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The Left Archive: “On the IRA Belfast Brigade Area”, Jim Lane, Cork Workers’ Club, 1972 April 7, 2008

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive.
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Here’s an interesting one. From that intriguing split from British and Irish Communist Organisation, the Cork Workers’ Club, we have “On the IRA Belfast Brigade Area” by Jim Lane from 1972. It’s a riposte to another article by Mick Lynch published in the Irish Communist (which I’d dearly love to get hold of a copy) in 1970 where it was argued that the IRA were essentially a Roman Catholic Sectarian militia. Now, I don’t intend to argue the rights and wrongs of that line of discussion, but simply to note that as early as 1972 it was a bone of contention amongst certain sections on the left.

As it happens the article was ‘refused publication in the Irish Communist, organ of the Irish Communist Organisation (Now the BICO) because they considered it was promoting Catholic Nationalism’.

Overall it’s well written, well produced and interesting insight into the sorts of discussion which revolved then (and now) around BICO.

Incidentally here from Fintan Lane (and I’ve swiped it from here) is an overview of the Cork Workers’ Club and its history…

Interesting…and bizarre to see this pamphlet surfacing. Anyway, a little bit of background information:

The ‘Cork Communist Organisation’ was made up largely, I believe, of the Saor Eire people (publishers of ‘People’s Voice’ etc.), who had earlier merged with the ICO. Their politics was a mixture of Marxist-Leninism (Maoism in this instance) and republicanism. My father – Jim Lane – was involved.

Anyhow, they eventually abandoned the ICO, partly because of the drift towards a ‘two-nationist’ position. Brian Girvin stayed with the ICO/BICO.

The CCO later morphed into the Cork Workers Club, which survived into the late 1970s as a real group and, afterwards, as a sort of publishing house. The bookshop in Nicholas Church Place remained open until the early 1980s, when it was actually an IRSP bookshop/office. It was a centre for the anti-H-Block campaign during the hunger strikes and was later used by the Release Nicky Kelly Campaign. In its early years in the late 1960s and early 1970s, public meetings were held upstairs at times. I remember once seeing a poster advertising an appearance there by Eamon McCann.

I ’staffed’ the bookshop for a while in the early 1980s, when it was open only on Saturday and some week nights. There were some regular customers, but, as time moved on, few people slinked in besides the affiliated. Its heyday really was at the end of the 1960s and early 1970s when it was the place to go in Cork to get left-wing and republican literature. It was a genuine backstreet bookshop and when other places opened, such as the bookshop in the Quay Co-op in the early 1980s, it effectively no longer had much of a purpose. It was too far off the beaten track. A strange place, in some ways. Internet shopping would have wiped it out, had it survived that long, because it primarily dealt in political material that mainstream shops wouldn’t sell.

The ‘Internationalist’ bookshop in Shandon (Ballymacthomas to be precise) was set up by some Maoist students and was shortlived, as it was effectively sacked by locals stirred up by anti-communism. I suppose, unlike the group around the CWC in Nicholas Church Place, they didn’t have links with the local community, to any real degree. The CWC people were all working class and at least one member – Jerry Higgins – came from St Nicholas Ch. Place itself.

Fintan Lane – October 30, 2007

Comments»

1. John O'Neill - April 7, 2008

Can’t read the document.

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2. Starkadder - April 7, 2008

I have seen this article in the Cork City Library, which carries
a large amount of CCO/CWC material in the reference
section.
I haven’t seen the Irish Communist (apparently the
National Library in Dublin doesn’t stock it) but I suspect
the Mick Lynch article is where the stories about B&ICO
peddling the “Peter Hart” line thirty years beforehand
came from.

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3. Starkadder - April 7, 2008

John, I could read the document alright. Maybe you
need to check your Abode program’s settings?

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4. Jim Monaghan - April 7, 2008

An interesting document. Curious about Clifford and co. They seem to have reverted to traditional nationalism.Read an interesting article by themon the Jacobite period and the siege of Derry where they seem at least to me to see the Jacobites as the progressive side.Going further as weel in seeing Louis Quatorze as the progressive European leader. Though I see the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes as being the end of the Stuarts and a key factor in in prolonging discrimination against Catholic in these islands.Maybe in this milieu Lane was prematurely correct.
The IWG side of the split from Clifford and co which was led by Gery Lawless kept to a nationalist/republican analysis all through the troubles.I suppose Ranor Lysaght would be their Clifford or Greaves (I hope you will figure that one)

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5. Garibaldy - April 7, 2008

The last paragraph is somewhat enteraining about the Provos seeking to control sectarian elements. Given the number of sectarian murders they carried out, especially in 1972 when this document was produced in this form. I wonder was an afterward considered too embarassing.

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6. Starkadder - April 7, 2008

The document is interesting in that it mentions the
“Dunmanway Massacre” and the condemnation of it by
the IRA’s leadership. I wonder did the Old IRA have
left and right wings, and did the right wing carry out most
of the sectarian attacks?

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7. WorldbyStorm - April 7, 2008

I must look it up.

Starkadder, was it my imagination or did you say you could list some of the CCO stuff in the Library there. It’d be very welcome and you could write a post on it…

Jim good points…

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8. Starkadder - April 7, 2008

Well, if you Dublin and Belfast folk pay a visit to
our fair city, you’ll find the Cork City Library keeps several
articles by Jim Lane,plus all 3 issues of the “Cork Worker”
magazine, and 15 “Cork Workers Club” pamphlets in it
Local Studies section, along with other stuff.
It would have lots of info on the left in Cork, including
the Cork Housing Action Committee, the Cork
branch of the Wolfe Tone society, etc.

Any similar info on the Irish left in say,Galway,Limerick
or Waterford, I wonder?

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9. WorldbyStorm - April 7, 2008

To my eternal shame although in and out of Cork on a regular basis over the years I’ve never been to the Library…

It’s fascinating because it parallels or predates other stuff going on (and in the case of Jim Lane, frankly his writing is vastly superior to that of BICO) and would be an interesting addition to the Left Archive.

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10. Starkadder - April 8, 2009

Almost a year later, but I’ve a made a list of the Cork Workers’
Club Historical Reprints series. The First Ten:

1-James Connolly and Irish Freedom, by G. Schuller

2-British Imperialism in Ireland, by Elinor Burns

3-Marx, Engels and Lenin on the Irish Revolution, by Ralph Fox

4-The Irish Republican Congress, by George Gilmore

5-The James Connolly Songbook

6-Workshop Talks , by James Connolly

7-The Irish Question, by John Leslie

8-The Historical Basis of Socialism in Ireland, by Thomas Brady

9-The Connolly-Walker Controversy: On Socialist Unity In Ireland, by James Connolly and William Walker

10- The Story of Irish Labour, by J.M. MacDonnell

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11. Starkadder - April 8, 2009

The next ten:

11-Ireland Upon the Dissecting Table: James Connolly On Ulster and Partition
(This was the biggest CWC publication ,with an introductory essay assessing NI in the early ‘70s).

12-Convict No. 50945-Jim Larkin, Irish Labour Leader

13-Irish Labour and Its International Relations in the Era of the Second International and Bolshevik Revolutions

14-Freedom’s Road for Irish Workers by “Ronald” (the pseudonym of an unknown Irish socialist)

15-The Connolly-De Leon Controversy-On Wages, Marriage, and the Church by Connolly and Daniel De Leon

16-The Irish Crisis,1921-The C.P.G.B. Stand by William Paul (the famous Scottish Marxist).

17-The Struggle of the Unemployed in Belfast,1932 by Tom Bell (not sure if this is the same man as the CPGB politician).

18-The Irish Free State and British Imperialism by “Gerhard”

19-Sinn Fein and Socialism by James Connolly, “Charles Russell” and
Selma Sigerson

20-The Irish Case for Communism by Sean Murray, Jim Larkin Junior, Seamus MacKee and the C.P.I.

I think that’s all of them. The CWC seems to have last published around 1985.

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12. WorldbyStorm - April 8, 2009

Thanks very much for that. I might have a few of them for reproduction in the Archive soon. Do you happen to have?

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13. Starkadder - April 8, 2009

I’ll have a look-I think I might have a few somewhere.

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14. Starkadder - April 8, 2009

Apparently, the Connolly Songbook sometimes turned up in
Irish folk music circles-my father remembered seeing a copy
in the 1970s alongside such material as “Songs of Percy French”.

Forget to mention-there’s three CWC pamphlets at the Marxists archive:

Workshop Talks:
http://www.marxists.org/archive/connolly/1909/talks/shoptlks.htm

Connolly-Walker:
http://www.marxists.org/archive/connolly/1911/connwalk/index.htm

Connolly-De Leon:
http://www.marxists.org/archive/connolly/1904/condel/index.htm

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15. WorldbyStorm - April 8, 2009

Very good, although as you know I’m a sucker for getting the actual printed versions in order to convey some of the materiality of these documents. it’s like the CPGB doc the other day. The ads, the text, the very look of it seems to me to be as important as the text. That’s what people remember and touches off – well, I guess it’s nostalgia in a sense.

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16. Left Archive: The Republican Movement and Socialism, 1950-70, Jim Lane, originally published in the Starry Plough (IRSP), 1987 « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - September 27, 2010

[…] British Labour Party Young Socialists. But this week we return to Jim Lane who as noted here and here has been involved in Socialist and Republican politics from the […]

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17. The Republican Movement and Socialism 1950-70, by Jim Lane. | irishrepublicanmarxisthistoryproject - May 20, 2016
18. IRSP Speeches and Writings by Jim Lane, 1983-1987. | irishrepublicanmarxisthistoryproject - December 14, 2016

[…] 4)  On the IRA, Belfast Brigade. 5)  Anti-Revisionism in Ireland. anti-revisionism-in-ireland-index-page https://cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2008/04/07/the-left-archive-on-the-ira-belfast-brigade-area-jim-la… […]

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