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Left Archive: Gralton, No. 7, April/May, 1983 September 12, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive.
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To download the above please click on the following link. GRALTON 7

Please click here to go the Left Archive.

Many thanks to Jim Lane for donating this and other copies of Gralton to the Left Archive. It is intended to reproduce these every month or so for the next year and a half and thereby have a full run of them online (except for number 6. We would be very grateful for a scan of same).

As noted previously Gralton magazine ran for ten issues from 1982 to 1983. It took it’s name from James Gralton, “the only person to have been deported from the 26 counties for political activity”.

This edition examines the topic of Workers and the Law with a long piece from Des Derwin on the topic of ‘worker-state confrontations’. It also considers the history of Jim Gralton in a long article. There’s a piece on the ‘revolutionary aspirations’ of the Socialist Labour Party and the history of that organisation, again by Des Derwin.

There’s a report on the Anti-Amendment Campaign and on the first ICTU Women’s Conference, held in February of that year.

Also notably there’s a piece from Dublin Gay Collective on the murder of Declan Flynn in Fairview Park – the anniversary of which was last Saturday, and the fact those who committed the murder received suspended sentences.

Neutrality is discussed and there’s an interview with Brendan Ryan who had recently been elected to the Seanad for a second time as an independent.

Left Archive: Wood Quay Documents 2 September 5, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive.
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To download the above and other documents please click on the following links.

CITY NEWS: To download please click here.

LIST OF CANDIDATES 1: To download please click here.

LIST OF CANDIDATES 2: To download please click here.

POSTCARD: To download please click here.

STICKER: To download please click here.

Please click here to go the Left Archive.

Many thanks to the family of Leo Swan for forwarding these documents to the Left Archive. Over the Summer we will post up further related documents.

As noted in the first post in this series last month, the Wood Quay protests of 1978 and 1979 were not explicitly left-wing, however in the materials used to promote the protests and occupation there was an appeal to trade unionists and others. Individuals later prominent in the Labour Party and other groups were involved.

This posting includes includes the electoral materials relating to the campaign amongst other documents. There was, from these documents, a very clear effort to identify potential allies as well as those hostile to the campaign and to apply political pressure to them.

The first is a publication entitled City News which was issued early in 1979 and published ‘in associating with the Living City Group’. This included information on those who had voted for and against preservation the site. The contents though was considerably more wide-ranging and included information on Corporation redevelopment in Summerhill, transportation plans in Dublin, Art for the People and City Centre Hospitals. The publication is scathing about plans for ‘meeting the basic needs of the area’ in terms of housing. It also contains some useful statistics from a survey by the Prisoners Rights Organisation.

The second and third documents are lists of candidates for Local Elections in the Dublin Area in June 1979 – the month the site was occupied – and indicates those who are known to be either favourable or not to the campaigns goals. The fourth is a postcard issued during the local election that shows those who can be voted for and against. As can be seen at that stage the list of the former was yet to be formulated. The fifth is a sticker for the campaign.

Left Archive: The Struggle for Political Status by the H-Block & Armagh Prisoners is a Just and Heroic Struggle by Revolutionary Irish Patriots, National Executive of the Communist Party of Ireland (Marxist-Leninist), 1981 August 22, 2016

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To download the above please click on the following link. CPIML HUNGER STRIKES DOC

Please click here to go the Left Archive.

Many thanks to the person who forwarded this to the Archive.

This twelve page pamphlet was published in support of prisoners in H-Block and Armagh Prisons and their five demands during the hunger strikes. These being:

1 The right to wear their own clothes, instead of prison uniform.
2 The right to use their time on vocational, craft or cultural education and activity, instead of prison work.
3 The right to free association with fellow political prisoners.
4 The right to one otter, one parcel and one visit per week.
5 Restoration of remission of sentence lost through their protest.

It notes that in the 1970s the British government conceded ‘special category status’ – ‘this amounted to an admission by British imperialism that these patriots were, indeed, political prisoners or prisoners of war’.

But it notes that just four years later that category was abolished. It outlines the course of the situation from there and argues that:

The Irish people are not going to forget that these 6 patriots were allowed to die despite the overwhelming justice of their demand.

It continues that:

In Ireland itself the heroism of the hunger strikers is inspiring more and more to take up revolutionary political activity.

The document also outlines those who it considers allies and opponents of the struggle. It argues that ‘The question of tactics is a question for the Irish people’ and concludes that ‘The Long Term Solution is a United Socialist and Secular Ireland’.

Left Archive: Socialist Republic, Paper of Peoples’ Democracy, Volume 4, No. 7, Peoples’ Democracy, August 1981 August 8, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive.
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To download the above please click on the following link. AP 1970

Please click here to go the Left Archive.

Many thanks to the person who forwarded this to the Archive.

Many thanks to the persons who scanned and forwarded these documents.

This edition is posted up on the 35th anniversary of publication. A twelve page document it encompasses a significant range of materials – but perhaps inevitably it is the hunger strikes protest which is focused on most. August 1981 was the month the last of the ten hunger strikers died – Michael Devine of the INLA.

The main article on the front page argues that:

The H-Block campaign has laid the foundation for turning back the British offensive and building a mass movement which can go on to demolish all aspects of British imperialism in Ireland. But such a movement is facing grave dangers over the next few weeks.

The hunger strikers are under pressure to call off their protest. The Coalition, the media, some of the relatives and the Catholic hierarchy have all urged an end to the H Block sacrifice. With so many of our prisoners dead and Thatcher still intransigent it is inevitable that the voices of despair and capitulation will be raised. PD would emphasise that the prisoners are the ones to come to the final decision – we will be guided by THEIR wishes. Mass sympathy still exists for the prisoners. With this solid foundation the National H Block Armagh Committee can still turn the situation around.

It notes the political situation.

The by election in Fermanagh/South Tyrone and the possibility of one in the South must be used to show that mass support still exists for the prisoners. Active supporters who are prepared to create uproar in Westminster and Leinster House should be put forward. They must be prepared to take their seats in order to use them as a platform for the prisoners’ case and as a weapon against the hack politicians.

But it is also fair to note that the scope of the articles is wide. One on the front page asks “Congress Sell Out??” criticising the Irish Congress of Trade Unions for apparently settling for the National Wage Agreement. Another is entitled ‘Plastic Bullets Slammed’.

A long article inside notes how ‘Bottom Dog unites Limerick anti-imperialists’ – discussing the impact of the Bottom Dog workers paper, edited by Joe Harrington, a member of PD. Another couple of pieces critique Jim Kemmy and Socialists Against Nationalism. Another looks at the riots in Britain during this period and asks ‘what lies behind this new combativity among British youth?’.

In relation to H-Block in addition to further articles on the issue it calls for a ‘United H-Block Candidate’ in Fermanagh. But there’s a further line in a piece on the ‘Republican Movement’ that notes;

The leadership of the campaign [H-Block] is, of course, the Republican Movement; it is one of the ironies of history that the Republicans, who have for so many years been arguing against PD in a debate about ‘Mass Action versus Militarism’ should know find themselves at the head of a mass campaign based loosely on the PD model.

The fact that an organisation based on belief in the supremacy of military struggle should lead a mass campaign is, of course, a source of problems.

PD does not believe that these problems are insurmountable inside a united campaign.

But it does criticise ‘political sectarianism in the Republican Movement’ and calls for ‘a campaign which gives democratic representation to the political parties, the action committees, the trade union and factory committees as well as cultural and sporting bodies, women and youth will be able to draw on a wealth of experience in formulating a strategy for victory.

There is much else including Socialism and Nationalism: the Legacy of Connolly, criticism of SFWP for Joe Sherlock TD not voting against the then Coalition budget, which argues that this flows from ‘the very logic of the SFWP programme. The essence of this programme is a denial of the relevance of the national question’. Michael Farrell offers a recollection of August 1969, Sue Jackson writes on the Programme to Unify the Womens Movement and there is an article on ‘How Coalition Deceives Women’ and another on Feminist Anti-Imperialism – A Double Sided Task. A report on the ‘banning of a Gay Society in UCC’makes common cause with Gay people.

On international matters there are reports on Cuba, Iran and Poland.

Left Archive Collection: Abortion and reproductive rights August 1, 2016

Posted by Aonrud ⚘ in Irish Left Online Document Archive.
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We recently collated documents relating to abortion and reproductive rights in the archive into a new collection. The accompanying text is reposted below. You can view the list of documents in the collection on the Irish Left Archive website.

This collection presents some of the documents and articles in the archive relating to reproductive rights campaigns through the years. While abortion is often the most prominent of these issues, for much of the time period covered by the archive, access to contraception and information were equally salient.

It is not intended to provide a complete historical outline of reproductive rights issues in Ireland, but to highlight the coverage of these issues in the archive. Materials are grouped chronologically below, and direct links provided to the relevant page in the document PDF.


While this collection is limited to the current contents of the archive, it is worth drawing attention to two publications from feminist groups, despite our limited examples. The archive currently contains only a single issue of each, but the prominence of reproductive rights in the charters of both groups is noteworthy.

Banshee, from Irish Women United (IWU), includes the IWU charter from 1975, which includes a demand for:

Free Legal Contraception:

  1. State financed birth-control clinics
  2. The right [t]o a free, legal and safe abortion.

Banshee, No. 7, p. 16

The Belfast Women’s Collective (formed in 1977), similarly places access to contraception and abortion prominently in its aims, within a context of control of one’s own body and sexuality.

We are fighting for the right to control our own bodies … to determine our own sexuality and to control our own fertility through access to safe contraception and abortion facilities.

Women’s Action, Vol. 2, No. 3, p. 2

An article from Banshee is reproduced in The Bottom Dog from 1976 (see page 8) on a then proposed contraception bill, which provides some perspective on the reproductive rights context of the period. It points to the need for an integrated approach to reproductive rights, addressing not just the sale of medication, but information and education.

1980s and The Eighth Amendment

The early 1980s saw prominent anti- and pro-choice campaigns, leading to the 1983 referendum, which added a right to life of the unborn into the Irish constitution.

From 1980, an edition of Women’s View (published by Sinn Féin The Workers’ Party) notes the formation of the Women’s Right to Choose group in Dublin (Women’s View, No. 3. 1980. P. 5). It also includes a brief mention of the Northern Ireland Women’s Rights Movement’s opposition to a UK abortion amendment act proposed by John Corrie MP, which sought to restrict the 1967 Abortion Act (see p.4). A short article on enforced sterilisation of native American women also demonstrates the wider international context of reproductive rights campaigns (see p.26).

From 1981, Abortion: A Choice for Irish Women sets out the case in favour of abortion from the Irish Women’s Right to Choose Group. This document addresses the context and arguments around abortion in Ireland, but also takes a practical approach of explaining and demystifying abortion with an assessment of the risks and first-hand accounts. It also includes practical appendices on methods of contraception and relevant contacts.

Also from 1981, Abortion Ireland, a report from Sinn Féin’s Department of Women’s Affairs, seeks to present the causes and context which lead to a need for abortion, in light of Sinn Féin’s anti-abortion policy. It quotes Sinn Féin’s policy document, Women in the New Ireland, which states:

There is a need to face up to the problem of abortion no matter what individual opinions are. We do not judge women who have had abortion but recognise that it is an indictment of society that so many women should feel the need to avail of abortion. We are opposed to the attitudes and forces in society that impel women to have abortions. We are totally opposed to abortion. Abortion Ireland, p. 2

Gralton magazine, which was published from 1982-3, includes on-going coverage of the abortion issue. The second issue features a cover image of a pro-life march, and includes an article from Goretti Horgan for the Women’s Right to Choose Group on the upcoming abortion amendment (Gralton, No. 2, June/July 1982, p.12). Issue three includes another article from Horgan, “The Abortion Referendum: Where the Left stands”, as well as an anti-amendment campaign progress report from Mary Gordon (Gralton, No. 3, Aug/Sep 1982, p.4-5). Issues four and five also provide further coverage.

The archive also includes a number of other publications from the period which address the amendment. Issue 10 of Church and State, published by Athol Books, includes an editorial entitled “A Roman Catholic Amendment” (Church & State, No. 10, 1982, p.3). Socialist Republic, from People’s Democracy, includes an article on the anti-amendment campaign, “A Chance to Re-organise” (Socialist Republic, Vol. 6, No. 2, 1983, p.5). The League for a Socialist Republic’s publication, Workers’ Republic, also includes a short article, “Amendment Can Be Defeated” (Workers’ Republic, No. 96, 1983, p.2).

The X Case and subsequent referendums

The X case judgement in 1992, which led to the establishment of the right to abortion information and the right to travel in subsequent referendums, as well as attempts to roll back the judgement, brought the abortion issue back to prominence.

From 1992, a leaflet headlined “Before you make up your mind…” from the Socialist Workers’ Party sought to set out the case for abortion to school students to counter the expectation that the catholic anti-abortion movement (such as the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC)) would mobilise in schools.

Sinn Féin’s policy document (from circa 1994) calls on the government to properly legislate for the 1992 referendums, and states that the party “accepts the need for abortion where a woman’s life is at risk or in grave danger, and in cases of rape or child sexual abuse” (Sinn Féin policy document, c.1994. p. 14).

From the Socialist Party, “Women & Socialist Politics”, from 1998, sets out their pro-choice position and calls for provision of abortion at least under the limited circumstances permitted by the X case judgement. The archive contains a further article from 1998, published in Red Banner and written by Rosanna Flynn, entitled “It hasn’t gone away, you know: The fight for abortion rights” (Red Banner, No. 2, 1998, p.26).

Finally, the first edition of Spartacist Ireland from 2002 includes an article on abortion in the context of the defeat of the 25th amendment referendum which sought to roll back the X case judgement (Spartacist Ireland, No. 1, 2002, p.20).

Opposition to abortion

While the further left has generally taken a pro-choice position on access to abortion, the documents in the archive do also contain dissenting voices on the issue.

Sinn Féin’s opposition to abortion in 1981 has been noted above, as has their support for legislation for the X case and provision of abortion in limited cases in 1994. Internal dissent on the issue is evident in the Clár agus Rúin from their 1986 Ard Fheis (see the proposals under ‘Women’, p. 45), with varying emphases proposed from recognition of the necessity of abortion to outright opposition.

An edition of The Other View from 2000 provides an interesting contrast in two articles on abortion. Dawn Purvis surveys attitudes to abortion in Northern Ireland, noting the prominence of religious attitudes in determining the issue for many, and arguing that public attitudes demonstrate a majority in favour of abortion provision in at least some limited cases. Noting the lack of common ground when the issue is presented from contrasting religious and secular positions, The Other View also presents a pro-life argument, but from a secular, feminist position, from ‘Feminists for Life’.

Hopefully the documents included here provide a useful look at the issues of abortion and reproductive rights on the left in Ireland. We are conscious of gaps in our coverage, and the collection will be updated as relevant documents are added. As ever, if any readers have relevant materials they can provide for inclusion in the archive, we would be very grateful.

Left Archive: Reminiscences of the Connolly Association by C. Desmond Greaves, 1978 August 1, 2016

Posted by leftarchivist in Irish Left Online Document Archive.
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To download the above please click on the following link. CONNOLLY ASSOCIATION FILE.

Please click here to go the Left Archive.

Many thanks to David Convery and John Cunningham of the Irish Centre for the Histories of Labour & Class for the following document to the Archive. This 20 page pamphlet was published by the Connolly Association and written by C. Desmond Greaves in 1978.

In it Greaves offers an overview of the history of the Connolly Association. In the Introduction he notes that:

I would not wish to offer this little work as more than it i. Its composition arose for the following circumstances. For several years now a distinguished Dublin academic has been working on a definitive history of the organisation. it became clear that it could not possibly be ready in time for the fortieth anniversary of the Association’s foundation. Rather late in the day we asked fi he would write a pamphlet. Again it was clear that it could not be ready in time.


Obviously when time was so short I could not possibly attempt a potted history of the Association. But as a member since 1941, and on its executive council courteously since then, I have many memories. I formed a rough scheme and wrote my reminiscences. But thought it desirable to prefix a brief account of the organisation which preceded the Connolly Association.

He continues:

No attempt is made to assess the achievement of the Association, though I would say that it played an important part in winning for James Connolly’s work the recognition it now enjoyed.

The document is divided into four chapters, Origins, Early Days, Readjustment and Civil Rights. There is much of interest, the first chapter looks at the experience of Irish and political movements associated with them in Britain from the 19th century on. In the last chapter there is mention of the split in Republicanism and it touches on what life was like for the Irish in Britain in the 1970s.

All told a very interesting – if admittedly partisan, as Greaves notes in the Introduction – account.

Left Archive: Starry Plough Magazine, Number 3, Irish Republican Socialist Party, 2009 July 25, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive.
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To download the above please click on the following link. SP 3

Please click here to go the Left Archive.

Many thanks to the person who forwarded this document to the archive. It is a further addition to the Archive from this source.

There are a wide range of articles in the magazine including a number of articles on the ‘Occupy’ movement. Another piece asks what happened to the concept of ‘Cradle to the Grave care by the state. There is a reprint of a short essay by James Connolly on Socialism and Irish Nationalism.

Under the heading ‘Looking back at our history’ is an article entitled ‘Learning from Seamus Costello’. This notes that ‘Costello states that the IRSP are ‘a revolutionary socialist party’ whose objectives are ‘a revolutionary socialist state in Ireland’ leaving no doubt whatsoever about the party’s Marxist orientation. He is by no means an isolationist and state state that he regards the Irish Republcian Socialist Movement’s struggle for a democratic Socialist Republic ‘as part of the worldwide struggle for the emancipation of working class people’.

It notes that ‘he clearly sees engagement in liberal democracy as a means to an end, with a view to destroying ‘the confidence of the people in these institutions’ not propping them up or conferring legitimacy on them.

Interestingly the article argues that ‘Costello’s ‘broad front’ has been left open to various interpretations, to a certain extent, though we are able to see unequivocally what it is definitely not, i.e. namely not a pan-Nationalist type front. When Costello was proposing broad front politics in the 1970s the Republican Movement had already split along generally left-right lines, yet both movements ostensibly shared the same goal of a Socialist Republic’.

Other pieces of interest include an article on Máirtín Ó Cadhain, another criticising selective education and organising the unemployed and an intriguing piece on ‘Republican Unity’.

One interesting aspect of the publication are the footers which highlight ‘A world of injustice’ with accounts of inequality and exploitation.

Left Archive: Anarchism and Ireland: A Beginners’ Guide, Workers Solidarity Movement, 1996 July 4, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive.
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To download the above please click on the following link. Anarchism and Ireland

Please click here to go the Left Archive.

Many thanks to David Convery and John Cunningham of the Irish Centre for the Histories of Labour & Class for the following document (and to the WSM too). An earlier edition of this pamphlet from the 1980s can be found here at the impressive Irish Anarchist History archive. As the IAH notes:

Published shortly after their formation (in September 1984) this was an introduction to the politics of the Workers Solidarity Movement. It was republished in 1987 and a new edition with a section on how ideas change was published in 1989. The initial print run was 1,000 and both reprints were either 500 or 1,000.

The IAH also notes that the document ‘positioned the WSM within the trade union movement’ and was a rejection of ‘anarcho-syndicalist strategy of… trying to build separate revolutionary unions’. Notably it rejects patriarchy.

It also notes that the intention of the pamphlet in all its iterations was to demonstrate how the WSM presented itself to others on the Irish left.

This edition notes in a preface by Kevin Doyle that:

In the seven years since the WSM last reprinted “Anarchism and Ireland” the reasons for doing so again have been more than demonstrated. Despite the great technological advances and the huge wealth and resources that now exist throughout the world, millions continue to die from starvation and from the major preventable diseases.

It notes that “Ireland is no expect ion to the injustice and inequality that prevails” and points to national deals that ‘have been stitched up between bosses and unions over the past nine years’.

It continues that:

The WSM is an anarchist organisation. We aim for a revolution by the working class which will overthrow the bosses and their governments and create a society run and controlled by those who actually produce the wealth of the world.

The pamphlet is divided into short sections that address different issues including The National Question, Women’s Freedom and The Trade Unions while also addressing pivotal moments in the history and development of anarchist thought including Russia and in particular Spain.

It also includes a reading list of further publications for those interested.

On that topic this is a PDF list courtesy of the WSM of documents issued by them.

FG and free votes July 3, 2016

Posted by Tomboktu in Democracy, Ethics, Fine Gael.
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I haven’t seen the incident reflected in my screen shot below mentioned in any of the discussion on John Halligan’s intentions on how he will vote on Mick Wallace’s bill to permit terminations of pregnancy in cases of fatal foetal abnormality.

It’s an extract from a Dáil vote on Tuesday 16 July 1974, and it shows the last-plus-two Fine Gael Taoiseach before Enda Kenny, Liam Cosgrave, voting Níl along side the leader of Fianna Fáil, Jack Lynch.

They were both voting against the Control of Importation, Sale and Manufacture of Contraceptives Bill, 1974, at the second stage, when the Dáil decides if it will accept the bill in principle. The Dáil didn’t, by 75 votes to 61.

The Supreme Court had ruled legislation prohibiting the import and sale of contraception was unconstitutional, and the Minister for Justice had prepared and proposed the bill to bring the law into line with the Constitution.

Two contrasts with today are worth noting:
(1) Fine Gael was prepared to allow not merely ministers, but the most senior cabinet minister, vote against a government bill without penalty.
(2) Unlike the situation with Attorney General’s advice on whether Mick Wallace’s bill is constitutional, there was no doubt in 1974 with the unconstitutionality of the law that the Taoiseach voted to leave in place.

Left Archive: Trade Councils Model Rules and Notes for Guidance – ICTU c. 1970 June 27, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive.
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To download the above please click on the following link. AP 1970

Please click here to go the Left Archive.

Many thanks to PM for forwarding this document to the Archive.

It is a short twelve page pamphlet that outlines the rules and notes for guidance from ICTU. It was a part of the Education Programme of Congress and one of a number of booklets issued by ICTU designed to give members an insight into the workings of various aspects of the unions, including ‘Your Union and You’, ‘Operating the ‘All-Out Strike’’ and ‘Structure and Functions of Congress’.

The introduction touches on this noting that:

The circumstances in which a modern trade council performs its fucitnos have changed substantially since the first trades councils were established. Centralisation of organisation, national agreements, social changes and such developments as modern transport facilities, and modern information services (press, radio and TV) have brought about changes both in trade union organisation and in the communities in which trades councils operate.

It argues that ‘some trades councils have not sufficiently adapted themselves to the changes which have taken place… the result if frustration, andy eh council may eventually find itself unable to continue in operation due to lack of interest by its members’.

It suggests that:

Of the functions (of trades councils) probably the most important is the provision of a line of communication between membership and Congress and between members of different unions in a locality. The development and strengthening of these ‘lines of communication’ is essential to the integration of the trade union movement, enabling it to act in a unified manner and so achieve its economic and social objectives.

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