To download the above document please click on the following link: WS MS 6 GO
To go to the Irish Left Archive please click here.
An interesting issue of the Workers’ Party magazine, Making Sense, from 1989. It has a broad range of articles, from Eamon Gilmore ‘arguing that socialists need to wake up to the realities of Ireland today’, Rosheen Callender examining labour markets, an interview with Alexander Cockburn, Lorraine Kennedy looking at the ‘myth of Mother Ireland’ and Eoghan Harris looking at the influence of Daniel Corkery ‘on the formation of modern bourgeois nationalist intellectuals’.
There’s also a short story by Liz McManus entitled ‘Baby’.
The cover article ‘Making Peace in Ireland: The responsibility of the Republic’ is by Seamus Murphy of the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, and offers this potted outline of the history of the conflict on the island.
It is almost twenty years since the British government sent troops to Northern Ireland in the midst of serious civil disturbances. Two years later, the Provisional IRA came into being and launched a vicious campaign of violence against the Protestant population. Loyalists elements responded in kind, and politics gave way to terrorism. Efforts to find a political solution have the far failed, and the killings continue.
Murphy argues that ‘much southern confusion arises form subconscious guilt about the north’. And he continues that ‘the typical southerner… while… abhorring the appalling violence of the IRA and generally supporting the Dublin governments attempts to suppress it… cannot quite bring himself to consciously stand wight he unionist population against IRA violence or express support for the security forces in NI’.
He suggests that ‘the Republic must not lend a sympathetic ear to everyone claiming to be a spokesperson for the oppressed minority in NI. it is perfectly obvious that the democratic parties representing northern Catholics (SDLP, Alliance, WP) are engaged in a serious struggle with a fascist, authoritarian, violent and anti-democratic party (SF/IRA).
It must be made clear that every vote for SF, far from bringing the day of Irish unity closer, actually makes it more distant; it needs to be spelled out that supporting the IRA creates, not just a gulf between the two communities in NI, but a second gulf between the northern minority and the south where SF has no electoral future.
He continues that: precisely because the south has not suffered either at the hands of loyalist paramilitary violence or by security force excesses, it has less excuse for failing to reach out to the unionist community. If the southern community is to fulfil its moral responsibility of building peace, it must resist the temptation to give in to its own emotions and take sides, and instead work at the difficult task of being an honest broker for peace.
He then suggests that were the IRA to ‘achieve a united Ireland’ it is his suspicion that most in the south would abhor the means but accept the end, even if ‘it were built on the slaughter and expulsion of thousands of the Protestant community’. From this he argues that ‘What might in the long run make a difference would be a repudiation of its goal as well as its method; if the southern community is not to be complicit in the IRA campaign, it must build a wide consensus around the position that a united Ireland attained the IRA way could never be acceptable.
Meanwhile the editorial looks at the issue of ‘fighting poverty’ and argues that:
The voice of the poor was heard to great effect in 1798, and helped give birth to democracy. It would be a fitting celebration of the French Revolution if that voice was raised in Ireland to insist that the principles of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity were accorded more than lip service.
You may have missed this earlier: From the selection in the Left Archive… Pavee: No. 3 from the Committee for the Rights of Travellers July 24, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive.
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As part of getting people acquainted and used to the extended Left Archive we’re going to link every week to previous documents that have been posted there that may be of interest. This week,Pavee: No. 3 from the Committee for the Rights of Travellers
Many thanks to Alan Mac Simoin for scanning and forwarding this document to the Archive. This is a very interesting document produced on the back of activism by Travellers, members of Sinn Féin and people who were later amongst the founder members of the Workers Solidarity Movement in support of Travellers’ rights encompassed in the Committee for the Rights of Travellers. This was avowedly non-party political activity and in this issue of Pavee the focus is on events in Tallaght where there were marches against Travellers. Prominent Travellers representatives were arrested and this issue details the case of two such happenings and the harassment of families of members of the Committee for the Rights of Travellers including the joint Chairpersons of the Committee.
There’s also criticism of the Review Body Report released on Travellers in the recent past and the annual Conference of the National Committee for Travelling People. It notes that:
There was a good deal of talk from the Leadership of the National Committee, but few of them could point to any gains made by the Travellers in their struggle to be accepted as human beings.
And it suggests that:
It is not of the Comm. For the Rights of Travelling People how to conduct their Annual Conference but as we were invited as ‘observers’ could we make some observations? Why not a National Committee OF Travelling People? Why not make the Conference less formal and in surroundings that would encourage more Travellers to attend? Why not a bit of music and a bit of Crack for the children?
It notes various encounters with Dublin County Council, one in relation to the cleaning of sites which it suggests was part of an election effort, the other being a meeting with Councillors where ‘we found the Councillors all baring a few more worried about their votes rather than the miserable conditions Travelelrs are forced to live in’. There is mention of vigilante groups and increasing activity by them. And there’s a prize for ‘Bigot of the Month’.
Left Archive: An Phoblacht, Numbers 7 and 8, Irish Revolutionary Forces, September and November-December 1966 July 21, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Irish Revolutionary Forces [1960s].
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To go to the Irish Left Archive please click here.
To download No. 7 please click here: An Phoblacht No.7 Sept.1966
To download No. 8 please click here: An Phoblacht No.8 Nov/Dec !966 An Phoblacht No.8 Nov-Dec. 1966
Many thanks to Jim Lane for donating two more issues of An Phoblacht – The Republic from Irish Revolutionary Forces. It is intended to have a complete set of this important document in the Archive. It is also important to note how useful this document is in tracing – from a critical perspective, changing attitudes within Republicanism and Sinn Féin and the IRA of the period.
As always it is probably most useful to quote briefly from both editions.
The Editorial in number 7, from September argues that:
It is paradoxical that Ireland should stand without the services of a virile revolutionary movement at that time when her traditional enemy is dropping on its knees. For years Republicans have beaten their heads against barriers of steel in attempts to break loose from the despoiling grip of British imperialism. Now when that barrier is rent with decay, we stand like gaping fools, devoid apparently, of the energy or the common sense to break forth and smash the rust-eaten shackles of thraldom from our wrists.
…Irish Republicans huddle to debate this or that aspect of the colonial system in Ireland, and how best to alleviate its more adverse effects. This is no time to confuse cause and effect. This is not the time to waste energy trying to REFORM or patch up the system that has been the bane of our people. REFORM BE DAMNED! What Ireland needs is Revolution.
And it continues:
In the past the labourer, the mechanic, the farmer or his sons, the intellectual, the dockworker, the shop assistant, the engineer, all went forth to fight the cause of the middle class under the banner of so-called classless nationalism. ‘Let us not disrupt the unity of the national effort by talking about class interest or class conflict,’ was the great cry of the Irish bourgeoisie. Yes, and you can still hear their lackeys in the Republican Movement rant the same garbage. Well, we are all for UNITY. But this time let it be a unity of all the workers.
Other articles include ‘An Answer to Critics’ by Eoin MacDonaill which rebuffs assertions that An Phoblacht is ‘trying to destroy the IRA’. There’s a piece on Irish Politics and the British Crisis and a glowing review of the Bodenstown Oration given by Seamus Costello that year. There’s also a scathing analysis of the Irish Democrat (of the Connolly Association, which AP suggests is a ‘pseudo-Irish section of the British Communist Party’.
Issue Number 8 from November-December 1966, has a range of articles that include reasonably warm words about Cathal Goulding’s speech at the Sean Treacy Commemoration – however the assertion by Tony Meade that ‘there is however a new element in the willingness to use force; namely that this force will be defensive’ is strongly criticised. In tandem with this is a piece by Paddy Mac arguing that Irish Republicanism Needs Its Armed Men. There’s some fascinating content to this, for example the following which in the context of proposals for the formation of IRA ‘special groups’ and the idea of a ‘dual government’ which would ‘eventually [come] into head-on conflict [with the state]:
For my part, I view any proposal to limit or restrict the future size of the IRA, as a positive step to place that organisation in a completely subordinate position to political horse-traders at best; at worst, I think it is a step to do away with the Army altogether. An IRA composed of a few ‘specialist’ groups is an IRA easily dictated to, and readily shoved around. Regardless of whether or not the majority of the IRA men agree with our political position, the maintenance of, and a primary reliance on, a Republican Army is, to us, fundamental to the success of a liberation struggle which must be fought in the future.
There’s another piece on ‘the yahoos and political con-men, who are making so bold a bid to drag organised Republicanism into the social-democratic orbit’. Finally an article examines the concept of ‘Freedom’
A quote from the editorial will suffice:
To graft revolutionary political labour to the traditional revolutionary militarism of our people, as the woodwork combined with the mechanism and the barrel to make the effective rifle, that is our aim.
Thanks to Jim for the following table of Contents of the two documents.
No.7 An Phoblacht September 1966
Editorial p. 2
An Answer to Critics p. 4
Irish politics and the British Crisis p. 6
Bodenstown Oration p. 10
The Neo-Parnellites – “Irish Democrat” Flies True
Colours p. 11
No.8 An Phoblacht Nov. / Dec. 1966
Editorial p. 2
A good Speech! But: – p. 4
Irish Republicanism Needs its Armed Men p. 5
The Yahoos and An Phoblacht p. 7
Freedom! What Does it Mean? p. 8
Left Archive: Missing Pieces – Women in Irish History, Irish Feminist Information Publications/Women’s Community Press, 1983 July 14, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Feminist Information Publications, Irish Left Online Document Archive, Women's Community Press.
To download the above publication please click on the following link:
This book, published in 1983 by Irish Feminist Information Publications with Women’s Community Press is an important addition to the Archive. As Margaret MacCurtain notes in the Preface this is a ‘co-operative reference work listing over one hundred women who have made a contribution to Irish life and culture over the last century’. And she continues, ‘as such it is a work of loving restoration, uncovering a wide sample of women who have had an impact on the course of Irish history’. She notes that ‘by putting women back into the context of their time the authors have contributed an important dimension to our knowledge of the past, as it flows into the present’.
The origin of the book is of particular interest. Again, Margaret MacCurtain notes…
…the remarkable way that Missing Pieces has been written. The six women authors involved in its making undertook it as a project begun and completed on a “Women in Community Publishing Course”. Irish Feminist Information Publications designed the programme and was the external training agency commissioned by AnCO [the precursor of CERT] to implement the nine month course for unemployed women.
Funding was provided jointly by the Equal Opportunities Programme of AnCO and the European Social Fund (ESF) with a subvention from the Council for the Status of Women.
…in six weeks the women involved acquired the skills of research, design, layout, planning and editing and found they had the makings of a book. The decision to publish their findings was just one more step in finding their own power and as a cohesive group they assembled for printing a work of reference which they wrote in simple, clear language for an age group still school-going but also for the enjoyment of the general reader.
And MacCurtain suggests that:
They do not claim to have completed the process; indeed they intend to continue replacing the missing pieces. However they have in its first volume given a representative spread of female presence in Irish life. Missing Pieces is thus not only courageous revision of the conventional framework of the Irish past, but for those who participated in its making it became a process of setting the captives of that past not only free, but giving them, themselves back their power.
The book has a strong progressive tone throughout and – perhaps inevitably – those involved in campaigning for suffrage, nationalism and republicanism, trade unions and so forth are very well represented. And so in these pages one will find Mother Jones, Nora Connolly-O’Brien, Sinead De Valera, Margaret Anna Cusack, Charlotte Despard, Rosie Hackett, Eve Gore-Booth and many more.
The Introduction, which offers a brief historical overview, points to the approach adopted in putting together the work.
The invisibility of women in conventional histories is remarkable in the light of information contained in this book. Here are 100 biographies of women in Irish history. They come from all classes, from all parts of the country and from all walks of life. We haven’t included any women still alive and we had to confine ourselves to 100 words per women. This is regrettable as the vast majority of these women merit more detailed study. The period covered is from the famine to the present day.
Any further information on the publication or the organisations involved in putting it together would be much appreciated. The Archive is also aware that there is a deficit of Irish feminist and left publications that engage with feminism. Please do not hesitate to contact us as regards contributions.
Many thanks to the person who forwarded this to the Archive.
To download this document please click on the following link:PWJ SF 1972
To go straight to the Left Archive please click here.
This short document from Provisional Sinn Féin was first printed in 1972 and then reprinted in 1975. It calls for ‘A British Withdrawal’, ‘A New Ireland negotiated by the Irish People themselves’ and ‘A general amnesty for all political prisoners’.
Its contents essentially reiterates Eire Nua (see here for the copy in the ILA). And it reprints elements of the ‘New Constitution’, the ‘Draft Charter of Rights’ and aspects of the structure of the proposed new government.
The above programme is an outline of the New Ireland envisaged by the Republican Movement. Its adoption will ensure that the sacrifices of generations will not have been in vain. Peace, prosperity and security can be secured for all our people and foreign rule and dissension shall be buried for ever.
Clearly the basic function was to ensure that the key points of Eire Nua were conveyed more widely than the original readership of that document.
Irish Left Archive… some additional features June 30, 2014Posted by irishonlineleftarchive in Irish Left Online Document Archive.
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This last weekend Aonghus has updated the comments system in the Irish Left Archive to incorporate both the discussions on posts that have been hosted on the Cedar Lounge Revolution and any threads started on the ILA site itself. You’ll find a new tabbed system that has both where appropriate.
There are a number of further changes including a clearer format for documents on the organisations page.
As always any thoughts on the layout or contents of the Archive are very welcome and many thanks to Aonghus for his tireless work on upgrading the site.
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To download the above file please click on the following link:
Many thanks to those who donated issues of Northern Ireland Report to the Archive. These will be appearing in the months ahead.
This is a particularly unusual addition to the Archive. Northern Ireland Report was published by an ad hoc group of individuals in the United States who while close to Sinn Féin were critical of it, and particularly so during the developing Peace Process. Their position would have been strongly left of centre. One aspect of their goal was to produce a publication which was different from the more conservative leaning publications issued in the US which were sympathetic to Irish republicanism.
The magazine ran for 25 issues, finally ending publication in May 1996.
As later editions noted:
“NIR is an independent publication and is not affiliated with any political party, group or organisation in Northern Ireland or the United States. “
This second issue has a wide range of articles in eight short pages. These include news about the then extradition of Joe Doherty in the United States and it is worth quoting extensively from that piece in order to give a sense as to the political orientation of the newsletter. This makes mention of the fact that Doherty had an Irish People [“The voice of Irish Republicanism in America”, as the article notes] column.
And it notes that his ‘battle was marred by the controversy that arose from his criticism of the IRA in the Irish People’.
“This controversy revealed a fundamental problem in the debate on Ireland in America. A problem that, despite temporary resolutions, will not go away.
The Irish People serves a necessary function for Americans interested in Irish affairs. By republishing much of An Phoblacht/Republican News, the [IP] allows one to cut throughout he normal rubbish written on Ireland. Compared to the Echo, Voice and mainstream mead, the IP offers a more realistic picture of the conflict, but that does not excuse it from being belligerent or arrogant.
The episode started when Joe Doherty mildly criticised the IRA’s autumn bombing of a military base that was reported throughout the world’s media as a hospital bombing. The editors at the ‘voice of Irish Republicanism in America,’ with their unbending faith in the IRA, could not accept this and Dohertty was fired.
A few weeks later, after much gleeful laughter by the Echo and Voice, and perhaps the rumoured spanking by Sinn Féin, Doherty reappeared and all ‘philosophical differences’ were resolved. “
“What were these ‘philosophical differences’? Why can’t the Irish People admit what everyone else knows? Joe Doherty, a former member of the IRA, serving time in jail because of that membership, was fired because he criticized IRA tactics to the displeasure of a bunch of Americans playing revolution three thousand miles aaay from the war. “
And it adds:
“This is the fundamental problem that inhibits other American groups and organisations from sympathising and promoting Irish Republicanism. Irish Americans, or any Americans who organise around Irish issues, have yet to develop any real movements that can sustain dialogue, debate and analysis. Irish-American activists have suffered from intellectual paranoia, associating any criticism of the IRA as a form of treachery. “
It notes that in Ireland ‘where censorship and oppression are very real, within the Republican movement there is much debate’. And it suggests:
“This is not to condemn the Irish People, but to suggest that if the Irish conflict is going to be taken seriously by the left, a group that can honesty rally around it in a common cause, then publications like the Irish People must drop this zealous, and sometimes embarrassing, commitment to every IRA action. “
“It is time for Irish-Americans to transcend their simple support for the IRA, and being to support the ideals of Irish Republicanism, such as socialism and anti-imperialism, in their own country as well as in Ireland. As Joe Doherty is deported, we all must remember his most important contribution, highlighting the extent of U.S. injustice.”
Other pieces consider topics such as ‘IRA bombs in London’, ‘British Increase Military Presence’, one entitled ‘Britain is to Blame’ on sectarian violence in the north of Ireland and a long article by Bill Rolsten and Mike Tomlinson on U.S. Investment in the North of Ireland. It also has an interview tin Richard McCauley, ‘Sinn Féin’s Director of Publicity for the Six Counties’. This last is of particular interest for some of his comments about socialism, anti-imperialism and so on.
Left Archive: Ireland Her Own – Programme of the Irish Workers’ Party, Irish Workers’ Party (later CPI), March 1962 June 23, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Irish Workers Party - later Communist Party of Ireland.
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To download the above file please click on the following link:IWP
We were surprised to discover that this document from March 1962 is the first document from the Irish Workers’ Party in the Archive. As the precursor to the Communist Party of Ireland that makes this a notable addition. In this 32 page document the IWP outlines their programme. It is perhaps notable how neutral the imagery of the documentation with no logos or other visual symbolism.
There is much to read here. It is worth noting that it is broken into various sections on ‘Industry’, ‘Agriculture’, ‘Tie-up with Imperialism’, ‘Partition’ and so on. The emphasis is very strongly on the economic, and in particular it provides an analysis of the post-partition period in those terms.
Given the existence of the CPNI and the Irish Workers Party as separate entities it is perhaps natural that the focus should be perhaps somewhat greater on the South. Indeed their counterpart is not mentioned in the text and tellingly it argues that:
A Progressive government is needed to carry out a programme in the Twenty-six counties which would lay the basis for a united, Independent Ireland.
And it argues that:
The IWP believes that the working class movement, before it can lead, must itself have a political party to lead the way forward. This Party must have its own distinctive viewpoint based on the interests of the working class. The political philosophy of Connolly based on the scientific Socialist approach of Marx, has proved itself to be the correct approach for a working class party. The Irish Workers’ Party is such a Party.
An important addition and more to follow from this source.
You may have missed this earlier: From the selection in the Left Archive… Ireland: Nationalism and Imperialism – The Myths exploded June 19, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive.
…a document that went up in the past.
As part of getting people acquainted and used to the extended Left Archive we’re going to link every week to previous documents that have been posted there that may be of interest. This week, Ireland: Nationalism and Imperialism – The Myths exploded
Here is an interesting document, the text of which can be found on the internet here (as always the Archive is interested in not just the text of documents but the way in which they were produced in order to give some sense of the groups, formations, parties or individuals who produced them).
It was produced by the Manchester group Subversion. This group had drawn some members of another pre-existing group called ‘Wildcat’ and was strongly influenced by libertarian and council communism, was centred on Manchester.
Formed, as best as can be established, c. 1988 it disbanded in 1998. As this document issued on its dissolution notes, Subversion sought ‘a new organisation that could carry on the work of developing communist ideas and politics free from the need to label ourselves as either dogmatically marxist or anarchist’. It appears to have issued a prodigious amount of material. Eventually most former members joined the Anarchist Federation.
The stated aims of Subversion, printed on the back of the pamphlet included the following:
We are against all forms of capitalism: private, state and self-managed. We are for communism, which is a classless society in which all goods are distributed according to needs and desires. We are actively opposed to all ideologies which divide the working class, such as religion, sexism and racism.
And in the context of this document the following is included:
We are against all expressions of nationalism, including ‘national liberation’ movements such as the IRA.
This document, a twenty page pamphlet, engages with the issue of Ireland. From internal references appears to date from no earlier than February 1992. Given that this predated the first cessation and later political developments it provides a useful insight into the view of some on the anarchist left to the conflict on the island. Organised into discrete subsections under various headings including “Troops Out”, “The Policies of Sinn Féin”, “The Myth of National Self-Determination”, from the start the pamphlet takes a very clear line:
As the bloodshed continues, year after year, with no end in prospect, it’s not surprising that opinion polls carried out in mainland Britain over the past 20 years have consistently shown that between 50-60% in favour of a British military withdrawal from Northern Ireland. The reasons why such a view is expressed are no doubt diverse. Britain’s Ireland Problem, or as some prefer, Ireland’s British Problem, has a complex history stretching back for hundreds of years. Few people really understand ‘the Irish Question’ and most have no answer to it except to wash their hands of the whole sordid mess. If the Irish want to shoot and bomb the hell out of each other, they say, why should we stand in their way – just get ‘our lads’ out of there and let them get on with it. The best that can be said about such people is that at least they are not organised into political groups claiming to represent the interests of the international working class …. Which is more than can be said for a different element within the 50-60% who want Britain to get out of Ireland, and whose ideas we mainly want to challenge in this pamphlet.
And it continues:
We are referring of course to the members and sympathisers of the left-wing groups who support ‘self-determination for the Irish people’, and who would regard withdrawal from the ‘Six Counties’ as a victory for the Irish people over British Imperialism. Since ‘Irish self-determination’ is these groups’ goal, they naturally push the idea that it’s not for ‘us Brits’ to tell the Irish people how to conduct their own national liberation struggle. If you oppose the British state and what it’s doing in Northern Ireland, you must automatically give ‘unconditional support for republican resistance to sectarian attacks and British terror’ ( so say the Anarchist Workers Group).
It argues that:
In this way the left present a mirror image of one of their own accusations against the British state; while they complain that ‘any challenge to Britain’s role in Ireland is interpreted as support for the IRA and therefore subversive’, they themselves tend to see any criticism of the IRA as justifying the actions of the British state and, therefore, as apologising for imperialism. The way we see it, however, these ‘options’ – to oppose the British state and support the IRA, or to oppose the IRA and support the British state – are both wholly contained within the bounds of capitalist politics. Instead of looking at the entire range of political and military groupings critically and arguing that the interests of the working class lie beyond and against this whole spectrum, they encourage the working class to line up behind one capitalist faction or another. This is one of the prime functions of the left, which it performs as usefully (for capitalism) in relation to Northern Ireland as it does with regard to many other issues.
Interestingly it puts forward a line that is supportive of certain defensive actions:
Although our argument is that the Republican struggle is not in itself a struggle for working class interests, there are certain things mixed up with it that we would support. Like, for example, the ‘Free Derry’ ‘uprising’ of August 1969, when the Catholic Bogsiders organised themselves to repel attacks by Protestant marchers and the police with stones, petrol bombs and burning barricades.
And positions this within the context of class:
We support such riots [which it argues are analogous to ‘Toxteth , Brixton or Tottenham’] not because we think they are somehow inherently revolutionary, but for the basic reason that they show a spirit of rebellion alive within the working class and an unwillingness to put up with attacks on its conditions of living. A class which doesn’t fight back against the hardships which are imposed on it is unlikely to ever rise up and overthrow its oppressors.
Its outline of the split between Provisional and Official republicanism is also worth noting:
Although in recent years Sinn Fein and the IRA have fought a twin-pronged campaign ‘with the ballot paper in on hand and an Armalite in the other’, the Provisional IRA initially came together as a purely military organisation. Unlike the Official IRA, from which they had split during 1969-70, the Provos had no interest whatsoever in the sort of reforms demanded by the Civil Rights movement, since the Provos’ aim was not to modify the Northern Ireland state ate but to get rid of it. At first even the Stalinists of the Official IRA were denounced as too left-wing by the Provos – though when the Provisionals came to write their own programme after the split (published as Eire Nua in 1972), they actually based it on an old document that the Stalinist Coughlan…
Indeed the analysis of the Provisional IRA and Sinn Féin is extremely hostile, with the pamphlet arguing that “both the IRA’s present actions and the goals it is fighting for mark it out in our eyes as an anti-working class organisation, speculation about what a united Ireland governed by Sinn Fein would be like is largely academic – because it’s highly unlikely to come about. Although high-ranking British military officers have admitted on many occasions that they are never likely to be able to wipe out the IRA completely, the British state can still just about manage to sustain the political, social and economic costs of containing the impact of the ‘Troubles’ at a tolerable level”.
Also notable is the analysis of various formations including Troops Out, the RCP, the SWP and other groups and parties on the British left during the period. Also in the text is mention of the Workers Solidarity Movement.