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Heads you win, tails I lose… October 31, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Slow news weekend. So far anyhow. As an agnostic theist (trust me, there’s no fun in that. Or much consolation to be had either) I had to applaud the Archbishop of Tuam, Dr. Michael Neary’s pithy comment on the latest events, or should that be non-events, at Knock. For in the aftermath of its sudden location as a potential site of matters miraculous he said:

“It is not healthy, does not give glory to God and . . . is not good witness to the faith to be looking for extraordinary phenomena,” he said.

This was in the wake of the prediction by Dublin man Joe Coleman, self-designated “visionary of our Blessed Mother” that 50,000 people would turn out at Knock to see said vision.

Sadly his prophetic powers were a little off…

Up to 10,000 people gathered this afternoon in Knock in the hope of witnessing [the] visitation from the Virgin Mary.

And of the vision?

Mr Coleman left the shrine before 4pm, claiming he had witnessed an aparition, as he had anticipated. He said he had received communication from the Virgin Mary but insisted that he was as yet unprepared to reveal the nature of the message. 

But in fairness he had previously allowed himself an out… for:

…he warned that the visitation would only be visible “to people who come with an open heart”. 

That’s the… er [Holy] spirit…

I’ll get my coat.

This weekend I’ll mostly be listening to… Regular Fries October 31, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....

My tolerance, as I’ve mentioned before, for contemporary indie is low. Very low indeed. Particularly since the early 1990s. Probably because I went back to metal and over to electronica and on to future pop and EBM and really, that which was left in between seemed to lack a certain energy or maybe I lacked the energy to go searching. And the bits of indie that I have liked subsequently have tended to be either the old stalwarts like Primal Scream (sometimes), the louder more guitar based stuff like Mansun or odds and ends like…er…ahem…Embrace (It can’t be the vocals, but there’s something in their dogged determination to keep going…).

Anyhow, one band I loved at the time, and still do, were the Regular Fries. Seven members, At least one of whom was a music journalist… generally never a good sign. Zonked out rhythms… loping melodies, mumbled vocals usually saying something that sounds very slightly meaningful but isn’t, samples. And here’s the thing, I’m usually not that taken by this sort of thing, particularly the whole stoned sub culture… of which they were an almost gleeful part with their own brand of ‘skunk-rock’. They like smoking, fine, we get it. We just don’t need to be told again and again about the joys of it. But that said they just reminded me in some way of the early 1990s. Some sort of amalgam of the Happy Mondays and Black Grape. Sure. These guys knew their limitations. Perhaps. And speaking of that they could, admittedly, be just a little bit boring here and there, but… I always liked the half-spoken vocals, the meditative pace… just mooching along, nothing to see here… steady as she goes.

I wonder is it that there was an awful lot going on in their tracks? It wasn’t just the instruments but snippets of samples, found sounds and so on. And in that way I think they were more similar to bands from a decade or even two earlier, particularly those in post-punk who layered their sound.

This bunch of songs here are taken from their first album “Accept the Signal”. There’s a fantastic track off their second album called Africa Take Me Back, which sadly isn’t on YouTube, and all their stuff appears to be deleted and mostly unavailable through – shall we call them – alternative channels. Later there were linkups with both Primal Scream and Mercury Rev. I haven’t heard them yet.

As noted on wiki:

On their split in March 2001 songwriter Paul Moody announced “We hate the charts and the charts hate us. We’re off into the cosmos!”.

For a band with their ethos that sort of makes sense.

King Kong

The Girls


Dream Lottery

The Pink Room

Swimming in Someone Else’s Pool.

Supposed to be a Gas

Irish Election Literature Blog… latest… October 30, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
1 comment so far

Here is the latest crop from AK (and commentary provided by him as well – can I say how grateful we are at the CLR for the opportunity to highlight the material he’s posting up on a weekly basis now… it’s an education!)… enjoy…

Workers Party wise….
Des Geraghty from the 1984 Euro Elections

‘Dun Laoghaire People’ Summer 1986 – Competition to win £10 and lots more.

SWP– Brendan Donohue in 2004

Green – A 23 year old Paul Gogarty in 1992 and not a peep about education in all the blurb..

Sinn Fein – Empowering communities against Drugs leaflet.

The Christian Solidarity Party makes its case on civil partnership… Clue: They’re not fans. October 30, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.

Many thanks to the person who forwarded this email from the CSP to our elected politicians. It certainly lays it on the line. It also, I’d suggest, indicates the degree of concern in ultra-right Catholic circles at the forthcoming legislation. I understand that the GP has been pushing for the implementation of civil partnerships in the face of considerable resistance from FF. It will be educative to see whether this survives despite now being embedded in the revised Programme for Government.

Subject: Unprecedented Threat to Religious Freedom: Dáil to Debate Bill on November 2

14 Frederick Street North, Parnell Square. Dublin 1. 01-8783529, mobile 087 913 0869 E-mail: comharcriostai@eircom.net

Dear Deputy And Senators
Unprecedented Threat to Religious Freedom: Dáil to Debate Bill on November 2
The Civil Partnership Bill, which includes provisions that would severely restrict the rights of religious believers in Ireland is expected to come before the Dáil on November 2. The recent agreement between Fianna Fáil and the Green Party on the revised programme for government commits them to enacting this Bill, along with a range of other radical social policies.

Marriage is of immense but often underestimated value to Irish society

We can too easily take marriage for granted, but it needs to be supported if it is to flourish. This Bill is a direct threat to the institution of marriage and is a declaration by the State that it does not consider marriage to be worthy of special support. This is in violation of the Constitutional protection of marriage.

The family based on marriage gives children the optimum start in life

Marriage provides most children with their best chance of growing up in a happy, stable, supportive family. Parents who make a solemn legal commitment to each other are more likely to be committed to their children. They are also more likely to stay together through their childrenуs formative years.

Proposals for legislation on Civil Partnership undermine marriage

By setting up civil partnerships which share most of the legal characteristics of marriage, this Bill would undermine the special status of marriage.

The legitimate rights of homosexual citizens can be guaranteed without the proposed law

Advocates of the Bill have claimed that such a law is necessary to address unjust discrimination suffered by homosexual citizens. This is not true. If there are specific areas where homosexual citizens are unjustly discriminated against, these can be addressed by specific legal remedies. They do not require the creation of a legal institution analogous to marriage.

Only a handful of countries has chosen the path Ireland proposes to follow. Others have considered it and rejected it.

While supporters of the Bill would like to give the impression that this is part of an irresistible international trend, this is not the case. Only a very small minority of countries have introduced similar laws. Even within the EU, where such laws are most common, only a minority of countries has introduced such laws and some of those are much more limited in scope than the proposed Irish law. In other jurisdictions, legislation of this sort has not had the expected effect. In the UK, for example, an initial burst of enthusiasm for the novelty of civil unions was followed by a precipitous decline in the numbers availing of them.

The Bill would impose severe restrictions on the rights to freedom of conscience and religion
This Bill will force those who believe in traditional marriage to act against their deepest held convictions or face legal action. Photographers, printers, Church halls and anyone who provides services relating to weddings are among some of those who could find themselves being sued if they refuse, for conscientious or religious reasons, to provide services to same-sex couples. This Bill treats those who believe in traditional marriage as equivalent to racist bigots. In fact, it represents the most aggressive attack on freedom of conscience and religion seen in this country for a long time and it would be hard to find a similar example in any developed democracy.

It is a strange priority to pursue at a time of national economic crisis
The government has played down the likely cost of applying the proposed law. The complexity and frequent instability of homosexual relationships will, even if the numbers involved are small, add significantly to the burden on the family courts. There is also the likelihood that the legislation would be challenged in the European Court leading to changes which would add significantly to the cost. In April 2008, the European Court of Justice, in the Maruko case, found against a private pension scheme which covered spouses, but not civil partners. This ruling, in effect, means that it will be extremely difficult for any EU member state to legislate for civil unions which are not granted, de facto if not in name, all the benefits of marriage. At a time when thousands have lost jobs and thousands more are fearful of losing their jobs and even their homes, this is a strange priority for a government to pursue. Policies to strengthen marriages and families would help people weather the recession better. There is no indication that the government recognises this fact.

Is mise, le meas,

Paul O’Loughlin,
President Of Christian Solidarity Party.

It’s an odd selection of complaints. If civil partnership only shares ‘most’ of the legal characteristics of marriage then it seems to me that it’s difficult to argue that it is entirely analogous to marriage. It’s marriage-like, or close to marriage or somesuch. But it’s not quite there. I’d prefer full marriage rights for all couples who want them. That’s obviously not on offer yet. But in light of that it’s also hard to take seriously that this proposal is somehow injurious to marriage or that this is a ‘violation of the Constitutional protection’ for marriage.

Nor is it clear that ‘legitimate’ rights for homosexual citizens can be guaranteed by other legislation alone. Entirely reasonably many citizens gay, lesbian or straight wish to marry. Only the latter category can do so. What alternative is O’Loughlin proposing? None that I can see.

And this leads to the question as to which are the countries that have seriously considered then rejected the concept of civil partnership? If anything there appears to be increasing tendency towards its implementation, particularly as a stop-gap between the status quo ante and full marriage rights.

Then there is the oddity of the idea that this will force photographers and others to unwillingly assist. It’s a notion, and perhaps a minority would find themselves torn on the matter, but I wonder how it would work in practice. But the final rason is the least compelling. A national economic crisis does not expand to occupy all available political space. And it’s hard to see this as a ‘strange’ priority given that there is considerable political and public support for it.

Anyhow, none of this is to deny the right of the CSP to make its voice heard, but simply to consider what that voice is saying.

And in conclusion, what are the ‘range of other radical social policies’ that the CSP thinks that FF and the GP have signed up to? I’d dearly love to know.

If you look over there… October 30, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.

…you’ll find a piece to read amidst a wide range of commentary and analysis.

Alliances, and talk of alliances… the Tories, the PES and… ooops… I wouldn’t say that…not about him… October 29, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in European Politics, Irish Politics, The Left.

Flicking through Harry’s Place at lunch – as one does – what do I see but a post on alliances in Europe. It’s headed “So, are all Europeans extremists nuts then?”. Putting aside the obvious grammatical problem in that sentence the answer is surely something along the lines of honi soit qui mal y pense. Anyhow, it seems that Conservatives are a bit upset at the accusation that they might be consorting with undesirable types in the EU and have started to hit back. Iain Dale, conservative blogger supreme, or so I’m told, has run a piece under the title “Labour’s Dodgy European Allies”.

HP is in no doubt…

Iain Dale has a story today answering the charge that the Tories are allied with some dodgy loons in Europe. His answer does not seek to defend the extremist parties Tory MEPs are in bed with, but rather points out that Labour has some unsavoury moonbats in its camp too.
He quotes another Tory blogger who observes that “a national embarrassment that the governing party of the day consort with communists, terrorists, murderers, anti-semites and 9/11 deniers.”

Dale concludes:

“The truth is that all European Parliament groupings contain some pretty dodgy characters, many of whose views are unacceptable to UK parties. The LibDems suffer the same in their grouping. I don’t pretend that the views of the Polish Law & Justice Party and some of the Lithuanians coincide with many Tory views. But to pretend they are any worse than those in other groups is just playing stupid, petty politics.”

If this is true (and Labour aren’t denying it)  and none of our MEPs apparently can make alliances without taking in nuts and kooks – far-left, far-right or just far-gone – what does this say about Europeans?

Worse, thinking about just how bad the BNP’s two MEP’s allies must be in relation to these mainstream alliances could bring on a panic attack.

Of course, if one writes a piece with no analysis of the information available one will like as not arrive at a panic attack inducing situation. Just as if one writes about the fact that aircraft crash without throwing in a few caveats one won’t make it to the airport too often.

But let’s go to Iain Dale’s post.

The hypocrisy of the left in criticising the Conservatives’ bedfellows in the new Reform Grouping in the European Parliament has to be seen to be believed. Yes, I am sure there are a few undesirables in the group, but that’s the case in virtually every group in the EP. I don’t remember these concerns being raised when most of them were members of the EPP. Funny that.

However, Tory Bear has done us all a service and batted the ball back to the left’s court. I don’t often quote a blogpost in full, but this one merits it.

Has he? Has he really?

Tony Bear, being the source… well let’s quote his post too… this is all getting a bit infinitely recursive, but stick with me…

TB is getting sick to the back teeth of Labour, and their stooges, attempting to create scandal around who the tories sit with in the European Parliament. The audacity that they have in these attacks can quickly be exposed with Google and rather appropriately given today’s attempt at journalism from the Observer – Wikipedia.

The Labour Party sit with the European Socialists grouping (PES), a bunch of nuts lefties that make Blair and Brown look slightly to the left of Hannan. Labour can try have a half-hearted smear attempt at the tory groupings, but it is a national embarrassment that the governing party of the day consort with communists, terrorists, murderers, anti-semites and 9/11 deniers.

It’s not just Mark P who might reasonably raise an eyebrow at the description of the PES as ‘a bunch of nuts lefties’ (by the by, what is it with right of centre political discourse that the term ‘left-wing’, or indeed even ‘left of centre’ seems beyond the capacity of many of them to use?).

Still, that’s pretty potent stuff about ‘terrorists, murderers, anti-semites and 9/11 deniers’. Tell us more er…Bear.

Oh you didn’t know this? Well it’s not like it’s reported by the main stream media. Dan Hamilton wrote a great piece a few months ago and TB would like to share some of what he exposed. Lets just have a quick peek at a couple of Labour’s friends in Europe shall we…

Yes please.

First up we have former Italian Communist Party officer holder and Josef Fritzel look alike Giulietto Chiesa. A member of the Communist Party until 1991 Chiesa has since made a name for himself not only blaming Russia’s invasion of Georgia on European countries but more significantly as an extremely vocal 9/11 denier. His documentary Zero, as well as various essays and TV appearances have suggested that the US government was behind the planning and execution of the attacks. This lunatic is now the official European spokesman for the 9/11 Truth Movement.

Stop right there. Firstly 9/11 Truthers are surely more to be pitied than condemned… it may be silly but it’s hardly criminal. And to me, at least, it seems somewhat less pernicious than those who deny global warming (some of whom it appears are on the right of centre). That he was a Communist is hardly here or there. So were a fair chunk of the neo-conservativess and I doubt that’s ever held against them in right circles – indeed one suspects that the slight whiff of red operates in quite the opposite fashion – that he’s well ‘ard he is, having been a Trotskyist in his day sort of thing no doubt adds a frisson. He may take an odd line of the Georgian invasion, but a recent EU report while not pointing back at Europe certainly saw the Georgians as being largely the architects of their own downfall.

Who else are close allies of the Labour Party in Europe?

Yes. Who indeed?

How about Proinsias De Rossa, ever heard of him? This former IRA man originally joined the Communist and Allies group before transferring to the PES and taking an active role in the drafting of the European Constitution. What do you expect from a Labour Party who didn’t bat and eyelid when their guest Martin McGuinness was allowed to stroll around the Grand Hotel in Brighton almost 25 years to the day the IRA had murdered so many there.


Actually there’s an interesting excision in the above, which again I’ve quoted from the excerpt on Iain Dale’s site. For the original text from the Bear’s site is as follows (you can read the original here just under a fetching photo of our Frank):

How about Proinsias De Rossa, ever heard of him? Well he is a ****** terrorist who is linked to the ****** of six British Policemen [my edit – who knows how litigious the bearded one is this decade? – wbs]. This former IRA man originally joined the Communist and Allies group before transferring to the PES and taking an active role in the drafting of the European Constitution. What do you expect from a Labour Party who didn’t bat and eyelid when their guest Martin McGuinness was allowed to stroll around the Grand Hotel in Brighton almost 25 years to the day the IRA had murdered so many there.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. As one commentator on the Bear blog noted:

Is that the sound of De Rossa’s libel lawyers cracking their knuckles?

And really, who can blame them given the level of discourse on this.

In the comments on Iain Dales site the sentiment runs like this:

Sorry Iain, but if they’re grasping at Proinsias De Rossa as an example, they’d really want to go back to do their homework. De Rossa was in the IRA in his youth, but it’s like saying that Mandela is always a terrorist or that Tony Blair was soft on national security because he was in CND. De Rossa is openly despised by Sinn Fein because he was a former IRA man who became a staunch democrat and opponent of the Provos. There are people in Irish politics who are regarded as suspect on the terrorism issue, but he is not one of them. I suspect the people who listed him don’t know much about Irish politics.

To which comes the riposte:

Dear oh dear – pathetic jason pathetic.

So its all right what De Rossa did in his youth, but terrible what people the Tories group with.

typical rank hypocrisy.

de rossa was interned in the Republic for 3 years in the first troubles and then has wondered from 1 lefty group to another. A fine bedfellow.

A further response from someone else…

Don’t be silly. 

De Rossa admits he was a member of the IRA and it is a matter of fact that he was in prison as a result of this. The Eamon Dunphy allegations were related to De Rossa knowing about bank robberies and forgeries while a member of the Workers’ Party (and it was proved he did not).

Regardless, he is a thoroughly nasty piece of work and a former member of the IRA. Fact.

‘Thoroughly nasty piece of work’? Jesus, I’ve had my differences with the man, but he’s absolutely sincere in his beliefs and they’re hardly ‘nasty’. And:


Solid anti-IRA people in the republic have no problem with De Rossa, who was in the IRA in the 1950s. The 1950s Trevor! You still hold the same beliefs you held when you were 19? I certainly don’t, I used to be a Thatcherite!

This comment continues and in doing so perhaps points to some of the reason for all this overheated excitement, a certain cognitive dissonance on the part of the Conservative Party as regards Europe… No, no, not the usual dissonance, but an even more pointed one…

I actually didn’t say anything nasty about the ECR, so I don’t know what rank hypocrisy you’re talking about. What I don’t understand is how the tories are opposed to Merkel, who supported Lisbon, but allied with Law and Justice, who, eh, supported Lisbon.

I wasn’t aware of that small and no doubt irritating (from the Tory point of view) detail as regards their new found European partners. But really, it’d make a dog laugh.

One other figure is mentioned by the Bear…

So many loons to choose from, but TB’s absolute favourite scumbag has to be Andrzej Zbigniew Lepper the leader of the Polish Self-Defence of the Republic Party, who Labour sit hand in hand with in Europe.

Where to start with their leader and the sleaze, the criminal activities and the general insanity of the man. Another former communist, he has done time for assault and even demanded sexual favours for jobs in his office. Famed for throwing hecklers onto piles of manure according to the BBC, the “chorus of his party song is: This land is your land, this land is my land, we won’t let anyone punch us in the face.”

Perhaps most worrying is Lepper’s honorary degrees from the anti-Semitic Interregional Academy of Personnel Management. To give you an idea where these guys are coming from, their honorary professor is the white supremest David Duke.

Which is all very odd since as noted by another person commenting on Dale:

None of Harry Cole’s allegations stack up. Only one out of the three is actually aligned with Labour MEPs as part of the Socialists and Democrats Group, and he is a perfectly respectable politician.

The first example, Giulietto Chiesa, is not part of the Socialist and Democrats group. Chiesa was elected as an Independent and joined the ALDE group (the Liberal Democrats). He moved from there to the Socialist Group in 2006 but he evidently did not feel comfortable. In the 2009 elections he stood for re-election in Latvia on the list of ‘Pro Human Rights in United Latvia’, a group which is affiliated to the Greens-European Free Alliance group and has no connection with the Socialist Group. See its website with big logo at the top. Chiesa was defeated in June but had he been elected he would not have been in the Socialists and Democrats Group with Labour but with the SNP, Plaid Cymru and Green MEPs.

Proinsias de Rossa’s youthful activities with the IRA were more than 50 years ago. He took the Officials side in the split, and the Officials gave up violence in the 1970s. His party was still known as Sinn Fein for some time but they were accepted within the Irish establishment and were part of coalition governments; he himself was a Minister in 1994-97 and the Major government seemed to have no problems with him. If Harry Cole is insinuating that Proinsias de Rossa is someone with terrorist links now, he better have a good lawyer.

Finally Harry Cole produces Andrzej Zbigniew Lepper, who is not a member of the Socialist Group. He is a non-aligned MEP. See official page.

Or as someone else puts it:

Fact checking is just so “old media” though.

But what’s most entertaining, in a depressing sort of a way, is that across three sites not one of them (including one which seems to pride itself on it’s ‘rationalist’ and supposedly left of centre approach and might therefore be expected to at least prod at the sodden tissue of misrepresentation to see what it was made of) actually did fact check or bother their barney to see who was a member of what or what their background was.

As bad as each other I’d have thought.

Wonder what Proinsias might do…

Cork’s Bloody Secret… a small dispute. October 29, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish History.

I’m not sure how many of you are following the debate, or should it be disagreement, rumbling through the media in the wake of the CSÍ Cork’s Bloody Secret about the number of southern Protestants who are supposed to have been ‘driven out’ of the Irish Free State in the wake of Partition.

It’s certainly thrown up a most bizarre antagonism between John A Murphy, Professor of Irish History at UCC, and for many an historian who would have been considered as being on the ‘revisionist’ side of the fence – which is perhaps a little unfair, but nonetheless the perception, and our old friend Eoghan Harris.

It’s also worth noting that Niall Meehan gave a very measured contribution to the debate here…

Anyhow, the discussion kicked off earlier in the month when John A Murphy wrote:

Madam, – On October 5th, I was a commentator on the RTÉ CSÍ: Cork’s Bloody Secret television documentary programme dealing with murders of 13 west Cork Protestants in April, 1922. Appearing on the same programme, Senator Eoghan Harris claimed that at least 60,000 Protestants were “driven out” of the new State in those years and that was a “conservative estimate”.
He stressed that the figure represented ordinary Protestants, “small farmers, small shopkeepers”, and did not include former servants of the ousted British regime such as disbanded policemen and demobbed soldiers. Neither did it include, presumably, those who left because they felt unable to accept the ideology and culture of the new dispensation.

Outside of these categories then, according to Senator Harris, at least 60,000 southern Protestants were subjected to an “enforced exodus” on a massive scale, to ethnic cleansing, in fact. He has made these unsubstantial allegations repeatedly (for example in the Sunday Independent , May 24th, 2009).

It has been well said that history is what the evidence compels us to believe. It is now time for Senator Harris to produce the detailed, documental evidence (no surmises or estimates, please) in support of his dramatic claims. He should do so in the interests of historical truth and of community relations. – Yours, etc,

Emeritus Professor of Irish
University College Cork.

This prompted the response:

Madam, – Prof John A Murphy (October 9th) claims to have two problems with my contribution to CSÍ, Cork’s Bloody Secret . First he wants me to support my claim that some 60,000 Protestants were driven out of the State with “detailed, documental evidence”. How can I do that that when the statistical work has not been done by professional historians like himself? But I am perfectly entitled to make an educated estimate. The Censuses from 1911 to 1926 show that a third of Irish Protestants left the State in that period. In the brief slots provided by the CSÍ programme I used the phrase “driven out ” to cover any categories of compulsion (from physical intimidation to cultural pressures such as compulsory Irish for State jobs) which caused what I called the “enforced exodus” of the 1921-22 period.

As nobody can say for sure what this enforced exodus entailed, I based my estimate of 60,000 on two figures. First, I rejected as ridiculously high a possible top figure of 146,000. On the other hand I thought the bottom figure of 39,000 a bit too low.

The latter figure comes from Dr Andy Bielenberg’s paper to the 2008 Cork conference, Understanding Our History . Excluding certain categories (RIC, first World War casualties, etc), Dr Bielenberg came up with a figure of 39,000 “involuntary emigrants”. This carefully chosen phrase is still close to my notion of an “enforced exodus”. As a professional historian, Dr Bielenberg is properly conservative in his calculations. However, if you add in the decline of Dublin working-class Protestants, those who made no claims, and those who hung on for a few years, I believe the true figure of the “enforced exodus” is far closer to 60,000. But if Prof Murphy insists that only professional historians can do the tots I will settle for Prof Bielenberg’s figure of 39,000.

This is still an appalling figure and warrants my use of the phrase “enforced exodus” – which a Prof Murphy trickily portrays as being the same as “ethnic cleansing”. But the CSÍ tape shows that I categorically reject making any such claim as follows: “I wouldn’t call it ethnic cleansing . . . and the IRA didn’t have a sectarian ideology, but there was a sectarian tradition in Ireland among rural communities that dated back to penal times, the prophecies of Pastorini . . .”
Finally, I ask your readers to reflect on Prof Murphy’s motives in distorting my contribution. This is his second personalised letter since I was appointed to the Seanad. But in pursuit of me he muddies the cleansing waters of the widely praised CSÍ programme and comforts the tribal patrols who police our past. –

Yours, etc,

And on the following Friday came this from John A Murphy.

Madam, – In my letter of October 5th, I requested Senator Eoghan Harris to supply evidence for his dramatic assertion on CSÍ Cork’s Bloody Secret that at least 60,000 southern Protestants were “driven out ” of the new State in 1921-1923. His reply (October 10th) fails to provide the requisite details. He can’t do it, he says, because the statistical work has not been done. In other words, here are the conclusions, the research will follow!

In his letter, the Senator significantly revises his programme contribution. He did indeed reject “ethnic cleansing” as an explanation of the west Cork murders but the video later shows him wondering aloud whether the terms “pogrom” and “ethnic cleansing” might not be applied to the (alleged) 60,000-plus expulsion.
His letter also states he meant “compulsory Irish” to be included in the cultural pressures forcing Protestants to leave. But his programme contribution made no mention of this, while it exclusively emphasised the factors of intimidating violence. Having thus widened (and weakened) the definition of “driving out”, he then makes the fatal concession that “nobody can say for sure what this exodus entailed”, despite his pronouncements on the programme.

Having rejected “a possible top figure of 146,000” (what fantasy land did that come from?), he grudgingly settles for Dr Andy Bielenberg’s tentative work-in-progress estimate of “39,000 involuntary emigrants”. I’m not sure what “involuntary” means in this context, but I doubt if Dr Bielenberg supports the Harris thesis of a mass “enforced exodus”. In any case, each individual case would have to be documented.

Far from “distorting” the Senator’s programme contribution, I have simply exposed its inconsistencies and infirmities. He also claims I am muddying “the cleansing waters of the programme and comforting the tribal patrols who police our past”. In other words, I am accused of giving aid and comfort to tribal nationalists. This accusation is unworthy of the Senator.

Perhaps more than anybody else, he is aware that, in the critical years when it mattered, I steadfastly opposed sectarian terrorism and resisted the nationalist-victimhood reading of our history. I now find it ironic he should be championing another sort of victimhood.

Finally, he questions my motives for criticising his contribution to the programme. First, I was concerned that what purported to be a dramatic historical statement was being advanced without supporting evidence. Second, an “enforced exodus” of southern Protestants on a massive scale would have required the collusion and active involvement of great numbers of their Catholic fellow-Irishmen in such a persecution. I certainly will not accept that serious charge without rigorous historical proof. As for Senator Harris’s view that I am somehow pursuing him, he should lighten up. Otherwise when he reaches my age, he’ll be a very dull dog indeed. – Yours, etc,

Emeritus Professor of Irish
History, University College Cork.

We can only await with fascination the next round in this…

Still, I think a number of points can be made. Firstly this is difficult territory. It is troubling to attempt to quantify what was for many genuine suffering and hardship. That such movements were, perhaps, inevitable given the socio-political and cultural issues during the time period and after doesn’t take from that. With one foot in that religious camp I’m far from unaware of the sense of isolation some felt post Partition, although that has and can be overstated and was a result of class and other issues more so than outright hostility. But I think John A Murphy gets close to the truth when he points to ‘another sort of victimhood’. To hear those who threw the MOPE trope around with abandon suddenly shifting to its inverse (following in a sense the political journey – of some – from one nationalism to effective support for another) does little to add to the credibility of their arguments. But the lack of perspective of those who cleave to that viewpoint is demonstrated by the bizarre dip into a language ‘tribal patrols who police our past’ (alliterative, surely, but that’s about all that can be said of it) in reference to someone like John A Murphy. When aspersions can be cast on the ‘motives’ of such as he, given his public pronouncements in the past, then we’re moving beyond the confines of rational debate.

And a further thought… here’s a letter from Dr. Andy Bielenberg which appears the same day as John A Murphy’s missal…

Madam, – Senator Eoghan Harris has made an important contribution to drawing attention to the Dunmanway executions in 1922, but his interpretation of the statistics of Protestant emigration for this period (October 10th) and those of Tom Carew (October 15th) are problematic.

A greater part of the fall in the non-Catholic population of 106,000 between 1911 and 1926 can be accounted for by the following factors combined: normal emigration; natural increase which was negative in this period; British withdrawal; and those who died in the first World War.

These factors in my estimation collectively contributed to a fall of roughly 65,000 people. I have assumed that the residual figure of 41,000 can be taken to account largely for those who left between 1919 and 1923, who were not employees of the old regime as soldiers, administrators etc, or normal economic emigrants (which are all accounted for in the 65,000 above). Normal economic emigration was an important element in the outflow, more particularly in the Protestant community since the early 20th century.

The 60,000 to 63,000 figure cited by Harris and Carew looks a lot like a figure for total net emigration of the minority community in the south between 1911 and 1926, after the impact of British withdrawal, natural increase (which was negative), first World War dead etc, has been removed, which were published by Sexton and O’Leary (1996) and Delaney (2000). These two studies are scholarly efforts but they lack a separate estimate of normal economic emigrants which I have included above, who clearly were not part of any forced exodus.

A significant share of my residual 41,000 were indeed part of a forced exodus, who left as a consequence of intimidation, revolutionary violence, threatening letters, businesses that were made unviable by boycott, agrarianism, etc, while some simply left for fear of their safety and that of their families as the revolution went into full spate. Others left because of the continued decline of many landed estates and the employment they offered. Some left because they felt the cultural and ideological ethos of the new state was not to their liking.
Future prospects in Ireland looked particularly bleak for Protestants between 1921 and 1923 when the exodus reached its high watermark, and this tipped the balance in favour of departure for many economic migrants.
I don’t think there is any way to further break down this residual figure of 41,000 into voluntary or involuntary migrants.

Logically, however, since this residual contains voluntary migrants, this implies that the portion of the exodus which was literally driven out of the country between 1919 and 1923 was lower than 41,000 rather than significantly higher. – Yours, etc,
Department of History,
University College

The Phoenix reckons that Harris has raised the white flag in the face of the ferocious onslaught from one he’d have counted as his own… we’ll see.

Will you tell him, or should I? October 29, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics.

Reading Vincent Brown’s so so piece in today’s Irish Times – long on rhetoric, short on specifics – I was taken by the comment underneath it:

so now the new mantra by the public sector unions is tax the rich based on their assets, seeing as they seem to have finally realised that based on their income would still be a drop in the ocean in comparison to the 20 odd billion deficit.  
Ok, let’s say we do that. Now, in your doyle family example, what do you propose. That you seize their cash? Force the sale of their equities? Seize their property? Or how about a raise in capital gains tax?  
Ignoring the impracticalities of all these things, they will not amount to a constant income stream to stem the tide of borrowing that we are foolishly engaging in.  
Instead, we get no opinion piece about the fact that yesterday it was found out that someone in the HSE got paid 1.3 million euro over the last 6 years to stay at home.  
The public sector is a joke. Raise taxes any further and watch what people in the private sector will do. They will avoid paying taxes in anyway possible. I am dating a Lithuanian girl who told me that Ireland is now famous in Lithuania for being a place where it is better to come to have a baby and just take the social welfare then to stay in Lithuania.  
I am fed up paying my hard earned money out to a public sector that gets outrageous pensions, 20 days holidays, unvouched for sick leave, flexitime, has zero accountability, and on top of it all has the nerve to go on strike.  
To hell with them. Privatise the lot.

Nah, not the outrageous pensions (whatever they may be), or flexitime (such a crime, so unheard of in the private sector), or indeed unvouched for sick leave (he must try working in the parts of the private sector I have where – as ever – the unvouched sick days depended on what your place in the pecking order was)… but…20 days holidays? What further outrage is that? Twenty days, count ’em… twenty bloody days off on holiday. The bastards.

Now, I can go to citizeninformation.ie and read:

Your entitlement to annual leave or holidays from work in Ireland is set out in legislation and in your contract of employment.  While you are required to attend work as provided for in your contract of employment, legislation gives various entitlements to leave from work.  These include annual leave, public holidays, maternity leave, adoptive leave, carer’s leave, parental leave and other types of leave from work.
The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 provides for a basic annual paid leave entitlement of 4 weeks, although an employee’s contract could give greater rights.  It is also important to note that the periods of leave provided for by legislation are the minimum entitlements only, you and your employer may agree to additional entitlements. 
In the case of agency employees, the party who pays the wages (employment agency or client company) is the employer for the purposes of the Act and is responsible for providing the entitlement. 

Perhaps it’s a piss take. But if not I think someone better tell brian… perhaps his employer doesn’t comply with the legal annual leave entitlement. Or perhaps brian just doesn’t know. But he seems so certain about everything else. Surely not.

Irish Left History Project: Irish Workers Group (1976) / Class Struggle October 29, 2009

Posted by leftopenhistoryteam in Irish Left Open History Project, Irish Workers Group 1976.
1 comment so far

Class Struggle, November 1977, here (5MB)

Class Struggle, Apr-Aug 1982, here (8MB)

Class Struggle, Dec 87/Jan 88, here (7.5MB)

[Not to be confused with the 1960s Irish Workers Group.]

The Irish Workers Group (IWG) was formed sometime around the end of 1975 following a series of expulsions that year from the Socialist Workers Movement (SWM). In 1977 the IWG produced Class Struggle, a theoretical journal of which twenty issues were produced over the next ten years.

In the first issue of Class Struggle (June 1977), the IWG said that there were two issues which led its current members to break from the SWM

1. The North
2. Women

It claimed that the SWM ‘held positions which effectively reduced the national question to a subordinate role in the programme and strategy for the Irish working class socialist revolution [and reduced] the emancipation of women from both exploitation and oppression to a side issue better left to pressure groups and liberals.’ (p.5)

The group ‘argued for the centrality of the national question and for systematic propaganda, agitation and intervention, in particular the building of united fronts within the anti-unionist population. In this context we saw and still see the importance of raising particular demands on the SDLP as a means of drawing larger sections of anti-unionist workers into the struggle and breaking the hold of the SDLP.’ (p.5)

With regard to women, ‘the left opposition not only won the membership of the SWM to see the strategic necessity of the demands for contraception and abortion on demand but fought for them to be taken up within the Irish working class – as an aspect of this we called for the building of a mass working class women’s movement as a strategic imperative for the group and for the class.’ (p.5)

The struggle against British rule in the North was a struggle against imperialism, and as such deserving of support from socialist groups. This did not mean that the IWG supported the Provisional IRA as such, and certainly not Provisional Sinn Féin – however, while it was able to criticize ‘the petty-bourgeois nature of the Provos’ and their ‘mealy-mouthed catholic nationalist rhetoric’, at the same time, and in the same opinion piece, it voiced support for the Provisional IRA hunger strikers in Portlaoise Jail who were ‘anti-imperialist political prisoners, members of an organisation which has never baulked at the use of violence in furthering the struggle.’ (p.2) It saw the volunteers as anti-imperialist fighters, while the organisation to which those fighters swore allegiance was petty-bourgeois.

The IWG believed in an anti-imperialist united front, and laid out what it considered as the revolutionary perspective inherent to any such front:

1. Drawing the anti-unionist working class as a class to the forefront of the struggle in the North
2. The development of an anti-unionist armed front of workers, socialists and republicans
3. Mobilization for a general strike
4. The emergence of soviets
5. The demand for a workers’ republic

According to the IWG the united front was a tactic, ‘adopted by revolutionary Marxists when

(i) objectively the most pressing needs of the masses can only be defended by united mass action, and

(ii) subjectively, the masses remain under the leadership, programmes, organisation and methods of forces which are not revolutionary forces and are obstacles to both the defense of immediate interests and to the long-term needs and development of the struggle for a workers’ republic.’

Furthermore, the united front was ‘a method by which both aims – uniting the masses on the most important issues facing them, and exposing the false solutions of non-Marxists – can be achieved under the leadership of revolutionary Marxists and their programme.’

Under such an analysis, it was imperative for revolutionary Marxists to oppose those false Marxists who were impediments to revolution. A read through the pages of Class Struggle gives one the impression that the entire Irish left – with the notable exception of the IWG and Provisional IRA rank-and-file members – were false Marxists or reformists, and as such had to be challenged lest they lead the masses astray.

It had small branches in Derry, Galway and Dublin, and members included Andy Johnston, Eddie McWilliams, Jim Larragy, Siobhán Molloy, Brian Parsons and Matt Doherty. In 1977 it alligned itself to the Socialist Labour Party, but the relationship did not last long.

Class Struggle continued to be published until the 1990s.

In 1987 the IWG re-launched Class Struggle as ‘a fighting paper’, with an expanded analysis of its members’ expulsions from the SWM, The article is reproduced in full below.

The main points of the 1987 expulsion article were:

1. The SWM believed that the Soviet Union was State Capitalist, not a degenerated Workers’ State
2. There was a failure within the SWM to link economic class struggle with political class struggle
3. The SWM failed to oppose the sending in of troops in 1969.
4. The SWM failed to recognize the importance of the national question for the working class as a whole.
5. It failed to link the women’s movement to the issue of class struggle, preferring to leave women’s rights to cross-class organisations
6. The 1974 revolution in Portugal showed up the SWM’s lack of commitment to Lenin and Trotsky’s internationalist method.

An alternative view of the expulsions, one from inside the SWM, is available via the John Goodwillie deposit in the Irish Labour History Society Museum, Beggars Bush, Dublin, and the document is also reproduced below in full as a counter to the IWG analysis (1977 and 1987).

Along with Class Struggle, the IWG also published, or had a hand in publishing the following:
Workers Power/Irish Workers Group, The Degenerated Revolution: The origins and nature of the Stalinist states (Dublin, 1982)
Andy Johnston, James Larragy, Edward McWilliams, Connolly: a Marxist analysis (Dublin, 1990)

For many years the address of the Irish Workers Group was: 12 Langrishe Place, Dublin 1.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

IRISH WORKERS GROUP: WHERE WE COME FROM (From Class Struggle, No.1, Oct 1987, p.2)


Some videos from the Peadar O’Donnell Weekend in Donegal… October 28, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.
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Many thanks to the person (whose name I don’t know for sure) who brought my attention to this. Been up at the Conference once or twice and really enjoyed it, must go again.

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