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Tomás MacGiolla of the Workers’ Party in Magill. Consistency in a world gone mad…but is that good or bad? April 19, 2007

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Ireland, Irish Politics, Sinn Féin.
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Funny to read quite a good interview in the current issue of Magill (by Fiachra Ó Cionnaith) with Tomás MacGiolla, formerly President of the Workers’ Party, and realise that he is only 83. I say only because he always seemed much older in the 1980s than his early mid-60s. Perhaps it was the affable – yet clearly serious – image he had, something that only David Ervine has come close to matching in more recent times.

Anyhow, that apart, the interview was a fascinating insight into an individual who was once a major figure on the Irish left. In three or four pages it summed up the contradictory strengths and weaknesses of the man and the party he once led.

The interview covers a fair bit of ground. He considers the Peace Process to be flawed, entrenching sectarianism in an argument not a million miles away from Eamon McCann. Most important issue? “…the acknowledgement of a civil rights-based constitution in Northern Ireland. The lack of genuine democracy, as opposed to 50-50 arranged marriages between Nationalism and Unionism”. Then in a curious contradiction he argues that “In my view, when the Provos were formed in 1970, the civil rights campaign had already won”, and by won he means that the Stormont regime had lost, and implicitly that it was possible to create, underpinned by a Bill of Rights, a political scenario where a government either Unionist or Nationalist would operate along clearly defined paths. That’s seems unlikely to me and hardly much of an improvement of the new set-up.

The old anger at the Provisionals remains. They are apparently, “militant nationalism” and “people give them the credit with the peace process and I’m not okay with that at all”… and in words that might chill Éirigí he proposes that “they’re calling themselves socialists now and people have totally accepted their sudden departure into socialism. They have no socialist perspective whatsoever, no understanding of the working class”.

But naturally his real ire, as with any leftist, is reserved for a greater enemy – his former comrades – those who decamped to New Agenda/Democratic Left and are now in the Labour party.

“With the 1970s split, I knew precisely where Ruarí Ó Bradaigh stood, he was carry a torch – he’s still carrying a torch – from a previous generation. This other event in 1992…I still can’t understand it. I have no explanation other than personal greed and personal advancement”.

There are harsh words for De Rossa, harsher words for Rabitte (“I suspected him from the very start”). But he makes some fair points, as with the fairly well acknowledged idea that the WP was on line for at least three more seats at the next election. Indeed unlike almost everywhere in Europe the WP was astute enough to see what way the wind was blowing in the Glasnost period, and when De Rossa took over as Party President he made great play of the Party recognising the free market. Moreover, it actually gained seats during the period where the Eastern bloc was disintegrating. This isn’t for one moment to dispute the stresses and fractures that were already evident within the party, and that as has been argued here and elsewhere would probably have led to some form of rupture or another, but all told it remained a remarkably solid and powerful political vehicle well into the new decade.

Certainly if one wants a sense of the depth of bitterness that the WP retains towards the DL group it’s telling that he says “I’d say hello to Ruairí Ó Brádaigh but I haven’t spoken to De Rossa since, it was treachery on their part”.

There’s more regarding his thoughts on Rabbitte, but I’ll let you purchase it for yourself, should you want to.

On international affairs he’s clearly enormously enthused by the resurgence of Central and South American leftism. But his heart is with Fidel. “I’m not sure of Chavez. He’s doing a good job but he talks too much, he should keep his mouth shut and stay quiet about it, but it really is extraordinary”. Indeed, no doubt were Chavez in Ireland he would have experienced the smack of firm party discipline. He also expresses an understandable support for the Serbian people, and a perhaps slightly less understandable support for Milosevic “…he [Milosevic] was elected to do a job, to look after Serbia and its people, and he did that”. Hmmm, not so sure he’d extend the same generosity to say…for example…Sinn Féin (who hardly are in the same league as a Milosevic who shamelessly manipulated the genuinely held – if exaggerated fears – of the Serbian people both within Serbia and the other former Yugoslav Republics).

MacGiolla is a figure abandoned by history. The WP is the also ran of Irish politics that made good in some of the electoral races and promised more then collapsed on the eve of the big race and was dragged away to a premature retirement.

Of course Ó Brádaigh is less of an enemy to MacGiolla than De Rossa or Adams (although in purely ideological terms he should represent the antithesis of all that MacGiolla fought for) because he too is rendered impotent and marginal in the way that the WP is, he too is someone who saw ‘his’ party wrestled from him by others. And by contrast, the ‘militant nationalists’ are on the point of state power in Northern Ireland, while ‘the traitors’ are, maybe, perhaps, perhaps not, close to power in the Republic of Ireland. Underlying it one wonders does MacGiolla feel that he like Ó Brádaigh is carrying a torch from a previous generation.

The principles, or rather the means to achieve those principles, that MacGiolla and the WP stood for have mutated subtly but distinctly. The contemporary political map has moved on from the sort of dominance of the further left by the Workers’ Party and although Sinn Féin may well exceed it in terms of support, there is a much more fractured and fractious spectrum of organisations and groups (with possibly two – count them – two! Socialist Party TDs following the election). As the society has commercialised and splintered into niches both market and political, the energy is found in campaigns, or in different activities entirely such as the blogosphere (although I was entertained and a little surprised to read on Politics.ie that one member of a major political party was only just now starting to canvass – a little late in the day).

The tide came in for the WP in the mid to late 1980s, but then it went straight back out again. And the bitterness is born of the belief that somehow that tide wasn’t the result of political trends (which is true – it wasn’t) but instead was part civil war within the party, part retreat from the North, part transfer of power from the centralised internal structure to an elected cohort.

Funny too that ten years ago I’d have had relatively little sympathy for MacGiolla. I have a lot more sympathy today. He’s still wrong on many of the issues. Badly, badly wrong. But he’s not as wrong as he used to be.

Comments»

1. franklittle - April 20, 2007

Very good post and very timely as well considering the WP Ard Fheis is on this weekend in Waterford. The Clár and motions are available here: http://www.workerspartyireland.net/id63.html but it’s interesting to see very few motions other than clearly leadership led ones. But much like WBS points out, they’re obsessed with re-fighting old battles.

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2. Redking - April 20, 2007

Fascinating. McGiolla’s analysis poses some counterfactual questions-one for instance -what if the Officials had actually strangled the Provos at birth (that is not just MacStiofan and O’Bradiagh et al in the South but also the Belfast cadres) in 1970 and thereby dominated the northern ghettos and succeeded in their strategy of substituting an electoral vanguardism for millitarist vanguardism? Would this not have saved us from 25-30 years of mad sectarian slaughter? And would the northern political map be now radically different-with a rapproachment long achieved between “nationalism” and “unionism” and the space opened up for “class” or at least radical politics? Would we not now be much further down the road to a unified Ireland? Who knows! but its certain that some of the Official’s Army Council certainly wanted to “whack” the Provos in 1970-Costello for one, but other counsels prevailed. Ironically for a party that prided itself on its centralist controlling tendencies this failure was arguably a great “lapse” in discipline. There is an argument of course that the crisis in the North was on the streets and some form of “Army” would have been created by nationalists even if the Provos ceased to exist. However I remain sceptical whether such an army or campaign could have got off the ground or existed for long. The Provos were not the unwitting tools of objective historical laws but actually drove events and shaped the crisis precisely because they had the will, infrastructure and arms to do so.. Despite my countetrfactual musing I feel your views on the WP are essentially correct and as someone who has more than a bit of sympathy for their struggle I admit to a sadness at it all. MacGiolla is undoubtedly carrying a torch from another era-but given the pain he and his comrades have had to endure since 1970 (not just the Provo attacks in the 70s) there is no choice but to stick (no pun intended) to the line-but what a line that is! I must admit I agree with much of their views on the North-it is entrenched sectarainism made much worse by the Provo campaign and any solution will be long-drawn out and incremental but I cringe at the unreconstructed new-Stalinism-I have little time for Fidel or his regime and I do wonder where MacGiolla thinks the WP is going now- as they are realistically little more than a micro sect in both parts of Ireland.

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3. Mark P - April 20, 2007

I haven’t seen the article yet, mainly because it would never have occurred to me to pick up a copy of Magill. I bought a couple of them after the relaunch which was more than enough, given the extremely low quality of the writing and the lower quality of the political ideas on show. I will have to get this one however.

Out of curiousity does MacGiolla deal at all with the current state of the Workers Party, how it hopes to become a force to reckon with or how it views the rest of the left (defining left here as left of the Greens/SF/Labour)? What astonishes me about them is how quiet they have been as they have gradually eroded away post-split. They have mostly steered clear of the rest of the left, even in terms of broad campaigns. They just don’t seem to *do* very much anymore.

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4. WorldbyStorm - April 20, 2007

That’s a very interesting set of responses from both of you. The bitterness lingers, doesn’t it, for MacGiolla. Still, as noted above in fairness I guess he has more than most to be bitter about.

Incidentally Redking I think that even had the OIRA taken out PIRA there would still have been a rump Catholic Defender strain on the streets of the North which might even have devolved into something like the UDA. And the Seamus Costello wing would have departed sooner or later because they really really wanted to confront the state in a way that MacGiolla, Garland et al didn’t. So in some ways it could have been worse again with social reactionaries on one side and something much closer say to the Red Brigades or RAF on the other and with the OIRA trying to hold the line and bleeding members as things continued ( I always got the impression that in some respects Costello got in way over his head after the first year of the IRSP, up until then he was largely in control of events, afterwards and perhaps with the departure of some of the more overtly political heads things went on a very different tangent ). I do agree though that the eventual shape of PIRA wasn’t preordained, yet the alienation of nationalism from the Northern state and more broadly from Nationalism on the island probably was the motive cause for the extremity of the response, and it seems to me to be understandable, even predictable. In fact that phase was entirely anomalous in the context of the history from 1920 onwards in the North. But we have what we have.

As a matter of interest were you involved in any of those groups?

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5. WorldbyStorm - April 20, 2007

Sorry MarkP, you were posting just as I was. MacGiolla doesn’t really, bar noting that at his age he’s not really asked for his opinion much at this stage. A lot of the fight went out of them after the split. I think, much as with PIRA, once the party split and the majority went with NA/DL many of those who were left thought that the WP was finished and literally walked away from party activism. The ISN is of course a home away from home for many of them, and the later cohort who walked from DL. but that still doesn’t account for hundreds who just never turned up again.

I don’t know if the WP has a purpose any longer. I can’t see any sign of a strategy or tactics.

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6. Mark P - April 20, 2007

The Workers Party has for years had some elements of a functioning political party and some elements of an old comrade’s association. It does still have conferences and stand in elections and, in Waterford at least, still win the odd one but most of the time it is nearly invisible.

They were mentioned in the “Independent Left Alliance” discussion document which was leaked to Indymedia in a way which implied that they were involved in those discussions. That by itself intrigued me as, regardless of the political wisdom of talking to the SWP and the assorted others, it is at least a form of political strategy, something I too haven’t seen much evidence of in recent years.

It was also interesting because the WP approach to “left unity” talks over the years has always been very dismissive. I read in some old Magill’s that as SF-WP they dismissed talk of a get together with Kemmy and Gregory. At their WP peak, they dwarfed anything they could conceivably have allied with. Later on they never even bothered to send representatives to the talks about the Healy/SP alliance in 1997 or to those about the Socialist Alliance the SWP started a few years ago. On the other hand they did show up to SWP organised meetings about a left slate in the assembly elections before last, so maybe something has changed. There’s nothing like oblivion staring you in the face to encourage a change of tack I suppose.

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7. Redking - April 21, 2007

Yes WBS -the Catholic Defender mentality has always been strong especially in the sectarian cockpit that is Belfast whether it would have developed beyond sectarian vigilantism without the Provos is debatable. I’m not sure wheter nationalst alienation from the northern state was so complete by 1970 to sustain the full blown campaign that ensued (it clearly was by 1972) again events and those driving them dictated responses and the British govt’s role was critical in this period. Interesting that the Provos have always tapped into the Defenderist mentality despite being singularly useless at defending the “community” – the most famous set-piece defence action of the period was carried out by the Officials-the “battle of the lower Falls” in fact so legendary that the Provos later tried to claim they were also involved in it. I guess it was always more important for the Provos to pose as defenders rather tha actually carry out defence as they alwys exploited loyalist/British violence for their own ends. As for myself I was too young in the 70s/early 80s to be actively involved in the groups mentioned-although close family members were very involved in the momentous events of the period-the 1974/75 split in the Officials and the H-Block dirty protests. Like your tidal analogy my support for the WP has gone in and out over the years and I too have more sympathy for them now than 10 years ago- but I wonder where they are going and whether they can sustain a Party for much longer-and at times the weight of their own history does seem suffocating.

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8. WorldbyStorm - April 22, 2007

Both your comments are interesting because they both point to one glaring issue. What is the point of WP in 2007. It went from arguably being the best disciplined political entity on the island to being an empty husk and it took, realistically no more than 24 months following the split for that to happen. When MacGiolla lost his seat that was it for the party as a national entity.

But I agree MarkP, they thought they were a national entity hence their avoidance of any contact with others on the left, a pity because their skills in organisational and campaigning terms were excellent. And I think that’s a great phrase Redking, their history suffocated them.

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9. Fiachra O Cionnaith - April 23, 2007

Hi guys, just spotted this tread online, thanks for the interest.

RE MacGiolla’s view of the modern WP – he was careful not to say too much, but the vibe from him was that he’s happy that his retirement has put a bit of distance between himself and some of today’s WP leaders who continue to have some less than savoury aspects to their character shall we say (dollars are super and all that). The quote at the end, however, still gives an insight into his view of the party today – MacGiolla says that if Sinn Fein are trying to be socialists its because “they want to be what we (WP) were” (past tense, as in not anymore).

Just in case you’re interested … the interview is part of a series called ‘Where Are They Now’ which we’ve been running since November. It’s about previously well-known people and what they make of the modern Ireland (and the world), and previous interviews have included TK Whitaker (on the hurdles of post-Celtic Tiger Ireland), Mena Bean Ui Chribin (on the 1980s/1990s abortion/divorce battle between liberalism and the Catholic church), Sam Nolan (on the demise of the left and the gagging of trade unions) among others. I’m hoping to turn it into a book in a year or two, so if you have any interviewee suggestions …

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10. Ed Hayes - April 23, 2007

A very interesting interview and one that throws up a whole range of questions about the history of the WP, a party in many ways a mystery to a lot of people under 25, and yet by far the most successful far left party in Irish political history. They are also a party that provoke violent emotions; if this discussion was posted up on Indymedia for example there would be dozens of contributions on how horrible the Sticks were and are, many based not on personal experience but on half-truths and myths (though not all). The winners write the history books and while we can argue about what the Provos have actually won, it is now accepted, almost without thinking, that the IRA let down the Catholics in Belfast in 69, that the PIRA armed struggle was forced on them by Brit repression, that civil rights failed etc. Yet all these assertions are highly questionable. Nevertheless the WP contributed to this I would argue by covering up their own role pre 1972 and being dishinest about it and secondly by never accepting any hint of the blame for what transpired. The Provos, oh that was all Charlie Haughey’s doing, Aldershot-Costello’s fault, actually Cathal was really a pacifist etc. It is all more complicated that that I grant you but one reason why the WP provoke intense dislike is their utter failure to address any wrongdoings. Mac Giolla may have a point about de Rossa but equally many former WP members would have things to say about certain things they were never told about (and Tomas knew about). The other factor is that very few of the WP rank and file and their contributions to the left are known about while the only ex-members people are familiar with are the likes of E Harris and Henry McDonald. people, wrongly I would argue, conclude that they must have been what the WP was all about. A final point and perhaps another reason for the dislike; Mac Giolla’s defence of Serbia was depressing and all too familiar. Its amazing how the Provos can be seen as unreconstructed nationalist savages but the likes of North Korea or whoever is propared to cough up a few quid is excused all mannner of crimes.

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11. Ed Hayes - April 23, 2007

By the way, on the prospect of the OIRA wiping out the nascent provos. In Rosita Sweetman’s ‘On Our Knees-Ireland 1972’ there is an interview with Liam McMillen in which he talks about this and why it was a non-runner. It would have been a disaster, even if possible and would have led to a huge backlash against the Officials. Killing Catholics defenders, not matter what their politics, was not on in the post August 1969 atmosphere and would have been understood by anyone, no matter how many people have secretly dreamed about it since.

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12. WorldbyStorm - April 23, 2007

Fiachra, thanks for reading this. Didn’t want to give it all away because it’s well worth getting the issue for the story. As for other luminaries of the political scene. Hmmm… have to have a think about that.

Ed, I think that’s a very fair point. For such a powerful organisation it was amazingly unloved. But…my own take is that it provided a necessary counterweight – such as it could to the rampant shift to the right under both FG/Labour and later FF and FF/PD. And this I think accounts for it’s surprising ability to get votes in both the working class and middle class. Simply put it was the left opposition in the context of a Labour party only too willing to go into coalition (actually that has lessons for the present). The other important aspect of it was that it was – whether it liked it or not – a socially liberal or progressive group. Having said that it’s inability to be in any sense coherent or rational about the North was a self-limiting factor.

Couldn’t agree more that there was an essential dishonesty about the Party with regard to it’s history. I was extremely disheartened by the response at the DL conference in I think it was 94 or 95 to the PIRA ceasefires. It was as if there was an absolute inability in the conference hall at Liberty Hall to accept this was really happening. I think mentally that was my final break with the party. By 96, and the coalition – natch – I was gone. And that conditioning, that inability to understand the dynamics of the North, had developed inside the WP.

I went back and had a quick look at the Sweetman book after you mentioned it. I liked McMillens comment about ‘one or two provo leaders not being too bad…hmmm I wonder which ones they might be’, but what a different world it was where there was actually cooperation of a limited kind between the two wings of the self described ‘Republican Movement’.

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13. John - April 24, 2007

There should be no suprise that the workers party membership encompassed such a broad (and ultimately) unsustainable coalition given the small size of the left in Ireland. The suprise is that they had the discipline to hold it all together for so long. In terms of whether or not their influence has wained consider the number of ex members prominent in politics, the media, the arts and music, the judiciary and within northern ireland. For all their faults they didnt take the easy route within the north, and would the PUP for example have existed without the influence of the wp in the seventies.

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14. Ed Hayes - April 24, 2007

Worldbystorm, I agree about your point on the counterweight. if you even look now at how the Rossport people were sitched up by the media, or how the stamp duty abolition hype has been almost accepted by everyone (except SF so far, heard Adams on Ray D’Arcy (yes!) this morning and he at least made the point that the bulding companies would just profit from abolition) but there is little real opposition to this. The WP were serious players, in some areas at least. I also accept that they didn’t take the easy line on the north in one sense; in the Catholic ghettos, where they were overwhelmingly based they took a line that was in the end suicidal (but did they have a choice? another question). However their extreme anti-provoism fitted with a broad range of southern political opinion across parties, hence the easy shift for Harris et al to the SINDO. In the south hating the Provos was not the hard option.

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15. Redking - April 24, 2007

Interesting points Ed-you are right of course about the amnesia that the WP had about it’s history and their contribution to the conflict, but the Party also did some courageous things -the ceasefire in 1972 for instance and they took an awful lot of flak in the North about that-but they were essentialy correct about the spiralling civil war psychosis that was developing. Right too about Indymedia-must say I cant understand the hyserics at times-you’d think the Sticks were responsible for 25 years (ahem) of a counterproductive terror campaign. On the Sweetman interview of Billy McMillen-yeah of course in 1969-70 it would have been a step too far-the split actaully split families and close friends and it would have been unthinkable that extreme violence would have been sanctioned at that juncture. In some areas such as Derry both factions were friendly-the Derry Official paper the Starry Plough as late as 1972 described MacStiofain and Martin Meehan as “Republicans in the mist” i. e that they were “confused” or “misguided” and possibly held out hope that many Provos would come back into the fold.

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16. Ed Hayes - April 24, 2007

It would be interesting to see where the anti-WP hysteria comes from. A large part in my view comes from a lack of knowledge of the actual WP and its activists and of their work in places like Finglas, ballyfermot, Waterford etc. Instead people think the architypical Stick is a journalist who hates the provos but never explains exactly why, who sneers at any aspect of Irish culture while praising Unionism uncritically. I now think the OIRA were right in 1972 but the whole history of the conflict in the north remains clouded in spin and counter spin. What used to annoy me, and still does, is that the WP never seemed to apply the critical nous they showed towards Irish nationalism to unionism and never seemed as upset about Loyalist paramilitary violence as they were about the Provos. I remember a Making Sense cover ‘Straight Talking’ with a photo of Ken Magennis. Now Ken Magennis is in British political terms, a Tory. How exactly did lauding him advance the cause of working class unity? John Hume, whose party were part of the Second International, no less, would never have been on a WP cover, except to be regarded as a crypto-Provo. So it was confusing and to me at the time, highly annoying. But I’m over it now. By the way I see from the WP website that Alice Corbett has died. An interesting woman and a link to the party’s roots that many would not associate the WP with.

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17. WorldbyStorm - April 24, 2007

That’s it exactly. They never got to grips with the point that if there were two nations then logically there were two nationalisms and that being the case it made no sense to reify one above the other. And then you have absurdities such as Patterson’s the Politics of Illusion which while interesting seemed to be a none too subtle attempt to use a sub Marxist determinism to paint Irish Republicanism as an historical dead end and Unionism as an inevitable hegamon.

re Indymedia Redking it really is a case of ignorance and very much deliberately so at times. The amount of work party members did unsung and now forgotten and not just in Dublin, but in Waterford, parts of Cork, etc, etc, was remarkable and they were activist in the real sense of the word. I remember going to meetings in Finglas and else where where the party would take on the Richard Bruton’s of the world very effectively. Ironic, in that the bid for respectability by a certain group within the party of course suited the Indo/FG agenda quite well.

Still, an interesting aspect of what you say Ed in regard to the Loyalism and Ken Magennis, is that on the ground in the Ard Fheiseanna the actual membership in the North did attempt to push the debate in a direction that would address these issues right through the 1980s. Didn’t work, for obvious reasons. And the loathing of Hume I’d suggest came less from ideology and more from competitive envy during an earlier period of the Troubles.

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18. Ed Hayes - April 24, 2007

Has anyone read Patterson’s Ireland Since 1939? I won’t caricature a whole book, there is much of value in it, and I’m no expert on a lot of it but his analysis of where it all went wrong in the north is down to Mike Farrell and PD at Burntollet. His source for this is his memory of a meeting in Farrell’s flat in Stranmillis in 1969. It is becoming my belief that a great deal of historical enmity in Irish politics is down to personal dislikes and hatreds nursed over decades. You may be right about Hume and the roots of that. I’m no fan but I do think that the SDLP, like most of the political parties on this island, contained distinct wings and they had a labour/socialist element as well as working class votes. When Hume got 24,000 votes in Derry and Martin McGuiness got 10,000 (1983) it wasn’t all the Culmore Road Catholic nouveu riche voting SDLP, they always got a decent vote in the Bog, Creggan etc. Anyway thats another story….

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19. WorldbyStorm - April 24, 2007

Ah, no, don’t get me wrong. I think Hume is a remarkable figure. Flawed obviously, but with great strengths. I didn’t read Ireland since 1939, but if that’s the pivot around which he constructs his thesis re the rise of Republican armed struggle it doesn’t sound great. Sure, Burntollet was provocative, but…it did indicate an almost total lawlessness on the part of the state(let) in it’s response.

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20. Redking - April 25, 2007

For what its worth I think what is needed is a reassessment of the OSF/WP that is sober and balanced (!) Patterson, Bew et al aside they too were wrapped up in the denouement of the WP in the late 80s/early 90s to be counted on-although their works did fill a gap at the time. Does anyone know of any impending works on the history of OSF/WP/DL? Maybe we are too close to the events of the last 30 years and tainted by our own subjectivities on all of this, but surely the WP deserves a reappraisal as it was the most important socialist party in post war Ireland and the consequences of decisions made by the WP of 1969, and 1972 not to say 1992 still have an impact and resonance.
One of the reasons for the exasperting policy contradictions as you’ve both mentioned Ed and Wordlbystorm-(demonisation of nationalism-lauding of Unionism for instance) was the stifling control by the Party leadrship of debate and a desire of a large section of the membership to support an emabattled leadership at all costs. It seemed as if at times debate was not an option -and this reflected the fact that OSF/OIRA had a huge hangover of militarism that was reinforced by democratic centralism and a kind of half-baked stalinism well into the 80s. To differ from the line was to be a potential traitor and there were always potential trators to be unmasked…because….well there were always traitors such as the Provos, Costello, De Rossa etc. So many members may not have agreed with a lot of the ludicrous positions adopted but felt they had to hang together for good or ill.

I read in Brigid Sheils Makowski’s book I think, that when the Munster region of OSF disagreed with a particular Ard C. decision, Dublin sent along the regional organisor of the “Army” ie the local Official commander to overrule them. Perhaps understandable in the context of the 1970s but surely a symptom of deep problems in internal democractic life (to say the least!!!)

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21. John O'Neill - April 25, 2007

Brian Hanley and Scott Millar are in the process of writing a book on the Officials/WP.

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22. Ed Hayes - April 25, 2007

There is also a book called ‘Official Irish Republicanism, 1962-1972’ by Sean Swan published last year. It seems to be only avaialble on through the web. If you google it you will find it.

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23. WorldbyStorm - April 25, 2007

Those of us who remember De Rossa being dragged in to constituency branches by the members as the representative of the centre to seemingly put errant future TDs right as to the ‘correct’ party line and prevent any manifestation of their ‘social democratic’ tendencies will no doubt smile wryly at how things went as events progressed.

That’s very true about the hanging together bit. I was getting calls for quite a while after DL was founded asking me to return to the fold.

Have to have a look at the Sean Swan book. Odd that he takes that timeframe.

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24. Seán - April 27, 2007

Strange that some people seem to think that DL took the majority of WP members back in 1992. It’s simply not true. Certainly they took 6 TDs and 18 (I think) out of 24 councillors at the time, but in terms of ordinary, rank and file members they took very few, and even fewer activists. A lot of people were disillusioned and just opted out of politics altogether while a substantial number stayed with the WP. This is especially true outside of Dublin where very few went.

By the way, Mac Giolla is writing his own book.

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25. ejh - April 27, 2007

“it is now accepted, almost without thinking, that the IRA let down the Catholics in Belfast in 69, that the PIRA armed struggle was forced on them by Brit repression”

Wouldn’t actually a large proportion of current irish political thought differ strongly from the second of these propositions? Not necessarily for reasons I’d agree with, I know.

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26. sean - January 12, 2009

strange that no body asks the DL how much money they stole from WP account’s when they went from Lefty’s to Rightys ‘ that’s probably why the WP went down so fast ‘ and how many of them got big paying jobs for betraying the WP.

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27. WorldbyStorm - January 12, 2009

Hmmm…. jobs from who?

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