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Left Archive: Ireland in Rebellion, Gerry Foley, Including Interviews with Cathal Goulding, Chief of Staff IRA and Tomás Mac Giolla, President, Sinn Féin. March 1972 April 30, 2012

Posted by irishonlineleftarchive in Irish Left Online Document Archive.
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To download the above file please click on the following link: IRL REB GF

Published by Pathfinder Press in 1971 and then reprinted in March 1972 this document was written by Gerry Foley who passed away last weekend. It complements another document written by him during the same period which analyses aspects of the conflict on the island. Foley at that time was very close to the leadership of Official Sinn Féin.

It is perhaps best to let the document speak for itself, but as can be seen it is divided into an Introduction, a chapter entitled Why Socialism is Coming to the fore in Ireland by Foley and interviews with Cathal Goulding and Tomás Mac Giolla. Worth noting that both those interviews date from 1970.

Foley saw considerable scope for progress in the course of the events in Ireland during those years, but he also articulated a clear-sighted critique which noted both the problems facing Official Republicanism (and the potential political strength of their rivals in Provisional Republicanism) and the opportunities implicit in the struggle.

Thanks to Jim Monaghan for noting another of Foley’s documents available here.

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1. Ed - April 30, 2012

This is a really valuable document, great to have it up. It gives the lie to two widespread ideas about the Officials at this stage of their history: that they were following a ‘constitutionalist’ approach (Goudling’s interview speaks for itself on that point), and that they were ‘Stalinists’ (MacGiolla’s interview places them closer to the spirit of the Non-Aligned Movement). A lot of the ideas people have about the Officials involve reading back later developments into their early history, so it’s important to go back to the original sources to get a proper handle on things.

WBS, any chance of any more of Gerry Foley’s work going up on the archive? I’ve come across his obituary article for Malachy McGurran, but haven’t yet found the ones for Seamus Costello and Liam McMillen, would be great to see them.

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Mark P - April 30, 2012

I have a copy of an internal document he wrote for the United Secretariat of the Fourth International somewhere. It’s pamphlet length and full of entertaining and/or interesting details. It was written as a polemic on behalf of the US SWP’s international faction against the views of the international majority faction, which included the British IMG and the small number of Irish supporters of the USFI.

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Jim Monaghan - April 30, 2012

I have a scanned copy which I will donate. More important is his “Theses on Ireland” which is non factional. It deals with the nature of Irish Nationalism and its progressive nature. It tries (in my opinion successfully) he lessons of Trotsky’s theory of Permanent Revolution to Ireland. As soon as I get this I will have it scanned
On an international note, his work on he revolution in Portugal is very important.He opposed the seizure of the only Socialist Party newspaper (Republica) by the Stalinist CP in the guise of workers control. He saw this as giving grist to the mill to those who feared that the CP was intent on bringing the gulag with them to power. This was in fact the end of the revolutionary upsurge. I think leftists of all sorts do not fully appreciate the suspicion many workers and others have of revolution due to the crimes of Stalinism.

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Brian. S - May 12, 2012

Very sorry to hear the news of Gerry’s death. While fully in agreement with the acknowledgements here of his great talent and contribution to the Trotskyist movement, I feel I can’t let pass this reference to Portugal,, a situation I followed very closely at the time, and where Gerry let his particular factional viewpoint cloud his regard for the facts. Republica was not a paper of the Socialist Party, but a commercial, mass circulation daily that supported the SP. The attempt by workers (largely print staff) to take control of it was not some partisan move by the CP, but part of an important movement for workers control of industry, including culture and media (for example, the Gulbenkian Foundation briefly fell under “workers control”) that reflected influences and aspirations well to the left of the CP. On this issue Gerry and the US SWP were on the side of reaction.
A much more accurate account was provided at the time by Sam Marcy: http://www.workers.org/marcy/cd/samport/port/port05.htm

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Ed - April 30, 2012

This piece by Bob Purdie includes the following about Foley and the USFI:

“The SWP’s main expert on Ireland was Gerry Foley, a linguist whose portfolio of languages included Irish. We were called to a meeting of the International Executive Committee of the FI in Brussels, presided over by the intellectual leader of the FI Ernest Mandel. At this meeting the disagreements over Ireland were debated, fairly inconclusively, between myself, Pat Jordan, the then National Secretary of the IMG, and Tariq Ali on one side and Gerry Foley on the other. He had a copy of my pamphlet, which he had annotated. Tariq swiped it while he wasn’t looking and gave it to me; I still have it. Gerry Foley developed a close relationship with members of the Official leadership, particularly Seán Garland. I remember that a Dublin comrade showed me a copy of an internal SWP document in which he described Garland as “the man closest to Trotskyism in the Officials’ leadership.”

http://redmolerising.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/remembering-the-officials.pdf

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WorldbyStorm - April 30, 2012

Ed, entirely agree. Anything sent to me to scan or in PDF format will be put up. I’m very fond, personally, of Foley’s analysis. Seems to me to have been a good guy.

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Repsol - April 30, 2012

It’s a pity that people writing on republicanism don’t consult material like this. A lot of the newer books on the history of the ‘Troubles’ still giving it the old chestnuts about ‘Stalinist’ officials with their non-violent ‘stages-theories’.
Tom Bartlett’s history of Ireland is still re-running the ‘i ran away’ story and Matt Treacy’s analysis of the ‘marxists’ could have been written in the 1970s.

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Jim Monaghan - April 30, 2012

Repsol has a point. Historians have hind sight. This allows them to be”right”. Dealing with challenges is an awful responsibility for a revolutionary organisation.
Where people and organisations end up is very different from where they started. In the midst of the storm who knows?
Who could imagine a republican leader asking for prayers for Paisley?

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ghandi - April 30, 2012

+1

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WorldbyStorm - April 30, 2012

Jim, excellent point re hindsight. I often get that sense when reading some history.

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2. Michael Carley - April 30, 2012

I haven’t read it yet, but the first thought that came to me was that the cover is excellent: they obviously had a very good designer.

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Mark P - April 30, 2012

Pathfinder was always a very professional outfit for an in-house left wing publisher.

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3. Jim Monaghan - April 30, 2012

More Gerry Foley material
http://www.marxists.org/archive/foley/

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4. The Weekly Archive Worker: Kein AKW in Hörnum, und auch nicht anderswo! « Entdinglichung - May 3, 2012

[...] Gerry Foley: Ireland in Rebellion: Including Interviews with Cathal Goulding, Chief of Staff IRA and Tomás Mac G… [...]

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5. Jim Monaghan - May 5, 2012
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[...] Left Archive: Ireland in Rebellion, Gerry Foley, Including Interviews with Cathal Goulding, Chief of… (cedarlounge.wordpress.com) [...]

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7. Left Archive: Selection of writings on the Official Sinn Féin/Irish Republican Socialist Party split in 1975 – including a tribute to Billy McMillen and interview with Séamus Costello, by Gerry Foley « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - June 4, 2012

[...] documents were written by Gerry Foley (see here and here) for Intercontinental Press between 1974 and 1975 about the split in Official Sinn Féin [...]

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