on this website and the use of it against others. You call someone a scared little girl, and indeed called me and others scared sticks, and you don’t think that’s demeaning, that it’s insulting, that the first crawls close to sexism and the second is plain silly.

That you’d say it at all tells me most of what I want to know.

Time to get real, perhaps time that you go and have a little think. And by the by, this is a website I run, I think I have every right to try to keep it as courteous as is possible. I’d be happy to have voices from Éirígí here. Calm, courteous, thoughtful voices who don’t see all this as an opportunity to get the digs in at others on the left but instead want to engage with the actual enemy. Think about that too…

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Vladimir Lenihan - July 30, 2009

WBS

You have every right to run your website as you see fit. Absolutely.

The problem with all this however is that you have seen irony, and employed sarcasm to an article that (whatever its value or otherwise) doesn’t merit either. Maybe the IT has latched on to the Eirigi story for reasons other than the very tendentious ones you assume. Where do you get this sense of heightening ‘fear’ from?? I am at a loss to understand. I think you have badly misinterpreted the article. It is your website but that doesn’t mean that I have to agree with the nonsense you write at times.

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WorldbyStorm - July 30, 2009

[bangs head off keyboard] I get no sense of heightening fear.

It’s the Irish Times trying [perhaps] to whip up fear about so-called ‘extreme’ Republicans.

That’s the joke!

I’m not trying to be smart here, or offensive, just trying to explain what seems to me to be a fairly straightforward piece of writing at the expense of the Irish Times.

Let me put it this way, I’m taking the piss out of the IT for trying to find conspiracy and ‘fear’ where there is none. I’m suggesting that the IT needs to have Republicans or socialists or whoever it can point at and say to the middle class (I’m generalising, but you get the point)… ‘worry about them’. It doesn’t have to be Éirígí, they could have written it about the ‘threat’ from the Socialist Party, or they could have written about the ‘dangers’ of PBP, or Jesus, they could have written about the ‘peril’ of electing Maureen O’Sullivan. It’s like a sort of domesticated ‘red scare’ piece.

I’m arguing, slightly humorously – slightly tongue in cheek, that they will find menace where they want to, in a way to shock the bourgeoisie. And the fact they ran two articles on Éirígí in two weeks that portrayed them as the ‘next big thing’ gave me a hook to hang that thought on.

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46. sonofstan - July 30, 2009

Did something get mixed up with something else there? *scratches head*

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47. Crocodile - July 30, 2009

Suígí síos.

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48. WorldbyStorm - July 30, 2009

Not the worst advice…

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Vladimir Lenihan - July 30, 2009

That’s strange how there’s no option for me to reply to the posts of yours that I want to respond to? (bangs head off keyboard) Anyways…

“Let me put it this way, I’m taking the piss out of the IT for trying to find conspiracy and ‘fear’ where there is none”.

I hear what you are saying here. But my point (well one of them) is that nothing from the tone or content or indeed any other aspect of the article could be construed as liable to have been intended to heighten/provoke fear of Eirigi. If that was the articles intention then what it did and how it did it were ineffective. I just didn’t get it.

By the way, I was quite surprised at the article (Dan Keenan’s) because it gives Eirigi such a relatively easy ride in some respects. I would have expected a hatchet job myself. That’s not what I read however

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49. Old Smelly Bastard - July 30, 2009

The real elephant in the room is the widespread view among ‘dissidents’ than Eirgri was some sort of provo ‘honeytrap’.
Secondly the Republican Network for Unity have recruited quite a few well known players in the republican scene and have largely escaped any coverage in the FS media.

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50. Mick Hall - July 31, 2009

Vlad

You are correct about having patience, and it looks like éirígí is repeating the methodology of SF when it first built its political base, especially in Dublin etc. That SF seems to have ditched this practice in reason years and acted in the manner of a mainstream party, parachuting candidates in and all, goes some way to explain SF current predicament.

Nevertheless, it is correct to be wary of events overtaking the practice of the party, (it has not happened yet) thus I see no harm in a not unsympathetic outsider like me, dropping arguments into the pond.

As to standing for Stormont, I understand perfectly why republicans might not wish to get involved in that mockney set up. However I feel it should be seen as another avenue of struggle. Of course éirígí should not hold any office in a Stormont administration, but I see no reason why éirígí should not enter the Assembly with the aim of crashing it to the ground. OK this is a delicate business and éirígí would need their membership with them every step of the way. (Your reply to me pointed out the party moves forward in such a democratic manner)

OK republican [and left] history is littered with such attempt which have gone belly up, but to stand out side Stormont means no one is within the Assembly fighting the corner of the working class, both nationalist and unionist.

What better way to gain support than to wipe the permanent smirk off Robinson and McGuinness’s faces, for as things stand there is no Stormont opposition.

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51. EamonnCork - July 31, 2009

To make a serious point, I think one of WBS’s points is that the novelty value of Eirigi really appeals to the Times. And that’s a fair enough point, and not unique to the Times. I can remember the hitherto obscure Willie Ross getting enormous coverage when he was the dissenting unionist against the peace process. [Edit] The bottom line is that splinter groups have an intrinsic novelty factor which makes them more interesting, for a brief spell anyway, than tracking the progress of parties who’ve been on the go for a long time. SF benefitted greatly from this as well after the lifting of Section 31, suddenly you could talk to them and they probably had a long media honeymoon because of that. I suppose in a way it’s pointless having an argument about how important Eirigi are because only time will tell. One person can say they’re going nowhere and another can suggest that they’ll banjax SF in Dublin but we’ve really got no way of knowing. But, in my humble opinion, there’s probably no need to be so bad tempered about it and using outmoded political insults as though they settle the argument in themselves gets my goat. What will spancel Eirigi is that if they use up most of their energy putting spokes in the wheel of the people who are closest to them politically, as is the hallowed practice of new left wing parties unfortunately. But I’m genuinely interested to see how they go. There’s obviously some disillusion in SF but what’s hard for the outsider to gauge is exactly what’s causing it given the differing outlooks of the recently resigning councillors.

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WorldbyStorm - July 31, 2009

Tone is really important in all this. It’s understandable that people will feel strongly about issues in the wake of splits (albeit this is hardly one on a par with say 1969/70, the OSF/IRSP one, or even the mid 80s in SF), but… I have no doubt there are good socialists in SF, Éirígí and wherever and if there’s any point to the exercise they’ll all have to work together at some time.

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52. Justin - July 31, 2009

Mick Hall said “to stand out side Stormont means no one is within the Assembly fighting the corner of the working class, both nationalist and unionist.”

Yes, Mick, but if you assume that Eirigi has anything other than contempt for the Protestant working class then you’re almost certainly wrong. I haven’t really paid any heed to what they write because they seem to be better at gimmicks and gestures than politics but If they are anything like other Left Republicans (E. O’Broin) the are only concerned with deprivation, exploitation and suffering among their own sort. Communalism meets socialism on its way out the door.

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WorldbyStorm - July 31, 2009

In no way related with your Éirígí point, there is a serious issue about how to engage with the Protestant section of the working class. Their own leadership has been, let’s face it, far from an exemplar and the state of the left there more broadly is arguably even worse than the state of it in the South…

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53. alastair - July 31, 2009

<iI think one of WBS’s points is that the novelty value of Eirigi really appeals to the Times.

There’s a pretty wide gulf between novelty and fear-mongering though.

While ‘Man bites dog’ is newsworthy, there’s no implied inference that said Man is going to run rampant and upset a nice cosy middle-class IT consensus (if such a thing exists).

Sometimes a cigar (or novelty fringe political grouping) is just a cigar.

And aren’t we into silly season at this stage? It’s all novelty filler material for the next few weeks.

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WorldbyStorm - July 31, 2009

It’s irony alastair, it’s for rhetorical effect. It was an entertaining way for me to write a post on what I considered to be a fairly shallow piece of work by the Irish Times. Jesus Christ…

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54. Mick Hall - July 31, 2009

Justin

You hit the nail on the head, for almost all leftists in Ireland, whether republican or not, the Protestant working class is without doubt the great conundrum. Is there a section of the Irish community who have been worse served by politics? Since 1969 and before the Unionists and British government has used them as fodder and then flushed many working class loyalists away.

We on the Left, whether Irish or English have spoken many fine words but in all honesty the protestant working classes are a total puzzle to most of us.

In truth most leftists find it almost impossible to understand why they give their loyalty to any Unionist party, given what they have received in return. Today, whether it is education, jobs, etc, sections of the northern protestant unionist working class come at the bottom of the heap. I feel there has been a concerted effort on the part of the British government and their unionist gofers to push the Protestant working class down into the underclass, in many ways it is shameful what has happened to this section of the Irish [British] working class

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55. alastair - July 31, 2009

It’s irony alastair, it’s for rhetorical effect.

Sorry. I’m just not seeing the irony. When you ascribe ‘something scarifying and with just a hint of an organised conspiracy against the state’ onto a puff piece, it appears to be rather more about your slant than the IT’s. If you want to employ rhetoric against shallow journalism, why evoke fear-mongering?

Maybe it’s just me.

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WorldbyStorm - July 31, 2009

Yeah, there’s a surprise – given your interaction on this site on a continuing basis.

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56. alastair - July 31, 2009

What can I tell you? If I don’t see it, I’m not going to pretend I do.

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WorldbyStorm - July 31, 2009

Entirely true story.

There’s a neighbour I have, in her late 60s, she’s very involved on the local community and residents groups, practically runs them to be honest – I’m drafted in for my expertise in a certain area common to both of us. It’s not her real name but let’s call her Nora.

Anyhow she’s a heart of gold, much like your good self, but… she’s a terrible one for grabbing you as you walk by her house or if she meets you on the street and bending your ear. And I’ve learned to fear the knock on the door at about 7.30 on a Monday evening…

Thing is it’s invariably some tale of woe… the ‘lad’s on Connacht Row are tearing around the area in that gold coloured car’… there’s burglers on the loose who’ve been pushed out from Ballybough by the residents and have decided our neck of the woods is easier for them… ‘did you see that feller the other day pretending to be installing television dishes… took a €50 deposit of Mrs. O’Callaghan, I had to run after him and get the Guards…’ and so on. Seriously, it’s a nightmare trying to get away from her sometimes, she’s pretty insistent.

Now, there’s no doubt that any area and every area needs someone like her, because she’s on the watch for trouble, she’s motivated and, when push comes to shove she gets things done… but…

I was talking to another neighbour recently and he was saying, ‘You know, the thing with Nora is there’s never been one day in fifteen years I’ve lived here where when I met her on the street she came up with a big smile on her face and said, ‘lovely weather, isn’t it great how the area’s developing, thank God everything’s going well…’

‘…if she did it’d make a nice change from her usual chat…’ I knew exactly what he meant.

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alastair - August 1, 2009

All well and good, but pretty much avoiding the issue at hand.

You run a fine blog, with lots of quality commentary, but you’re not immune from posting some biased oul claptrap in there as well. This would fall into the latter category. I find it’s best to be honest about such things. You’ve clearly a bee in your bonnet about the IT, and I’ve no problem with that, even if I don’t share your concern. When it comes to making up spurious allegations (‘semi-serious’ or otherwise) on the back of a piece like that however, it serves to undermine all the other stuff you post.

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57. Pete - July 31, 2009

The prod underclass issue? I would rather be a UK “underclass” than Free State one ie travellers and those left to the tender mercies of the priests. There must be an end to this Prod WC are blind approach. The sucess of reaction in the Borth can not be divorced from natioalist violence eg the decline on the NILP post 69

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58. Mark Mc - July 31, 2009

Mick,

The protestant working class shouldn’t be a mystery to anyone on the Left. It seems pretty straight forward, the main reason they haven’t engaged with left parties is because most of them baring a few tiny, tiny groups are selling republicanism and socialism together. While they might buy or be interested in socialism they are unionist and won’t be interested in a joint republican/socialist package. Indeed the marrying of the two by many will build up hostility to any form of socialism by a large number.

For republicans to engage the bulk of that group would either involve downplaying/lying about the republicanism in the hope they can be won over to socialism before working on selling unity or dropping republicanism altogether and going for a more internationalist political project.

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59. Mark Mc - July 31, 2009

Sorry, should have finished off.

To me it seems obvious the only way socialism can grow in protestant communities is by being built from within. ‘Outsiders’ no matter how well meaning will never be able to get it on the table. The most people hoping for socialism in that area from outside can do is support in whatever way those working on progressive projects within that sector want or request.

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WorldbyStorm - July 31, 2009

That makes a lot of sense to me. The balance for the left and for left Republicans has to be fine though, not to bend over backwards to no effect like the WP (or even more markedly in some ways BICO) did at certain times in its career, but not to do the opposite either. And even that wouldn’t guarantee a positive outcome.

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60. Mark Mc - July 31, 2009

WBS,

The only positive interaction I’ve heard of late was when those campaigning over the Andytown barracks redevelopment on a social basis engaged with the Greater Village residents for advice and support on an area both were active on. Now I wasn’t involved but I heard people ending up attending each others’ meetings/protests and while wanting it kept low key things getting to the stage where active left republican’s were applauded by people from the village after attending a protest.

That low key but honest and open mutual support is the kind of tiny steps people need to look at before expecting anything of real substance.

And realising that your protestant neighbours aren’t just poor deluded fools but hold genuine political views that may never be reconciled with your own. Historically though we can see that when people from the protestant community were given the space to address their position within the British state that the failings and the impossiblity of having them resolved while Britain was in control lead to them discovering republicanism as the best option all by themselves.

So encorage the progressive, don’t create communal hostility and perhaps progressive movements from within will grow and drift closer to a place where they wil be open to exploring options for the future with left republicans?

I know, I know, wishful thinking but hey every other option seems exausted so far unless people still hold hopes of screwing their way to the republic (referendum)

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61. Pete - July 31, 2009

Agree with Mark Mc – really don’t see the need on the modern Ireland for all the green republican bells and whistles – that said I like Eirigi’s anti British involvement in Afghanistan line but wonder how the wider stuff they go on with can end anyothet than working class kids killing other working class kids

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62. Mark Mc - July 31, 2009

Returning to éirígí, what I’m interested in is while they will say they do not support armed struggle as the ‘conditions do not exist’. Are they about building an alternative or working towards creating the conditions? Similar could be asked of the RNU. I don’t think you’d get a direct answer and given allegations being made against some former members feel the answer may not be the same for all involved. But if any left republican thinks their aims will be advanced by working towards conditions for a ‘viable’ armed struggle then they have just slept through the last 40yrs.

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63. Mark Mc - July 31, 2009

I’m crap at not finishing off or explaining a thought. The question on éirígí and if they want to create the conditions for armed struggle above mainly arises as when their protest against the RIR parade was stopped by the cops the biggest cheer for Brian Leeson’s speech came when he said to [paraphrase] ‘today is not the day that we will fight them but the day will come when we fight them’

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64. Mick Hall - July 31, 2009

Just to be clear Pete, I never said the Protestant WC are politically blind nor do I believe it, they went willingly into the camp of reaction, believing foolishly that this was where their long term best interest lay.

Having said that one can hardly blame them, it is very difficult to support any group that is blowing the shit out of you and yours, before we get to other issues, perhaps we should agree on that before we end up repeating that mistake.

I was interested in some of the comments and I wonder if some of the authors would suggest those members of the English working class and underclass who voted for the BNP should be treated in a similar ‘soft’ manner which they prescribe for the left and the protestant WC.

I found it interesting that no one dealt with the almost masochistic tendency amongst working class Protestants (WCP) these days, to vote for Unionist party’s that do nothing for them; and it has to be said in smaller numbers support dubious loyalist paramilitaries.

Personally I cannot see how it is possible to get around confronting head on protestant workers when they waste their vote by voting for reactionary parties like the DUP and UUP. The SF leadership behavior when they have courted the very Unionist leaders who have betrayed Protestant workers have hardly helped matters.

The main reason partition took hold and the left in Ireland failed to grow, was because Capital was able to bring over to the side of reaction a sizable section of the Irish working class, and there they have stayed. It is going to take far more than being polite at meetings and listening to their reactionary crap if they are to return to the fold. The workers party and in a different way Militant tried that type of stuff.

In my view the fate of the protestant working class should be at the top of every left/republican parties agenda, that it is not shows how much of the British governments agenda has been accepted as fact.

A clear and precise platform is needed for confronting politically the WCP, for without a sizable section of the protestant working class returning to progressive politics, the type of Ireland most leftist and left republicans wish to see will remain a distant hope, so this issue is no mere debating point.

Not easy I know, just my meagre thoughts on this issue.

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65. Justin - July 31, 2009

Mick wrote,
“In truth most leftists find it almost impossible to understand why they give their loyalty to any Unionist party, given what they have received in return.”

Yes, Mick but isn’t communalism a global phenomenon which has confounded the Left for at least the past 100 years from India to the Balkans, to Borthern Ireland. The three main approaches (not all mutually exclusive) on the part of the left seem to be

(a) to regard one communal group as being more progressive than the other(s) and to try to develop politics within that group even though there are exploited, oppressed and alienated elements within the other communal groups.

(b) to argue that progressive change can only come within the dominant communalism. For example Taigs have Eoin O’Broin and Prods have Dawn Purvis.

(c) to recognise the power of communalism and to see it as an ipso facto reactionary current within the working class. So, progressive activist attempt to replace communal outlooks with a universalist, rationalist socialist outlook. Not easy. But for believers in this approach, there is no other progressive way.

At its worst this approach might seek to wish away real material and cultural differences between communal groups as when the Kruschev current declared that the nationalities question in the USSR had been settled. But such errors are not inevitable.

Working class unionism may appear strange and inexplicable but ,personally speaking, the popularity lots of phenomena are hard for me to fully understand.

For example, I fail to understand how can anyone be a Scientologist, or a homeopath or believe in God or ghosts creationism or alien abductions or that oil and capitalism will last for ever … (add your own favourites) Compared to these, working class loyalism as a manifestation of ehno-sectarian belonging in a divided territory makes a kind of warped sense to me.

The enormous job stubborn Lefties have is stand against all forms of unreason and narrow belonging and to create the alternative .

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66. Maddog Wilson - July 31, 2009

Some years ago, just after the ceasefires came into effect, i went to the unions annual conference in Bournmouth, Godforsaken place. A fringe meeting on the North and the Peace Process was held one evening. Speakers were from Sinn Fein, PUP and some idiot from the British Labour Party. Sinn Fein even back then were gearing up for respectability, their guy, i cant remember his name could have been in the Hare Krishna Sect for all the peace and love crap he spouted. He looked harmless and wore a suit, not an Armani not quite in that league yet. The Labour Party speaker obviously had no idea about the North at all and basically supported the Provo. The PUP speaker was Billy Mitchell of Ardoyne fame who actually mentioned Class and suggested that the Loyalist and Nationalist Working Classes had common interests which might be served by a non sectarian government while sticking (no pun intended) to different views on thier respective heritages. He had a go at the Labour Party guy pointing out that it was reasonable to have Social Democratic policies but you needed Socialists who would always push things further. Surely all Left Republicans should encourage this kind of outlook while retaining our own ultimate objectives.

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67. sonofstan - July 31, 2009

You hit the nail on the head, for almost all leftists in Ireland, whether republican or not, the Protestant working class is without doubt the great conundrum. Is there a section of the Irish community who have been worse served by politics?

The protestant working class could probably argue that they were better treated by the British state (if not the NI one) than the working class in the republic ever was.

I was interested in some of the comments and I wonder if some of the authors would suggest those members of the English working class and underclass who voted for the BNP should be treated in a similar ’soft’ manner which they prescribe for the left and the protestant WC.

Not really following this….?

Voting Unionist (even the DUP) is not the same as voting for the BNP. And maybe the word ‘underclass’ should probably be used with scare quotes at least in leftist talk?

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68. john.oneill - August 1, 2009

Mick said
“I found it interesting that no one dealt with the almost masochistic tendency amongst working class Protestants (WCP) these days, to vote for Unionist party’s that do nothing for them; and it has to be said in smaller numbers support dubious loyalist paramilitaries.”

Could you not say the same of the ‘Nationalist’ Working Class in the north who vote SF? Or indeed the WC in the South who have voted in FF and are intent on voting for the ‘alternative’ FG in the next general election? The masochism of the wc is linked to the level of political awareness and the inability of the left to be considered a realistic alternative.

As for the BNP, their growth is aided by the Labour Party in the UK having no interest in the issues/concerns of the working class and thus creating a political vaccuum that, unfortunately, the left has failed to capitalise upon.

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69. john.oneill - August 1, 2009

As for Eirigi, what I said initially wasn’t necessarily a criticism just an observation. In my view socialist republicanism is preferable to the SF line that swings from reformism to left reformism depending on the mood of the Ard Comhairle.

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70. WorldbyStorm - August 1, 2009

re 66… You’d be surprise how relaxed I am about the IT. It just serves as a handy target for a bunch of stuff, and frankly the level of writing in it compared even to ten years ago is so much lower it’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

I’m certainly not going to reiterate what I thought were the justifications for yeah, a semi-serious piece.

As for being ‘wrong’ or biased? This is all subjective stuff, completely. I’ve never hid that, never would. It’s opinion, from a left wing perspective, working through thoughts, learning a bit and also a bit of craic. When I’m wrong, and you’ve rightly pulled me up on certain figures and stuff I’m happy to say so. But the worldview I have informs the stuff I write and I do to back up my thoughts with some solid references , I do all I can to avoid (knowingly) being deceitful, or cleaving to a party line (it’s one of the reasons I can’t and won’t dismiss McCarthy). But at root, let’s be honest, it’s a pastime.

Bar the Left Archive… now that’s a labour of love. ;)

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71. Mick Hall - August 1, 2009

Mad dog wilson (some handle for sure;)

I take your point, I once wrote a piece for an ex prisoners magazine The Other Voice, {I think it was called that) the editorial board consisted of former IRA, UVF and UDA volunteers.

The piece was about the appalling education standards that working class kids faced in the greater Shankill area. People being understandably touchy about their backyards, there was an argument about whether it should be run, as the magazine was an attempt to build bridges between the two communities. If I remember correctly Billy Mitchell was on the editorial board which approved my piece.

There is an interesting piece about Billy by Roy Garland on the PUP web site.

http://www.pup-ni.org.uk/loyalism/lo_read.aspx?a=24

He was one of the few UVF men who had Irish republicans at his funeral and their presence was not window dressing, they wanted to be there.

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72. Mick Hall - August 1, 2009

sonofstan.

The existence of the underclass is a fact, in the UK, (I was commenting on a section of the WCP) it consists of those workers whose way of life was destroyed by the Thatcher governments deliberate de-industrialization of the British economy [which subsequent British government have continued).

This de-industrialization was accompanied by Thatchers attacks on the welfare state, which resulted in millions of working class people losing their jobs and crashing into poverty due to the lack of a safety net which could have retrained them, etc. To take the economic sting out of their fall they were channeled onto pointless schemes, sickness benefits, etc which was paid for out of north sea oil revenues, what a waste.

It is the children and their families of this group of workers who mainly make up the underclass of today.

Now to calm our left wing consciences, we can call them the lumpen proletariat, but the problem with this terminology is few people beyond a marxist core understand it; and in truth it is as insulting as the term underclass. In some ways I prefer underclass as it immediately highlights the extent of their fall and who is responsible for it, (IMO) and also the enormous growth in the numbers of people who now sadly fall into this category.

Some might prefer a more sympathetic word to describe these workers, but for myself, sympathy comes between shit and syphilis in my dictionary, and is of little good to a worker in need of organization.

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73. sonofstan - August 1, 2009

Mick Hall,

I know who you mean by the ‘underclass’ – nor is it merely a UK phenomenon: I remain to be convinced by your defence of the term – I guess my unease is prompted by the fact that people will accept being referred to as ‘middle-class’ or ‘working-class’ and eve ntake pride in it, whereas I wouldn’t imagine any such self- description with regard to the ‘underclass’.

I’m still not quite sure what you meant in the bit i quoted above though? do you think that working class people in the north voting unionist is the same as the working class/’underclass’ in England voting for the BNP?

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74. Mick Hall - August 1, 2009

sonofstan

I was not trying to defend the term ‘underclass’ and I am glad I failed to convince you as the term underclass is clearly insulting, and the term was created by the very people who cheered Thatcher on. OK as there is no suitable alternative word I am aware of, perhaps you are correct about ‘underclass.’

Perhaps I should have used Tory instead of BNP, although a Protestant State for a Protestant people does have fascist undertones, especially if you were on the receiving end of a B-Special baton.

My main point was the left does not use kid gloves when arguing with workers about why they voted for the BNP, a reactionary party, so why should we do so when arguing with workers about why they voted for the DUP, a reactionary party.

I would add in answer to your question, at this time, voting for the DUP has more dire consequences than voting for the BNP in England, as the DUP is a majority party, whilst thankfully the BNP is not and is unlikely in my view to become one.

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the simple truth - August 1, 2009

Mick,

The left arguing with workers who vote BNP.

The left dont have any dialog with such workers.

The left time and time stand up against racism and fight it on very corner. Thats a good fight and a just fight. The left is doing good there.

The left does not have any discussions though with workers who simply have concerns about immigration.

The left does not have a policy on immigration. The left has a policy on racism.

This is why the BNP is gaining ground and will continue to gain ground unfortunately.

If a worker says they are concerned about immigration then the left will respond with an answer about racism. Related things but different very different

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75. Seán Ó Tuama - August 1, 2009

I am not convinced that there is any great conundrum about the PWC and its voting tendencies.

They had, and to some extent still have, sectarian privileges which were very important in relative terms if not in absolute terms. They act to defend these privileges. These privilieges may appear small to those of us who think in terms of the Socialist Revolution but to those who consider things in a relatively shorter time span, I reckon those differences were extremely important.

This does not mean that cannot be won over to more progressive politics or that they should be written off but any strategies to win them over need at least to take this material basis into account. realistic.r

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76. Maddog Wilson - August 1, 2009

Mick Hall
Re 71, thanks for the link. Handle is a childhood nickname from a 60’s TV programme.

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77. sonofstan - August 1, 2009

There is a simpler reason as to why the PWC vote unionist – they wish to preserve the union. We can argue till domesday as to whether this is ‘false consciousness’ or not, but as long as every party that’s not unionist in NI is committed to ending the union, it’s going to be very difficult to persuade them otherwise – and the fact that ‘we’ think the union an absurdity, and it’s historical title doubtful, is no help at all. It exists, and a majority of the people in a polity with a longer continuous existence than many un-contentious European states, and virtually all African states, wish it to continue. Until Nationalists can get their heads around that, they won’t understand the PWC.

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78. Seán Ó Tuama - August 1, 2009

SOS,

My point is not so much that of “false consciousness” but rather that the PWC has been, quite successfully in historical terms, pursuing a policy of following its short term intetest of protecting (or to the extent that recent changes have changed anything, restoring) its traditional sectarian privileges over the CWC, or if you prefer the NWC.

No workerist strategy is going to overcome this problem. The prejudices of the PWC have to be challenged, not encouraged as some of the postings on this site would appear to encourge.

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79. sonofstan - August 1, 2009

I think the PWC feels anything but privileged at the moment, nor do i think there is any sense of wanting to ‘restore’ anything. I’m not talking about encouraging their prejudices (I don’t know if that was directed at me – perhaps not) merely of recognising their right to hold the views they do. Merely being a unionist is not, in itself, a sectarian position or ‘prejudiced’ in any way, any more than being a nationalist/ republican is.

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80. Eamonn Dublin - August 1, 2009

John O’Neill said “Could you not say the same of the ‘Nationalist’ Working Class in the north who vote SF? Or indeed the WC in the South who have voted in FF and are intent on voting for the ‘alternative’ FG in the next general election? The masochism of the wc is linked to the level of political awareness and the inability of the left to be considered a realistic alternative.

As for the BNP, their growth is aided by the Labour Party in the UK having no interest in the issues/concerns of the working class and thus creating a political vaccuum that, unfortunately, the left has failed to capitalise upon”
– could not agree more. The abandonment of the working class and some of their primary issues by the left and the social democrats has caused the WC to look elsewhere be it the cute hoorism of FF or the ravings of the BNP. As for the PWC, they could hardly be expected to vote for butchers & hood inspired parties like the PUP ( who I accept have now evolved) when the DUP etc.., were responding to their concerns (in a parish pump way) including defending the union (verbally anyway).
The issue of the underclass is certainly not confined to parts of England but exists in several part of Ireland. While Dublin and Limerick have areas of complete deprivation and no structures of normality so do smaller towns like Athy, sligo, Mullingar as well as areas of Belfast. These are sections of society in which anarchy (minus the crusty students) reigns and where the strength of the working classes ability to mobilise and support itself is missing.
We must address the divisions in society as well as the division of our country , at the same time, and we must do so from a working class perspective.

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81. Seán Ó Tuama - August 1, 2009

SOS,

Frankly, I do not see much difference in practice between “holding the views they do” and sectarian prejudices. The fact they may consider themselves losing out at the moment is simply typical of other groups they resemble such as “poor whites” in the US whose racist privileges have been quite justifiably threatened. Would you argue for self-determination for the southern states of the US on that basis?

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82. sonofstan - August 1, 2009

Seán,

Sorry, but that’s exactly why socialists in this country from broadly speaking the nationalist/ republican tradition don’t get the northern unionist working class. To condemn every single one of them because of the sins of the ascendancy getting on for 40 years ago? Would you go around the US South now automatically assuming every white person you met was a racist?

Unionism, in and of itself, does not equate to white supremacism or zionism or anything else you don’t like. It’s perfectly respectable for people who see themselves as British to wish to remain so – just as it’s perfectly in order for those who see themselves as Irish in that polity to wish to have that acknowledged. Tarring all unionists/ loyalists with the brush of sectarianism and then making it equal to all sorts of nasty things elsewhere in the world is the stuff of student debate where anything that doesn’t measure up to your standard of right thinking is ‘fascist’

I’m a little disturbed by the willingness of republicans on this thread to throw around epithets like ‘underclass’ and ‘poor whites’ as comparisons for the PWC in the north – firstly, it indicates a degree of contempt for working-class people you don’t agree with, and secondly, it doesn’t remotely match their profile one bit. The PWC in NI are/ were to a large extent, skilled, relatively highly paid workers in heavy industry, engineering and so on: the sort of working class in fact, most likely to be organised trades unionists – and they were too.

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83. The Necessity of Elections « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - August 1, 2009

[...] Having been too busy to comment for a few days, I missed the chance to respond to the following comment from sonofstan on the Irish Times and éirígí thread: There seems to me to be good ideological reasons for not [...]

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84. Garibaldy - August 2, 2009

I guess in the debate between Seán and SonofStan we are back to the question of whether the protestants of Ireland can be said to form a garrison class in the 21st century. I’d definitely be inclined to agree with SonofStan here, that it is possible to be a unionist without being inherently sectarian, and that there are broadly speaking progressive elements within unionism that ought to be worked with wherever possible. Although as Justin has pointed out much earlier, we must wherever possible foster a common sense of identity.

On the underclass issue, it certainly isn’t a term I like. However the conditions of a community where large numbers of people grow up effectively never expecting to hold a decent job are very different to the conditions in an old mining village for example. Mick is right to say that it has consequences for the people there, and community stability, crime, culture etc. I think we can see aspects of this in places like west Belfast, where there is massive structural long-term unemployment. SonofStan’s characterisation of the NI industrial working class concentrated in unionist areas is correct, but those areas have been hit by Thatcherism like similar communities in Britain. It seems to me that Johnny Adair’s C Company reflected something of this.

Having said that, what do we make of the fact that the most left-wing member of the Assembly is Dawn Purvis?

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85. shea - August 2, 2009

i’ve worked over sea’s with people from a unionist backround and spells up in belfast, personaly think that when nationalist ireland looks at unionism they think they are looking at a mirror opposite of them selves. nationalism is as near homogonous as is humanly possible, there is alot more agreement than disagreement if you think about it. maybe things are changeing but for along time there was a huge sociological group of people made up of large families economicly poor rural and catholic. not exclusive but similer experieces nurture similer oulook.

unionism is nothing like that, with in it, it’s varied, all ways it’s strenth cut across urban rural rich poor differencet sets of poor etc methodists don’t trust COI COI don’t trust prysbaterians presbatrerians are wary of of the 7 day advents and so on orther social differences etc and so on but collectivly unionists ignore there difference to hold a line. thats not the mirror opposite of nationalism, nationalism almost celebrates it’s differences with in it’s self or at least highly empasises’s it.

if republicans or socialists or both want to get into protestant communities then in my opinion they need to stop thinking of it as one monolith and more as the sum of its parts.

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86. Mick Hall - August 2, 2009

“If a worker says they are concerned about immigration then the left will respond with an answer about racism. Related things but different very different”

The simple truth

Your right, but it is not only the left who respond with charges of racism, it is the stock answer of the mainstream parties too. Whilst it is true there is often a racist element when it comes to being opposed to immigration, it is far from the whole story.

In this context in my view we should deal with the racism as a periphery issue, as there is a strong argument we should make in favor of immigration which centers on widening the tax base, a vital necessity due to the aging population. The mainstream party’s do not wish to go near this as they fear all talk of tax, but the left should be able to make a strong case for immigration.

I lived along the Thames rim an area in which most people could not trace their families back locally more than two generation or less, myself included. First came people from throughout the UK, then the Irish came to build the docks and heavy industry, then people from the indian sub continent and Asians from East Africa, next the Bosnians and at the beginning of this century came the white and black flight from London, the latest arrivals are from Africa. With each group there has been a great deal of grumbling but eventually things settle down.

We should be far more conscious of the fact that it is amongst working class people most newcomers first live and when handled sensible most newcomers settle in well and come the next influx of newcomers they end up opposing them too. Something which has always amused me.

For the working classes to be ‘blanketed’ as racist is one of the greatest injustices of the age. What we hate is not being asked when great changes are to occur in our communities. We live in a racist society, so no one should be surprise that some WC people are racist.

However in my experience it is more often than not surface racism, unlike that of most middle class people. After all it was not working class people who institutionalized racism in the UK police, civil service, Parliament, British army, universities, need I go on?

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87. the simple truth - August 2, 2009

Mick,

You argue well for how immigration can bring benefits. Like all things it has goods and bads.

neither the working class or the immigrants ar the ones who have caused most of the troubles in our societies.

But pointing out those benefits that immigrants bring, and the responsibility that the rich have for creating such a distorted system, still does not answwer the question working people have about immigration:

What is the maximum no. of immigrants allowed to arrive each year? If they are to widen the tax base then how many are needed?

The left cant say well sure there has to be a limit just because thats a common sense approach. What thing has no limit so yes we can say its fair to have a limit. Thats an immigration policy thatt pushes the good aspects and handles the bad aspects.

Left dont do that though so its left to the likes of the BNP and guess whay they dont push any of the good benefits of immigration.

with no one on the left able to face up to facts working class people turn to parties that spin the negaives all because the left pretends there are only positives to immigration.

How successful is this going to be? how strong do the bnp becomee before we stop them.

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88. Maddog Wilson - August 2, 2009

Mick
My mother was recruited from Ireland in the 50’s as a nurse for the new NHS. I doubt if there was a postwar shortage of women in the UK at that time, there was certainly no shortage during the actual war. The real reason young girls from Ireland were recruited was simply cheaper labour. No one seems to have mentioned this so far. Immigration into countries like the Uk and within the EU are often dictated by Capitalist economics, to lower the relatively ‘ high ‘ labour costs of formerly ‘ Social Democratic ‘ Western Europe ‘. Immigration does not exist in a vacuum it is caused primarily by economics one way or another. One of the reasons the Tories talk ‘ tough ‘ but never actually do anything about immigration is of course that they are in favour of cheap labour. As the simple truth says above, immigration has it’s good reasons and it’s bad reasons. The left ignores this at it’s peril. We have the example of 20th century Facism and it’s results laid out before us.

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89. Steve King - November 24, 2010

This is not a public message.
I’m sure who you are on this site (not building site as a far as I know most of them are closed down) and I don’t have the time to read all the prose above – I’ve had a look before and you seem all-right. What presses me tonight is the necessity to unite as many decent people (as Bernadette Devlin might have phrased it) as possible against this horrible onslaught of world financial capitalism and downright crooks against ordinary folk. From my distance (without selling out on what I believe in) the border around the wee six, including my county of Tyrone, doesn’t seem very important in the immediate future. All decent folk must fight this generalized attack on European workers, unemployed and needy. Here in France, for example, the social movement on against the right-wing pension reform was sold out by the reformist leadership of (at least) two main trade unions. (This may sound pessimistic but we have to be realistic.) In Ireland I would suggest a “STAY AT HOME AND FIGHT” campaign. As you know as well as me emigration has been written into Irish genes for centuries now. Why don’t we stay and fight. (For myself, I could advance a reason of not being with you but that of course is irrelevant for now.)
Fight the bastards and give hope to others in the rest of Europe who are waiting for signs to take up the fight again. A battle lost does not mean they have won the war.
For a start be as many as possible on Saturday, even though the Irish TUs (I suppose ICTU) signed a ridiculous wage restraint until 2014 (which should be out-of-order today after the this new onslaught).
Bear bua
Stiofan Mac Ri or Steve King

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90. www.blood-elite-warriors.de - August 11, 2014

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91. Black Diamond Serum Review - September 9, 2014

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The Irish Times: The media wing of Éirígí? | The Cedar Lounge Revolution

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