jump to navigation

Left Archive: Case for the Formation of a Republican Socialist Party – precursor of the Official Republican Movement, late 1990s September 13, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Official Republican Movement (1990s/2000s), Republican Left/later ORM.
trackback

This document can be downloaded by clicking on the following link: REP LEFT

Many thanks to the person who forwarded this and the accompanying overview of the document.

This internal document was a proposal on the future of the ‘Official Republican Movement’ (ex members and supporters of the Workers Party) at the ORM conference attended by over 120 members in the Ulster Peoples College 1999. Calling for the launch of a new political party to be titled ‘Republican Left’, the motion was one of two on the table and, should it be available, it would be worthwhile putting up for some context as its alternative, as I recollect the formation of a ‘society’.

The document looks to be the work of a committee as it is a little ‘choppy’ and goes into tremendous detail in some areas and skims others. The proposal document is quiet long, 7 sections, starting with an introduction that places it firmly as a ‘tactical’ way forward for the ORM and begs delegates to listen to both arguments as both “are by comrades genuinely committed to our organisation.” Then, as with all internal republican debates, it harks back to the past to give some historical justification for its core rationale.

In this case the starting point is the ‘failed’ 50’s campaign is the starting point followed by a cramming of the 1970’s and 1980’s Official/WP transformation, essentially stating that within this process the baby was thrown out with the political bathwater particularly the WP analysis of Irish Nationalist aspiration (counter productive and reactionary) and British Nationalism (must be understood and respected) rather than the rejection of all nationalisms for socialist unity of the working class.

More interesting is the point mooted that the split in the Workers Party was basically a split in the leadership without much involvement from the general membership. It backs up this assertion with a breakdown of the various ‘factions’ and names some ‘leading lights’ associated.

After that, in a section about the political bankruptcy of the WP, it asserts that the WP lost the working class in the Republic when it refused to engage with the Concerned Parents Against Drugs campaign and was openly hostile to it. The document rounds off returning to the introduction putting forward a case for a Socialist Republican Party.

The proposal/document was endorsed at the meeting by over two thirds of the attendees. However, it was noticeable that few of the ORM ‘Leadership’ supported it (possibly only two or three of the eighteen). After the Conference they shelved the proposal as “the time wasn’t right” failed to rebrand as Republican Left and, instead, implemented the alternative proposal.

JJ McGarrity (Jnr)

Comments»

1. Phil - September 13, 2010

they shelved the proposal as “the time wasn’t right”

Dirty work at the crossroads!

…rather than the rejection of all nationalisms for socialist unity of the working class

Sigh. This would have left the ORM sounding like the Mils, but at least it would have put a bit of distance between ‘official’ republicanism and Unionism.

Like

neilcaff - September 13, 2010

Yeah, what kind of topsy-turvy world would it be if socialists went around calling for unity of the working class?

Like

Budapestkick - September 13, 2010

Heh. We were one of a handful of groups who took a position on the north that didn’t involve licking provisional testicles and we’ve been hearing about it since.

Like

Phil - September 13, 2010

Not knowing you personally, Budapestkick, it’s hard to answer this, as I don’t know who “we” was – there are at least three possibilities.

Like

Phil - September 13, 2010

…all of whom have been hearing about it ever since.

Like

WorldbyStorm - September 13, 2010

WP, Militant, BICO, DSP, 1970s Socialist Party…

Like

ejh - September 13, 2010

I like the sound of that last one. Is there an Eighties Socialist Party I can join?

Like

WorldbyStorm - September 13, 2010

Sadly not. 🙂

Like

Ciarán - September 13, 2010

Not unless you have a Delorean.

Like

2. Mark P - September 13, 2010

This is a very interesting piece.

Am I right in thinking that some of the people pushing the “Republican Left” idea went on to be in the Irish Socialist Network?

I hadn’t realised that the ORM actually voted for the Republican Left document but then didn’t implement it. 120 people at a conference was a reasonable turnout for a group that I’d always assumed was smaller than that.

Like

Joe - September 13, 2010

Yes, you are right. Some in ISN had been members of ORM. A fair few others came from other places.

It is an interesting document. Very well argued. Ironic that ORM formed cos they thought (among other things) that the WP had become redundant and then the ORM leadership decided to make the ORM pretty much redundant by keeping it as a “society” rather than an activist party.

I think the listing of the factions within the leadership of WP over-egged the pudding a bit. If there was a “BICO faction”, it wasn’t much of a faction – more like a few ex-BICO people with, not surprisingly, common ideas and views. But then again, what would I know? I was one of those who, as a comrade memorably said, wasn’t important enough to be asked to join any faction.

Like

WorldbyStorm - September 13, 2010

Likewise. But I’m presuming you were asked during the split to go one way or another.

Like

Joe - September 14, 2010

Can’t recall being specifically asked to go one way or the other by either side. Clearly they both saw I was pretty useless and not worth bothering with! [insert blushing frownie]

Like

3. desad - September 13, 2010

Mature students unfairly hit by changes to grant scheme

http://www.labour.ie/press/listing/128429725164710760.html

Like

4. Budapestkick - September 13, 2010

On a serious note though, this is an extremely interesting and surprisingly detached analysis of the evolution of the WP. In some ways a better analysis than most of the historiography that existed at this point.

Like

WorldbyStorm - September 13, 2010

It’s quite good, although as Joe says for some of the supposedly defined factions you’d have needed an electron microscope to find trace of them as serious organised entities. On the other hand I knew through acquaintances of two people in another branch in Dublin who were quite public to none party members about their admiration for Trotsky (no bad thing in my book).

Like

LeftAtTheCross - September 13, 2010

These were the Militant entryists then, as were mentioned elsewhere here recently??

Like

WorldbyStorm - September 13, 2010

I doubt it. I think it was just they admired Trotksy’s work during the Revolution and didn’t regard his actions subsequently as making him some sort of apostate… but it’s also worth mentioning that in my own time in the party, a good seven or eight years I never once had anyone mention Stalin to me. Not saying there weren’t those who might have had an attachment to Stalin or Stalinism, just that it wasn’t an issue in any functional sense. Now if we broaden the focus to say, well Stalinism is equivalent to support for the USSR, even that wasn’t made much of as an element of actual work in the party. There were a fair range of views expressed on that from support to criticism.

Like

LeftAtTheCross - September 13, 2010

I wasn’t being entirely serious there WBS 🙂

Like

WorldbyStorm - September 13, 2010

The thought struck me after I hit the “say it!” tab. Poxy WordPress and it’s no preview plug in… at least not with this template.

Like

Garibaldy - September 14, 2010

AFAIK, elements of this document were lifted from one produced previously, at the time of the DL split I think it was (the stuff about the Student Princes etc). Although it’s possible Ó Murchú may have identified them as an element long before that.

The main interest in this document is in the light it sheds on the various claims and arguments put forward to justify the formation of a new organisation. In fairness, there were a few people within it, particularly in Dublin, who have remained politically active through other organisations. Clearly, for the majority and especially the leadership, all the talk about insufficient activism, internal democracy, and whatever else was a cover for a retreat from politics altogether. I was especially amused, but not surprised, to see people who had been presenting themselves as paragons of democracy simply overthrow a democratically-taken decision. Having failed to retire the WP from political life, they were at least able to retire themselves.

Like

5. Jock McPeake - September 16, 2010

Almost everything Mr. Garibaldy says above is incorrect. In 1992-93 there was a sense of energy about rebuilding the Workers Party. The social democrats were gone, as were Harris and his crew. During 1991-92 a lot of veterans had come back into the party, esp in the North. Also some in the south. All were eager to keep going and try and rebuild and also learn lessons. By about 1994 people were unhappy that many of the leadership felt that no lessons needed to be learned and that asking questions was greeted with suspicion or even censure. Added to this was the fact that some of the veterans, ex-prisoners etc were shocked by how deep links went with the cops, special branch etc in Belfast and certain party leaders. Also ‘B’ had been revitilised to provide funds post 92 and people began to ask ‘funds for what?’. A combination of these questions produced the Campaign for Democracy in the WP. Then 1995-97 saw lots of rows, backed up by threats, night-time visits, guns put to people’s heads warning them never to talk to media or other members about links to the DPRK security services, Iraq, or the Soviet Union. Eventually people were court-martialled and sentenced to death (how serious this was is open to question but people were attacked and beaten). This is turn brought even more people back to respond to this. Hence the ORM-Republican Left. Some wanted to build a new WP without the Unionism/’Stalinism’, others wanted a veterans group-the veterans won out and no new party was formed. In the meantime RUC special branch raided members homes, the UVF were told that ORM were sectarian gnagsters and the provos and INLA told that ORM wanted to settle old scores with them. The provos also attacked members in Newry. This is all in the past now but I had to respond to the above.

Like

Marxman - September 16, 2010

Almost everything Mr Jock Stein, sorry McPeake says above is incorrect. The Workers Party recieved a severe blow by the defections of DeRossa, Rabbitte etc., that other parties would find it hard to recover from but they did much to their credit.
As a veteran myself I found it hard to give my full support to the old RUC so I voiced my concerns at the proper meetings and got replies, most satisfied me some didn’t. Never but never did the ‘Devil’ or anyone one for that matter “censure” me at the meetings or after the meetings or even in a relaxed social setting did I find myself, “suspect”! Certainly animated discussions took place but never was I in all my 40 years as a full member have I been castigated for my views and no I am not an apparatchik just an ordinary socialist republican who sees the WP as the only serious party (small as it is but it was small before it gained several TDs and numerous councillors) with a long history of anti-sectarianism and non-tribal politics.
Now the jackanory section! “..how deep links went with cops, special branch etc.,” evidence besides hearsay and malicious intent on your part! Also in reference, “orm-republican left (who?)wanting to build a new WP” I got approached by a now ‘orm’ member who I hadn’t seen at an Ard Fheis since the 70s but loved to conspire at the end of the bar in various pubs and clubs but did little all else except turn up at Easter, no papersales, no leafleting, no card-carrying membership. No his only credentials, conspiracy and back-stabbing! Away with you! “UVF, INLA and PROVOS all told that the orm wanted to settle old scores with them” jeezus wept! If you want to be taken serious please supply proof of this nonsense.
ps. I still have some good friends who would give tacit support to the orm but would wince at your statements!

Like

Garibaldy - September 16, 2010

I noticed that Iran had been replaced by the Soviet Union, otherwise I might have thought it was George W. linking the WP to the axis of evil.

Clearly nothing but trolling, and not really worthy of a response.

Like

6. Neues aus den Archiven der radikalen (und nicht so radikalen) Linken « Entdinglichung - September 16, 2010

[…] Case for the Formation of a Republican Socialist Party (~ […]

Like

7. Potohealy - September 16, 2010

Let me preface these short comments by stating I’m a strong supporter of the WP.
The reactions to McPeake’s post I believe are not in the best mode of dealing with the issues raised. Whatever issues maybe had with what preceded it ended with the very positive remark “This is all in the past now”.
Whatever about the accuracy of McPeake’s statements, I have heard the same sentiments expressed enough times to know they are not some attempt to troll this site but expressions of genuine concerns which are current among many within the ORM.
How can anyone doubt that during a split many unfortunate incidents occur, particularly when issues (whether real or perceived) involving personal and organizational security are at stake.
If unfortunate incidents didn’t not occur in this spilt it would be breaking with republican tradition stretching back to the United men.
From McPeake’s comment it is clear that many in he ORM still share the fundamental socialist-republican values which only one party, the WP, are attempting to articulate politically.
There must be balanced and considered approach to these issues, even if agreement is not possible. If a wider alliance to advance the cause of republican socialism for the betterment of the people is to occur denunciation from whatever quarter of groups which value working class political action in the interests of the working class gets nobody anywhere.
As the Irish working class face an onslaught not seen in generations no thanks will be handed out for socialist republicans squabbling over incidents which occurred over 10 years ago. That said this discussion is a necessary one

Like

8. Joe - September 17, 2010

I don’t think it’s helpful to dismiss Jock McPeake’s post as trolling. It comes across to me as a narrative of the experience from the ORM perspective. It also tallies with my memory of reports I read about the split in the papers at the time – maybe those reports were based on an ORM perspective also.
There are (at least) two sides to every story. Jock’s is one side. Marxman’s is another.
The WP and people like Garibaldi and Marxman are to be admired for continuing to try to win people over to their politics. But their efforts will be forever spancilled by concerns over internal democracy in the WP.

Like

Garibaldy - September 17, 2010

The thing is Joe there is a funny tendency on threads like these for new names to appear and make the same points that other new names have made previously on similar threads in practically exactly the same language and using basically exactly the same “evidence”/”accusations”/”stories” (delete as you think appropriate). The word “trolling” was chosen carefully.

Like

9. Jock McPeake - September 17, 2010

As Poto noted above, I think the past is the past. As it happens I would have liked the new party/Republican left idea to have taken off. I am not bothered too much with commemorations etc now. Looking at the WP website I see a lot of the changes in policy presentation (ie republicanism) that people wanted now seem to be party policy (ironically). This might explain why some former ORM comrades have gone back to the WP. Does Gariblady consider that legitimate? As for trolls, I thought they were creatures that lived under bridges and scared children?
On a more serious point: I was not talking about the axis of evil ala Texas Bush. Garibaldy may not be aware that senior members of the WP visited Iraq on at least two occasions in the 1980s, (1981, 1984-85?). This was after Saddam’s massacre of the communists, of which we were aware. When asked about this we were informed a) Iraq was a progressive country b) there were opportunities for funding and support there. Support for the DPRK was also sold as a great opportunity for training, funding etc. I cannot remember anyone who went there (apart from the leadership) who actually thought the place was anything but a weird madhouse. The USSR was a different matter.

Like

10. John O'Neill - September 22, 2010

Garabaldy stated “AFAIK, elements of this document were lifted from one produced previously, at the time of the DL split I think it was (the stuff about the Student Princes etc).” I would reject this assertion and ask him to state what document he is referring to. I also believe the term “Student Princes” was actually from the Labour Party who were resentful of the USI WPers taking the cosy union jobs that were usually reserved for the Labour Party. Garabaldy has a tendency to make these throwaway remarks quiet often but as far as I am aware, he wasn’t even a member at the time of this split.

Like

Sticky Wicket - September 22, 2010

Did Harris or the Industrial Dept not put forth a document that called them ‘Student Princes’? This is what I always understood to be the case.

As for the Super-Sticks, the WP is still attempting to promote class politics and represent working class people whilst they(ORM) seem mainly concerned with giving out about the WP and the course of history.

I’d say more unites than divides and its heartening to hear some have returned to the fold both up North and down South

Like

HAL - September 22, 2010

Did you write it ?,I fear thou protest too much.Either way its redundant.I mean the orm rejected what they voted for and they don’t seem that active on the drugs issue.Id say the main reason the WP struggled after the defections where financial ,huge debts and no TDs salaries.The media at that time was selective and only carried the DL side of things,an example of which was the DL claims of secret kitchen cabinets and nefarious goings on,and all the while they where the one’s actually plotting a secret coup against the membership.Hard times followed and bitching started,then the I told you so’s emerged and things just spiral’ed.Anyway as a previous poster said most are drifting back.

Like

11. Jock McPeake - September 22, 2010

As the above notes that was a new document, not an old one. I see comrade Garibaldy has not bothered to respond to my questions about Iraq.

Like

12. john O'Neill - September 22, 2010

Sticky Wicket is right, Harris put a document calling Rabbitt, Gilmore and others the student princes. Is that the ‘lifted element’ Garabaldy is referring to? Because it is misleading to say the least to trash a paper dismissively, making out its merely a rehash of something written before when it wasn’t. The subtext being, the ORM wouldn’t be capable of writing anything coherent.

The WP might still have a few student princes.

Like


Leave a Reply to WorldbyStorm Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: