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A different split July 22, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

I’ve been rereading Splintered Sunrise and it’s a great read, really is, and sorely missed. But this piece is particularly fascinating, again spring boarding from The Lost Revolution where SS muses on the nature the split in 1969/70 in Sinn Féin.

In fact, projecting backwards, although a split was probably inevitable at some point, it was far from predictable who would be on what side, unless you’d managed to predict in advance the exact combination of circumstances and relative weight of issues. Garibaldy was saying elsewhere that Brian Keenan couldn’t have been a member of the Workers Party. I think a more precise way of putting it would be that Brian Keenan, in terms of the man he became and the things we know he was involved in, could not have been a member of the WP as it subsequently developed.

I’ve often wondered whether the split could have been averted. Re-reading Seán Swan’s book on the dawn of OSF (of which more later in the year) it seems curious at this remove just how much the ‘traditionalists’ on the AC tolerated. Splintered Sunrise made the point in other writing that it was abstention which was the first and last straw and it is difficult not to agree. It’s an interesting question, isn’t it, whether the split came at the last possible moment before events washed everything away? In other words would the Marxist inclined leadership have found greater opposition subsequently due to events on the ground? Or would they have been able to consolidate their forces in terms of votes and in actuality and carried the day? Or could abstention have been long-fingered given the reality of conflict breaking out all around? Because whatever else participation in parliaments was a moot issue for quite some time to come. But if that is so, then the crisis itself was the key point. And there’s interesting content in Swan’s book which suggests that the precursors to the crisis were sometimes under considered by the leadership, and perhaps even ignored in parts.

On a slightly different point SS’s thought in the following seems to me to be absolutely correct:

If these posts have had a theme, it’s been on the unpredictability of historical events – events that are both overdetermined, to the point where they seem inevitable in hindsight, but also contingent.


1. roddy - July 22, 2019

It is often brushed over that many of those pushing in a leftward direction became totally disillusioned with the stance the WP took and within less than a decade would have been pro Gerry Adams.Desmond Greaves and Eoin O’Murchu spring to mind and a host of others would have come to have a similar outlook and would have shared platforms with SF.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - July 23, 2019

That’s an interesting point albeit I’d argued OSF and the WP while lineally connected were quite significantly different. And PSF under Adams was distinctively different to its original incarnation. In other words they weren’t any of them fixed and the damage splits caused and other events in OSF was profound pushing it smartly away from republicanism in some ways.


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