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A few good pieces on Youth Defence November 30, 2012

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Irish Politics.

An excellent recent piece from Bock The Robber.. Youth Defence — The Forbidden Love-Child of Left and Right.

Here’s a murky story for you. It starts with a demented old woman in County Cork and ends with the death of a beautiful young woman in a Galway hospital. It spans three generations of a family raised in a hothouse of religious intolerance, who went on to poison rational debate in Ireland to the present day.

This is a story of intolerance, intimidation and ignorance.

A man is shot dead. There are bank robberies.

A government minister stands trial for gun-running but astonishingly, later goes on to lead the country.

This is the story of how a small religious pressure-group, founded by a religious fanatic, managed to subvert a western European democracy without anybody noticing.

Also another interesting piece from a while back on Come Here To Me

Una Bean Mhic Mhathuna; Over 40 years of reactionary politics

and finally an old one from this Parish

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1. Jim Monaghan - November 30, 2012

I seem to remember a few contributions which stated that there was little connection between Saor Eire Cork and the Dublin one. Possible conflation.

WorldbyStorm - November 30, 2012

Yes, my understanding was that the two weren’t connected.

Here’s the Cork Saor Éire link. http://cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2008/07/28/the-left-archive-peoples-voice-from-saor-eire-1968/

Millie Depaor - December 8, 2012

I am amazed you, Jim Monaghan have nothing positive to say about the Dr Sean O Domhnaill, mentioned in this article , since you know he is the only Dr in the country who risked his life and his career, to travel to Columbia to give evidence for the Columbia 3. Also Ide and Seamus Played at many fundraising gigs for you. Have you a short memory? They are not the kind of people to ever look for thanks, but to not even acknowledge them when this piece of dirt takes their character?????

Martin Savage - December 8, 2012

Not the same Jim [edited for violation of rules]

Saor Eire - December 8, 2012

Your name should obviously be Savage Martin. You look back at events of almost 44 years ago and judge them with the eyes of a star-struck Facebook generation. If Jim did hate them when he was stuck immobile and facing life in prison in La Modelo, he could have refused to have anything to do with them!. You are a nothing, a non-event and I have no doubt your life mirrors that fact. At least Jim stood for something. He was not just a rubber-necker of history. You know nothing of Saor Eire. Be grateful. There was a time when you would have been afraid to mention their name in public. That time may well come again. Long memories; that is what you should be most afraid of! See ya,boy.

Martin Savage - December 8, 2012

Afraid of who? The people who murdered Peter Graham?

Jim Monaghan - December 9, 2012

Millie. There at least two Jim Monaghans. Could you be mixing us up. While I supported the Columbia three, I was not the one involved. I am the less famous one.There is also a Scottish Leftists one as well. What 2 Saor Eires and now a correspondent with that name so maybe 3. And 3 Jim Monaghans.
Very confusing.

Millie Depaor - December 10, 2012

Thanks Jim, and my apologies to the more famous Jim.

Saor Eire - December 9, 2012

They were separated by geography and the need for secrecy. Some personality clashes also occurred. Some of the Dublin lads were champagne socialists. The Corkmen were soldiers to the bone, which is where they fought against the loyalist onslaught, a fact that history has failed to record. They fought in the Bone!

Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - December 9, 2012
Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - December 9, 2012

An electrician from the Liberties…no ‘champagne socialist’ murdered by cowards …and some Cork bullies who ‘fought the loyalist onslaught’ where was that, Patrick Street on a Friday night?

Jim Monaghan - December 9, 2012

I am suprised by this remark.Ultraleftists perhaps, but champagne socialists definitelty not.

2. Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - November 30, 2012

From the discussion on Bock the robber site:
‘Just a note on Saor Eire- they were formed by ex-members of the IRA who left the organisation in 1967-68, but did not adopt the Saor Eire name until 1969. There were Saor Eire members who were influenced by Trotskyism, but Larry White was certainly NOT one of
them. By the time he joined in 1972 the group in Cork were right-wing nationalists. The feud with the Official IRA was because of a number of physical assaults by White and his friends on their members. White would have broadly agreed with his sister’s religious views.’
Seems reasonable?

Florrie O'Donoghue - December 1, 2012

‘Seems reasonable?’

I’m not certain. The article on bocktherobber gives the impression the Larry White joined Saor Éire 1) at his mother’s exhortations and 2) with no prior background in any ‘activism’ Or, at least, no attempt is made to contextualise his Saor Éire involvement within such a framework of prior involvement in republican activity..

From what I understand, White had been an IRA volunteer at the turn of the previous decade, knowing his alleged killers from that period and activity. The reason(s) given for his killing by TheHistoryBoy on the comments section might perhaps be a little partisan; they are certainly at a variance (thought not a major one) from what I have heard – my own accounts are open to partisan charges, I realise.

Is mise srl.,

WorldbyStorm - December 1, 2012

That’s a central point, as I suggested above. As easy to see SE as a republican group as a far left one, and talking to various people since this post went up I understand that its membership was mixed between leftists and right wingers.

Saor Eire - December 8, 2012

Seems reasonable.Larry gave his life for his country. You lot would not give up your lunch. But the generations pass. And Larry White is still remembered in Gurran every year. The men of Saor Eire are not all dead yet. (Many went back to the Provisionals. Nobody including the Provos knew they were in Saor Eire anyway because it was “super secret”) Some of you should wish they were. There were no informers in Saor Eire. You should wonder why. Bock the Robber is an irrelevant piece of low-life. Nothing, least of all himself, will change that. No doubt he’ll get down on his knees and beg for mercy in the libel action. Wait and see. Úna would never do that. Nor would any of her brothers, God Rest them.
Also, the murder of Larry White was because the OIRA mistakenly thought he was involved in the shooting of Sean Garland, which he was not. That job was done by a man from Ballyfermot who is most interested in meeting Bock.

maddurdu - December 8, 2012

:Takes offence at article connecting YD with violent republicanism, threatens author by claiming connection to violent republicans:

Great job.

Millie Depaor - December 10, 2012

[Edited - please don'te make legally actionable claims on this website - smiffy]

Is being a socialist, demonising people and looking to legalise the killing of the most defenceless of us all a small baby in the womb. Go the Mathunas home any day of the week and you will find Una bn helping a member of the traveling community to get a home, or a homeless guy sitting at the table having at hot meal. The Mathunas had far less money than anyone commenting here but they never stopped giving, isnt that what real socialism is meant to be about? No matter what is said about the Mathunas they have personally been a part of thousands of people’s lives i am here as a witness to their love and kindness.Hatred and lies only leadS down the road to bitterness, as Una often Quotes from Bobby Sands ” our revenge will be the laughter of our children.

3. Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - November 30, 2012

Not so sure about this one from Young Ireland on Bock site:

‘I don’t think the answer is straightforward. Its principles would generally be considered mainstream by Catholic standards. Its tactics in the early years weren’t, however following Barrett’s demise, they have moderated a lot in that regard. From a Catholic perspective, YD is actually very diverse. Its leadership would be traditionalist and nationalistic as you have mentioned, however most of the rank-and-file are on the other side of the spectrum completely (they would be involved in groups like Youth 2000 and such). It should be noted as well I think that there is an element in YD that would be very anti-republican. At the Rally for Life one year, several members protested the presence of RSF at the rally, at which point the banner was taken down. Anti-republican comments appear quite often in the comboxes as well. Now of course, their only official positions relate to abortion and euthanasia, however there are unofficial views like left-wing economics, euroscepticism, nationalism (though this has been toned down a lot in recent years) etc. So as I said, the answer is not very straightforward.’

Saor Eire - December 9, 2012

Barrett was an aberrant event in YD. He came, saw an opportunity to express one of his many opinions, and left. End of..

4. Dr. X - November 30, 2012

A relative of mine encountered the Mathuna creature when they were both involved in a Gaelscoil.

One year they got the local parish priest in to instruct the kids for their first confession.

He turned out to be a post-Vatican 2 hippy priest, full of peace and love.

Mrs. M took exception to this , insisting that these small children should be ‘made to shiver’.

I don’t think ‘evil’ is too strong a word to describe people like that.

As for Bock the Robber, an apt description would be ‘smart, but not as smart as he thinks he is.’ Irish sexual conservatism (and its attendant dysfunction) may have been partly influenced by the ultramontanes and their ilk, but it was, sruely, even more an effect of the famine? (the famine was a rather important event in modern Irish history – you may know someone who has heard of it).

Millie Depaor - December 8, 2012

Name your relative, Dr X and while you are at it, name yourself. Seamus and Una Mac Mathuna have received several awards for the lifelong commitment they have given to teaching our young people their culture. Both of them have taught thousands of traditional musicians and singers and are loved by many. Boc’s article is a disgusting slur and i hope the Mac Mathuna family bring him to court, they won the last court case against justine mccarthy after she wrote similar trash.

Martin Savage - December 8, 2012

Where’s your famous Larry White?

Saor Eire - December 9, 2012

Where all the best of Republicans lie. In the hands of their Creator. And he is Ireland’s Larry White, not ours! Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Martin Savage - December 9, 2012

EDIT We’re not going to tolerate this sort of stuff from any quarter. Saor Éire, you’re attacking people personally and individually on the site. Martin, you’re not helping. I want this to stop immediately. – WORLDBYSTORM

5. CL - November 30, 2012

Bock mentions Justin Barrett and his neo-nazi connections. He might also have mentioned Barrett’s cohort, Gerry McGeough, a member of Sinn Fein’s Ard Chomhairle.

Florrie O'Donoghue - December 1, 2012

A chara,

You have mentioned Gerry McGeough in two separate comments on this one discussion. It is somewhat disingenuous to make these references without noting that McGeough actually left Sinn Féin in large part due to what he perceived to be their overly-liberal social policies.

One gets the impression that you are attempting some sort of smear with these references given your omission of subsequent events.

Is mise srl.,

Mark P - December 1, 2012

It’s hardly a smear to note that Sinn Fein put him on their Ard Comhairle. They did in fact do that.

Florrie O'Donoghue - December 1, 2012

They did do that, yes. Absolutely.
I can’t disagree with fact – and wouldn’t.

However, the two mentions in one discussion, use of present tense, proximity-reference to neo-nazis and omission of subsequent events i.e. McGeough’s leaving Sinn Féin and his given reasons for doing so, would lead me to view the comments as something perhaps less benign than a mere informative post.

CL - December 3, 2012

There’s more than information involved; what’s at issue is the connection betweeen the Irish republican movement and fascism. I mentioned Gerry McGeough and Sean South, but there is also the connection between Sean Russell and nazi Germany.

Jim Monaghan - December 3, 2012

A wing of the Irgun also engaged with the Nazis. It proves very little. Lenin took a train. This also proves very little. Republicanism tends to be very naive. One would think that marxist movements would be better.I would give one current example where we have many leftists in the Assad fan club and many supporting various groups in opposition. Republicans had a position of supporting whatever enemy England had. Leftists tend to have a kneejerk reaction to whatever position they at least perceive the Americans have.
One tendency gave critical support to the Moslem brotherhood candidate in Egypt.
Maybe Republicans are just equally stupid.

CL - December 3, 2012

‘Oh here’s to Adolph Hitler,
Who made the Britons squeal,
Sure before the fight is ended
They will dance an Irish reel.’
(War News, 21 November 1940)

CL - December 4, 2012

JIm Monaghan:

Form Brian Hanley’s piece, “in July 1940 the IRA leadership issued a statement outlining its position on the war. The statement made clear that if ‘German forces should land in Ireland, they will land . . . as friends and liberators of the Irish people’…..The Third Reich was also praised as the ‘energising force’ of European politics and the ‘guardian’ of national freedom. In response to critics such as George Bernard Shaw, who had drawn attention to Hitler’s anti-Catholic policies, the IRA countered that both ‘Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini’ proved their lack of bias by helping to establish the ‘Catholic government’ of Franco in Spain.”
This can’t be so easily dismissed as stupidity.

Saor Eire - December 9, 2012

Gerry McGeough was one of the foremost volunteers in the struggle for Ireland’s freedom. That is why he still languishes in HMP Maghaberry while his former comrades make themselves comfortable in Stormont.

6. maddurdu - November 30, 2012

Interesting read but I dare say there’s far too much agency placed on YD and too little on the swine in the dail.

WorldbyStorm - November 30, 2012

Very good point.

Mark P - November 30, 2012

Yes, it’s also jammed into an “extremist” framework where emphasis on placed on the supposed leftism of a dead uncle, as if that was anything more than an entertaining footnote.

WorldbyStorm - November 30, 2012

Got to agree, the ‘left’ link could as easily be put forward as a ‘republican’ link.

7. doctorfive - November 30, 2012

Would throw this 1983 Gene Kerrigan piece too

Picked up Masterminds of the Right during the week too. Fascinating and disturbing in equal measure. For all the feathers some still spat over WP entryism it’s crazy reading about Knights of Columbanus being so high in ranks of RTÉ, what was INM and almost everywhere else.

Mark P - November 30, 2012

Just ordered “Masterminds of the Right”. Is it any good?

smiffy - November 30, 2012

It’s good, but it’s very out of date (and slim). Covers the main issues/players up until the early 90s (published 92, I think?) but doesn’t cover the Youth Defence/Life/Coir branch of right-wing fundamentalism (or, indeed, the more recent ‘mainstream’ Catholics, Iona Institute, Breda O’Brien etc.).

Damian O'Broin (@damianobroin) - December 1, 2012

That Kerrigan piece is very interesting. And lo and behold, who appears in the middle of it, carrying the ‘pro-life’ flag but child abusing priest Sean Fortune…

Saor Eire - December 9, 2012

Masterminds of the Right was a very poor piece of writing by a journalist who should have done a lot more homework. It is riddled with inaccuracies. It was a fine example of hit-and-run writing, but of no use to true historians because she got so much so wrong. She actually believed her own propaganda. I know because i was there and the people she named were not the power-brokers. Not even close.

8. doctorfive - November 30, 2012

Yeah, very. Thing it demonstrates most imo is power, power and more power is all they are interested in. The fundamentalists here are great microcosm of Rome itself. One bit talks about an ageing & dwindling membership of the KofC and the debate of allowing women join.

In the end it was rejected on fears that female membership might the balance of their energies too far into charity and not the important work of infiltrating and influencing.

Saor Eire - December 9, 2012

Possibly the saddest part of this is that you believe it. KoC have had no influence for thirty years. They are a throwback to a clash between the Masons and the Roman Catholic Church. They were infiltrated by businessmen who sought to change them into a club for making business connections. They succeeded. That is why they became irrelevant. I am staggered by the lack of recent historical knowledge of the contributors to this blog. You guys should have bothered to meet some of these “scary” people. You would have found it reassuring and would have been able to sleep without your Teddy at night.

doctorfive - December 9, 2012

Book covers the period thirty years ago.

9. irspstrabane - November 30, 2012

IRSP on the Right to Choose
30th November 2012

At the Irish Republican Socialist Partys first Ard Fheis in 1975, we were the first political party in Ireland to support a woman’s right to control her own body and choose abortion, a position unanimously reaffirmed by delegates to this year’s Ard Fheis. We call for immediate legislation to make abortion available, free of charge and on demand, through the health services on both sides of the border. We believe that any position short of that is insufficient and reactionary in 2012.

Historically, women were viewed as the property of first their fathers and then their husbands. They had no authority over their own bodies, and they were taught that their highest duty was to reproduce, regardless of their own wishes. This view persists today, where paternalistic states, supported by reactionary religious bodies, pass laws to control what women can and cannot do with their own bodies. The right to choose abortion is the right of a woman to have sovereignty over her own body, and to make decisions and choices about her body. Neither church nor state has a role to play in regulating women’s bodies.

We believe it is a sad indictment of Irish society in 2012 that a woman’s right to choose is still being denied. Every week almost one hundred women are forced to leave this island under a cloak of secrecy to receive a medical procedure that should easily be carried out, free from society’s imposed shame, in any hospital in Ireland.

The death of Savita Halappanavar in Galway in October should never have happened. Despite her desperate appeals for an abortion during a miscarriage, she was denied the procedure and she died. We support a woman’s right to choose abortion. It’s not enough to only theoretically allow it when the woman’s life is at risk. If a woman’s right to control her body and make medical decisions is to mean anything, she must have the right to choose abortion under any circumstances.

We also believe that contraception must be available to all women, free and on demand, so that they have complete control over their reproductive choices. To those who oppose both abortion and contraception, we say that you are hypocrites whose anti-woman agenda is plain to see.

The right to choose an abortion and determine one’s own future is part of a much larger struggle to empower women to take control of their own destinies and destroy the contradictions in Irish society that do not allow women to legally choose an abortion. Women must have this choice. We must struggle to win this right, and redress the imbalance in power between the genders, as these are battles in our war to separate church and state, and create a truly democratic, equal, and secular society.

As revolutionary socialists, we recognize that this requires more than just reform, it also requires a revolutionary change in society. Full gender liberation for all people can only happen if existing social institutions are abolished and the archaic values they represent are swept aside with them.

Reactionary religious institutions have exerted their influence to oppose the reproductive rights of women, be it contraception or abortion. Women must be free from the imposition of reactionary beliefs, and the state should not exist to impose religious diktat on anyone. An oppressive agenda towards women is very much in play in Ireland, with the Catholic Church, right-wing political parties, and the reactionary elements within Irish society preparing for a battle that, if won, would even further stagnate the struggle for woman’s liberation in Ireland. All progressive forces in Ireland must come together to oppose this reactionary agenda.

The IRSP supports a woman’s right to choose abortion on demand, and we call for legislation on both sides of the border to recognise this right.


smiffy - November 30, 2012

Didn’t you already post this on a different thread?

10. citizen - November 30, 2012

tell ya, that ide can fekkin sing though. unbelievable voice. and just bc the kids were dragged around to meetings when they were young doesn’t mean they see themselves as part of mum’s army. can’t say much here but things are very more complicated than that.

smiffy - November 30, 2012

That’s a reasonable point, although it would be interesting to know how YD (and associated groups) see themselves in relation to previous fanatical Catholic movements.

As I mentioned in previous post on this issue (apologies for shameless self-reference) there’s a very interesting book to be written on that whole politico-religious milieu. I have to say, I don’t think the Bock the Robber piece adds that much. The link to Saor Eire is extremely tenuous.

Saor Eire - December 9, 2012

Tenuous? A completely dedicated Pro-Life group, not an anti-abortion one, and a militant, military, grouping which fought against British occupation. Tenuous indeed!

11. ragman - December 1, 2012

i use to ascribe myself the whole lefty identity but im gettin kinda anarchist with a mix of spirituality in me old age and im startin to see how some in ireland nearly resent not having actual facist/nazis to confront so lump catholicy nationalisty types and others as the extreme right, im not a fan of them, not my cup a tea but …eh i dont know where im goin with this..love peace etc …i just hate seein human groups polarizing themselves and sometimes we are the worst for it

Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - December 1, 2012

I see your point ragman, but its no accident that Justin Barrett, Michael Quinn and your man Kavanagh, all now fascist activists, started off in Youth Defence and YD were certainly courted by the far-right.

Saor Eire - December 9, 2012

Justin Barrett started off in Fine Gael. Quinn is in his fifties; hardly a YDer. Cop on Branno!

12. Starkadder - December 1, 2012

Yesterday I saw a big anti-abortion rally in Cork on Grand Parade,
there were about 10-20 people there unveiled a huge anti-abortion
banner and handing out leaflets. The protestors all seemed pretty young and polite. No idea who organised it, although I suspect
it wasn’t YD.

Dr.Nightdub - December 1, 2012

Things have come to a fine pass when 10-20 people qualifies as “big”

Saor Eire - December 9, 2012

It was YD. They have been doing that in Dublin every single Saturday, except when Christmas fell on a Saturday, for 20 years. You just don’t realise the thing that scares the so-called Left so much; YD have successfully crossed a generation while their opponents fade away, literally!

13. CL - December 1, 2012

Whatever about the ‘Saor Eire’ connection traditional Irish nationalism always had a backward, reactionary strand. Irish republicanism is not immune from this tendency, with religious fundamentalists such as Sean Sabhat and Gerry McGeough attaining leadership positions within the movement.

Tawdy - December 1, 2012

The only leadership attributed to Sean South was post mortem in the song ” Sean South From Garrowen “, On active service he was just a volunteer.

CL - December 1, 2012

Yes, a member of a clerical fascist outfit, Maria Duce, has been much honoured in song and in story by the republican movement. And he was not from Garryowen.

Blissett - December 1, 2012

And I understand that there wasn’t anyone from Tyrone there either!

Saor Eire - December 9, 2012

Commitment shows, and not just in one stream of your life. Leadership in the struggle was situational. You were not appointed because you wanted to be. You were chosen on the basis of your ability to lead. Modern Leadership and Management courses show “Band of Brothers” to exemplify situational leadership.

Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - December 9, 2012

Band of child-abusing brothers?

14. Wendy Lyon - December 1, 2012

I missed the Indian news piece featuring Íde Nic Mháthuna. Is there a link anywhere?

CL - December 1, 2012
15. Martin Savage - December 1, 2012

Some interesting stuff on youth defence and their connections to the far right in the AFA pamphlet Undertones

Bernardo - December 2, 2012

Available for only €6 via paypal:


Saor Eire - December 9, 2012

The Reds should have stayed under the bed instead of putting their YD bogeymen under there. The AFA were never anything but an anti-racist group praying for some non-nationals to come to Ireland so they could accuse someone of being racist. There have never been links between YD and the “far right”, whoever they are. Name one “Far Right” group to which the organisation was connected. Facts are stubborn things but paper never refused ink, as your comments repeatedly show. See ya, boy.

Bernardo - December 9, 2012

Edited extract from the above mentioned pamphlet ‘Undertones’:

“While YD was not a Fascist organisation, it certainly did contain a number of people with far-right sympathies. People like Justin Barrett, Michael Quinn and Maurice Colgan were all heavily active with the group in the 1990s.

Mick McCaughan, a journalist with Hot Press, had infiltrated YD almost from their inception and he observed them at close quarters for six months. His feature article revealed the casual racism and right- wing nationalist views of a number of YD’s main activists at the time.

Through contacts, AFA were able to find out that National Oraniser Maurice Colgan had shared a flat with Barnsey of neo-nazi ‘band’ Celtic Dawn. During the same period, Colgan was seen at one YD leafleting- session wearing a Celtic Dawn t-shirt.

In 1993, the International Third Position (ITP) magazine Final
Conflict printed articles praising YD. In September of that year Candour, the British Mosleyite Journal, republished an article by YD activist ‘Cliona Ni Mhurchu’. The article was full of “Nazi terminology and thinly veiled references to Jewish conspiracies”. It had originally appeared in the ITP publication, Catholic Action. A certain layer of YD was certainly becoming influenced by Third Positionist politics during the early to mid- 1990s.”

Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - December 9, 2012

‘See ya, boy.’
Might see YOU, ‘boy’

16. sonofstan - December 1, 2012

I dare say there’s far too much agency placed on YD and too little on the swine in the dail.

Exactly. There are right wing catholic organisations everywhere, and some with far more popular support than any here – the real question is how the political system here is so open to lobbying by such people.

CL - December 1, 2012

In the U.S they nominate such right-wing extremists for vice-president and give them an enormously influential role in budgetary matters, -e.g. Paul Ryan.

Sara - December 3, 2012

The tentacles stretch far (http://politico.ie/component/content/article/3859.html).
On the same note, most of the university residences mentioned in the article are still operating under the company set up in 1953 (https://www.duedil.com/company/IE014636/university-hostels-limited). Automatic ‘rent-a-crowd’ for rallies such as the one mentioned by Starkadder?

sonofstan - December 3, 2012

Reading that Magill article, you realise how much Irish journalism has declined since then – I can’t imagine anyone publishing a piece that long, that detailed, or that targeted at the elite these days.

Sara - December 4, 2012

So true. Just as much needed now as it was then.

Mark P - December 4, 2012

Yes, that piece is very much better than anything the Irish media produces nowadays. It’s really very useful, particularly when put alongside the Magill piece from the same era analysing the forces behind the Pro Life Amendment Campaign.

Saor Eire - December 9, 2012

The Magill article on the Stickies was one of the finest pieces of investigative journalism of the past three decades. since then, people have become lazy and rely far to much on Google and such. So which of the political parties is now the wealthiest in the State? The new Stickies. Plus ca change…

Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - December 9, 2012

I think the Magill piece on Barrett was one of the best articles ever….I’d like to see an investigation into te money flowing into the YD and ‘Pro-Life’ coffers from American and elsewhere

17. Gitmore - December 3, 2012


Magill Article on YD and European Fascism from the LookLeft site.

18. Florrie O'Donoghue - December 4, 2012


Anybody who seeks to engage in reasoned debate when discussing ‘the connection between Sean Russell and nazi Germany’ and fails to mention or deliberately ignores Russell’s previous connections with the Bolshevik regime seems either to be exposing their ignorance of the history of the period or practising selective historical reference in order to push some sort of agenda.

Should we not be applying your black-and-white framework in referring to Russell as a Communist, given the connection between him and the Soviets?

Also, Seán Sabhat did not have any leadership position within the republican movement, and republicans in Limerick have dismissed the more lurid tales of him with regards his alleged attempts at social control.

Is mise srl.,

CL - December 4, 2012

‘the IRA actually wanted a German invasion and was in a position for a period to physically assist one. That is the central problem that many still refuse to face up to.’ -Brian Hanley
If the republican movement wants to be taken seriously as a progressive force it needs to face up to its nazi connection during WW2. Sinn Fein needs to explain why it sees no incompatiblility between its putative progressive credentials and having in its ranks fascists such as Sean Sabhat and Gerry McGeough.

Saor Eire - December 9, 2012

The German army, the Wehrmacht, were not Nazis. Most soldiers are not political except in revolutionary-type situations. A German invasion and a Nazi invasion is like the difference between an IRA invasion and a Sinn Féin invasion. Many shared personnel. Much disparate opinion and politics.

maddurdu - December 9, 2012


CMK - December 9, 2012

Who mislaid the asylum keys?

Ed - December 4, 2012

Was there a real prospect of a Soviet invasion of Ireland when Russell met with Soviet representatives? Had the Red Army conquered much of continental Europe at the time? Did the IRA say that it would welcome a Soviet invasion and assist it in any way they could?

Florrie O'Donoghue - December 10, 2012


Apologies, I thought I had clicked on the option to receive email updates of any replies to my posts.

With regards to your first question – the answer is quite obviously in the negative. As regards your second question, yes, the Soviets had conquered much of continental Europe at the time – if one considers their foreign policy in the two decades leading up to the Second World War; occupation of Ukraine and later the invasion of Poland and of the Baltic states.

It had also carried out a war of aggression against Finland, with minor territorial acquisitions.

What confuses me with regards the discussion on this issue is that yourself and Brian seem to posit your moral outrage on proximity or likelihood of invasion of Ireland. Surely, outrage should stem from the fundamentally anti-human principals of the Nazi ideology as well as the Soviet ideology. Thus, outrage should be equally applied. Further, and to put it quite crudely, by 1940 the Soviets were far ahead of Nazi Germany in terms of the destruction of millions of human beings.

Yet there seems to be little censuring here of Irish republicans who supported the Soviets, as though they were somehow more progressive than those who sought aid from – rather than supported – Nazi Germany.

Irish republicanism always went by the mantra – England’s difficulty is Ireland (or the banner outside Liberty Hall in 1916 re: King and Kaiser). Unless we are to paint men like Russell as being in favour of Nazi occupation of Ireland – and that would be a difficult case to argue – then we must acknowledge that the basis for their views as expressed here and in the HI article were in the hope that a British defeat would lead to an independent thirty-two county Ireland.

Surely, Sean Russell should be equally condemned for seeking aid from the Soviets as from the Nazis – or neither, if we recognise his inherently pragmatic basis. I suspect that historical support for the Soviets colours or dilutes such condemnation, though I am open to correction on that.

Finally, CL: ‘Sean Sabhat, of Limerick, is a hero of almost mythological status within the republcian movement.’

- Perhaps if you had added the caveat ‘among over sixties’ or some such thing, it might have more credibility. You could probably count on one hand the number of young republicans outside of Limerick who know Seán Sabhat in this day and age.

Is mise srl.,

Brian Hanley - December 10, 2012

‘Florrie’ we will have to agree to disagree I think, though I would be happy to debate this matter with you in a public forum if you wish. My position on Russell is not based on moral outrage but on the fact that the consequences of his policy in 1940 was to support a Nazi landing in Ireland, which would have been appalling for anyone with progressive politics. I’m a bit old-fashioned like that. There are wider questions about republican attitudes to fascism, debates about the war etc but as I say, we probably won’t agree on them.
As for Sean Sabhat- ‘Sean South from Garryowen’ is one of the best known Irish republican songs anywhere and I can’t imagine an Irish republican, of any age, who has never heard of Sabhat. I’ve met a few who regard him as a heroic figure and certainly many who greatly respect him. I think he was illustrative of a certain strand of Irish nationalism and I wouldn’t draw any huge conclusions about what he might have become (politically) had he lived. Your assertion that Sabhat is unknown outside Limerick makes me wonder how widely you travel.
Is mise le meas…

Florrie O'Donoghue - December 10, 2012


I’m sorry to have ‘dragged’ you into the debate – I was not intending to do you down when initially responding to another poster’s use of your article where I pointed out the omission of the Soviets.

You use the term ‘Nazi landing’, and I wonder is that a differentiation between landing and an invasion and occupation. I do hope you will agree with me, however, in stating that the notion of supporting the Soviet regime during this period – and indeed beyond it – is also an appalling prospect for anyone with progressive politics.

I have sensed a reluctance among other posters to equate the moral quagmire of seeking aid from the Nazis in 1939/40 and that of the Soviets in the 1920s despite the anti-humanism that was fundamental to both ideologies.

I have also not stated on this discussion that I agreed with Russells’ actions, I simply sought to contextualise them within the history of Irish republicanism where the prospect of external aid was concerned. I think this needs clarifying.

On Seán Sabhat, if I can also clarify: my comments were on younger people who knew Sabhat, I did not say – as you do – that people hadn’t heard of him. Certainly, many people in Ireland of any political persuasion would know the song. However, the song – aside from being full of factual inaccuracies – does not even mention what campaign is involved (unless one can discern it from references to B Specials etc), let alone Maria Duce, the letters to local newspapers or allegations of his barging into cinemas – something strongly denied by former comrades.

Thus, if we refer back to CL’s comments on Sabhat’s regressive politics, the impression I took from those comments was that those who respect Sabhat or who might march at his commemoration within the month etc. are expressing cognisance of and supportive for Sabhat’s own beliefs. This is what I was challenging.

I can assure you I travel quite widely, both around this island and elsewhere (money permitting). Aside from historians and local [to Limerick] republicans, I wouldn’t think many republicans could tell you much more about Sabhat then what is contained in the song. Would you agree?

Is mise srl.,

Loveyou longtime - December 10, 2012

I see Florrie is shoveling out the auld line that the Nazis and the Commies are equal – defend that shite will ya? Genuinely outline the comparative evil of the two regimes – one which killed millions due to their genetic make up – the other which embarked on the killing of political opponents, as have many regimes in the past – one that had to be crushed by military might the other that eventually gave way without bloodshed to political opponents – I’m afraid Flourie would have been hoisting the tricolor and dancing a jig to our Nazi friends if they landed/invaded/holidayed here. Away now a suck off Dan Breen.

WorldbyStorm - December 10, 2012

Florrie, I’m not a Leninist but that’s an ahistorical comparison between Nazism in 1938/9 and the Soviets in the 1920s. The latter was a clearly and violently an anti-semitic regime, it had by 1940 over run a fair portion of continental Europe by unprovoked aggression. The Soviets by contrast were as loveyoulongtime notes brutal (and murderous at times) towards political opponents (and even political allies, as Makhno et al could attest) but they weren’t then, or subsequently even in the darkest period of Stalinism genocidal in intent or actuality. And in the early 1920s and for quite some time after there was a fairly generalised enthusiasm for them (and the issue of proximity shouldn’t be underestimated – what happened in Germany was much better known about because it was closer, the Soviets were far enoguh away that there was no end of projection, by both their allies and adversaries).

Ed - December 10, 2012

My point is very simple – when Russell had dealings with the USSR in the 20s, the Soviet state hadn’t conquered any territory, had no plans to do so (its leaders were mainly concerned with the threat of an attack by the western states), and only came to have a dominant position across much of Eastern Europe because of WWII. So Russell could deal with them in the same way as the ANC and many other liberation movements; the IRA could take whatever assistance was going without submitting to Soviet dictation.

In 1940-41 on the other hand, the Nazis had conquered most of continental Europe and looked like they had a good chance of overwhelming Britain. In that context, there was no question whatsoever of supping with a long spoon: if there had been a German invasion of Ireland (or for that matter a successful invasion of Britain), Ireland would have become a German colony like the rest of Europe; whatever puppet regime was established would have been obliged to carry out their policies, including the deportation of Ireland’s Jewish community. If there had been any resistance it would have been crushed with the same methods used at Oradour and Lidice. The idea that an Irish republic in the tradition of Tone, Stephens and Pearse (never mind Connolly) could have been established against that backdrop was always completely deranged; that should have been absolutely clear at the time, not just with the benefit of hindsight.

Speaking of Stephens, he once wrote in his diary that if England was a republic fighting for liberty, and if Ireland had a government that was on the side of tyranny, he would have no hesitation in siding with England against his own nation. If the republican tradition is about more than simple nationalism – and it certainly was for Stephens, who should have some say in the matter – then that line should be remembered just as much as the one about difficulty and opportunity.

WorldbyStorm - December 10, 2012

And add to that what happened to the Nazi’s proxies in states they took over. The Breton example is particularly interesting because the Germans paid lip service to the Breton nationalists but never came close to giving them any serious power.

Florrie O'Donoghue - December 11, 2012

Loveyou longtime,

If you – I presume you are an adult – cannot debate without accusing your opponents of being Nazi sympathisers, than you are not worth bothering with. I have never expressed any support for that abhorrent regime. That you cannot accept that I refuse to introduce moral relativity on the mass extermination of human beings is not my problem.


I appreciate the civility in your response. Your point on ahistoricism is debatable – depending on whether one chooses to view the inter-war years in Europe as one ‘era’ defined by brutal ideologies, even by the standards of previous centuries, where life was at its least valuable when put next to the goals sought by these ideologies.

People seem to be ignoring the fact that, in tandem with the Russian civil war, there were several wars of conquest by the Soviets of areas of the former Romanov Empire that had used the 1917-18 crises to break away. Ukraine being a very important example, particularly given what was to occur some time later in the Holodomor.

I agree with Brian – if I am correct in believing he is his voicing support for the AFA. Perhaps there was a more base racism at the root of Nazism but neither Soviet nor Nazi ideology, I believe, put more value on human life than the other in practise. Both ideologies were fundamentally anti-human, and so I believe that condemning contact with one and not the other is a grey area.

What I queried earlier – perhaps clumsily – is whether condemnation stemmed from proximity.


Large areas of the former Romanov Empire had rejected Soviet rule. Indeed, as a territorial unit, this area as a whole had democratically rejected Soviet rule. It is slightly unfair – and un-internationalist – to assert that, because the Soviets did not extend outside the bounds of the former Romanov Empire during the 1920s, that they had not in fact conquered any territories. And brutally so. This is all very relative.

Is mise srl.,

Ed - December 11, 2012

That is immaterial to the point – when Russell met with the Soviets, there was no prospect of any Soviet invasion of Ireland, and no prospect of the IRA being obliged to follow orders from GPU commissars. Nor would there be any such prospect in the future, for all the Cold War paranoia (although that would be by the by, since we are talking about what Russell did in the 20s, not what he did in the 50s or 70s). In 1940-41, there was every reason to believe that Ireland might come under direct German control in the next couple of years. There was simply no way that the IRA could have made us of a German victory over British forces to achieve its goals without becoming their proxy, and ultimately their slave. Russell may not have been a Nazi; he may not have had any real sympathy for their project; but he was certainly a damn fool.

19. Florrie O'Donoghue - December 4, 2012

CL a chara,

I am well aware of Hanley’s article. It, like your comments here, do not make mention of Russell’s contacts with the Soviets which would seem to strengthen my earlier assertion on ignorance or deliberate omission. In Hanley’s case, ignorance is certainly not an excuse.

As well as this, you seem to avoid addressing the issue I raised re: black-and-white perspectives and judging Russell on his contacts with the Soviets.

Further, you have gone from asserting that Sabhat was in a leadership position in the republican movement to being simply ‘in its ranks’ without having the good graces to acknowledge your earlier erroneous assertions. This is not fair play.

Lastly, though you and I might disagree with McGeough’s social beliefs, he is certainly not a fascist. To use that stock-leftist term – up there with ‘Trotskyite’ and ‘Stalinist’ as having lost any real impact decades ago – without any real understanding of it as an ideology or of McGeough as a person merely debases yourself as a contributor here.

Unfortunately, I see little reason to continue this discussion as your modus operandi seems to consist of copy-and-paste jobs followed by repetitive ‘fascist’ jibes without any semblance of nuance or a desire to actually discuss issues.

Is mise srl.,

Ed - December 4, 2012

Any chance of a reply to my points about Russell’s Soviet connections? I’m sure Hanley was well aware of that subject, but rightly felt that there was no parallel between that and the IRA’s relationship with Nazi Germany which he describes at length in the HI article.

CL - December 4, 2012

Sean Sabhat, of Limerick, is a hero of almost mythological status within the republcian movement. He was a member of a fascist organiazion, Maria Duce.
Gerry McGeough has stated a number of times in his magazine, Hibernia, that the core of his beliefs are based on the philosophy of Denis Fahey. Fahey was a fascist, which is why his books are available on all neo-nazi websites.
Brian Hanley’s piece, previously cited, outlines the connection between the republcan movement and nazi Germany.
The failure of the republican movement to deal with these issues means that its progressives credentials are highly suspect.

Saor Eire - December 9, 2012

Maria Duce was a more religiously committed version of the Legion of Mary, which recognised the role of Our Lady as Queen of Heaven, whether you believe such stuff or not. Fr. Denis Fahey was a forward-thinking social activist when social activism was not something encouraged by his Superiors. He was a brilliant social commentator and it is clear that his innate humanity springs from his beliefs, expressed in his writings. Nobody in their right mind could accuse Fahey of being a Fascist. He was a social commentator when Mussolini was unheard of. He was a leader in his own right. Ever wonder why your lists of “Far Right” reading materials have never mentioned any writngs by members of the Fascist Party? Blatant bias and being prone to simplistic childish name-calling, perhaps??

Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - December 9, 2012

‘Fr. Denis Fahey was a forward-thinking social activist when social activism was not something encouraged by his Superiors. He was a brilliant social commentator and it is clear that his innate humanity springs from his beliefs, expressed in his writings. Nobody in their right mind could accuse Fahey of being a Fascist.’
If you’ve read Fahey (‘the real rulers of Russia’) and you agree with this then you are a fascist.
I was giving you the benefit of the doubt until now.

Brian Hanley - December 10, 2012

‘You could probably count on one hand the number of young republicans outside of Limerick who know Seán Sabhat in this day and age.’
Sorry if I misrepresented your meaning.
You are of course correct that many who know of Sabhat would be hard pressed to tell you anything about him. And I can confirm that some who sing about him at Limerick hurling games think that he died in the Tan War. (I’ve heard contending accounts about his political activities, as I said before I’ve met people who liked him).
On Stalinism and Nazism I think there is a political difference and I think that body counts alone, horrific though they were, do not mean both were the same thing. In practical terms, while I disagree with Stalinists or Maoists (for example) I would defend their right to organise politically. I would not defend the right of fascists to organise.

20. sonofstan - December 4, 2012

Anyone in the Kildare St. area have an estimate on the turn out for the lifer vigil this afternoon?

Mark P - December 4, 2012

I wasn’t there, but did look at various photos, videos, claims and counter-claims on Twitter.

It’s difficult to compare with most protests because it seemed quite a bit more organised, with the crowd less packed together. The crowd also don’t seem to have spilled in either direction up Kildare Street, judging from photos from each side of the Dail, and the huge stage, video screens and video cube thing in Molesworth Street took up quite a lot of room there. The lifers are quite good at stage managing their protests to get everyone in shot (there were lots of claims on twitter that people were asked to use centrally provided placards rather than make their own potentially off-message ones as well).

Having looked through a lot of photos and footage, I’d guess that there were 1,500 to 2,000 there. I think that early pro-choice claims that there were 300 there seem over optimistic when you look at all the evidence, but equally there’s nothing at all which supports claims of anything over 2,000. Which is very poor in comparison to the level of resources expended on mobilising for it.

The generation gap was pretty obvious too. The elderly were predominant with quite a few children but very few adults under 50 in evidence.

Mark P - December 4, 2012

Also, a round of a applause for the dude with the red gown and the giant cross, who will with a bit of luck provide the public face of the protest in the media.

sonofstan - December 4, 2012

My daughter passed through about 5 and reckons the crowd was smaller than the first Savita vigil on the 17th but bigger than the one the week after. So 1500-2000 then.

Mark P - December 4, 2012

One of the WSM has been methodically counting everyone in the brief video of the rally which panned its length. He’s double checking his numbers at the moment but seems absolutely sure that it’s over 1,000 but well short of 2,000.

Mark P - December 4, 2012

And here’s a link to his piece about it:


His count gets to 1,029. At each step he’s been generous and therefore has almost certainly double counted people and counted a few inanimate objects, but as he acknowledges he’ll also have missed out some for various reasons.

Conclusion: More than 1,000. Quite a bit less than 2,000.

Mark P - December 4, 2012

Meanwhile, oblivious to the benefits of simply arithmetic, the Pro-Lifers seem to have settled on 10,000 as their attendance claim, after a brief dalliance with 8,000.

Even the SWP, perhaps the Irish outfit most prone to exaggerating numbers, would blush at attendance figure manipulation on that kind of grand scale. I mean it’s one thing to add 1,000 here or there, or even to double your numbers if you are feeling particularly shameless, but exaggerating by somewhere between five and ten times the actual figure takes some brass neck.

Mark P - December 4, 2012

Aaargh, “…of simple arithmetic…”

One of these days, WordPress will introduce the ability to edit comments and I will rejoice.

Saor Eire - December 9, 2012

Saw it from the roof of Buswells. And you can too, if you look it up on the internet where the cameras located up there were scanning the crowd. You might be surprised at the number of “several” thousands in attendance. Or should that be “shocked”

Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - December 9, 2012

Up there with your sniper scope were you?

21. Brian Hanley - December 4, 2012

Happy to debate this if people want, but also note a different article on it below. I accept that omitting Russell’s visit to the USSR in that 2005 article was a weakness, though I think the circumstances are very different. The IRA wanted guns and money in 1925 (and they got some), but there was no prospect of the Red Army landing in Ireland (whether you think that was a good idea or not). In 1940 Nazi Germany had conquered much of Europe and looked like it was going to win the war. Supporting them meant the Nazis landing in Ireland and all that entailed. Reading 1940′s IRA publications who get a sense that some people thought that would be a good idea. I don’t.
On Sean Sabhat, I know people who knew him in the republican movement and they liked and respected him. But he was by any standard right-wing (writing to the Limerick Leader to complain about ‘Judeo-Masonic’ influence in Hollywood for example) and reflective of a certain strand of thought in 1950′s republicanism.


sonofstan - December 4, 2012

Brian, that strand of thought wouldn’t have been confined to republicans though, would it? Not to excuse it, or let the republican movement off the hook, but militant catholicism, cultural anti-semitism and a naivete about fascism could probably have been found across the political spectrum then.

CL - December 5, 2012

‘ War News, even claimed that de Valera’s government was dominated by ‘Jews and Freemasons’ who were becoming the ‘new owners of Ireland.’ IRA members now cooperated with former members of the fascist Blueshirts. ‘-From the above citation.

The persistence of this strand of thought in the republican movement, referencing the Judeo-Masonic conspiracy, from 1940s IRA publications, to Sean Sabhat, to Gerry McGeough, is a sinister and dangerous fascist current which needs to be exposed and confronted since such conspiracism is derived from that notorious warrant for genocide, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
“The Protocols became a core source of allegations by Hitler and his allies in the German Nazi movement of a Judeo-Masonic-Bolshevik conspiracy.”

22. Brian Hanley - December 4, 2012

Yes, definitely, but the IRA are not just your average person or organisation, their supposed to be (or claim to be) about national liberation and progressive politics. If you read what Jim O’Donovan, (one of the people behind Russell’s S-Plan) for example, is writing in the 1960s, he still arguing Ireland would have been better off had the Germans won. And it seems to me rather than saying, well that was a mistake and there were republicans then who opposed it, many defenders of Russell spend an awful amount of time and energy trying to make excuses for him.
(Apologies to Ed above, you’d already made the point about the USSR).

23. CL - December 4, 2012

‘Judeo-Masonic’ influence is a staple of fascist ideology.
Brian do you have a source for Tom Barry’s assertion that the German-American bund had promised to finance the IRA bombing campaign?

24. Brian Hanley - December 4, 2012

Barry told Sighle Humphreys this, (a lot later it must be said). Its in the Sighle Humphreys papers in UCD Archives P106/839.

25. maddurdu - December 9, 2012

Maybe the Gaddaffi lad a while back and this new mentalist are the same person? Similar modus operandi.

RosencrantzisDead - December 9, 2012

There were a few lifers on here a while ago. My money is that one of them changed their name. They are hardly doing the lifer movement any favours with making veiled threats that paramilitaries will kill or seriously harm Bock the Robber and glorifying violence – how is any of that ‘pro-life’?

26. Bartholomew - December 12, 2012

That video of the Mac Mathuna singsong is hilarious – the first song on it begins like this:

‘I am a clever carefree labourer and you’d better supply me with women, because I scatter my seed twice in the springtime and make fallow land fertile.’

Have Youth Defence thought about the likely consequences of that kind of attitude?

27. Michael McGrath - December 20, 2012

Sorry , but all young women are beautiful, especially young Irish women!

Martin Savage - December 20, 2012

Are you Saville in disguise?

28. Neo-fascist group on Youth Defence March collecting names & info on Pro-Choice marchers - July 14, 2013

[…] with the far right and dissident republicans. Justin Barrett – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia A few good pieces on Youth Defence | The Cedar Lounge Revolution https://www.facebook.com/afaireland/…43217405795038 index Youth Defence's billboard campaign […]

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