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A question on Irish nationalist/Republican attitudes to Tito’s Yugoslavia… December 17, 2012

Posted by WorldbyStorm in The Left.
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MikeE has contacted me asking can anyone help in the following:

I’m currently researching Irish nationalist/Republican attitudes to Tito’s Yugoslavia and subsequent separatist declarations of independence 1990/1991.

Would you be at all possible to suggest any sources/links in relation to this?

Any suggestions gratefully accepted…

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1. Michael Carley - December 17, 2012

You’ve probably seen this, but on the off chance you haven’t, there’s quite a bit of background in Hubert Butler’s The Sub-Prefect Should Have Held His Tongue.

2. Liam - December 18, 2012

indiamond6.ulib.iupui.edu:81/arabcountries.html

Tito’s federalism was thought to have solved the problems that existed between different nationalities in the Yugoslav federation, and Sinn Fein’s federalism was going to solve the problems between Ulster and the rest of Ireland (see ‘Freeman’, “Encouragement from Yugoslavia”, An Phoblacht (vol.6 n.29), 18 July 1975, p.6). When Tito died, Ruairi O’Bradaigh, President of Sinn Fein declared: “The death of President Tito deprives the world of a dedicated socialist and staunch internationalist. Sinn Fein especially mourns his passing. Tito instituted a federal democratic and socialist regime based on shared sovereignty and pioneered an economic and political system founded on workers’ control and the principles of decentralised self-management. That policy closely echoes the ‘Eire Nua’ policies of Sinn Fein and his enlightened and progressive internationalist policy of non-alignment and defiance of both major power blocs corresponds closely to our programme also.” (“Death of President Tito”, An Phoblacht-Republican News (vol.2 n.19) 10 May 1980, p.9) The crisis of Yugoslav “self-management” socialism and wars in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo will put an end to hopes of Yugoslavia providing an example.

3. Joe - December 18, 2012

If memory serves, the Workers Party of Ireland had (party?) links with Milosevic’s (“Socialist”?) ruling party in Serbia after the break up of Yugoslavia. I recall a WP member being interviewed as an international observer of elections in Serbia around that time (which Milosevic’s party won, again iirc).

4. DerryComràdaì - December 19, 2012

A rather unorthodox subject, but an interesting one to be sure.

From what I’ve heard, Liam is absolutely right about Sinn Fein drew close parallels with Yugoslav socialism/federalism, particularly during the “Eire Nua” period with Ó Brádaigh, as “revolutionary internationalism” was coming into vogue with the Provos during the ‘70s (Libya, Yugoslavia, PLO, ANC, etc) –contacts were developed both through several UN-sponsored conventions of “liberation movements”, but Yugoslavia itself also hosted and showed some political support for some of these groups at the time. As far as the Officials were concerned, I’m not aware of the same level of contact, given their alignment with the Soviet Union politically at the time.

After the break-up of the Yugoslav federation, there was some support for the “Socialist” block in Serbia associated with Milosevic (not sure if it was Workers Party, CPI). Any info on other post-federation states, especially during the 1990s, would be a good deal murkier. There was contact between Croatia (not sure if state or criminal –not much distinction at the time) and the Provisionals during the 1990s, and later “dissident” organizations had used it as an arms source for several years. It was mentioned an interview with a KLA commander that the Kosovo separatists would have sought advice from several PIRA figures during the mid- to late ‘90s (the GHQ and local unit structures established by the KLA during that period were modeled closely after the Provos).

On an even odder note, I recall reading somewhere that after being shunned by the Soviets, the Provisional movement tried to make contact with Albania, which was the Chinese connection in Europe at the time (there were also a number of Hoxhaist political followers in the South over the years –CLGB, splinters of the CPI (ML), so forth), and that the Provos did receive a small number of arms (SKSs and Type 56 carbines) this way, but that was a one-off as far as I remember.

Hope that helps –Good luck!

Ramzi Nohra - December 19, 2012

on the “military” front there was an ex-british soldier and provo, then dissident, who had close ties with croatian nationalists, including the recently freed Ante Govino (spelling). This dude was the descendant of one of the signataries of the 1916 proclamation. his nickname was “tony cascarino”. If memory serves he wrote a book on his experiences which is on the web somewhere.
An Irish-American musician friend of mine who regularly travelled to Croatia told me there was widespread support of the Provos there. I suppose “widespread” is a relative term.

5. Liam - December 19, 2012

Two more things.
- Check The United Irishman in the 1960s for the coverage of Tito’s visit to the Vatican. Much would have been made of this at a time in the context of the RM trying to build alliance with the CP.
- My recollection is that for the entire period of the Yugoslav war in the early 1990s APRN had only one or two articles on the topic. (if my memory is right there was one in March 1992 – the only one for that year)

DerryComràdaì - December 19, 2012

Absolutely correct, Liam. I don’t recall too many articles about this in AP/RN during the early ‘90s.

Did a quick search through AP/RN for more recent articles about Yugoslavia/the Balkans (within the past dozen years or so) and found a few brief mentions. One makes the connection between British troop presence in Bosnia/the North, the rest mostly tend to be against NATO intervention in Serbia/Kosovo (and impact on Irish neutrality). See below:

http://www.anphoblacht.com/contents/2002
http://www.anphoblacht.com/contents/4050
http://www.anphoblacht.com/contents/4761
http://republican-news.org/archive/2001/April12/12noto.html
http://www.anphoblacht.com/contents/12134

Not a terrible amount of detailed analysis in there, unfortunately.

Also, happened to find an excellent article by Liam O Ruairc regarding the Arab/Yugoslav connection during the 1970s that I mentioned before, which seems to confirm what I recall reading about this separately in Ó Brádaigh’s biography.

http://indiamond6.ulib.iupui.edu:81/arabcountries.html

DerryComràdaì - December 19, 2012

Sorry -didn’t see the O Ruairc article was already posted.

Worth pointing out that Costello/ the Irps also had contects with the PLO/PFLP during the mid ’70s.

6. DerryComràdaì - December 19, 2012

Absolutely correct, Liam. I don’t recall too many articles about this in AP/RN during the early ‘90s.

Did a quick search through AP/RN for more recent articles about Yugoslavia/the Balkans (within the past dozen years or so) and found a few brief mentions. One makes the connection between British troop presence in Bosnia/the North, the rest mostly tend to be against NATO intervention in Serbia/Kosovo (and impact on Irish neutrality). See below:

http://www.anphoblacht.com/contents/2002
http://www.anphoblacht.com/contents/4050
http://www.anphoblacht.com/contents/4761
http://republican-news.org/archive/2001/April12/12noto.html
http://www.anphoblacht.com/contents/12134

Not a terrible amount of detailed analysis in there, to be sure.

Also, happened to find an excellent article by Liam O Ruairc regarding the Arab/Yugoslav connection during the 1970s that I mentioned before, which seems to confirm what I recall reading about this separately in Ó Brádaigh’s biography.

http://indiamond6.ulib.iupui.edu:81/arabcountries.html

DerryComràdaì - December 19, 2012

Sorry again -not sure why the last comment posted twice. Not sure how to delete these.

7. Paul Wilson - December 23, 2012

Slightly off the point, There are several Facebook pages that celebrate the legacy and the ideals of Socialist Yugoslavia. SFR Yugoslavia for example. Translation might be hard though.

8. MikeE - December 23, 2012

Thank you very much indeed to WorldbyStorm for posting my query and also to everyone who has contributed with such quality info in response – I really appreciate it. I’ll follow up on the suggested sources and may post back again if that’s okay. Many thanks again and best wishes to all at the Cedar Lounge Revolution for the festive season and New Year! MikeE.


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