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Left Archive: An Camchéachta – The Starry Plough, Irish Republican Socialist party, No 7, 1989 May 22, 2023

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A very interesting addition to the selection of Starry Plough’s from the Irish Republican Socialist Party. This edition has many articles including one on the end of Clondalkin Paper Mills, an overview of IRSP Support Group Activities, another on INLA actions, a report on a Seamus Costello Commemoration in Bray. There’s also a strong international aspect with pieces on the FMLN in El Salvador, Sri Lanka and the 72nd Anniversary Of the Russian Revolution. There’s also a critique of the then recent Sinn Féin And Fheis and its Broad Front Strategy. On the letters page there’s a letter from a ‘supporter of the Republican Marxist Bulletin’.

There’s also a fascinating article ‘Debate on USSR’ which is part of a larger debate in successive editions. This particular piece is critical of the USSR. 

The publication also notes:

The continuous revelations in the press on an almost daily basis of new ‘security leaks’ and the existence of an ‘Inner Circle’ of RUC officers dedicated to bringing down the Anglo Irish Agreement and ‘terminating republican activists comes as no surprise.

We have stated many times in this paper that it is not just a question of elements within the RUC/UDR collaborating with loyalist death squads, but the fact that the British control and direct these and use them as part of their war machine against progressive forces in Ireland. We will therefore be inevitably faced with a white-wash in the form of the Steven’s inquiry. Like all its predecessors it is designed to sanitise the bloodstained image of British imperialism.

As Marxists, we have always realised that these class enemies will got to any lengths to suppress and subjugate progressive elements within the working class. The handing over of intelligence on these they see as subversives is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of how far the ruling class will go to maintain its rule.

The centre spread is devoted to Seamus Costello and the 12th anniversary of his assassination. An outline of his life and work is given and an overview of his political approach. It also gives an account of the foundation of the Irish Republican Socialist Party and its history to date.

One particularly striking sentence is the following:

In this case [that of Seamus Costello] it would be easy to fall into either of two trends; that of knocking and demolishing the figure in order to demonstrate a break from the past and the left nationalist position which the I.R.S.P. held at the time, or on the other hand a non-critical approach which eulogises the hero and see the embryo of communism in his left nationalism, an embryo which was not allowed to develop.

The piece is critical of some aspects of his organisational approach and argues that there were ‘failures to develop into the revolutionary socialist vehicle which Costello aspired to develop’. 

And it notes:


At the present time the IRSP is a marxist/leninist party, committed to the overthrow of the capitalist system of the government in Ireland. How are we different  in 1989 from what we were in 1977? Is an obvious question. To answer this it must be said that the party of 1977 must be seen as ‘left nationalist’ rather than communist.



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