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Left History links… August 20, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in History, The Left.

Due to my absence last week I didn’t get a chance to link to these, but I think many of us will find them very useful. Conor has done all of us interested in Irish left history an enormous service by unearthing a number of documents that are central to that history.

First there is this article here which reproduces a piece by John Goodwillie, an effective glossary of the left between 1960 and 1983.

And in addition to that we also have this, a diagram that charts the ‘family tree’ of the left. Those who have enjoyed the DCTV series on the left, which Conor and Donagh of Dublin Opinion were centrally involved in with others, or indeed have passed by here are sure to find it intriguing reading.

Time a new one was drawn up.


1. NollaigO - August 20, 2009

The Saor Eire section needs rewriting.


2. Maddog Wilson - August 20, 2009

Anyone know who ‘ New Earth ‘ were? Offshoot from the Official SF line.


3. WorldbyStorm - August 20, 2009

And we’re the people to rewrite it. How about an online project to fill in the years and the gaps? Say I open a thread, and Conor does on Dublin Opinion likewise and people put in the info they’ve got.

Maddog, first I heard of them. An anarchist split from OSF? Wow… the sky must be falling.


4. Maddog Wilson - August 20, 2009

Thanks WBS

Forerunner to New Agenda? but cooler.


5. WorldbyStorm - August 20, 2009

Yeah, now it really would be interesting to know if anyone knows about them. I wonder is there any chance some of them joined what eventually became WSM. By the by, given the Trotskyist complexion of at least some fairly prominent OSF members in the early 1970s isn’t it fascinating how multi-stranded that organisation was. I know I’m always saying this, but I knew a very strong devotee of Trotsky inside the WP much much later in the day.


6. Conor McCabe - August 21, 2009

There’s a publication in the Linenhall library, entitled “Irish Labour Bulletin” which could be from the New Earth group. It’s from 1974. If anyone’s in Belfast maybe they could pop in and have a look at the periodical and see what it’s about?


7. Jim Monaghan - August 21, 2009

Labour Bulletin”
Any chance it is a BICO publication?
The only ex Trotskyist I knew who stayed in the Sticks was Padraig Yeates. he was in IS in the UK.
2 friends on mine are writing on the IRSP and Costello. It is political as distinct from sensationalist.Can I pose a question. In the Sticks Costello and Garland in alliance had won. A year later Costello was court martialled and out on his ear.He failed to bring people who would have been considered his allies with him.In my opinion the IRSP were young and not central leaders with the exception I would guess of Derry.Even there the former editor of the Starry Plough who had gone to Dublin to edit the UI stayed an dbecame a party loyalist. Swans book sort of ends with this unexplained.I am sure Hanley has something to say.
I hjave my own impressions on how and why it happened but I am sure I have only a facet of the full story. Swan refers to an unpublished autobio of a leading Stick of the time.


8. Old Smelly Bastard - August 21, 2009

New Earth was a group that included the Murrays, ex-OSF members who were sentenced to death for the killing of a Guard. That’s it’s link to OSF.


9. WorldbyStorm - August 21, 2009

Ah… well that makes sense. Anyone ever see any literature?


10. EamonnCork - August 22, 2009

Does anyone on here know much about Revolutionary Struggle (the organisation rather than the concept)? I keep coming across glancing references to them but not much more than that. There’s an interesting small piece about the Murrays in I Couldn’t Paint Golden Angels by the Anarchist writer Albert Meltzer by the way, I think the book is up on the web somewhere. Jim, a book on the politics of the IRSP would be very interesting. Any chance of it getting published?


11. Conor McCabe - August 22, 2009

Oh, Revolutionary Struggle also produced a journal called Rebel, from 1978 to 1985 – a full run of which is available in Trinity College.


12. sonofstan - August 22, 2009

I was an undergraduate in TCD during the late ’70s and RS were a shadowy presence, credited as a huge but secretive influence behind student politics in the college. Certain student union officers, now nationally prominent, were held to be either secret members or to have been elected as ‘RS’ approved candidates. I was too busy wasting my time on all sorts of extra- curricular activities to pay much attention, so I can’t really attest to how accurate this recollection is, but they were certainly a more present reality in the completely up itself world behind front gate than any of the major parties from the world outside.


13. EamonnCork - August 22, 2009

Thanks folks. I’m very much obliged.


14. Jim Monaghan - August 22, 2009

RS were classic ultralefts. I would guess in the tradition of say the Italian ultraleft. On the great H-Block March they had a slogan of “nationalise the War”. As you can gather not the line of the H-Block movement.
They then criticised the organisers because we had not prepared field hospitals etc. for the later events.I would put the Black Bloc in the same corner.
I am friends with 2 ex members who are really great leftists and I would regards the RS period as a youthful indulgence.
Mike Youlton is regarded as a very good organiser in the anti Lisbon campaign.
I remember Marie Murray at an aggrate meeting of Dublin Official SF. A vague memory of her being very intense especially about attacks on women.I did not recognise who she was until I saw a different photo when she was facing the death penalty.
The Murray Campaign was a wake up call for the group I was in. We abandoned a strickly Republican focus for a broad campaign against the death penalty welcomming support from every and any quarter.
If the Murrays had hung it would have opened a floodgate.The initial defence group were very isolated and were in a republican ghetto attitude, it took a lot of persuading to get them to broaden out to the Civil Liberties groups.It was an awful period. The heavy gang and a official attitude of letting the Gardai off the reins. One editor of the Irish Times was blackguarded.The Provos were basically myopic and at this stage apolitical and did not see the danger they were in.


15. Conor McCabe - August 22, 2009

@ Nollaig O

I’ve edited the original Saor Éire entry to now read Saor Éire Action Group, and I’ve added a short line on Saor Éire (Cork). I’m hoping to write something substantial on both Saor Éire (Cork) and Saor Éire Action Group soon.


16. Starkadder - August 22, 2009

Very interesting piece on RS, Conor, Thanks.

Wasn’t Terry Moore related to Christy Moore?


17. Conor McCabe - August 22, 2009

Cheers. She is. She’s his sister. I’ve only found uncollaborated source that she was in the group, though, so I hope I’m not doing her wrong here.

At the moment I’m trying to put together what I hope will be proper academic-standard “biographies” of Irish left-wing groups and organisations. At the moment I’m focusing in on four of them. If anyone was involved with the following, or has any first-hand dealings with any of these groups, I would grateful if you could get in touch with me. My email is: conormccabeisATgmailDOTcom.
DOT = .

The groups are:

Irish Workers Group (1967)

Saor Eire Action Group (c.1968-c.1973)

New Earth / Irish Anarchist Black Cross (c.1974-75)

Revolutionary Struggle (c-1976-c.1985)

A couple of people have already helped me out with stuff – in particular Jim Monaghan (and cheers again Jim, I’d be lost without you!) – and I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and talk with Ursula Barry and Michael Youlton, but if anyone has any personal knowledge or experiences, that would be great.

I’m starting with these groups because they appear to be the ones with the least written about them – although with Revolutionary Struggle I have to say I’m more than intrigued by their application of Marxist analysis to Ireland. Also, the size in membership, literary output, and duration of existence of each of the groups makes the job of synthesis that must more manageable. The larger groups – such as SWM, MILITANT, and even the IRSP – as well as the more prolific – namely BICO – lend themselves to years, rather than months, of research.



18. Left Archive: Rebel, Revolutionary Struggle, July, 1981 « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - June 28, 2010

[…] reading. Also, here’s some additional information from him and others in the comments here… As more arrives I’ll attempt to integrate it into the post above so that a cohesive […]


19. ‘Revolutionary Struggle’ and the 1981 Trinity shooting | Come here to me! - September 17, 2013

[…] Revolutionary Struggle (RS) were a small militant Marxist group active from c.1975 to c.1984. They were mainly Dublin-based, particularly Trinity College, with some members scattered around the country.  Heavily influenced by Italian armed groups like Prima Linea and the Red Brigades and the Tupamaros Uruguayan urban guerrillas , the group maintained and promoted a reputation for secrecy. Poster ‘SonofStan’ on Ceder Lounge Revolution wrote back in August 2009: […]


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