Lost Revolution review… August 31, 2009Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish History.
Okay, and following on from Garibaldy’s post, for a fantastic overview of “THE LOST REVOLUTION: THE STORY OF THE OFFICIAL IRA AND THE WORKERS PARTY” by Brian Hanley & Scott Millar can I point people here to where Conor has done a fine job… and bloody quickly too. Serious kudos.
It’s Official: Irish Government Sought to Foment 1969 Split August 31, 2009Posted by Garibaldy in Irish History, Irish Left Online Document Archive (Remembering 1969), The North, Workers' Party.
Co-author of The Lost Revolution Scott Millar has a piece in today’s Irish Examiner which reveals that the Department of Justice sought to foment a split in the Republican Movement in 1969. I think the memo was also published in the recent History Ireland, but don’t have my copy to hand to check this. From the memo:
In different parts of the country units of the IRA (and Sinn Féin) are uneasy about the new left-wing policy of their leadership and about the violent methods that are being adopted in the destruction of private property.
Their uneasiness needs to be brought to the surface in some way with a consequent fragmentation of the organisation. It is suggested by the Department of Justice that the Government should promote an active political campaign in that regard.
The Left Archive [Remembering 1969]: United Irishman (incorporating Resistance), September 1969, Sinn Féin August 31, 2009Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Irish Left Online Document Archive (Remembering 1969), Sinn Féin.
This is a day early, but in terms of its scope it deals directly with the events of August 1969 and therefore seems appropriate for this month-long series of documents relating to that time.
It is quite forensic in its analysis with maps of the events and an article on Page 4, ‘How Belfast Fought’. The reference to the IRA in this context is instructive…
As the RUC and Specials launched attacks on the barricades guarding the Falls area gunfire was returned for the first time from within the Catholic area.
IRA firing continued until all ammunition was spent, according to reports. Weak though it was in comparison to that of the combined UVF, RUC and B-Special forces, the IRA firepower slowed up the advance of the rampaging mobs and helped to hold vital barricades and refugee centres. The full story of the IRA part in the defence has yet to be told, however.
The IRA statement issued by Cathal Goulding in August 1969 is reprinted in full.
The editorial on the back page is worth careful study for its articulation of ‘Republican demands’ and a fascinating closing paragraph headed “The Christian Thing”.
Also included is the “Resistance” broadsheet which it says was given out free in the North but is included in the UI in order to recoup costs.
In sum this is clearly a document that was issued seeking to shore up support for the Republican Movement and the IRA from all its strands. Perhaps evidence of that last can be found in the lyrics of “The Belfast Brigade” (Air: Glory, Glory, Halleluiah) which might give some pause for thought…
“When the orange mobs from Shankill came to shoot the people down,
They thought the IRA was dead in dear old Belfast town,
But Paisley’s bloody gangsters were with bombs and bullets faced,
When they met the brave battalions of the Belfast Brigade.”
And finally, given that we don’t have the August edition of the United Irishman in the Archive, what of the mention in this issue of a letter from Eamonn McCann in the previous edition? Would that we had a copy of that edition. Interesting reading no doubt.
Albert Reynolds, the accidental politician, speaks… August 30, 2009Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, Northern Ireland.
Feck me, it really is history week. Truth is I’ve always had a sneakin’ regard for Albert Reynolds. He was far from the worst Taoiseach to grace that office, the Fianna Fáil/Labour coalition was in many respects a reforming one and some of the groundwork they laid in terms of rights – in fairness pushed by Labour, but equally in fairness taken up by some in FF – softened up the terrain for the divorce referendum under their successor. The approach to the North was positive and useful and Reynolds was always sharper than his detractors gave him credit. That much of the problem, according to the detractors was that he came from outside the pale didn’t diminish him in my eyes in the slightest. Now, before I get all dewy eyed, the man was no progressive, or at least not as I would regard one. But for all that… he did okay.
So, and as serialised in the Sunday Independent today, his autobiography lands in our bookshops imminently. Fair dues then to the Mail (words you won’t always hear me say), for getting the jump on them yesterday with an interview with the man.
Now, it’s painful to read that Cowen was his protege.
But, you’ll find an interesting read in that interview (conducted by Jason O’Toole) in the Mail this weekend which indicates just how 1968 and 1969 influenced others beyond Republicanism and Northern Nationalism…
Mr Reynolds’ political career began almost by chance – his interest in running for the Dail stemmed from his fascinating with watching the Arms Trial unfold.
“I had no great interest in becoming a member of the party,” he told me.
In fact, prior to being elected to the Dail for the first time in 1977, he’d focused all his energies on building up a ballroom empire with his brother Jim, before branching out into the food produce trade.
‘I had a factory in the Coombe and I used to come up and down every day from Longford. I’d come up early in the morning and we killed about 700 pigs a week – and the pigs would be all killed by half 10 or 11. The boys would come in early and get home early. And I was quite happy with that,’ he recalled.
This was back in 1970, during the infamous Arms Trial. Mr Reynolds, then aged 38, told me that when the staff clocked off from work in the bacon factory, he would go down to the Four Courts to observe the sensational trial.
‘I listened to every day of the Beef Tribunal… No, not the Beef Tribunal! I was thinking about my own thing! The Arms Trial,” he said, pausing to laugh at his Freudian slip, before continuing with his recollection of the infamous Arms Trial.
And consider this…
‘I was on the – if I wasn’t, I was on it very shortly afterwards – the executive of the party because the old man died and I came in to it. I wanted to see all the evidence to make up my own mind. Not what you read in the papers. I wanted to listen to it all through – and so I did. But anyway, I made up my own mind. It was hard to know where the real story was. It was thrown out anyway and that was it.’
After Charlie Haughey and Neil Blaney were sensationally acquitted of attempting to illegally import guns for the IRA, Mr Reynolds dined with one of Mr Blaney’s legal team, Liam Hamilton, who went on to become a Supreme Court Judge and then Chief Justice.
‘That night when it finished, I remember Liam Hamilton was going up to have a meal and I went with him. There was a big party out in Kinsealy, but I didn’t go to it. He didn’t go to it either. Even though he was Blaney’s man, as far as I remember. There was different people defending Charlie Haughey, but I didn’t know them, but I knew Blaney’s Anyway, I went up and I said to him, “What do you make of it now?”
‘And he says, “I’m no wiser about what Blaney’s part was in it than I was the first day”. “Because,” he says, “all he said was, ‘You go on and defend me’. But I have to hear your story and I have to sit down… ‘You don’t need anything,’ he says. “I’m not guilty. I’m guilty of nothing. You don’t need anything,’ he says, ‘Go in and get me out. And that’s it. There’s no evidence there against me’.”’
‘And I sat down with Liam Hamilton in a restaurant up on Leeson Street. We talked about it and it was him that told me that. “That’s the end of that now,” he said. “But I’m no wiser having gone through the whole lot,” he says. “You’re asking me to tell you, I could be asking you to tell me. I’m no wiser. I can’t tell you anymore than you know yourself”. That was that. The thing was over. Haughey came back – he was put out of the party and he came back into the party.’
Mr Reynolds won a seat in the Dail on his first attempt in the General Election 1977. He managed to hold onto his seat in each subsequent election until his retirement in 2002.
Or how about the Peace Process and the collapse of the first (I jest – sort of) Fianna Fáil/Labour Party Coalition?
By his own admission, Mr Reynolds was a ‘businessman, a risk taker’. He was, according to John Major in a publicity blurb for the impending autobiography, a ‘trader’ and a ‘dealer’ who was a ‘bottom-line man’.
It was this very business acumen that Reynolds used in his unorthodox but highly successful negotiations when brokering the first IRA ceasefire and when proceeding over the Downing Street negotiations with his British counterpart. It was, he told me, nothing more than ‘straight dealing’.
A few months after his crowning achievement of brokering the Downing Street Declaration, Mr Reynolds was forced to resign as Taoiseach after he made the erroneous decision to appoint Attorney General Harry Whelehan as President of the High Court.
Unfortunately, the appointment backfired when Mr Spring, the then Tanaiste, dramatically pulled Labour out of the coalition after it was revealed that Mr Whelehan had mishandled an attempt to extradite a paedophile priest, Fr. Brendan Smyth. In his resignation speech in the Dail, Mr Reynolds said: ‘Give it as it was; tell it as it is, that is me.’
In his memoir about his time working as Mr Reynolds’ spin-doctor, Sean Duignan describes the atmosphere of the day he resigned as Taoiseach as almost akin to that of an Irish wake. ‘Tea and sympathy were dispensed in the Taoiseach’s dining room, which took on the appearance of an executive funeral parlour as Kathleen Reynolds and her daughters, Cathy, Leone, Emer and Andrea, patiently listened to the condolences of a long line of friends of the famiglia,’ Duigan recalls in his book, ‘One Spin on the Merry-Go-Round’.
Did it feel like a wake? I asked Mr Reynolds.
‘Ah, no,’ he insisted.
Then there is the infamous incident when Reynolds sought the Presidency…
After resigning as Taoiseach, Mr Reynolds reluctantly stayed on as a backbencer TD until he retired from public life in 2002. But it wasn’t meant to end that way – Mr Reynolds had envisaged a swansong as President, but he failed to obtain the Fianna Fail nomination for the 1997 presidential election.
It was an open secret that Mr Ahern had promised to support Mr Reynolds presidential candidacy as far as back in January 1997 when the two men met for lunch in the Berkeley Court Hotel, Dublin. At the informal lunch, Reynolds revealed to Ahern his plan to step down at the upcoming general election because he didn’t warm to the idea of spending his twilight years as a backbencer. This was akin to Ahern’s similar statement, after his dramatic resignation as Taoiseach when he announced that he wouldn’t run in the 2012 general election.
But instead of supporting Reynolds in his decision, Ahern urged his former boss to contest the next general election because he feared that without Reynolds Fianna Fáil could lose a valuable seat in the Longford-Roscommon constituency. Reynolds told me that he felt that Fianna Fáil would never lose the seat, but he reluctantly agreed to mull over Mr Ahern’s request.
They then had a further meeting at the McGrattan’s Restaurant, near the Government Buildings, at which Ahern offered to make Reynolds a special ‘peace envoy’ to Northern Ireland. And Mr Ahern also to support his candidacy for presidency – on the condition that he run in the general election.
‘And I’ll also to support your presidential candidacy – on the condition that you run in the general election,’ Mr Ahern told Mr Reynolds.
This seemed like a great deal…
Mr Reynolds was delighted with the deal on offer from AMr hern. Mr Reynolds felt the while it would be a great honour to be president, it would be an even greater honour to be a peace envoy for Northern Ireland. It would be recognition of his significant contribution to bringing peace to Northern Ireland – as it was Mr Reynolds who had undertaken the arduous
task of getting all the different factions to the negotiation table in
the first place.
‘You’ve got yourself a deal,’ Mr Reynolds replied.
He then shook hands with his former cabinet colleague to signal an agreement. As far as Mr Reynolds was concerned it was a done deal.
At the launch of Fianna Fáil’s election campaign that May, Mr Ahern surprised many of his party colleagues by publicly referring to the peace envoy role for Mr Reynolds. The former Taoiseach took this as a clear sign that their deal would be honoured if he retained his Dáil seat, which he duly did.
He came from the old school of never going back on your word; with him shaking hands was as a good as an oath, and he never once thought that even Mr Ahern – who had been described by his own former mentor, the disgraced former Taoiseach Charlie Haughey as the “most cunning of them
all” – would reengage on their deal.
Mr Reynolds was confident about becoming president, as the opinion polls showed that he would enjoy almost 50 percent of the votes, which was an impressively strong position. But it appeared that the Reynolds camp were unaware that the vast majority of cabinet minister had agreed privately to
support Mrs McAleese’s candidacy. They were confident Reynolds had secured 70 out of the 114 votes.
However, Mr Reynolds told me he was made aware, by internal sources, of the changing situation the night before the nomination. He also realised something was amiss when he arrived for the candidacy vote and discovered that he had to give pre-vote speech – even though he had been reassured by
Mr Ahern earlier that morning that his candidacy was merely a formality and that he wouldn’t have to prepare a speech.
He had been surprised to discover the young Northern Ireland solicitor, McAleese, who was a political novice, was putting her hat in the ring. Ironically, Mary McAleese was persuaded to run for the presidency by another Longford man, Harry Casey, who was a teacher at St Patrick’s Academy in Navan.
Mrs McAleese then went and met with several of the ministers to canvas their support, with Mary O’Rourke promising to lobby Ahern on her behalf.
Many of the senior figures she met readily agreed to support her because they still held grudges against Mr Reynolds for dramatically sacking them from the Cabinet in 1992 when he took over the Taoiseach’s office.
Reynolds’ heart sank even further when he listened to her well-prepared speech. For his part, he had made a rambling and uninspired speech, which some quarters of Fianna Fáil attempted to suggest was the reason behind the pendulum’s sudden swing towards the unknown Mrs McAleese, who was not even a member of the party. Technically, Reynolds’ could have objected to her candidacy – but he was unaware of this fact until a few years later.
His heart must have been going through the floor when he realised…
Out of the 15 cabinet members, only Charlie McCreevy and David Andrews, along with Taoiseach Brian Cowen, supported him. Mr Reynolds was surprised that the Minister for Environment Noel Dempsey, who was abroad, had decided not to vote. Mr Reynolds had perceived Mr Dempsey as one of his protégés, after given him his first big political break by bringing him into his
Mr Dempsey later said he envisaged a Mr Reynolds’ presidential campaign as ‘weeks of wall-to-wall Beef Tribunal re-runs’. However, it should be remembered that Mr Reynolds had already been vindicated by the tribunal’s findings.
During the voting procedure, Mr Reynolds started to become more and more annoyed as he observed the public humiliation that was being inflicted upon him. After he’d marked his ballot paper, Mr Ahern approached Reynolds and displayed his card as proof that he had voted for the former Taoiseach.
It’s a great insight into a time that has already receded into, well not quite distant political history, but certainly a time that seems unimaginably different to the contemporary era. And yet now the histories of this, written by the participants, are being issues piecemeal. As O’Toole notes… and this is true for more than Reynolds…
He was, Mr Reynolds acknowledged, disappointed [by the events around the Presidential nomination] – but I got the distinct impression that his disillusionment was derived from the fact that many of his former cabinet failed to support him.
And more particularly by how he felt Mr Ahern had let him down – as it was the ‘peace envoy’ position he desired the most because of his passion about bringing peace to Northern Ireland.
Doubtless, he will use his forthcoming autobiography to wreak revenge.
More than him at that.
Wow, what a busy day for the weekend. I’m going to have to break the habit of a lifetime and purchase a Sunday Times, for today there are extracts from the history of the Workers’ Party, written by Brian Hanley (who is not unknown in this parish) and Scott Millar, published tomorrow. Interesting reading, no doubt, for many many in a remarkably disparate number of political locations… I can’t help but feel that this might be a case of step back and watch the fireworks. Perhaps it will be worth talking further about the ST’s coverage…
Link to the Sunday Times Coverage Added by Garibaldy Sunday Times Extract
An Economy for the Common Good: Strategy for a New Direction – Communist Party of Ireland – Critique of the Economic situation – Launch, Thursday 3rd of September. August 30, 2009Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.
From the Communist Party of Ireland
Left and trade union activists
“*An Economy for the Common Good: Strategy for a New Direction*”
The sham economists have had their say.
The establishment political parties have had their say.
The bankers have had their say.
The European Central Bank has had its tuppence worth.
Now it’s time for Irish workers to be heard.
The Communist Party of Ireland will launch its analysis of the economic crisis that is now engulfing this country and the global capitalist system. Our critique examines the crisis in terms of our understanding of the inherent instability and inequality within capitalism itself. We also present an alternative strategy and a way forward for the working people of our country.
We extend an invitation to left and trade union activists to the official launch of “An Economy for the Common Good” on Thursday 3 September at 5:30 p.m. in Connolly Books, James Connolly House, 43 East Essex Street. Numbers are limited, so please e-mail us to book an invitation.
This week I’ll mostly be listening to…Intastella August 29, 2009Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
A funny one this. I heard their song Mary Jane, taken from the What You Gonna Do album, around 1995 and really liked its beats and then sort of forgot about them. From time to time I’d pick up their albums in second hand shops and think about buying them… but wouldn’t. Shame on me.
From their first full length release Intastella and the Family of People they were always more clued in and ground-breaking than their subsequent relative success would seem to credit them. A sort of Madchester sound, one foot in indieboy camp with the wah wah guitars, one foot in pop dance with no small amount of bleeps… but somehow a bit more than the sum of the parts that that juxtaposition might indicate led on to a broad range of styles, all underpinned by Stella Grundy’s voice.
And it’s not as if they didn’t get the nod from people with higher profiles. Tricky produced a single, they regularly got plaudits in the music press. Hard to say what went wrong, perhaps they were just a bit too clued in. Or maybe they never quite wrote the immediate songs they threatened to, but their ones needed that little bit of time to sink in. Which would explain why from time to time I find myself humming phrases from them…
Needless to say difficult to find their stuff at reasonable prices, or indeed any price, now… but sort of classic in their own way.
Skyscraper (Huff and Herb Club mix)… barely recognisable in some ways.
This is Bendy
The Night (Live)
The Irish Left Archive [Remembering 1969]: “A Failed Political Entity: Studies in Unionism, The Civil Rights Campaign, Discrimination and The Way Forward”, issued by the Dublin ’68 Committee, c. 1988. August 28, 2009Posted by WorldbyStorm in Civil Rights, Irish Left Online Document Archive, Irish Left Online Document Archive (Remembering 1969), Miscellaneous.
I’m indebted to Jim Monaghan for forwarding this to the Archive, and at precisely the right time too. This is definitely turning into history week on the CLR, and why not. Anyhow, to some extent this doesn’t really belong in the Left Archive, since this is a document that could be argued emanates from traditional Irish nationalism. Consequently I’m posting it out of the usual sequence.
However, as an insight into how the events of 1968 and 1969 resonated long afterward in Irish political life, and for the particular analysis of the events of those years, it provides some use.
Printed in the late 1980s it draws together an eclectic mix of figures, from former Fianna Fáil Minister Kevin Boland, clearly the prime mover behind it, Vincent MacDowell, a former Vice-Chairperson of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association in 1969 and others. Even the then indefatigable Ulick O’Connor makes an appearance, and there’s a snippet from Charles Haughey on p.39, but there’s little reason to get overly excited by that, it is just a snippet.
In other words this is a Fianna Fáil, or more precisely a dissident Fianna Fáil (to coin a phrase), production. Perhaps the piece of most relevance is that by Vincent MacDowell, A Failed Political Entity. It is fascinating as much for what it ignores as what it includes. Indeed I find the way it draws a line between civil rights and then nationalism/Republicanism with no clear left element to be hugely instructive. Anyway, that’s just my first impression.
Interesting to know peoples thoughts on this.
Working through NAMA… August 28, 2009Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics.
Richard Curran wrote a short piece at the weekend in the Sunday Business Post about Nama, but not so much the issue of its existence, but rather the ramifications of its remit, and the parameters of that remit. So, I’ll write a short piece considering what he has to say.
There’s some intriguing stuff in there. As he notes, We should know the ‘ballpark’ price of [what NAMA will pay banks for their property] loans. But as Nama looms closer, the next big question will be how the agency treats its defaulting clients.
Once Nama takes over the loans, it will try and ensure they are repaid. Of course many of them will not be, and developers will default.
This will lead to Nama making numerous trips to the high Court to take possession of actual properties.
When this happens, how will Nama pursue the developers? Where personal guarantees have been given, Nama will be within its rights to go after whatever personal assets these individuals have – houses, cars, plasma TVs.
That should be quite a sight. But, if like me that raises a question in your mind, Curran addresses it immediately.
The big question is: how tough will Nama be? Some of the non-Nama banks have already secured judgements against a number of individuals. Where multiple personal guarantees have been given, it will be a first come, first served situation.
Which could be a recipe for chaos. And by the by, is the legal system prepped for this sort of environment?
Anyhow, he also notes some stuff which should have everyone thinking about this.
There may be very few personal assets available for Nama to take.
Why would that be? Why… a basic reason.
Developers have had lots of time in the run-up to Nama to make whatever arrangements they can to shelter personal assets.
However, assets transferred to family members at a time when the person could be deemed to be insolvent could still be taken by the bank, or by Nama. But it could involve a dirty legal process.
And even should that be entered into there is always the ejector seat for our poor benighted developer class.
Others may simply decide to leave the country, making the enforcement of personal guarantees almost impossible.
This is where Nama’s appetite to pursue these matters will be put to the test. In the US, when the Resolution Trust Corporation mopped up the S&L collapse debacle, it did not pursue clients on foot of personal guarantees.
But this isn’t the US…
It is highly unlikely that such an approach would be tolerated in Ireland. It’s a smaller country and politically it would be very difficult – given the cutbacks and higher taxes faced by everyone – for Nama to adopt hat kind of forbearance.
Some developers will co-operate as best they can with tehir banks and with Nama. Others are already adopting a ‘two-fingers’ approach to their banks, and will probably do likewise with Nama.
We have yet to see the protocols or guidelines which Nama will adopt in relation to these issues, but the time is getting very close.
Reading all that the thought strikes me that there are many more who won’t even have the comfort of knowing their potential fate, or any means to squirrel away assets, such as they are, as they lose jobs and face mortgages that have to be paid for, and then ultimately they start to have to jettison their personal assets… the houses, cars, probably not plasma’s, but more likely ordinary flatscreen TVs…